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Comments by Fishpeddler

Go to: Debate between Sam Harris and Chris Hedges

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Fishpeddler

Comment #50747 by ramboner32x
"Also, if I remember correctly at one point in the debate Harris did say that poverty/opression is a variable in the equation, so I don't think he discounts it altogether."

Absolutely. And I haven't read all 62 preceding posts, so I have to simply hope that no one here is under the impression that Harris DOES discount poverty and oppression as contributing factors toward violence, or they need to rewatch the debate.

It's not altogether clear to me why these two were put on opposite sides of a debate, because their positions were not (or did not have to be) mutually incompatible. Hedges efforts went almost exclusively toward demonstrating that, at root, despair is an important cause of violence. Sam argued that religious dogma is an important cause of violence. THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT. Where I believe Sam deserves a great deal of credit in this debate is that he made clear that he is not trying to discount the role of the factors Hedges cites. Hedges refuses to make a corresponding acknowledgment or concession about the contribution of religion, and I think his argument fails because of it.

Tue, 19 Jun 2007 21:11:00 UTC | #47749

Go to: Scopes Two

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Comment #48204 by _J_
"Lately I feel increasingly as though I'm living in some warped Phoebe-world."

That reminds me of a similar reaction I had once when watching the MTV show "Singled Out". (Hey, don't blame me -- my darned roommates always had that crap on). That show's main gimmick was that they would determine which of three contestents got to go on a date with the bachelor/bachelorette of the moment by comparing their answers to random questions. The host asked the three young women, "Astrology: Fact or Fiction?". Two of the three said, "Fact". I just about fell over. Granted, it was a tiny sampling, but 67% believed astrology was factual!

I feel much better about that episode now, though, because it pales in comparison to the stomach-turning absurdities on display in the Republican debates.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:32:00 UTC | #45340

Go to: Atheism shall make you free

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by Fishpeddler

Thinking some more about my above comment, I suppose one might argue that the correct default position in response to an unsubstantiated claim of existence is not disbelief, but non-belief. I've been arguing from the assumption that this distinction, while not meaningless, is not significant to the discussion.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 09:02:00 UTC | #44062

Go to: Atheism shall make you free

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Comment #46921 by DaveK
"Atheism is logically indefensible but interesting."

Logically defensible atheism is not dependent on showing god does not exist inside or outside of the universe, but is dependent only on god having not been shown to exist inside or outside the universe.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 08:49:00 UTC | #44059

Go to: Atheism shall make you free

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Fishpeddler

The agnosticism v atheism issue comes up so often that I feel like I should print-up a pamphlet I can hand out rather than having to waste time discussing it. Pamela Bone, like so many, is working from the false impression that atheism and theism represent 100% certainty in the non-existence or existence of god, and agnosticism covers everything in between (i.e., the reasonable position). Atheism is the disbelief or denial in the existence of god or gods. The term says nothing about the level of certainty of that disbelief, so there is no good reason to consider agnosticism a more appropriate label in the absence of certainty.

Perhaps the problem is with the word 'belief' itself. People like this piece's author may be interpreting a profession of belief to imply a profession of certainty as well. The more reasonable interpretation, though, is that belief in a proposition simply means that you consider it more likely than its opposite to be true.

I think Descartes more or less got it right when he suggested that the only thing of which we can be absolutely certain is our own existence as a conscience entity. If you couple Bone's argument with Descartes, you would be forced to conclude that we have to be 'agnostic' about every other fact of our existence. While this is logically correct, this is not how we represent our beliefs to one another about any other matter. For example, last night I introduced a friend to my mother. I did not give a long explanation about how I was actually 'agnostic' about whether or not she was my mother because there could have been a mix-up of babies at the hospital, I could be adopted and never told, or my real mother could have had an identical twin that murdered her and took her place. No, I just said, "This is my mom." Not at all intellectually dishonest, despite the lack of disclaimers.

This is simply how we relate to the world. Otherwise, every statement we ever make, about any subject, would have to be concluded with "... to the best of my knowledge." It would be silly to have to elaborate on our intellectual openness or uncertainty every time we make any claim of fact or belief, and this includes our discussions about our belief in god(s). When I call myself an atheist, I am saying, "To the best of my knowledge, no god exists." If you insist on calling that agnosticism, so be it, but that so extravagantly expands the meaning of the word -- while simultaneously contracting the word 'atheist' -- that the terms lose almost all their utility in our language.

