Friday, April 27, 2007

DEBATE: "We'd be better off without Religion."

Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and a philosopher by the name of AC Grayling appeared at Westminster Hall London recently to 'debate' "a trio of religious authorities" on the question, "We'd be better off without Religion."

The motion carried 1,205 to 778, and the audio for the debate appears at Richard Dawkins' website, although as a few disappointed commenters at the site have pointed out,
There was no debate. Those who opposed the motion effectively redefined religion to some vague notion of 'doing good.' Furthermore, there was no structured opportunity after the six statements to actually specifically refute the opponents' arguments one by one.
Still, the opening statements by both Hitchens and Dawkins (whom Hitchens calls "the spokesman for the moderate wing") and are superb. [Not so superb is Dawkins' brief appearance on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor -- see the video here on YouTube. Does O'Reilly really realise how stupid he sounds?]

The picture over there shows Free Radical writer Marcus Bachler outside a previous debate in this series on religion, on his way to delivering a copy of the last issue featuring Marcus' review of Dawkin's book The God Delusion, to the man himself.

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35 Comments:

Blogger Greg Bourke said...

Maybe, maybe not. Such a chesnut ain't it!

But where's the objective evidence?
In the blue theist corner we have Crusades, witch hunts, love of Aristolian cosmology, and numerous other crimes.
In the red atheist corner we have the Terror, five-year-plan, the Great Leap Forward, and a good proportion of the Final Solution.

Mega-death statistics are neither here or there and are best ignored in preference to an elegant argument. Afterall bodycounts aren't a philosophical proof are they? Thus, one might say the Terror et al. are moot. But is that really what you think? These really are crimes that atheism is responsible for and must explain.

Or do we make that hoary argument made by desperate lefties regarding communism: "but that wasn't pure/real/proper/enlightened atheism it was perverted by counter-revolutionary high-roaders and wreckers".

4/27/2007 07:45:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

By "responsible" I mean atheism is responsible for providing an over-arching structure to crimes in the same way Christianity, for example, gave the Crusader's effort to reclaim land occupied by Islam a justification.
20th century totalitarism is an elephant in atheism's living room.

It's a pity Dawkins in his newest book doesn't do more to address this beyond a dismissive paragraph.

4/27/2007 07:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

O'Reilly is a dogmatic big mouth. His show plays out like a cross between Jerry Springer & New Idea magazine with an occasional sage observation about American politics and American's fruitiest left-wing academics & popular personalities.

As such I'm not surprised he sounds dumb when discussing a topic as philosophical as the existence of god. He has a single concrete-bound argument (atheist murderers have killed millions - so atheism is bad; you can't disprove god so despite the fact I can prove his existence, I'm going to believe in it - so there) and he trots it out over and over again.

Dawkins was either too polite or too inexperienced in the O'Reilly-debating style that he didn't undercut that argument (ie. atheists can be murderers too, so what? And you can't prove a negative) leave O'Reilly stumped - assuming O'Reilly would have shut up long enough to get a word in edgewise.

4/28/2007 08:27:00 am  
Blogger leelion said...

Greg, what's the difference between killing for god or killing for the state?

4/28/2007 05:21:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Greg said...

"But where's the objective evidence?
In the blue theist corner we have Crusades, witch hunts, love of Aristolian cosmology, and numerous other crimes.
In the red atheist corner we have the Terror, five-year-plan, the Great Leap Forward, and a good proportion of the Final Solution.

Mega-death statistics are neither here or there and are best ignored in preference to an elegant argument. After all body counts aren't a philosophical proof are they? Thus, one might say the Terror et al. are moot. But is that really what you think? These really are crimes that atheism is responsible for and must explain."


Very very wrong Greg....Atheism has no case to answer.

This piece I read recently says it so well...Sorry for the length but its worth it...

.."Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief. To know that one is an atheist only means that you know he does not hold to the claims that a deity exists. Nothing more.

This is not to say that the atheist has no beliefs, only that those beliefs are not derived from atheism. Since atheism is a lack of a belief in something (in this case a deity) you can not get positive principles out of a negative concept. Not believing in a God doesn’t tell you how to live, what to value, what sort of society to yearn for, etc. By itself it gives no directions, values or beliefs. How could it? It is the lack of a belief

The error the believer makes it to then assume that if one doesn’t believe in a deity then one can’t hold positive beliefs at all. One can hold very specific beliefs about morality, decency, ethics, virtues, etc. But they are not rooted in one’s atheism because they can’t be rooted in a void.

That one invents a deity and announces that all beliefs are rooted in that invention doesn’t mean the beliefs are true, accurate or even good. Theists themselves prove that by constantly fighting with one another over those very beliefs. And the true believers actually dismiss the idea of there being any such thing as object good and objective morality. The good and the moral, they say, is merely that which God commands. If God commanded genocide then genocide is good. It is the ultimate moral relativism. Provided one is deluded enough to think God is speaking to them one has a moral license, nay, a moral requirement, to obey that voice and do all those horrific things the God is whispering. Throughout history sincere believers have done just that and the soil was fertilized deep with the blood of their victims.

