December 2, 2009

"It is the ultimate Grinch to suggest there is no God during a holiday where millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ."

Said Mathew D. Staver, of Liberty University School of Law, reacting to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's "No god? ... No problem!" ads.

I like the way Staver blithely invokes a mythical character as he asserts that God is not a mythical character.

113 comments:

ricpic said...

I can't stand it the way more and more people answer my "Thank you" with "No problem."

TosaGuy said...

So why can't FFR tolerate other people celebrating Christmas or the other holidays of the season?

We are told we need to be tolerant of all sorts of things and any stunt like this one by the FFR would invite much huffiness about intolerance if was directed towards (insert perfered victimization group here)

Scott said...

If you're not threatening to take away my liberty, property, or income, I don't care what you believe.

Lincolntf said...

Uh, Ann? All he is doing is explaining that it's nasty to mock Religious people during their traditional holidays. He's hardly stating some grand case for the existence of God. You might have to hunt a bit further to find a culture war story to get all huffy about. This ain't it.

TosaGuy said...

Does FFR do any ads or other actions concerning Ramadan?

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

How is the FFRF not being tolerant? You talk about Christmas as if it's still a Christian Holiday. To many of us, it isn't. This used to be the time for pagan harvest festivals, but Christianity won out and changed minds, and it became about Jesus. Minds are changing again. It's still a time to celebrate, but to many of us, it's a celebration of real things now, like family and commercialism.

Ann Althouse said...

@Lincolntf I said I liked it.

Fred4Pres said...

What I find amusing is modern day athiests think they thought this up. Ancient Greek writers commented that "loving Zeus" really made no sense. Zeus was an embodiment of an idea more than a figure you could love and worship. Marcus Aurelus's view of "the gods" was more a skeptic and idea that religion was good for promoting morals.

I have no problem with athiesm (I personally think there is more to life than that--but I respect people discovering that on their own), but I find these ad campaigns more childish than anything else.

Comrade X said...

Don't believe in Gore? No problem.

Brian said...

TosaGuy said:

"Does FFR do any ads or other actions concerning Ramadan?"

I don't know, but saying "no Allah ... no problem!" could have ramifications beyond being snarky.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

Whenever I see something from the Liberty School or Law, I am reminded of the Bush era Justice Official alumna from Liberty who was indicted for something and didn't get an attorney from her Alma Mater, Liberty. I thought that said something about the quality of instruction there.

TosaGuy said...

The lefty idea of "tolerance" for certain groups is that they have to be embraced and not subject to any sort of criticism or ridicule.

My idea of tolerance is to live and let live.

FFRF violates both except that Christianity is not one of the certain groups that are worthy of the lefty concept of tolerance.

DADvocate said...

Great, all we need are evangalistic atheists.

Similar billboards were posted in Cincinnati with less than a cheery welcome. Atheists seem to becoming less and less tolerant, not that they've ever been particularly tolerant in the past 60-70 years. Of course, when you're right tolerance is absurd. I get the feeling that many atheists would run their own inquisition if they could.

John said...

"I like the way Staver blithely invokes a mythical character as he asserts that God is not a mythical character."

Ann, Jesus was not a "mythical character". He may or may not have been the son of God and rose from the dead that is where the faith part comes. But, only atheist cranks believe he didn't exist at all. The indirect evidence is fairly strong for his existence.

1. None Christian gospels or apologetics of the time ever argue for his existence implying that it wasn't an issue that he existed.

2. The Roman Historian Tacitus, in the Annals of Imperial Rome, mentions Christians being killed in the arena in 1st Century Rome. Tacitus, who had no use for Christians, comments on how these lunatic Christians still are willing to die for their cult even though the Romans had killed their leader. If there was any doubt of the existence of Christ among the 1st Century Pagan Romans, Tacitus would have mentioned it.

3. Yes, there is no direct evidence of Jesus, but there is virtually no direct evidence of the existence of anyone in 1st Century Judea. All we have of even the most famous people in antiquity is indirect evidence. How do we know Alexander the Great existed? We only have a few semi-mythical biographies written well after his death. We don't have a tome. But, what we do have are Greek temples in India. We have the evidence of his existence by the effects and the shadow it left on history. Christ is the same way. We know he existed because we have hundreds of people running around the 1st Century Roman Empire preaching his gospel.

