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neander's Avatar Comment 1 by neander


Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:26:00 UTC | #461761

John Desclin's Avatar Comment 2 by John Desclin

I never read a review as hollow and as useless as this one! Senseless drivel!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:38:00 UTC | #461768

whitetaiga's Avatar Comment 3 by whitetaiga

about as usefull as a herpes on your wedding day....

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:39:00 UTC | #461769

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 4 by Alternative Carpark

Who is this man! He is an insult to me!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:59:00 UTC | #461773

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 5 by Laurie Fraser

This idiot takes the cake for hubris. What a stupid, stupid man.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:59:00 UTC | #461774

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 6 by Follow Peter Egan

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection.

The whole, very long, saggy rant seems to boil down to the writer being in want of The Courtier's Reply. There's so much wrong with the above (short) quote, from the "No True Scotsman" fallacy to the arrogance of the claims the religious make for themselves that for him to call others' arguments illogical, shallow and vapid, is, well, deeply ironic.

I couldn't be bothered reading past about half way.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:02:00 UTC | #461775

GoneGolfing's Avatar Comment 7 by GoneGolfing

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection. Among the New Atheists, there is no one of whom this can be said, and the movement as a whole has yet to produce a single book or essay that is anything more than an insipidly doctrinaire and appallingly ignorant diatribe.

In this statement we see the ooey gooey center of the heart of a verbose and arrogant ignoramous.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:02:00 UTC | #461776

jointhedots's Avatar Comment 9 by jointhedots

What a pretentious snob. Wanton incuriousity? That's a total misnomer and he's a total kn*#b!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:03:00 UTC | #461779

Dustin14's Avatar Comment 8 by Dustin14

I have been searching for twenty years for "at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument" FOR believing in God. My inability to find one is why I am an atheist.

I had to laugh at this line as well. " soon collapses under the weight of its own baseless presuppositions." Pot, meet kettle. Does the author not understand that the entirety of religious faith rests upon baseless presuppositions?

What his claim seems to boil down to is the tired argument that atheists can't prove their is not a god or more specifically provide what he thinks are convincing arguments for their not being a god. Which has been addressed countless times, The onus to provide evidence is not on us it is on you as you are the ones making truth claims.

Christians cannot disprove the existence of the flying spaghetti monster therefore it's logical to believe in it, right? I put it to any theist out there can you provide evidence or a "logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting" argument for the non existence of the flying spaghetti monster? Or the god or gods of any other faith which you do not believe in?

He also seems to throw in the standard "baseless presupposition" that rejecting his particular religion mean rejecting morality. Again nonsense, religion get's it's morality from us we do not get our morality from it. We are fully capable of renouncing the fatuous myths of Christianity and all religion without losing anything but childish tawdry beliefs in the supernatural. The morality that we have come to on our own without the help or need of any god will remain intact. In fact will likely improve faster without Dogma and blind adherence to ancient bigotry holding us back.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:03:00 UTC | #461778

jel's Avatar Comment 10 by jel

That's an awful lot of words (most of them pretty pretentious) to say bugger all!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:06:00 UTC | #461780

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 11 by Diacanu

I think I am very close to concluding that this whole “New Atheism” movement is only a passing fad

Well, that's pretty damning of his fellow Jeezoids.

If we're a fad, then those Christian apologist fleas killed all those trees with their books for absolutely nothing.

Well, except for a couple hundred dollar check here and there.
(More dead trees, BTW), that'd be too cynical, surely not....not Christians!

Yep, he paints 'em into a corner no matter which way you slice it.

See, asshole, you should've played the "just a fad *yawn*", card out of the gate when all this ruckus started, and stuck to it.

Too late now.

Tch, should I even go past that first sentence?

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:10:00 UTC | #461781

Saganic Rites's Avatar Comment 12 by Saganic Rites

Obviously a devotee of the 'if you can't dazzle 'em with science, baffle them with bullshit' school of thought.
His entire arguament appears to be 'you are all wrong because I can't be"!
As for his comments on Dawkins, one can only assume that he either hasn't read the books or, more likely, simply failed or refused to understand them.

Edited to add;
To Dustin 14 and all others who reference the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Stop this blasphemy now!! It should be obvious that the FSM is simply the N.T. bastardization of the true O.T deity, the Soup Dragon from the Moomins. You have simply taken the pasta element from his minestrone and created an entire false religion around it!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:13:00 UTC | #461783

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 13 by Carl Sai Baba

Nicholas Everitt and Stephen Law recycle the old (and incorrigibly impressionistic) argument that claims of God’s omnipotence seem incompatible with claims of his goodness.