The Christian, in one sense, seems to almost grasp that atheism is merely a lack of a belief. But they still miss it entirely. They almost get it when they start to argue that an atheist by virtue of being atheist has no morality. True, the morality he holds is not derived from the atheism. But that doesn’t mean it is not derived in no other natural, non-theistic way.

Too often believers are unthinking people. They merely accept social convention as moral or what the social convention of their church tells them is moral. They attribute all of that to God. You will get some absurd claims out of this. It is not God that gives them rules to live by, they are merely looking for an authority of some sort to tell them how to live. They can’t think for themselves.

And so they seek out authorities in one form or another offering them rules. Not ideas, but rules. There is a difference between learning how to think and being told what to think. Many believers have never figured that out.

The reality is that on a huge number of issues atheists do not differ from Christians regarding what they believe about life. Atheists do value life, perhaps more so since they believe this is the only life they will have. They value love and friendship and human decency. In most respects the average atheist is more moral than the average Christian. Certainly the evidence bears it out in the US. They are less likely to go to jail, less likely to commit a crime, less likely to divorce, etc. But their living this way is not rooted in being an atheist. Having no believe in a deity does not tell you anything about how to treat other people. It does not inspire you to act in any particular way.

That most atheists live moral lives is not because they are atheists. If anything it is because they think things through rationally and the moral life they live is one that makes sense to them.

You can see how the Christian almost gets it when he says the atheist has no foundation for morality. He has no foundation for morality in atheism but that does not mean he has no foundation derived from rational thought and reality.

We don’t act on a lack of a belief. We act on beliefs. A large chunk of nothing can’t serve as the foundation for something. You can add all the zeros you want together and they still add up to zero. So the moral beliefs, of those who lack a belief in a deity, do not come from that lack of a belief, but come from some place else. And by definition it comes from a non-theistic source.

The end result is that nothing an atheist does or actually believes is rooted in his or her atheism. It can’t be.

But once that is understood it destroys one of the big bugaboos the Christians invent about atheism. They often blame atheism for the actions of any atheist. That is absurd. Since an atheist can’t act on the basis of his lack of beliefs when he does act it is founded on something else. Atheism per se never causes one to act or not act. It is merely a description of a state of not believing in one kind of thing.

The good that atheists do is not rooted in atheism per se. The bad an atheist may do is not rooted in atheism per se. There is no set of beliefs that one can define as “atheism”. There is only the void, the lack of a belief. So atheism can neither take the credit for the good, nor the blame for the evil, done by any specific atheist.

Now in history there have been some nasty people who claimed to be atheists. And they did nasty things. But could those nasty things be attributed to their atheism? NO. Again nothingness can’t be the foundation for something and that applies even when the something is bad. Christians want to have it both ways. They will deny that decent atheists are decent because of their atheism. But any unpleasant atheist is automatically unpleasant, or bad, because of atheism. In one case they see atheism properly -- it can’t serve as the foundation for any action. But in other cases they assert it is the foundation for an action provided it is unpleasant.

Stalin said he was an atheist. Stalin did nasty things. But if a big chunk of nothing can’t serve as the foundation for an action then what caused Stalin to act nastily? It was not his lack of a belief in a deity but his positive belief in Marxist theory. Ditto for Mao. For the most part these individuals held very strongly to other beliefs and those beliefs--positive beliefs in the sense that they asserted something not in the sense that they were good--served as the foundation for their actions.

It took a positive belief to inspire them to do what they did. And for many of them it was an unthinking faith in Marxist theory. For some it was a thoughtful belief albeit a wrong one. Something must serve as the foundation for these actions and the something in this case was Marxism or socialism in its various forms. They acted brutally not because they lacked a faith in a deity but because they had a faith in a political/economic system.

This becomes a bit clearer when we consider the lack of a belief in many different things. I don’t know anyone today who believes in Thor, the god of thunder. We basically all lack a belief in Thor. There is probably an infinite number of things for which we hold no belief whatsoever. And just as you and I lack a belief in Thor so too did Stalin lack a belief in Thor.

Would I be justified in arguing that Stalin was a monster because he didn’t believe in Thor? Which is more likely: that Stalin acted badly due to his belief in Marxism or that he acted badly due to his lack of a belief in Thor? I hold no belief in the healing powers of crystals, the presence of aliens in UFOs, Santa Clauses, fairies or the Loch Ness serpent. If required I could make a very long list of things I don’t believe in and none of that will tell you what I do believe and none of it will tell you why I act as I do. All those nothings strung together do not give you a positive.

So atheists may well have morals but not rooted in their atheism. Atheist may well value life but not because they are atheist. Atheists may even do bad things but not because they are atheists. The lack of a belief never serves as the inspiration for an action. We act upon that which we do believe not that which we don’t."...


Says it so well...try again Greg.

4/28/2007 11:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Hamish said...

Greg, the only way to argue against rationality is by being irrational.

