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D'Souza - Nothing to Refute Here - Comments

BaronOchs's Avatar Comment 1 by BaronOchs

Now that was a good effort! I think Kant's ideas are still of much importance, but there are the well known difficulties. Not least his claim you can know a priori that the geometry of space is euclidean. When it isn't!

Kant was a fideist who argued god's existence cannot be demonstrated in any case, and I'd say that his fideism is the least likely position of his anyone would be persuaded to adopt nowadays.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:08:00 UTC | #82641

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 2 by oxytocin

Smashing piece, Ms. O'Connor.

If we reduce it even further, I think it comes down to this: if indeed we are creatures of such limited insight, sensation, and perception, then why throw caution to the wind? Science is a tool that helps us acquire clues about the nature of "reality". We suspect that we're on the right path because of the track record that science has produced. Its proponents generally construct conservative statements regarding our models of this world. We take cautious, infant-like steps in our attempts to comprehend nature.

Here comes the theist. He or she will criticize the limitations of science by saying that they are poor approximations of reality, and that we therefore cannot know anything...except for the loving embrace of Jesus. Of that, there can be no doubt.

If our grasp on reality is so tenuous, why would any human decide to throw out our humble stabs in the dark for a belief system that seems completely unrelated to the human condition, and utterly discordant with what our models [that produce uncannily accurate predictions] tell us?

I believe it because it's absurd.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:39:00 UTC | #82658

Janus's Avatar Comment 3 by Janus

Excellent article, Kelly. And this is coming from the harshest critic of your previous one. :)

My only complaint is that you go a bit too fast in the next-to-last paragraph. Those of us who know what you're talking about understand perfectly (and nod fervently in agreement), but the rest of your readers would be helped by a few concrete examples and by an occasional repetition of the meaning of a sentence, but in different words. If you want to imitate someone when it comes to clarity, look to Richard Dawkins.

Also, the ending was a bit too abrupt.

Those are just nitpicks, though. Keep up the good work!

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:51:00 UTC | #82661

John Done's Avatar Comment 4 by John Done

Alright, here's a (fairly) simple rule to follow when determining whether or not an idea reflects *any* reality human beings can possibly care about:

1) Can this idea be reduced to any interaction with a particular sense or feeling? If no, then the idea is nonsense; it has no relation to yourself or anything that you interact with or to anything that interacts with what you interact with. If yes, proceed to 2.

2) Is this idea in any immediate relation to anyone or anything else? If no, then the idea is in your head, imaginary; it reflects you alone and should not and cannot be projected onto the world around you. If yes, proceed to 3.

3) Does the idea stand up to all other available data you receive? If no, the idea may need to be adapted to reflect your reality. If all data is in direct contradiction to the very definition of your idea, it must be scrapped as false. If yes, then congratulations, you've adequately formed an idea about reality!

The Theory of Evolution (along with all other accepted scientific Theories) meets all three objectively realistic qualifications; it is comprehensive, realistic, and true as far as any human being can be concerned. The idea that the Earth is flat meets qualifications 1 & 2, but fails to hold up to conflicting evidence; it is comprehensive and realistic, but false. The idea of a soul that thinks and feels meets qualification 1, but has no relation to anything in the world other than the person having a spiritual experience; it is comprehensive, but imaginary. The idea that a God is a "necessary being" that somehow keeps reality in existence means nothing because we have no idea what could be necessary for something to exist rather than not exist; it is nonsensical.

Contrary to what D'Souza would have us think, we don't have to believe anything based on bad evidence or reasoning. Emotivism, subjectivism, pragmatism, relativism, postmodernism, and last but not least absolutism are all claimed to be substitutes for a "failed" philosophy that we haven't even tried to any significant extent: rational realism. Everything we think and do and feel is in this reality; we shouldn't miss our brief opportunity to take part in this world as conscious, rational beings.

I just made all of that up on the spot. What do you think? Is it pretty okay?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:14:00 UTC | #82680

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 5 by BAEOZ

Good article Kelly. Keep 'em coming!