Consider the case of the Pauline letters. Yes, they were probably compiled in their current form in the 2nd Century well after Jesus' death. But imagine if we found similar evidence for the existence of other "mythical figures"? What if we found a letter dating to the 11th Century BC that talks about the Trojan War, and Paris, Helen and Agamemnon and the like? It would be considered the greatest archeological find in history. Never again would people doubt the existence of the Trojan War. Now, we would certainly still doubt the mythical aspects of it, Achilles being invincible except for his heel and all of that. But, we would never doubt that there really was a "Trojan War" behind the myth. Yet, despite even more compelling evidence people still doubt that there was a historical Jesus behind his myth.

Bunk. Very disappointing of you to throw that out at like that Ann.

TMink said...

I went to their website and scanned the press releases and more than half of the content was strictly anti-religious. Some of the posts alluded to Christianity, and none to any other religion I could find.

Trey

John said...

"I went to their website and scanned the press releases and more than half of the content was strictly anti-religious. Some of the posts alluded to Christianity, and none to any other religion I could find."

Yeah, if they put an Islamic footbath in the bathroom, or let the Pagens celebrate the solstace, they would have nothing to say about it. They are not atheists. They are just assholes.

Scott M said...

How incredibly convenient it is for atheists in the West that Christians don't react to ads like that by firebombing something in protest.

How awesome it must be to feel confident that the foils of anti-Christian attacks won't go muj on their families, homes, or places of business.

I notice that these cowards don't take out full page ads like this during Ramadan...

Sometimes inconsistency of principle is worse than not having any principles at all. For that matter, if you're going to hold that "No god, no problem" you're going to have to tell me why the nihilists aren't right and forgo any further arguments about anything on the basis of moral or immoral acts.

traditionalguy said...

America was founded by many faithful believers in Protestant Christianity that began the schools where the Athiest groups now have assumed control by using the notion that they must free minds from superstition. That is old news. The story is that Christian Anti-Defamation groups are now needed to speak out while Christian Free Speech is still legal in a few places.

Will said...

I guess I don't see the problem. The guy's not trying to use the Grinch to prove or disprove the existence of God. He's merely using a well-known fictional character as a metaphor for anti-religious party-poopers.

Christopher said...

Meh.

Children like smearing their feces on the wall. Children like screaming at the top of their lungs to get attention.

Children like the FFR (not, I should note, reasonable, principled atheists or agnostics) are doing nothing more than a shrieking, feces-smearing spoiled child would do. Except in their case, the feces is a foaming rant of "I hate God! Hate him, hate him, hate him! Christianists are evil, evil, evil! Why won't you LISTEN TO ME, YOU IGNORANT RUBES!!!!"

They're like this all the time. They just turn it up to 11 on Christmas.

wv - 'wittelsm.' What Ensign Chekov says to get his cats to eat their dinner.

DADvocate said...

Ann, Jesus was not a "mythical character".

I think Ann is referring to the Grinch as a "mythical character," not Jesus.

TosaGuy said...

My personal opinion, FFR types are simply asshats who can't stand that someone else may be happy as a result of their beliefs.

John said...

"I think Ann is referring to the Grinch as a "mythical character," not Jesus."

You are correct. I misread it. My mistake.

Scott M said...

Anyone ever notice, over the course of a discussion with a self-identified "atheist", that most of the time they end up being technically agnostic?

Funny how that works like that.

Paddy O. said...

John, Althouse is responding to the article, not making a declaration herself. Though, I do appreciate the nicely tuned apologetics on this issue.

"I like the way Staver blithely invokes a mythical character as he asserts that God is not a mythical character."

That's how Jesus taught. Though, he tended to make up the characters in his various stories and parables. There wasn't really a Father who the prodigal son returned to, or a boss who hired a bunch of people for varying wages, or a landowner who sent his messengers to his tenants, and finally sent his son--who they killed.

Creative allusions to illustrate truths are pretty common throughout the Bible.

The "Grinch" evokes a popularly understood storyline that contains significantly more meaning than what could otherwise fit into a short quote.

The Grinch is a nasty, bitter fellow who is driven to steal by his own dissatisfaction. He steals all the gifts and glories in leaving the inhabitants without joy, and hope, and peace precisely during their time of togetherness and celebration.

And so, these kinds of atheists are... the ultimate of that.

Very efficiently put, without relying on turgid, alienating rhetoric.

Bissage said...

