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A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists - Comments

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 1 by God fearing Atheist

Given most of this was Oakes, writing about Kenny, writing about Rosenberg, I'm confused about who made the straw men.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:52:54 UTC | #950428

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 2 by Ignorant Amos

Edward T. Oakes, S.J. is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and author, most recently, of Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology (Eerdmans).

In short...an asinine fuckwit. Good for a laugh though, especially when he referenced that other asinine asshat John Haught, who is acclaimed by his dimwitted peers as a "sophisticated theologian". Jerry Coyne had an interesting demolition of Haught a few years ago on his WEIT forum....John Haught’s “sophisticated” theology: evolution is God’s drama.

Jerry then tore him a new one in a debate last year....My debate with John Haught in Kentucky.

So unsophisticated was this expert "sophisticated theologian" that he refused to release the video of said debate because of embarrassment....Theologian John Haught refuses to release video of our debate.

After much ado, Haught relents and allows the videos release, but only on the proviso that Jerry posts an open letter of complaint. Said debate can be watched here for those interested.

Apologies to Quine for going off a wee bit, but I think it's important to get a handle on the sort of numskulls that are calling us out for lack of understanding of their particular version of the bollocks and the pretzelmen they use as "expert"reference.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 16:12:31 UTC | #950435

Quine's Avatar Comment 3 by Quine

Thanks Paul, no, that was not going off as all that is useful to set the context of the piece. There is quite a bit of back and forth on the comments there at FT, and I may try to get some of that worked in. Thanks, again.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 17:02:06 UTC | #950440

Sample's Avatar Comment 4 by Sample

Quine, I read that article and learned nothing, except definitions for the words: parti pris, ineluctable, and apodictic. I am appreciative for that I suppose.

Seriously, the first paragraph: unsubstantiated claim; Second paragraph: misunderstood the Krauss point; Third paragraph: a build up to something, but remains unsubstantiated; Fourth paragraph: no substantiation and at best a weak argument from a single so-called authority; Fifth paragraph: either a lie or gross misunderstanding of methodological naturalism; Sixth paragraph: I actually read the book in question, is there really any substantive difference between John Haught and Ray Comfort? Perhaps Haught only grips the banana, while granted, Comfort squashes it but it's still a banana! Seventh paragraph: uses Freud and Nietzsche to prove what? That they would be wrong? Because they would be! Paragraph eight, atheists are utopia-minded Darwinists: straw man. Paragraph nine: I don't understand the "gotcha" point he is trying to make (a clump of cells can't be about anything), but then again, he does call that claim "extravagant" which makes me scratch my head further, why bother with it then?

Unfortunately, lay Catholics eat this "sophisticated theology" up and create awful "spin-off episodes" like Joanie Loves Chachi in other forums thereby futher tormenting society.

Mike

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 17:07:37 UTC | #950441

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 5 by rrh1306

I missed the big Atheist canonization event were all atheist decided to have the same opinions on free will, and were the first something came from. I also find it perplexing and lame that Theist so love to sarcastically joke about Atheist's hope that humanity can make a better future for it's self.

Oh and what's their great answer to every major question.....Magic. Shame on us for proposing answer's that don't involve magic.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 18:00:57 UTC | #950448

Quine's Avatar Comment 6 by Quine

After calling him out for mischaracterizing Krauss, I reworked his "Catechism" points as follows:

1) Apart from nature, which includes human beings and our cultural creations, there is nothing. There is no God, no soul, and no life beyond death.

Apart from nature, which includes human beings and our cultural creations, there is no objective evidence for any deities, souls, or life beyond death.

2) Nature is self-originating, not the creation of God.

Nature shows the ability to be self-organized without a requirement for divine creation or intervention.

3) The universe has no overall point or purpose, although individual human lives can be lived purposefully.

Points and purposes are relative to the positions of observers; humans are the only known beings capable of this kind of observation.

4) Since God does not exist, all explanations and all causes are purely natural and can be understood only by science.

Methodological Materialism is the only known process for the development of reliable knowledge. Other knowledge may exist, but there is no other way to reliably know.

