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Comments by Dave H

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Dave H

Comment 38 by beingmrkenny :

What I remind myself is that if something is true, then it will still be true after my questions. So, if Christianity is true, I am doing it no harm whatsoever by asking questions about it. If something is false, then hopefully my questions will uncover that, and if it turns out it was false all along then there is no harm at all in throwing it out as something to believe in.

Now there is an excellent point. It not only comforts and enables those who are afraid to ask questions, it also explains why religions don't want you to ask!

I don't know who said it, but "Religion doesn't provide answers, it only discourages questions."

Puff, I think you're learning to move truth up the scale of what is important, and that is a worthy and noble task in itself. Long may it continue.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 10:15:27 UTC | #950099

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Dave H

Speaking as an ex-catholic, I can confidently say that the concept of hell was the single biggest black cloud over my otherwise happy childhood. It is also the single biggest reason that I still hold a grudge against the fuckheads who put the idea into children's heads in the first place.

Once I distilled away all the bullshit from the faith and found nothing left, it became patently obvious that the purpose of the concept of hell is to use fear as a weapon. The church found a way to get people to follow their improbable doctrines: just bump up the consequences of not following them, either through direct physical violence or the threat of violence in the hereafter. The more flimsy the evidence for the idea, the more you need to increase the threat to make it stick. Hence the concept of hell. (If you want a Dennett-style Darwinian explanation, those doctrines that didn't have the concept of hell tended to fade away, and those that had it tended to survive because the threat works on some people.)

Teaching the concept of hell to children is child abuse, pure and simple. In my case it ultimately backfired on the church, because it turned me from a passive atheist to an anti-theist who is actively opposed to religion because it does a lot harm. I don't spend a lot of time railing against religion, because I feel like defining my own projects instead of letting my enemies define my projects for me, and I've got better things to do. But thanks to their putting a damper on my childhood with the concept of hell, I'll now cheerfully cut religion to pieces whenever and wherever it crosses my path.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 22:25:42 UTC | #949929

Go to: We Are Viral From the Beginning

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Dave H

Wow! Or in software-speak, one generation's bug is a later generation's Beta feature.

Fri, 15 Jun 2012 16:28:00 UTC | #947590

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Dave H

Some years ago I helped out at my kids' school, on a well-attended parent's day where we all pitched in to work on the shcool: painting, patching, etc. It did not leave me with a good impression, as most of the projects were make-work projects that didn't need to be done and wouldn't last. For example, the parent-in-charge (who sold homeopathic baloney as her day job) decided that we should paint the restrooms. They didn't need painting. The original abrasion-resistant anti-graffiti paint, which had been professionally applied, was still in excellent shape, and just needed a very small bit of work done around a few high-wear spots. We ended up painting the entire restrooms with standard (non-industrial) indoor house paint which will now need to be redone every few years.

Whenever I hear a proposal to give parents or interest groups more control over the running of any schools, I only have one thing to say. "Save me from the enthusiastic amateurs!"

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 17:54:00 UTC | #947432

Go to: Debate: Can Atheists and Believers work together for the common good?

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by Dave H

Comment 22 by mordacious1 :

Well, my very christian neighbor and I spent Sunday filling in potholes on our road for the benefit of the other cheap/lazy neighbors. I didn't mention it was the sabbath and he didn't try to pray for the holes to fill themselves. So the job got done without a hitch, except the one in my back.

That confirms to me that we can work together very well, but only if the religious agree to at least temporarily abandon their supernatural baloney and settle for an atheistic analysis and solution to the problem.

The reason to fill in the pothole was to avoid damage to cars and allow a better, safer driving experience - not to get a pat on the back from a sky leprechaun or a reward in heaven. - an atheistic reason

The solution was not to pray that the hole would be filled (because he knew it wouldn't work) or to wave a magic wand, but to grab a shovel. - an atheistic solution

The criteria to measure success was to actually look at each hole to see if it had enough filling yet - not to throw some dice and see if it came up with doubles. - an atheistic measurement

We can work quite happily together, but only if the religious agree to temporarily suspend the bullshit and use evidence from reality to decide what we can agree on. Great things can be accomplished if we work together, but let's not pretend that we're meeting somewhere in the middle.