4/29/2007 11:30:00 am  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

James.
Thanks for the quote. Length is fine and it makes your point well and I mostly concur. (sorry, where's the quote from? God Delusion?)

The central point on absence of belief not been a belief is sophistry though because even an absence or a negation is still a postition that occupies a philosophical space. It is real and influential.

"They often blame atheism for the actions of any atheist."

May as well shriek "wrecker" or "high-road imperialist running dog".
Yes, Stalin was atheist but he did not practice the true gospel, he was a wrecker.

Here's my point:

Crusades=
geopolitics + religion + greed + vainity + violence + stupity etc

Communism=
materialism + atheism + statism + violence + greed + stupidity etc

Atheism IS a component of recently successful totalitarian regimes. It MUST be accounted for as religion is so keenly accounted for in the Crusades.

You are willing to parse atheism from communism and make culpable the other features YET on the other hand you do not apply the same generous excision to the Crusades.

I am NOT arguing AGAINST atheism, OK. I am just pointing to a very obvious inconsistent analysis.

4/30/2007 12:50:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

Also, I think you should closely examine what springs up to replace conventional religions once they are vanquished by your pristine argument.
Be brutal, it isn't lean n mean rational citizens of Sparta ("300") now is it? No, what springs up with more vigour than a Oxford don is self-indulgent "spirituality" such as "Ophraism", "The Secret", and "Dancing with the Stars". Flaccid, vapid, stupid. Ho ho!

4/30/2007 08:14:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Greg…...No the quote was from an atheist blog I visit.

In response to your claims the same regimes didn't believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy either. But not believing in such things didn't inspire action. Only a positive belief can inspire action. The reality is that there are more things we don't believe than those which we do believe. We just don't usually list our negative beliefs. We don't believe a giant poodle lives at the bottom of the ocean. We don't believe that negative ions generated by warts are responsible for cancer.

Your response is basically incoherent. You remove the negative belief from some totalitarian regimes (the first communist dictatorships were actually Christian -- see the Taiping Revolution, the Munster communist system, for example) but "do not apply the same generous excision to the Crusades." In fact you do offer the same generous excision. Crusaders didn't believe in healing crystals (that we know of) so they had no inspiration on their actions. Don’t you see that you are stringing together a series of positive beliefs r for the Crusaders and then doing the same for the communists, except you toss in a negative belief as well, and then you treat the negative believe as being the same as the positive beliefs. Sorry but that don’t wash.

I would happily say that the absence of beliefs never inspired the Crusaders but positive beliefs did. In addition you toss in all sorts of things in bizarre places. You add stupidity in as a component of communism. Marx was not stupid, just wrong, there is a difference. In fact your entire description of communism is not a description of communism per se, which is collective ownership of the means of production. You are defining all these things by a series of non-essentials. You confuse a series of actions (the Crusades) with a belief (communism) thereby mixing your categories dreadfully.

5/05/2007 01:15:00 am  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

James, gidday.

"Only a positive belief can inspire action"

Okay, that's not true. The whole argument of atheism as a negative or null value is awful and needs a rethink. It's designed as a cop-out not to be constructive!

I'm confident that longer argument is from Dawkins in a round about way. That or Dawkins lifted it.

Regardless, of mixing categories, or more specifically not been academically stringent enough for an ephermeral blog post, you are being quite obtuse. That or you're just quoting without thought.

Your argument is special pleading. Back to the original point, Stalin and Pol Pot were clearly atheist and both you and Dawkins dance around that fact by defining atheism in such an abstracted way that in effect nobody holds the position and nobody is responsible for it.

You are saying atheism, because of its absence or negativity, is like an invisible, weightless, odouless and formless cloak worn but with no detectable effect! Given its lack of substance you also say it accepts no stain of blame!

That doesn't sound like objective knowledge!

If atheism is to be any use it is as a positive definition not as your blameless "negative".
As a positive you need to account for any blood on the hands, which you seem determined to ignore.

5/05/2007 01:26:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

Please understand that I comprehend your argument, indeed I can see that this entire arche-thread is a wild-goose-chase.
However, I don't think it's practical for the development of atheism contra religion. It appears to be an adroit word game to absolve itself from 20th century unpleasantness.

Atheism is an idea and ideas have consequences. You are saying if an idea is "void" or a "negative" that it lacks influence leading to consequence leading to repsonsibility.

5/05/2007 01:38:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

"Only a positive belief can inspire action"
Okay, that's not true. The whole argument of atheism as a negative or null value is awful and needs a rethink. It's designed as a cop-out not to be constructive!"

No....its just the objective fact of the matter.Atheism is a lack of a belief....a negative.All of your Christian attacks on Atheism as an inspiration for evil acts is rendered as false....as it always was...Atheists can act morally or immorally,kindly or unkindly,be Capitalists or Communists,Spiritual or material,Gay or Straight,rich or poor,black or white,like the Beatles or hate them etc etc etc...there is no Atheist standard or culture to point at and say "that's what Atheists do", sorry.

"I'm confident that longer argument is from Dawkins in a round about way. That or Dawkins lifted it."

The quote was not from Richard Dawkins or had anything to do with him.

