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Comments by Nunbeliever

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Nunbeliever

If all rich people would use their money in similar ways this world would be a vastly different one. Sadly, most rich people either collect their wealth as trophies or spend it on megalomanical egocentric and utterly pointless endeavours...

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 13:42:56 UTC | #949420

Go to: Spanish artist faces prison over 'how to cook Christ' film

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Nunbeliever

This story just makes me so sad and frustrated! This shows how religion truelly poisons everything (sooner or later). Hitchens, I miss you!

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 17:57:28 UTC | #946591

Go to: Why We Don't Believe in Science

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Nunbeliever

To Alan4discussion

Ah! but to understand Earth orbiting the Sun, requires multi-tasked CLEAR THINKING! - about orbit and rotation SIMULTANEOUSLY!!

Haha, well you have a point there.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 18:50:16 UTC | #946391

Go to: Why We Don't Believe in Science

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Nunbeliever

To eivind:

It is logical and inituitive to believe that the moon and the sun circles earth for the straightforward reason that that is what they appear to be doing if you observe them. They both rise in the east, then travel across the sky to set in the west.

I can't help to retell the old story about Elizabeth Anscombe saying to Wittgenstein, that she can “understand why people thought that the sun revolves around the earth.” Ludwig asks, “why?” Anscombe says, “Well, it looks that way.” Wittgenstein responds, “and how would it look if the earth revolved around the sun?”

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 13:14:10 UTC | #946325

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 302 by Nunbeliever

I have to end this discussion for my part (unfortunately there are other duties than discussing secularism in this world), but thank you all who responded to my comments for some interesting arguments and lines of thought. This is what I love with this site. There's always someone who has more knowledge and insight on almost any given subject, and hence I rarely leave this site without a few new "pearls of wisdom".

Take care,

Tue, 08 May 2012 20:49:06 UTC | #940607

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 296 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

Either it's important or it's not important, which is it? Again, incoherent and contradictory.

You asked for different arguments. Who said they have to be coherent. It might be either 1) or 2). Depending on the circumstances. I'm no expert on historical monuments. I'm not the right person to decide whether this cross is of historical importance or not. Are you?

Tue, 08 May 2012 19:20:32 UTC | #940594

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 295 by Nunbeliever

To Ignorant Amos:

You have a lot of good arguments in your comment. To some degree I beg to differ, but I really have to give this issue some more thought. I guess, I still think this discussion is bad from a strategical point of view, but I'm not entirely sure anymore.

With regard to the argument about historical importance. Yes, it's of course difficult to define certain rules when a monument is to be considered of great historical importance. My point was mainly that historical importance is a good argument for keeping for example religious (or otherwise dubious) symbols in public spaces. In Europe we of course have a lot of churches that are public property, free for everyone to visit and enjoy. To a certain extent this can be seen as religious privelege since these religions are still active within our communities. Many are in active duty, which from my perspective perhaps is the most problematic issue in this regard. But, doubt that atheists in Europe would like to see these churches or religious statues, etc torn down or moved to less public places. These are priceless historical treasures. Treasures that I guess even American atheists travel to see.

I guess this is a cultural thing. But, since I come from a European country I tend to not stress the importance of formal secularism as much as actual secularism. I guess this is largely due to the fact that our state church is so secular in first place. Of course I would like to see our constitution reformed, but that would in practice not be such a big deal. My point is that we seem to have a very different perspective on secularism. Ironically it seems like the one country in the world that is truelly secular from a formal point of view is among the least secular (in the western world) in practice. Sadly, I don't think you will get very far only by trying to enforce the constitution per se. If it was such an effective tool to prevent religious forces from influencing the public sphere you would not be in the situation you are in today. Don't get me wrong. The constitution is a wonderful document that you Americans should be truelly proud of. And you should not be afraid to enforce it either. But, unfortunately I don't think you will see any real change until an substantial part of the American public understands why the separation between state and church makes so much sense.

Tue, 08 May 2012 19:18:22 UTC | #940593

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 293 by Nunbeliever

To Quine:

The FFRF is not trying to popularize secularism, they are trying to enforce it through the legal system. The refs at a football match don't care how popular the rules are with the crowd, said popularity tending to flip sides depending on who it benefits and any given time.

Well, I sure hope you are right. And of course I can sympathize with the argument that you should not need to defend your right to uphold the constitution. Still, in practice I think this is exactly what you have to do to some degree. But, at the same time you are right that non-believers shouldn't be afraid of offending religious people when they are just enjoying their constitutional rights. Argh, this is a hard one...