They are probably repeating it because it's a good one and the christians haven't got a defense for it.

I have an image of a losing basketball team complaining that they are bored by their opponents' repeated slam dunks.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:14:00 UTC | #461784

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

What utter rubbish.

I'll post this again, if people don't mind, as I know some people don't like being directed to blogs.

It's why atheism is reasonable, in my view.

In the past, gods were personalities living here, on Earth, who were magical and responsible for natural phenomena. They lived just over those mountains, where the tribe had never wandered in their hunting journeys. But then we looked, and those gods were not there. Then the gods were raised up to the peaks of the mountains. They lived in Olympus and other luxury elevated apartments. They worked miracles, even wandering down to visit mortals and showing them the delights of randy swans and golden showers. But the stories were always of a friend of a friend, and when we climbed to the top of the mountains, we saw no gods. So, the gods were raised further into the skies. That refuge for the supernatural was destroyed when Galileo looked through a telescope and saw the moons of Jupiter, and Newton showed that the behaviour of heavenly bodies was neither heavenly nor magical. Then, miraculously, under the stare of the telescope, heaven disappeared. It became not a place in the physical world, but another domain, until today God has to try and desperately fiddle below the level of the quantum to try and get anything done.

The nature of what God could be has also changed. Our understanding of the human mind grows daily. We have fortunately started to pass the sad stage of seeing how disease and damage to the brain change not just how people think, but who and what they are. Now we can experiment non-intrusively with magnetic fields and we can watch tiny parts of neural networks operate with electrodes. Religious experience and adult moral judgement can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. Not only do we see no minds that aren't based on physical substrates, but we are learning how minds arise from those substrates. In the forseeable future we will know why physical substrates process information that lead to what we call "belief in mind", and then the story of dualism is ended. As is the idea of a supernatural mind. When mind is recognised as software, and recognises itself as software, the question to be asked is where and on what is that software running? The Creator's mind will require an awful lot of fatty tissue or carefully designed silicon. Without that foundation, without that mind, God becomes nothing more than some vague creative essence. Nothing that can love, or protect, or administer heaven, or forgive sins.

So, over the millenia, gods have changed beyond the furthest imaginings of the earliest believers, to the point where the term has little meaning, other than some sort of vampiric spirit, who can't stand exposure to the light of reason and so struggles desperately to hide in the gaps of ignorance, cowering behind question marks.

There should be a limit to our patience. We don't have to search within each sand grain on rocks around every star before we can finally say that there isn't a god. There really isn't.

It's time to get on with our lives and accept that there is no higher authority than us, and we are responsible for our own actions. That is the dignified way to live, not to scrabble around desperately for any excuse to keep believing in the idea of some homeopathic deity, diluted out of existence by reason and science; the idea of that deity kept barely alive because members of a group of hominids, not much more than a species of chimp, can't escape the prison of their limited minds, and insist that the universe is a cave carved to keep them safe.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:20:00 UTC | #461785

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 15 by Cartomancer

It's mean-spirited, self-aggrandizing and intellectually barren tosh of the highest order of course, but at its centre lies a very peculiar conflation which throws light on this man's entire outlook. (Damn, I'm starting to sound like him now...)

As far as I can tell he genuinely believes that one has to appreciate the historical and cultural impact that a religion has had before one can "truly" reject the truth claims that it makes. He also seems to assume that historical events occurring during ages when particular brands of religion were popular are entirely attributable to that religion's influence, rather than to the unique cultural configurations of the day - to the people themselves as THEY modified the ideas they inherited. He also assumes that in order to be an atheist one must, necessarily, have been a religious believer in the past - that atheism is by definition a rejection of already held belief in gods rather than the absence of such a belief in the first place. I myself, and many others, did not "come to" atheism in this way. I have always been an atheist, and there was no herculean rejection of inherited culture required.

