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Voicing our disbelief - Comments

thereisnodog's Avatar Comment 1 by thereisnodog

great essay...clear and concise and i agreed with all of it. I feel like i am part of something great.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 00:50:00 UTC | #428579

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 2 by Steve Zara

This is a really great article by Russell. There is so much detail about the current philosophical and political discussions about religion. There is also an honest description of the problems of some aspects of political atheism and secularism.

I believe that Russell Blackford is an important voice in New Atheism. I'm glad that his opinions are being more widely published.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 00:54:00 UTC | #428580

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 3 by Crazycharlie

Brilliant Russell.

I'm printing this article and giving it to an atheist friend who feels the "New Atheists" are too, in his words, "aggressive" and "confrontational".

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 01:55:00 UTC | #428602

Arjen's Avatar Comment 4 by Arjen

Oh Russell, I love it when you sound so strident.

Brilliant article. No other words for it.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 02:01:00 UTC | #428606

Dave Porter's Avatar Comment 5 by Dave Porter

Ministers, pastors, clergy, etc have one main thing they worry about. Without believers, who will give them money? They would have to get a real job, and they would have to think. Without religion, they have everything to lose.

Atheists don't have anything (monetarily) to gain by the Earth going around the Sun, or a gene evolving on its own, or a butterfly undergoing metamorphosis. Knowledge is true unto itself.

Great article.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 02:02:00 UTC | #428607

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 6 by God fearing Atheist

From the comments following the linked article:-

I read the _God Delusion_ and found it to be a philosophical embarrassment.

It does not do to simpy assert that theism is irrational. One needs to evaluate the arguments. There is good lit on this, from both atheists and theists. But Dawkins and Hitchens are hardly among their number.

Posted by GK | January 4, 2010, 3:51 pm

Yet again the smoke and mirrors is either fooling the audience, or obscuring the trickster.

I am awaiting the popular book, by the sophisticated philosopher, who will blow away the smoke and smash the mirrors one by one until no one, no matter how many letters in theology they have after their name, will be able to resurrect the illusion from the shattered remnants.

In moments of anger at the smug crap people like Michael Ruse write I am tempted to do it myself, but I'd be starting at Philosophy 101 ...

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 02:46:00 UTC | #428617

King of NH's Avatar Comment 7 by King of NH

@God fearing Atheist

The problem is that no amount of philosophy, education, rational discussion, or even fresh baked cookies will end this debate. It will take these things combined with time.

How can someone like Hovind, Ham, or Comfort stand there and deny evolution? These men are not without access to the truth. They have been told the truth time after time. They don't care. And I would wager neither do most of their followers. So long as they have a comfort zone of fellow believers, they refuse to listen.

The only answer is to pick them off, one by one, growing our side as quickly as we shrink theirs. That is to say, you are that philosopher you hope for. For every mind you get to question, you help break the mirror.

By the way? Philosophy 101 is a joke. You'll need it to move on, but if you've spent much time on this site, you'll be amazed at how stupid much of "Great Western Thought" is (God must exist because I can imagine him).

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 03:06:00 UTC | #428620

5keptical's Avatar Comment 8 by 5keptical

Check out the comments. I asked for pointer to a good discussion of the philosophical flaws in TGD and "Bob" - who purports to be an atheist - goes ballistic.

I must have said something wrong... :-)

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 03:59:00 UTC | #428635

aussieatheist_111's Avatar Comment 9 by aussieatheist_111

Good article. I felt he came dangerously close to associating atheism in general with murderous totalitarian regimes, however!

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 05:30:00 UTC | #428649

Quine's Avatar Comment 10 by Quine

Very well done, Russell. Of course I agree with you that the voices must speak out and yes, moderate religion does not get an automatic pass.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 05:59:00 UTC | #428657

SteveN's Avatar Comment 11 by SteveN

Great article by Russel I must say, but his style of stating the viewpoint of the 'opposition' before showing how it is wrong sure provides some excellent opportunities for fundie quote-mining:

Religious teachings promise us much. They offer a deeper understanding of reality, more meaningful lives and morally superior conduct, and such extraordinary ... benefits as rightness with a Supreme Being, liberation from earthly attachments, or a blissful form of personal immortality.