Tue, 08 May 2012 19:00:09 UTC | #940591

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 290 by Nunbeliever

To Quine:

Some people can easily understand that the problem in this case is the simple technicality of the placement of the monument with the inclusion of the Latin cross, but others don't.

But, that's the whole problem. In many people's eyes this is just a legal technicality. It was unconstitutional when it was built a century ago and HAH! gotcha, now we demand the cross to be removed. FFRF might not be trying to popularize atheism, but they are trying to popularize secularism. Secularism is not a few words written on a piece of paper that we call the consitution. That paper is useless if people don't understand why we need to keep the church and state private. The FFRF will have great difficulties convincing the general public that removing a cross from public ground that was built a century ago is of great importance to the future of USA. Yes, they can wave their hands righteously and say that the constitution is on their side (if it is, I'm no expert with regard to the American consitution). But, that will not help them the least to achieve what I hope is their real goal, to make USA a more secular country.

As I said before, when it comes to current matters it is important to highlight for example religious symbols in public class rooms, courts or on federal buildings. Otherwise we might see these trends escalate. And I think it's possible to convince a lot of people that this is the right way to go about things. But, when we are talking about a century old cross that no one seemed to care about before is under scrutiny I'm afraid the FFRF will probably be considered a petty organization that deals with legal technicalities instead of real matters that would actually lead to a more secular country. Sometimes just because you are right, does not mean it's the right way to go about it.

Tue, 08 May 2012 18:22:14 UTC | #940585

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 287 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

Accommodationists need to do one simple thing: form a coherent rational argument for why the monument should not be moved. Otherwise, reason is on the side of secularists.

1) It is of historical importance.

2) It is counterproductive to demand the removal of a century old cross, when no one really seems to have been bothered by it so far. With regard to recent violations of the constitution we have an obligation to protest in order to prevent an escalation. Hence, even seemingly petty endavours are worth pursuing. In this case the modern government had nothing to do with the cross. It was raised a century ago. Let's concentrate on current matters that actually matters.

I want to stress that there might be several good reasons for removing the cross, but none of them are in defense of secularism. So yes, if the cross is not of historical importance it should legally be removed in my opinion. But, you always have to weigh the pros and cons. Nothing is black and white. This is in my opinion not a fight worth taking.

Tue, 08 May 2012 18:02:24 UTC | #940581

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 286 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

Your incoherence persists. Is this issue important or is it unimportant? You seem unable to decide. Do you care about secularism or not? Again, indecision.

The main question from my perspective is whether this monument is of historical importance or not. I'm not sure I've seen any clear evidence either way although Ignorant Amos made a pretty convincing argument. If it does not have a historical importance I think it should be removed. Still, I agree with Peanuts that this is probably a fight that is likely to cause more harm than good. You seem to be a strong supporter of the all or nothing position. You seem to like it in the black and white world where principles ought to be followed at any cost in all situations. Any sign of disobedience to this rule is considered high treason. I find this position quite simplistic if not outright silly.

But, mainly my criticism with regard to your comments is that you seem to think this issue is of vital importance with regard to secularism. If this cross is allowed to stand the whole constitution will be rendered useless. Yes, I understand that this is a symbolic fight. But, It think this is definately the wrong symbol to attack. Why not concentrate on more important issues. Religious symbols that are in active use in public spaces. This is not a zero sum game. It's inevitable that we all have to make compromises. People who see the world as black and white unfortunately are highly counter-productive. The fact that you call people who disagree with you on this topic accommodationists just reveals how narrow-minded you seem to be. At least in my eyes.

Tue, 08 May 2012 17:54:59 UTC | #940580

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 284 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

The American constitution is not an incoherent mess, but coherent and based on Enlightenment values.

It doesn't matter how profound and elegant a consitution is. If the government isn't acting like a secular government it's nothing but a piece of paper. I much rather live in a country without a formal secular constitution that is in practice secular than in a formally secular country who's government is ruled by religious bigots.

It's kind of ironic that such a profound and important document like the consitution is used for something as petty as trying to remove a century old cross that no one seemed to give a damn about in first place. Only in a country that is highly unsecular would such a project be labelled important or meaningful. In a truelly secular country no one would care because such a religious symbol would be a historical relic. Ironically the only thing that seems secular with regard to USA is it's constitution.

Tue, 08 May 2012 17:36:45 UTC | #940574

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 278 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

In the case of America, the law and secularism are the same thing.