Mrs. Bissage and I went for a walk in the park the other day and she was surprised to see that a white-tailed deer has a nose far more like that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer than that belonging to an actual reindeer which far more closely resembles that of a moose.

See what I mean?

Henry said...

“We don’t intend to rain on anyone’s parade, but secular people celebrate the holidays, too, and we’re just trying to reach out to our people,” said Roy Speckhardt

What do you get for the atheist with low self-esteem? An FFR poster.

I'm in the No-God-No-Problem camp myself, but I'm also in who-cares camp. I don't mind secular Christmas, but I'm glad that Easter is on a Sunday and doesn't get a national holiday. Secular Easter is disturbing.

Henry said...

@Scott M: Look up apatheist. The problem with that word is that no one knows what it means.

Joseph said...

We are told we need to be tolerant of all sorts of things and any stunt like this one by the FFR would invite much huffiness about intolerance if was directed towards (insert perfered victimization group here)

Well, if we insert the wear-my-Christianity-on-my-sleeve victimization group, then we get exactly the kind of huffiness about intolerance you'd expect from Staver and his cohorts, the same kind of huffiness you'd get from the gays or the blacks or the conservatives or whatever other groups have bought into the victimization game.

corsair the rational pirate said...

Wow! What a lot of tolerant, love thy neighbor, love thy enemy believing folks. Maybe it is a good thing that y'all are such pious church-goers, otherwise it seems us "non-religious" would have to look to our safety! We might be strung up or crucified by those professing such strong belief in God's love.

Get a grip, people. Not everyone believes as you and in the USA there is no law restricting them from saying that. Not that most of you don't seem to want to put one in place.

And why no Ramadan ads and such? Maybe because in the US, we aren't really beat over the head with it every year like the more common religion.

And no, I am not a lefty, Harvard graduated, Satan worshiping, God hating, baby eater. In fact, you probably couldn't pick me out of a crowd at your church. I just believe in one less God than you do. So relax. And have a Merry Christmas!

Scott M said...

@jaltcoh

Whether you happen to agree with those views or not, I don't see what's objectionable about people sincerely expressing those beliefs in public.

Agreed, but you have to admit the squeaky-wheel atheist types, tend to want to be the most vocal during one or both of Christianity's most sacred holidays.

I suppose using the same logic it would be okay for me to take out full-page ads during February espousing how cool white people are and all they've done for our country.

Maybe the campaign should read, "Not Black? No Problem."

I'm sure that would go over fairly well and most black people would just understand the different point of view.

Paddy O. said...

"Not everyone believes as you and in the USA there is no law restricting them from saying that."

Amen. Reading through Roger Williams's writings right now, and he argued this exact point very strongly--to his own detriment.

There's no law. Exactly. Who wants a law? Why can't people respond to what one group publicly asserts not as personal belief but as an actual ad campaign?

What are they selling anyhow? Of course people have the right to believe what they want, when they want. To make a public response to a public campaign sound like some kind of inquisition is itself violating the sanctity of freedom of conscience.

People have the right to respond to public presentations, even to the extent of using oppressive Dr. Seuss imagery.

Pogo said...

Methinks atheists protest too much.

Do not go gentle into Silent Night,
Rage, rage against celebrations of the light.

They seek comfort, finding some in controversy.
I hope it's enough.

elHombre said...

Whether you happen to agree with those views or not, I don't see what's objectionable about people sincerely expressing those beliefs in public.

Pretty fatuous comment, jaltcoh. Is it the sincerity of their beliefs or the fact that you agree with them that renders them not "objectionable" in your view?

I'd guess some folks here hold sincere beliefs the expressing of which you would find highly "objectionable."

TosaGuy said...

I am not religious in the least and have my own issues with religion.

However, I don't go around deliberately poking sharp sticks into the eyes of people who are religious.

How about FFR follow the golden rule of if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all?

TosaGuy said...

"How about FFR follow the golden rule of if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all?"

Which is a pretty good definition of "tolerance"

Chris said...

@DADvocate, as an atheist, I WOULD like to run some inquisitions. For example, in hiring for scientific positions in universities, I think religious beliefs -- as well as devotion to political parties -- should be held against candidates since it indicates a tendency to favor dogmatic belief (by definition, bad for science) rather than skepticism (by definition, good for science). So yes, Althousians, not ALL atheists are lefties.

vbspurs said...

