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Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: Jag on April 01, 2012, 04:46:43 PM

Title: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Jag on April 01, 2012, 04:46:43 PM
It often appears on this forum and many others that a lot of theists think some pretty foolish things about how to talk to an atheists. Off the top of my head, I can think of three easy divisions they tend to fall into:
   • I'm here to save you by my wit, I shall destroy your arguments with my brilliant defenses and WIN!!! I am righteous, hear me ROAR!!!
   • I'm here to save you by my earnestness, I shall just share the wonderful stories my religious leader or other person of influence has prepared me to say, with no capacity to defend them or myself, and I will fall apart at the first challenge. I might cry. I'll blame myself for my failure to save you, and I'll pray for your souls for the rest of my days.
   • I'm here to understand you, I feel such pity for you all for the bad things you've experienced that I'll never notice what an arrogant, presumptuous, condescending fill-in-the-blank I sound like. Please be kind to me, I only want to understand, but would prefer to not have my ideas about why you are this way brought to my attention. I don't like to ask or answer the hard questions.
   
I'm sure there are lots of way we could set the divisions, and it might be fun to do that some time…  At the moment, I have the third type I mind, and why in some ways they irritate me the most. To be fair, it doesn't seem that this particular brand of theist thinks we eat babies, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on that. I have no evidence to support that position.

This always seems to be their baseline: We don't believe because we had a bad experience with, were harmed by, or in some way disappointed by, religion. This one only seems to come from Christians, but given their representation numbers here, other theist religions may think the same way. It's rather short-sighted in any case.

This isn't to say that those experiences aren't true for many of us. But I don't accept that those specific experiences are why we no longer believe. They may have been the catalyst, but they weren't the conclusion. That's not how belief works. Theists seem to think we could just, you know, get over ourselves and decide to believe.

Nothing I will say in the remainder of this post is meant to downplay or minimize the harm many of us have experienced at the urging of religion.  I'm only speaking to my thoughts about how much theists misunderstand what that means about our eventual conclusions.

They come with such a silly set of assumptions about who we are and why we take the position of atheism, we spend most of our engagement with them trying to get past their "wrong place to begin a conversation with self-professed non-believers about this topic" openings. If they just "make nice" enough, they'll get us all to see that Jesus is good, and some of his followers are good people too, nothing like the ones they assume "caused" our disbelief. And they always want to tell us that they love us, never thinking about how absolutely creepy-stalker-ish that is.

This also clearly overlooks the number of atheists who never believed in the first place; I don't think this type believes that "never believed it" atheists exist. They really think we can simply change our minds. That we can will belief into existence. The word is belief
 
Wise words from Inigo, with whom I'm half in love: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I wonder if they ever realize that it sounds as though they think we had a bad breakup. Seriously, when I still believed, I never thought of God as my boyfriend, and we most certainly did not break up. What did happen is that I came to realize that believing in god made no sense whatsoever, and the more I looked for a way to make it make sense, the more I had to accept that it was bullshit from beginning to end.

That bears a very slight resemblance to some real world break ups I've had, I admit it. In the real world, they happened a lot faster though. In fact, most of the steps outlined here were pretty much smooshed into a just a few short seconds on at least a couple of occasions… (Edit: Replace "believing in god" with "continuing to have a relationship with this person" and you'll see what I mean)

But not so much with God. The fact that religion is directly and indirectly responsible for a great deal of human suffering, both individually and on massive scales, is completely apart from the point. That fact does nothing to support or refute my lack of belief in god, it just reinforces my rather negative view of religion's impact on humanity. That's people I'm pissed at, not god. Or God. Nope, that's just good old humans, hiding behind their holy books, as an excuse to do shitty things to other humans that they can't find any compassion for. Real, but not relevant.

In the real world, if a relationship ends, I can choose to make adjustments in my life so as to avoid any interaction with the person with whom I no longer have a relationship. I can  avoid places I'd be likely to encounter them, I can not respond to messages, I can do any number of things to keep my life separate from this other person. (This does all presuppose that the other person is mentally and emotionally stable, just not a good fit for me. Stalkers are an obviously  exception.) None of this, however, leads me to stop believing that the other person exists. I don't see them, and no longer have evidence of their existence, but this doesn't lead me to the conclusion that they have conveniently just stopped being. I think this is largely because I'm not an idiot.

You simply can't force yourself to believe something.

You can willfully ignore the facts, or never bother to think about it, you can even avoid permitting yourself look at it objectively, but those are not the same thing. 

Is it really that inconceivable to them that we may have decided that it's nonsense, not that our feelings got hurt? Cause that's the way it sounds to me.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Poseidon on April 01, 2012, 05:37:47 PM
Yes, it is inconcievable to them that we have decided  that theism is nonsence.  More accurately, we have reasoned, not merely decided, that theism is nonsense. 

An interesting read is: The God Virus by Darrel W. Ray ed.D  A metaphor perhaps, but "it offers a unique and provocative framework that goes a long way toward understanding and ultimately combating the pernicious religious mania of the human species"......."He gets inside the American fundamentalist movement in ways which show that such entities have a collective life of their own, functioning as large scale organisms which their individual members may not themselves understand or be aware of"

(attributions; from the cover blurbs of Dan Barker and Earl Doherty)
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: ParkingPlaces on April 01, 2012, 05:38:56 PM
You're pretty muchh spot on regarding some theists. They say over and over that we "hate" their god, and that's why we're atheists. By definition, if we hate a god we think exists, we are not atheists. And if we don't think that there is a god, there obviously is no deity for us to be upset about.

Having never been in a serious enough relation ship with the concept of god to have experienced a "breakup" with the dude, I can't speak for that aspect of your post. I just decided one day when I was 11 that there obviously wasn't really any god, and quit believing.

I love keeping things simple. That way I understand what happened. Theists of the type you describe (version 3) are indeed trying to figure out a way to get us to love their lord again, and see that as the only stumbling block between an atheist and an eternity in heaven. The only way I can explain such attitudes to myself is that their minds are voluntarily small so they don't have to give thought to anything other than serving jc and his pop.

We'll get more. We always do. We'll accomplish little because they'll piss us off in short order. Fur will fly. Barbs will be traded. Fun will be had by all. Or enough of us to make it worth our time. And then we'll sit back and wait for another one. Because people who can't learn and can't understand are not going to suddenly experience great insights while going face to face with twenty or thirty irritated atheists. Humans don't work that way.

So they aren't making any progress with us, and we seldom make progress with them. Yet it's fun. Go figure.



Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Tero on April 01, 2012, 06:08:14 PM

But not so much with God. The fact that religion is directly and indirectly responsible for a great deal of human suffering, both individually and on massive scales, is completely apart from the point. That fact does nothing to support or refute my lack of belief in god, it just reinforces my rather negative view of religion's impact on humanity. That's people I'm pissed at, not god. Or God. Nope, that's just good old humans, hiding behind their holy books, as an excuse to do shitty things to other humans that they can't find any compassion for. Real, but not relevant.

Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway. Racism exists, cultures and languages exist. The leaders would have found ways to convince that  the enemy is out to "destroy our way of life."

Charity does not need religion. In fact poverty can be approached from some other direction. A state can do good to its less successful classes.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 01, 2012, 06:22:07 PM
Again, the "you must hate god" line makes atheism similar to homosexuality. It is like men in bars or at parties who, when they hit on a woman and are rebuffed, call her a lesbian. Since she does not want him, she must hate all men. Or people who think gays just have not had sex with the right member (heh heh) of the opposite sex. Or that they have had bad a experience with men or women and are so angry, they have whirled around in a huff and flounced over to the same sex.

Like being gay or atheist is a temporary phase, like a goth teen who wears only black, but will grow out of it. There might be some gay people like that, just as there may be atheists who "just hate god". But I have not met any of either group. &)
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Poseidon on April 01, 2012, 06:29:42 PM
NGFM, your avatar makes me hungry. 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: atheola on April 01, 2012, 11:15:50 PM
I hate to put it so blunt..well maybe I hate to, but what  most theist fail to realize about me (I can't speak for others although I doubt I'm alone in this) is I don't much give a rats ass what they think about me,you or anyone else if they keep their fairy tales to themselves or not.  :P
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 01, 2012, 11:17:29 PM
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 02, 2012, 04:32:09 AM
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?

Sadly, probably yes.....but it would have been a whole lot harder.

Andrea Yates had severe PPD.  If it hadn't been god telling her, maybe it would have been the fairies under the bed.

Hitler needed a group to scapegoat.  Without religion, its questionable if there would have been "Jews" to target, but certainly he targetted the disabled, the trade unions, the gypsies.....whatever groups he could name as being the ones responsible.  Religion would have played a very minor role in things.

And likewise the Crusades and 911.  Religion was certainly a factor, but do I think if you'd taken religion away there would be no problems?  Again, sadly not.  Both are just as much about "the other group that don't think/look/act like us" as about "....pray like us"....about territory, about control, about oppression.

I'll agree that religion gives another reason - a very good reason - for people to act poorly to others.  And I'll agree that in some cases, religion way have been the final factor that pushed people into taking that last final step.  But I think its a little simplistic - naive, maybe? - to say that without religion, everyone would always play nice and nobody would ever do anything terrible.

Heh - you've only got to look at some of the heated exchanges on here between atheists - untainted by the problems of religion  ;) - to give the lie to that!   ;D
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 02, 2012, 02:34:11 PM
Jag, one reason your "type three" narrative might be so common is that it appears to be a fairly common experience among Christians.  Basically: sheltered Sunday School kid becomes a teenager/college student.--->Apron strings untied, they gallop off into alcohol, sex, drugs, etc. and make a mess of things.--->Hitting bottom, they go scurrying back to religion and church.--->There they find hard and fast rules that more or less "work," and a lot of group support in getting their lives back in order. 

Thus, the extremely common evangelistic narrative of "I was into Wicca and drugs and sex and all kinds of bad, wicked, naughty sin, until I Found Jesus, and now I'm a good little middle class citizen with two cars, 1.5 children, and a house in the suburbs."  Since their period of unbelief was a temporary break-up, they assume ours must be too.

Also, back to your list of types, it seems to me that the most common here is not on your list; the Sorcerer:  "I am going to convert you with incantatory magic, and the Bible is my grimoire!"  For this type, quoting scripture passages and always typing GOD in all-caps is supposed to be efficacious in changing our minds.  Favorite spells include John 3:16 and "The fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God.'"  Sorcerers usually don't last very long here because they can't practice their Dark Arts without repeatedly violating the Forum rule against "preaching" (unsubstantiated assertions and scripture-spam).  Nonetheless, there's almost always one or two of them running around the Forums.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 02, 2012, 02:49:35 PM
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?
I agree that religions can give legitimacy to ideas and actions that would be seen as the crazy sh!t they are if not for the cover of acceptable supernaturalism.

But even in the Middle East, violent conflicts are not primarily religious. Religion is a way to identify your enemies, to encourage committment, and to rally your followers, but religious differences alone don't make people fight.

Example: The Israeli government diverts water resources away from the Palestinian territories, acting the same as any colonizing power. And the Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) fight back, like any colonized people. Remember, this is a desert region. Water is life and death. And it looks like Jews and Muslims and Christians just can't ever get along.

There have been long periods in M-E history when the different religions got along fine--no massacres or pogroms or discrimination against others. Under some medieval Arab rulers, religious dissidents from exiled Buddhists to heretical Christians flocked to live there and practice their faith in peace. And there have been lots of terrible massacres that don't have a thing to do with religion: the Mongol conquests are a good example.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 02, 2012, 03:03:04 PM
Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.  Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types.  The Crusades were basically a kind of imperialism; you'll note that the Crusaders lived like kings in the Holy Land during the time they did conquer it, suggesting that piety was not exactly high on their list of priorities.  And 9/11 is a textbook example of "asymmetrical warfare", which certainly doesn't need religion.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: velkyn on April 02, 2012, 03:05:28 PM
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants? 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 02, 2012, 03:07:29 PM
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants?

If you are talking about Ireland, that is a colonial struggle. I have to give you the Inquisition, though.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: velkyn on April 02, 2012, 03:22:25 PM
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants?

If you are talking about Ireland, that is a colonial struggle. I have to give you the Inquisition, though.

Henry VIII and his daughter , Elizabeth 1 were doing this to catholics during their reigns, especially when Henry wanted his divorce.   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_persecutions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years'_War  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Augsburg 

Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 02, 2012, 04:00:23 PM
Communist "enemies of the state" who were publicly executed, "disappeared", or thrown in gulags and worked to death.

My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology.  That doesn't mean I think religion is an acceptable excuse for those atrocities, though.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 03, 2012, 02:05:07 AM
My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology.  That doesn't mean I think religion is an acceptable excuse for those atrocities, though.
Nobody denies that other things cause atrocities, but religion being the most prominent, must be held accountable, and the majority of ways people have been killed is also a direct result of religion.  Religions hands are extremely dirty in this regard, to say that most killings would have been done anyway is quite honestly disingenuous.
Four fifths of the world is controlled by religion now, it used to be all the world. Religion cannot wash away it's guilt simply by saying it could have happened anyway, take away that incitement to violence and the evil isn't committed.
 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 03, 2012, 03:33:22 AM
Nobody denies that other things cause atrocities, but religion being the most prominent, must be held accountable, and the majority of ways people have been killed is also a direct result of religion.  Religions hands are extremely dirty in this regard, to say that most killings would have been done anyway is quite honestly disingenuous.

Oh, I'm not saying that religion should be absolved - I've never subscribed to the philosophy of "well, if I don't take advantage, someone else will".

Religion is the easiest and most convenient way of labelling an "enemy group".  You don't have to prove anything, and you've got gawd on your side - you don't wanna disagree with god, do ya?  Its why religion features so heavily in the field of atrocities: religion is the easiest way for the powerful to have their will done.

So I completely agree that if we hadn't had religion, it would have made things much. much harder for those atrocities to be committed, and that's a good enough reason to say religion is dangerous and should be gotten rid of.  I'm just not naive enough to say that if religion had never been, nothing bad would ever have happened.

I see it a lot like guns.  Guns make it much. much easier to kill someone.  If there were no guns, a lot of people would still have died, but it might be fewer, or have taken longer.  But "no guns" would not equal "no killing".
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 03, 2012, 12:33:07 PM
I think what makes religion particularly dangerous isn't that it's the only ideology that can spark the commission of atrocities, but that it's the least accountable.  If some secular ideologue claims that forcing women to wear burkas and be slaves in their own homes will result in the creation of a wonderful Workers' Paradise, sooner or later people are going to start asking, "Hey, where's that Workers' Paradise you promised us?"  Once the contrast between the daily experience of reality and the ideologue's claims becomes too great, the ideology starts to come apart.  The Soviets lasted only 70 years, despite having every technologically possible instrumentality of totalitarianism at their disposal. 

If the ideologue makes the same demands, but in the name of an invisible Heavenly King, and locates the Paradise on the other side of death, the regime can continue for hundreds, even thousands of years.  Religion can get away with absurdities secular ideologies can't.  Without religion, would anybody saw at the genitals of their children?  Without religion, would any group of men get a free pass on child rape, especially when they have no armies under their control?  Without religion, would anyone get away with trying to deny women contraceptives, prevent the distribution of condoms to fight AIDS, or teach blatantly false stories as science in schools?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 03, 2012, 12:53:35 PM
I don't get how you guys can repeatedly site the harms of religion in one thread and then turn around and claim it all would have happened anyway in another thread. It seems like you're just being contrary and it's infuriating.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

How the hell can you make a wild ass claim like that without any evidence or explanation? Perhaps the source of her mental instability was living in a world that didn't seem to follow the supernatural rules she had been force-fed her entire life. Without religion, she wouldn't have believed in demons or Satan.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 03, 2012, 02:53:44 PM
There are no violent, crazya$$ athiests? You don't need religious belief to do bad things....

I agree, however that a theocracy is the worst kind of dictatorship, because you can never question, defy or un-elect a supernatural being. You can't amend or get rid of stupid laws or rules because they come from the sacred text. And you can't change the government except for a complete revolution.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 03, 2012, 04:08:49 PM
I don't get how you guys can repeatedly site the harms of religion in one thread and then turn around and claim it all would have happened anyway in another thread. It seems like you're just being contrary and it's infuriating.
The problem is that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  The fact that religion can cause harm in no way suggests that religion is the only thing that can cause that kind of harm.  Religion is often a convenient excuse for that sort of thing, but it is wrong to conclude that without religion, that some other excuse couldn't have been found instead.

Quote from: joebbowers
How the hell can you make a wild ass claim like that without any evidence or explanation? Perhaps the source of her mental instability was living in a world that didn't seem to follow the supernatural rules she had been force-fed her entire life. Without religion, she wouldn't have believed in demons or Satan.
This is part of what I meant by saying that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that.  And even leaving that aside, you've already admitted that you don't actually know what caused her insanity.  You've suggested that it's related to her religion; what's your basis for this?  Unless you have hard evidence to support it, you're shooting in the dark.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Ice Monkey on April 03, 2012, 07:30:52 PM


Quote from: joebbowers
I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that.

Really?  That's all?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 04, 2012, 03:40:01 AM
The fact that religion can cause harm in no way suggests that religion is the only thing that can cause that kind of harm.

I never said that religion is the only thing that can cause harm. If you had said that without religion bad things would still happen, I would agree with you, but you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

The same would be true for suicide bombers. Without Allah's blessing and the promise of 72 virgins and eternal paradise, you think people would still be just as eager to blow themselves up?

Without religion we would have far fewer crazy people killing their families. If people were not taught to believe in superstition, demons and hell and Satan, and were taught to understand hyper-active agent detection, nobody would believe their child to be possessed by the devil. Stop teaching people that a vicious bloodthirsty God is the epitome of good and nobody would believe God wanted them to kill their kids. There would still be crazy people, but far fewer of them, and their symptoms could be recognized much earlier.

Religion is often a convenient excuse for that sort of thing, but it is wrong to conclude that without religion, that some other excuse couldn't have been found instead.

I never said that another excuse couldn't have been found, but I believe in most cases an excuse would not have been needed. An excuse is just a rationalization for a desire. What if their religious belief is the source of the desire?

 The Phelps' kids are raised to believe that "God hates Fags", if one of them were to murder a homosexual, how can you possibly say with such certainty that they would have done it anyway had they not been raised with those beliefs? What are the odds of an atheist murdering a homosexual because he or she a homosexual? It's possible, but to say that it is a certainty without explanation is completely ridiculous.

This is part of what I meant by saying that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that. 

Like I said, it is possible that she would have killed her kids anyway, but if she didn't believe in demons, Satan, or God, and been surrounded by people in her life reinforcing her delusions, it is very likely that her mental health would have been much better.

And even leaving that aside, you've already admitted that you don't actually know what caused her insanity.  You've suggested that it's related to her religion; what's your basis for this?  Unless you have hard evidence to support it, you're shooting in the dark.

I know what caused her insanity. Her fucking religion.

Some information from her Wikipedia page: (Black is me filling in some gaps, blue is Wikipedia)

Following the birth of Luke, her fourth son, Andrea became depressed. Her condition may have been brought on by the extremist sermons of Michael Peter Woroniecki, the preacher who sold them their bus. Her family was concerned by the way that she was so captivated by the minister’s words.

[after the death of her father] She then stopped taking medication, mutilated herself, and read the Bible feverishly. She also stopped feeding her youngest child, Mary.