I prefer it the way the terms are generally used now: If you believe in god(s) you're a 'theist', if you don't you're an 'atheist', and if you truly have no clue one way or the other you're an 'agnostic'.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 06:55:00 UTC | #44044

Go to: Importing a slave class

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Comment #45011 by Dreamer's Dilemma
"I love Ann Coulter."


I really can't think of anything more to say. Just 'wow'. I think I may be having one of those 'spiritual' moments that some atheists talk about, when they stand in awe of the marvels of the universe.

Sat, 26 May 2007 15:41:00 UTC | #42343

Go to: God Exists. A Formula Proves it.

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Fishpeddler

The thing that is most shocking to me is not that this guy claims to have proven the existence of God, but that the news station didn't give us a good look at the proof and didn't have Tipler guide us through it, but for some reason decided to air the story anyway. If they believed he really had something there, wouldn't they have treated it more seriously? And if not, why are they wasting their viewers time on it? At least they could have directed us to a source to learn more about his theory. They didn't even give the title of the book! Garbage journalism, at its finest.

Sat, 05 May 2007 15:30:00 UTC | #35166

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

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Fishpeddler

Weefree's post just disappeared. I was about to advise him that if he wants to truly distinguish Christianity from the people who commit these kind of acts, a good start would be to remove endorsement of these very acts from the bible. Christian morality will always be deeply suspect as long as it cannot bring itself to improve or excise the most grossly immoral parts of its own holy book.

Sat, 05 May 2007 11:04:00 UTC | #35035

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

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Comment #37256 by Bonzai
"In that case shouldn't we be more worried about nuclear proliferation..."


Fri, 04 May 2007 03:35:00 UTC | #34719

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 102 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37253 by Bonzai
"But the fact is that the Church has been booted out, the faith itself has undergone reformation and most Christians nowadays no longer believe in the literal interpretation"

I feel that you've captured the general situation nicely, but the advent of nuclear arms means that just a few loons with a button can wield power previously unmatched in human history. Mass persuasion is no longer necessary, only individual delusion. Perhaps I'm a bit alarmist at this exact moment, but it's an increasing concern as nuclear weapons proliferate or simply go underground.

[OK. I mean it this time. I'm going to bed}

Thu, 03 May 2007 20:51:00 UTC | #34658

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

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Comment #37249 by Beth
"The RRS should all wear T-shirts with an image of a banana and the words 'Atheists' Worst Nightmare'!"

Dang, that's a good idea! I might have to make one of those for myself. And for those not familiar with that strange argument, it will serve as a representation of how theists are always trying to give it to us up the... as sleep comes over me, I must bid you adieu. Night all.

[Geez, I must really be drunk and tired. That's a weird post. Oh well, I'm going to hit the 'Submit' button anyway]

Thu, 03 May 2007 20:33:00 UTC | #34656

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 100 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37231 by ghostbuster
"If Christianity seems less backwards it is only because it has been stripped of its power--at least for a while."

Excellent, crucial point. The foundation (i.e., the bible) is still in place for Christianity to again be at least as bad as any faith in any historical period. Violent Islam may be in the ascendancy now, but do not discount the destructive potential of Christianity faced with a vital foe. I can't help but think of the words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto in the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora", when he says, "I fear that all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve." My hope is that the atheists' call for reason can diffuse the ticking bomb that is all faiths before the slumbering giant of Western Christianity is filled with its own terrible resolve against the world's Muslims.

Thu, 03 May 2007 20:23:00 UTC | #34655

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 99 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37217 by oao
"So I will stop responding to nonsense and insults like those from sane1..."

Sane1, you lucky devil. Can we all borrow your alias for a while... say, eternity?

Thu, 03 May 2007 20:03:00 UTC | #34654

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37212 by Riley

Very interesting. Nice post. I wholeheartedly agree with pressing the theists to define their god right at the outset. Every time I watch a debate of this sort, the theist ends up arguing in support of a god that no one believes in and no one has ever heard of, but is vague enough to withstand assault. Don't let them scurry down that rabbit hole. Make them be forthright about their claim, and highlight the fact that the God they are reduced to believing in during a debate in no way whatsoever resembles the god the rank and file theists believe in.
[Sorry if there are typos. We ordered a lot of pitchers after softball tonight. I'm a little loopy right now.].

Thu, 03 May 2007 19:43:00 UTC | #34650

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

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Comment #37171 by KRKBAB
Good to hear from you! And happy 50th birthday next week!

Thu, 03 May 2007 14:10:00 UTC | #34586

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 86 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37149 by oao
"It is insanity to REFUSE to see the reality I describe..."