I think religious beliefs -- as well as devotion to political parties -- should be held against candidates since it indicates a tendency to favor dogmatic belief (by definition, bad for science) rather than skepticism (by definition, good for science).

Chris, I think this is too extreme. As bad as being surrounded by leftie atheists is when you're in academia, it would be worse to know people's deepest held beliefs were held against them professionally. Even if you want to rationalise it by saying it's all to make science better -- it's still discrimination.

elHombre said...

corsair the whatever wrote: Not everyone believes as you and in the USA there is no law restricting them from saying that. Not that most of you don't seem to want to put one in place.

Well, I've gone back and read the comments and I can't find any that say, "There oughtta be a law."

You must be doing a little projecting. I think it's your kind that promotes censorship.

And Corsair also wrote: And why no Ramadan ads and such? Maybe because in the US, we aren't really beat over the head with it every year like the more common religion.

Of course that's it. It has nothing to do with cowardice in the face of bombs, beheadings and the like.

It is possible to be an atheist without being tritely fatuous. Give it a shot.

gregory.hlatky said...

Just a small question for our evangelist athiest friends: by what process do we get to this impossible-to-be-too-much-desired non-religous republic of reason? Bearing in mind, of course, that we have in this country a) a voting public and b) a First Amendment in which prohibiting the free exercise of religion is forbidden.

Pogo said...

"...in hiring for scientific positions in universities, I think religious beliefs -- as well as devotion to political parties -- should be held against candidates since it indicates a tendency to favor dogmatic belief"


Unreflective dogmatism to root out unreflective dogmatism, eh?
Sheer genius!

kynefski said...

(not, I should note, reasonable, principled atheists or agnostics)

Hmm...A principled atheist. Now, as an atheist, they presumably hold the view that there's something wrong with belief in supernatural agency. As a principled atheist, wouldn't they feel that it would be appropriate to share that view with their neighbors?

I think what was meant here was "not, I should note, atheists and agnostics who still know well enough to keep their goddamned mouths shut."

elHombre said...

Chris wrote: I think religious beliefs -- as well as devotion to political parties -- should be held against candidates [for scientific positions] since it indicates (sic.) a tendency to favor dogmatic belief ....

I know what you mean. I feel the same way about scientism.

Chris also wrote: So yes, Althousians, not ALL atheists are lefties.

This is obviously true, but how does it follow from the rest of your comment? Just askin'.

corsair the rational pirate said...

ElHombre says:

Of course that's it. It has nothing to do with cowardice in the face of bombs, beheadings and the like.

Right, cause we get so many of those in the US of A. Why, just the other day the jihadis were lopping off heads in front of the neighborhood Winn-Dixie when I went to get milk. I naturally turned back in fear and cowardice.

Call my statements "fatuous," will you? How more straw-mannish can you get? If the Muslims were going around demanding that everyone boycott stores that did not say "Happy Ramadan!" during their silly season, I guess we non-believers would get on their case more. Oddly, they don't since they don't amount to much in the US. (Other than to cause trouble once in awhile.)

Christians, meanwhile don't want anyone messing with "their" holiday season (which they appropriated from the pagans) by injecting a little doubt into it. And again, in the US, First Amendment guarantees of Free Speech trump religious folk's hurt feelings.

Oh, and I didn't say that someone wanted a "law" to combat the evil atheists. I said that it seemed in here that the posters wouldn't have a problem if there was.

Of course, that just might be me being trite (had to look that one up!).

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Blue@9 said...

Even though AA was likely referring to the Grinch as a mythical character, I wouldn't flinch from calling Jesus one too. Sure, there may have been an historical Jesus, but the Jesus we know in literature is probably about as real as, say, Hercules or Achilles. Both of these Greek heroes were probably actual people, but the stories told of them are about as accurate as any ancient myth. The story of Jesus is likely on the same plane when it comes to historical accuracy.

corsair the rational pirate said...

kynefski said

Hmm...A principled atheist. Now, as an atheist, they presumably hold the view that there's something wrong with belief in supernatural agency. (Emphasis mine.)

I think you maybe need to get out and meet some atheists. Speaking for myself, I don't think it is wrong to believe in the supernatural. Just sort of... odd.

Kind of like the belief in UPOs, ghosts, psychics, astrology, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Or the greatness of the Yankees. If that floats your boat, by all means, enjoy. Just don't think that others hold the same point of view as vociferously as you do.

