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Todd Stiefel at the American Humanist Association - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

" Which is from the Koran and which is from the Bible? " Both are unbelievably barbaric. ( I might be more able to believe such barbarity if I lived then, but, fortunately, I did not ) How can these dweebs still quote and believe such barbarity should be carried out when even basic law in almost any country would prosecute such transgressions?

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 19:02:37 UTC | #546456

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 2 by Starcrash

I think it's telling that there are a few countries where such barbarity is not prosecuted but encouraged... Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. That's because the Muslim church is still in power there. And when the Christian church ruled Europe in the days of The Crusades, they also carried out these commandments.

I think the reason that these commandments aren't followed anymore is, as you say Neodarwinian, because it would be prosecuted. Would they do it if they could? They did at one time, when they could.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 20:14:59 UTC | #546488

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 3 by xmaseveeve

Comment 2 Maybe Christianity embraces evolution after all. Islam is still in the Dark Ages - also true of the right-wing Christians who think they are more religious, superior. True Christians, even? I don't know a way round it except for people to feel that they can be religious and also be humanists. Then they might use stepping stones towards compassion and reality.

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 00:13:15 UTC | #546591

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

Great speech! Also, Todd is a very good talker, with a good presence. I look forward to see more like this.

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 04:02:51 UTC | #546669

helena!'s Avatar Comment 5 by helena!

I think his speaking style is a bit stiff and choppy. Also would help if he had a British accent ; )

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 04:55:22 UTC | #546681

Cents's Avatar Comment 6 by Cents

His message was good. But as Helena said a bit choppy. He speaks forcefully and clearly. Hopefully as he progresses in the AHA he can learn to speak more smoothly. He'd then sound more spontaneous and convincing to those we want to convince. Boy, it's going to take a long time to turn America around. However, there is hope that young Americans will see religion for the sham that it is.

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 05:09:38 UTC | #546683

clarerethink's Avatar Comment 7 by clarerethink

This film has not only re-confirmed the fact that,I am an athiest(thank you RD),but has also obsolutely rammed home to me,how mindblowingly dangerous and violent religion truly is.This speech was incredibly painful to listen to,I need an RD fix!

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 15:26:35 UTC | #546802

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 8 by huzonfurst

More power to this guy, but his speaking style compared to pros like the Four Horsemen can only improve with time. Public speaking is an art which is easy to underappreciate until you can compare those with different levels of experience: substance matters but so does style.

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 16:12:11 UTC | #546815

hitchens_jnr's Avatar Comment 9 by hitchens_jnr

"We are humanists, and you might be too." What a brilliant sentiment to end on. Love it!

Sat, 13 Nov 2010 16:22:49 UTC | #546821

Communist's Avatar Comment 10 by Communist

The speach by Todd Stiefel contained little that was new or original. But it did contain arguments that need to be repeated again and again. So all the more power to Todd Stiefel.

I'm sure the siren in the background was not intentional, but it did provide a fitting sound effect.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 11:28:10 UTC | #547207

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 11 by phil rimmer

I think Todd will loosen up a treat once he learns his material sufficiently well not to read it out word for word and adds in a few witticisms.

Content was, "Well, d'urrr", but worth saying again and again.

"We're humanists. You might be too." was a gem of an idea and worth building on. I don't call myself a Humanist because some of the Humanist organisations profess things that look a little too dogmatic and a teense too anthropocentric for me, BUT I am wholly sympathetic to the particular core idea of an innate human morality negotiated with the help of evidence and reason into some sort of mutual social contract.

Now a human being, free of religious moral dogmatism but innately moral and tending to negotiate acceptable behaviours with others, is something we might reasonably describe ALL non-religious but socialised people to be. A word for that would be a powerful word. Maybe "Humanism" in some basic form as a descriptor of this "moral origination" might do? Before the political pressure group, Humanists, embodying Enlightenment values we might propose there exists this well-spring of moral thinking and behaviours which is THE well-spring of moral thinking and behaviours?

To be able to say that without religion (and often, even with it) we actually ARE all "Humanists" as far as sourcing our morals is concerned, would be very powerful.

Whatever, a word for the process is needed and not some accademic phrase /construct like Humanist Moral Ideation Hypothesis.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 13:56:06 UTC | #547235

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 12 by cheesedoff17

The National Press Club is a good place for getting the message out. Let's hope the speech gets published all over America.