While in prison, Andrea stated she had considered killing the children for two years, adding that they thought she was not a good mother and claimed her sons were developing improperly. She told her jail psychiatrist: "It was the seventh deadly sin. My children weren't righteous. They stumbled because I was evil. The way I was raising them, they could never be saved. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell." She also told her jail psychiatrist that Satan influenced her children and made them more disobedient.

Andrea suffered from postpartum depression. Each child caused her to sink deeper and deeper. Her doctor prescribed some anti-psychotic meds to deal with it, and she was doing very well on them. But she decided to stop taking them in order to get pregnant again.

Andrea's first psychiatrist, Dr. Eileen Starbranch, says she was shocked to disbelief when the Yateses expressed a desire to discontinue her medications so that she could become pregnant again during an office visit with them. She warned and counseled them against having more children, and noted in the medical record two days later, '"Apparently patient and husband plan to have as many babies as nature will allow! This will surely guarantee future psychotic depression."'

OK, so postpartum depression caused her to drown her kids after she stopped taking her meds. But why did she feel compelled to have more kids, against doctor's advice? Buh-dum-bum! Religion!

She revealed to her jail psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Ferguson, that prior to their last child, "she had told Rusty that she did not want to have sex because Dr. Starbranch had said she might hurt her children." Rusty, she said, simply asserted his procreative religious beliefs, complimented her as a good mother, and persuaded her that she could handle more children.

The adherence of the Yates family to the principles of the Quiverfull lifestyle, which encourages couples to have many children, has been posited as a factor contributing to the mental and emotional stress that she experienced. Some sources have suggested the lack of community may have contributed to her isolation.


From the Wikipedia article on Quiverfull:

Quiverfull is a movement among some conservative evangelical Christian couples chiefly in the United States, but with some adherents in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and elsewhere. It promotes procreation, and sees children as a blessing from God, eschewing all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization.

Her religious beliefs told her to have more kids, despite her susceptibility to postpartum depression and against doctor's advice.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

Are you still so sure? If you are going to stick to this wild claim, I would really like to see your supporting evidence.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 04, 2012, 05:45:08 AM
.....you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Absolutely agree with you.  But not impossible, otherwise atheists would never go to war, and there have been countless atheists, humanists, and whatnot prepared to lay down their lives for what they believed in.

I'm quite positive that Hitler would have happened anyway.  Like I said, his regime didn't just hit the Jews - they hit trade unionists, the disabled, gypsies, and many other minority groups, regardless of faith.  Jews were a convenient social group to target, and I'm sure were targetted as much for their race as for their religion.  Crusades similarly were as much about territory and foreigner-bashing as doing it for gawd, and 9/11 was as much about anti-Americanism and anti-Westerism as it was about anti-Christianity.

You've pretty much convinced me about Andrea though.  I don't doubt she'd still have had mental problems, but odds are that without the religious influence she woulnd't have taken that last step.  I'd like to see it proved though - imagine how overwhelming an argument against religion it would be if we could show that no atheist mother with PPD had EVER killed (or tried to kill) her children?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Tero on April 04, 2012, 06:21:51 AM
I was not saying that we would be exactly the same without religion, but pretty much. There are many ways to run a society. None is right or wrong, but some do lead to too much war. It is like evolution, the strongest survive. There is an explanation of hawks and doves in The Selfish Gene.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 04, 2012, 08:20:25 AM
.....you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Absolutely agree with you.  But not impossible, otherwise atheists would never go to war, and there have been countless atheists, humanists, and whatnot prepared to lay down their lives for what they believed in.

First it was "those things would have happened anyway" now it's "not impossible". It's not impossible that under other circumstances Hitler would have been a gay burlesque dancer. My point is that to say that all of those events would have happened without religion is pretty far-fetched without some serious explanation which I have yet to see.

Quote
I'm quite positive that Hitler would have happened anyway.  Like I said, his regime didn't just hit the Jews - they hit trade unionists, the disabled, gypsies, and many other minority groups, regardless of faith.  Jews were a convenient social group to target, and I'm sure were targetted as much for their race as for their religion.

Why did he hate those groups?
Would he have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would he have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would he have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would he have been able to raise and command such a large force without the blessing of the Vatican?
Judaism is a religion, not a race.

RE:9/11

Why do they hate westerners?
Would they have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would they have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would they have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would they have been able to convince other to become suicide bombers without convincing them that it was God's will, and promising them virgins and an eternal afterlife in paradise?

If yes to any of the above questions... evidence?

Again, I'm not saying the world would be free of violence without religion, but there would certainly be less war and murder, and things like I mentioned would likely never happen. To boldly state that it would all have happened anyway makes me think you haven't put much thought into it.

You've pretty much convinced me about Andrea though.  I don't doubt she'd still have had mental problems, but odds are that without the religious influence she woulnd't have taken that last step.  I'd like to see it proved though - imagine how overwhelming an argument against religion it would be if we could show that no atheist mother with PPD had EVER killed (or tried to kill) her children?

She absolutely would not have killed her children without the religious influence. I'm sure atheist mothers have killed their kids, but not as a result of their atheism.

By the way, Andrea Yates' roommate in the mental asylum is another Christian who killed her child because God told her to.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 04, 2012, 09:41:17 AM
Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

Do you have a cite for this?  It's possible--I don't know enough about the specifics of her illness--but I think that religion is likely to have greased the skids.[1]  What if, instead of thinking that "God" wanted her to kill her children, Andrea believed that the voices in her head were aliens beaming their commands to her with an orbital mind-control laser?  She might have killed her children anyway.  But: there is a considerable body of literature and movies centered on the idea that humans can, and should fight evil extraterrestrial invaders.  Not only is standing up to enemy aliens right, we can also win, or so our society's stories on the subject assure us.  There is a chance, perhaps a small one, but still a chance, that she might have gone to somebody and said "Help me!  Aliens are trying to make me kill my children!"

However, since it was the voice of "God" telling her to kill her children, the situation was different.  It is a pervasive and socially-acceptable idea that "God" is: 1) invincible, and 2) owns the patent and trademark on all morality, so that whatever "He" says goes, because it's "Him" saying it.  Humans aren't supposed to fight "God," and any attempt to do so is inherently futile.  It's all packaged together as part of the big-G "God" concept, which is what makes this particular religious idea so dangerous.  And furthermore, killing children at "His" command is explicitly sanctioned, even regarded as heroic and noble, wherever the Abrahamic monotheistic religions are predominant.  The "Abrahamic" religions are those which trace their foundations to Abraham, who became the revered "father of faith" precisely because he was willing to kill his favorite son without hesitation when a voice in his head told him to. 

Since it's the voice of "God," rather than space aliens, fairies, demons, etc., it automatically receives a moral blank check from just about everyone in our society.  Most people would hem and haw and try to wriggle out of saying that they would kill their own child at the behest of a disembodied voice, but few would condemn Abraham for his deed.  Likewise, they would also try to make excuses for Jephthah, who, since the child he was called upon to kill was a mere girl, did not receive a "Haha, just kidding" happy ending like Abraham did.  In addition, "God" is the only entity that has eternal torment in his arsenal.  If drowning her children really was the only way to spare them from everlasting torture, then it arguably would have been a necessary act even if one does reject the moral authority of "God."

If Andrea had been an atheist, her delusion might have framed itself as aliens, the CIA, or some other force (or if it had come as "God" she would have had some degree of skepticism of its reality), and she might still have felt a powerful urge to obey.  But, she would also have retained some psychological defense and ability to resist.  There is only one entity in our civilization's entire conceptual vocabulary that is supposed to receive automatic, unquestioning obedience and against whom all conceivable resistance is futile: "God."  Had she received such malevolent instructions from anything else, the moral structures of society would have urged her to resist or seek help.  It is only in the case of "God" that ordinary people will argue with a straight face, that murdering one's children on command would actually be the right thing to do.

So, in the absence of religion, I think Andrea Yates would have been less likely to have murdered her children, and more likely to have sought help.
 1. Edit: the Wikipedia cites from Joebbowers' post above persuade me even more that religion is responsible for her act.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 04, 2012, 10:31:13 AM
It is only in the case of "God" that ordinary people will argue with a straight face, that murdering one's children on command would actually be the right thing to do.

As has been the case with multiple theists on this very forum.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Whateverman on April 04, 2012, 10:47:24 AM
You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?
I do, yes.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Zankuu on April 04, 2012, 10:47:49 AM
Azdgari, I would think that should be the case for every Christian. The message conveyed in the story of Abraham is quite clear: toss your inner moral code aside because what God asks of you transcends your ethical views; if murder is what God asks then murder becomes moral and justified.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 04, 2012, 10:55:29 AM
^^ Among those who have thought about the issue and stuck with their religion, I agree.  But as we know, that doesn't cover all Christians.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 04, 2012, 01:20:34 PM
I don't accept joebbowers's presumption that religion was the direct cause of Andrea Yates's insanity and decision to kill her children.  He's stated before that he considers religion to be a form of insanity, so he appears to be using a form of confirmation bias when it comes to Yates - she's religious, he thinks religious people are insane, she killed her children because "God told her to", and it's easy for him to pick and choose things about her to support his conclusion that she wouldn't have done it.  It's the same general thing with his other statements - he's basing them off of specific examples picked out because they support those statements, but as far as I can tell he's not really considering anything but them.

As for Yates, she was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.  It's important to note that this is a general category of mental illnesses that come about after childbirth, and there is no causal link between them and religious belief.  In other words, postpartum psychosis is something that can and does affect a number of women who have given birth, regardless of their religious beliefs or even if they have religious beliefs.  I don't deny that her religious beliefs affected her actions, however, I don't think that one can legitimately say that religious belief is the deciding factor either.  Now, I did misspeak earlier; I meant that women like Andrea Yates could have killed their children - or themselves - regardless of their religious belief, not that she would certainly have done so if she wasn't religious.  I'm not familiar enough with her case (or with psychology in general) to make the definite statement that she would have with any kind of certainty.  Perhaps she might not have...but there is literally no way to know that for sure, because you can't define the extent of a person's religious beliefs from the outside with any degree of certainty.  Maybe they were the absolute deciding factor that joe believes they were, or maybe they were a relatively minor factor that would have made no real difference, and maybe they were somewhere in between.

As for the other points joe commented on, perhaps he should go back and reread my post.  What I said is that Hitler could have targeted racial sub-types if he had not had a religious sub-group to target; the Crusades were a kind of imperialism and thus piety was not especially high on their list of priorities; and 9/11 was an example of asymmetric warfare which does not require religious belief.

As for his other examples, he can't exactly back them up with evidence, because no such evidence exists.  For example, we don't have societies where atheists are dominant, for example, so we can't very well know how likely atheistic societies would be to go to war.  We don't know whether an atheistic society could develop which rewarded the families of suicide bombers for their sacrifice and devotion.  We don't know whether an atheistic society would be immune to racism.  But given human nature, I think it is reasonable that all of these things could come about, and likely would.  Is it a certainty?  No, not unless it happens, but I would rather not whistle in the dark about something like this.

So, I will reiterate what I said earlier.  Yes, women suffering from postpartum psychosis can kill themselves or their children without religion.  Yes, you can have genocides without religion.  Yes, you can have imperialistic crusades without religion.  Yes, you can have asymmetric warfare where people use themselves as living bombs without religion.  Yes, you can have other excuses for war without religion.  Yes, you can have murderous racism and discrimination without religion.  And while those things may not be certain, I am not willing to grant joe's premise that history would have been one bit less bloody if religion had never been invented.  Because I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination, and I am not willing to assume that things somehow would have been better in the past if nobody had dreamed up religious beliefs.  Yes, that's a cynical way of looking at things, but given how often people repeat the mistakes made in the past, I don't think we can afford to look at it any other way.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 04, 2012, 01:27:52 PM
.....you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Absolutely agree with you.  But not impossible, otherwise atheists would never go to war, and there have been countless atheists, humanists, and whatnot prepared to lay down their lives for what they believed in.

First it was "those things would have happened anyway" now it's "not impossible". It's not impossible that under other circumstances Hitler would have been a gay burlesque dancer. My point is that to say that all of those events would have happened without religion is pretty far-fetched without some serious explanation which I have yet to see.

Eh?  My "not impossible" there was saying that you can convince people to die for something without religion. 

I'm quite positive that Hitler would have happened anyway.  Like I said, his regime didn't just hit the Jews - they hit trade unionists, the disabled, gypsies, and many other minority groups, regardless of faith.  Jews were a convenient social group to target, and I'm sure were targetted as much for their race as for their religion.

Why did he hate those groups?
Would he have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would he have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would he have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would he have been able to raise and command such a large force without the blessing of the Vatican?
Judaism is a religion, not a race.

Judaism is indeed a religion.  And being Jewish is a race.  Are you suggesting that any "cultural Jews" who didn't follow Judaism were patted on the head and left alone?

And the answer I give to all the above is yes - Hitler WOULD have still hated: he was a nut-job with a deep inferoiority complex who wanted to rule.  I'm positive that he would have done exactly the same stuff even if religion hadn't ever been invented.  Or is your point that without religion Hitler would have had no problems with anyone, and stayed being a housepainter?  He'd have been just as much a nutjob, haed anyone who wasn't "on his side" just as much.  Would he have had quite as large an army without the Vatican?  Who knows....but probably yes. 

One final point:

I'm sure atheist mothers have killed their kids, but not as a result of their atheism.

So you agree that you do NOT need religion to commit evil acts, provided you are loopy enough?  So even when you take religion out of the picture, mothers still kill their children...and yet you are positive that it was ONLY because of religion that she killed hers?  Sorry, but that doesn't add up.  If someone without religion can do it - presumably based solely on their phychoses - then I don't see how you can so categorically state that without her religion, those kids would still be alive.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: velkyn on April 04, 2012, 01:46:00 PM
I think there is confusion about calling them a "race" since there are Sephardic and Ashkenazi jews and that people can become Jewish, no matter their original ancestors origins.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: One Above All on April 04, 2012, 01:48:40 PM
I think there is confusion about calling them a "race" since there are Sephardic and Ashkenazi jews and that people can become Jewish, no matter their original ancestors origins.

Why exactly is there only one word for both (race and religion)?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: velkyn on April 04, 2012, 01:54:46 PM
that's a great question Lucifer. I'm going to hazard that it comes from the idea that there is something "special" about them, its one more way to seperate them from the rest of us apes.  "race" is such a screwed up word anyhow. 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 04, 2012, 01:56:25 PM
"race" is such a screwed up word anyhow.
Agreed, wholeheartedly.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: One Above All on April 04, 2012, 01:58:57 PM
that's a great question Lucifer. I'm going to hazard that it comes from the idea that there is something "special" about them, its one more way to seperate them from the rest of us apes.  "race" is such a screwed up word anyhow. 

Probably something like that. Also, agreed on the "race" thing.
On an unrelated note, I'm Jewish. Does that mean that when DA MESSIAH comes I get "saved"? He's probably gonna be a little upset over all that blasphemy and non-belief...
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 04, 2012, 02:02:06 PM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Whateverman on April 04, 2012, 02:06:29 PM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
Idiocy and tongue-in-cheek humor are identical on the interwebz...
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 04, 2012, 04:08:02 PM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
Anfauglir puts plenty of thought into things.  I may not always agree with his conclusions, but he is among the best thinkers on this website.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 04, 2012, 04:58:40 PM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
Anfauglir puts plenty of thought into things.  I may not always agree with his conclusions, but he is among the best thinkers on this website.
I don't disagree with you, I like his posts too. But in this instance, I think he failed to comprehend Joe's point.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Whateverman on April 04, 2012, 05:52:22 PM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
Anfauglir puts plenty of thought into things.  I may not always agree with his conclusions, but he is among the best thinkers on this website.
I don't disagree with you

it appears you haven't put much thought into it.

Seems like disagreeing is exactly what you did
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 04, 2012, 06:14:57 PM
He said he didn't disagree (ie. he agreed) with Jaime that Anfauglir is one of the best thinkers on the site.

He also specified that despite that, in this case, he thinks Anfauglir isn't thinking things through as well as he usually does.

I don't see the contradiction, Whateverman.  Are you sure that you are thinking this through clearly?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: magicmiles on April 04, 2012, 06:26:19 PM
Whateverman’s response to the thought put in by Bertaberts to Jaimelhers thoughts on Anfauglir’s general thought processes was, I think, possibly flawed thought.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Whateverman on April 04, 2012, 06:52:33 PM
He said he didn't disagree (ie. he agreed) with Jaime that Anfauglir is one of the best thinkers on the site.

He also specified that despite that, in this case, he thinks Anfauglir isn't thinking things through as well as he usually does.
Bolding mine.   He did not say that.

Meh, it's a minor point at best.  My impression of Bert was that he was shooting from the hip
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 04, 2012, 10:20:23 PM
Judaism is indeed a religion.  And being Jewish is a race.  Are you suggesting that any "cultural Jews" who didn't follow Judaism were patted on the head and left alone?

Just as Muslims think all white people must be Christian, cultural Jews would have been lumped in with the rest.

Quote
Hitler WOULD have still hated: he was a nut-job with a deep inferoiority complex who wanted to rule.  I'm positive that he would have done exactly the same stuff even if religion hadn't ever been invented.  Or is your point that without religion Hitler would have had no problems with anyone, and stayed being a housepainter?  He'd have been just as much a nutjob, haed anyone who wasn't "on his side" just as much.  Would he have had quite as large an army without the Vatican?  Who knows....but probably yes. 

I just don't get how you can say things would have been exactly the same under wildly different circumstances. He was a "nut-job with an inferiority complex" because his drunk Roman Catholic father was a strict disciplinarian and beat him. Would his father have been the same man in a world without religion?

So you agree that you do NOT need religion to commit evil acts, provided you are loopy enough?

Yes, but that is an oversimplification. Someone who is slightly imbalanced may be pushed deeper into psychosis by hyper-active agent detection, and fear combined with suppression of reason, reinforcement of delusion, and mistrust of medicine. In other words, religion.

On the other hand, someone who is slightly imbalanced, but not religious, might actually seek help, might not stop taking their meds against doctor's advice, and as kcrady brilliantly put it, they might resist the voices in their head if they believed them to be anything but God, particularly if we teach children to understand hyper-active agent detection while they're young as an inoculation against the various men of boogy.

So in a world without religion there would still be crazy people, but likely far fewer than we have now. The current religious climate is practically rolling them out shiny on a conveyor belt.

So even when you take religion out of the picture, mothers still kill their children...and yet you are positive that it was ONLY because of religion that she killed hers?  Sorry, but that doesn't add up.

Would there be car accidents without alcohol? Sure. But let's say you found a car wrapped around a tree with two empty bottles of Jack Daniels in the passenger seat and the driver passed out with a blood-alcohol level of 2.8. Then the driver wakes up and tell you how he'd been drinking all night and blacked out while trying to see how fast his new car would go. In his own words, he blames the alcohol.

Would you say "it would have happened anyway, the alcohol wasn't a factor"?

She knew she was predisposed to postpartum depression, yet she stopped taking her anti-psychotic meds to continue having children because of her religious beliefs. She even told her husband she didn't want to have more kids because she knew she might hurt them. He convinced her that God wanted her to have more kids. Hyper-active agent detection led her to believe that her children were possessed by Satan, delusions that her religious community supported. In her own words, she describes the trail of events that led her to drown her kids, and at every step where it could have gone the other way, religion steered it towards calamity.