C'mon, Sane1. Are you ready to accept Oao into your life as your personal lord and savior?

Thu, 03 May 2007 12:50:00 UTC | #34565

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

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Comment #37136 by VanYoungman
"Should I accept the excuse?"

She claimed a theist engaged in an irrational act of violence in the name of their faith? And you doubted her? ;)

Thu, 03 May 2007 12:08:00 UTC | #34552

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

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Comment #37121 by Rtambree

LOL. Press #7 if the sun comes up, the sun goes down.

Thu, 03 May 2007 12:00:00 UTC | #34546

Go to: Christians and Atheists to Debate Existence of God in First-Ever 'NIGHTLINE FACE OFF'

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Comment #37130 by roach
"All they have to do is let Cameron and Comfort talk."

Presumably those two feel they have a new trick up their sleeve, but I hope to god they break out that banana:

"See, out of a mere 350,000 species of plants, one of them produces a fruit that we can easily hold, peel, and eat. The only way that can possibly be explained is that God exists."

Thu, 03 May 2007 11:56:00 UTC | #34544

Go to: Richard Dawkins in the Time 100

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Fishpeddler

I guess I'm torn. The piece wasn't all that bad, but it was a strange choice, nonetheless. I'm hoping they didn't similarly choose Rudy Giuliani to write Barak Obama's bio, or Jennifer Aniston to cover Angelina Jolie.

Thu, 03 May 2007 10:35:00 UTC | #34510

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Fishpeddler

Comment #37047 by SRWB
"Richard, I think you may be overreacting. I cannot see anywhere in oao's posts where he has accused you of anti-semitism."

I think he took particular offense to this part:

"Whether consciously or not, I suspect that he either (a) senses that referring to judaism is not as dangerous as to islam (b) given the current general anti-semitism/anti-zionsim, judaism is a more acceptable example or (c) both."

I don't blame him. Part '(b)' sounds like an accusation of pandering to anti-semitic sentiment, and while only suggestive of anti-semitism on RD's part, it is unquestionably offensive by any interpretation.

Thu, 03 May 2007 08:37:00 UTC | #34463

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by Fishpeddler

Hmmm. I think Baron left the bold text on.

Thu, 03 May 2007 05:48:00 UTC | #34428

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

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Comment #36943 by Bonzai

"What do you care that people believe in fictional supreme beings if they don't bother you?"

I care because that is the fundamental idea from which all their other false beliefs and religiously inspired violent acts stem. You can carry-on about the terrible symptoms of the beliefs all you want, but at some point you have to move beyond bemoaning symptoms and beginning working toward a cure. RD is addressing the root cause, and I say more power to him. Sure, there are other ways the problem might be approached, say by working toward some sort of era of Islamic Enlightenment, but again, RD is fighting an important battle, and he's doing it better than anyone else.

"If in your critical framework these two groups of believers are indistinguishable or only mildly different ..."

I'm not sure if that remark is still directed at me. I certainly made no suggestion that that was my position. As a helpful reminder, here's my earlier comment: "Calling those faiths 'Abrahamic' isn't the same as calling them, say, 'identical'." If there are real people -- as opposed to straw men -- out there who still believe all the faiths are currently equally dangerous, by all means, you and oao go set them straight. Meanwhile, RD will continue in his mission as he sees fit.

Thu, 03 May 2007 05:46:00 UTC | #34426

Go to: Why the Gods Are Not Winning

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36774 by weefree
"Faith in things that you cannot prove and have no evidence for. (multiverse, the origins of life, matter from non matter etc)."

More of the 'you're-just-as-bad-as-us' argument, which never fails to amuse. And another failure to make a distinction between believing in something because it's the best explanation one has found, and believing in something just because. I'm becoming convinced that weefree honestly doesn't believe atheists' claim that our beliefs are provisional. Understandably, the trait may seem alien and implausible to one who is immersed in a culture where it doesn't exist. If I may alter a line from Arthur C. Clark: Any sufficiently advanced objectivity is indistinguishable from Magic.

Thu, 03 May 2007 05:17:00 UTC | #34421

Go to: Sam's Flea!

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 332 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36911 by Jessie

" here he goes with the whole "atoms banging around" thing again."

Reminds me of O'Reilly's "the sun comes up, the sun goes down."

Wed, 02 May 2007 19:51:00 UTC | #34348

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36927 by oao

At least now, 10 hours later, I see that the coherence is coming together a bit. If I could be convinced that the violent nature of Islam in some parts of the world was a particularly well kept secret, I might even be ready to sympathize with your concerns. I doubt, however, that your going to convince me of that. Additionally, I don't believe that RD should have to bear the burden of every load atheism has to carry right now. Don't try to dictate his message -- open the word processor and get it out there yourself. You obviously have the passion needed for the job.

