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Comments by keithapm

Go to: Air Force Base denies atheist display, allows Menorah and Nativity Scene

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Comment 1 by obijuanmartinez :

Hey there :) Actually, it's been a while since I posted here so hello to everyone.

My question is - Do we really want / need a ticket in line to the freak-show? This atheist 'display' - is it really what we're striving for? (An 'equal' place in a line of equally ridiculous displays...)

I don't think it was as much about having an atheist display as it was about highlighting the hypocrisy of those involved in the original displays and their claim to be inclusive. Their refusal to admit of the atheist display is a clear sign to everyone (including themselves) of the double standards involved.

Keith

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 21:17:24 UTC | #900006

Go to: Dublin Declaration on Secularism and the place of religion in public life

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Comment 16 by  AtheistEgbert :

Who wrote these constitutional statements? What makes them an authority for atheism?

Who said that they were "constitutional"? This is a non-legally binding declaration which is altogether different from a constitution. It merely sets out the aims of the organisation that is the AAI and is subject, like the Copenhagen Declaration before it, to revision.

You can find some background to all this here.

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:50:45 UTC | #635937

Go to: Is Christian morality psychopathic?

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by keithapm

As for Sam's tactic in this particular debate of attacking specific doctrines, particularly his opponent William Lane Craig's doctrinal beliefs, well I can't really fault him. In such debates the mental gymnastics of your opponents and their followers (even if those followers who are only just supporting the "home team") leave you in a tricky situation. If you address specific points made by your opponent (as Sam seems to do here though I haven't seen the full debate) then you can often fail to tackle the more general issues of faith, leaving some believers to smugly walk out feeling unassailed. On the other hand, if you generalise, you can be criticised for not addressing the specific points made by your opponent leaving her/him and their followers to smugly walk out thinking that you are crass, ignorant and unsophisticated.

Keith

Wed, 25 May 2011 00:14:21 UTC | #630513

Go to: Is Christian morality psychopathic?

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by keithapm

There is a huge difference between what the Catholic church teaches and what people who wish to label themselves Catholics believe. It seems to me, at least here in Ireland, that it's all about supporting the home team.

The followers of say Gaelic Football (well it's just known as football here) have a certain mindset: you follow the team you were born into. It's as if it's a crucial aspect of your identity (though needless to say it's one I personally don't bother with).

For example: If you're a Mayo woman/man - born and bred - then you support the Mayo team despite the fact that you've lived in Westmeath for over 50 years. Oh sure you don't really follow the sport and on the rare occasion you do go to a match you certainly don't know all the chants nor do you actually care to learn them. You don't actually believe that the players on the team are much better than anyone else (you might consider most of them to be jerks), and you recognise that, objectively, the team is pretty shit but when it comes down to it, when it comes to the crunch, you support the home side.

Most people I know are self labeled Catholics and yet hold views that are worlds away from what the Vatican preaches is true Christianity, particularly on issues such as homosexuality, condoms, abortion, celibate priesthood, transubstantiation right down towards questioning the divinity of Jesus and the necessity of mass, confession and the priesthood. Most really just hold some vague notions of God (if indeed any notion at all) and some sort of concept of an afterlife mostly embellished with lashings of new-agey woo. It's something I am in some senses grateful for but still find exacerbating. In fact most of these nominal catholics would be reprimanded (and are routinely) by the church for straying but then, like the home team analogy, come census time the church itself is loathe to dismiss those who profess to be Catholics, they feel better when they've got at least the nominal support of the home crowd.

The only conclusion I can draw from all this about Christianity is that there seems to be as many Christianities as there are Christians and, by extension, as many religions as there are people. It's why I question the effectiveness of questioning specific doctrines. There'll always be someone who'll say, "But that's not MY belief as a Catholic/Mormon/Sunni..." What needs to be countered is the underlying irrationality of all superstitious belief... as well as helping people realise that you don't really have to support the home team.

Keith

Tue, 24 May 2011 23:44:36 UTC | #630501

Go to: Oh yes, there are atheists in foxholes

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Comment 20 by  superbeanson :

From the Humanist Association of Ireland website:

Fáilte romhat go suíomh idirlíne Cumann Daonnachta na hÉireann. Tá súil againn go mbainfidh tú taitneamh as!

Humanism is an ethical philosophy of life, based on a concern for humanity, which combines reason with compassion. It is for people who base their interpretation of existence on the evidence of the natural world and its evolution, and not on belief in a supernatural power. This is why it is called a naturalistic life-stance. Humanism is an active philosophy in its own right and not simply a negative response to religion. It has existed for over 2,500 years and which still flourishes today.

A Humanist believes that the happiness of humankind depend on people rather than on religion and dogma. Morality is the recognition that good rules for behaviour have evolved from human experience. They are not the prerogative of religion. Humanist values give us rights, freedom and dignity, but they also give us responsibility for our own lives, for helping others and to achieve a better world. Humanism encourages open-minded enquiry into matters relevant to human co-existence and well-being.

Humanists are committed to the application of reason and science, to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems so that quality of life can be improved for everyone.

And the mission-statement from RDFRS:

The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.

To be honest I'd like to know just what you think humanism is. What makes it "laughable nonsense"?

I notice also you call it an ideology almost as if you regard having an ideological system as being a bad thing. I would argue that you cannot but have one if you are to form any kinds of beliefs about reality. What's your definition of the word?

Here's some dictionary definitions I pulled from here:

i·de·ol·o·gy  (d-l-j, d-) n. pl. i·de·ol·o·gies

  1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.