Joe said...

The really disturbing thing about all sides in this is how far we have strayed from Zeus and the pantheon of Gods. Both sides are heathens!

Paddy O. said...

"Sure, there may have been an historical Jesus, but the Jesus we know in literature is probably about as real as, say, Hercules or Achilles."

Hey, 19th century Biblical criticism is back!

Scott M said...

@corsair

I think you maybe need to get out and meet some atheists.

If you can find a real atheist, that is, as most of them tend to be agnostics in reality.

To me it's a question of incentive and consistency. If overt atheists had any consistency, they would be taking out these ads all year 'round. Since they only tend to do it during the Christian main holidays, there is definitely a facet of fuck-you involved. It is this, more than anything, that tends to piss off most people that celebrate a sectarian Christmas.

Live and let live shouldn't have season.

Unrelated, corsair, since we're all here and purely out of interest, if there is no God or higher power and since there is no naturally occurring morality, where does your compass come from besides artificial social constructs?

elHombre said...

corsair the whatchamacallit wrote @ 12:05: Oh, and I didn't say that someone wanted a "law" to combat the evil atheists. I said that it seemed in here that the posters wouldn't have a problem if there was.

But corsair, etc., had written @ 10:39: ...there is no law restricting [atheists] from saying that. Not that most of you don't seem to want to put one in place.

And Corsair wrote: Of course, that just might be me being trite (had to look that one up!).

Trite and, evidently, forgetful.

kynefski said...

Speaking for myself, I don't think it is wrong to believe in the supernatural. Just sort of... odd.

Perhaps a better word than wrong would be mistaken. In that sense, I concede that there is no real motivation to share your view with your neighbor. However, if your neighbor repeatedly expresses the opinion that others who share your view are immoral because of it, you might find that unfair and worthy of challenge.

Kind of like the belief in UPOs, ghosts, psychics, astrology, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Or the greatness of the Yankees. If that floats your boat, by all means, enjoy. Just don't think that others hold the same point of view as vociferously as you do

Ah, but what about belief in homeopathy or the link between measles vaccination and autism? Irrational is not always innocent.

elHombre said...

Blue@9 wrote: The story of Jesus is likely on the same plane [as that of Hercules and Achilles] when it comes to historical accuracy.

And your evidence for that is ...?

David said...

The difficulty I have, intellectually, with atheism is that it purports to know what it cannot know... that there is no God.

The reason I say this is atheism is making a statement that is known as a universal negative. A universal negative states that no member of a class is a member of another specified class. In this case, God (class of supernatural) is not a part of the class of real things. But there is a problem inherent in such a claim.

If I state, for example, there is no spider in the room you happen to be in as you read this, how much of the room must I have knowledge of? All of it - universal knowledge of the room. If, however, I say there is a spider on your chair, I do not make a universal claim. I only claim to know what is true of a specific chair and a specific spider.

Expand the room to the universe. To say there is no God requires universal knowledge of all that is real in the entire universe and in that knowledge of all that is God does not exist.

There is a term for infinite knowledge, however, last time I checked it was reserved for deity.

kynefski said...

The difficulty I have, intellectually, with atheism is that it purports to know what it cannot know... that there is no God.

This gets it exactly backwards. Atheism claims not to know that there is a God.

LarsPorsena said...

These folks need take the bull by the horns and get the Federal government to disestablish Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years (Christian years, a popes calendar) as holidays (holy days).

What pussies.

TosaGuy said...

"Atheism claims not to know that there is a God."

That sounds more like agnosticism

TosaGuy said...

I wonder if the FFRF would put up this sign in front of a mosque during Ramadan:

"Not eating or drinking anything during daylight hours is bad for your health"

Schorsch said...

"It is the ultimate God to suggest there is no Jesus Christ during a holiday where millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of the Grinch.""

corsair the rational pirate said...

David said:

The difficulty I have, intellectually, with atheism is that it purports to know what it cannot know... that there is no God.

I think you missed a step. In many atheists (the non-college know-it-all kind) I think a more correct statement is that atheists believe that there is no proof of God. Vague "feelings in my heart" do not count. If His Giganticness stepped out of my garage tomorrow throwing lightening bolts and commanding the elements (much like in the Old Testament), sure I would believe in God. Might not like him, but you can't ignore him.