If she were not religious, she would have listened to her doctors, stayed on her medication, had fewer children, and not been so affected by PPD. Without the horrific religious fairy tales of demonic possession by Satan and eternal fiery torment in her head, and without the stress of PPD, the voices in her head may have never manifested. Even if they did, if she had believed them to be anything but God, she would have been more likely to resist them and seek help.

If it were alcohol, you wouldn't hesitate to point the finger. Why do you resist now when the evidence is there? We're conditioned by society to look the other way as God makes his getaway from the scene of the crime, but at some point you've got to stop giving religion a free pass.

If someone without religion can do it - presumably based solely on their phychoses - then I don't see how you can so categorically state that without her religion, those kids would still be alive.

Research, and reason.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 04, 2012, 10:26:31 PM
On an unrelated note, I'm Jewish. Does that mean that when DA MESSIAH comes I get "saved"? He's probably gonna be a little upset over all that blasphemy and non-belief...

Do you believe in God? You are not Jewish. You are of middle-eastern or north African descent. If you participate in Jewish cultural festivals, that still doesn't make you Jewish.

A lot of atheists decorate Christmas trees and hide eggs for their kids at Easter. That doesn't make us Christians, it only means we grew up in Christian culture.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 04, 2012, 10:31:41 PM
I am not willing to grant joe's premise that history would have been one bit less bloody if religion had never been invented.  Because I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination, and I am not willing to assume that things somehow would have been better in the past if nobody had dreamed up religious beliefs.

Well you heard him guys, let's pack it in. Shut down the website. He has looked through his crystal ball and seen that the world would be exactly the same without religion, so there's no point in what we're trying to accomplish here.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Ice Monkey on April 04, 2012, 10:38:57 PM
I am not willing to grant joe's premise that history would have been one bit less bloody if religion had never been invented.  Because I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination, and I am not willing to assume that things somehow would have been better in the past if nobody had dreamed up religious beliefs.

Well you heard him guys, let's pack it in. Shut down the website. He has looked through his crystal ball and seen that the world would be exactly the same without religion, so there's no point in what we're trying to accomplish here.

I always thought it was from a lack of imagination.  Mental laziness. 

Gonna have to agree, strongly, with Joe and Steve Weinberg on this one.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 04, 2012, 10:46:43 PM
On an unrelated note, I'm Jewish. Does that mean that when DA MESSIAH comes I get "saved"? He's probably gonna be a little upset over all that blasphemy and non-belief...

Do you believe in God? You are not Jewish. You are of middle-eastern or north African descent. If you participate in Jewish cultural festivals, that still doesn't make you Jewish.

A lot of atheists decorate Christmas trees and hide eggs for their kids at Easter. That doesn't make us Christians, it only means we grew up in Christian culture.

If his mama is Jewish, he's Jewish. Sit your tuckus down, have some matzo soup and relax, bubeleh. Tradishuuuuun! Tradition! (Everyone sing and dance the hora.)[1]
 1. My grandmother, who looked like Cicely Tyson as Miss Jane Pittman, raised so many Jewish children that she spoke Yiddish and we picked up some words....
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 04, 2012, 10:46:53 PM
General rule indicated:
I don't disagree with you, I like his posts too.

Exception to rule indicated:
But in this instance, I think he failed to comprehend Joe's point.

So yes, he did say that, Whateverman.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 04, 2012, 11:22:14 PM
I am not willing to grant joe's premise that history would have been one bit less bloody if religion had never been invented.  Because I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination, and I am not willing to assume that things somehow would have been better in the past if nobody had dreamed up religious beliefs.

Well you heard him guys, let's pack it in. Shut down the website. He has looked through his crystal ball and seen that the world would be exactly the same without religion, so there's no point in what we're trying to accomplish here.
Don't waste your time with this kind of foolish attempt at sarcasm.  It's not amusing, and your attitude here is just plain silly.  Pot-calling-kettle-black silly.  Or aren't you trying to suggest that the world would have been better if religion hadn't been invented, despite a complete lack of any hard evidence of your own as to how the world might have worked out without religious beliefs?  So tell me, how did you come up with this idea if you weren't using some kind of crystal ball to look back into the past to discover exactly how the world would have been without religious beliefs?

The difference between my attitude and yours is that I'm making a worst-case assumption - which you might have realized, if you'd spent a little less time trying to be sarcastic - knowing full well that it probably wouldn't have been that bad.  Whereas you're assuming that it would have been better, based on...what?  How do you know that a world where religious belief was never invented would have been better than the one we live in?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Ice Monkey on April 05, 2012, 01:07:50 AM
I am not willing to grant joe's premise that history would have been one bit less bloody if religion had never been invented.  Because I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination, and I am not willing to assume that things somehow would have been better in the past if nobody had dreamed up religious beliefs.

Well you heard him guys, let's pack it in. Shut down the website. He has looked through his crystal ball and seen that the world would be exactly the same without religion, so there's no point in what we're trying to accomplish here.
Don't waste your time with this kind of foolish attempt at sarcasm.  It's not amusing, and your attitude here is just plain silly.  Pot-calling-kettle-black silly.  Or aren't you trying to suggest that the world would have been better if religion hadn't been invented, despite a complete lack of any hard evidence of your own as to how the world might have worked out without religious beliefs?  So tell me, how did you come up with this idea if you weren't using some kind of crystal ball to look back into the past to discover exactly how the world would have been without religious beliefs?

The difference between my attitude and yours is that I'm making a worst-case assumption - which you might have realized, if you'd spent a little less time trying to be sarcastic - knowing full well that it probably wouldn't have been that bad.  Whereas you're assuming that it would have been better, based on...what?  How do you know that a world where religious belief was never invented would have been better than the one we live in?

I say we give it a shot.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 05, 2012, 03:11:50 AM
...aren't you trying to suggest that the world would have been better if religion hadn't been invented, despite a complete lack of any hard evidence of your own as to how the world might have worked out without religious beliefs?

I'm not suggesting it, I'm flat out stating it as fact. The world would be better off without religion. I would have assumed that to be common knowledge among the atheists here. I mean there are literally thousands of posts on this website describing war, murder, famine, overpopulation, fear, ignorance, intolerance, hatred,  poverty and just about every other evil you can imagine, caused by religion.

You take religion out of the equation and the vast majority of human suffering would not have occurred. While it is possible that a world without religion would be just as violent, it is incredibly unlikely. I can say that without a crystal ball because we can examine history and study the chain of events that led up to it. We know generally how theists and atheists think, and we can predict an alternative outcome with some accuracy. That's not a crystal ball, it's called reasoned estimation.

I gave you a step-by-step description of Andrea Yates' religion-fueled spiral into despair which led to the deaths of her children, followed by a clear explanation of how things would most likely have gone the other way without religion, based on research of her mental state leading up to the event.

If you take away the most significant cause of an event, that event becomes far less likely to occur. To say that it all would have happened anyway is a ridiculous claim to make, and I think the onus is on you to provide the evidence. It would be the same as saying anyone who was struck by a car while crossing the street would have been struck by a car anyway if they weren't crossing the street, because it's possible that a car would have careened out of control off the highway and crashed into their living room.

The difference between my attitude and yours is that I'm making a worst-case assumption - which you might have realized, if you'd spent a little less time trying to be sarcastic - knowing full well that it probably wouldn't have been that bad.  Whereas you're assuming that it would have been better, based on...what?  How do you know that a world where religious belief was never invented would have been better than the one we live in?

You're assuming, whereas I'm basing my conclusion on research.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: One Above All on April 05, 2012, 03:12:20 AM
If his mama is Jewish, he's Jewish. Sit your tuckus down, have some matzo soup and relax, bubeleh. Tradishuuuuun! Tradition! (Everyone sing and dance the hora.)[1]
 1. My grandmother, who looked like Cicely Tyson as Miss Jane Pittman, raised so many Jewish children that she spoke Yiddish and we picked up some words....

This. Although I'm not 100% certain if my "I'm Jewish" statement was accurate. How many generations of non-Jewish Jews does it take to "wipe the slate clean", so to speak?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 05, 2012, 03:21:07 AM
I understand that religion is a product of the human imagination
I always thought it was from a lack of imagination.  Mental laziness. 

You're both right. Religion is the result of imagination[1], but it survives because of mental laziness.
 1. hyper-active agent detection
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 05, 2012, 09:00:13 AM
How do you know that a world where religious belief was never invented would have been better than the one we live in?
I say we give it a shot.
First off, when quoting, only quote what you specifically need.  You didn't need to quote joe's post that I responded to, and my post that joe responded to as well.

Second, how exactly do you intend to create a world where religious belief was never invented?  It's a little difficult to uninvent religious belief, you know, and we can't exactly build a time machine to go tell the first humans that religion is bad and not to invent it.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: MonicaLynn on April 05, 2012, 09:10:52 AM
A quick thought... This is very sad. I'm sorry you Gus get treated as less than. I just finished trying to correct another " believer" tht was being mean to someone in another forum. Pisses me off.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Ice Monkey on April 05, 2012, 09:21:45 AM

First off, when quoting, only quote what you specifically need.  You didn't need to quote joe's post that I responded to, and my post that joe responded to as well.

Ya, just saw the rule discussions thismorning.  I shall commit this sin no more.

Quote
Second, how exactly do you intend to create a world where religious belief was never invented?  It's a little difficult to uninvent religious belief, you know, and we can't exactly build a time machine to go tell the first humans that religion is bad and not to invent it.

We can't.  But we can give it a shot moving forward.  I say it's worth a try.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: velkyn on April 05, 2012, 09:37:28 AM
A quick thought... This is very sad. I'm sorry you Gus get treated as less than. I just finished trying to correct another " believer" tht was being mean to someone in another forum. Pisses me off.

Monica, are you trying to tell us that you are a Christian and other people who claim to be Christians are "wrong"? 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: MonicaLynn on April 05, 2012, 09:53:46 AM
Yes. A lot f them are very rude and judgmental. For this very reason, many have vowed not o attend churches anymore.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 05, 2012, 09:56:05 AM
First off, if I haven't already, I need to go find the topic where jetson linked the list of rhetoogical fallacies (http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/) and give him a karma point for it, because it's proved to be very useful (not so much for this post, just in general, since it explains them simply and concisely).

I'm not suggesting it, I'm flat out stating it as fact. The world would be better off without religion. I would have assumed that to be common knowledge among the atheists here. I mean there are literally thousands of posts on this website describing war, murder, famine, overpopulation, fear, ignorance, intolerance, hatred,  poverty and just about every other evil you can imagine, caused by religion.
This sounds an awful lot like an appeal to popular belief; "I would have assumed that to be common knowledge among the atheists here".  Even if it were, in fact, common knowledge, that doesn't make it true.  Furthermore, you're conflating two different ideas; the idea that the world would be better off without religion (or at least, without religion in control, which I would agree with), and the idea that the world would have been better off if religion had never been invented.  And you're assuming that religion caused all of those things, when in fact it is human nature that caused them.  Yes, religious belief was a factor, and an important one, but it sprang from human nature, and I do not think we should pretend that religion is to blame but human nature is not.  All of those evils you listed could have happened (and probably would have) without belief in any deities.

Quote from: joebbowers
You take religion out of the equation and the vast majority of human suffering would not have occurred. While it is possible that a world without religion would be just as violent, it is incredibly unlikely. I can say that without a crystal ball because we can examine history and study the chain of events that led up to it. We know generally how theists and atheists think, and we can predict an alternative outcome with some accuracy. That's not a crystal ball, it's called reasoned estimation.
That's not "reasoned estimation", more like whistling in the dark.  For example, you say that you know generally how theists and atheists think, but who is to say that all atheists think similarly enough for that kind of generalization?  For that matter, who is to say that you can make that kind of judgment about theists, given the nature of SPAG?  Second, your whole scenario is predicated on the history of a world where religion existed, but you are then trying to make predictions using our history about a world where religion would have never come about in the first place, despite the fact that the presence of religion has been a part of our history since almost before we had recorded history.  I think it's more likely that you're making predictions based on what would happen if religion suddenly vanished from this world, which nonetheless would retain the memory and experience of what religion was like and presumably could make different choices based on that in the future.

Quote from: joebbowers
I gave you a step-by-step description of Andrea Yates' religion-fueled spiral into despair which led to the deaths of her children, followed by a clear explanation of how things would most likely have gone the other way without religion, based on research of her mental state leading up to the event.
No, you gave me a scenario based on your understanding of her case, and then an alternate scenario based on subtracting "religion" from the equation.  Given that your scenario was based on the wiki article about her, and your alternate scenario was developed from that, I think it's a little ridiculous to present them as "this is how it happened with religion, and this is how it would have happened without religion".  By the way, thank you for confirming that your "predictions" are not based on how a world where religion was never invented would have developed, but on this world, with the presumption that religion doesn't exist.

Quote from: joebbowers
If you take away the most significant cause of an event, that event becomes far less likely to occur. To say that it all would have happened anyway is a ridiculous claim to make, and I think the onus is on you to provide the evidence. It would be the same as saying anyone who was struck by a car while crossing the street would have been struck by a car anyway if they weren't crossing the street, because it's possible that a car would have careened out of control off the highway and crashed into their living room.
Given the problems that I've already detailed regarding assumptions you made and the process of logic you used to come up with this idea you're expounding on, I think you might want to spend some time reworking your model before trying to claim the onus is on me.  If you're going to make an argument based on removing religion from this world, that is a far cry from the argument of how the world would have been if religion had never been invented.  Get your argument straightened out, in other words.

Quote from: joebbowersYou're assuming, whereas I'm basing my conclusion on research.[/quote
Research which you conveniently don't produce or show.  Not even so much as the courtesy of a link to the places where you got this information from.  Am I supposed to just take your word for it that it was research instead of assumptions and a priori reasoning?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 05, 2012, 10:04:15 AM
Second, how exactly do you intend to create a world where religious belief was never invented?  It's a little difficult to uninvent religious belief, you know, and we can't exactly build a time machine to go tell the first humans that religion is bad and not to invent it.

You know exactly what he meant Jamie. He meant let's try to see if the world can be better without religion, and continue working to eliminate it. There you go intentionally misinterpreting things again.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 05, 2012, 10:52:18 AM
Jamie, you're trying to tell us that a radically different world would be basically the same, and I'm supposed to provide the evidence to explain how that doesn't make sense?

I think you're probably the lone atheist on these boards who believes the world wouldn't be better off without religion. That doesn't mean we're right, and you're wrong, but it does mean I'm not going to waste any more time convincing one person of an idea that the rest of us take as obvious, and that this very website exists to promote.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 05, 2012, 11:55:11 AM
You know exactly what he meant Jamie. He meant let's try to see if the world can be better without religion, and continue working to eliminate it. There you go intentionally misinterpreting things again.
Except that he responded to my question, "How do you know that a world where religious belief was never invented would have been better than the one we live in?"  The intent of my response was to get him to think about what he said and to clarify it.  He had no trouble understanding this and clarifying his statement.  Yet, according to you, I was "intentionally misinterpreting things again".  *shakes head*

Jamie, you're trying to tell us that a radically different world would be basically the same, and I'm supposed to provide the evidence to explain how that doesn't make sense?
Of course I'm not trying to say that it would basically be the same.  There would be lots of differences between this world and one where religion had never been invented.  But given the evolution of humans and the way we've developed (it took a long time to wear away our tendency towards violence even to the degree we've managed it, and we're still nowhere near done), I don't think there's any justifiable way to say that such a world would have been less violent than this one.  Atheism doesn't preclude the tendencies people have towards violence, and it wouldn't even have meaning in a world without religion, so how could it do anything to encourage people to act more rationally in such a world?

Now, granted, there's a difference between a world without religion in the first place and this one if religion goes away, but my point is that you can't simply subtract religion from the equation and then predict that things will be better without it, because another thing that atheism doesn't do is keep people from doing stupid things without good reasons.

Quote from: joebbowers
I think you're probably the lone atheist on these boards who believes the world wouldn't be better off without religion. That doesn't mean we're right, and you're wrong, but it does mean I'm not going to waste any more time convincing one person of an idea that the rest of us take as obvious, and that this very website exists to promote.
First off, another appeal to popular belief, claiming that atheists on this board all believe the world would be better off without religion.  Second, a strawman, misrepresenting my position (I said specifically that I wanted to see religion removed from its position of prominence and authority; I don't care much about it after that).  Third, another strawman, misrepresenting my argument in this thread as being about that rather than about catching the flaws in your reasoning and rhetoric.  And fourth, your dismissive attitude based on those strawman and your appeal to popularity.

Let me put it to you in plain English.  Just because you are an atheist posting on a board full of atheists doesn't mean your ideas and attitudes get a free pass.  Especially when some of those ideas and attitudes have been shown to be flawed.  And the fact that you try to blow off people who point out those flaws reflects on nobody but yourself, so perhaps you had better stop misrepresenting what other people are trying to tell you and start thinking about why they keep telling you those things.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 05, 2012, 12:27:49 PM
Jaime's contention is that if religion had never been invented, all of history's atrocities would have happened anyway (or perhaps, different but roughly equivalent atrocities, committed for other "reasons") because the cause of the atrocities is "human nature."  Joe's contention is that religion enables at least some atrocities that would not be enabled without it, i.e., if there was no religion, would the Aztecs really have went ahead, invested lots of work and resources into building pyramids so they could drag thousands of captives up the steps and sacrifice them to...an idea that never occurred to them?

One problem with this debate: a world in which "religion had never been invented" would be one in which "human nature" was itself different.  Religion is itself a product of human nature: authoritarian tendencies, over-active agency detection, a tendency to see the external world through social goggles and relate to it on that basis, and so on.  For example, "Thor" is much easier for us to understand and relate to as a concept than the equations governing the behavior of electrostatic energy.  This despite the fact that the latter are actually much simpler in computational terms, because you don't have to code a human-level AI to model the behavior of electricity.  And to create an accurate computer model of "Thor" as god of lightning, you'd still have to accurately model the equations anyway, since they're derived from how atmospheric energy actually behaves, regardless of whether or not there's a "Thor" involved.  In other words, "Thor's" human-level intelligence, emotions, etc. are entirely superfluous for modeling the behavior of atmospheric electricity, but it's still easier for us to conceive of "Thordidit" as an explanation for lightning than the physics, because of the way we naturally see reality through person-colored glasses. 

So, if we try to imagine a world where religion had never existed, the humans there would have to be different creatures than the ones here.  Their brains would work differently, so even if we could send a trans-dimensional probe into a parallel universe where religion never existed, and see that it was a better world, Joe could say, "See, I'm right," and Jaime could say, "No, I'm right because their 'human nature' is different than ours."

Instead of using "religion had never been invented" as the comparison, let us instead imagine a world in which religion had existed, but humanity had shaken off its shackles at some point in the past (i.e., prior to the atrocities we're discussing).  Say, if Pharaoh Akhenaten had singlehandedly discovered naturalism and trounced the Egyptian priesthoods decisively in debate, and used his position to spread atheism throughout the world of his day.  His writings spread from Egypt, toppling religious beliefs to the point that they became a tiny fringe in a secular world, opposite to the way that atheism was a tiny fringe in a religious world, as happened here.  So, for the following centuries of human history there would have been a secular culture equipped with historical memory of religion, how it worked, and intellectual antidotes for its causes.