"Regardless, of mixing categories, or more specifically not been academically stringent enough for an ephermeral blog post, you are being quite obtuse. That or you're just quoting without thought."

Pot,kettel.black.

"Your argument is special pleading.

How so? I just put the facts on the table...


" Back to the original point, Stalin and Pol Pot were clearly atheist and both you and Dawkins dance around that fact by defining atheism in such an abstracted way that in effect nobody holds the position and nobody is responsible for it."

Atheism is simply the negative belief in the existence of a God.Sorry if this throws your favourite straw man argument against Atheism out the window but them's the facts.Stalin and Pol Pot did what they did for their own reasons based on positive beliefs but " a non-belief in God" wasn't one of them...it couldn't be.

(Stalin actually trained as a priest when young so who knows what that may have caused eh?) ;-)


"You are saying atheism, because of its absence or negativity, is like an invisible, weightless, odouless and formless cloak worn but with no detectable effect! Given its lack of substance you also say it accepts no stain of blame!"

It can't.There is nothing in atheism from which to motivate a positive action....All actions taken by so called atheists were drawn from other positive influences on them,maybe abuse as a child,mental stress,Marxism,Socialism and in the early days.. Christianty.

"That doesn't sound like objective knowledge!

If atheism is to be any use it is as a positive definition not as your blameless "negative".

Sorry but that's all it can be....nothing begets nothing.Atheism is not for any "use"...its just a descriptive term for the absence of belief.


"As a positive you need to account for any blood on the hands, which you seem determined to ignore."

Greg....sigh! Atheism is a negative value...get it? It inspires nothing.Any action taken must have a positive base....Atheism does not.A Lack of a belief in God has no more influence on human actions than a lack of a belief in the big green cookie monster of Beta 5

5/05/2007 06:26:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Greg....Can you put together a list of things an atheist,as I,ve defined,MUST do because they ARE an Atheist as I've defined?

I could give you a list of what a Christian, consistent with Christ's teachings, must/will do/be if he's faithful and consistent to those teachings....but can you provide a similar "must do/be" list for an Atheist as defined? Can you list any actions that are logically consistent with simply NOT believing in God?

I'll start you off...


1)LACK a belief in a God/Gods.

Carry on...

5/05/2007 10:14:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

By the way....if you want to debate with the quotes author go here....theres plenty for you to discuss...

http://nogodzone.blogspot.com

5/05/2007 10:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Anton Levey, founder of the church of Satan said Satanism is symply Ayn Rands philosophy with rituals!
(He founded his 'bible' on Galts speech)
That is interesting dont you think?
Would the world be better off without religion? No. Why?
Because Man is still man!
He still murders etc.(Not all murders are religiously motivated)
Would objectivism bring Utopea?
No! Why? For the The same reason as the original question.
This can be seen in the story of "the therapist" re: Lonnie Leonard and the parents of his victim that wrote the book by the above title.
Would the world be better off without religion?...What a stupid question! The pipe dream of morons who project thier phobeas upon their irrational pet hate!
that is The God who will judge them!
Is this atheistic question rational?
Are the atheist arguements reasonable arguements? No
They are the unrealistic wet dreams of perverts!
That this question is given serious consideration by objectivists is the very germ of the mass murder of Communism and evidences the fact that objectivism could lead to the same bloody conclusion dispite what objectivist's claim.
This whole silly B.S is baced upon the delusion that Atheism is right.
Thus the real question is does god exist? The reason this is the real question is because if God does not exist then at least the absence of religion would correlate with reality.
If God does exist, the absence of religion would be a serious delusion.
Ultimately the problems of earth are bound up in the nature of man, and religion or no religion are secondary considerations.
The topic raised is also fundamentally about freedom and diversity vs unity of interest and unity of belief. why?
without being able to change the nature of man, The primary motive then is about removing human conflict.
ie if we all believed the same thing...the conflicts would dissapear and we would willingly consent to whatever society sprung up no matter how beastly as we all would believe it was just!
Thus this is about the right to dissagree with atheists!
You are all questioning my right to believe in god!
You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!
Objectivism is a religion...a twisted wankers religion for narcissist's who worship a narcissist!
No grip on reality whatsoever!

Lastly Man has been called "the worshipping animal".
Remove worship and what do we end up with?...just animals!...brutish AMORAL animals!
This is the secret desire of atheism!

5/05/2007 11:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

This irrational question can be seen by asking a second one, which is its kin ie..."How can anyone rationally believe that if the premise "there is no God to judge me or my actions" was universally accepted, that this would stop people committing murder, theft, torture...or halt tyrannies?
The obvious answer is that it would not tend to greater civilisation but the reverse!
That atheist Materialism is Nihilism is a definitive anwser to this question!
The rational and logical answer is definitely No!... The world would be worse off!
Again I find the real problem is not religion but immorality and evil belief.
(this includes atheism with every other false system that founds morality upon lies!)
Thus again the real questions are "would the world be better off without lies?"...would the world be better off if humans werent able to be decieved by liars but were all wise gods?"...that is not human at all?
These questions show how silly this whole atheist line of questioning is!

