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Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Joined over 7 years ago
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Latest Discussions Started by Luis_Cayetano

Is weak atheism too weak? - last commented 31 October 2011 12:00 AM

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Go to: More African-Americans leaving religious faiths

Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Luis_Cayetano

Why are skeptics in the US segregating by skin colour, like the Black Skeptics of Los Angeles?

Because that's the only way to reach a lot of people who feel that being atheism is 'acting white'. Many African-Americans think that an integral part of being black is to have religious faith. That's a shitty idea, no doubt, but it's fairly pervasive. Do you think that it's going to be Dawkins who breaks through this attitude? He'll help, sure, but what a lot of African-Americans need is for OTHER African-Americans to come out with their atheism, as a way of showing them that it's alright to be black AND an atheist, and to at least get a dialogue going. The level of alienation in American society is pathological, and in that context targeting a certain demographic as a prelude to a broader project is sometimes necessary. In a sense, this conversation we're having is rather academic. It won't be you or me who's going to do the work; it will be people living in the African-American community. You can get behind the people who WILL do the work or you can get out of the way, but in any case, it's going to happen. I for one support the Black Skeptics. Yes, I'm a white guy.

Do these "black skeptics" have some form of cultural gathering that is only limited to "African-Americans"?

They have a cultural experience that is limited to African-Americans, to which they can relate to in their outreach to people who have gone through similar experiences. You're not going to change people by truncating yourself from their experiences, consigning those experiences to the category of irrelevant, and effectively saying, 'Just be rational!' I'm sure that will go down a treat.

To take an analogy, there's a reason that the music of Tupac Shakur was more effective and inspiring than some white guy on Capitol Hill complaining about the incomprehensibility of crime in ghetto neighborhoods.

Thu, 17 May 2012 22:11:24 UTC | #942103

Go to: Are You a Believer? Take The Dawkins Test.

Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Luis_Cayetano

7 for me, thanks. At least if we're talking about a disembodied, immaterial mind being the 'source' of physical existence.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 20:16:06 UTC | #933986

Go to: Violence and Humanism

Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Jump to comment 252 by Luis_Cayetano

Ignorant Amos said:

Debatable....there are times I would suggest, when initiating violence will be the best option. Iranian nuclear proliferation might be a case for such.

The thing to note here is that 'the Iranian threat' which gets bandied about has a technical meaning in foreign policy discourse. It means little more than 'a threat to US freedom of action in the region'. The possession by Iran of a nuclear weapon would be a deterrent to US and Israeli aggression, not a spearhead for Iranian military attacks on the two countries. A preemptive attack on Iran (ironically, the threat of which makes it more likely for the thing being preempted to actually happen) is a bonkers idea. Sure, it's not a comforting fact that the fundamentalist regime in Tehran has the influence that it does (nor is it comforting to acknowledge the clout that the Saudi dictatorship, every bit as odious as the Iranian, has), but it's still a reality, and actions must be taken with a realistic view to their likely consequences to count as 'ethical'.

Also, who gets to decide what counts as an appropriate justification for preemptive military action? We hear a lot from people who say that they don't 'trust' Iran to have a nuclear weapon (as though it were somehow their birth-right to confer on themselves the wherewithal to take out these nasty regimes over here because they violate human rights, but not this nasty regime here because 'it's better to work with them and engage them'; and assuming that Iran is actually developing a nuke, which isn't at all an established fact, just an oft-repeated claim), but what of people who don't 'trust' the United States with drones? Should Pakistanis then be considered justified in launching preemptive attacks against the Pentagon and CIA?

'I would certainly be prepared to take on a bully that was intent on making me and my family unlawfully homeless.'

By why then would you pander to that bully when, even while he's dispossessing and unlawfully making homeless Palestinians, he is goading the world to attack another country, with potentially monstrous consequences? Too much of an element of 'old boy's club' here.

Schrodinger's Cat said:

'Quid pro quo. If a person feels entitled to show a complete disregard for my rights........why the hell should they then have the sheer gall to expect me to show regard for theirs ?? You can't always automatically tell how rich or poor people are just by standing outside their house.'

A few things wrong here. Firstly, they're not showing a 'complete disregard' for your rights, only your property rights. Frankly, your property rights aren't as IMPORTANT as their child's right to live. If I had the choice of starving to death or violating someone else's property rights, it would be a complete no-brainer. When someone has literally nothing to lose, property rights feature very low in their list of priorities.

As for this:

And what gives John Doe ( deceased ) the right to take it upon himself to decide that he needs the TV, or the money from it, more than I do ?

Well, it's hard to think that you're actually this craven about the sanctity of private property. I'm always reminded of that verse in The Internationale when I hear this sort thing: 'Don't cling so hard to your possessions...' Many people seem not to understand that an excessive love of material things is rather akin to slavery, though they often confuse it for 'freedom'.

Look up the word 'responsibility' in a dictionary.

Also, 'context'.