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:20:00 UTC | #82682

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 6 by Diacanu

John done-

Very well constructed, I like it.
*Thumbs up*

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:22:00 UTC | #82683

notsobad's Avatar Comment 7 by notsobad

Show me a single person that found a particular God without hearing/reading about him first. Theists always talk about how God gives us signs and such but there is not a single human who has seen these signs without knowing about that god first.
Of course, that does not refute the idea of god per se, but that is not necessary in the first place. It strongly suggests that all religions are man made.

This quasi-philosophical talk about metaphysics is boring. They can talk about things outside reality however they want, but they don't usually put their thoughts into practice (although there was a case where some religious loony tested gravity because god was supposed to save him; he failed, of course).

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:29:00 UTC | #82685

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 8 by ksskidude

Great Job Kelly!

I look forward to the many more that Kelly is going to write.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 20:12:00 UTC | #82716

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 9 by oxytocin

notsobad: yes, I find your first paragraph argument very persuasive. If two people who have never communicated in any way come up with a new idea independently, and these ideas are backed by evidence, this interests me. That no two people, living in different areas of the world, ever came up with xianty by themselves, makes xianity [or any religion] a very suspect idea indeed.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 21:06:00 UTC | #82722

Paine's Avatar Comment 10 by Paine

I hope D'souza has the guts to respond. The twit is known to lurk around these pages, trolling for out-of-context quotes he can use for his self-aggrandizement.

If he has read this( and Im pretty sure he reads anything with his name in it) and if he is man enough( which I seriously doubt) he'd put finger to keyboard and respond.

What say, Dinesh?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 21:45:00 UTC | #82725

octopus's Avatar Comment 11 by octopus

Nobody would dare to base a monumental decision on anything other than evidence in their daily lives, yet they are expected to do so with regards to this one matter—one that, according to D'Souza's religion, would be the most important decision anybody could ever make.

Ask someone to lend you £500 for a week and they'll dismiss you in a blink.
Yet promise them afterlife in exchange for this one and they'll buy it.
Go figure.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 22:09:00 UTC | #82730

sapient's Avatar Comment 12 by sapient

Paine Said:
I hope D'souza has the guts to respond. The twit is known to lurk around these pages, trolling for out-of-context quotes he can use for his self-aggrandizement.

If he has read this( and Im pretty sure he reads anything with his name in it) and if he is man enough( which I seriously doubt) he'd put finger to keyboard and respond.

What say, Dinesh?

The first two pieces that Kelly wrote were sent by our team to Dinesh D'Souza and the papers which originally published his work. We would not only welcome a response, we extend an invitation to Dinesh if he wants to have a recorded conversation with us for our show.

Please post Kelly's RSS feed on your site for the year and support this project. If any of you find religions figure heads writing pieces in major print media, please feel free to submit it to Kelly for consideration.

Thanks for the great comments, Kelly and I have read them all, and will continue to.

Subscribe to feed, or repost it:

Make a widget with Kelly's feed, for any site you have (including myspace):

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 23:03:00 UTC | #82737

Conrad's Avatar Comment 13 by Conrad

Now THAT is the kind of ice cold takedown I like to see. I'm still chuckling wondering if Dinesh even knows what noumena are. After seeing this article, I can't wait to see the next 50! I expect that they all will reach and surpass this level of sharp, intelligent and concise takedown. RRS, you may very well have one new reader.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 00:18:00 UTC | #82750

Logicel's Avatar Comment 14 by Logicel

Sapient, thanks for the info on RSS and reposting.

Kelly, Mean, lean, and clean writing!!!

D'Souza is such a pusher of his religious drug of choice. He encourages us to join his little sordid party, enticing us with make-believe, but he can't compete with the mind-blowing beauty of the science/factual Grand Ball that is being danced all around him.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 01:06:00 UTC | #82757

Summer Seale's Avatar Comment 15 by Summer Seale

I have absolutely no problem believing in a God.