The reason why these commandments are not followed in the West is due to the slow but sure evolution of our morality caused by our improved education, literacy, living conditions and most importantly, access to parallel forms of education such as literature, films,radio and TV and travel. We tend to forget that just a hundred years ago, people rarely got further than their village or read anything other than the Bible. They probably held views similar to those of the fundamentalists today.

I heard Tony Blair say, that the war in Iraq was for the "hearts and minds of the Iraqi people". Three months later I learnt that most Iraqis did not even have a radio or TV, many didn't even have electricity. Illiteracy in Muslim countries is still high. Therefore, how on earth, I asked myself, would he ever be able to get through to them?

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 14:14:17 UTC | #547240

stanpak's Avatar Comment 13 by stanpak

Good speech. I would like more people like Todd to actively engage in the humanistic movement. He is great guy!

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:14:40 UTC | #547823

Todd Stiefel's Avatar Comment 14 by Todd Stiefel

Hi folks, thanks for the feedback. I usually talk too fast in my speeches, so I tried to slow it down. I obviously overcompensated and made it sound choppy. I really appreciate the support and input. It will help me improve.

What do you think of the "Consider Humanism" campaign ( My talk was part of the launch.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 20:21:04 UTC | #547934

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 15 by Rob Schneider

Comment 14 by Todd Stiefel :

Hi folks, thanks for the feedback. I usually talk too fast in my speeches, so I tried to slow it down. I obviously overcompensated and made it sound choppy. I really appreciate the support and input. It will help me improve.

What do you think of the "Consider Humanism" campaign ( My talk was part of the launch.

Todd, welcome to the forefront of aggressive resistance to theocracy in all its forms. Your passion (and funds) are definitely needed. Keep up the pressure!

I think others have mentioned it elsewhere, but it would be wonderful to get celebrity involvement in the messages. Great format, but I see no harm in having a few more people pay a bit more attention because they hear these thoughts coming out of the mouths of people they already know via Television, Sport, Movies, etc.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 21:30:13 UTC | #547967

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 16 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 14 by Todd Stiefel :

Hi folks, thanks for the feedback. I usually talk too fast in my speeches, so I tried to slow it down. I obviously overcompensated and made it sound choppy. I really appreciate the support and input. It will help me improve. What do you think of the "Consider Humanism" campaign ( My talk was part of the launch.

A good start, with some good points. The smooth, conversational delivery will come with practice. But a British accent takes a lot of practice. I don't think anyone but the British can do it convincingly.

What I have noticed, though, is that the religious debate always seems to center on extremism - in this instance Christian fundamentalism and extreme Islam. It's as if the Israeli/Palestinian problem is about only putting up walls and throwing bombs. It's about much more than that. The problems in Ireland went much beyond one set of Christians gunning down another set. The divisions in Quebec go much further than the machinations of ancient Jesuits. And so on.

The Hebrew Bible has long been ruled by Biblical scholars to be mythological folklore. Virtually none of it happened in history. The New Testament writings are theology dressed in the accessible language of fireside homily. Virtually none of the events recorded in the Gospels actually happened. Literalism in the context of either of these sets of texts is a fool's game. I can't speak for the Koran but I suspect the same applies.

If this is the crux of the issue then clearly Biblical scholarship needs to be put on the curriculum toot sweet. Make this the "controversy" taught in schools. Once the opposing poles of these magnets are brought together maybe the cancelling effect will lead to humanism. It seems logical to me.

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 16:43:53 UTC | #548346

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 17 by xmaseveeve

Comment 15 - 'I think others have mentioned it elsewhere, but it would be wonderful to get celebrity involvement in the messages.'

Yes, I've said this - I think that if people who can do it wonderfully are prepared to do it, then the message is far too important to be presented in an amateurish way. Let them write it, but please, please, not present it.

You were not all that bad, Todd, but the other man and the woman were just awful, and neither standard is good enough. You should be giving talks in universities and schools, as the anti-evolution nutters do. That is necessary work too.

We need famous, instantly recongisable faces for television. Richard Dawkins is likely to get attention because he is hated so much. He is associated with the word 'atheist', which is a negative word, and he puts a bomb under entrenched beliefs. Humanism is a positive word, so let's also get some people who are already loved. We are competing with Jesus, and he's had good P.R.

No offence to you Todd.

Wed, 17 Nov 2010 01:45:21 UTC | #548609

clarerethink's Avatar Comment 18 by clarerethink

Todd. it's what you said that counts,not how you said it + what you said really affected me! As I describe in comment 7. Job effectively accomplished! well done.