  2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

[French idéologie : idéo-, ideo- + -logie, -logy.] ide·olo·gist n.

So by those definitions humanism does meet the standard of an ideology but so too does the mission statement of RDFRS. In fact an acceptance of reason and science as the best way to guide behaviour and understanding, as well as it's application, is the acceptance and application of an ideological system. What makes these superior to religious ideologies is that they are founded on evidence and reason, guided by what can reasonably be accepted as true, and not based on evidentially unsupported  assertions.

Keith

Wed, 18 May 2011 01:34:12 UTC | #627744

Go to: Dawkins U-turns on clerical abuse

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Comment 19 by  Andy_SF :

There is paedophilia in all walks of life. The Roman Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on this issue. That does not mean to say I condone any interference with children or youths by any individual under religious vows.

You're right of course. There is paedophilia in all walks of life and anyone who does claim that the RCC has a monopoly on the issue had better provide some evidence to back it up. The issue is not so much that there were paedophiles and other abusive types in the priesthood (and indeed among nuns also) the issue is that the church facilitated these aberrant individuals by shielding them from the law and even moving them from parish to parish, inflicting them upon new unsuspecting victims.

I am a cradle catholic, been fortunate to never encounter a pervert within the church...

I was born into a Catholic family myself, and raised as catholic, and I never encountered a pervert within the church either, though I have been aware of one or two that always seemed to align themselves closely with the church (one was a former priest who quit the priesthood but was given a pension and a house by the church which is within a stones' throw of a primary school) and even, just as insidiously, with the law. These people also escaped prosecution by the law due to these alliances which led to testimonies of their "piety" and actions done in "service of their community". In fact both live too near to schools for comfort. Claims of ill health also helped these chaps get an acquittal even though these men are still robustly enduring many, many years later. I was actually approached by one of these as a young boy. I was, of course completely innocent of who the man was but were it not for the timely arrival if my father... well who knows?

...but was shocked and perturbed to catch a vocal and strident aethesist[sic] watching nasty porn at work.

When you use the word strident I think you'll find that atheists tend to stop listening to you, mostly because it's become something of a ridiculous cliche by now, a word that seems to be unthinkingly tossed out willy-nilly at anybody who criticises religion.

As for this atheist colleague and his "nasty porn" I hope that you pointed out to him that in most places of work (those that I am aware of anyway) it is forbidden to have or display pornographic material of any kind. I think you would have been well within your rights to report him for violating what I presume to be standard company policy.

As an insider, the only "real" institutionalised problem within the RC church  is that it is flawed by having a naive male only priesthood. Most priests have an early calling to the priesthood and have led very sheltered lives. These "holy" priests could not comprehend that paedophilic priests were not the same as they are. They were caught in the headlights of "no way". Catholic canon law even 50 years ago could cope with sexual misconduct. Defrock and onto the local authorities or kept under obedience and sent up a remote mountain for a lifelong retreat with the Trappists. Jail is probably a holiday in comparison.

If Catholic canon law could deal with it, why didn't it? Even your current Pope (then Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) himself approved the transfer of a known pedophile priest, Peter Hullermann, from one parish to another where he subsequently continued to molest young children.

Exactly the same root causes the problems of misogny and homophobia. Priests must all be the same homogenus type. If a Priest has to be celebate why would it matter if they are straight or gay, got a forked radish or not. It whether the calling is genuine or not that counts. This is what sustains the "good" behaviour.

The roots of misogyny and homophobia are to be found supported in the bible. The authors of the various passages concerned are quite clear on these topics. Whatever the underlying tendency towards misogynistic and homophobic thinking may be in these people it's unambiguously the case that there is biblical justification for these beliefs.

Anyway illogical quirks of the man-made rules aside...

As opposed to God-made rules I assume? How does one tell the difference between the two?

...most Priests have good hearts and their behaviour is a credit to their calling.

Yes indeed, most priests do have good hearts and are genuine and sincere in their concern for others. In fact that's why many of them joined the priesthood in the first place, these people wanted to help, to make a difference in the world, and the best way they knew to do that, within the context of the belief system into which they'd been indoctrinated, was to join the priesthood. I myself, when I was a Christian, even considered becoming a priest. That didn't happen because in my efforts to become the best possible Christian, to understand it and eventually all religion, I found that there was no good reason to believe in any of it and also that the method of belief, faith, can be harmful and is prone to being taken advantage of. It's not a path to knowledge.

The others can rot in jail and that is the opinion of every catholic I have ever discussed this with.

This has been largely the opinion of many of the Catholics I've spoken to also... and yet seemingly not the opinion of those in a position of power within the church. In fact many self proclaimed Catholics I know do not view homosexuality as a sin, see no reason why women cannot be priests, use, and see no problem with using, condoms, support abortion in the instances of rape or when the mother's life is at risk, do not believe in a literal transubstantiation, and don't believe in hell. Some do not believe in the trinity and some don't even believe in Jesus' divinity. They would not be called true Catholics at all by the church hierarchy and, to be honest, I cannot see how the word Catholic can be used to describe such a varied group of people with such wildly differing core beliefs in any meaningful way. Christian? Sure, but catholic? What use is a word when no one can decide what it means?

Why are Catholics like these and yourself so silent on these issues? Why don't you stand up and criticise the church's official positions in these cases? Surely change can only come to this "naive" institution from within but it seems that despite their own conflicts of interest with the church, most Catholics I know will broker no criticism of the church at all. If they, if you, feel so passionately about these issue why aren't you standing beside us and, from a position of faith in your case, attacking the ridiculous nature of many church teachings with us?