That's an immensily superficial view of secularism and if that was true I wouldn't give a damn about secularism. Secularism is a concept. As you say, separation of church and state. But, it is not merely a legal technicality. Secularism of course has everything to do with how the government actually performs it's duties. A country can be formally secular (like USA) and still be highly unsecular in practice. Another country can be formally an unsecular country (like Finland), but still in practice be highly secular.

Hence, if you want to make the government more secular or defend secularity you should focus on what the government does at this very moment. What the government did a century ago is of little importance. If this cross is of no historical importance, then I can sympathize with the movement to move it off public ground even though I think it's a quite petty endeavour with little real significance. If the cross on the other hand is of historical importance I think it's wrong to move it. As Ignoran Amos pointed out it might very well be that the cross isn't of historical importance, but that is not up to me to decide. I think the locals should have the opportunity to decide whether this cross is important or not.

All things considered I think this discussion is of very little real significance and might even be counter-productive.

Tue, 08 May 2012 16:35:07 UTC | #940559

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 276 by Nunbeliever

To Ignorant Amos:

Thank you for your response. It cleared up a few things for me and I now understand better what this discussion is all about. I thought it at least was a monument of great local significance. But, now I see that this might not be the case. Which to a certain extent makes this case a bit more complicated, I have to admit.

Still, I think my main argument is valid. Historical symbols can't be judged in the same way as modern symbols. They foremost reflect the past and past ideas that flourished in a certain society (hence, from my perspective the discussion about whether it is a religious symbol or not is quite irrelevant). I don't think these are symbols we should try to get rid of, at least not in the name of secularism. Yes, the cross was probably unconstitutional when it was built. But I don't see that as crucial if a monument or a building is deemed to have historical importance. That's the relevant question in this regard. But, as you thoroughly put forth it might not be as obvious that this cross is of historical importance as I initially thought. Nonetheless I can't really say I find this whole discussion of particular importance. I think there are so many much more important issues to deal with.

As you say, monuments are moved all the time. That is a non-sequitur. The issue on hand is whether or not there are good reasons from a secular point of view to move a century old cross. I can't see any good reasons in support of that idea if the cross has historical importance. If that is not the case, then I can sympathize with the movement... but ultimately I think it's a bit petty.

The whole discussion about the constution and whether or not the cross is unconstitutional seems a bit strange in this regard to me. Not because I think the constitution is to be ignored. Quite the opposite. But, because this cross was raised so many years ago that it really does not matter from a secular point of view anymore if it stands there or not. If crosses were built (I'm sure they are) on public ground today, that would be a crucial topic to discuss from a secular point of view. But, a cross built a century ago? It has nothing to do with secularism as far as I can see. It's a legal technicality. A curiosity at best. This is a crucial point in this regard.

I feel in reading your comments that you've not read or understood any of Quine's post's...he's an American by the way.

I'm sorry to say you are probably right. There are so many posts in this thread that I can't possibly read them all. I have to check them out :)

Using analogies such as concentration camps as examples of places preserved for posterity is a false equivalence. I can't see the Swastika's and other Nazi symbolism being allowed to stay in place over such places.

Well, I might not have explained myself thoroughly enough. If people after WWII would have chosen to tear down all the concentration camps and other nazi monuments (most were torn down) that would not have been rewriting the history since these buildings had no historical importance at the time being. They were a part of the present. For example swastikas and other paraphernalia as you mention. Even if I think it would have been interesting if more had been left untouched I understand the reasons why they tore down the symbols and the monuments. It was probably essential in order for the nation to recover and come to terms with their dark past. My concern with the nazi concentration camps was if someone today would want to tear them down because they represent something utterly despicable. In that case I would be strongly opposed to that idea since I think they are important historical monuments. Of course there's a purpose with preserving modern buildings and symbols since they may very well be important historical symbols in the future, but that is a whole other discussion. Of course I don't compare the iron cross with historical monuments like the concentration camps, but it was an analogy. (unintentionally I compared them anyway with my coice of words, hahaha)

By your reckoning, the debate over the phrase "In God We Trust" is also a petty argument too? Or the "God" bit in the pledge of allegiance? Or the "Ten Commandments" displayed at the entrance to federal buildings. Or the singing of Christian hymns at High School graduations, etc., etc., where should the thin end of this wedge actually start...in your opinion.

No, I think that's a false analogy. At least if you mean "In God We Trust" on the bills, these are in active use and not historical symbols or relics. The pledge of allegiance is also something that is in active use. It's not a meaningless historical chant but something people take seriously and have a significant impact on people here and now. Do I like the addition of God in the pledge? Certainly not, and I think it should be removed. But, this is exactly my point. It's not a historical document or a historical chant. It is something that changes and has changed in recent time because it matters. Same with the Christian hymns. Of course the hymns are themselves of great historical importance, and I haven't heard anyone suggest that they should be erased from the face of the earth. The problem is in what context the hymns are used. Regarding the "Ten Commandments" on federal buildings I think they should be removed if these signs aren't of historical importance. I guess, the great majority of these signs are not of any real historical importance.