Wed, 23 May 2012 16:01:43 UTC | #943117

Go to: Ghost seance goes wrong

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Dave H

Keep the focus as you originally intended - teaching the kids how to make a movie and construct special effects. Keep it fun.

If you can get further mileage out of it afterwards by discussing the saying that "pictures don't lie" when in fact the kids know that the pictures that they made are "lies", then so much the better.

Thu, 17 May 2012 17:31:47 UTC | #942067

Go to: Inspirational atheism

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Dave H

Carl Sagan has to be the ultimate.

Robert Ingersoll springs to mind for me also, although his powerful writing (which is now widely available, along with mp3 files of his speeches, narrated by a modern actor) does get a bit preachy sometimes.

Sam Harris is good, too, from a morality and compassionate point of view (but only his speeches - not his writings, which don't pull any punches.)

Thu, 17 May 2012 16:51:16 UTC | #942058

Go to: "We Believe" Todd Stiefel speaking at the Reason Rally

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Dave H

I liked that speech. Shame there weren't more protesters; it would've been a chance for them to learn something. I think they would've been embarassed to disagree with any of the moral points that Todd made so well.

Mon, 14 May 2012 17:37:38 UTC | #941433

Go to: BBC Radio 4 request for participants

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Dave H

Ah yes, the internet, where religions go to die. If only that were true. I can imagine it also possibly having the opposite effect for certain people, especially when many religious forums have a well-earned reputation for deleting any opinions that they don't like.

For anyone searching the internet without blinkers, though, they're going to find a second opinion pretty quickly. And then they're on the slippery slope to rationality.

Mon, 14 May 2012 17:07:22 UTC | #941429

Go to: Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Dave H

When I worked in Saudi I put "None" for religion on all my official documents and never had any problems. If asked about religion, tell them you have no interest in it. If you get sucked into giving an opinion you might find out just how thin the veil of civilisation is in the Middle East.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:48:04 UTC | #937213

Go to: We asked "Do you really believe ___" and they said yes. Now what?

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Dave H

If they respond to the question with a Yes, why can't you just say "I don't. I think it's ridiculous."

They've given their opinion, now it's your turn to give yours. Why ask them another question?

Sorry, that was way too soft. I prefer Aquilcane's answer, who just pipped me at the post.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 21:04:14 UTC | #932434

Go to: In Defense of Dawkins’s Reason Rally Speech

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 68 by Dave H

Someone refresh my memory, please. Who was it that was burned at the stake for suggesting that the transubstantiation in the mass was only a metaphor?

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 20:52:26 UTC | #932430

Go to: Military A-Week: How to put ATHEIST on your records (all branches)

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Dave H

Comment 3 by hemidemisemigod :

Amazing. That document has over 100 different religions listed and over 90% of them seem to be variations of Christianity. My favourite was "Ohio Yearly Meeting Of Friends" (Data Code JY). I looked for "Jedi" but on the list it was not.

If they want to break up religious beliefs into such meaninglessly fine divisions (based on practices no more significant than the choice of which end they open their boiled egg from), then I'd like to see the finished bar chart. Atheism could be the biggest bar. That would get their attention. Choose atheism if that's what you are guys, and don't split the count.

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 18:50:29 UTC | #929684

Go to: Chaplain Demands Atheists Canceled At Fort Bragg - Chaplain Thinks Organizers Want to Set Fire to Churches

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Dave H

"Chaplain Williams attacked the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein and festival headliner Richard Dawkins as being “known publicly for their caustic treatment of people of faith.”

