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Comments by TranshumanAtheist

Go to: 29% of Americans say religion ‘out of date’

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by TranshumanAtheist

[quote]That 'out of date' thing is strange. Do eternal truths have a 'best before' date then?[/quote]

Well, many christians say that their religion made Judaism "out of date."

Sun, 27 Dec 2009 20:22:00 UTC | #426269

Go to: Religion seen an 'oddity' by ministers, Archbishop says

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by TranshumanAtheist

I think christianity has a future as a form of Creative Anachronism. The Pope dresses every day like he plans to go to a Renaissance Faire.

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 15:23:00 UTC | #423305

Go to: Waiting For Armageddon

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by TranshumanAtheist

Ironically the biggest hustlers of this nonsense in our lifetimes have already, or will soon reach, their 80's -- namely, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsay and Pat Robertson. And they'll die, like Jerry Falwell (another "end times" con artist), without seeing as much as one of their toe nails getting "raptured."

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 21:35:00 UTC | #422926

Go to: RDF TV - Nebraska Vignettes #2 - Why are there still Chimpanzees?

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 126 by TranshumanAtheist

If dogs evolved from wolves, why do wolves still exist?

If the house cat evolved from Felis silvestris, why do wild populations of Felis silvestris, interfertile with house cats, still exist?

Fri, 17 Jul 2009 06:56:00 UTC | #380058

Go to: Oklahoma legislator proposes resolution to condemn Richard Dawkins

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 282 by TranshumanAtheist

Chris Benge, the current Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, is my first cousin. (His mother and my mother are sisters.) I'm not close to that branch of the family, otherwise I'd try to contact him.

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 19:16:00 UTC | #334180

Go to: Toward a Type 1 civilization

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by TranshumanAtheist

But we have the opportunity to live in a win-win world and become a Type 1 civilization by spreading liberal democracy and free trade,

This suggests a number of possible objections. One, what if liberal democracies decide to regulate trade, as often happens in the real world? Would Shermer then favor undemocratic governments that interfere less with the market? For example, a number of free market economists displayed a crush on Augusto Pinochet for the way he ran Chile in the 1970's and 1980's. Pinochet overthrew a democratically elected regime representing socialist parties and organized labor, cut taxes and deregulated Chile's economy while terrorizing Chileans who expressed progressive political views.

And two, Shermer assumes a progress narrative from the Enlightenment that has come under attack lately by the random walk/black swan criticism. If we got to our current situation through a series of essentially random events, then no reason prevents us from heading away from current trends through other random events. Nothing about the future of democracy, free markets, atheism or becoming a Kardashev Type I civilization looks "inevitable" in this view.

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 08:15:00 UTC | #208148

Go to: Should We Rid The Mind of God? A Debate

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by TranshumanAtheist

How does a god solve the meaning-and-purpose problem, any way? A god could, without logical contradiction, have created human life without any meaning or purpose at all. For another scenario, consider:

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 18:58:00 UTC | #188391

Go to: Oklahoma: One Step from Doom

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 62 by TranshumanAtheist

Ugh. The Speaker for Oklahoma's House of Representatives, Chris Benge, is my first cousin (son of my mom's sister). That could make for an awkward family reunion some day.

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 11:56:00 UTC | #134186

Go to: The coming religious peace

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by TranshumanAtheist

Thor'Ungal writes:

I wonder if the key is something like what Dennett proposed. Help lead religion into an evolutionary path that is comparatively harmless.

A few years ago an article in Free Inquiry speculated that gods could evolve into something like ghosts, which many people believe in, but they don't worship them or otherwise try to discern their ghostly will for their lives.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 07:33:00 UTC | #125484

Go to: This Week's Flea

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by TranshumanAtheist

Responding to #64:

In fairness, I don't think he is saying that these people think that the effect of atheism is nihilism. I think the point he is claiming is that if you imagine that atheism is right, then God not existing means that there is no point and nihilism is the result.

The existence of a god doesn't necessarily make nihilism go away. A god could, without logical contradiction, have created human life without any meaning or purpose at all. And if a god doesn't believe in any power higher than itself, then what keeps it from succumbing to nihilism?

All of these nihilism, despair and meaninglessness claims made about atheism ignore empirical human psychology. People's emotional health depends to a large extent on biological components like their neurochemistry, not on whether they believe in a god or not. Otherwise the atheism = nihilism theorists have trouble accounting for the existence of chronically depressed theists and chronically cheerful atheists.

Wed, 19 Dec 2007 07:49:00 UTC | #96099

Go to: This Week's Flea

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by TranshumanAtheist

You're saying older atheists like Nietzsche and Camus had a more sophisticated critique of religion?

Yes. They wanted us to think out completely and thoroughly, and with unrelenting logic, what the world would look like if the transcendent is wiped away from the horizon. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus would have cringed at "the new atheism" because they would see it as dropping God like Santa Claus, and going on with the same old values. The new atheists don't want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism.