Perhaps rational critiques of religion should be available somewhere – maybe in peer-reviewed philosophy journals – but no great effort should be made to debunk religion in popular books, magazine or newspaper articles, media appearances, and so on. might be said, the New Atheism is unnecessary, and perhaps even undesirable. Why offend people, why stir up distrust and division, as the Four Horsemen seem to do?

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 06:10:00 UTC | #428659

Akaei's Avatar Comment 12 by Akaei

I find myself agreeing almost entirely with the author in this piece.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 06:58:00 UTC | #428672

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 13 by helen sotiriadis

excellent essay.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 07:08:00 UTC | #428674

Hominidae's Avatar Comment 14 by Hominidae

Bravo, Russell!!

Yes indeedy, there is no time like now. SPEAK UP, my fellow non-believers.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 08:47:00 UTC | #428686

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 15 by Oromasdes1978

Russell that was magnificent, it voices everything I agree with about the debate between religion and the sceptics - especially attacking the whole "Atheist Fundamentalist" jibe that some insist on hurling no matter how kind and civil somebody is being. I have been called it many times and only once have I been able to get the person to apologise for it and understand what the word actually means.

Excellent article, I really enjoyed it, well done

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:01:00 UTC | #428688

stevencarrwork's Avatar Comment 16 by stevencarrwork

98% of the world believes in a god?

No wonder there are so many wars.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:11:00 UTC | #428690

epeeist's Avatar Comment 17 by epeeist

Comment #447364 by theeqaulizer:

the atheist sins not only against God, but also against man...
You can't "sin" against a deity that you don't believe in.
you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy…
And blasphemy is an incoherent concept to someone who doesn't believe in gods.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:21:00 UTC | #428691

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 18 by Laurie Fraser

Comment #447364 by theeqaulizer

Sigh.. why don't we have a button that reads "Just plain dumb"?

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:28:00 UTC | #428694

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 19 by Quetzalcoatl


Don't be too hard on the poor chap. Those who can't think, spam.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:30:00 UTC | #428695

SteveN's Avatar Comment 20 by SteveN

Please note that 'theeqaulizer' (nice spelling!) is just that certified loon David Mabus who has posted this same nonsense all over the place using names such as 'pzisdead' and 'pzdum'. He doesn't seem to like PZ Myers much.

According to he is actually "... Dennis Markuze, a Nostradummy from Canada who's greatest "contribution" to the prophecy movement is a weird claim that Nostradamus predicted the coming of Depeche Mode and, through this, the World Trade Center attacks."

'Nuff said.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:47:00 UTC | #428698

SilentMike's Avatar Comment 21 by SilentMike

It seems "theeqaulizer" has a trolling stutter. He repeatedly posts the same message all over the place.

Well. We'll have to get rid of that.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 09:52:00 UTC | #428700

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 22 by Stafford Gordon

Go to the top of the class Russell Blackord!

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 10:14:00 UTC | #428704

HalfaMind's Avatar Comment 23 by HalfaMind


have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present?

So what? You have adopted a position against 100% of the evidence presented by the real world. And although I'm not intending a direct comparison, I suppose Jesus probably had the same odds when he arrived on the scene. And you're on his side.
...arrogant, puffed up..

Can't you see you're coming across just that way?

I presume you believe in an omniscient being whose earthly incarnation is supposed to have asserted that you should forgive, and leave judgement and punishment to him. But you're condemning us. Possibly a tad arrogant and even disobedient?

Then you call yourself the Equalizer. I dimly recall a TV series called the Equalizer, in which the eponymous hero took the side of the underdogs. Do you really believe your god really needs you to do that for him? Surely he could just take us all out?

So perhaps insulting as well.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 10:28:00 UTC | #428708

mixmastergaz's Avatar Comment 24 by mixmastergaz


Don't worry about Bob on the TPM thread. He's obviously trolling you. He's avoided answering your questions, responding only with his own stalling tactics and diversionary questions. He, like many people on the internet, seems to think a few brief posts provide him with an insight into your concealed (yet he can see through the concealment!) motives. He is wilfully misunderstanding and misrepresenting you. You must be starting to get an idea of how Richard must feel from time to time!