Would this have produced a better world, one with fewer atrocities due to the greater difficulty of generating public sanction for them in the absence of concepts like religious faith, gods who should be obeyed without question, the Divine Right of Kings, an afterlife, and so on?  Even though I think there still would have been atrocities in such a world (e.g., Stalin and Mao were both able to perpetrate democide without religion, though it might be argued that both were able to cash in on the "benefits" of populations conditioned to unquestioning obedience by religion), I think there would have been fewer atrocities, and certain kinds (e.g., Aztec human sacrifices, people sacrificing their firstborn children to gods) wouldn't have happened at all.

I think the case for this is all but self-evident.  If religion could not spur the commission of atrocities that would not have happened without it, and such things would "happen anyway" due to human nature, despots wouldn't use religion so much.  Religion is expensive.  Pyramids and cathedrals aren't cheap, nor are the gilded priest-castes who use them.  If Jaime's view is correct, medieval kings could have launched a brutal conquest of the Holy Land by saying to their followers, "Let's do this for money and power!" instead of needing a Pope (Innocent III) to proclaim, "God wills it!"  The Aztec kings would have motivated their armies and killed equal numbers of captives without having any need to share power and wealth with a priest-caste who convinced people that the sacrifices were needed so that the gods would keep the Cosmos running.  And so on. 

Which means: religion would be entirely superfluous and useless as an institution for bending people's wills to the service of tyrannical regimes.  So why would said tyrannical regimes have invested so much wealth, human labor, etc. into religion in the first place?  Why would the kings tolerate the existence of priesthoods whose wealth and power rivaled their own, when the priesthoods served no purpose the kings could not accomplish on their own with wholly secular regimes?

I think the conspicuous wealth, power, and resource-consumption (temples, sacrificial offerings, etc.) of religious establishments all over the world and throughout all recorded history is abundant proof of religion's vast power to brainwash people and compel obedience on a mass scale.  If religion did not have such power as religion, nearly always outstripping non-religious attempts to do the same, religious establishments would not be nearly as ubiquitous as they are and have been historically.  If religion had no effects over and above "human nature," how could it compete with secular alternatives that could achieve the same ends (atrocities, utility in propping up tyrannical regimes) without expensive temples, sacrificial offerings (animals, grains, captives who could otherwise be used as slaves, children, virgins, etc.) and a wealthy but superfluous priest-caste?  If we look at history's great atrocities, the ability to brainwash people and compel obedience on a mass scale are always crucial to their commission.  Is not the ubiquitous success of religion itself proof that religion is extremely useful (more so than secular ideologies) to accomplish those ends?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 05, 2012, 01:10:14 PM
Thanks for putting that in perspective, kcrady.  I'll have to think on it some before I respond, though you saw to what I was trying to get across very well, and I appreciate that.  Though, there are two things that I'd like to say; first, that a world where people have the experience of religion and deliberately choose to turn away from it (that is, regardless of their individual beliefs, they don't give religious "authorities" power or influence) could well be better than one where most people still follow religion, and second, that some non-religious ideologies seem to me to have the same ability to compel instant, unthinking obedience as religious ones.  So it depends largely on whether those ideologies could gain traction in a world that moved beyond religion.

Hm, I think that's a better phrase than a world without religion.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 05, 2012, 05:30:01 PM
Okay, on second look, there are certain points which I would like to make.  First, and this will require some explanation, the concept of evolutionary inertia[1].  Basically, it's the concept that once you have something established in a niche, it by nature precludes other things that might have developed to fit that niche.  For example, take the internal combustion engine; when it was invented, steam engines were still relatively inefficient, and the internal combustion engine, which was inherently better, quickly replaced steam engines, taking over that niche, and relegating steam engines to obscurity for the most part.  So, what might have happened if the steam engine had been invented much earlier, and as a result had been improved to a sufficient degree that the internal combustion engine couldn't compete with it when it was finally invented?  It would have been the internal combustion engine that was relegated to obscurity (though, it might have eventually been improved enough that it could eventually be shown to be better).

kcrady already broached this idea, if naturalism was discovered early enough to keep religion from becoming established and powerful.  I think, if religious ideology had been suppressed, that there would have been other consequences, such as a much earlier rise of nationalism.  And nationalism is one of those things that can mimic religion's ability to brainwash and compel obedience ("my country, right or wrong").  Now, I'll grant, there probably wouldn't have been institutionalized religious atrocities like Aztec human sacrifices, but I don't think that means there wouldn't have been similar atrocities related to nationalism (I think many of the atrocities of the 20th century were linked to nationalism to a greater or lesser degree).  For example, instead of going to war with their neighbors to get captives for sacrifices to the gods, they could have instead gone to war in order to bolster national pride (and gain tribute), and put the captives into bloody gladiatorial games for the glory of their nation.

The point being, it's far from impossible that there wouldn't have been other ideologies that religion by its nature suppressed that would have resulted in bloody atrocities in their own right, that may have been as bad or possibly worse than the ones spawned by religion.  I have no idea how probable it would have been, but that's part of the reason why I don't think we can afford to assume that a world where religion never got a foothold would have been less bloody.
 1. there may be an actual term for this, but if so I don't know it
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 05, 2012, 11:55:44 PM
You mean like "one nation, under God".... "in God we trust"... "for God and country"... that kind of nationalism? Where our government leaders constantly remind us that God is on our side, you don't think nationalism and religion are closely linked?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 06, 2012, 03:54:51 AM
Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.

Thanks.   Though it would have helped more, perhaps, if you had gone on to re-state his point in a way I might have "got"?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 06, 2012, 03:58:48 AM
You take religion out of the equation and the vast majority of human suffering would not have occurred......If you take away the most significant cause of an event, that event becomes far less likely to occur.

Okay, I'll agree that.

If religion had NEVER existed, though, would the societal benefits it gave through the years still have been gained?  Are we talking about an overall "on balance, best option is....." question?

Kcrady's point about Akhenaten, for instance....would that have been the best point for religion to be eradicated?  Sometime earier or later?  Or never to have happened at all?

(That's not directed at Joe, BTW, more of an open question)
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 06, 2012, 04:07:27 AM
The bad far outweighs the good. What good things has religion done that wouldn't likely have been done without it?

The only good I can think of that religion does is charity, and atheists do more in that area than theists, not to mention that (mostly Catholic) religious influence has caused much of the poverty in the first place.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 09:57:56 AM
You mean like "one nation, under God".... "in God we trust"... "for God and country"... that kind of nationalism? Where our government leaders constantly remind us that God is on our side, you don't think nationalism and religion are closely linked?
No, and you should have known better than to make that kind of assumption in the first place, given that I was excluding religion from consideration as a factor as kcrady requested.  Seriously, you responded to three paragraphs which were an honest attempt to think about how things might have worked out if religion hadn't gotten into a position of strength to begin with by claiming that the kind of nationalism I was talking about would require religion.  This is what I meant when I said you had confirmation bias, Joe; you go only for examples that support the point you're trying to make, and if someone brings up a different example (such as here), you either try to claim that it would require religion anyway, or you strawman it so you can claim it isn't pertinent.

This is a fundamentally dishonest approach when you're discussing a subject with someone.  It's the kind of approach that a person who's only interest is in convincing others that they are always right, instead of making an honest effort to discover what's actually correct even if it means that they, personally, might be wrong about something.  It's the same kind of general approach that many or most theists take[1] - they aren't interested in honest argument or in discovering what's actually correct, only in validating what they already believe to be right, and if someone starts seriously trying to challenge them, they must be smacked down no matter what.
 1. though, obviously, one doesn't need to be theistic to have this attitude
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 06, 2012, 11:46:29 AM

This is a fundamentally dishonest approach when you're discussing a subject with someone.  It's the kind of approach that a person who's only interest is in convincing others that they are always right, instead of making an honest effort to discover what's actually correct even if it means that they, personally, might be wrong about something.  It's the same kind of general approach that many or most theists take[1] - they aren't interested in honest argument or in discovering what's actually correct, only in validating what they already believe to be right, and if someone starts seriously trying to challenge them, they must be smacked down no matter what.
 1. though, obviously, one doesn't need to be theistic to have this attitude
Pot calling the kettle black, comes to mind.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 12:05:06 PM
Pot calling the kettle black, comes to mind.
Perhaps you'd care to explain that?  You de-karma'd someone earlier because they made a statement which they didn't explain (a one-word answer to a question), so I think you should set an example by not doing a similar thing yourself (eight words, basically a cliche).

And, in any case, I don't think this is a very accurate statement about me.  You see, I'm not interested in proving that I'm right about something, except when I also think that it's correct - whether it's correct is what matters to me, not whether I happened to be right about it.  And at that, I'm willing to listen to people who don't agree, and if their arguments are better or they have better evidence, I'll change my mind once I've reasonably considered it.  And I have done so before.  I don't (much) mind admitting I'm wrong about something when I am wrong about it, and I'm certainly not going to let my ego run rampant about it.  It doesn't do me or anyone else any good for me to keep claiming I'm right about something just because I don't want to admit that I'm wrong, but I'm not just going to take someone's word for it just because they think that they have the right of it.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 06, 2012, 12:09:50 PM
No, and you should have known better than to make that kind of assumption in the first place, given that I was excluding religion from consideration as a factor as kcrady requested.  Seriously, you responded to three paragraphs which were an honest attempt to think about how things might have worked out if religion hadn't gotten into a position of strength to begin with by claiming that the kind of nationalism I was talking about would require religion.  This is what I meant when I said you had confirmation bias, Joe; you go only for examples that support the point you're trying to make, and if someone brings up a different example (such as here), you either try to claim that it would require religion anyway, or you strawman it so you can claim it isn't pertinent.

Nationalism and religion go hand in hand. I was pointing out that the kind of fervent nationalism that inspires people to go to war is rooted in religion. Secular countries almost never go to war except to defend themselves from attack by religious countries. Note that I consider Communism a religion.[1][2][3]

You name a war and I bet I can explain how religion either caused it or fueled it. It's not confirmation bias when it's right 100% of the time. It's just confirmation.
 1. To understand why Communism is a religion, read The God that Failed.
 2. I've lived in China for 8 years and personally witnessed how Chinese citizens worship the dead Mao.
 3. Someone will point out here that the US is constantly at war to which I would counter that Bush believed God told him to go to war, and many Americans considered it retaliation for the religion-inspired attack by Muslim suicide bombers on 9/11.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 01:32:19 PM
I already granted that nationalism mimics religion in a number of respects.  Yet, I don't think we can afford to assume that without religion, nationalism wouldn't have come about on its own, or been used to justify various atrocities for the good or glory of the nation.

For example, you say that Communism is a religion.  I disagree, since Communism, a kind of nationalism, is an ideology that glorifies the state, where religion is an ideology that glorifies a god or gods.  In other words, they both exist to glorify something higher than an individual person.  However, nationalism is not theism (it does not involve belief in a god).  That means it is not an actual religion, by definition, although it shares many characteristics with religion.  In other words, your definition of religion here is too broad; if you incorporate every ideology that glorifies something higher than the individual into your definition of religion, and then say that without "religion", few of the evils that plagued humanity would have happened, you're stacking the deck in your favor.

Remember Olivianus?  He acted in a similar manner by incorporating anything he disagreed with into "atheism", so that he could claim that without "atheism", Christianity would be some great good.  Your definition of Communism as religion comes across in a similar manner (though not delusional, like his definition was, I just feel it's not correct).  As for Chinese citizens worshiping Mao, I have to ask, were they praying for his guidance, deliverance, or for him to grant their wishes?  Or were they showing respect and veneration for a great and powerful leader who they believe did great things for their country, the same way Americans respect and venerate former presidents like Washington and Lincoln?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 06, 2012, 01:32:29 PM
Pot calling the kettle black, comes to mind.
Perhaps you'd care to explain that?  You de-karma'd someone earlier because they made a statement which they didn't explain (a one-word answer to a question), so I think you should set an example by not doing a similar thing yourself (eight words, basically a cliche).
Strawman, I gave a negative Darwin, because the person completely ignored an extensive post that answered the question.
Quote from: jaimehlers
And, in any case, I don't think this is a very accurate statement about me.  You see, I'm not interested in proving that I'm right about something, except when I also think that it's correct - whether it's correct is what matters to me, not whether I happened to be right about it.  And at that, I'm willing to listen to people who don't agree, and if their arguments are better or they have better evidence, I'll change my mind once I've reasonably considered it. And I have done so before.
Well you don't seem to have succeeded.  Your first post (#11) in this thread intimated that you believed you where right, because you have never tried to posit any evidence to show you were right.[1]   
Quote from: jaimehlers
I don't (much) mind admitting I'm wrong about something when I am wrong about it, and I'm certainly not going to let my ego run rampant about it.  It doesn't do me or anyone else any good for me to keep claiming I'm right about something just because I don't want to admit that I'm wrong, but I'm not just going to take someone's word for it just because they think that they have the right of it.
Yet you're still insisting that they accept yours, whilst you don't produce one iota of evidence to back up you claims.
 1. not in that post or any later ones
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 02:13:55 PM
Strawman, I gave a negative Darwin, because the person completely ignored an extensive post that answered the question.
They expressed their opinion on Joe's questions; perhaps they simply didn't see the later post, and you only assumed that they ignored it.  Let's compare that to some of your behavior in this thread, such as post #39, where you stated that Anfauglir missed Joe's point and didn't put much thought into it; when Anfauglir mentioned in post # 71 that you should have restated Joe's point so that he could "get" it, you didn't so much as deign to respond, instead, you moved on to making a similar insinuation about me (accusing me of "pot calling kettle black" behavior).  And in case you're wondering, I gave you a karma smack for that because I didn't think much of that insinuation at the time and your subsequent behavior (such as this post and the previous one directed at me) strongly suggests you're not exactly putting much thought into these insinuations you're making.

Quote from: bertatberts
Well you don't seem to have succeeded.  Your first post (#11) in this thread intimated that you believed you where right, because you have never tried to posit any evidence to show you were right.[1]
 1. not in that post or any later ones
What?  I intimated I believed I was right, because I've never tried to posit any evidence to show I was right?  First off, that argument doesn't make sense (and it's also very badly phrased); second, I made statements of opinion - epistemologically subjective statements - based on what I thought were Joe's rhetorical questions.  The only one which I didn't give a reason for - which I later admitted I misspoke about - was the case of Andrea Yates, and I clarified what I said and gave a reason for my opinion when I admitted to misspeaking.

Quote from: bertatberts
Yet you're still insisting that they accept yours, whilst you don't produce one iota of evidence to back up you claims.
How, exactly, am I supposed to show evidence regarding a purely hypothetical situation?  For that matter, how is Joe supposed to?  How is anyone supposed to?  The most any of us can do is think about the might-have-been and hypothesize what might have happened if something was different, but that's not evidence.  Joe's argument is based on his reading of the Andrea Yates case, which he already acknowledged he mostly got from Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is an okay source, but I wouldn't want to make judgments about a medical matter using it.  And second, I'm not insisting that anyone accept my opinion.  I'm stating my opinion based on my reasoning, but I have not insisted that anyone accept it just because I said so.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 06, 2012, 02:58:33 PM
Quote from: jaimehlers
How, exactly, am I supposed to show evidence regarding a purely hypothetical situation?
Here's a reasonable argument, to show why your opinion is wrong.

If someone cloned you when you were born and moved the other you, to the other side of the world. At the age of thirty you both meet would that person be anything like you, the answers is No! We are the sum of our experiences, You may have a few things in common but you don't have the same thoughts, feeling or experiences, this is why you can't possible say that Hitler or Andrea Yates etc... Would have been the same without there religion. or even things would have happened anyway, you're being short-sighted if you think that.

Unless they were brought up exactly the same way without religious influence and had the same influences from their peers, they would not have been the same person,[1] it is nonsensical to even suggest they wouldn't.

It does appear to me that you're doing the same thing you're condemning Joe for. I seriously do think you are not getting the whole picture.
 1. everyday without religion would have to be exactly the same as a day with religion
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: rickymooston on April 06, 2012, 03:36:44 PM
My point is that to say that all of those events would have happened without religion is pretty far-fetched without some serious explanation which I have yet to see.

Joe:

1. The mother that drowned her kids. If the claim is that this is because of Christianity, that is a b.s. interpretation of Christianity and a retarded example. At least one mental illness, PTSD was mentioned here. I'd be shocked if something like schitzophrenia wasn't involved. Cray people have murdered people for other reasons

2. Hitler is a very retarded example. Hitler's crusade was about nationalism far more than religion.  Jews were viewed as being an "alien" racial culture. While he was obviously a "member of the Catholic church", its hardly the case he was evangilizing catholism. This is a retarded example.  Note: Hitler didn't give a flying f*ck whether a jew "converted" to christianitty or not;all he cared about was race. Hitler also murdered people of other races such as the Gypsies.

3. The crusades. The crusades were a reaction to the Muslim invasions which were partially motivated by religion. (Hint: Mohammad gained wealth out of the endeavor)  There certainly was a religious aspect to the conflict and certainly religion was involved in the recruitment on both sides. This is a good example

4. The Irish conflict and the 100 years years. These are good examples.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 04:33:02 PM
By the way, bertaberts, I loved the way you just couldn't stand to let me smite you without smiting me back.  Way to show maturity in how you respond to people you disagree with.  I especially found it amusing how you threw my very own words right back in my face, even though I actually did state my reasoning for most of what I said there, and as I already admitted twice, I misspoke in the first case.

Guess you sure showed me...though probably not at all in the way you intended.

Here's a reasonable argument, to show why your opinion is wrong.
I'll grant that it's a reasonable statement (having read it before I started responding), but you missed my point entirely, and thus your argument also misses the point.

Quote from: bertatberts
If someone cloned you when you were born and moved the other you, to the other side of the world. At the age of thirty you both meet would that person be anything like you, the answers is No! We are the sum of our experiences, You may have a few things in common but you don't have the same thoughts, feeling or experiences, this is why you can't possible say that Hitler or Andrea Yates etc... Would have been the same without there religion. or even things would have happened anyway, you're being short-sighted if you think that.
You really don't understand what I was trying to get at, do you?  Of course I know that things would have been functionally different without religion.  My point in making that statement was that the same kinds of things would have happened even without religion, in similar circumstances.  A woman like Andrea Yates, suffering from postpartum psychosis, could very well have murdered her children without the influence of religion; a man like Adolf Hitler, megalomaniacal and furious, could very well have become the leader of his country and worked out a program of mass genocide without religious belief ever becoming involved; and so on.  Yes, religion was a factor in all of those things I said in that post, and I don't deny it, but it was not the only factor, and we should not assume that taking it out would result in a better scenario.

What you are forgetting is that we're talking about a world where religion would have been suppressed before it influenced anything.  What that means is that it wouldn't have factored into anything major.  What that also means is that people would never have had the historical experience of people committing atrocities because "God" told them to do it.  Morality, reason, all of it, would have never had the example of religious belief to learn from.  And yet, you're backing up Joe's claim (by claiming that I hadn't thought this through very well) that we would have been better off without religion, despite not having any of the experiences of how easy it is to get people to do things using religious belief.