Each religious person, however purports to know that out of the millions of gods men have followed over the years, I (and my fellow believers) know more than everyone else and have picked the right one. (And not one of those old ones that no one believes in any more). I think that is a bigger difficulty intellectually.

Oh, and in most cases it happens to be the God my parents believe in. What are the odds of that!? Most families can't agree on pizza toppings and yet on the most fundamental question in the history of humanity, Mom and Dad and I agree completely! Couldn't have anything to do with them making me attend their church would it?

It is a fundamental statement, but it really isn't the atheist's job to provide proof of "no god." It can't be done. If you, the believer claim something, however, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team. Unless that guy over there shows convincing proof first.

Pogo said...

"If you, the believer claim something, however, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team."

If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team.

corsair the rational pirate said...

Scott M. said

To me it's a question of incentive and consistency. If overt atheists had any consistency, they would be taking out these ads all year 'round. Since they only tend to do it during the Christian main holidays, there is definitely a facet of fuck-you involved. It is this, more than anything, that tends to piss off most people that celebrate a sectarian Christmas.

The Atheist Bus Campaign page on Wikipedia says:

The first buses started running on 6 January 2009...

Inspired by the Atheist Bus Campaign, the American Humanist Association launched a bus campaign in Washington DC in November 2008...

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has also launched a bus campaign in the United States, with buses featuring various quotations to appear in February and March 2009...

An atheist bus campaign promoted by the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) was due to start on 4 February 2009 in Genoa...


And there are more.

Looks like consistency to me. Some are during the holidays and some aren't.

Schorsch said...

"If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team."

Please tell us what you find lacking in the philosophical and scientific arguments addressing the existence of the above. Confine your critique to arguments made in the last 2500 years of secular inquiry, and be specific.

Pogo said...

For that matter, corsair the rational pirate, prove you exist.

As far as we know, you're just a web script.

traditionalguy said...

Any Free speech containing declarations of scripture as the truth are the target here. The first attacks says that since we cannot know for sure that these scripture events happened, you must shut up. The second attack says that since politically motivated men must have made up these convenient tales once, you must shut up. The third attack says if we allow you to speak, then other religions will speak too, so you must shut up. The fourth attack says that educated people are offended by superstition, so you must shut up (with exceptions for other supernatural material such as Harry Potter, of course) Then the latest attack says we are the victims group called Atheists who have a right to live in a world where there are no God Talkers in their our presence (much less in an innocent minor child's presence), so you must shut up. It is actually funny how desparate the attackers have always been to avoid anyone hearing the scriptures spoken about as the truth. That Bible book must be a best seller if it does have so much power in it. The world's Two billion Moslems are also required to attack the Book at sight, or else. Fascinating stuff.

Pogo said...

Schorsch said...

I can't help you with your homework, sonny.

corsair the rational pirate said...

Pogo said:

If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team.

Well, if you don't already believe those things exist, then I don't really think I want you on my team.

But really, music? "tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity?" You mean that one? Turn on your radio. (That was easy).

Of course, I never made the claim one way or the other that the things on your fatuous (see ElHombre, he likes that word) list exist. Religious people make a claim that something exists for which there is no proof. You just have to have faith that God is there. Uh, fine. But what about us that have no faith. Should we fake it? How about just a little hint of proof?

There is no proof of a lot of things that people claim (see the UFOs and ghosts post from above). And I am sure you find most of those claims ridiculous. In fact, I bet you find that Hindu elephant headed god silly. They don't so why don't you believe in him? I've seen pictures. And statues.

Paddy O. said...

"If you, the believer claim something, however, go ahead and prove it."

Well, the proofs are out there, it's just up to people to accept or deny the evidence.

That's basically the whole message and testimony of the Bible. From the "I brought you out of Egypt" to "He is Risen" all are proofs. Of course, proofs that happened a while back, but that's all part of assessing the evidence of such proofs.

What you're asserting is a denial of the proofs based on your own analysis of the record. Others disagree with your conclusions, and do it, oftentimes, with very sophisticated adjudication of the available data.

What you want is undeniable, absolute proof--which hardly anything in this world can achieve. You want your doubt to be impossible. But, the entire testimony as given by various religions is that is not what God wants to do. As the testimony is given, it is indicated that there is risk in faith, even as this goes well beyond blind, baseless belief.