5) All the various features of living beings, including human intelligence and behavior, can be explained ultimately in purely natural terms, and today that usually means in evolutionary, specifically Darwinian terms.

Progressively more and more of the various features of living beings, including human intelligence and behavior, can be explained in purely natural terms, and today that usually means in evolutionary, specifically Neodarwinian terms.

6) Faith in God is the cause of innumerable evils and should be rejected on moral grounds.

Dogma is the cause of innumerable evils and should be rejected on moral grounds.

7) Morality does not require belief in God, and people behave better without faith than with it.

Morality does not require faith; we can think our way to better behavior.

I got some positive feedback from one poster: "As for Quine's moderate restatements of atheistic broadsides, while not stupid they are not compelling." Working up to "not stupid" is quite high marks when compared to the usual "burn in Hell" reply. Perhaps some progress is being made. Anyone have any other ideas on these 7 points?

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 18:04:58 UTC | #950449

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 7 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 3 by Quine

There is quite a bit of back and forth on the comments there at FT, and I may try to get some of that worked in.

Yes, I've been following it....you are doing sterling work there in the face of such adversity. Susan ain't too shabby either. I admire all yer patience.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 19:14:59 UTC | #950453

Sample's Avatar Comment 8 by Sample

Haven't read A.C. Grayling's The Good Book, but isn't it a secular catechism of sorts? I'm sure there are some gems in there.

I very much like your clarifications Quine except for #3. I think you should concede to Oakes' definition for that one; it's spot on. Unless, you want to clarify why you don't like it?

Mike

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 19:37:15 UTC | #950455

Quine's Avatar Comment 9 by Quine

Hi Mike, you have a good point. I could have left #3 alone, but the word "purpose" is a very big can of worms. It is true that you can have a viewpoint that gives you a subjective feeling of "purpose" but it may not be generalizable past that viewpoint. I got the impression that the way Oakes was putting it was to hold it up for ridicule as self-contradictory.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 20:01:04 UTC | #950457

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 10 by The Jersey Devil

I don't get all the hub bub about 'first cause' arguments like the kind being discussed on the link.

Even if the universe could not have started spontaneously and absolutely requires a cause to originate...

How does that prove or even begin to prove that the phenomena that created the universe is still in existence, can read our minds, wants us to worship it, favors any particular religion, is homophobic, is omnipotent and on and on?

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 21:11:50 UTC | #950463

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

Comment 10 by The Jersey Devil

How does that prove or even begin to prove that the phenomena that created the universe is still in existence, can read our minds, wants us to worship it, favors any particular religion, is homophobic, is omnipotent and on and on?

This is theist gapology 101.

If science admits there are things it does not know, or admits there is a 0.000000000000000001% chance it could be wrong, this = "There that proves they admit my god exists" - and here are cross-references to hundreds of years of rambling "theofumbical" verbosity which we cite as "proof".

They desperately want to believe their god exists (as an endorsement of their personal views) and will work at elaborate rationalised constructs to support this view in their minds denying, refusing to understand, or casting doubt on any objective evidence to the contrary.

Their "evidence" is inevitably simply a denial of science, speculation on areas of uncertainty, or comparing the different "philosophical, hypothetical towers on their theistic "castles in the air" - which have no physical connections to the material universe or objective observations.

In many cases they defend their fantasies, by denying the need for such connections by denigrating "materialism"!

This is well illustrated in comments on the link responding to Quine or Susan.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 09:06:47 UTC | #950483

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 12 by Zeuglodon

Comment 6 by Quine

Comment 9 by Quine

I am wondering if the invocation of "purpose" was more specifically directed at living beings in a manner similar to the argument from design. Perhaps it would be worth addressing this: say, that the apparent purposefulness of nature is derived from a non-random selection process that favours traits better fitting to whatever else is around, including other traits and copies of itself.

Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

Their "evidence" is inevitably simply a denial of science, speculation on areas of uncertainty, or comparing the different "philosophical, hypothetical towers on their theistic "castles in the air" - which have no physical connections to the material universe or objective observations.