Actually Weinstein and Dawkins attack the beliefs and ideas of people of faith, not the people personally. Williams really doesn't see the difference, does he? Perhaps this is why he makes personal attacks in return. Or is it because he isn't up to attacking our ideas?

Thu, 15 Mar 2012 13:11:38 UTC | #927455

Go to: Moroccan girl commits suicide after being forced to marry her rapist

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 97 by Dave H

Comment 18 by Virgin Mary :

This isn't islam. This is just a bunch of old, inbred, troll-faced, incestuous sodomites pushing their interpretation of old tribal nonsense onto a girl of the 21st century. It is absolutely sickening but just like half of what happens in Afghanistan under the name of islam, it isn't actually islam at all.

How can you say it isn't Islam when this kind of shit is prescribed in the Koran, and the closer they follow the Koran, the more they do shit like this?

Thu, 15 Mar 2012 12:55:46 UTC | #927450

Go to: 9pm and 11pm ET - The Big Picture - Katherine Stewart interviewed

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Dave H

Comment 6 by inquisador :

Thr Supreme Court ruled on the basis that this 'Good News Club' should enjoy the same privileges as secular organisations like the Boy Scouts.

But the Boy Scouts are not secular. In the past few year they have kicked out members and leaders for the sole reason that those members and leaders were atheists, which is utterly despicable behaviour. My Eagle Scout medallion does not have the same shine that it once did for me.

Thu, 15 Mar 2012 12:12:13 UTC | #927438

Go to: Fort Bragg Guarantees Criticism of Organized Religion and Adherents

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Dave H

Comment 7 by Mr DArcy :

Comment 6 by Byrneo

I prefer his older stuff.

Don't tell me Richard's gone electric!!!!

You're confusing Dawkins with Hawking, who has gone electric.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 17:14:23 UTC | #927028

Go to: Interview with Peter Boghossian

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Dave H

I'd like to see Peter's work with prisoners be applied to religious-based terrorist prisoners. I reckon the best and perhaps only way to reform a religious terrorist is to make them question their religious beliefs.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:53:26 UTC | #926483

Go to: Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No!

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Dave H

I really liked that talk, but not necessarily the poorly formed questions from the audience. Some of Peter's mannerisms were obviously honed from the classroom, but that's okay. Repetition to emphasise a point works, and most faithheads that I know need the repetition (and extra time) to get them to actually think about what you've just said. I thought the speaking style was enthusiastic, dynamic and enjoyable.

I always like to compare talks like this with James Lett's article on FiLCHeRS, which I still regard as the definitive treatment on how to get at the truth.

In my discussions with the faithful, they don't always pull "the switcheroo" of changing from "faith is true" to "faith is beneficial". (This has echoes of Dan Dennett's ideas on the difference between "belief" and "belief in belief".

But they often pull two other "switcheroos". One is that when I point out the holes in their belief they say that it is rude for me to do so (and I have to remind them that it was they who started the discussion). In other words they try to change the topic of the argument from reason and logic to courtesy and protocol. I guess it's their way of trying give themsleves a privileged position, and to stop me making my point after they've made theirs.

The other common switcheroo is that they start out claiming that they use religion to decide what is moral, and when I point out some of religion's atrocities they say that the perpetrators aren't "real" Christians or "true" Muslims; that is, they turn right around and use morality to define what is religious.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 17:45:11 UTC | #926457

Go to: Rick Warren and the “Same” God Issue

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 62 by Dave H

So the distiguishing feature of his faith, the central tenet of mental contentment and social cohesion, that prime axiom from which all other issues about morality and truth can be derived, is that 1 = 3.

That's cleared that up, then.

Tue, 06 Mar 2012 13:02:39 UTC | #924834

Go to: Book Review: "Faircloth lays waste to... canard" of "a Christian nation."

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Dave H

Comment 1 by JeffVader67 :

What can we do to help the more moderate US Christians get a bigger voice?