If Dinesh wants me to believe in a God, he can ask his God to introduce himself to me. I'll be happy to meet him and chat anytime. Until then, I don't believe he exists, and there is no BS convoluted mental masturbation which will convince me that I am wrong. I don't expect Dinesh to think that Zeus exists without my proving it to him, so why should he expect any different from me? The fact that he does makes him a real idiot in my book. Dinesh, why don't you believe in my fucking teapot as well? You bloody heretic. May you burn in hell forever for not believing in it.

I get upset at people wasting time and words trying to convince others that God exists, for hours, days, years, centuries...wasting valuable time which would be better spent doing something far better for everyone involved. It bores me. They bore me. If they want us to believe, then pull him out of the fucking hat already.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 01:48:00 UTC | #82763

Flagellant's Avatar Comment 16 by Flagellant

Not much to say about Ms O'Connor's article except 'well done; well-written'.

However, if posters want to comment on articles being discussed here, it's useful to do a bit of homework. Too frequently, posters adopt ad hominem arguments. Being nasty about someone may make you feel better but it doesn't win any converts. It may also make us look trivial, ignorant, and strident.

A very good example is the use of the words 'noumena'/'noumenal'. It's interesting to note that the words are used in the article to which Kelly is replying. D'Souza says

Kant contended that while science and reason apply to the world of sensory phenomena, of things as they are experienced by us, science and reason cannot penetrate what Kant termed the noumena – things as they are in themselves. [My italics]
I recommend D'Souza's original article. Here's the link . There are other things about it to criticise. Why not have a go at adding to the debunking?

Religion – an activity for consenting adults in private.

[Minor edit for clarity.]

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 02:11:00 UTC | #82769

Summer Seale's Avatar Comment 17 by Summer Seale


I completely disagree. I mean, you go right ahead, but I think it's a waste of time. Why play their philosophical con game? I refuse to believe in something which they say exists and which they refuse to reveal to me in full. Why beat around the bush? If somebody is going to sell me a car, I will look under the hood. They refuse to even show me the whole car, let alone what is under the hood. Sorry, I'm not buying. Anyone who buys into that argument, anyone who says to at least listen to the salesman, is a total frigging idiot. He's lying. He's lying to you, lying to me, lying to the world. Either that, or he's a total dupe who has been conned by another liar. Either way, he's full of it. You know it. I know it. Debunking it with philosophical araguments on their level is just validating their stupid little game.

God people: Put up, or shut up already.

That's my "philosophical argument" for them to deal with. There may be nothing new about arguments in atheism, but then again there isn't anything new about proving something in court or a lab or just daily life either. It is either real or it isn't. They want me to believe? Fine. Prove it to me. Get God's ass on the stand and let's see what he has to say for himself.

I don't deal with second-rate spokesmen.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 02:24:00 UTC | #82772

Corylus's Avatar Comment 18 by Corylus

Well done Kelly

Nothing to add. Sits back and claps.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 02:36:00 UTC | #82778

Conrad's Avatar Comment 19 by Conrad

Biting comments about noumena are expected here. To see Dinesh stumble over his basic understanding of a concept and laugh, is not to turn us into some monster. It's to chuckle about a very self assured man getting his ass handed to him.

I've read the article by the way and came to the same conclusion as Kelly: Dinesh didn't see like Kant didn't, that talking about noumena leaves us with nothing but speculation. And that isn't somthing to base belief upon.

So in the end, I have no need to add to the debunking that Kelly has already finished. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be vain enough to link my writing to this site without permission.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 02:46:00 UTC | #82785

Flagellant's Avatar Comment 20 by Flagellant

Summer Seale I think you rather miss the point I am making: Conrad's original mention of 'noumena' needs careful explanation. Otherwise, how are we to understand it properly? In isolation, it doesn't read at all well...

Look, I understand the frustration but, alas, we are only going to win arguments by being well-informed and polite. We do not do this by being angry and shooting from the hip. It's about being accurate and winning the argument in the widest possible sense.

This is supposed to be a site of reason, not emotion. Although one may use shorthand comments as one would among friends, do not forget that alien quote-miners may be at work.