5/06/2007 12:17:00 am  
Blogger Greg Bourke said...

Philosophical voids still have mass.

Good job on the list.
1. no god.
thanks. done.

Right, now let's go and find systems that profess this list...

Put another way, my gripe is that the "void" argument, which is a classic, is basically gutless. If you're going to be atheist embrace the many manifestations of it, be a courageous atheist. Be hard-core, don't dance around the crimes like a hair-splitting apologist!

You'd rather be a polite library atheist though, swirling the brandy from the armchair. Your "void" argument is great on paper but not in practice.

If you're sitting in camp surrounded by soldiers wearing red scarfs you'll agree that atheism does indeed contribute to action.

5/06/2007 08:02:00 am  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Greg is proven right by the very fact that this question was posited here and that P.C spends so much time attacking religion!
These are all 'positive'acts that are generated by the premise "there is no god".
(which is not only a negitive, but a fallacy and a delusion!)
To add to my earlier comments, My moving 'the question' over to alternitive questions is valid because of the unspoken propositions that are implicit in the original that need to be exposed.

5/06/2007 11:37:00 am  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Greg, the chances of you getting an admission that atheism can and does lead to horrendous evils for objectivists or Dawkins is about nill as you are attacking their most sacred laws! Just as their whole religion is baced upon myth so too is it maintained by myth.
Think about this..."there is no god" is not only 'negitive' but a universal negative, which can never be proven, thus the atheist deluded dream of a world without belief in god is 'a world' baced upon blind faith certainly not reason!
Atheism is the most intellectually unreasonable position there is!
Blind Faith!!!!!
Introducing other universal negatives into this argument to cover this fact, does nothing to reduce it one iota but merely shows that many things we reject are not *Facts* but beliefs.
Atheism is a belief not a fact.
Evolution on the otherhand is not a universal negatve and so might be proven or disproven, and so consideration of it offers far more value than the question of atheism does, and is a far more legitimate domain for arguement.

5/06/2007 12:09:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

"Put another way, my gripe is that the "void" argument, which is a classic, is basically gutless."

Why does it need to have 'guts"? Its simply a negative after all....it has nothing attached.

"If you're going to be atheist embrace the many manifestations of it, be a courageous atheist. Be hard-core, don't dance around the crimes like a hair-splitting apologist!"


Wipe the foam off Greg....you are getting flustered."Going to be an Atheist" implies a positive action....but as its a negative default position this is wrong.All humans are born Atheists...a knowledge of God is imparted by other human beings later on.Agnostics are also Atheists as they too "lack a belief in a God".

Sorry Greg but your attempts to get me to put some flesh on the negative bones of Atheism so you can have something to attack won't work.A negative cannot beget positives...the crimes and bloodshed were inspired by other factors....not the non belief in God.

I watched a doco on Stalin last night that made me realise something...Stalin wasn't an Atheist at all...he did believe in a God....himself! Thinking about it Mao,Hitler and Kim Jong ll fit that description too.(Although Hitler was a Catholic,did express a belief in a God and was never ex communicated by the Catholic church).


As for Tim rants I'll leave those to speak for themselves about Tims mental state and his less that honest grasp of history and truth.

5/06/2007 01:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

James,
Your little jibs questioning my integrity are of no consequence and
according to Plato you are the head case!
Quote: " atheism is a diease of the soul before it is an error of the mind!"

I laugh at your Idea that atheism is not a belief!
Have you proven this universal negitive?
How much did you pay for your education? You deserve a refund!
YOUR dishonesty is exposed by your refusal to admit the horrors of communism stem from the denyal of God's existance and it's subsequent deification of the state.
You ought to listen to Ronald Reagan's speeches.
Your entire belief system is Amoral!

5/06/2007 05:40:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Tim said...

"I laugh at your Idea that atheism is not a belief!
Have you proven this universal negitive?"

As its impossible to prove a negative Tim then I guess I haven't...;-)

I don't deny that that its impossible to disprove the existence of God....or anything else.God could be elsewhere and we can never prove otherwise unless we searched everywhere...an impossibility.But those asserting the positive position that God DOES exist have a far easier task...just show him to us.

"YOUR dishonesty is exposed by your refusal to admit the horrors of communism stem from the denyal of God's existance and it's subsequent deification of the state."

Silly Billy....read whats been written. ;-)

"Your entire belief system is Amoral!


How so...? Based on what? What IS my belife system Tim...? How do you know?

5/06/2007 05:50:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

I have informed the author of my quote about this debate and he has offered his thoughts...

"If people pray we know why. Hitler did evil things and he was quite clear why he did it. He even wrote a book about it. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot et el all expressed their actions in the terms of what they believed and never claimed to act on what they didn't believe. So all these people expressed POSITIVE beliefs as the foundation of their actions.