Tue, 08 May 2012 16:13:42 UTC | #940554

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 262 by Nunbeliever

The first is you don't understand the difference between public property and private property.

Erh? I wrote explicitly on public ground.

The second is that this is about America and its secular law, and not about other non-secular countries.

So it's about upholding the LAW? I thought we were dealing with the idea of secularism. But, this really clears things up for me. Now, I understand what this whole petty argument is about. "Those evil men (I presume they were men) who raised the cross broke the LAW! So now 91 years after we have to correct this grave injustice, this horrible abomination."

My point here is that you are hiding behind what you seemingly call a noble cause of defending the American constitution but totally fail to take into account the fact that it happened 91 years ago. When I mention this you say that "I don't think the American constitution is irrational, nor the principle of secularism, but I do think you're being irrational." This has nothing to do with defending the American constitution. Whatever you think of this cross it's a part of history, and should be treated as such an object.

The fact that you think this cross is a great abomination to secularism as a concept just reveals how hollow your understanding of secularism really is. I'm from Finland and I bet that my country is way more secular in practice than most of America, even if we have a state church and is not formally a secular nation. Secularism is not about upholding a certain consitution or certain laws in every single way one could possibly imagine. Even to the point that you start attacking a century old cross, while judges on a daily basis give religious people pardon. My point is that this cross has nothing to do with defending secularism. It might have been illegally raised, but has now become a part of American history. I don't know how important this cross is. Perhaps no one cares about it, but people who say it should be taken down in the name of secularism are in my opinion petty and dishonest.

This is a typical example of how people hide their true intentions behind a noble facade. Defending the American constitution! Defending reason and secularism! No, it has nothing to do with anything of that. This cross poses no threat to secularism. Even if it technically was illegally raised 91 years ago it has since become a part of history. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Your sole argument is that it's an illegal cross and as such should be removed. Well, good luck to you if you want to correct ALL wrongs that were made a century ago. For the rest of us that is a part of history. Something you can learn from and that gives you a better understanding of where we are at the moment and where we are heading. But, to some this grave injustice that happened a century ago is just too much. They can't tolerate it! It's just wrong, wrong and wrong.

Tue, 08 May 2012 06:49:09 UTC | #940493

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 251 by Nunbeliever

I have to say this discussion is interesting to say the least. The only argument that I have seen that is remotely rational is that this monument was unconstitutional 91 years ago when it was raised and hence should be removed or displaced.

Man, this argument is so hollow. You really are in a desperate need to rationalize your irrational behaviour aren't you? It happened 91 years ago!!! If you want to talk about things that break the consitution just take a look at state laws or a range of different things. They affect people here and now! It might very well be that the cross was unconstitutional when it was raised. But, that was as said 91 years ago. Get over it! As it stands the monument is a historical monument. If it was unconstitutional, then great. That just adds to the historical value. It makes it interesting. It reflects the attitudes of that period in time.

I mean, I have not heard a single rational argument for why this cross should be taken down. Other than that it perhaps was unconstitutional when it was raised. I wonder how many buildings would have to be torn down if you would actually examine in detail whether all possible laws were followed. You are arguing over a legal technicality.

I honestly don't understand what all the fuss is about. There are so many things that is wrong from a secular point of view with your country. Why all this fuss about a damn old cross? Maaan!

Mon, 07 May 2012 21:32:11 UTC | #940423

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 250 by Nunbeliever

To AtheistEgbert:

No you're not. You're clearly against secularism for supporting religious privilege, as are all the self declared 'passionate secularists' on this thread who are so passionately defending something so unimportant.

I'm sure you have an intelligible argument hidden within your comment somewhere, but I'm sorry to say I can't find it. Exactly where in my comment did I support religious privilege?

You could begin with answering my question whether you want all religious symbols on public places to be tore down regardless of their nature and history? What about old Indian relics? What about churches? What about old buildings with religious connotations in general. What about old ancient places of worship? Should we tear down all historical religious symbols... in the name of secularism??? If that isn't madness then I don't know what is. If that's what you think, you would surely have made Stalin proud.