Not "could have been better", not "might have been better", "would have been better".  As if it was practically certain that if we ran through history again, with religion getting suppressed early on and naturalism taking its place, that history would have been better off.  Yes, maybe it would have been better, since we can't know for sure without actually running through it.  But it could have been the same, generally (despite the fact that the actual events would have been different), and it could also have been worse.  I personally don't think it would have been, because I can't think of anything that would have more potentially-damaging persuasive power than religious belief, but I could easily be wrong there.  I would rather make the most pessimistic assumption I can think of and have it be better, than make an optimistic one and have it be worse, though of course it's not something we'll have to worry about.

Quote from: bertatberts
Unless they were brought up exactly the same way without religious influence and had the same influences from their peers, they would not have been the same person,[1] it is nonsensical to even suggest they wouldn't.
 1. everyday without religion would have to be exactly the same as a day with religion
And it is even more nonsensical to lecture someone because you took something too literally.  I find it astounding that you assumed that I meant things would have been exactly the same without religion.  Perhaps I wasn't especially clear on that point, but you still jumped to conclusions about what you thought I had to mean.

Quote from: bertatberts
It does appear to me that you're doing the same thing you're condemning Joe for. I seriously do think you are not getting the whole picture.
Wrong, and wrong.  First off, none of your statement here actually addressed the former, me doing the same thing I'm condemning Joe for.  Your actual argument here was about me supposedly not thinking this through well enough.  I think I've shown well enough that I've put plenty of thought into this, although I hadn't actually laid it all out like this before now.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 06, 2012, 04:48:24 PM
By the way, bertaberts, I loved the way you just couldn't stand to let me smite you without smiting me back.  Way to show maturity in how you respond to people you disagree with.  I especially found it amusing how you threw my very own words right back in my face, even though I actually did state my reasoning for most of what I said there, and as I already admitted twice, I misspoke in the first case.
You gave me a negative Darwin with these words " Don't just state your opinion, explain your reasoning. "Which I found amusing considering I had stated in a previous post, that it was merely your opinion with no hint of evidence.
So it was only fair you received the same.
If I could have had your negative Darwin of me removed for unfairness, I would have. So my only recourse was to return the favour, was it not.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with maturity, just fairness.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 05:38:24 PM
You gave me a negative Darwin with these words " Don't just state your opinion, explain your reasoning. "Which I found amusing considering I had stated in a previous post, that it was merely your opinion with no hint of evidence.
So it was only fair you received the same.
If I could have had your negative Darwin of me removed for unfairness, I would have. So my only recourse was to return the favour, was it not.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with maturity, just fairness.
So, let's compare the two posts, shall we?

Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
You gave no reasons, no examples, just stated your opinion and left it at that.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.  Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types.  The Crusades were basically a kind of imperialism; you'll note that the Crusaders lived like kings in the Holy Land during the time they did conquer it, suggesting that piety was not exactly high on their list of priorities.  And 9/11 is a textbook example of "asymmetrical warfare", which certainly doesn't need religion.
As I've said before, the first one was a misspeak on my part.  But the rest I gave examples of how they could have related to non-religious things.  In other words, I did support what I was saying.

By the way, an excessive concern over "fairness" is usually a sign of immaturity.  I didn't give you a Darwin smack because I felt you were being unfair to Anfauglir, I gave you a Darwin smack because I felt that your attitude towards him, and later towards me, was very condescending.  You simply stated an opinion about Anfauglir's post without supporting it, and when he asked if you couldn't have explained Joe's point to him so he would have gotten it, you blew it off, apparently so that you could criticize me the same way.  Even then, I didn't smack you until you'd responded to me with an even more condescending attitude, blowing off my suggestion that you explain your reasoning when you're criticizing someone as a "strawman", claiming that I'd been engaging in the same behavior I was criticizing Joe about, and claiming that I'd not once given "evidence" for my opinion in this thread, even though I'd been supporting my posts in general.

So you smacked me back, which is your prerogative since it's your opinion.  Nonetheless, the main reason you smacked me, as you yourself admitted, is because you didn't feel it was fair that you got smacked, so you decided to smack me back and throw my words in my face, because you felt the two posts to be the same general thing.  Except that they clearly were not, as I've showed above.  So what we're left with is you being upset about the unfairness of being smacked and deciding to give one back in order to return the favor.  Not the best way to show maturity and dignity in an argument.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 06, 2012, 07:07:57 PM
You gave me a negative Darwin with these words " Don't just state your opinion, explain your reasoning. "Which I found amusing considering I had stated in a previous post, that it was merely your opinion with no hint of evidence.
So it was only fair you received the same.
If I could have had your negative Darwin of me removed for unfairness, I would have. So my only recourse was to return the favour, was it not.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with maturity, just fairness.
So, let's compare the two posts, shall we?

Anfauglir: I'm sorry, I think Joe's point flew right over your head.
it appears you haven't put much thought into it.
You gave no reasons, no examples, just stated your opinion and left it at that.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.  Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types.  The Crusades were basically a kind of imperialism; you'll note that the Crusaders lived like kings in the Holy Land during the time they did conquer it, suggesting that piety was not exactly high on their list of priorities.  And 9/11 is a textbook example of "asymmetrical warfare", which certainly doesn't need religion.
As I've said before, the first one was a misspeak on my part.  But the rest I gave examples of how they could have related to non-religious things.  In other words, I did support what I was saying.

By the way, an excessive concern over "fairness" is usually a sign of immaturity.  I didn't give you a Darwin smack because I felt you were being unfair to Anfauglir, I gave you a Darwin smack because I felt that your attitude towards him, and later towards me, was very condescending.  You simply stated an opinion about Anfauglir's post without supporting it, and when he asked if you couldn't have explained Joe's point to him so he would have gotten it, you blew it off, apparently so that you could criticize me the same way.  Even then, I didn't smack you until you'd responded to me with an even more condescending attitude, blowing off my suggestion that you explain your reasoning when you're criticizing someone as a "strawman", claiming that I'd been engaging in the same behavior I was criticizing Joe about, and claiming that I'd not once given "evidence" for my opinion in this thread, even though I'd been supporting my posts in general.

So you smacked me back, which is your prerogative since it's your opinion.  Nonetheless, the main reason you smacked me, as you yourself admitted, is because you didn't feel it was fair that you got smacked, so you decided to smack me back and throw my words in my face, because you felt the two posts to be the same general thing.  Except that they clearly were not, as I've showed above.  So what we're left with is you being upset about the unfairness of being smacked and deciding to give one back in order to return the favor.  Not the best way to show maturity and dignity in an argument.
And to write two extremely large posts explaining the reasons for said smites, isn't childish at all is it.

Very amusing indeed!

 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 08:36:09 PM
And to write two extremely large posts explaining the reasons for said smites, isn't childish at all is it.

Very amusing indeed!
*chuckles*  Oh, this is nothing for me as far as post size goes.  I've actually written a post so long in an argument that it hit the 30,000 character limit, and I had to split it up into two separate posts.

Anyway, there is little point in continuing to belabor this particular subject.  Did you want to discuss something else relating to this topic instead?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 06, 2012, 10:27:04 PM
Yes, it's possible that the world would have been just as bad without religion in the same sense that it's possible that the world would have been just as bad without Hitler. Perhaps someone even worse would have risen to power in his stead. We can not say for 100% certainty that would not have happened, but to assume that it would have happened simply because it's possible is folly.

Jamie has wavered back and force between saying similar bad things may have happened, similar bad things would have happened, and the exact same bad things would have happened, but anyway he's said that his position is the worst case scenario that even he doesn't believe is likely, but merely possible, which I freely admit, just as it's possible that I could get hit by a car while watching TV in my living room.

Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 06, 2012, 10:57:07 PM
1. The mother that drowned her kids. If the claim is that this is because of Christianity, that is a b.s. interpretation of Christianity and a retarded example. At least one mental illness, PTSD was mentioned here. I'd be shocked if something like schitzophrenia wasn't involved. Cray people have murdered people for other reasons

First, I'm not interpreting Christianity, I'm not sure what you mean by that. I'm not saying she just flipped open the bible to the section on drowning your kids and decided it was a good idea. Clearly your kneejerk defense of Christianity caused you to hit reply before actually reading my whole post.

The mental illness was PPD, postpartum depression, not PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. PPD is a deep depression following giving birth. There's no excuse for confusing the two as I wrote out 'postpartum depression' more times than I used the abbreviation. If you had been paying attention, you might have seen that her religious beliefs caused her to 1) stop taking doctor-prescribed anti-psychotic medication and 2) continue having children when she confided to her husband that she was afraid she might hurt them. Combine that with the psychotic violent imagery which she was indoctrinated to believe was very real (Satan, demons, and hell), hyper-active agent detection, fear, and guilt, that are all part and parcel of religion, and you've got a recipe for murder brewed up and served fresh by your friendly neighborhood Jesus.

Of course, anyone who had bothered to follow along with the class would have known that. As far as Hitler and the rest of your post. You obviously didn't read mine and I didn't find anything else worth responding to in yours that hadn't already been covered.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Ice Monkey on April 06, 2012, 11:06:05 PM
I guess the one thing we could all agree on is that this whole tragedy could have been avoided had Jesus not taken that day as a Floating Stat.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 06, 2012, 11:24:14 PM
Yes, it's possible that the world would have been just as bad without religion in the same sense that it's possible that the world would have been just as bad without Hitler. Perhaps someone even worse would have risen to power in his stead. We can not say for 100% certainty that would not have happened, but to assume that it would have happened simply because it's possible is folly.

Jamie has wavered back and force between saying similar bad things may have happened, similar bad things would have happened, and the exact same bad things would have happened, but anyway he's said that his position is the worst case scenario that even he doesn't believe is likely, but merely possible, which I freely admit, just as it's possible that I could get hit by a car while watching TV in my living room.
No, I haven't "wavered" as you put it (EDIT - though I suppose you might think so, given how you accused rickymooston of writing a knee-jerk defense of Christianity, despite the fact that he wasn't "defending" Christianity but criticizing your statement about her religious beliefs leading directly to her murdering her children).  Quit misrepresenting my position to suit your convenience.  I've mentioned this before, as have other people, yet you don't say anything to acknowledge it and just keep doing it.  Do you seriously think that you aren't doing it despite being told repeatedly?  You don't accomplish anything by dismissing criticism about this from other people except to make yourself look bad, because it's a lot more obvious to people who are on the receiving end and even people who aren't.

You say that we can't claim with 100% certainty that something as bad or worse would not have happened and that it's folly to assume it would have happened.  Well, the same goes with thinking it would have been better.  You can't claim with 100% certainty that something better would have happened either, so is it not just as fallacious to assume it would have been, as you keep doing?  Yet you've said that you know it would have been better, such as in the case of Andrea Yates, yet your reasoning is based on two assumptions; first, that religion is a form of socially acceptable insanity, and second, that without religion, people would be inherently rational.  Neither assumption is particularly valid.  The first is little more than your opinion, and falls apart once you consider that it is perfectly possible for someone who is non-religious or atheistic to have a similar delusion[1] without being insane.  The second is in no way guaranteed; the ability to think critically and rationally is not an inherent trait, but a skill that must be trained, and unless it were to be systematically taught to people as a whole, there is no reason to assume that people in a non-religious society would necessarily be rational.

By the way, your response to rickymooston is a fairly good illustration of the problem I've seen with your reasoning.  What honestly makes you think that he was writing a knee-jerk defense of Christianity merely because he disagreed with your example about Andrea Yates?  If you can jump to an unwarranted conclusion such as this, that an atheist would write a knee-jerk defense of Christianity, what does that suggest about other conclusions you've come to, such as the scenario you sketched out about Yates which was based on you filling in the holes off of a Wikipedia summary with your own ideas about her religious beliefs?  Nothing good, I can say that much.
 1. that the way they think things are is an accurate representation of the way things actually are, even when they actually aren't
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 06, 2012, 11:50:06 PM
1. The mother that drowned her kids. If the claim is that this is because of Christianity, that is a b.s. interpretation of Christianity ...

Is there any other kind?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: rickymooston on April 07, 2012, 01:48:28 AM
Bert two of the examples you are poorly defending are retarded. Other than smiting and being sacastic, I dont see you making a positive discussion to the discussion so far

Viewing the Nazis as a primarliy religious movement is a retarded position is as retarded as the counter position that it is an atheistic movement. The Nazis were focused on Natiinalism and race. Their hatred of people of other races extended to several groups beyond the Jews.  While they psrticularly resented the German Jews and some of the backgroundvof that hatred did date back to a history of religiously motivatedvpogroms, they extended their hatred to blacks, to gypsies and in general to non aryans. 

Its certainly the case that religion hss been embroiled in several conflicts. Hover the gendral point made that other considerations are involved is true and the other side in the duscussion elaborated on that somewhat.

The laxy who drowned her kuds was bat shit crazy. Crazy peopke have been set off by all kidsvof things; e.g., movies, riliogions, novels, etc dtc

One of my friends was set off by rwi of my innocent remarks. The first was he needs vitamens to get healthy. And the second was me phoning ftom a government number. He was set off by movies and novels. Any inputs into hisvparanoid schitophrenic brain, fed into so.e of his drlusions or halicinations.

Sorry about the poor t yping. I am not used to a touch screen
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 07, 2012, 08:56:43 AM
I should clarify, regarding my last post, that "is there any other kind?" referred to bullshit interpretations of Christianity, not to mothers who drown their kids.  The bolding was Ricky's, not mine.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 07, 2012, 10:07:14 AM
I should clarify, regarding my last post, that "is there any other kind?" referred to bullshit interpretations of Christianity, not to mothers who drown their kids.  The bolding was Ricky's, not mine.

Bwahaha, hilarious. I knew what you meant, but now that you pointed that out, I can see how some would be confused, and think you were saying that all mothers drown their kids. What a cynical bastard that would make you, haha.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 07, 2012, 11:42:47 AM
Having gone over this thread again, I'm of the opinion that both Jaimehlers and Anfauglir[1] are proponents of Necessitarianism[2]

The reason I think this is because, to say something like Hitler would have still been the same person regardless of a religious upbringing is nonsensical to me.

If there were no religion it could possibly mean that 1, his parents may never have met, or 2, they were never repressed, none of the doctrines and tenets of religion would have effected their lives so the would not have been the same people, they therefore would have treated Hitler differently, he may have done things totally differently.
There are a myriad of possibilities and to deny all those possibilities, leaves one to determine (excuse the pun) that they must believe in necessitarianism.

The chances of the same thing happen to a person on the same day at the same time is impossible, and this is what they are asking us to believe. 
 1. Although Anfauglir has since changed his opinion to an extent
 2. The doctrine that all events, including acts of the will, are determined by antecedent causes. It is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Timo on April 07, 2012, 11:47:11 AM
Okay so...

Why do they hate westerners?
Would they have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would they have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would they have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would they have been able to convince other to become suicide bombers without convincing them that it was God's will, and promising them virgins and an eternal afterlife in paradise?

If yes to any of the above questions... evidence?

I'm not really all that confident in my ability to write compelling counterfactuals, but I would go as far as saying that our man joe is painting a rather simplistic picture of the al Quaeda network's motivations here.  Bin Laden was pretty clear in outlining his grievances with the US.  Though I would agree that, in his case in particular, and in the case of a lot of Muslims more broadly, these grievences were informed by their faith, you really didn't need to submit to Allah to share their opinion that they were legitimate grievances at the time.  So what were some of those grievences, you ask?  Good question.  Here's something from ye olde wiki machine:

In 1998, Al-Qaeda wrote, "for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples."

It's clearly the case that there is religious language being used, but the problem that is being highlighted is the nature of the relationship of the United States to Saudi Arabia, which is something that plenty of non-religious people also found to be problematic.  The same is true of a lot of his comments on Israel.  Also from the wiki:

n his November 2002 "Letter to America", bin Laden cited the United States' support of Israel as a motivation: "The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily."

Again, his problem here is the establishment of the state of Israel (and all of the conflicts with neighboring Arab states and the Palestinians that came with it).  While being a Muslim can certainly play into one's feelings about the Jewish state, one needn't be a Muslim to think that think that what Israel was doing and had done was deeply wrong.  For example, I know some Palestinians, Jordanians and Lebanese folks that are for the most part not very religious (and only a few are Muslim in the first place, most are marginally Christian or Druze) who have very little patience for anyone defending the Jewish state.  This has almost nothing to do with religion and really everything to do with their family's having been displaced by the establishment of the state of Israel and its subsequent conflicts with its neighbors.

Now, maybe it would have been the case that Bin Laden et al wouldn't have identified enough with the plights of Palestinians, Iraqis or his fellow Saudis to plot against the US were it not for his religion.  Maybe they would have instead pursued political solutions.  Some of my aforementioned friends, for example, participate in protests and other forms of activism (a lot of "awareness raising") but aren't interested in hurting anyone physically.  That could have been true of Bin Laden too.  I don't know.  And I don't think we really can know.  But I think it is the case that someone living in the Middle East at that time and especially today, no matter their religious affiliation, could probably find some good reasons to hate the United States, with or without religion.  We've done and continue to do terrible things in that part of the world. 

That obviously doesn't justify what's been done.  I'm just saying that it's not as if Bin Laden or anyone else in the region needed to dig into the Quran to find a reason to hate us.  And with that being the case, no they didn't need God to lead them to hate the West, to conclude that it needed to be destroyed, or persuade others that they too should be down with their cause.  In fact, I remember people having a sad about Noam Chomsky characterizing 9/11 as "blowback" back in 2001.

As for the last question, I'd say yes.  In Tunisia, a man named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest a government that routinely abused and extorted him, making it impossible to support his family.  About a dozen or so other men also burned themselves to protest their respective authoritarian regimes.  What these cases show is that if you back people into a corner, you can theoretically convince them to give up their lives since, in life, they weren't worth much.  Still, the 9/11 hijackers weren't exactly backed into a corner.  They were privilaged people, studying abroad.  So I'm not sure that this might apply to them.  Still, it's not as if privilaged people don't occasionally do what they think is right in spite of the fact that it might cost them their lives.  Track Palin, for example, was a privileged person if nothing else.  His mother was the governor of his state.  That did not stop him from enlisting and serving his country in Iraq.

So nah, this wasn't really as simple a thing as Bin Laden telling people that there's this God guy and he's super pissed at the West and if you follow him you get a bunch of virgins.  The West was doing things that legitimately angered Bin Laden and a lot of other folks in that region.  Bin Laden used a religious message to capitalize on those grievances.  But it's not as if those grievances wouldn't have existed without Islam. 

To sum this up, I think the good professor has it right:

But even in the Middle East, violent conflicts are not primarily religious. Religion is a way to identify your enemies, to encourage committment, and to rally your followers, but religious differences alone don't make people fight.

Indeed.

In any case, when I read this, I thought a little deeper and realized that this conversation can't go very far:

I just don't get how you can say things would have been exactly the same under wildly different circumstances. He was a "nut-job with an inferiority complex" because his drunk Roman Catholic father was a strict disciplinarian and beat him. Would his father have been the same man in a world without religion?

With this in mind, I think it's impossible to really make a compelling case one way or the other.  We can't really imagine what a world without religion would look like because we don't live in one.  It pervades our existence in a way that makes it difficult to isolate its influence and assess its harm.  If I were to point to any atheist doing anything wrong as a potential example of how humans can be nasty to each other independent of religious motivation, joe could just as easily point to some theist putting that idea in their head because ultimately, everyone operates in a space in which religion is there to influence them in some way, shape or form.  And even if I were to point to some ostensibly non-religious cultural factor, joe could still bring it back to religion if he felt like it, since it pervades every culture.