Who cares what these long-dead intellectuals thought about the effects of atheism? They didn't have any empirical evidence to support their claims. (If anything, they just accepted christian stereotypes about the consequences of atheism without thinking deeply about the matter at all.) Today we have a number of spontaneously atheizing societies with a high quality of life, and they haven't succumbed to "nihilism." American christians readily go on vacation to the UK, France, Australia and other developed countries with atheistic pluralities because they have good reputations.

Wed, 19 Dec 2007 06:56:00 UTC | #96088

Go to: ...and another FLEA...

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by TranshumanAtheist

I wonder if the "fleas" will start criticizing each other's arguments in favor of theism.

I rather doubt it. Theists don't exert any quality control over their own arguments that I can detect, because they know that even the most blatant fallacies work on some fraction of the population.

Mon, 10 Dec 2007 14:46:00 UTC | #91996

Go to: Interview with Richard Dawkins

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by TranshumanAtheist

Re: SurfDude's comment # 17

All religions, especially the evangelical and fundamentalist varieties, encourage their credulous adherents to breed like rabbits, thereby propagating their particular brand of nonsense. The majority of atheists / humanists etc tend to be educated and enlightened and if they breed at all, it usually results in smaller families.

But in a generation Iran (a country much in the news lately) has developed from a fecund, religiously obsessed society to one with European-level birthrates and a strong secularizing trend. If that can happen to one of the strongholds of radical Islam that quickly, then I don't see why it can't happen to other god-poisoned societies as well.


Sat, 01 Dec 2007 07:20:00 UTC | #88399

Go to: What the New Atheists Don't See

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by TranshumanAtheist

we continue to long for a transcendent purpose immanent in existence itself, independent of our own wills.

A god doesn't necessarily solve that problem. What if it turns out that god's existence has no purpose?

Better yet, what if we discover that god came into existence through "random chance"?

Thu, 01 Nov 2007 16:15:00 UTC | #80448

Go to: Pascal's Wager

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by TranshumanAtheist

Those emails from African bank clerks offering us money to help unlock the funds from dead people's accounts look like a better deal than Pascal's wager. One, a real person had to compose and send that email. Two, we know that Africa exists. Three, we know that huge sums of money exist in foreign in bank accounts. Four, we know that banks can wire money from one account to another anywhere in the world. Why not take one of these clerks up on his offer? I mean, what can possibly go wrong?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:15:00 UTC | #78220

Go to: If you don't accept the supernatural, you obviously think life is depressing, meaningless and cold

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by TranshumanAtheist

I wish more people knew about the scientific research into happiness. Scientists have discovered that humans have biologically determined happiness set points, or "happiness thermostats," that regulate our average levels of happiness throughout our lives. Changes in fortune can push your happiness levels above or below your thermostat setting, but in the long run you tend to return to your natural level. (The exhilaration from winning the lottery doesn't last very long, for example.) These happiness thermostats don't depend on whether we believe in a god or not, so we see all sorts of combinations of happiness levels and world views, like chronically cheerful atheists and chronically depressed theists.

I would add that a god doesn't necessarily solve the problem of making the universe happy any way. What if it turns out that god finds its existence "depressing, meaningless and cold" because it doesn't believe in the super-supernatural?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:05:00 UTC | #78214

Go to: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. were atheists, and they were terrible! Answer that!

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by TranshumanAtheist

First of all, Hitler died on good terms with the Catholic Church.

Secondly, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot et al. rejected religions that the theist who brings us this objection usually doesn't belong to and doesn't respect any way. Stalin rejected Russian orthodox christianity, which many American christians consider some weird foreign cult. Mao rejected Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, again religions foreign to Western christianity. Pol Pot rejected his countrymen's Buddhism as well. Which religion on this list would have kept these dicators in line if they hadn't rejected it?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 12:48:00 UTC | #78208

Go to: Taking exception to Jake

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by TranshumanAtheist

PZ promotes what I consider a proper understanding of "atheism."

Once again, science is a method. It's a general set of procedures that rest on skepticism, induction, empiricism, and naturalism. Atheism is a conclusion. We look at the universe using the tools of science, and it does not fit any description of the universe derived from religious perspectives: we therefore reject religious dogma. We also see that the nature of the universe does not reflect any of the orthodox conceptions of what a god-ruled universe would look like. We arrive at the conclusion that there is no god.

In other words, atheists don't have some void in them called an absence or lack of belief in gods, which would also apply to babies, feral children or the profoundly retarded. No, atheists state explicitly that reality doesn't work the way theists claim. Atheism, like, say, heliocentrism in astronomy, makes a statement about the contents of reality.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 07:54:00 UTC | #68559

Go to: Sam Harris Strikes Back

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by TranshumanAtheist

The "meaning of life" has nothing to do with the existence of a god. A god could, without logical contradiction, created human life without any "meaning" at all!