In answer to your question, I'm pretty sure Alister McGrath accuses TGD of being a philosophical embarrassment in his flea book. He certainly alleges that Richard confuses a priori and a posteriori arguments in TGD (he doesn't of course). Unfortunately I don't have my copy of McGrath's book to hand so I can't quote him to you verbatim. I haven't read Eagleton's book (yet) but his recent interview in New Humanist essentially makes the "philosophical embarrassment" charge against both Dawkins and Hitchens. Scruton has also said something similar as has Keith Ward. Of course, a predictable trolling response to this from Bob would be to deny all of this unless he is provided with links to extracts from books and articles by these writers, all of which must use the exact phrase "philosophical embarrassment", but I'm really not interested in arguing about the number of different ways one can phrase a sentence with the same meaning.

I think your point is correct. Many of Dawkins's critics accuse him of philosophical howlers but rarely elaborate upon this with examples from TGD, and those few who do, like McGrath, are either mistaken (being generous) or wilfully mendacious.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 11:29:00 UTC | #428720

Paul42's Avatar Comment 25 by Paul42

A great article from Russell.

I predict a great year ahead for him...


Tue, 05 Jan 2010 11:39:00 UTC | #428725

BroughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 26 by BroughtyBoy

Fabulous succinct article. Aren`t Fundamentalist Atheists (of which I know none) simply Extreme Rationalists?

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 12:03:00 UTC | #428729

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 27 by SaganTheCat

I often think an article's merits can be judged on the troll/spam it attracts

This one is clearly excellent

have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present£

lets subject this to a little of the dreaded rationality....

"both past and present" suggests to me you actually believe that people who existed before the formation of abrahamic theism actually believed in it. well done, new depths

this "sin" thing you go on about. I've never understood what it means but you clearly state it means "disagree with". Actually as a definition of sin in the "we're all sinners" sense it works quite well. sinning simply means having ones own opinion. I like that, well done and I would never call you a sinner.

of course as an atheist, other than academically, I have no care what people in the past believed but I'd say currently less than 98% believe in the beardy man and that figure is on constant decline so I'm not "sinning" against the man of the future at least.

...arrogant, puffed up..

having read the bible I think surely if he were arrogant and puffed up you should be worshiping us by now. on your knees lad

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 12:56:00 UTC | #428738

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 28 by Stafford Gordon

theeqaulizer/theequalizer: Firstly, you appear to have misspelt your heading.

Secondly, why are you so upset? Do you lack confidence in God's ability to look after herself?

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 13:01:00 UTC | #428740

black wolf's Avatar Comment 29 by black wolf

Achtung! Attention!

please do not respond to the troll. This is no one other than Mr. D.M., who googles his own name to find places where people respond to his drive-bys. He is certifiedly mentally ill, has issued explicit threats against people like PZ Myers, and generally infests any website where people seem to listen, regardless of the actual content of their responses. Mr. D.M. will not acknowledge anything you say. He needs help but has refused to get any, instead venting his ever rising frustration of the incompatibility of his schizoid incoherent ramblings with reality, which he senses but fails to understand. Do not mention his name, do not respond.

edit: I see others have already pointed out who this person is. He will be back. Don't bother banning his user account, he will create an endless number of sockpuppets anyway.
When reported to the authorities in Canada, they apparently found nothing dangerous or indictment-worthy about his threats and maniacal harassment behavior. I can only recommend treating him like you would a monkey at the zoo throwing its poo at the window that separates you.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 13:40:00 UTC | #428745

SteveN's Avatar Comment 30 by SteveN

Comment #447420 by black wolf

Oops! I hadn't considered the unwanted result of mentioning theeqaulizer's real name(s), i.e. that it would attract further attention. My only intention was to point out that he is not worth responding to. Mea culpa!

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 13:57:00 UTC | #428748