For example:

The Phelps' kids are raised to believe that "God hates Fags", if one of them were to murder a homosexual, how can you possibly say with such certainty that they would have done it anyway had they not been raised with those beliefs? What are the odds of an atheist murdering a homosexual because he or she a homosexual? It's possible, but to say that it is a certainty without explanation is completely ridiculous.

I'd point out first, that the odds of anyone, religious or otherwise, murdering a homosexual because they are homosexual is pretty slim in this country.

But to get to the heart of the matter, you don't need to be religious to be homophobic, even violently so.  I know this for a fact because I've never been particularly religious, but I was, at one point, particularly homophobic.  I'd say that it was cultural.  I grew up "knowing" that gay men weren't really men in the way that I was a man (at all of 16) and that gay women had just been messing with the wrong men.  Had they been messing with a real man, a man like me (at all of 16) they'd still be on the winning team.  I never went as far as physically bashing someone, but, if I'm being honest with myself, I don't think it would have been something that was completely off the table back then.  I was fucked up.

This had nothing to do with the church I grew up in, which I think technically considered homosexuality to be a sin if you were to look at its official doctrine but didn't really make a point of bringing that up.  I suppose that you could maybe argue that it might have been something I learned in the broader community I was raised in, which was largely religious and did include congregations that indeed promised hell-fire for sodemites and fornicators of all sorts.  I'm sure that's a big part of the story.  But I think that in my community in particular, a mostly black community, we have to also talk about the legacy of slavery and the apartheid state that followed.  I have no doubt that this also warps our views of what black men and women should be.  We occupy a strange place in the collective imagination of this country that I don't think is any less strange within the community itself.  I'm not sure how exactly to express it, but I felt like there was always this pressure to conform to some sort of essentialized version of blackness.  That sometimes had to do with religion.  We're definitely supposed to have us some church.  (Or at least the women are.)  But a lot of times it didn't.  My brother, for example, was often accused of acting white because he liked (and still likes) metal.  \m/  And on a sexual level, we assumed that we were nice with it in a way that white dudes just weren't.  And a lot of white women, as far as I could tell, seemed to have shared our assumption.  And it's that kind of thing that makes me wonder if homophobia would have just been a part of our culture even if white folks never gave us the Jesus, since being homosexual is definitely a deviation from this essentialized version of blackness.  But it's impossible to tell because it's impossible to isolate this experience from religion.

So yeah, I think that on the whole, I'm not prepared to say whether religion is something that's a net plus or a net negative for humanity.  It's true that it can fascilitate hate and war, but it can also foster community and charity.  It's also certainly true that we humans are capable of doing all of these things without religion or a religious justification.  On the whole, as a guesstemation, I'd lean towards net negative personally, if for no other reason then religion can shame like nobody's business, but I tend to share some of jaimehlers' cynicism.  It seems likely that religion is just one tool that we use to build and destroy communities.  It could be the case that even if it were somehow rooted out, we'd just zero in on something else--like ethnicity or nationalism--organize ourselves around that and be just as cruel to each other.  There's not really a way to know.  It's been a part of us for as long as we've been around.

So I think that kcrady has it right when he writes that a world without religion is a world in which our nature is fundamentally different.  With respect to his alternative scenario, I'd quibble some.  He writes:

Would this have produced a better world, one with fewer atrocities due to the greater difficulty of generating public sanction for them in the absence of concepts like religious faith, gods who should be obeyed without question, the Divine Right of Kings, an afterlife, and so on?  Even though I think there still would have been atrocities in such a world (e.g., Stalin and Mao were both able to perpetrate democide without religion, though it might be argued that both were able to cash in on the "benefits" of populations conditioned to unquestioning obedience by religion), I think there would have been fewer atrocities, and certain kinds (e.g., Aztec human sacrifices, people sacrificing their firstborn children to gods) wouldn't have happened at all.

I think that our war on terror, as well as our war on drugs are good examples of our ever present capacity to talk ourselves into some large scale and pretty appauling acts of violence based on mostly secular arguments.  I mean, joe is correct in writing that Bush claimed to be guided by God in the Iraq War.  But it's important to remember that this is not how the war was sold to the people at large or to those in power.  We were supposed to be shitting our pants over yellow cake.  And it's perhaps even more important to remember that people on Bush's national security team had been committed to removing Saddam Hussein and other heads of so-called rogue states from power long before GW so much as announced his candidacy.  (See: the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance)  And our drone war in particular is a good example of how some pretty bad things can be done without much of a need to be justified to the public in the first place.  How many people know that we're bombing people in Yemen and Somalia?  How many people would even care if they did?

And nah, the Aztecs were mostly sacrificing warriors from rival tribes.  Even if no one ever dreamed up the need to pull dudes' hearts out they chest like Johny Cage, it would have most likely been the case that warriors from rival tribes would have been killed or enslaved by the Aztecs in some less dramatic fashion.  That said, I don't think anyone would have been offering their crying children to Tialoc in the hope that it could rain.

As for the Communists, they make me think maybe there's just something in us that will always make us capable of doing all the sorts of harm to ourselves that religion does without a deity.  Rejecting science, for example, is problematic.  And it doesn't matter if your reason for rejecting it is on the grounds that it contradicts the first chapters of Genesis or that it is somehow "bourgeois."  The communists show us that we can be cruel, anti-scientific and completely terrible to each other all while patting ourselves on the back for at least overcoming superstition.

Also:

Do you believe in God? You are not Jewish. You are of middle-eastern or north African descent. If you participate in Jewish cultural festivals, that still doesn't make you Jewish.

A lot of atheists decorate Christmas trees and hide eggs for their kids at Easter. That doesn't make us Christians, it only means we grew up in Christian culture.

I think that might have something to do with where these Christmas loving atheists are living.  My guess would be the Americas or Europe, where Christians constitute the vast majority of people.  My guess is that if they were say, Palestinians that came from Christian families, they'd still identify themselves as Christian even if they didn't accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.  In that case, and in the case of a lot of Christians around the world, the label "Christian" is indicitive of a deeper group identity that goes beyond some personal belief.  And even among Christians in Christian-majority places, you'll still find plenty of people that identify as Catholic or Protestant even if they're not religious.  And that's because these labels aren't always about religion.  They can be ethnic signifyers too. 

So no.  The word Jewish can describe a member of the Jewish faith.  But it can also describe someone who is ethnically Jewish. 

Also also:

Chag Sameach


Peace
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Timo on April 07, 2012, 11:48:23 AM
Also also also:

I completely agree with joe about ricky's use of the word "retarded."  Dude, build your vocabulary.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: rickymooston on April 07, 2012, 12:48:20 PM
Joe, thanks for the smite. I agree some variety is required in my vocabulary.

1. The mother that drowned her kids. If the claim is that this is because of Christianity, that is a b.s. interpretation of Christianity ...

Is there any other kind?

I subscribe to the idea that while there are areas that are open to several reasonable interpretations, common themes exist and that one can reasonably apply the term unChristian in some cases.

Ironically, I do feel many or most Christian societies felt short. The topic of this and Spag might make quite a thread.

The book true Christianity touches most of the themes i think belong but its probably wrong on the trinity. I am unconvinced that the doctrine of the trinity is on solid ground.

I wish i could say slavery wasnt condoned but clearly the Christian biblical view was that the slave master could be a Christian and the Christian slave was obligated to be a goid slave ...
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 07, 2012, 01:40:52 PM
Having gone over this thread again, I'm of the opinion that both Jaimehlers and Anfauglir[1] are proponents of Necessitarianism[2]
 1. Although Anfauglir has since changed his opinion to an extent
 2. The doctrine that all events, including acts of the will, are determined by antecedent causes. It is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility.
*facepalm*

If you had seen Anfauglir and I debating the possibility of free will, you would know how utterly silly this pronouncement is.

Your opinion here is not based on taking a fresh second look at the thread and coming up with a new explanation, it's just dressing up the old one with some fancy terminology to make it sound better.  Furthermore, the way you're presenting this is very condescending.  Your opinion isn't made of gold, and you aren't on a pedestal, so don't act like you're benevolently "deigning" to hand it down to us as if it's of special significance.

Quote from: bertatberts
The reason I think this is because, to say something like Hitler would have still been the same person regardless of a religious upbringing is nonsensical to me.
It is also nonsensical to come up with an exaggerated caricature of someone's opinion (like this) and then draw conclusions about the person based on it.

Quote from: bertatberts
If there were no religion it could possibly mean that 1, his parents may never have met, or 2, they were never repressed, none of the doctrines and tenets of religion would have effected their lives so the would not have been the same people, they therefore would have treated Hitler differently, he may have done things totally differently.
There are a myriad of possibilities and to deny all those possibilities, leaves one to determine (excuse the pun) that they must believe in necessitarianism.
*facepalm again*

Did you actually reread the thread, or did you just go over it in your mind?  I ask because I do not understand how you could possibly have come up with such a distorted idea of what I was talking about if you'd actually taken the time to reread my posts.  Such as #66 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg494094.html#msg494094), where I specifically stated that a world where religion had never come to prominence would have lots of differences from this one, but that I did not consider it valid to assume that it would have been less violent.

Quote from: bertatberts
The chances of the same thing happen to a person on the same day at the same time is impossible, and this is what they are asking us to believe.
Except that my argument was not that at all, which is why I think you're just dressing your previous opinion up a bit to make it sound better.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 07, 2012, 02:06:04 PM
Joe, thanks for the smite. I agree some variety is required in my vocabulary.

If that's not sarcasm then I'll have to admit I really respect you for this admission. A good friend of mine is mentally retarded and I hate it when people use the term derogatorily.

I have more to respond to but it's 3 AM here and the wife is getting angry. I'll write up those responses tomorrow.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 07, 2012, 02:23:14 PM
Knowing Ricky, it's not sarcasm.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 07, 2012, 04:36:06 PM

Your opinion here is not based on taking a fresh second look at the thread and coming up with a new explanation, it's just dressing up the old one with some fancy terminology to make it sound better.
In post #11 you stated that "Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion."
How could you possibly make that determination without thinking that a predetermined cause was in effect.   
And in regard to you stating "Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types." Again how could you make that determination without thinking that it was predetermined, what and how Hitler would act.

In post #15 you stated that "My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology." without a predetermined cause this would be impossible, thus again your thinking must be that of Necessitarianism.

In post #33 Anfauglir stated "Hitler WOULD have still hated: he was a nut-job with a deep inferiority complex who wanted to rule." this also makes the assumption that it was predetermined he was going to be evil.

Then in post #62 You make the suggestion that Joe is doing this "but you are then trying to make predictions using our history about a world where religion would have never come about in the first place" whereas I believe this is what you are doing given the above posts I've quoted. I've not seen Joe do this, far from it.

Joe replied to that post with this post#65 "Jamie, you're trying to tell us that a radically different world would be basically the same, and I'm supposed to provide the evidence to explain how that doesn't make sense?"

Then we find in post #88 Joe again states "Jamie has wavered back and force between saying similar bad things may have happened, similar bad things would have happened, and the exact same bad things would have happened, but anyway he's said that his position is the worst case scenario that even he doesn't believe is likely, but merely possible, which I freely admit, just as it's possible that I could get hit by a car while watching TV in my living room." Even Joe I would assume is thinking you believe in some kind of predetermination. just from his replies to you.

No sir I came to my conclusion reading through the thread again.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: nogodsforme on April 07, 2012, 05:23:42 PM
I don't think that most people truly believe in the religion they claim to follow. That is the reason for SPAG-- everyone has to create a way to practice that makes sense in the real world, as opposed to what the sacred texts say. Can you really go around in most societies, killing people for eating the wrong foods or wearing the wrong clothing (as long as it's not a hoodie  >:(...) Not for long.

For what it's worth, that has made the world better off than if people had really believed..... :o
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 07, 2012, 06:19:58 PM
In post #11 you stated that "Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion."
How could you possibly make that determination without thinking that a predetermined cause was in effect.
I'm getting really tired of you harping on this particular statement.  How many times do I have to say, "I misspoke about this", before you get it?  You aren't accomplishing anything by continuing to bring it up except to irritate me and demonstrate that you aren't really interested in anything except trying to "prove" you're right.

Quote from: bertatberts
And in regard to you stating "Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types." Again how could you make that determination without thinking that it was predetermined, what and how Hitler would act.
Same song, second verse.  Doesn't work any better now than it did the first time.  A person's father doesn't have to be religious to be a strict disciplinarian who beats his children; a person doesn't have to be religious to be pissed off at the world; a person doesn't have to be religious to see a chance to seize power; and a person doesn't have to be religious to use a relatively weak group as a scapegoat, and purposefully kill them off because of deep-seated hatred.  Is it certain?  Of course not.  But put someone under the same kind of circumstances as Hitler faced, without religion, and I think it would be pretty likely that they would have followed a similar path as Hitler, especially if the world had never had to deal with someone like that before.

Quote from: bertatberts
In post #15 you stated that "My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology." without a predetermined cause this would be impossible, thus again your thinking must be that of Necessitarianism.
This is complete nonsense as an argument.  I said that you could find a non-religious cause for an atrocity, and you conclude that it's impossible to do so without a predetermined cause?  Yes, that makes lots of sense[1].  You do know that you can generally figure out possible causes from the effect, right?

Quote from: bertatberts
In post #33 Anfauglir stated "Hitler WOULD have still hated: he was a nut-job with a deep inferiority complex who wanted to rule." this also makes the assumption that it was predetermined he was going to be evil.
I'm not Anfauglir, so I can't speak for him, but I think you're being absurdly literal here.

Quote from: bertatberts
Then in post #62 You make the suggestion that Joe is doing this "but you are then trying to make predictions using our history about a world where religion would have never come about in the first place" whereas I believe this is what you are doing given the above posts I've quoted. I've not seen Joe do this, far from it.
Given that you apparently missed me saying that I misspoke about the original statement I made about Andrea Yates four or five times now, given your ridiculous argument that my statement that Hitler could have used racial groups instead of religious ones had to have been predetermined, given your nonsensical argument that you have to have a predetermined cause in order to know that an atrocity would come from it, I am not especially impressed with your powers of deduction here and don't trust your opinion.

Quote from: bertatberts
Joe replied to that post with this post#65 "Jamie, you're trying to tell us that a radically different world would be basically the same, and I'm supposed to provide the evidence to explain how that doesn't make sense?"
Except that Joe has been arguing all through this thread that without religion, various atrocities wouldn't have been committed, and things would have been better all around for the human species.  He illustrated this in his original post here by stating, "You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?"  And no, I did not claim that Joe was arguing based on Necessitarianism as you are now, my argument was that he was making predictions about what would have happened if religion hadn't been a factor in those cases and presumably many others, and I did not consider those predictions to be particularly valid.

Quote from: bertatberts
Then we find in post #88 Joe again states "Jamie has wavered back and force between saying similar bad things may have happened, similar bad things would have happened, and the exact same bad things would have happened, but anyway he's said that his position is the worst case scenario that even he doesn't believe is likely, but merely possible, which I freely admit, just as it's possible that I could get hit by a car while watching TV in my living room." Even Joe I would assume is thinking you believe in some kind of predetermination. just from his replies to you.
Why am I not surprised that you pulled out Joe's accusation that I was "wavering"?  And I think you're jumping to conclusions.  First off, the only time I've said anything like "the exact same bad things would have happened" was in my first statement about Andrea Yates, which I already admitted to misspeaking about.  So that is irrelevant.  As for the other two, Joe stated (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg493530.html#msg493530) that if I had said that bad things would have happened without religion, he would have agreed with me; his specific concern was his understanding that I had said Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades, and 9/11 would still have happened.  Except that if you look at my original statement (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg493133.html#msg493133), the only thing I said would have happened the same was Andrea Yates, which I've said several times already was a misspeak on my part; Joe (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg493344.html#msg493344) and kcrady (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg493612.html#msg493612) both called it out, which ultimately led to me admitting (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22086.msg493654.html#msg493654) that I misspoke about her, back on page 2, reply #33.  The other parts were that Hitler could have used racial groups instead, that the Crusades were a kind of imperialism, and that 9/11 was basically asymmetrical warfare.

Quote from: bertatberts
No sir I came to my conclusion reading through the thread again.
No, sir, you at most skimmed it over and picked out stuff that supported your existing argument, and dressed it up to look a little better.  The fact that you missed a number of things which didn't support your argument strongly suggests that you were not interested in making a serious reevaluation of your opinion here, but only in confirming what you already thought was true.
 1. sarcasm
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 08, 2012, 12:41:59 PM
Ugh... I've been putting this off but it has to be done. I deserve a darwin for the copy and paste hell I'm about to go through, not to mention re-reading this entire thread to compile this list...

Jamie, this is why I said you were wavering:

First you suggest that the same events would have occurred:
Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.  Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types.  The Crusades were basically a kind of imperialism; you'll note that the Crusaders lived like kings in the Holy Land during the time they did conquer it, suggesting that piety was not exactly high on their list of priorities.  And 9/11 is a textbook example of "asymmetrical warfare", which certainly doesn't need religion.

Then you clarify your position to say that similar events might have occurred:
My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology.  That doesn't mean I think religion is an acceptable excuse for those atrocities, though.
and again here:
The fact that religion can cause harm in no way suggests that religion is the only thing that can cause that kind of harm.  Religion is often a convenient excuse for that sort of thing, but it is wrong to conclude that without religion, that some other excuse couldn't have been found instead.

Both of which I agree with, by the way. But in the next one you again suggest that similar things can happen but return back to specifically stating that Andrea Yates might have happened anyway. A seemingly reasonable enough conclusion, as I hadn't yet given a thorough explanation of why I believed her religion was responsible, but that also implies you don't know anything about her case and are in no position to judge my understanding of it.

This is part of what I meant by saying that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that.  And even leaving that aside, you've already admitted that you don't actually know what caused her insanity.  You've suggested that it's related to her religion; what's your basis for this?  Unless you have hard evidence to support it, you're shooting in the dark.

Then, after I specifically outlined the course of events that lead her to drown her children, how her religion was clearly the anvil that broke the camel's back, and how even in her own words she admitted as much, you post this:

I don't accept joebbowers's presumption that religion was the direct cause of Andrea Yates's insanity and decision to kill her children.

Your reasoning:
As for Yates, she was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.  It's important to note that this is a general category of mental illnesses that come about after childbirth, and there is no causal link between them and religious belief.  In other words, postpartum psychosis is something that can and does affect a number of women who have given birth, regardless of their religious beliefs or even if they have religious beliefs.  I don't deny that her religious beliefs affected her actions, however, I don't think that one can legitimately say that religious belief is the deciding factor either. 

I had already explained that she 1) knew she was predisposed to postpartum depression 2) knew there was a danger of hurting her children if she got pregnant again 3) stopped taking her anti-psychotic medication against her doctor's advice in order to get pregnant again due to her Quiverfull religious beliefs. There is even more to it than that, but I've already explained it at length, I won't repeat myself further.

Bert's assessment of your thought process may have some merit here. I believe you are assuming it must have ended this way, and looking for any possible excuse to back that up, instead of acknowledging the simple fact that if she had made different choices at any of the crossroads leading up to that day, the end result would have been different.