I loved the TheRationalizer's comment ...because all other religions are silly. I'd say all religions are silly and hilarious at some level or other. God has a massive sense of humour, you just have to be in on the joke to get it.

Look, I know what you're saying here but please think about this. There is nothing funny about the worldwide institutionalised cover-up of endemic child rape and torture, or of the mindset that leads people to fly planes into buildings killing thousands of people, or that leads to the vilification, abuse, ostracism and even murder of those of harmless sexual deviances. There is nothing funny about the rampant misogyny of the Abrahamic religions or their threats of hellfire to anyone (even children) that even question the validity of them.  There is nothing funny about the centuries, even millennia, of the superstitiously supported hatred, bigotry, abuse, torture and murder that has come from religion. I'm sorry, but it would take a very twisted mind to laugh along with any god who found any of these things funny. Creating a universe in which any conscious being is subjected to such horrors is hardly indicative of anything but a psychopathic sense of humour.

Only in the catholic church could a Bishop tell a congregation (with a straight face) that he had intercourse that morning with the Mother Superior of the local convent and mean that they had a chat. Somehow the congregation managed for the most part not to ROFL.

Yes, that is funny and it does go some way towards supporting your point about the naiveté of the church itself. I find such lack of awareness hilariously ironic from an institution that calls itself "infallible".

Anyway hope I do not set off some rant or other. I am not saying anyone's viewpoint is wrong only that my personal one is different because my paradigm is from another starting point.  I ended up here from the Catholic Herald of all places and it was nice to read all the varied comments. Made a change from xyz is not a real catholic and going to hell.

You are fully entitled to say anybody's viewpoint is wrong. Go for it bud. All we ask here is that either you point out the flaws we present in our case, or provide a stronger one yourself. Reason and science is the aim of this site. Those are the things we believe in (and there's no faith required).

You wouldn't be the "xyz" in question would you? I've often been there myself when I was a Christian and can sympathise wholly with you there. Actually I get it a whole lot more of that whole "you're gonna burn in hell" thing now that I'm an atheist. It was (and is) quite antithetical to what I, as a Christian, perceived Christian love to be... Though admittedly there is quite a solid biblical foundation for the whole hell concept, particularly in the New Testament. Oh well...

To paraphrase Dave Allen - May your God or No God go with you.

I always liked Dave Allen.

Keith

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 23:51:39 UTC | #620112

Go to: Sound and fury of the New Atheists

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by keithapm

 >Comment 49 by  Steve Zara :

You know Steve, MacGrath sounds about as coherent as something from that post-modernism generator. Here's a sample I just generated:

The Expression of Defining characteristic: Dialectic dematerialism and dialectic subsemioticist theory

Jacques A. Kreuzberger Department of Sociolinguistics, University of California

If one examines posttextual materialist theory, one is faced with a choice: either reject dialectic dematerialism or conclude that sexuality has objective value. The example of neotextual transitivity intrinsic to Beverly Hills 90210 emerges again in Models, Inc., although in a more mythopoetical sense. It could be said that if dialectic theory holds, we have to choose between dialectic subsemioticist theory and postconceptual desublimation.

Debord promotes the use of dialectic dematerialism to attack class hierarchies. However, the characteristic theme of d'Erlette's[1] model of dialectic subsemioticist theory is the bridge between sexual identity and society.

The subject is interpolated into a constructivist narrative that includes culture as a reality. But Foucault's analysis of Debordian situation implies that the purpose of the participant is deconstruction.

I can't imagine it'll be much more difficult to devise a random theology generator and have it accepted by theologians as a deeply incite-full argument into the nature of god.

Keith

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 16:04:16 UTC | #618474

Go to: Sound and fury of the New Atheists

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by keithapm

Easter is a time for celebration and reflection for Christians. How do the Cross and Resurrection of Christ help to make sense of the ambiguities of our experience?

You see Alistair, that's where you've lost me. I know what Christians believe Easter is about - I used to be one after all - but that's not my sticking point. My sticking point is why they believe he was resurrected at all? It's an extraordinary claim, one that requires extraordinary evidence, and yet what have Christians got to back it up? Fairy tales. Contradictory, and at times demonstrably false, stories that were written years after the supposed events by people who had no first hand knowledge of them. Books claiming to be historically accurate while dealing with fantastically improbable tales are nothing new... and MacGrath doesn't believe most of them. Why does he believe the particular collection of fantastic tales known as the bible as opposed to say the Koran?

How do they shape our understanding of the world, and our place within it?

Well, "the cross" aids our understanding of the political and religious hot-bed that was early 1st Century Palestine and Judea. It was a time when murderous "Zealots" and "Sicari" were rife, where anti-Roman sentiment was high and when a brutal Roman governor, Pontious Pilate, was getting up to all sorts if nasty stuff to quell dissent (though often inflaming it too). It was a time when it was dangerous to be gathering large crowds about oneself and speaking of a new Jewish kingdom, of a Messiah, and a new king. It was a time in which any person such as identified himself as this messiah or was proclaimed to be him was considered dangerous by the Romans, guilty of sedition. Punishment? A cruel, torturous death in a deliberately barbaric and humiliating way.

And the resurrection? It's a lesson in human ad hoc rationalisation of a doomed project as well as gullibility, superstitious leanings, and lack of critical thinking skills. It's a lesson in how the appeal of a story often matters more to us than the factual content. As you can see Alistair, such things can be very informative when it comes to our understanding of the world and our place in it, but in a very different way than you'd accept.