I for one strongly object to this pathetic idea that one is only truly allowed to call oneself an atheist if one has somehow wrestled, in Nietzchian fashion, with the world-view presented by christianity (and, worse, wrestled with it after starting from the position that it's all true and all wonderful without question). Such an attitude speaks of a woefully eurocentric, culturally blinkered individual who has not the wit to realise that cultures every bit as great, magnificent, compassionate and philosophically subtle as European culture exist beyond the geographical and temporal fringes of what used to be medieval christendom. The Chinese, Japanese, Aztecs, Maya, Hindus and so forth never needed the slightest bit of christianity to come to their rejection of its traditions and its claims, or to raise their civilizations so high. One might ask whether his rejection of the teachings of Confucius is worthless, since he has not agonised over the lofty truths they contain and mourned their passing? Likewise with his shockingly naive lack of familiarity with esoteric Zen mysticism. All this talk of "inverting the spiritual assumptions of classical antiquity" is so much parochial, self-serving puff, even before one takes into account that "classical antiquity" had more than one set of spiritual assumptions, and bits of it managed to produce exactly the kind of worrying, brave-new-world rejections of traditional "pagan" religious values of which he approves long before Nietzche or even St. Paul. Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos is the most prominent example, with its agonised looking out over a civic vista barren of gods and omens. Yet somehow this current author cannot bring himself to see atheism as anything more than the rejection of his particular brand of christianity, and therefore to find the message of Sophocles in its cultural context entirely irrelevant. He clings to a much-vaunted sense of "tragic awareness", and his degree of awareness in this particular case is indeed nothing but tragic.

As for his attack on Richard's account of the infinite regress argument, he makes the classic mistake of assuming that Richard is indeed addressing the argument as he puts it, rather than addressing an updated, more appropriate, version which actually makes sense in a modern world - one which acknowledges our scientific understanding of reality. What this author is in fact doing is saying "but Richard hasn't addressed the myriad subtleties of the christianised aristotelian thought-world from which this first cause argument emerges". Well no, he hasn't, and for good reason - the metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas stand on almost no evidential foundation at all, and are merely confused best-guesses as to what underpins reality. What exactly is an "ultimate source of actuality" anyway? How do we know? And on what basis can one claim that it both differs from the kind of existence we habitually observe around us and also actually exists? Aristotle and Aquinas believed that existence (esse) was a real, actual, substantial property of things, which could be conferred or retracted somehow. To them it was like the first ingredient on the metaphysical contents list of an entity - a contents list which was itself a real metaphysical object. As such it had to be written onto that contents list somehow, and the only way properties could instantiate into something is to be shared by something that already has them. Ergo there has to be some sort of central fount of existing which can write "this exists" on the metaphysical specs of each object in the universe.

We do not think this way now, and there is no good reason why we should return to thinking this way. Any attempt to argue the infinite regress argument in such a way that it relies on such outmoded metaphysical claims is entirely equivalent to arguing that HIV does not kill religious people because the daemons which cause it are banished by their faith.

Ultimately we must treat the truth claims a religion's metaphysical system makes and its actual historical-cultural impact on the world as entirely separate things. This is, indeed, an utterly banal point - trivially true in fact - and yet even the most aggressively pompous of these theist apologists seems to let is slip entirely by. Until they do notice, there will always be a need for the wonderfully uplifting writings of our modern atheist authors.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:31:00 UTC | #461790

chuckg's Avatar Comment 16 by chuckg

Nice Steve(edit-and Cart)! As for the subject review, my football coach back in high school use to say, always about members of the opposing team, "Useless as teats on a boar".

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:34:00 UTC | #461791

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 17 by Mark Jones

It's the banality of the arguments posed when accusing other of banality that astounds.

There's a plethora of such 'New Theists' appearing, whose MO is to diss the New Atheists with a serious of tired insults, non-sequiturs and straw men. New atheism's arguments do not differ from the old atheism, so the wretched cry, "It was Nietzsche what done it better!" is *so* lame. Please be honest, theists and faitheists: you don't like the new atheists because they're more successful at getting the message over.

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection.

An *impossible* task for anyone who lives just three score years and ten. Which belief should we start with? Alphabetical, is it? Is Aardvarkism still thriving? No, OK, Bahá’i; anyone got the juice on this? I'll be back in a few years to start on Buddhism.

One doesn't have to study Christian theology in depth to be an intellectually satisfied atheist any more than a Christian has to study the theologies of every other world religion (that is and has ever been) in depth, and rejected them, to be intellectually satisfied.

Get. Over. It.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:39:00 UTC | #461792

shawn.bishop's Avatar Comment 18 by shawn.bishop

The utter inconsequentiality of contemporary atheism is a social and spiritual catastrophe. Something splendid and irreplaceable has taken leave of our culture—some great moral and intellectual capacity that once inspired the more heroic expressions of belief and unbelief alike.

Yes, many of our lot have "grown up" and "grown out" of banal and baseless cultural superstitions and unfounded edicts from authority figures. That this has happened has been the result of an all too long battle against the ongoing forces of unreason and superstition.