Sat, 20 Nov 2010 04:30:07 UTC | #550254

clarerethink's Avatar Comment 19 by clarerethink

Todd, It's what you said that counts,not how you said it. It really affected me! As my comment 7 describes.Good job done! Well done.

Sat, 20 Nov 2010 04:43:01 UTC | #550258

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 20 by Enlightenme..

Comment 14 by Todd Stiefel :

Hi folks, thanks for the feedback. I usually talk too fast in my speeches,

I do this too, I think there is a common error we're prone to in that whether people are keeping up or not, the feedback looks similar.

What do you think of the "Consider Humanism" campaign ( My talk was part of the launch.

My forum tag is: Should one cease to believe; should one cease to behave?

For me as an ex-christian, it was the most important thing that held me back - the delusion that for all its faults, our keeping up the pretence that the lawgiver exists was better for maintaining order.

So absolutely, YES, although it is in fact bullshit that we were ever really living 'a Judeo-Christian morality' & killing our children for disobedience, a good number still seem to need convincing that a conscience is a thing in your brain and not either just in a book, or as a correspondence with a supernaturally imbued property of the heart.

We pretty much all recognise Humanist principles as a good thing to subscribe your conscience to nowadays.

Sat, 20 Nov 2010 15:56:58 UTC | #550503

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 21 by xmaseveeve

Marshall McLuhan said, 'The medium is the message'. As Yeats said, ' how can we tell the dancer from the dance?' It does matter.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 00:00:38 UTC | #550713

dmisso's Avatar Comment 22 by dmisso

"Defender of Reason" (Youtube) has a great idea. The Faithful do not listen to this sort of approach. They are immune to reason. But ask them to explain various parts of the bible AS IF you really wanted to understand the message and be converted, and they will dig themselves into insurmountable holes. But the object would be to get them to, finally, see the faults in their scriptures. Like tempting a cicada from its hole, they will venture a little further out each time and may, ultimately, be exposed to the full light of reason and truth!

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 01:18:51 UTC | #550740

EvanCarroll's Avatar Comment 23 by EvanCarroll

Nothing too interesting just a few verses pulled from the Bible, and the Koran; and, a bunch of the same boring lines Humanists and Atheists typically use in their openings. Dan Barker is much better at the verses. There just wasn't enough substance to this for my own liking.

His voice is also way to melodramatic, and he was way off on his pronunciation of "Sharia" (ia = E-a, hard English 'E').

Wed, 24 Nov 2010 16:45:26 UTC | #552568

Dave H's Avatar Comment 24 by Dave H

A nice scathing selection of quotes, but I especially liked the summary at the end. I think that the "Consider humanism" campaign might appeal to those who are disenchanted with religion but would rather replace it with "something" (a cause, perhaps) rather than just dump it philosophically and feel at a loose end.

From the back seat here it's all too easy to be critical of delivery, but it will get easier and more natural with experience, and I sure am glad that someone has grabbed the wheel and started to drive. Thank you. The world really needs people like you, so keep it up!

Wed, 24 Nov 2010 23:18:04 UTC | #552773

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 25 by Gunga Lagunga

Great speech Todd! And kudos for the extremely generous donation.

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 00:08:44 UTC | #553273

sag-_-man's Avatar Comment 26 by sag-_-man

Amazing speech. Just a bit choppy on the presentation of it, but it doesn't take away from the message.

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 21:45:41 UTC | #553906

bethe123's Avatar Comment 27 by bethe123

Reminds me of Father Janovich in "Gran Torino"...who Clint Eastwood blows off because the only thing he knows about life and death is what he learned in 'priest school', but Eastwood’s character saw death daily in the Korean war.

It was I think not accurate to equate Biblical and sharia law.

If I was a Christian, it seems to me it would be sufficient to refute that equality by stating any Biblical law should be based on the teachings and morals of Christ, and not old testament passages . Incidentally, I would point out to Stiefel that Bertand Russell in “Why I am not a Christian” granted to Christ a very high degree of moral goodness.
I am not sure a modern Christian would therefore be convinced by Stiefel‘s examples, but could counter that the passages quoted did not agree with Christ’s teachings. And as the passages quoted did not seem to be the words of Christ, they could be legitimately ignored as strawmen.

So ok, nice speech if you are preaching to the choir as was done here...but a devout Christian is likely going to be unimpressed.