This is not a new cross. I would be very much against building crosses in public spaces. This is a historical symbol. A part of American history. Yes, the cross without doubt has religious connotations (although I argued that they might not be as clear as people like to think). But, we have a religious history. Rewriting history as if old symbols or monuments are a threat to secularism is just absurd. Even if symbols might represent something despiseful I don't think we should tear down pieces of history. For example, I don't think we should destroy the old nazi concentration camps just because they reflect one of the darkest period of humankind. We should appreciate them for what they are. Historical monuments. Monuments that reflect a culture's history and legacy. It's important that we can be honest about these things. We can't destroy and rewrite history just because we don't like things that have been done in the past.

Mon, 07 May 2012 21:03:57 UTC | #940411

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 239 by Nunbeliever

I am all for secularism... but I am totally against destroying history as well. This cross is a part of American history. Why on earth would anyone want to take it down? It was put there almost a century ago, wasn't it? One can argue whether this is actually a religious symbol or not. I think it's not. It's culural memorial. The cross is in our culture a general symbol of death and grief. I think in this case the cross supersedes it's Christian roots.

But, that is really irrelevant. Even if it was a religious symbol. Should we tear down all religious monuments that lie on public ground? Old churches or ruins? What about the pyramids? They are religious symbols as well. Should they be torn down? This is insanity in my modest opinion.

Mon, 07 May 2012 13:19:29 UTC | #940299

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

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Nunbeliever

Well, I think these question are somewhat misleading. You have to realize that religious indoctrination isn't so much about what to believe per se. It's more about creating a strong emotional connection to certain ideas. When you ask an indoctrinated person if he/she really thinks the world is 6000 years old, in the mind of the indoctrinated believer you don't really ask a question but you are questioning that person's faith. The rational faculties are overtaken by an emotional urge to defend cherished beliefs. I'm pretty sure you would get the same response from a homeopath or a new ager if you confronted them with facts that show how ludicrious their beliefs are.

This is the whole idea with indoctrination. To make certain ideas immune to criticism. Believers never really use reason to defend their beliefs. Arguments camouflaged as rational arguments really are just rethorics to satisfy the emotional need of the believer. This is very evident if you watch a debate between say William L. Craig and some scientist. Christians love Craig not because his arguments make sense, but because he speaks a language that is considered sophisticated by believers. Christians don't watch these debates with an open mind. They watch them because they feel uncomfortable by the fact that their beliefs is under scrutiny and they want to see these critics embarrassed and humiliated. It's more an ass whipping than an actual debate. A way for believers to restore the equilibrium. They can go home with a feeeling that their beliefs have been verified.

There's of course different levels of indoctrination. We have the people who are beyond rescue. They are so indoctrinated that you can't even begin to reason with them. There's no way to change their mind and we should concentrate on debunking their arguments just in order for their poison not to contaminate others. Then we have these people who seem very certain but who are really quite insecure. These are usually very aggressive since they know deep inside that their beliefs are not really substantiated. Ironically these people seem to seek "trouble". It's like they can't stay away from their nemesis. They feel the need to confront atheists and "debunk" their arguments in order to reinforce their own beliefs. Then we have the ones who really believe just because they are ignorant. Finally we have people who believe but don't really believe. When they are asked questions like "do you believe the world is 6000 years old" they answer yes just because that is the obvious answer. They don't know why. They probably haven't given this issue any real tought. They just give the easiest answer. Their yes really means "I guess". If you aske them why, they really have no good answer and really aren't all that interested in giving one either. They just don't see why it would really matter if the world is 6000 or 13 billion years old. Since the former is the answer that they encounter on a daily basis in church and among their peers that's the answer they give.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 18:44:40 UTC | #932407

Go to: A universe without purpose

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by Nunbeliever

The idea of a purpose, or meaning if you like, is a very interesting one. Not all that many years ago I also presumed there has to be a purpose with the universe or that there's a meaning to life. The fact that pondering the meaning of life is commonly considered the ultimate philosophical question shows I wasn't alone.

But, what's so interesting about the idea of purpose is that it's equally absurd as common. Just think about it for a second. What does it mean that there's a purpose to life or the universe? And why on earth does it matter to us whether there is such a purpose or not? Think about it. Even if there was a purpose with the universe. If a god had created the universe with a specific intention. That would be interesting to know of course, but why would that make our lives any more meaningful. Even if we as humans are the crown jewels of his creation we would only be instruments in order to please his alleged intentions. But more interestingly his whole existence would be just as meaningless as religious people perceive theirs without a god. In fact they ironically admit that god made the universe in order to find some purpose in his life.