The rest of the article is all of his other articles from the last few years re-hashed but with newer quotes. It's still as vacuous and as error ridden (I couldn't believe he had dared to write that "Cultural discussions about the reasonableness of belief in God have gone on politely for centuries" - Talk about a lie!) as his others.

Cartomancer suitably tore it to shreds.

Keith

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 15:36:20 UTC | #618466

Go to: Message to American Atheists

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by keithapm

Many people have noted, and I reluctantly agree, that it seems Hitchens has, with this letter, effectively written his own eulogy. My reluctance is spurred not (wholly) for rational reasons - the truth is that I hate the thought that the man will die. I hope he is as yet a long way from death (keeping the argument going as it were) but agree that yes, barring a scientific breakthrough, he's far closer than he would otherwise have been before being assailed by the spectre of cancer. Reality can be a bitter pill to swallow sometimes but if Hitchens, in his plight, is prepared to do it then so am I. If this IS to be your eulogy Hitch, then it is aptly stirring and beautiful.

Keith

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 07:52:49 UTC | #618325

Go to: Happy birthday, Christopher Hitchens

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by keithapm

Happy Birthday, Hitch!

I read God is Not Great while loitering on the threshold between belief and non-belief. It gave me that gentle little nudge out the door I needed. For that, and much else, I thank you.

Keith

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 14:37:53 UTC | #614940

Go to: Bible stories for children - would you do it?

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by keithapm

Agree, but only if you co-worker would be prepared to read The God Delusion to your kids (if you have any) in a similar situation.

Alternatively pick up the Bible itself (how can they refuse it's the bible after all) and read them that delightful story about Elisha, the children and the two bears or about the rape of Lot by his daughters or... You get the picture. Don't water it down, it's the word of god after all.

Keith

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 08:16:57 UTC | #614357

Go to: Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by keithapm

First time I've come across this myself. Loved it!

This video is quite an accurate depiction of many of the encounters that I and, I suspect, many folks here would have had with typical woo-woo expounders.

They harp on and on with their well-meaning but inane bullshit, ratcheting up your blood pressure and, despite the fact that you (at first) very calmly point out to them that you hold very different views on these issues and that it would've best if everyone were to change the topic, they keep going. And if you say anything at all in response to such nonsense, you're the one that's being rude for not respecting their opinions.

It's become quite apparent to me that most of the opinions that people seem to think require respect are those that are not supported by reason and evidence.

It's also occurred to me that supporting any points you make with references to real scientific studies and actual evidence is considered both arrogant and rude. In fact I've often been admonished, when merely questioning a woo-ist about the evidential basis of their beliefs, (which I readily admit I must be ignorant of because I don't believe them) and told to "Stop trying to be so smart!"

How do you respond to such a demand? My usual, "Well sure, because it would really make your life easier if I were a stupid, ignorant, grinning fool who nods quietly as you rant on with your baseless assertions, ridiculous misunderstandings and outright lies!" might be considered a tad extreme.

Keith

Sat, 09 Apr 2011 12:30:31 UTC | #613472

Go to: Muslim de-converted by the God Delusion

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by keithapm

Comment 13 by  KAhmedCdn :

Yeah, right. Good luck in your "de-conversion". Reading the Qu'ran cluelessly, even in a lifetime, will never serve a Believer.

I don't understand. Can you clarify this sentence? It doesn't make sense to me.

I bet you never even understood what you were reading in Arabic or never read the biography of prophet Muhammad (s).

I, personally, know very little Arabic but I have noticed something rather odd. One of the first accusations levelled against former Muslims and atheists in general is that they must never have really understood Arabic, as if the very idea that someone who was fluent in the language could find the Qu'ran to be a book of nonsense is preposterous. It's simply not true. There are many people, fluent in Arabic, who reject the Qu'ran as divine. Also, I have read the biography of Muhammad, though not - I must admit - in Arabic. He is reported to have said and done some laudable things, and to have said and done some truely vile and despicable things. The claims about the miraculous origins of his preachings and miracles are completely unfounded.

You now turn to system that has no moral foundation for anything, except human selfishness...

Nonsense. Atheism doesn't claim, nor does it need, any moral foundation. The thing is it doesn't need to. The reason being that humans are innately altruistic, a product of our evolution as social mammals, and not necessarily selfish - at least not at the proximate level of our consciousness. That is the foundation of human morality whether one believes in a god/gods or not.

I think that your use of the word selfishness may also (correct me if I'm wrong here) be an indication that you have misunderstood the title of Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene. Don't worry, lots of people who've never made it beyond the title have had the same problem but we can set you straight on that issue if you wish.

...and "i won't hurt you because i don't want you to hurt me" mentality...

Funny how you take the golden rule, an idea the each religious faction take great pains to claim (erroneously in most cases) for themselves, and dismiss it as a bad basis of morality. "Do onto others as you will have them do to you" is quite reasonable don't you think? You seem to me to be framing it in such a way as to imply it is a cowardly, weak form of morality.

...whereas the Abrahamic tradition in human history challenged those self-serving notions...

The golden rule is not a self serving notion. Within it is bound the idea that others are just as valuable, and are to be treated with as much respect, as you. It is the recognition of other humans as sentient beings like oneself and is inherently empathetic as it leads you to try and place yourself in other's shoes.

What the Abrahamic tradition provided was a deity-serving, and often fear based, morality. It wasn't about other people, it was about how your imaginary friend judged your actions and if the Bible or Qu'ran are anything to go by it appears said deity is rather capricious and arbitrary in said judgements - condoning, calling for and even actively participating in, mass-slaughter and the perptration of great suffering. Their IS a self serving notion in those religions that advocate a belief in hell - That is that one is compelled by one's fear of eternal punishment (itself a highly immoral and unjust concept) to be good.