Sun, 28 Nov 2010 20:50:43 UTC | #554973

joe2me's Avatar Comment 28 by joe2me

I've been studying both Creation and (macro)Evolution for a little while now. Its funny how creation seems to disprove quite a bit of the evolutionary theories, as evolutionist just try to disprove god... I want to see athiest with good arguemental support, but it seems they keep stretching the truth and making things up as they go... Example, In the video a passage was read from a bible.(be careful most bibles are now written by athiest, hints why they now say one day, another day, ect and not The First Day, The Second Day. That way they can fit evolution in there.)Anyways, the passage read ,"they shall fall by the sword; their little ones shall be dashed ect... If you read all the verses before it you would see that they have rejected the lord after he gave them so much and fell on deaf ears of his worning and it was not his sword, nor him that did this destruction, but infact he says, "compasion shall be hidden from his eyes as they fall by the sword, ect. meaning they will be attacked, but since they reject him he will not be there to help! That's called selective choice on your part. Please help me fight this battle against creation with real supportive arguements.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 05:41:30 UTC | #556406

joe2me's Avatar Comment 29 by joe2me

I would like more supportive arguements to fill in all the evolutionary theories holes that cause the creationalist to blow it all off... {1} Evidence the earth is so old; instead of theories supporting theories, which still come out inaccurate. (carbon & Argon dating) both require the earth to be millions of years old in the first place to even work. (meaning first assume the earth is old) and still they show inconsistancies. {2} If evolution is a slow accuring process, how is it that we can find millions of animals that just pop up in the fossil record without finding any transitioning fossils. (cow turns to whale; you have cow, you have whale. Monkey to Man, dinasaur to bird, ect). {3} There are 90+ elements known to man, where did they come from? {4} Newtons Law of Energy & Enertia, If no energy is created nor destroyed and nothing can move with out being moved, "how did all the stars come together and get the energy to form. {5} How was the first life form and how did it survive such harsh enfironments? Expecially if all life depends on another life whether for food or energy. (Even a plant needs bacteria to decompose something to enrich the soil). {6} Lastly, all animals consist of a heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, veins, blood, ect. How did the first animal come to exist from an organism? There are actually many more highly inquisitve questions I have, but I think I can make a much better stand against creationist if you can help me answer just a few things. Please keep in mind I'm not trying to attack evolution, Im trying to build my case to attack it. There answer to all these is just two, "Design by a creator!" "A Flood!" If you could even email me with links so I can build a unbeatable arguement. I would appriciate it.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 06:10:06 UTC | #556420

ScottB's Avatar Comment 30 by ScottB

Comment 29 by joe2me

Joe, if you're going to pretend that you're an atheist looking for arguments against creationism you're going to have to do better than this. Ignoring the fact that anybody who believes these silly, oft-trotted out strawmen could hardly have come to a position of atheism, you keep letting the cat out of the bag. Bibles are written by atheist these days so they can fit evolution in; the crocoduck argument..? Really? You're so bloody transparent, it's truly comical.

Come on, Joe. Instead of Lying For Jebus, why don't you admit that you're a creationist and ask these questions from an honest position. When you do that we'll be happy to answer. As long as you keep up this ridiculous and obvious pretence you'll be regarded as a troll.

Strap on a pair and ask us your questions from an honest perspective; we won't bite.

Can I prove you’re lying? Er. Yes. From the Reddit answers thread

Jump to comment 170 by joe2me Hate to inform everyone, but until someone can prove how life came from nothing and how 90+ elements came to existance, as well as how the billions of stars defied the Laws of Newton, Energy & Motion, with them suddenly coming together and gathering the energy to become stars. Since energy is neither created nor destroyed (Energy) and that it requires some force to be moving to make another move (Motion). As well as even show one shred of evedince proving (Macro)Evolution for even the bible as well as common knowledge shows (Micro)Evolution, which is that of its own kind. (exp. two dogs can make a diff. breed chiwawa, shit zhu... Still a dog). Until any evedince is shown, (Macro)Evolution is classified as a Religion just like the bible. Both require a leap of faith and imagination in something that is unexplained with no hint of evidence. Also, as for the last question he asks, "why we have sex?" that one actually causes a hinderence, since it is believed to pass down information supposably for reasons such as fighting new diseases, but instead in most causes pass down flaws like kidney failure, cancer, high blood pressure, ect.

You're not even intelligent enough to realise that just as you can POST on more than one thread, we can READ more than one thread. And we only have to click on your username to see ALL the posts you have made.

Deary me, I guess that commandment about bearing false witness must have been erased from your bible by one of those atheists that you claim re-wrote it.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 07:54:14 UTC | #556448