Later in the same post, you restate your believe that the same events may/would have happened anyway:
As for the other points joe commented on, perhaps he should go back and reread my post.  What I said is that Hitler could have targeted racial sub-types if he had not had a religious sub-group to target; the Crusades were a kind of imperialism and thus piety was not especially high on their list of priorities; and 9/11 was an example of asymmetric warfare which does not require religious belief.

I lost interest in your line of debate here though, where you admitted that your position was little more than theoretical and that you were essentially playing devil's advocate. I'm not interested in debating the remotely possible.

The difference between my attitude and yours is that I'm making a worst-case assumption, knowing full well that it probably wouldn't have been that bad.

Of course, then you went from 'worst-case, probably wouldn't' talk to:

Yes, religious belief was a factor, and an important one, but it sprang from human nature, and I do not think we should pretend that religion is to blame but human nature is not.  All of those evils you listed could have happened (and probably would have) without belief in any deities.

So we've rather quickly gone from probably wouldn't have back to probably would have, and re-affirming your belief that the same specific events would have happened, including Andrea Yates:

Quote from: joebbowers
I gave you a step-by-step description of Andrea Yates' religion-fueled spiral into despair which led to the deaths of her children, followed by a clear explanation of how things would most likely have gone the other way without religion, based on research of her mental state leading up to the event.
No, you gave me a scenario based on your understanding of her case, and then an alternate scenario based on subtracting "religion" from the equation.  Given that your scenario was based on the wiki article about her, and your alternate scenario was developed from that, I think it's a little ridiculous to present them as "this is how it happened with religion, and this is how it would have happened without religion".

I linked the Wikipedia article about her, which is thoroughly sourced. In addition to that I read several other articles about her from other websites. It seems that you're attacking Wikipedia's credibility here in order to ignore my argument and continue to support your conclusion that things would have happened the same way had she not been religious.

Andrea Yates' case is not ancient history, and it is well documented. It is not difficult to piece together a fairly accurate timeline based on alternative choices she may have made. While it's impossible to know for sure which I freely admit, every time you take religion out of the equation whenever she made a choice, her path leads farther and farther from what actually happened. For you to ignore that and continue to assume the end result would have been the same despite different choices made is not only dishonest but as Bert has suggested, downright Necessitarian.

Then again stating that similar bad things may have happened with no mention of my examples:
It's far from impossible that there wouldn't have been other ideologies that religion by its nature suppressed that would have resulted in bloody atrocities in their own right, that may have been as bad or possibly worse than the ones spawned by religion.  I have no idea how probable it would have been, but that's part of the reason why I don't think we can afford to assume that a world where religion never got a foothold would have been less bloody.

Then this:

Of course I know that things would have been functionally different without religion.  My point in making that statement was that the same kinds of things would have happened even without religion, in similar circumstances.  A woman like Andrea Yates, suffering from postpartum psychosis, could very well have murdered her children without the influence of religion

This ignores the fact that her religion caused her postpartum depression to become as bad as it was.

A man like Adolf Hitler, megalomaniacal and furious, could very well have become the leader of his country and worked out a program of mass genocide without religious belief ever becoming involved; and so on.

And this ignores the likelihood that his anger and hatred were religiously inspired, and that he may not have been able to raise such an army and convince people to commit genocide without religion. This is truly Necessitarianism. Don't just dismiss this but look at your own words, you're assuming that he would have been "megalomaniacal and furious" without religion, based on what? Because you already have a conclusion and you're working backwards. You know what happened and you assume that you can remove as many of the pieces of the Jenga tower as you like and it won't fall over, because it is, in fact, what happened. The problem is that it's not a Jenga tower, it's a roadmap, and one different turn would have led to a whole different series of choices.

I hope you can see why I accused you of wavering. In fact I still don't know whether you're just playing devil's advocate and suggesting a worst-case scenario that you don't even believe in, or whether you actually believe Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusader or 9/11 would have happened in a world without religion, or similar events would have occurred or similar events may have occurred.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: rickymooston on April 08, 2012, 01:15:07 PM
If you had been paying attention, you might have seen that her religious beliefs caused her to 1) stop taking doctor-prescribed anti-psychotic medication and 2) continue having children when she confided to her husband that she was afraid she might hurt them.

Well, the thing is, all kinds of idealogical influences cause people to do stupid things such as not taking their medication. There are people who don't take their medications because of scientology because of their culture, people of self-denial and a number of other things. Even some medical doctors deny mental health conditions exist and actively misuse science to try convincing people of this.

I have a friend with schitzophrenia. He is in denial somewhat but he takes his meds in order to "sleep better". Its not easy to admit you have a genetic disease that causes you to see things that aren't there, that interferes with your ability to think logically and that makes your disfunctional whenever you have an "episode".

Knowing Ricky, it's not sarcasm.

You are correct. His point of critism of my writing was legit, lol. I didn't really think about sensitivity towards the mentally handicapped and indeed the term retarded is far more often employed against people who don't have an excuse for the lack of thought they employ. In actual fact, I've never used the term retarded on a mentally handicapped person ...  :o

I have more to respond to but it's 3 AM here and the wife is getting angry.

Um, if you are ignoring your wife to respond to stupidity on the internets, then she should indeed get angry. If my wife was here, there is no way in hell, I'd neglect her in order to endulge my addiction to philosophy.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 08, 2012, 05:03:40 PM
Alright, so.  First off, the points you noted about me changing what I said are not actual changes in what I think or thought, but rather being a little sloppy with grammar.  It's not something I always notice because it doesn't usually matter.  In this case it did, and I should have been more careful.

Bert's assessment of your thought process may have some merit here. I believe you are assuming it must have ended this way, and looking for any possible excuse to back that up, instead of acknowledging the simple fact that if she had made different choices at any of the crossroads leading up to that day, the end result would have been different.
This is incorrect.  One of my favorite book series is the 1632 alternate universe series written by Eric Flint.  The premise is that a 20th century West Virginia town is transplanted to the middle of 17th century Germany, during the Thirty Years War, and then moving forward from there.  One of the points made several times in the series is that expecting the same events to happen after such a drastic change is completely foolhardy, and it also makes fun of the tendency of everyone and their brother to use the future history brought back to try to predict events.  There's a very amusing scene near the end of 1633 where the Earl of Wentworth is trying to talk King Charles out of fleeing London because of a disease outbreak, and Charles tries to browbeat Wentworth with the fact that no such outbreak was mentioned in the copies of history books he'd acquired.  When Wentworth tries to explain that they had already brought thousands of mercenary soldiers to England, some of whom would certainly have been infected with the diseases from the mainland, and thus the books would not have been able to write about such an outbreak, Charles and his wife run right over him with more protestations that there was nothing written in the books about the plague outbreak.

Even if I had a tendency towards Necessitarianism as bertaberts suggested (and I didn't, and don't), this would have kicked it in the teeth.  There is no way that I would not have learned from the example of a peevish and stupid man being such an utter fool not to realize that if you make one change, it will beget others whether you want it to or not.  You can't just make the one change you want and expect that nothing else will change because of it.

Now, as for Andrea Yates, perhaps I had better explain my reasoning some more.  This was never about me thinking that no matter what she did or didn't do, believed or didn't believe, she would still have ended up acting in the same way.  This was about my own understanding of her case, which is that her religious beliefs had an effect on her actions, but her unconscious desires had a much stronger effect.  Had she not been religious, of course things would have changed.  Would they have changed enough to negate her desire for more children that led her further into postpartum psychosis?  That's what I'm questioning.  I got the impression from her case, and what you said about it, that she was trying to justify her actions after-the-fact with her religious beliefs.  This is a fairly common phenomenon, people will do something without thinking and then try to rationalize it afterward.  Now, I'll grant, I'm not a psychologist, and I haven't studied her case, so my opinion about it may not be very accurate.  However, trying to determine what someone would have done if you had changed X, or Y, about them, is always perilous, especially if one only has a cursory understanding about her life and history.

So no, I don't think she absolutely would have drowned her children no matter what, but I think it's pretty likely that she would have, unless you change her enough so that she's a dramatically different person.  And I just don't think subtracting her religious beliefs would have been enough of a difference.  SPAG, remember?  A person's religious beliefs are largely things that the person already thinks or believes that they have rationalized "God" into supporting as well.  So I think her desire for more children would have been present even if she hadn't been religious, and I think it may very well have been strong enough to provoke her into making the same fatal mistakes.

It isn't even slightly about Necessitarianism, in other words.  I'd never really heard about it before bertabert mentioned it, and I was thoroughly unimpressed when I read about it.  As I illustrated above, I already considered the idea to be quite ridiculous several years before I ever joined this site, and I've seen nothing since to make it anything resembling believable.

The same thing applies with Hitler.  What I said earlier still applies - you don't have to be religious to do what he did.  Change things so that religion isn't a part of his life, and perhaps he might not have...but perhaps he might still have, if his father had still been an authoritarian disciplinarian regardless of religion.  Or someone else might have instead, who had similar things happen which were not based on religion that drove them into making many of the same decisions.  Like I said earlier, change begets change, and while some changes are obvious, others are not.  I just don't think we can say that there wouldn't have been a Holocaust-style atrocity at some point, regardless of whether it was because of Hitler or because of someone else.  To put it another way, even if you treat history like traveling from one place to another and take a different turn at one point, you can still end up going over much of the same terrain, or potentially even worse terrain, depending on where you turn.

Quote from: joebbowers
I hope you can see why I accused you of wavering. In fact I still don't know whether you're just playing devil's advocate and suggesting a worst-case scenario that you don't even believe in, or whether you actually believe Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusader or 9/11 would have happened in a world without religion, or similar events would have occurred or similar events may have occurred.
Well, I hope I explained the "wavering" well enough to you.  As for the other part of what you said here, I think many similar things would have happened in a world beyond religion.  Not the exact same ones, of course, because making a change early enough (say in Pharaohic Egypt, as kcrady suggested) would have rearranged things so thoroughly that they wouldn't even come close to resembling the world we live in today.  My thinking, though, is that people being people, you can still assume there would have been plenty of bloodshed and plenty of atrocities committed because of other ideologies without religious belief stirred in the mix.  Maybe it would have been better, maybe it would have been worse.  I don't think you can assume either, though it's also wrong to assume it would have been about the same.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: joebbowers on April 08, 2012, 10:47:36 PM
Well, the thing is, all kinds of idealogical influences cause people to do stupid things such as not taking their medication. There are people who don't take their medications because of scientology because of their culture, people of self-denial and a number of other things. Even some medical doctors deny mental health conditions exist and actively misuse science to try convincing people of this.

I already explained how her Quiverfull religious belief made her stop taking her medication. Many times. Clearly. In her own words, she admitted it. Which you continue to ignore. Look Ricky, I get it. You're a Christian, you're going to defend it no matter what. You'll ignore the evidence, sidestep the hard questions, and then claim victory. Nobody expects intellectual honesty from you, we know that you're delusional and don't have much capacity for reason. You're welcome to participate, and we appreciate your perspective, but you will never win a debate here because you're on the team with faith and we're on the team with evidence.

Um, if you are ignoring your wife to respond to stupidity on the internets, then she should indeed get angry. If my wife was here, there is no way in hell, I'd neglect her in order to endulge my addiction to philosophy.

Aah judgement, invading others personal lives, smells like Christian Spirit.

Who said anything about neglect? She's been playing a computer game. She just wants to get laid. How about you keep your nose out of other people's relationships, ok?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 09, 2012, 09:09:06 AM
Actually, rickymooston has described himself as an atheist.  Specifically, here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,21836.msg494612.html#msg494612).  He talked about what he enjoyed, past tense, as a Christian, and shortly after said talked about being an atheist in the present tense.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 10, 2012, 08:30:26 AM
The same thing applies with Hitler.  What I said earlier still applies - you don't have to be religious to do what he did.  Change things so that religion isn't a part of his life, and perhaps he might not have...but perhaps he might still have, if his father had still been an authoritarian disciplinarian regardless of religion........

From an article on our branch website.....http://www.pcs-southend.org.uk/ (http://www.pcs-southend.org.uk/)
Quote from: The Holocaust Rehearsed

In 1939 Adolf Hitler authorised Aktion-T4 a programme of mass-murder targeting disabled people. Although Aktion-T4 killed more than 250 000 people this portion of history is often overlooked if not completely forgotten.

Under the T4 disabled people were transported to ‘Killing Centres’ in ‘Death Buses’ in their thousands, so why isn’t more known about what became a rehearsal for the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution?’
.....
It was a small act of resistance by disabled people in the town of Absberg that seemingly brought an end to T4. The night before their removal to a killing centre the disabled people of the Absberg holding centre, who had socialised with the townsfolk, knocked on doors to say good-bye. Unfortunately they were unable to prevent their own murders but the residents were so outraged at what had happened it led to the intervention of Bishop Van Galen and ultimately to the cancellation of T4.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 14, 2012, 04:08:15 AM
I think, if religious ideology had been suppressed, that there would have been other consequences, such as a much earlier rise of nationalism.  And nationalism is one of those things that can mimic religion's ability to brainwash and compel obedience ("my country, right or wrong").  Now, I'll grant, there probably wouldn't have been institutionalized religious atrocities like Aztec human sacrifices, but I don't think that means there wouldn't have been similar atrocities related to nationalism (I think many of the atrocities of the 20th century were linked to nationalism to a greater or lesser degree).  For example, instead of going to war with their neighbors to get captives for sacrifices to the gods, they could have instead gone to war in order to bolster national pride (and gain tribute), and put the captives into bloody gladiatorial games for the glory of their nation.

The point being, it's far from impossible that there wouldn't have been other ideologies that religion by its nature suppressed that would have resulted in bloody atrocities in their own right, that may have been as bad or possibly worse than the ones spawned by religion.  I have no idea how probable it would have been, but that's part of the reason why I don't think we can afford to assume that a world where religion never got a foothold would have been less bloody.

The premise here seems to be that people will inherently and inevitably commit some certain number of atrocities per capita, so that if one motivation (e.g. religion) is removed, others (pillage, cannibalism, nationalism, whatever) will increase, and/or new motivations will be invented to restore the atrocity equilibrium.  I am not persuaded.  I think Steven Pinker's research, detailed in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (http://www.amazon.com/The-Better-Angels-Our-Nature/dp/0670022950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334392610&sr=1-1) provides strong evidence that there is no "atrocity equilibrium" that "human nature" compels us to remain at or exceed.  If there is no determining factor that forces us to maintain some particular level of violence and atrocity and invent "reasons" for it post hoc, then removing one of the motivations (religion) should generate improvement.  So far you have not shown why this would not be the case.

Do you have any evidence that in the absence of religion, nationalism, racism, newly-invented ideologies, sports rivalries, etc., would increase their role as atrocity-motivators to take up the slack?  If so, this principle should also apply to the reduction or removal of non-religious atrocity motivators.  For example, what has replaced racism as the motivation for lynchings in the South, and if it isn't blacks being lynched (because racism was the motivation for targeting them in particular), who is being lynched (or killed in some new way) in their place?
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 14, 2012, 09:31:50 AM
kcrady:  However, I'm not trying to argue for some kind of atrocity equilibrium.  Human nature compels us to do what we feel we must in order to survive and prosper, and we've developed so that charismatic leaders can exert a considerable amount of influence on us.  If those charismatic leaders argue that we must commit atrocities in order to survive and prosper[1], many people who are under the sway of those leaders will buy into it.  Not all, certainly, but enough to make it a very real possibility.  Now, it's true that a lot of those charismatic leaders have used "God" to bolster their own charisma.  But I don't think they need it to gull people into following their schemes.

As far as the decrease in atrocities goes, I'd argue that there are two primary reasons for this; atrocities are becoming more visible, and our sense of empathy is widening.  For the first, let's compare the Thirty Years War with World War II, since both wars had a huge amount of civilian deaths.  Yet, the civilian deaths in the Thirty Years War were largely invisible.  They weren't systematic either - they were generally the result of individual groups of soldiers on forage expeditions, or the sacks of cities.  And the news of them generally did not spread fast, if at all.  Sacks of cities, perhaps, such as the [wiki]Sack of Magdeburg[/wiki], but I'd wager the majority of the civilian deaths in that war happened to people who did not live in a major city.  In other words, while the atrocities happened, they weren't noticed for the most part.  By comparison, Hitler's systematic extermination of various groups he didn't like was kept hidden, but there was plenty of evidence that it was happening if you knew where to look.  And after the war, the true scope of the atrocity was too visible to ignore.

That's all for now.
 1. I would argue that their arguments are actually based on the charismatic leader gaining or keeping power rather than what the society needs
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Add Homonym on April 14, 2012, 10:21:42 AM
Hitler attacked German/Ashkenazi Jews, because there was a load of intellectual Marxists within their ranks, who advocated violent revolt. Although Hitler was a socialist, and much of Germany's welfare system originates from him, he didn't like the Marxist perspective, so he killed them all. He harnessed people's natural tendency to kill Jews, or anyone educated.

Religion did directly cause this, because, as a tight-knit biblical group, the German Jews were taught to read at an early age, so they could read the bible. This raised their literacy rates, making them intellectual and rich. As such, they became a target who could be identified by their surnames.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jeremy0 on April 15, 2012, 12:08:44 AM
I am with my former book club buddy from England in that religion has caused more harm than it does good.

The problem is, you can't beat stupid.  And you can't argue with someone that has become intoxicated by their own religious leaders..
I am of the opinion that yes, most of the horrible shit that happened in history has had some form of religion behind it.  Even if it's devil-worship..
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: kcrady on April 15, 2012, 08:02:49 AM
kcrady:  However, I'm not trying to argue for some kind of atrocity equilibrium.

How can your argument hold up without one?  You have been saying that, if there was no religion, people would find other "reasons" to commit atrocities, even when there is no "charismatic leader" involved (e.g., Andrea Yates).  If you have, say, a hundred atrocities being carried out per million people per year, and, say, 60 of those were done in the name of religion--and then religion is eliminated as a cultural force--then one of two things can happen, all other things (economics, etc.) being equal:  1) The atrocity rate can go down to 40 per million (because "charismatic leaders" have just lost an important lever by which they can brainwash people into doing their bidding); or 2) Some determining force causes the atrocity rate to remain at 100 per million, which in turn requires that the 60 atrocities per million be done in the name of something else (nationalism, etc.), so that those other categories increase and/or new categories are invented.

You have been claiming that, if there were no religion, basically nothing would change.  Aztecs who would otherwise have sacrificed tens of thousands of captives to their gods would basically kill those same captives for some other "reason."  Since the Aztec atrocity rate can't drop when their reason for the atrocities is taken away, there would have to be an "Aztec atrocity equilibrium" to require that they change their justification to something else in order to continue committing the same number (and general viciousness) of atrocities.  I don't see how this can hold up, especially in the case of atrocities such as human sacrifice to gods, sawing the clitorises off of little girls, burning witches and heretics at the stake, etc. derive specifically from religious doctrine and belief.  "Whelp.  Now that we don't believe in Allah anymore, it doesn't make any sense to cut off girls' clitorises to make them abide by the Quran's sexual rules.  So let's chop off their little fingers for the Glorious Arab Soviet Socialist Revolution!"

Human nature compels us to do what we feel we must in order to survive and prosper, and we've developed so that charismatic leaders can exert a considerable amount of influence on us.