...by providing the ethics that still influence our societies today -- the ethics that Western atheists today now try to claim ownership over by putting blinders on and denying what happened in human history.

Erm... No. I'm afraid not. You seem to be the one denying history. Modern ethics, government systems and science owe much more to Greco-Roman philosophy, proto-democracy and early science, not to mention enlightenment values that were often times directly in conflict with the Abrahamic traditions. Indeed the ethical systems to be found in those traditions are horrific in the extreme - calling for murder or blood for even the infraction, be it intentional or not, and again the idea that eternal torture is just. You must understand that a common contributing factor to people becoming atheists is the barbaric, immoral and reprehensible nonsense to be found in the books of the Abrahamic traditions.

Back to the OP, congrats to the newly de-converted. 

CEMB rocks. Be sure to check out their YouTube channel - it's very informative.

Speaking of the Qur'an, I've just started reading it again. 7 verses in and it's already describing Jews as "those who earned [Allah's] anger."

This will be a long and tedious read.

Oh and I've actually got it downloaded as a PDF on my phone... Would my eventual deleting of it be seen as an active destruction of the work? Comparable to burning it?

Keith

Sun, 03 Apr 2011 10:11:54 UTC | #611183

Go to: Do we have the right to burn the Koran?

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 104 by keithapm

There are two mindsets that need to be opposed here. There's the deliberately inflammatory, hate filled, lunacy of Jones and his ilk who, knowing full well the action it would provoke, still set about burning the Koran.

Then there's the inflamed, hate filled, lunacy of those Muslims in Afghanistan who felt that they were justified in murdering innocent people who had nothing to do with Jones and his bilious actions.

Book burning is obnoxious, whether it be a copy of the Koran, Bible, Harry Potter or any other damn book. It is the action of the wilfully ignorant, those who disregard all knowledge and viewpoints that conflict with their own.

It is telling that the response of the Muslims in this case was not measured retaliation (say by burning a copy of the bible) it was murder. Murder.

I'm just musing here, but what do you lot think that shows? Personally I feel it shows that those few Muslims in question know that "the west" would hardly bat an eyelid at such a response as bible burning. After all, if it was their book, why should we care? The point is by reacting in the violent way that they did, they've shown that they, like Jones, are also about causing outrage and are guilty of (a crime we're often accused of with regards to Islam and the middle east) lumping all Westerners together as if we're all of one mind and therefore all as guilty as Jones.

The only innocent parties here are those that have been slaughtered at the hands of fanatics. Jones' actions have shown him to be an irresponsible, mindless, bigot and the Muslim fanatics' actions have shown them to be mindless, murdering, bigots.

Keith

Sat, 02 Apr 2011 15:38:19 UTC | #610822

Go to: Who Wrote The Bible and Why It Matters

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by keithapm

Comment 69 by  Roedy :

That article states that much of the bible is a forgery.  I think the author needs a bit more argument on how we could know this with certainty.  After all we don't even know if the original apostles actually existed.

He supposedly presents these arguments in his books which I haven't read so I can't yet comment on them although, from what I heard from those who have read them he does make a pretty good case, but I'll have to read the books myself to be sure.

Also, a person need not have even existed to have a book falsely attributed to them, in fact if they did not exist it makes it obvious that such a document was improperly claimed to have been written by them (whether intentionally or not).

Are there anachronisms is the works?  References to events the original Peter could not have known about?

It's exactly those type of things (and others) that he and other biblical scholars apparently use to reach those conclusions. Again, I'll know more when I read more... 

Which means more books. Currently my apartment looks like a terribly organised library. There are books everywhere. I ran out of shelf-space ages ago but... Okay Prof. Ehrman, I'm adding you to the collection...

Keith

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 05:28:30 UTC | #609011

Go to: Children as young as four to be educated in Atheism

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by keithapm

Comment 36 by  Matt B :

Comment 34 by alaskansee

I think the thing I don't like about your argument is that "children have tendencies to religious behaviour", they don't it has to be learned. What they do natural, evolutionarily, have is the tendency to believe people in authority and fantasy. That's it no more, you don't naturally get religion out of that and if left unaffected, not indoctrinated, they will not.

Good point, I think I see the point of contention here.

I see the point of contention also, however I think that people are somewhat predisposed towards some sort of supernatural beliefs. It doesn't all come down to children's propensity to blindly follow authority.

We humans generally seem to have an innate bias to assume conscious agencies are at work in the world, which is understandable because there are such agencies - each other.

The human mind seems to extend this beyond visible agents. The reason seems to be similar to the reason the gazelle at the watering hole assumes that the cracking twig was caused by a lion and bolts because the cost of not bolting if it is a lion outweighs the cost of it being a false alarm. Evolution would seem to drive the mind to an almost paranoid state, being overly quick to attribute agency, even when the evidence is ridiculously scanty... If it's even present at all. Better to be wrong than dead. People often mistake shadows and creaking floorboards for burglars, ghosts and angels.

There are all kinds of mental mechanisms, from TOM to instinctive disgust, etc. that tend to lead humans to supernatural explanations of the world and, over time and via authoritative teaching, these can become formalised into religious belief.

What we are now increasingly learning about the mind, not only just about how it works but also how it fails to work and the mistakes we make as a result of those failings, seems to me to be among the strongest arguments against religion, the supernatural and woo in general.