Just like a god have to create a universe in order to have a meaningful life we as humans also has to create our meaning. Meaning in the absolute sense is really meaningless unless you find meaning in being part of something bigger. And I think that's the keyword in this regard. It has nothing to do with a purpose of the universe per se. It's about feeling important or connected. I think this is a very important evolutionary trait. Humans who did things that were seemingly meaningless probably wasted their energy on stupid things. People who felt the need to do meaningful things had a better chance to survive. I don't think it's an accident that the things we humans regard as most meaningful are things that hugely increases an individuals chance to surive. Say connectedness, power, status and cooperation and of course procreation. These are vital for social animals. To belong to a group. To be regarded as important within the group. To work together in order to help other group members survive.

I'm pretty sure most would agree that these are the things that we find most meaningful in our lives. I'm also quite sure that these are the traits that most people that believe there's a purpose with life cherish with regard to this alleged purpose. I have yet to meet a person who cherish the idea that a god created the universe in order for humans to be his personal toilet cleaner. No, it's always about love, power, connectedness, etc... The purpose of life or the purpose of the universe is just a projection of what we as humans find meaningful.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 17:58:47 UTC | #932396

Go to: Yet another flea - Richard Dawkins' God Delusion [NOOK Book]

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Nunbeliever

Erh? This man is many years to late. It's so ironic. The more religious people write about God Delusion the more influential the book will become. We should actually be grateful for every absurd book they publish!

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 15:50:32 UTC | #929630

Go to: Can Jewish and Christian values last without belief in an omnipotent God?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Nunbeliever

Can anyone explain the difference between religion-based morality and morality based on culture in general? No? Well, that's what I thought.

This is another example of how people make meaningless statements and get away with it because they are talking about religion. Religion should be treated no different than culture in general. It's a fat lie that religion has been the main driver of morality in societies. The cherry-pick analogy that Dawkins often uses shows this with utter clarity!

Sat, 03 Mar 2012 18:39:22 UTC | #924111

Go to: Free Will

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 150 by Nunbeliever

To phil rimmer:

We must take care not to unduly flatter ourselves as Libertarians do by imagining we as individuals have a quite unfettered, innately rational mode of thought. The freedoms we have achieved are entirely culturally derived and which demanded from us an upfront loss of some potential personal freedom of action and thought.

I second that :)

Sat, 03 Mar 2012 18:27:02 UTC | #924107

Go to: Free Will

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 149 by Nunbeliever

As Steve Zara pointed out the idea that our consciousness plays no part at all when it comes to guiding a person's behaviour is absurd from an evolutionary perspective. On the other hand I think the evidence shows beyond doubt that the decisions we make at any single moment are beyond the reach of our consciousness. In that sense New Jersey Devil is right when he says that consicious has more to do with reflection. But, the act of reflection changes the brain and hence it affects how we act in the future.

But I think Steve Zara brought forth a very profound perspective when he talked about Hume and the fact that the opposite to determinism is random behaviour. The naive idea of consciousness as some enitity that is on the one hand not bound by determinism but not random either does not only lack evidence but is completely absurd from a philosophical point of view as well. I agree with some other commenter here that free will in the absolute sense is a religious idea and not something serious thinkers should occupy themselves with. On the other hand the experience of free will is crucial to the human experience and I think that is what we should focus on.

Sat, 03 Mar 2012 18:23:57 UTC | #924105

Go to: Will your kid be taught that climate change is a hoax?

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Nunbeliever

There's a big difference between the debate about evolution and the debate about climate change. Evolution has more to do with the view of ourselves and our place in the universe. It's of course highly troubleing that so many Americans don't believe in evolution, but I have not yet seen any evidence that this denialism has really affected scientific progress in the short term per se. Perhaps I am wrong, and I would be glad to know if someone can show me any such evidence.

Climate change denialism on the other hand is a huge problem right here and right now. Although most of us might not yet suffer the consequences of global warming, we have to act now in order to prevent a potential disaster in the future. We need much more research and much more resources. But, most of all we need to convince politicians that this is a real problem. Unfortunately our politicians won't do a thing if they don't see promoting action as a way of getting reelected.

Yes, I have many times expressed my deep frustration with the fact that many people I know and meet deny global warming. I deeply despise the whole AGW denialism movement. It is a very destructive movement and we need to fight it by any means possible. Still, I think the really big problem is that global warming is hardly ever discussed in the public sphere. When I discuss global warming with my friends most just seem quite uninterested. They have a vague idea of what it's all about, but they don't really seem to care all that much. Sometimes you see some article about global warming but at least in Europe my experience is that this is a topic that people seem to be quite fed up with. Much like the discussion about famine in Africa in the 80s. When people see these poor kids with flies in their eyes enough times we don't care anymore. We've heard about climate change so many times in the past that most people lose interest. They forget about it. They don't really care.