As far as I know no bad man in history believed in Santa, fairies, or invisible midgets from Mars. If the absence of a belief inspires actions as Greg asserts then how do we know which non-existent belief is responsible for which action? How do you link a non-belief to a specific action? And since there are an endless number of non-beliefs (some are so non-belief we aren't even aware we don't believe it) how do we then narrow down actions to one specific non-belief? Why not say Hitler killed Jews because he didn't believe in the healing powers of crystals? Why not say Mao was a mass murderer because he never expressed a belief in Martians?

The very idea of attributing an action to something that doesn't exist (the non-belief is a "belief" that doesn't exist) is mind boggling. In fact if one doesn't have a theory on something can we even call that void a "belief" in any sense of the word? Atheism is not even a belief. It is merely a word used to describe a lack of belief. There is no atheist dogma. In fact one need not even say "there is no God" to be an atheist. It merely means you say "I have no belief in a God". It is the lack of a theistic position and nothing more. An atheist can say there is no God or he can say he has no idea if there is a God but has no belief in one himself since he has no valid reason for holding that opinion. (Agnostics are atheists as well, that is they are "a-theist" or without a belief in a god.)

And since these evil men who killed so many people have often left copious statements as to the motivation of their actions shouldn't we believe them? Hitler didn't hide why he hated Jews. He wrote an entire book explaining what he believed. Mao gave speeches. Stalin gave speeches and wrote essays. All of them attributed their actions to beliefs they did hold and none attributed their action to what they didn't believe (nor could they in fact since a non-belief can't inspire any action whatsoever). All these people described their motivation in the form of beliefs they DID hold. It is just intellectual dishonesty (rampant among Christians) to ignore the very motivations these men expressed publicly and invent the theory that they were inspired by a lack of a belief.

I just can't fathom any non-belief that would inspire any kind of action whatsoever. I can't figure out anything I would do based on a belief I don't hold. Please note there are beliefs you don't hold (and know it) such as Atheism and there are beliefs you don't hold and don't know it. You may hold no belief on how certain chemicals react because you know nothing about chemistry. You may hold no belief about something because no one has discovered this new fact (the existence of a specific remote planet that holds life for instance). At one time no one believed in evolution because no expressed the theory. So you see what I mean when I say there are countless non-beliefs that we don't even know we don't believe.

I don't remember Dawkins saying similar things per se but I can reread him and check. However, the definition of atheism as a lack of a belief if quite common. And the logical results of that are not hard to follow so I'm not claiming any unique theory here. It seems common sense to me."

Says it so well...

5/06/2007 06:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

James,
I withdraw my previous statement regarding your dishonesty specifically regarding "Non-belief in god" *in isolation* of the conclusions that atheists draw from their non belief.
I will now argue that other positive beliefs such as "Religion is evil and must be destroyed" often result from the premise "the is no God".
Thus I have not changed my position but simply indicate how a Non-belief can and does have consequences that generate evil actions, albeit from resultant positive conclusions that follow.
That I must do this is a semantic exercise that you demand, since you refuse to draw this obvious conclusion from what had already been said.
Thus atheists hide behind semantics just as you have done to try and deny that atheism can have evil concequences.
That is all you have done.
Hide behind a semantic arguement pretending that no other positive conclusions follow.
I am prepared to completely surrender to you if you can honestly say to me that you yourself have never drawn these further conclusions from the premise...ie have you ever said "religion is evil and must be eliminated"
That no doubt you have, means I am right! And I would be supprised if Greg did not agree with this post.
I am showing you that in the real world ideas like "there is no god" are never/rarely in isolation but usually attach themselves to a whole body of other propositions.
Because you choose to hang your arguement on a notion of isolation, it is found unrealistic and to be ether nieve or a dirty trick. Either way I am not fooled, though you may have fooled yourself!

5/07/2007 12:56:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

Can anyone translate Tims post....?

5/07/2007 01:56:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Thus atheists hide behind semantics just as you have done to try and deny that atheism can have evil concequences."

It can't


"That is all you have done.
Hide behind a semantic arguement pretending that no other positive conclusions follow.
I am prepared to completely surrender to you if you can honestly say to me that you yourself have never drawn these further conclusions from the premise...ie have you ever said "religion is evil and must be eliminated"


I have said and thought that at times but that doesn't flow from a lack of belief in God....it comes from the observations I've made of religion and its negative effects on people.The numbing of the mind and rejection of reason,the poor treatment of Women,the hatred and bigotry towards Gays,Atheists,other religions etc...

So the answer is no Tim...my lack of a belief in a God has not lead to me saying religion is evil and must be eliminated.I actually don't mind if people want to believe in a God as long as I'm not inconvenienced by them in any way.I think its a wrong choice and I will say so but as a Libertarian I say live and let live..