Keith

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 02:59:48 UTC | #608996

Go to: Who Wrote The Bible and Why It Matters

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by keithapm

Comment 30 by  jimbobjim :

My first point about "Pseudepigrapha" is that it normally refers to the books not generally regarded as part of the Bible (old or new testament), 

Not according to the Wikipedia article you recommended we check out. According to that article and to other different articles that explain the term it means "falsely attributed" and using it to describe the letters, which you admit were falsely (albeit perhaps mistakenly) to Paul is therefore accurate. It is true that the word is also used as a substitute for apocryphal but I can see no real consistency in it's use in either case, nor can I see why the phrase cannot be used to also refer to works that are considered as canon - Several biblical scholars (both secular and religious) seem to do so.

My second point, is that no good scholar (again IMO) believes that any New Testament book was falsely written by anyone on purpose. Bart seems to suggest that someone one day decided to write an epistle and pretend to be St Paul...there is no evidence for this.  Assuming (for example) that some books were not written by St Paul, but bear his name ( a matter of some debate either way) the chances are that someone making a copy thought "This was originally written by Paul so I should put his name on it".  I don't think that is being deceitful, but maybe careless, stupid or misguided.  I think Bart is making a big assumption here.

I'm glad you clarified your second point. It didn't make sense to me the first time around. Yes, Bart is probably making an assumption about whether or not the writer was being deliberately deceitful. I'll have to read his books to see how he justifies himself in that respect.

The issue still remains though, that there are books in the bible that are not by the authors that they are attributed to and, because of that, how do you assess whether or not their message is in fact inspired by the holy spirit? Or whether any of the bible is inspired by the holy spirit? By what standard do you judge? As Bart pointed out in the article, this does have theological implications even though, as you say, he may be falsely accusing those who misattributed the books of dishonesty. These letters have been, and are being, used to shape peoples' lives. In the case of 1 Timothy that was mentioned in the article, how does one determine whether the misogyny contained within it was actually divinely mandated?

And Keith...thanks for the welcome.

You're welcome for the welcome.

Keith

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:56:18 UTC | #608747

Go to: Who Wrote The Bible and Why It Matters

keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by keithapm

Comment 19 by  jimbobjim :

a bit of a silly article and makes 2 major errors:

  • Pseudepigrapha does not refer to books in the new testament where the authorship might be in doubt.  They refer to a different set of books altogether.  (even Wikipedia could have helped with that one).
  • Jim, I'd like to know just where you're coming from. In response to your comment I decided to check Wikipedia in order to see if, in fact, Bart had goofed. I want to know what Wikipedia article YOU checked because the one I looked at is completely in accord with Bart's use of the word.

  • No scholar (worth anything) suggest that someone wrote books of the Bible pretending to be someone else.  The disputes about authorship are based on other reasons.
  • Why would there be disputes about authorship if the writers of the texts could be shown to be who they claimed to be? Why does questioning the validity of the claims made make you a less worthy scholar?

    Maybe some more research shoudl be done before publishing something so weak.

    Maybe you should check your references (Wikipedia in this case) to avoid misrepresenting them.

    Oh, and welcome to the website, Jim.

    Keith

    Tue, 29 Mar 2011 14:06:47 UTC | #608708

    Go to: Sexual preference chemical found in mice

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by keithapm

    Comment 11 by  Raiko :

    I was thinking along those lines myself last night. It's quite infuriating when you have a media more obsessed with selling itself than obtaining the truth. Sickening is the word. This will get distorted and misrepresented, don't for a second doubt that.

    My point last night though was that whether it be genetically coded, a product of environmental factors or even simply a "lifestyle choice" the reasons for homosexuality are irrelevant when it comes to the question of how moral it is. Is it harmful among responsible consenting adults? I've never seen or heard, despite searching extensively for it, any real data or argument, nor can I think of one, that shows it to be so.

    You know I'm kinda half-hoping there's someone skulking around on the site who'll try to argue against the point that homosexuality is harmless. I'm in the mood for a good debate :-P

    Keith

    Mon, 28 Mar 2011 09:18:09 UTC | #608224

    Go to: Why are most religions anti sexual?

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by keithapm

    Most religions are not completely anti-sex and those that are never seem to last longer than a generation or two (for obvious reasons). It's more about controlling sex as it is the method through which religions gain their primary resource for exploitation: Children.

    Complete abstinence is rarely required of the average believer, or to take up the 1984 reference from an earlier comment, the "proles", but it can be at times expected of the priest caste. This is again about control. In the case of the RCC, it originated for many reasons not the least of which was monetary - The church could not have priests passing on their wealth to their children who may themselves not become priests, it's better if every dime returns to the church coffers...

    Believers are expected to "go forth and multiply" and are then expected to have their little tykes indoctrinated into the faith. It's also crucial that they do not enjoy sex for any other purpose than procreation. Of course condoms and other forms of birth control are nasty... And homo/bisexuality is a no-no... Guess I don't have to spell out why.

    The thing is this stuff is not necessarily consciously apparent to religious leaders but even still, due to how integral it is to the propagation of  religious belief, the beliefs themselves have "evolved" overtime to create these mindsets that, while outwardly they may be claimed to be a moral command from a deity/deities, inwardly support these requirements.

    Keith

    Mon, 28 Mar 2011 01:01:48 UTC | #608147

    Go to: Islamic bloc drops U.N. drive on defaming religion

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by keithapm

    Comment 19 by  JuJu :

    Appears to be a step sideways instead of forward.

    Sigh... Yes. But it just about beats going backwards.