This is the large challenge we are facing. How to keep the public (which is a prerequisite for attracting the attention of our politicians) interested in global warming and the huge efforts we need to make in order to prevent global warming. When the great Haiti disaster happened people lost interest in a few weeks. How on earth are we going to keep the public interested in global warming the next decade or more? Especially since we have to make large sacrifices in the short term. It' not surprising that most politicians don't want to deal with global warming in these economically tough times. People are desperate. People want to hear good news. People vote for politicians who promises new jobs and opportunities right now. Talk about some potential disaster in the future seems irrelevant to people who are struggeling every day to make ends meet. This is the big challenge! And this is why the global warming deniers are so successful even though they hardly have any credible scientists left on their side. Politicians don't want to hear about climate change. People don't want to hear about climate change. It's much to vague and abstract. You can't see it when you look out your window. The consequences will happen slowly over several decades. On top of that we are still witnessing the consequences of the last economical crisis. Many experts predicts a new economical collapse is in the making. With all this in mind, tell me. If you can't keep people interested in a large disaster like the Haiti disaster for more than a few weeks (at most). Then how on earth are we going to keep people interested in something as abstract and vague as global warming???

That's the big challenge, and the future is not looking bright I am sorry to say!

Thu, 23 Feb 2012 21:02:38 UTC | #921245

Go to: The problem in public life isn’t Islam, but religion itself

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Nunbeliever

Well, the problem is dogmatic thinking. Religions seem to be the main drivers of these phenomenons these days. In fact, when I think about it I can't think of one single 'devout' (read dogmatic) believer (regardless of faith or denomination) that think would the deser the label "a decent human being". There is something inherently dubious about deeply religious people. But, I think it's important to make a distinction between people who have strong religious beliefs and people who have dogmatic religious beliefs. I think there is a huge difference and atheists most of the time talk about dogmatic believers.

Yes, the dogmatic believers often talk about love, compassion and forgiveness. But, these people are only kind, loving and compassionate as long as you agree with them. I guess, that's inevitable when you talk about dogmatism. They all seem to share one of these two characteristics (often both of them).

1) They are extremely self-righteous and arrogant and dismiss all criticism as absurd and outright stupid. Hence, they will either call you names or in other ways express exactly how much they downgrade or pity you. In practice the difference is almost indistinguisable. The irony is how they nonetheless feel the need to end a conversation or a remark by telling you how much they love you and that there's still hope for you if you would only see the light. Of course their so called love is an absolutely conditional one. There's no room for compromises. They don't really listen to what you say. They are totally self-absorbed and become like narcissists who go around thinking they are the most loving, wonderful and enlightened people on earth while treating everyone around them as shit.

2) They are highly aggressive. They perceive criticism not only as absurd but as a personal insult. They do not only pity or downgrade people who are different. They utterly despise them. Ironically, at the same time they love people who convert or change their minds. This seem to reflect some kind of deep feeling of insecurity. While they despise people who are different they seem to strive from fighting against some (most of the time imagined) treat or danger. They bully and treat others bad, but perceive themselves as the victims. These are the people who say they hope atheists or liberals rot in hell. These are the people who shout at their guests at Fox News. But these are also the people who might do actual violence and terrorism.

As said before. I can't think of one single dogmatic believer who doesn't express at least one of these two characteristics and hence I can't possibly label them good people. On the other hand I've met many people with strong religious beliefs who are very good people. But, they all differ in one important aspect from dogmatic believers, however sincere they might perceive themselves. They actually listen to others and can respect other people's views.

I interprete this as evidence that these people have not entirely made up their minds. They might feel a strong connection to their beliefs and their religious insitutions. But, they usually don't talk about their beliefs as the truth or claim to have access to exclusive knowledge and authority with regard to the universe or the human condition. They are humble in other words, even if they might have strong religious beliefs. And I think a person who is humble can't be dogmatic! That seems like an oxymoron to me.

I think this is a very important distinction to make if we want to make the world a better place to live in. It seems like an impossible task to eradicate religion in general. And I'm not sure we even have to do that. We often talk about irrational behaviour and how that is the big problem with religious beliefs. I'm not all that sure irrationality in itself is the main problem. We are all irrational to some extent. People have always been irrational. It's probably to some degree inevitable. Yes, irrational behaviour leads to a lot of suffering. But, I think the main problem is dogmatism. Irrational people can be educated. We know that it's very easy to change the mind of a child. The problem is that as we grow older we start adopting a lot of dogmatic views on life. We all have them and they tend to get more articulate the older we get. There's a reason why we say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I guess there's a strong biological aspect to this. A young brain is better at obtaining new knowledge than an old one. And that is what dogmatism is all about. The inability to change ones mind even when faced with contradicting evidence.