5/07/2007 05:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

James,
I don’t think it is possible to reasonably believe "religion is evil" without first believing "there is no God".
Yes I admit that the abominations done in the name of religion do make it reasonable question the validity of religion, yet without the belief that "God is a delusion", only by poor reasoning could the conclusion "religion is evil" be reached. This is because as much good is done in the name of religion as evil.
It is a classic yet very poor reasoning to draw the conclusion that God does not exist simply because of the evils of religious men!
Ironically most religious people agree with you that frauds are evil.
Let me point out that non-belief/ignorance can and does lead to great evils
eg murder is the non belief in our right to life.
theft is a denial of our right to property etc.
Criminals are the biggest Non-believers there are!
Also
If the bible did not exist, If I had no grasp of the limits of the physical laws, then I too would refuse to believe in God rather than invent him.
When I realised the truth of these things is when I was converted from an atheist to a penitent and grateful Christian who understood that morality was real and binding.
If the bible did not exist, If I had no grasp of the limits of the physical laws, then I too would refuse to believe in God rather than invent him.
I also don’t see how you can maintain your position in the light of nihilism,
Which truly underpins the tyrannies of atheism like communism and Nazism.
I also will take this opportunity to say Rand is not the only nut case to be mistaken as a benefactor of mankind of the greatest genius. We need look no further than Hitler!

5/07/2007 08:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Also James consider John Lennon’s song "Imagine" here is a set of absurd communist/ subhuman values based upon the notions 'there is no god', and "we would be better off without religion"
Without religion, Lennon could easily deny property, and despite how great that song sounds (I love the Beatles and Lennon’s musical genius!) it is an anthem to Communism which is evil to the max!

5/07/2007 09:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Also James, the entire concepts of good and evil are religious terms and so to 'wish away religion' is to wish away these concepts, and undermine your whole argument.
An atheist can truly only call actions 'Pleasant' or 'unpleasant'
not absolutely right or wrong.
You can say “I don’t like murder” and “I don’t want to be murdered” but you have no absolute to morally condemn it! (only by stealing from theism can you make such judgments)
This is the ultimate undoing of the atheist position, as they have no valid ground to stand upon in judgment.
This is because Hypocrisy can only be condemned as evil by appealing to theistic absolutes.
You can throw all the godless reasons in the world at a criminal and they will say “so what”
You can throw all the godless reasons at your wife to remain faithful to you and she will still cheat on you!
It may be true that I might invoke God to insist my wife be faithful to me, and she still cheats on me…but ultimately in my case my wife’s actions will one day be brought before the judgment of absolute morality and truth. (the Lord Jesus Christ)
Whereas you have no final court that upholds your values!
You only have your own opinion!
That our conscience convicts us that Good and evil are valid moral judgments ought to undermine your atheism!

5/07/2007 09:27:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Which truly underpins the tyrannies of atheism like communism and Nazism.
I also will take this opportunity to say Rand is not the only nut case to be mistaken as a benefactor of mankind of the greatest genius. We need look no further than Hitler!"

Thats Hitler the Catholic...? Who did belive in the Supernatural and a God? Who was never excommunicated by the Church? Tsk Tim....own goal methinks.


"Also James, the entire concepts of good and evil are religious terms and so to 'wish away religion' is to wish away these concepts, and undermine your whole argument.
An atheist can truly only call actions 'Pleasant' or 'unpleasant'
not absolutely right or wrong."

Don't be silly Tim...Good and Evil are concepts that don't require any religion to exist....the reality around us provides the absolutes, not God.

Hows the weather on your planet? ;-)

5/08/2007 02:56:00 am  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

James,
you are parroting absolute nonsense when you say Hitler was a Catholic. He was an evolutionist!
His whole theory of race was based upon evolution.
Go read some Joseph Goebbels and you will see that any 'Deal' with the Catholics was simply and expedient ruse for political purposes, just as his pact with Stalin was.
Hitler was the ultimate atheist!
Lies and delusions poured out when ever he opened his mouth.
He was a psychopath, megalomaniac, who revered nothing as higher than his own will, (an objectivist... "we doe owe anyone the truth").
You atheists have your head in the sand!
Saying Hitler was a catholic is such a fools notion, yet you cling to it- like the idea that life can spontaneously generate, as without these myths you would be forced to lump your beliefs with all myth.
This is why atheism is firstly a disease of the soul before it is an error of the mind.

As for you blindly stating that nature provides you the absolutes to guarantee/ legitimize your theft of the concepts of good and evil from theology, I only have one statement to make...HAHAHAHAHAHA what Bullshit!
The longer I live, the greater my appreciation grows for the simple truth of the Bible story.
Where did mankind come from?....from God our Father.
What is so very wrong with mankind?.....We have disobeyed/rejected God and fallen into sin.
Where is God?... He has separated himself from our wickedness.
How did we get freewill?...God made us in his image.
Will evil prevail? No!...ultimately the Good God will bring absolute justice.
Why did he bother with all this?
To demonstrate all values, and to raise up freewill beings conscious of these truths.
Show me God!...be patient…you will meet him, and you too will become a believer…its guaranteed!

You James have no values/ reason and purpose for life!
You consider life simply as a meaningless freak accident, which time will annihilate.
You don’t even believe you have a soul!
You think you are just a chemical reaction!
You have no concept of free will.
You flog what eva you like from theology such as rights, and attempt to give them to materialism!
You think you are just a monkey!
You collect every stupid atheist idea you can get your hands on in the attempt to prop up your rejection of Jesus Christ and absolute moral judgment.
You cannot come to grips with what I say because of your heart is hard and your mind is shut.
“for the natural man recieveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2 vs 14.