    Yes folks, let's take our copies of the Quran and the Bible and take them to the UN, pointing out those passages that call for violence against unbelievers and ask that it include some protection for us from the religious - that they will keep their unfounded subjective opinions to themselves and stop offending, with their hateful nonsense, those of us who live entirely in the real world... It'll work won't it?

    Well okay, maybe not... but what if, following the example of thousands of Muslims, we were to call for believers who insult nonbelievers to be beheaded? Or what if we were to burn various embassies and murder or threaten those who are critical of us? Surely then they'll start taking us seriously...

    It's tragic and ironic that to be taken seriously at the UN when it comes to human rights you have to scorn the very notion of them. Pathetic. 

    Well we won't be doing any of those things will we? I guess we'll just have to accept the UN's deference towards the religious and cease our "aggressive", "hostile" and "militant" "battle" against religious nonsense - the one where we "fight" with reasoned arguments, quick wits, scientific facts, and (mostly) polite discourse and wherein we are both active and vocal in our opposition to violence in furtherance of any ideology.

    The double standard is plain for all to see, but most people would rather not look.

    Keith

    Mon, 28 Mar 2011 00:29:19 UTC | #608139

    Go to: Sexual preference chemical found in mice

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by keithapm

    Okay so there is (according to this article) a rather slight chance that my homosexuality could be down to a genetically inherited chemical imbalance from the heterosexual majority. Okay. It maybe possible to create a "cure". Okay. I'll pass on that though, cause I don't need it. The only hassle being gay has left me with has been the kind that comes from religious and other assorted bigots. Other than that, it's not a problem.

    I mean I've also acquired a genetically determined low concentration of melanin in my skin. I know some people suffer at the hands of others because they've a higher concentration of it but does that mean they need to be "cured" from having darker skin?

    Variations such as homosexuality, skin colour, eye colour, height, etc. are harmless in and of themselves. That people use such differences to attack others does not mean that the solution is to tackle that variation. The solution is to tackle the mindset underlying that bigotry, a battle that's being  increasingly won every day. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.

    Keith

    Sun, 27 Mar 2011 23:58:57 UTC | #608123

    Go to: Rabbi misrepresents Dawkins to argue that atheists have no morality

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by keithapm

    Rabbi Adam Jacobs is appears to be either too stupid to understand what Richard was saying in The Selfish Gene and what evolution is in general, completely ignorant of it (deliberately so because one would think he'd bother to acquaint himself with it before condemning it) or a liar for deliberately misrepresenting it in order to make, what anyway turns out to be, a ridiculously foolish argument.

    And on the subject of meaning: It does exist but not outside ourselves. It is not an intrinsic property of anything without a brain and why should it be? Who cares if the universe is purposeless, if it is careless? One thing that is apparent is that we care. We find meaning. Meaning and the urge to have it, the desire to make it, are products of our brains, themselves a product of the universe. 

    If you only find meaning to live by conjuring up your imaginary friend then that's your failing, don't project it unto those of us who find meaning enough in this world without recourse to such falsehoods.

    Keith

    Sat, 26 Mar 2011 20:17:56 UTC | #607568

    Go to: Who wants to go through life defining themselves as a 'non-believer'?

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by keithapm

    Brendan your ideas are foolish. By ticking the box you are describing yourself, not defining yourself. I'm below average height - it doesn't define me as a person but it is an aspect of myself as is my atheism.

    Sat, 26 Mar 2011 18:52:27 UTC | #607520

    Go to: Happy Birthday to Richard Dawkins

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by keithapm

    Happy birthday Richard! Many happy returns man. So looking forward to hearing you speak in Dublin in June!

    Sat, 26 Mar 2011 02:23:17 UTC | #607255

    Go to: Saudi Women Revolution Statement

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by keithapm

    What kind of international pressure can be put on Saudi Arabia to help these women achieve this? Seriously. The rest of the world is to prepared to suck at the teat of this bloated sow of a nation that destroys it's own young and disenfranchises one half of it's population for the "crime" of being female.

    All that matters, it seems, is that we get it's precious black milk that we've become so overly dependent on we are loathe to disrupt the beast we're - cash-stuffed-cap in hand - buying it from. We can't put an embargo on it's export of oil because we depend on it, and since oil makes up over 90% of it's total exports any other restriction will be ineffective. Reducing our dependence on oil will take time, not least because of the combined factors of greed and woo. 

    Change has to come from within Saudi Arabia, it must come from it's own people. We need to support these women and those like them to fight the oppression they currently languish under.

    We need to make a lot of noise about this.

    Keith

    Thu, 24 Mar 2011 11:10:03 UTC | #606523

    Go to: Positive news from Ireland from RTE

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by keithapm

    Comment 3 by  Tyler Durden :

    And from personal experience, trying to learn math or language comprehension, while Jeebus looked down from the cross, strategically placed above the blackboard, was just plain creepy!!

    Yeah, the image of a semi-naked man, beaten, bloodied and nailed to a piece of wood was not particularly conducive to the learning environment, nor as I recall, to a peaceful night's sleep. The amount of nightmares I had about that guy... disturbing. Oh and it was all our fault. Us tiny little tots were the reason an innocent chap got the shit kicked out of him... or so they taught us. Really nice.

    I dunno, I'm glad to see this really. I find I rather support Labour's social policies, particularly their stand on gay rights. The thing is I do not trust Fine Gael at all. This is not much different than the Tory/LibDem government in Britain. I just hope Labour achieve more, of at least their social goals, under what is essentially a right wing government than the LibDems have managed across the Irish Sea.