Wed, 02 May 2007 19:44:00 UTC | #34346

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36869 by oao

"As to your animals comment, it does not warrant a response. If you don't see how ridiculous the comparison is, I won't bother pointing it out."

Hey, that's not fair. I bothered pointing out your ridiculousness. Oh well, 'not bothering' has always been the refuge of the unpersuasive. Over(your head) And Out(of your league) is about right. Looks like we're both living up to our names.

"If he offers examples as evidence from mostly two which were quite tamed and one is pacifist, when another which is murderous comes up much less relative to its preponderance. I have a problem with that. You apparently don't."

Precisely. And you certainly haven't given a satisfactory reason why I should. My understanding of your argument is as follows:
1. Islam is presently a greater danger than Christianity and Judaism.
2. When arguing against religion, one must focus on the presently most dangerous faith.
3. Thus, RD should focus more on Islam.

You have come no where near to justifying the second assumption. That claim is false within an enormous variety of conditions, affected by variables such as audience education vis-a-vis the various monotheistic faiths, audience receptivity, speaker short-term (and long-term) objectives, speaker expertise, etc. The explanation you've given so far is inexcusably weak. Forgive me for asking that you "bother" to hold your argument to a reasonable standard.

Wed, 02 May 2007 19:33:00 UTC | #34343

Go to: Sam's Flea!

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 328 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36772 by metzler

I am deeply, deeply hurt that Mr. Wilson suggested that Aquinas, the greatest theologian in Catholic church history and a monk, would not envy Richard Dawkins an audience that included someone like me, who doesn't go to church, disbelieves in God, sleeps with women I hardly know, drinks often, and doesn't share his tendency to hear things like crosses talking to him.

Wed, 02 May 2007 15:32:00 UTC | #34302

Go to: Why the Gods Are Not Winning

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36818 by briancoughlanworldcitizen
Comment #36853 by SRWB


You're both just a couple of fundamentalist atheists. I'm tired of your dogmatic "test" posts!

Wed, 02 May 2007 13:35:00 UTC | #34279

Go to: An atheist's call to arms

Fishpeddler's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Fishpeddler

Comment #36817 by oao
"Since I stated I am a militant atheist, by what logic do I confuse anti-religious to anti-jewish?"

Oao, your comment is apropos of nothing. I'm starting to wonder if you're posting while hang-gliding or alligator wrestling or something equally distracting. Your misreadings are substantial. You seem to be responding to me, but regarding a comment by RD about someone other than you. Mystifying.

"I did NOT say "politely refuses to talk about it".

Of course not, but that's the remainder of the standard metaphor you were using. When else does anyone refer to "the elephant in the room" except in reference to the thing nobody is willing to talk about, despite its enormity?

"What I said is that FOCUSING on christianity and judaism in the presence of jihadism today makes one cringe. And to sort of bundle them together as "abrahamic" is just plain ignorant and it is the real confusion."

I'm not even sure how to point out what's wrong with this comment, because I disagree with so much of it. Here's a start:
1. Again (and again and again), using terms associated with Judaism and Christianity in one's arguments against theism isn't "FOCUSING" on those faiths, it's using them to provide a point of reference and a source of greater comprehension to your western audience. The power of the arguments is just as compelling against Islam, as RD makes abundantly clear.
2. If your main beef is with jihadism, fine, but please let RD pick his own battles. He rightly sees that a crucial step (probably the crucial step) in addressing the problem is to attack the core false belief, which is shared by all the monotheistic faiths. He's doing a fantastic job in the particular battle he's chosen to fight. May you do as well in yours.
3. Bundling together Judaism, Islam, and Christianity as 'Abrahamic' is ignorant and causes confusion? Excuse me? In the same way that bundling together dogs, cats, and horses as mammals is ignorant, because people might then confuse them? Damn those biologists for confusing me into riding my cat around and teaching my horse to fetch my slippers! Damn that RD for confusing me into thinking Christians' holy book is the Koran and Jews make pilgrimages to Mecca! Calling those faiths 'Abrahamic' isn't the same as calling them, say, 'identical'. They are, however, identical in at least one important respect -- they believe in a fictional supreme being. That is the main problem RD is addressing, so it is perfectly sensible for him to lump them together in that context.

Wed, 02 May 2007 12:27:00 UTC | #34251