I don’t knock you for who you are. I too was exactly the same!
What happened to me was this Christian helped me several times and so I felt obliged to at least listen to what he had to say and give it some real thought rather than simply block my ears and laugh. To my great shock (and delight) one night while talking with him, the truth hit me in the face like a bright light! It was like all these pieces of a jigsaw all fell into place and the universe suddenly made sense and a feeling of great peace fell upon me. This happened when I was 18, and I can still vividly remember the moment.
As I have always loved science, rejecting evolution on a scientific basis did nothing to destroy my trust in Real science, but taught me not to blindly accept the claims made by scientists.
That is I realized that scientist were not Holy and objective, but that many were perverted of soul and mind….Dawkins is a prime example and his book the God delusion is pathetic!
Thus I began to truly investigate the bible and scientific/ historical claims.
I have in fact spent the last 22 years trying to prove the bible wrong, yet without success.
I read stuff from guys like you to see if you can provide me with any valid arguments that hold water, yet never do you guys come up with the goods!
Now that my comprehension of reality has grown, I know with certainty that atheism can Never answer the questions of existence as it is too small a box, that leaks out all the good stuff!
Objectivism is ridiculous! Thinking you can derive the values for life from matter!
Rand has bamboozeled you all with delusions of grandeur! (I was quite taken by it myself for a while)
I implore you to open your heart and mind, and truly seek out God!
When you stand before him at the judgment, that you actually believed such rubbish as Rand proposed will be a terrible moment my friend.
I am doing my best to save you from that horrible day!

5/08/2007 01:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Furthermore James,
Getting back to your 'quote from the author'
Politicians like Hitler and Stalin, using the principle that the end justifies the means, rarely state their true objectives or motives.
Communism at first tried direct approach explicitly attacking religion and promoting atheism, which brought hate upon them, so they changed their tactics, burned their own literature and even murdered their own authors, to cover over the true nature of their movement. Then the infiltrated groups like Churches, woman’s liberation movements, schools etc and began to undermine society from within "under sheep’s clothing" this was devastatingly successful to the extent that many foolish Christians became socialists etc.
Today they are basically running the joint!
Thus your author is very stupid to say the reasons that evil people act are expressed in words!
That is very naive and a poor judgment on human nature!
You need to do some study my friend!Esp History!
The truth is out there!
Atheism is a fundamental tennant of Comunism and Nazism

And dont just read Objectivist/ atheist propaganda but a variety of histories. That is the olny way to remove the skew that you have already.
From these sources you may then apply what ever reasoning you like.
The result will be different than going strait to the regurgitations of Rand and crew.
You ought to read some Christian books too.

You may be surprised that I read very few Christian or libertarian books.
I read all sorts of books and get some of my best arguments against atheism from atheists and likewise socialist them selves!

5/08/2007 05:07:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Tim.....Thank you! Your posts have cured me....







...of insomnia...night! ;-)

5/08/2007 10:13:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Tim Wikiriwhi said...

"James,
you are parroting absolute nonsense when you say Hitler was a Catholic. He was an evolutionist!
His whole theory of race was based upon evolution.
Go read some Joseph Goebbels and you will see that any 'Deal' with the Catholics was simply and expedient ruse for political purposes, just as his pact with Stalin was.
Hitler was the ultimate atheist!"

Oh really Tim?

Then go here and read the many references to God and Christianity Hitler made in his speechs and privatte life...then cringe like the idiot you are.

http://nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm#cooliris

5/11/2007 08:30:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Just a sample....

The Christianity of Hitler revealed in his speeches and proclamations

Compiled by Jim Walker
Originated: 27 Feb. 1997
Additions: 03 Jun. 2006

Through subterfuge and concealment, many of today's Church leaders and faithful Christians have camouflaged the Christianity of Adolf Hitler and have attempted to mark him an atheist, a pagan cult worshipper, or a false Christian. However, from the earliest formation of the Nazi party and throughout the period of conquest and growth, Hitler expressed his Christian support to the German citizenry and soldiers. In the 1920s, Hitler's German Workers' Party (pre Nazi term) adopted a "Programme" with twenty-five points (the Nazi version of a constitution). In point twenty-four, their intent clearly demonstrates, from the very beginning, their stand in favor of a "positive" Christianity:

24. We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: the common interest before self-interest.

Hitler's speeches and proclamations, even more clearly, reveal his faith and feelings toward a Christianized Germany. Nazism presents an embarrassment to Christianity and demonstrates the danger of faith. The following words from Hitler show his disdain for atheism, and pagan cults, and reveals the strength of his Christian feelings:

Quote:"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

[Note, "brood of vipers" appears in Matt. 3:7 & 12:34. John 2:15 depicts Jesus driving out the money changers (adders) from the temple. The word "adders" also appears in Psalms 140:3]

5/11/2007 08:34:00 pm  

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