Tue, 29 May 2007 17:36:00 UTC | #43106

Go to: Jerry Falwell's Hit Parade

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by TranshumanAtheist

Dower, addressing Bizarro Dawkins, writes,

I am an apostate, a former hard-core Calvinistic Christian.

You claim there is a heaven and a hell.

Am I going to hell?

If so, prove it to me.

But, but if hell doesn't exist, and we can't go there when we die, how can our lives have any meaning?

Thu, 17 May 2007 20:24:00 UTC | #39451

Go to: Thought vs. feeling in religion

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by TranshumanAtheist

In Latin America, impoverished people depend on religion for meaning and hope, but it is important that their beliefs not reinforce what keeps them impoverished.

Latin Americans tend to reduce their dependency on these beliefs when they migrate to the U.S.:,884,For-Some-Hispanics-Coming-to-America-Also-Means-Abandoning-Religion,Laurie-Goodstein

Does this indicate they renounce "meaning and hope" as soon as they cross the border? Or does it suggest they find meaning and hope from realty-based sources because of the better living conditions here?

Wed, 16 May 2007 07:29:00 UTC | #38803

Go to: Unintelligent Design

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by TranshumanAtheist

Atran sounds like a follower of Leo Strauss: Religion for the sheep, atheism for their shepherds.

Sat, 12 May 2007 07:38:00 UTC | #37230

Go to: The torture of the grave Islam and the afterlife

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by TranshumanAtheist

What if some of the dead Muslim's organs get transplanted into living infidels' bodies?

Sun, 06 May 2007 14:38:00 UTC | #35382

Go to: The moment a teenage girl was stoned to death for loving the wrong boy

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 85 by TranshumanAtheist

Christian Reconstructionists in the U.S. (a surprisingly influential element in American conservatism) want to reinstate the judicial use of stoning:

Invitation to a Stoning, by Walter Olson

Sun, 06 May 2007 07:04:00 UTC | #35305

Go to: The Damned

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by TranshumanAtheist

But if hell doesn't exist and we can't go there after we die, what gives life meaning?

Wed, 02 May 2007 16:36:00 UTC | #34314

Go to: The God Delusion

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by TranshumanAtheist

For a few decades, Ayn Rand's "philosophy" looked a lot more competitive than humanism, at least in the U.S. market. When humanist publications occasionally took notice of the Rand phenomenon, they didn't quite know what to make of it despite the convergence between humanist and Randian criticisms of religious belief and a similar emphasis on enjoying life in this world. Until recently you had trouble finding titles by Prometheus Books authors or other critics of religious beliefs in most bookstores, for example, whereas you could almost always find several copies of Rand's novels. Rand's influence (now apparently in decline, since her death about 25 years ago) shows that even a cartoonish, empirically indefensible challenge to religious world views can gain a foothold with people who see the problems with religious beliefs but don't have access to the better thought out secular alternatives.

BTW, I recommend Greg Nyquist's critique of Rand's ideas, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature.

Tue, 01 May 2007 07:31:00 UTC | #33888

Go to: God Is in the Dendrites

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by TranshumanAtheist

The rational, "Tollanized" civilization of the future can certainly integrate these scientific data without all the primitive cosmological and moral notions long associated with "spiritual" experiences. We'd have Darwin, modern physics, a liberal morality and a clinical understanding of "mysticism"; but not creationism, exorcisms, faith healing, the killing of heretics and other traditional religious nonsense.

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 06:56:00 UTC | #32908

Go to: The Empty Wager

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by TranshumanAtheist

Those Nigerian email solicitations look like a better deal than Pascal's Wager. One, we know that humans had to compose the spam that keeps winding up in our computers' mailboxes, while we don't have any evidence that a god exists and has offered a human anything. And two, we know that large amounts of money in foreign bank accounts exist (though you won't ever get any of it this way!), whereas we don't have any evidence that a heaven exists.

In other words, Pascal's Wager looks worse than a blatant scam.

Wed, 18 Apr 2007 18:02:00 UTC | #30466

Go to: For Some Hispanics, Coming to America Also Means Abandoning Religion

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by TranshumanAtheist

Hispanics from Cuba were the most secular national group, at 14 percent,

This suggests that many Cubans who've migrated to the U.S. have grievances against Castro's regime other than religious ones.

Mon, 16 Apr 2007 12:20:00 UTC | #29818

Go to: Genie shows barred by Islam, clerics say

TranshumanAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by TranshumanAtheist

A.C. Grayling may have stumbled onto something when he traced the genealogy of the gods back to "fairies" (animistic forces in nature). Muslims feel that these lesser gods threaten the authority and status of their monopolistic mega-god. It makes me think of local mom-and-pop businesses taking costumers away from a big corporation.

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 07:56:00 UTC | #29579