'But you don't consider the degree of utter inhuman contempt that a person has to have towards the owner of the property in order to break and enter in the first place. '

Oh please stop. You're honestly going to strip this scenario of the context of a child's life for the sake of a stupid plasma TV and admit of no nuance here? You're really going to collapse the choice made by the father to 'inhuman contempt'? This doesn't even rise to the level of a joke.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 02:39:21 UTC | #909404

Go to: Extremism – and its religious exoskeleton

Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Luis_Cayetano

If islamists are not afraid of killing atheists, but we don't even have the guts to demolish a few mosques (one for each innocent life lost in any terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam), is it surprising that Islam's influence in the world is on the rise? Worse, we actually aid terrorists and Islamic fanatics to gain power, like in Libya, where they want to fully implement Sharia law and even cancel some of the rights given to women by the Gaddafi regime. Just watch Mustafa Abdul Jalil's speech (he's the new leader of "democratic" Libya), and pay attention to the part where he bows to Allah in front of the crowd. We should have been installing dictators like Enver Hoxha - willing to implement atheism forcefully, if necessary.

Oh UGene, you so cray-zeh.

Don't you realise that this is going to achieve the exact opposite of what you want? What happens, for example, when the US launches a war against a predominantly Muslim country? Do the Muslims love them for it? So what do you think is going to happen when 'we' (who's that, by the way?) start demolishing mosques?

And sure, you can back dictators like Enver Hoxha, if your concerns begin and end with atheism.

Here's an idea, to level things out: for every innocent person the US kills, Muslims should demolish a Western embassy. Does that sound fair?

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 20:39:50 UTC | #887675

Go to: Is weak atheism too weak?

Luis_Cayetano's Avatar Jump to comment 154 by Luis_Cayetano

This is nonsense. You are defining something that cannot exist, and then using that as the basis for arguing that it doesn't exist.

Well, I can't help it that in trying to refute the God that theists believe in, I'm defining God in the same way as theists. I'm playing by their terms. When theists speak of transcendent moral truths, they are making a philosophical idealist claim, i.e. one that places mind as having precedence over matter (that's the very essence, if you'll excuse that term, of idealism: the notion that ideas can have their own independent existence without a basis in matter. If we say that ideas require a basis in matter, then we've graduated to a philosophical materialist viewpoint, where we can speak of ideas as being conceptual rather than 'immaterial', and where we can speak of organisations of matter giving rise to ideas). A philosophical materialist conception of morality sees moral values as concepts that are ultimately explained through recourse to material physical processes. This is emphatically not the theist's conception of moral truth.

Likewise, when a theist talks about free will, they are again taking a philosophical idealist take on things, this time positing that there is something that exists independently of matter and that is not constrained by it. If they started talking about a system composed of a multitude of parts interacting with some environment which together result in an actuator for moral decisions and the like, then they are no longer talking about free will, moral choice and all the rest of it in the manner that they currently conceive of it; they are in fact reversing the narrative in an important philosophical sense; they want (and, to sustain their viewpoint, need) a notion of human action, minds and Gods that does away with any talk of component parts and leaves the 'purposeful' as an independently existing thing in itself, as a self-actuating entity or truth that cannot be reduced. That's the essential difference between an idealist viewpoint and an authentically materialist one. When they talk about God, they are talking about a being that is not reducible in any way whatsoever; they mean to say a being that embodies, or IS, the 'Reason' for the universe's existence; 'Reason' or 'Purpose' or 'Goal' is taken to be a basis for, not a result of, the physical world. Furthermore, the manner in which the universe was supposed to have been brought about by God is through 'Pure will' (the Bible talks about 'the Word'); they mean to say a being which IS, in the ultimate sense, 'Purpose', and that this purpose is itself the locomotive force that drove the universe to come into existence. Having this being be part of a physical framework won't do, because that framework violates the precedence of the pure agency of God (God is imagined to be pure agency or 'Pure will', after all). What they hanker for (and think they get with their religion) is unadulterated intellect-and-morality-and-will, stripped of all material baggage, existing in its own realm. In other words, Mind, Idea, Will and Purpose, as self-actuating categories. Theism is thus a thoroughly, died-in-the-wool, irredeemably idealist viewpoint.

Of course these are also nonsense categories; I never claimed otherwise. But they're out there, in the minds of theists.

What kind of logic is that ? Your free-floating entity by definition 'just isn't' you have already defined it as having no basis in matter.

Which will be harder to explain to theists, who take their God as the originator of matter, not an entity composed of or constrained by it. That isn't my fault, of course.

It's the same 'empty set' category error as Steve's 'supernatural'. Invent a category that by definition does not exist.

I didn't invent anything. In fact I've been labouring to demonstrate that these categories are indeed nonsensical, and that this is why we should reject them.

Then argue that because you have placed something in that doesn't exist !

I didn't place it in that category, theists did.

I'm going to have to pop down the bank and tell the bank manager that my overdraft is supernatural. As it does not exist, I feel no obligation to pay it off. Ya think that might work ?

No, because overdrafts don't fall under the rubric of supernatural 'philosophy'. You keep ignoring the fact, however, that telling people that God is supernatural DOES work, i.e. people believe it. But again, that's not my fault. I'm merely trying to clear up the confusion.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 00:00:00 UTC | #885554

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