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Blaine McCartney's Avatar Joined over 3 years ago
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Outcry at abortion conference in NI - last commented 18 October 2010 01:50 AM

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Go to: Why do Americans still dislike atheists?

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Jump to comment 453 by Blaine McCartney

Comment 454 by Steve Zara :

Is she as an individual such a threat, who dubs herself an acolyte of whatever version of the Golden Rule?

Religious faith is a form of culturally and politically endorsed ignorance. It encourages and considers virtuous the acquiring of beliefs about the origin of the world, about our place in it, and about moral values, from extremely unreliable sources, such as traditions, holy books, cultural leaders and personal revelation. We have a problem in our societies with religious faith, which is that this form of ignorance is both protected and praised by those in power. It's not seen as the personal self-indulgence it should be seen as.

An individual may not be a threat, indeed most individuals are no threat at all, but if they support religion they are part of the problem, just as anyone who considers ignorance as a virtue is part of the problem.

I appreciate your response, and I certainly find myself agreeing with it in almost all respects, but on the topic of Sparky1 briefly, she certainly didn't strike me as someone who supported "culturally and politically endorsed ignorance", nor did she strike me as someone who necessarily "supported" religion (correct me if i'm wrong I implore you, for I am never one to snuff constructive criticism), but rather had her own set of personal beliefs that she was by all means happy to dicuss and indeed, visited the forum with a mentality befitting of such a desire, but above all, not that I will jump to conclusions and judge people based on forum posts alone, a person who tries to be "good", and happens to agree with some of the better aspects of Christianity which of course, aren't restricted to Christianity, as is seen in the Golden Rule.

I would also raise an eyebrow with respect to the phrase "Religious faith". What exactly is meant by this? Religion? Faith? Christopher Hitchens indeed in his "Letters to a Young Contrarian", which I happen to have to hand, noted that "Of course, faith can be admirably 'simple'. And though I distrust the way in which simple-mindedness is often exalted by the religious, it may also have its appeal. There was an Austrian Catholic farmer named Franz Jagerstatter who refused to be conscripted into the army of the Third Reich. He gave as his reason the maddeningly simplistic belief that he was under higher orders - to love his neighbour as himself. They beheaded him for his impudence. Very well - I doff my hat"

I can almost read the response to my next point before it is written, but is there just "faith"? Or are there degrees of faith? And at what point to we declare a certain degree of faith to be dangerous? I have to hand, courtesy of, a definition of faith (albeit one remarkably synonymous with "trust", and I suspect such a distinction will be made):



  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.

  2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

  3. belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

Is faith in a god really more dangerous than faith in a person? Surely faith is always a gamble, whatever the probability that it might be "good faith", or not. Again, I hope I don't break too many tempers; I have not to any great extent truly thought about the issues at hand despite having read many books by many individuals who proclaim themselves an atheist or a theist. Any constructive criticism/responses are welcomed as always.


Wed, 04 May 2011 14:09:51 UTC | #622971

Go to: Why do Americans still dislike atheists?

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Jump to comment 451 by Blaine McCartney

I really think Sparky1 was given a much harder time than she deserved, both being honest and taking a somewhat lenient stance. Of course, some of her beliefs and professions (such as universal "vibes") may perhaps seem a little outlandish/paranormal/supernatural, but is she as an individual really doing anyone any harm? Is she as an individual such a threat, who dubs herself an acolyte of whatever version of the Golden Rule? I think one of the big problems that atheists face today is that we are often seen to be looking both for stereotypes, and to stereotype, and indeed, it was (if memory serves) Jefferson, who said something to the effect of "I don't care whether a man believes in 15 gods or 1, by that he neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" (I welcome any correct citation/amendment to this quotation). It is a dangerous thing I have come to believe, to refer to people as "Christians", or another pseudnym. They may profess, in what of course could be dubbed a herd/flock mentality, to be a "Christian", but they are above all else, an individual.

When we say "Islam is the greatest evil in the world today", who or what precisely are we referring to? Books and scriptures? Or are we referring to individuals who of their own volition either choose to believe or choose to maintain a belief in what their holy books say? Is there truly such a thing as false consciousness? Or, as Gramsci theorized, do we have a duel consciousness, albeit one that mightn't have a 50/50 ratio between "false consciousness" and "individual beliefs"?

I recognise that even as I write this, some of the things I say may indeed have been dealt with extensively, but I do not profess sophistication and these are but simple observations that I do indeed hope (just as I hope not to be tossed onto the hot coals for too long) to have some light shed upon, and I welcome the opinions of others on the condition that cheap shots and slander remain quite unthrown.

I do not claim that anyone was being intentionally aggressive/strident (and perhaps some were), but what I do say is that although there is no smoke without fire, on some days the weather is warm enough to merit leaving the fire unlit. To clarify, i'm certainly not saying Sparky1 was victimised, and likewise I am not saying that everyone here behaved in an uncivil manner toward her, but what I do say is that from what i've read she certainly shouldn't be perceived as a "threat" to the world, to employ hyperbole for a few moments. Or perhaps my chivalrous nature has clouded my thinking today (Feminists beware!).

Wed, 04 May 2011 13:15:23 UTC | #622946

Go to: If you have to be genius to be atheist, we are in real trouble

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Blaine McCartney

Seriously guys - it is possible to make honest, robust arguments without being a twat.

Being a twat to a twat does have its advantages, however, as opposed to "pissing in the wind", staying on the theme of swearing, when speaking with those who assume the position of ignorant buffoon.

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 14:47:21 UTC | #606224

Go to: Michael Gove 'Crystal Clear' Creationism is not Science

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Blaine McCartney

Given that he's an adherent to the Church of England, then I suppose we can expect nothing less than another concession to add to the list of endless concessions that particular branch of Christianity, and indeed its adherents, have had to make to science and reason, but it's nonetheless one we can rejoice in.

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 14:33:50 UTC | #606218

Go to: The Census Campaign

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Blaine McCartney

Why anyone's even thinking about filling in a census whose data is privy to arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin boggles the mind.

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 14:30:25 UTC | #606213

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