Hence, a person with strong religious beliefs might not necessarily be a problem. They might not be dogmatic and hence they don't express the same amount of irrational and destructive behaviour as a dogmatic believer. Their beliefs also tend to be more abstract and not as bizarre or absurd as the beliefs dogmatic believers might hold.

So the important question is how to get rid of dogmatism. Of course it has a lot to do with tribalism and group thinking. But, I don't think that's an entirely accurate description of what's going on. What I find fascinating is that dogmatic believers in many ways actually become like people who suffer from anti-social personality disorders. It is really interesting since it raises the question whether there might be a link between these two. For example, my view is that personal sacrifice (which is a very strong component of tribalism) is not really a very common trait among dogmatic believers today. At least not in the western world. As said, dogmatic believers often become very narcisstic and self-absorded. Their beliefs seems to create these superficial superegos. It's all about them. They are important and they are superior.

They often express an astonishing lack of empathy for others. They of course treat their fellow believers well, but it's a very conditional form of compassion and love. There are for example many cases where parents have forsaken their children (or vice versa) because they are not true believers or because they are sinners. These people basically put their beliefs above their children. In a sense that seems to suggest these people put their own superegos and feelings of importance and superiority above their children. To me that seems to resemble a psychopath's mentality quite a lot.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:41:46 UTC | #920762

Go to: The Devil, the internet, Richard Dawkins and God

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by Nunbeliever

To lol mahmood:

First time I read it it didn't make any sense

You mean you actully took the time to read this piece of trash more than one time??? That's quite an achievment!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:54:39 UTC | #918824

Go to: The Devil, the internet, Richard Dawkins and God

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by Nunbeliever

I have never heard of this guy before so I had to visit his website, which consists of nothing but a page describing just how intelligent and what a genious he is... I'm not kidding:

Stephen Bayley was once described as ‘the second most intelligent man in Britain’... He is one of the world's best known commentators on modern culture... I don't know anybody with more interesting observations about style, taste and contemporary design... His presentation skills are off the chart, as are his innovative and creative thinking... You simply can't ignore him. The word ‘bolshie’ comes to mind.

Well, the word 'bullshit' comes to mind. Btw, the only real information is his email address which is GURU@stephenbayley.com

Oh, he is a cultural critic... that kind of says it all does it not ;)

Perhaps he should stick to designing packages for consumer goods and let other more qualified people do the thinking.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:49:04 UTC | #918821

Go to: Cardinal Edward Egan Just Withdrew His Apology for the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Nunbeliever

It scares me that the more I learn about personality disorders (especially anti-social ones) the more I see people in all areas of life, usually in positions of power and respected by many, who show all the typical symptoms.

This Cardinal is a text-book example. No remorse, regards himself as omnipotent, megalomania, extreme lack of empathy, extreme sense of self-importance, total disregard of the consequences of his actions, etc... a typical malignant naricissist.

I find it very disturbing that many of the people who have immense power over our lives and people many respect and idolize are actually mentally disturbed. Isn't it ironic that our societies to a large extent are ruled by the clinically insane.

What's really disturbing is that few seem to realize this, and even if many did there seems to be little we can do about it. We have created a culture where narcissism and exaggerated sense of self-importance are considered normal behaviours. Don't care about others. It's all about you, you and you. It does not matter how you get success as long as you are successful. It does not matter how many lives you destroy on the road. People will only remember your success. You see this so clearly in all areas of life. People love celebrities even though they might be the most horrible persons. People love famous politicians. I recently read an article about the most respected people in USA. They were of course also the most famous people. It does not matter whether you are good or bad as long as you are famous or powerful.

This Cardinal is a good example of that. It does not matter what he says or does. Millions of catholics will still love him and consider him a holy man. It's basically the same mechanism at work as when people idolize celebrities. We worship power and celebrity! It does not matter whether we are talking about CEOs, religious leaders or movie stars.

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 20:17:41 UTC | #915996

Go to: "Global Warming Has Stopped"? How to Fool People Using "Cherry-Picked" Climate Data

Nunbeliever's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Nunbeliever

To Premiseless:

Excellent comment!!! 10/10!!

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 07:43:20 UTC | #915237