How about asking them why they don't speak up in the first place? Why is it always up to the atheists to point out the absurdities and dangers of their lunatic fringe?

Oh, and welcome!

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 18:31:16 UTC | #923804

Go to: Jessica "Evil Little Thing" Ahlquist on CNN

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by Dave H

If Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, knew this was happening in his state he would be spinning in his grave. See the later article on "A Revolutionary Idea".

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 23:11:43 UTC | #922594

Go to: A Revolutionary Idea

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Dave H

So Rhode Island was the first secular state in the west, then? Fascinating. Isn't that where the angry christian school mobs are giving Jessica Ahlquist such a hard time? Looks like they need a history lesson.

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 23:07:20 UTC | #922593

Go to: Rock Beyond Belief

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Dave H

Comment 1 by Rtambree :

Failing that, a 10-minute reading of 'hate mail' for comic relief.

There will be children there. Reading out hateful letters full of vitriolic threats and swearing from Christians wouldn't be appropriate.

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 22:54:35 UTC | #922590

Go to: Jessica "Evil Little Thing" Ahlquist on CNN

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 56 by Dave H

Jessica, you have my utmost respect for your bravery and integrity.

If you're reading this, perhaps the next time you meet the christians who want to keep the plaque up (and see you burn in hell) you can ask them a question for me. To give them an idea of how you feel, ask them how would they feel if the school decided to keep the plaque up but change the wording from "God" to "Allah"? My guess is that they'd suddenly be screaming (very much louder than you) for the separation of church and state.

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 10:17:32 UTC | #922380

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 326 by Dave H

By the way, has anyone noticed that the concept of "sins of the fathers" is the third of four links in the chain of logic required for Christianity to exist? (The first of which is an affront to evidence, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of which are affronts to decency, logic, and morality):

  1. Adam and Eve existed.

  2. Picking a fruit from the tree of knowledge (that is, trying to learn something) is a bad crime.

  3. The guilt of the crime was passed on to their children, and their children's children, ad infinitem.

  4. A person's guilt can be resolved by punishing someone else (preferably on a cross).

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 18:22:28 UTC | #920802

Go to: “Only a theory”???

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Dave H

In my experience, all the people I have talked to who don't believe in evolution have a severe misunderstanding of what it is and how it works. This person is no exception. I have never met an exception.

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 19:35:48 UTC | #915973

Go to: “Adam”–Telling God Goodbye

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by Dave H

Comment 13 by AgnosticPastor :

One of my goals is to attempt to remedy some of the damage by being vocal about my journey from faith to atheism, from ministry to freethought. My website, The Agnostic Pastor, is devoted to just that...trying to help those who are seeking truth and looking for a way out. ~AP

That's a good start, but how about putting your money where your mouth is? As you've spent years avoiding taxes for the common good (while claiming that the purpose of the church is for the common good) what do you plan to do to make financial amends? How about paying your back taxes or otherwise raising money for charity?

(That didn't come out the way I'd hoped. I commend your decision and welcome your important contribution to helping more people like yourself, yet I couldn't think of a way of raising the financial question without being blunt.)

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 17:47:01 UTC | #913489

Go to: Letter from a Medical Doctor

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Dave H

I've heard it said that the Far East is the breeding ground for superbugs because of widespread uncontrolled over-use of antibiotics. He sounds like just the type of doctor who would give out anti-biotics like candy, not realising that such behaviour is now proven to drive the evolution of bacteria into drug-resistant strains.

So what if he's a good clinician? He is not isolated from the rest of science or the rest of the world, and he needs to know about evolutionary theory and the inevitable evolutionary consequences of the mis-uses of antibiotics.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 01:23:31 UTC | #913288

Go to: When Pseudoscience Kills

Dave H's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by Dave H

So the therapist in charge called 911 to pick up the pieces eh? That tells me that even though they claim to believe in this baloney, what they actually believe in when the chips are down is science. Hypocritical con artists.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 00:51:01 UTC | #913275