I am always suspicious of any rebuke of this type that harkens back to times of lore; for that "splended irreplaceable" "something" that just seems to be missing from today's arguments. It could well be that it is absurd to try to compare the arguments of today to those of 200 or 300 years ago, since our collective state of science and knowledge has, well, progressed since then. Arguments -- at least the ones of any universal value -- are based on what is presently known, and we know so much more now than we did of Hume's time.

This vapid writer is clearly a "romantic" in the literary sense of the word. No doubt, he believes in the concept of the "nobel savage" as well.

The insouciance with which, for instance, Daniel Dennett tends to approach such matters is so torpid as to verge on the reptilian. He scarcely bothers even to get the traditional “theistic” arguments right, and the few ripostes he ventures are often the ones most easily discredited.

Right. So propound for us an argument that discredits what Dennet had to say. Your "say so" and unfounded proclamations won't do.

This article is not only the "Courtier's reply"; it's worse than that. It's also imbued with, how shall I say....with an air which can only be described by paraphrasing thusly: "These arguments are not how I would present my case, therefore I dismiss them all."

Vapid and insidious verbal masturbation. Move on.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:42:00 UTC | #461794

ennui's Avatar Comment 19 by ennui

I do not need a single reason not to believe in gods. The null hypothesis is not theism. The burden of evidence rests on those making the positive claims.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:44:00 UTC | #461796

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 20 by kaiserkriss

Very well put Steve- I hope you won't mind me using your argument on others! jcw

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:46:00 UTC | #461797

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment #482551 by kaiserkriss

Of course not.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:48:00 UTC | #461798

MarkOnTheRiver's Avatar Comment 22 by MarkOnTheRiver

Adèle Mercier comes closest to making an interesting argument—that believers do not really believe what they think they believe—but it soon collapses under the weight of its own baseless presuppositions.

And this from a xtian apologist. Oh the irony!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:49:00 UTC | #461799

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 23 by crookedshoes

Hilarious read. Like a George Carlin routine! Funnier the second time. To espouse expertise and miss the point by so so much makes this a comedy to me. The comments under it are funny as well. To demand some substantial proof of why i don't believe in an imaginary thing. Meanwhile, of course, the begging question burns and burns "well, shithead, what proof do you base your belief on?"
ANSWER here please:__________________________________________

The rub is, of course, the onus of proof is on you, not me. And, these were personal anecdotes. It was not a book framed as intellectual discourse on existence. This author is a fool, surrounded by even more grinning, nodding hyenas.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:50:00 UTC | #461800

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 24 by God fearing Atheist

I read the entire article, and I'm beginning to see the "sophisticated theological" argument, that Dawkins et al. apparently do not understand or address. As Carto wrote above, it is by attempting cosmology with words and the algebra of the ancient Greeks that different results are obtained. I doubt anyone will ever persuade him, or those like him, that his self satisfied answers are derived from a naive view of reality.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:50:00 UTC | #461801

the4thNeutralNuclide's Avatar Comment 25 by the4thNeutralNuclide

And I still have no idea what a 'new Atheist' is! He might mean a newborn baby, which, having no beliefs at all, is an new abeliefist, a new atheist, a new aparentist and a new apoopooist...

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:53:00 UTC | #461802

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 27 by Bonzai

15. Comment #482544 by Cartomancer

Excellent man!

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:58:00 UTC | #461804

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 26 by Follow Peter Egan

Excellent Steve Zara. Thanks for reposting.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:58:00 UTC | #461803

Prankster's Avatar Comment 28 by Prankster

Comment 482537 by Bryan Fisher

"to Dustin 14 and all others who reference the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Stop this blasphemy now!! It should be obvious that the FSM is simply the N.T. bastardization of the true O.T deity, the Soup Dragon from the Moomins. You have simply taken the pasta element from his minestrone and created an entire false religion around it"

Blasphemy! Any true believer rightly knows the Soup Dragon (PBUH) was from the sacred works of the Clangers surely?

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:59:00 UTC | #461805

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 29 by severalspeciesof

15. Comment #482544 by Cartomancer

Ranked Excellent... (EDIT: Also Steve Zara's)

You might want to consider posting that as a comment on their website...

There's a lot of goo of gushing all over Mr. Hart there, that needs cleaning up...

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 14:07:00 UTC | #461806

amuck's Avatar Comment 30 by amuck

The overwhelmingly sycophantic nature of the comments combined with a comment moderation system leads me to believe that opposing points of view are not welcome on the "First Things" site.

Colour me surprised.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 14:09:00 UTC | #461807