The more obvious "evidence" used more often is circular reasoning. They presume without evidence that a deity exists as part of the explanation, which is the point of contention. They presume a deity is necessarily connected to morality, which is the point of contention. They presume a human being was designed, which is the point of contention. In not one case do they cite real world evidence that would justify these assumptions. To them, it's just intuitively self-evident.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 11:56:19 UTC | #950488

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 13 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I am really afraid to click the link now. It sounds like intellectual hell.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 15:33:49 UTC | #950500

Quine's Avatar Comment 14 by Quine

I am really afraid to click the link now. It sounds like intellectual hell.

Well, some Purgatory, maybe.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:41:37 UTC | #950504

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 15 by susanlatimer

It is a fortress of impenetrable dogma over there.

The same old canards. Over and over and over.

Here's the last comment:

I wonder what atheists would say about the state of nature where God was "nowhere" in society of the brutish? Granted that even if there is a social contract to keep the weak alive, what will the norms or framework of this contract be based on? Between the survival of the fittest and the protection of the weak there has to be an 'equalizer' that keeps the weak from being annihilated. In a state of nature, it is safe to assume that all who survive in that state are atheists.

Will it ever end? They need to villify atheists in order to protect themselves from the reality of their own poor reasoning and moral stuntedness. It's a stink pit.

Fri, 10 Aug 2012 04:08:49 UTC | #950578

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 16 by rrh1306

Let's take a look at the most strident accusation's that Atheist makes versus the Theist.

Atheist " Your belief in god is deluded and irrational. You can't hack it in reality so you have to live in a ridiculous fantasy world. You and your beliefs are dumb".

Pretty mean spirited. Now for the Theist.

Theist
Atheist have no morals and only reject god so they can be horrible, sinful people. An Atheist thinks they are the most important, intelligent being in the universe. An Atheist is their own god. If Atheist had half a chance they wouldn't think twice about committing mass murder on an apocalyptic scale to farther goals.

It's mean to say call someone stupid but I think it's on a whole other level to call someone a murderer in waiting. I don't know about you Susan, but that kind of thinking still shocks every time I hear it. I've heard it enough that it shouldn't, but I'm still blown away that anyone believes that.

Comment 15 by susanlatimer :

It is a fortress of impenetrable dogma over there.

The same old canards. Over and over and over.

Here's the last comment:

I wonder what atheists would say about the state of nature where God was "nowhere" in society of the brutish? Granted that even if there is a social contract to keep the weak alive, what will the norms or framework of this contract be based on? Between the survival of the fittest and the protection of the weak there has to be an 'equalizer' that keeps the weak from being annihilated. In a state of nature, it is safe to assume that all who survive in that state are atheists.

Will it ever end? They need to villify atheists in order to protect themselves from the reality of their own poor reasoning and moral stuntedness. It's a stink pit.

Fri, 10 Aug 2012 20:45:56 UTC | #950629

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 17 by susanlatimer

Comment 16 by rrh1306

I don't know about you Susan, but that kind of thinking still shocks every time I hear it. I've heard it enough that it shouldn't, but I'm still blown away that anyone believes that.

I'm blown away, too. I get so used to hearing it that I become numb to it for a while, but every now and then the implications broadside me.

I would be very, very careful that I had checked all my work before I argued that a person's position on a subject inevitably leads to advocating rape, murder and genocide. I've never accused anyone of that in any sort of discussion. It's a horrible accusation that better be well thought out and thorougly backed up.

It's true that what we believe can lead us to do unimaginably terrible things. . Humanity has demonstrated that.

Quine's correction of point #6 from comment 6 on this thread is one to always take seriously. We should all have learned that by now.

Dogma is the cause of innumerable evils and should be rejected on moral grounds.

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 00:44:00 UTC | #950650

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 18 by rrh1306

This is off topic Quine, but I think you'll enjoy hearing that David Barton's book "The Jefferson Lies" has been pulled by his publisher's because they've quote “lost confidence in the book’s details".

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 16:40:32 UTC | #950682

Quine's Avatar Comment 19 by Quine

[off topic] I was sitting at the Atheist Film Festival in San Francisco today, when someone announced that the Barton book had been pulled. We had been watching a "separation of Church and State" film, and many in the audience applauded.

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 08:19:18 UTC | #950710