    Keith

    Sun, 13 Mar 2011 14:48:04 UTC | #602280

    Go to: FOURTH UPDATE: RD on Revelation TV

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 335 by keithapm

    Comment 338 by  mmurray :

    Comment 337 by   mirandaceleste :

    The recent influx of confused (to put it as nicely as possible) commenters is probably a result of   this post at Revelation TV's blog. From it:

    Following the interview with Richard Dawkins, I believe this to be the perfect time to start a dialogue between those who hold the atheist world view and those of us that have a Christian world view (based on the word of God as recorded in the Bible) We have many intellectual men and women in the body of Christ, who are qualified in both the sciences and the Holy Bible, who can easily post their comments/points on either this blog or Richard Dawkins website. Here is the link to take you directly to the web page: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/600782-rd-live-on-revelation-tv-today-3-30pm-gmt#page5 Here are a few emails/texts which have come in which should get the ball rolling….. come on you heavy weights !!!

    Unless you're feeling particularly masochistic, I wouldn't bother reading that post. It's painfully ridiculous. Hilarious in places, but mostly just face-palmingly ignorant and inane.

    Well that explains where  ceeb2 came from. He or she is a Christian heavy weight.

    Michael

    I would love, truly love, to meet a Christian intellectual heavyweight or one from any religion for that matter. I really, really would. I've been disappointed so many times in the past when I've been promised a good, strong, rational argument with a theist/deist only to find that they fall at the first hurdle and the promise comes to nought. Even those with degrees in theology and philosophy tend to make the most basic, but critical, logical errors in their arguments. The amount of times I've heard them phrase an argument in such a way as to hide a logical fallacy from themselves used to be staggering... but now it just seems par for the course. It's almost crushingly disappointing. Ah well...

    Keith

    Sun, 13 Mar 2011 11:10:40 UTC | #602210

    Go to: Two notices from Ireland

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by keithapm

    Ticket booked. It was a toss up between this and the Oxygen music festival. Figured there'd be more of a chance of me learning something constructive at this. I'll see those of you who are attending there folks! ... Oh ... what will I wear? ...

    Sun, 13 Mar 2011 10:20:18 UTC | #602201

    Go to: FOURTH UPDATE: RD on Revelation TV

    keithapm's Avatar Jump to comment 203 by keithapm

    Comment 187 by  ceeb2 :

    has any of you guys discovered anything a part from Prof Dawkins's research  or u just follow him?

    This is standard projection. Since you, being religious, blindly follow a set of creeds you assume that everyone else does. The irony, which you fail to notice, is that you are positing what you believe to be our blind faith as a bad thing, while neglecting to notice that you yourself have faith, blindly following your unquestioned beliefs like the little lambs you seem so proud to call yourselves. Truth is, I do not "follow" Dawkins. I admire the man sure, his eloquence and intelligence, and but I do not take anything he says as unquestionable truth, first I have to subject it to rational scrutiny. I hold Richard to the same level of scrutiny as anybody else; if he cannot support his positive assertions with evidence then I wouldn't believe them. Indeed there are things he has said and points he has made that I completely disagree with.

    As for stuff other than Richard's research? Again, as you no doubt are used to taking all your information from a single source (the bible), I understand that you might find it difficult to comprehend the fact that people here form their opinions based on the research done by thousands of scientists, presented in thousands of articles, from all around the world. On this site alone you have contributors currently working in various fields of both humanistic and scientific research and not just the field of evolutionary biology that Dawkins specialises in.

    You also said that one cannot criticise the bible without having read it. Well I can assure that not only have I read (and occasionally re-read) the bible but I have also read various other religious holy texts; the Koran and the Bhagavad-gītā just to give a couple of examples. Can you claim to have been so thorough in your studies when it came to analysing your religion? Did you ever even consider that you may have been unlucky enough to have been brought up to believe in the wrong one as you must believe the many, many others in the the world who do not share your particular religion must have been?

    Have you ever even considered, or bothered to find out, why people like myself have gone from being ardently religious to being an atheist or is it enough for you to claim the "devil did it" to try to prevent yourself from possibly having to face uncomfortable truths? Does the thought that some of us, like myself, only became atheists by seriously trying to find real truth in our religious beliefs, by working hard to understand the claims made?

    Listen, read, learn, question. Faith is not a pathway to knowledge because faith by definition can be used to shield a lie as easily as the truth from inspection. If you don't believe me just take those of the numerous religions, and denominations within your own religion, into account. Do you believe they do not have as much faith as you do? How can you know a faith claim is true if you cannot assess it evidentially? Faith is the belief in a proposition without evidence and despite all the evidence to the contrary. Can't you see how, by convincing people faith is a virtue, you can then convince them of anything, whether it's stories about virgin births, Bigfoot, Muhammad's night flight on a winged horse to Mecca, homeopathy, psychic powers or alien abductions?

    Please, try to be reasonable and remember a person, even you, can be completely sincere in their beliefs and can still be dead wrong. It's ironic that we atheists are often accused of arrogance even when we openly admit the extent of what we do not know and allow for the possibility of being wrong and are willing to change our minds once the religious support their claims of the existence of a god or gods. Until that time such a claim can no more be believed than the claim that leprechauns exist. Show me the evidence and I'll believe you.

    Accepting that you do not know everything and that doubt and rigorous  testing are intrinsic to the pursuit of knowledge, as most of us atheists have, is the first step towards seeing through the veil of religious dogma to the real and far grander universe on the other side and actually learn something about it.

    Keith

    Fri, 11 Mar 2011 18:59:01 UTC | #601581