Religion - an activity for consenting adults in private.
[Edited for spelling.]

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 03:26:00 UTC | #82804

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Nice article - well done.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 03:33:00 UTC | #82805

Elcristoph's Avatar Comment 22 by Elcristoph

The burden of proof argument always makes me laugh, reason being. you'll usually get the line "Well you don't KNOW god doesn't exist" at which point you can say no I don't KNOW so how can you...D'Souza used the argument from Kant who says that as we can only view the world from our own small perspective, i.e the spectrum of light in that we cant see UV ect. then we cannot fully trust our answers and explanations as we cannot fully trust if what we see/test is true or not, basically its his argument is we cannot know everything so you cannot rule out the possibility of a god. well my answer to that would be this, as I can only go on my human experience just like everyone else including him, I have concluded that I don't believe there is a god, however as he pointed out you cannot be 100% so there is only a chance, but D'Souza takes it further than that and says that even known he accepts there are UNKNOWNS he then gives this unknown a character and a will, when by his own argument he cannot know what it is.


Sat, 10 Nov 2007 03:52:00 UTC | #82814

HereticChick's Avatar Comment 23 by HereticChick

Great article Kelly! Keep up the awesome work!

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 07:46:00 UTC | #82871

Summer Seale's Avatar Comment 24 by Summer Seale


I agree up to a certain point. =) However, if we are a site about reason, if we are to argue reasonably, then accepting even the *premise* that these God-Bozos use to argue with is caving in to unreasonable behavior.

I do understand the point you're making initially, yes. It's good to explain things for what they mean so the argument can be understood. *But* really upsets me that we even have to. Why should we? Why should we even feel as if we have to make cogent and reasoned arguments against the drivel from the other side?

When some idiotic mad person comes up to you and starts talking about how aliens rule the world in the guise of lizards, do you actually start to consider their arguments and how to refute it in a logical way, or do you just sorta flip them off and tell them they're a total moron and to get some medical care right away? If you do the former, then I have to ask why. If you do the latter, then we're all being hypocritical when we give these God-people the time of day.

Seriously, Kelly's essay was actually great, but the real response should have been derisive laughter which chills to the core of the other side. Derisive, degrading, and cruel. It's time that Atheists make it quite clear that we no longer are going to play in the sandbox with the other people who like to play at make-believe and take it for reality, because we've grown up now. And their insistence that we can still play at make-believe, and their ruination of anyone who doesn't agree that this is reality, deserves only mockery to put them in their place.

That's my point. Sorry I blew my top there tho. =) But Seriously. For anyone who starts going off on me in my life about how I have to "Find Jesus" or "Mohammed" or anything else, I like to instantly talk down at them like they are bad little children who really don't understand anything yet. I'll tell them anything outrageously stupid such as "I have a pet unicorn that you can't see and you can never meet, but if you believe in him you'll be really happy!" which equates to a huge flipping bird in their face because they know exactly what I think of their whole initial premise and how I have no respect for their ideas whatsoever.

That isn't to say that I don't think that celebrating Christmas or Hannukah or Eid as a cultural phenomenon isn't perfectly fine and dandy. That's great, I'm all for it. But to actually believe in the Big Man In The Sky(tm) makes somebody a total lunatic in my book.

That said, I like being polemical. I hope people understand that. =)

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 13:17:00 UTC | #82986

Conrad's Avatar Comment 25 by Conrad

In order to misunderstand the humor of my post, one must be looking for something to quotemine and use against me. As it stands I see it as perfectly clear to state that someone who uses Kant's noumena in such a way that Dinesh uses it does not have a clear understanding of what the idea entails.

But more importantly, I'm not going to restrict my free expression for the fear that someone may be looking to quote me unfairly. We get that even when we are at the peak of our rational stride. I will not be 'worried into silence' because of a laugh derived at Dinesh's expense and I certainly won't be 'concerned into silence' if I feel the need to laugh again.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 20:49:00 UTC | #83032