OK, but what are the mechanisms "charismatic leaders" use to gather and maintain their influence?  Religious modes of thinking, especially concepts like faith, the afterlife, "gods" as uber-"charismatic leaders" who own a right to unquestioning obedience by dint of their metaphysical nature, etc. serve as powerful methods of shutting off critical thinking and creating obedience on a mass scale.  Sure, there are other methods of doing this (e.g., nationalism, ideology), but I think the case has been made that they don't work as well over the long haul because they aren't as well-armored against reality.  To say that we don't "need" religion in order to commit atrocities is true, but then we don't "need" smallpox in order to die painfully from disease.  That doesn't mean that if we cure smallpox, some other disease or diseases will rise up to produce equivalent effects in terms of human misery.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 15, 2012, 09:54:57 AM
Unrelated to kcrady's post:  bertaberts, stop accusing me of being a Necessitarianist (EDIT: Unless you're willing to back it up yourself).  I am quite tired of your passive-aggressive attitude of making statements about me by complimenting others because they say something which you think supports your belief.  When you stated it directly to me, I disliked it and contested it, but I at least respected the fact that you were willing to say it.  But you were unable or unwilling to press your argument.  So instead of doing the rational thing and reconsidering whether your point was valid, you're instead making comments about me in a compliment to someone else.  Do you realize just how low such an approach is?  Do you even realize just how contemptible you look by doing so?

If you're going to make a statement about me, then direct it at me so that I can respond directly to it, not this business of making statements about me by complimenting someone else's post, because not only are you pissing me off by being passive-aggressive towards me, but you're implying that the real reason you made the compliment was to comment on me.

I'll respond to kcrady's post later.  I don't want to have my anger at bertaberts influence my reply to someone who I have a far greater amount of respect for.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 15, 2012, 01:16:32 PM
Please note I did not say to kgrady you were a Necessitarianist I said it was why I called you a Necessitarianist.
Kgrady was covering the same ground, and his replies were and are better than  mine.
I appreciated his input, and writing skill, if he cared to look up what a Necessitarianist is, he would see how it related to you, in this thread. 
You have since told me via several Pm's that you don't regard yourself as a Necessitarianist. I've have excepted that. But I did still say it.
So referring to it isn't picking fault with you again, it is merely letting another poster know that is what I thought.

 

Bert
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Azdgari on April 15, 2012, 01:19:58 PM
You're not calling him X, you're just bringing up why you think he's X.  And you know, it really looks like he's X, doesn't it?  And kcrady's reasonable points do lead to the idea that Jaime's an X.  But of course you're not saying that, you're just bringing up the issue.  Why does he look so much like X?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Dude you sound like Glenn Beck.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 15, 2012, 02:32:32 PM
Quote from: Asdgari
Why does he look so much like X?
I refer you to my post #96 though he does claim not to be one, his posts on this thread suggest he was thinking along those lines.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessitarianism
Quote from: Asdgari
Dude you sound like Glenn Beck.
My apologies for my ignorance but who is Glenn Beck.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 15, 2012, 02:46:38 PM
bertaberts:  I don't care (much) if you think a label fits me or you refer to it, I just expect you to take it up with me yourself, not through a proxy, as it were.  As it happens, I don't share your conviction that kcrady would agree with you if he looked up what a Necessitarianist is, because I think he would have brought it up himself if he thought it was a valid issue.  But don't take my word for it - ask him directly.

Or, for that matter, take it up with me yourself, since you clearly still think it's valid.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: ParkingPlaces on April 15, 2012, 02:54:02 PM
bertaberts

You are calling jaimehlers a "Necessitarianist". Or at least implying that me might be, sort of. Or denying that you are, sort of. That term is is defined by Wikipedia as "a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be."

I've read through his entries and your own, and fail to see where his view human frailties means that he thinks the outcome would be exactly the same. He has doubts about human nature and sees patterns in how we behave towards one another that lead him to think that the outcome would not be all lollipops and roses. But at no point has he said that the world would be exactly as onerous or terrifying without religion. In fact he has stated quite clearly that he knows the world would be different. He just thinks it might be a bit more similar to the ways things actually have been than you do.

(By the way, I've lost count of how many times he has said he misstated about Andrea Yates and the inevitability of what happened, yet you still continue to trounce him on what he originally said. What's up with that?)

Are you a "Wonderfulist" because you think the world would be perfect without religion? Of course not. Both you and jaimehlers are looking at speculative thoughts and coming up with different ideas. Given that we'll never know what a world without religion would be like, nor in our lifetimes know what a world newly without religion would be like, each of us has a right to jump to our own set of conclusions without being completely ostracized. None of us has enough information.

Disagreement in these matters is fine. But I don't see where narrowly labeling someone who is clearly giving the matter a lot of thought benefits anyone.

The example you gave of jaimehlers being cloned and perhaps being very different if raised in a different environment has more than one lesson in it. It means that two people raised in the same environment can be very different too. Don't be so frickin' surprised that you two differ.

That you haven't swayed him with your brilliant mind might mean that jaimehlers is a dummy. Or it might mean that you aren't very good at stating your case. Or that you are wrong. Or something else. But thinking that you will sway him with labels is just plain silly. And his clear distain for your name calling is a sign that you are accomplishing nothing worthwhile.

I would suggest a different tack. One where you state what you believe to be the case, listen to his opinion and others, and then consider yourself better informed and equipped to deal with the real world because you have heard a wider range of ideas than before, even if you reject a most of them. Appreciate his efforts and make sure yours are just as sincere, so that he and others can also appreciate what you have to contribute.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 16, 2012, 01:33:42 PM
Quote from: Parking place
You are calling jaimehlers a "Necessitarianist". Or at least implying that me might be, sort of. Or denying that you are, sort of. That term is is defined by Wikipedia as "a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be."

I've read through his entries and your own, and fail to see where his view human frailties means that he thinks the outcome would be exactly the same. He has doubts about human nature and sees patterns in how we behave towards one another that lead him to think that the outcome would not be all lollipops and roses. But at no point has he said that the world would be exactly as onerous or terrifying without religion. In fact he has stated quite clearly that he knows the world would be different. He just thinks it might be a bit more similar to the ways things actually have been than you do.

(By the way, I've lost count of how many times he has said he misstated about Andrea Yates and the inevitability of what happened, yet you still continue to trounce him on what he originally said. What's up with that?)
I wouldn't know I haven't done that, perhaps you are mistaking me for someone else. I made one reference in post #103, I have not mentioned her, either before or since. (also I refer you to the bolded part of your post above.) Clearly you haven't.
Quote from: Parking place
Are you a "Wonderfulist" because you think the world would be perfect without religion? Of course not. Both you and jaimehlers are looking at speculative thoughts and coming up with different ideas. Given that we'll never know what a world without religion would be like, nor in our lifetimes know what a world newly without religion would be like, each of us has a right to jump to our own set of conclusions without being completely ostracized. None of us has enough information.
No sorry, if a persons beliefs are crazy, why should they automatically get respect for those beliefs.
simply because those beliefs could encroach on other peoples lives.
Quote from: Parking place
Disagreement in these matters is fine. But I don't see where narrowly labeling someone who is clearly giving the matter a lot of thought benefits anyone.
I don't think he has given it a lot of thought, both Kcrady and Joebbowers replies, show that.
So I fail to see a problem, He has written on this thread things that appear to be Necessitarianism in my opinion, he said he wasn't a Necessitarianist that's good enough.
But his writing here do appear to be very much like Necessitarianism, perhaps I should not have been so blunt.
I reiterate that I'm no longer calling him a Necessitarianist, but I am saying that his post here, do appear to be such.
 
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 16, 2012, 05:35:57 PM
I wouldn't know I haven't done that, perhaps you are mistaking me for someone else. I made one reference in post #103, I have not mentioned her, either before or since. (also I refer you to the bolded part of your post above.) Clearly you haven't.
Quit with the sophistry, bertaberts.  You used Andrea Yates as a primary example of why you were labeling me a "Necessitarianist", and now you think you can pretend that you aren't referring back to that every time you drag that label out?

Quote from: bertatberts
No sorry, if a persons beliefs are crazy, why should they automatically get respect for those beliefs.
simply because those beliefs could encroach on other peoples lives.
I'm beginning to think you don't even understand what he was talking about.  His point was that neither you nor I actually know what a world without religion would truly be like, and so it's wrong to make foolish assumptions about how "right" or "wrong" speculative ideas about it would be.  Also, I devoutly hope that you were not referring to me with that "beliefs are crazy" comment.  Because I strenuously object to being referred to as crazy because you have an opinion about me that you're clinging to despite a number of people criticizing you about it.

Quote from: bertatberts
I don't think he has given it a lot of thought, both Kcrady and Joebbowers replies, show that.
*facepalm*

Do you even realize just how you sound here?  Did you even read Joe's and kcrady's posts?  I think you're taking your own conclusion, drawn from who-knows-where, and finding whatever evidence you can to support it.  The way you've been arguing in favor of it supports this conclusion; you started by stating that you thought I was a Necessitarianist.  You based this on the idea that I had somehow said that Hitler would have done exactly the same things regardless of religion, which I did not say, and concluding from there that I was denying every possibility but that one.  This was incorrect reasoning - the only thing I said that would have happened was Andrea Yates drowning her children, and I later retracted that.  Your subsequent arguments haven't been any more convincing than that.

Quote from: bertatberts
So I fail to see a problem, He has written on this thread things that appear to be Necessitarianism in my opinion, he said he wasn't a Necessitarianist that's good enough.
If it were good enough, you wouldn't keep bringing it up.  You clearly think that regardless of my categorical statement that I am not a Necessitarianist and that I find the whole philosophy to be ridiculous, that I'm still "appearing" to be a Necessitarianist.  The most generous thing I can think of is that you think I'm wrong about being a Necessitarianist, but you're being "charitable" by granting that I don't think I am.  I don't think you realize just how contemptuous such an attitude is.

Quote from: bertatberts
But his writing here do appear to be very much like Necessitarianism, perhaps I should not have been so blunt.
I reiterate that I'm no longer calling him a Necessitarianist, but I am saying that his post here, do appear to be such.
Thank you so very much for your "kindness" and "generosity" in not calling me a Necessitarianist directly even though you very clearly think that I am and apparently know me better than I know myself despite the fact that we've never really interacted outside this one thread.  Words actually fail me in expressing precisely how I feel about your superior attitude towards me, despite the fact that you really don't know me at all.  I can better express how I feel about you being bound and determined to keep arguing that I sound like a Necessitarianist with other people, even though you won't talk about it with me directly even though I'm clearly here in the thread, but I don't particularly like talking about scatological functions.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: bertatberts on April 17, 2012, 03:49:16 AM
Quit with the sophistry, bertaberts.  You used Andrea Yates as a primary example of why you were labeling me a "Necessitarianist", and now you think you can pretend that you aren't referring back to that every time you drag that label out?
Yes I used it once! However I used Hitler twice, You replied directly after that post and said you had misstated in regard to her and that you did not consider yourself as a Necessitarianist, of which I have accepted. All I am saying is your writings in this thread are similar to those of a Necessitarianist, in my opinion.

Everybody in the world gets labelled in some way or another we stereotype all the time I.E. When a person says he has no belief in a god we automatically call him an atheist, he however may call himself an agnostic etc.. And not like the athiest tag, but he is still a atheist isn't he. If a person wishes to sit on the fence in an argument he is give a liberal label, if he leans one way or the other he is labelled right or left wing, whether he likes it or not.

I labelled you a Necessitarianist because of what I thought were the writings of a Necessitarianist. you say your not that's good enough for me.
 
I call myself a humanist because that is what I am, I don't however like the atheist label I also get, because it is a negative label. But I don't whine on and on about it.

Your not a Necessitarianist ok got that, however in my opinion you did write like one in this thread. Am I now not to have an opinion just because you don't like it. I could call you a lot worse names, but you don't seem to fit those yet.

Give the whining a rest it was simply my opinion as Parkplace said we both have those and we are not going to convince each other that the other is right, are we.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: Anfauglir on April 17, 2012, 06:31:47 AM
You have been claiming that, if there were no religion, basically nothing would change.  Aztecs who would otherwise have sacrificed tens of thousands of captives to their gods would basically kill those same captives for some other "reason." 

I can see what you are saying.  But I think we need to look at the flip side.

Person A, we are saying, did bad stuff because of their religion.  Take away the religion, and they wouldn't do the bad stuff.  Sounds logical.

But.....does that not mean then that every person who has or had NO religion, therefore did/does NO bad stuff?  I doubt anyone would go so far as to make that claim.  So its clear that people will do bad stuff whether or not they had religion in their lives.

And so I'm not sure we can categorically say that without religion, all the bad stuff wouldn't have happened.  While I'm happy to accept that in some cases it would have gone down, in those cases where the believers were indeed "true believers", I don't doubt that there would still have been popular and charismatic leaders who would have appealed to nationalism and patriotism and whatever-other-isms, and got people to do terrible things anyways.

Much as we might like to reference the "Got Mit Uns" belt buckles, I honestly find it hard to believe that every single person inolved in the bad stuff of Hitler's regime was the type who prayed twice a day and honestly believed there was a god watching over and approving of everything they did.  It's sad, but I think that a lot of things would have come about with or without religion.  Perhaps not in the same degree (so I'll agree there is no "atrocity equilibrium"), but certainly it would still have happened.

And who knows?  Maybe the worst excesses wouldn't have happened....but I'm not blinkered enough to suggest that religion has done NOTHING good.  Maybe some bad things that were prevented by religion would have happened without it, or happened worse.

It's been postulated that for many people religion fills some kind of "gap" in their lives - not everyone, sure, but a lot.  I just think its dangerous to assume that without that gep being filled with religion, it would have been filled with sweetness and light and cuddly bunnies.

- - - - -

It was in a Discworld book where Granny Weatherwax and Ridcully realised they had dated when very young.  Ridcully gets all nostalgic for the wonderful long life together they would have lived, had they not opted for magic.
"Except", said Granny Weatherwax, "for the fire that killed us both on our wedding night."


My GUT does indeed tell me that on balance the world would overall be better without religion - logical, I guess, otherwise I'd be a very conflicted little atheist! - but I don't think its as simplistic as we might want.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 17, 2012, 09:29:07 AM
Yes I used it once! However I used Hitler twice, You replied directly after that post and said you had misstated in regard to her and that you did not consider yourself as a Necessitarianist, of which I have accepted. All I am saying is your writings in this thread are similar to those of a Necessitarianist, in my opinion.
Yes, you used Hitler twice, and I rebutted your argument about him twice.  And no, you clearly have not accepted that I am not actually a Necessitarianist.  You keep saying, "I've accepted that you don't consider yourself a Necessitarianist, but I still think your writings are similar to those of a Necessitarianist", which in effect means that you think that I actually am a Necessitarianist even though I'm saying I'm not.  Is it any surprise that I'd get upset at the implication?

Quote from: bertatberts
Everybody in the world gets labelled in some way or another we stereotype all the time I.E. When a person says he has no belief in a god we automatically call him an atheist, he however may call himself an agnostic etc.. And not like the athiest tag, but he is still a atheist isn't he. If a person wishes to sit on the fence in an argument he is give a liberal label, if he leans one way or the other he is labelled right or left wing, whether he likes it or not.
The fact that people stereotype doesn't make it right.  If you stereotype someone, and they object to it, and you claim to accept that, yet you keep saying that they sure sound like what you stereotyped them as, then you sound like you're talking out of both sides of your mouth.  And that tends to annoy and upset people, especially when you keep doing it, as if they should understand that even though you keep saying they sound like something, you're okay with them thinking they don't sound like it.

Quote from: bertatberts
I labelled you a Necessitarianist because of what I thought were the writings of a Necessitarianist. you say your not that's good enough for me.
Yet you keep saying that I sound like a Necessitarianist, even though you're okay with me thinking I'm not one.  When someone else directs a post at me here, you're right there, chiming in about how I sure do sound like a Necessitarianist, even though I don't consider myself one and that's good enough for you.  In other words, you're basically saying that I am actually one regardless of what I think in the matter, regardless of how I try to rebut it.
 
Quote from: bertatberts
I call myself a humanist because that is what I am, I don't however like the atheist label I also get, because it is a negative label. But I don't whine on and on about it.
So I'm whining because I don't like the label you alone decided I deserved because I keep calling you on your repeated insinuations that I deserve that label?  You said you don't like being called an atheist because you think of it as a negative label, but let me ask you, is it an inaccurate label in your opinion?  An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of deities.  If you don't believe in deities, the term atheist can be used to describe you, although you may not like some of the negative connotations that go along with the word.

Quote from: bertatberts
Your not a Necessitarianist ok got that, however in my opinion you did write like one in this thread. Am I now not to have an opinion just because you don't like it. I could call you a lot worse names, but you don't seem to fit those yet.
No, you don't get it.  You haven't gotten it since you first started using that term!  My objection, that you don't seem to understand, is because the term does not describe me.  It is wholly inaccurate, it does not describe how I think or how I argue, your opinion notwithstanding.  You claim to accept that, but you clearly still think that it does describe how I think and how I argue, at least somewhat, and I object to that, especially when you aren't willing to go to the effort to defend your opinion.

Quote from: bertatberts
Give the whining a rest it was simply my opinion as Parkplace said we both have those and we are not going to convince each other that the other is right, are we.
Even though I find it contemptible, I'm at least glad that you're being honest about being uninterested in listening to what I say and changing your mind if I can show that it's warranted.  That isn't the case with me.  If you could show to my satisfaction that your statement that my argument here was Necessitarianist was accurate, I would have no trouble acknowledging it.  If you don't want to do that, fine, I can't force you to.  But I do not consider it to be reasonable for you to then keep throwing your opinion (that I am one, or sound like one, or whatever) back in my face every time the opportunity arises.  Because that's just plain rude.  And for you to claim that I'm whining because I call you on it is just insulting.
Title: Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
Post by: jaimehlers on April 17, 2012, 10:00:19 AM
kcrady:  No, I don't think there's some mythical force that would have somehow kept the number of atrocities stable regardless of how circumstances changed.  I just don't think that the lack of religion would have resulted in rationalism filling the gap.  I don't think of history as being something where we can change something early on, like preventing the rise of religion, and expect that it'll be better overall than the history we know.  Sure, maybe it would have been.  Or maybe it would have been worse.  It's too complex to be able to tell without actually running through it.  So rather than being optimistic and saying it would have been better, or pessimistic and saying it would have been worse, I figure it's better to be cynical and say, "the more things change, the more they stay the same".

Do I know this for sure?  No.  In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that I was wrong, because it's just speculation on my part.  And I guess I was wrong earlier when I said that I was trying to come up with the worst-case scenario.  It's more likely that I just didn't want to consider the real worst-case scenarios that could happen as a result of such a change.

As for the levers that charismatic leaders could have used, almost any ideology can potentially be used as such a lever.  Because I don't think it's accurate to say that other ideologies wouldn't have been able to take the place of religion.  Yes, they aren't as well-armored against reality as religion, but in some respects I think they could then have been worse, because people who adhere to an ideology which reality is busy proving wrong can and have gone to tremendous lengths to try to prove it right anyway.  For example, riding a plan down in flames simply because they don't want to admit to being wrong, and as a result bringing everyone else down with them.  I don't know that this would have been the case, I only suspect it to be so, but I don't think we can arbitrarily exclude it from consideration.