It is like a scientist taking a risk on a particular thesis and spending his whole career seeking after the conclusions. Maybe she's wrong. But there's a good chance she'll never know unless she takes the leap to find out by pursuing the thesis to the end. Until something quite clear indicates that her thesis is utterly unproductive. Theological and philosophical discussions over the centuries are wrestling with exactly this, which is one reason why some faiths have lasted longer than others. There's an inherent credibility that has overcome objections over the centuries.

Maybe not your objections. But, your perspective may not have the most adequate training, insight, or be free from enough bias of some kind or another to avoid falsely judging the validity of the available evidence. Or maybe it does.

We're all taking the leap here with what we conclude is true. When we get the place we can finally observe reality in its whole we'll find out one way or the other.

Peter S. said...

@David. There is a term for infinite knowledge, however, last time I checked it was reserved for deity.

Sounds like your saying that only a deity could justifiable complete sentences of the form "There are no _____________" or "______________ does not exist." (With the possible exception of statements about logically impossible entities: "There are no married bachelors" or "The greatest prime number does not exist.")

And that may be true . . . for a logician. But luckily, most people does not speak like logicians -- and do not need to. We talk about the non-existence of things all the time (and, as pragmatists would point out, act as if we believe in the non-existence of things to boot).

Perhaps this is because we all understand that sentences like "God does not exist" are shorthand for sentences like "I find it extremely improbable that that God exists."

Or perhaps we are just sharpening our own mini-Occam's razor, knowing that the demands of logical certainty would compel us to withhold our disbelief in a literally endless catalog of entities -- Gods, Demons, ghosts, and flies in apparently flyless rooms, etc.

If the language of logic doesn't help us to formulate the things we actually believe, then so much the worse for logic.

Original Mike said...

If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team.

Pogo, your comments are usually gogent, but this one is just asinine.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I suspect that one of the things which makes believers suspicious is the tendency of some atheists to blow hot and cold on the question of whether their disbelief in theological foundations has any effect on the substance of their beliefs about the world-- they'll boast about their skepticism and pooh-pooh any suggestion that they're less devoted to common morality than anyone else. You can do one or the other, but not both! If you make your skeptical freedom from "dogma" one of the selling points for your atheism, no one is being silly if they wonder whether "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the dogmas you've thrown overboard. (Me, I avoid the Atheist Straddle by holding dogmatically to pretty much all the moral beliefs I had when I was a Lutheran.)

elHombre said...

corsair the thingamajig wrote: Religious people make a claim that something exists for which there is no proof.

Paddy O. wrote (to corsair @1:48): What you're asserting is a denial of the proofs based on your own analysis of the record.

I think you are overly charitable, Paddy. There is nothing in corsair's posts, including the conclusory allegation cited above, that suggests familiarity with the relevant record.

The problem with the new, aggressive atheism is that its disciples bring their presuppositions to the table as fact, which negates the need for analyzing or even understanding the issues.

Overly charitable or not, I enjoyed your thoughtful post.

---------------------
WV "palsify" = The climategate guys and their buddies got together to palsify the record.

Pogo said...

"Pogo, your comments are usually cogent, but this one is just asinine."

Thanks for the former, but I don't think any of the things I mentioned can actually be proven to exist. Not even music. Whether something is or is not "music" is entirely subjective and therefore cannot be "proven" at all.

Nor can love be proven.
How would you "prove" love exists? Because people say they're in love?

kynefski said...

"Atheism claims not to know that there is a God."

That sounds more like agnosticism


Same thing. An agnostic is what an atheist self-identifies as in a hostile culture. Or, to be fair, when they're inclined to be patronizing.

Alex said...

No Vishnu, no problems. I didn't see that ad.

Alex said...

corsair - I'm an atheist but I think you're an obnoxious douchebag. I don't have problem with people telling me happy Christmas. Get over yourself FFS.

Alex said...

I don't take the pussy way out and call myself an agnostic. I KNOW God doesn't exist. Did you hear that GOD????

Synova said...

"If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team."

OM, I didn't think this comment from Pogo was off kilter at all... it was in response to "prove God absolutely and I'll join your team." Saying in response to prove these other things and I'll join humanity is just as silly, but it appropriate.

Firstly, because the original "prove God" demand assumes that the speaker's belief or lack of it applies to the greater reality, and also that anyone cares.

Ultimately, yes, I suppose that anyone who is compassionate cares where any random stranger spends eternity, but more practically it's not a responsibility that can be taken up for other people who must, themselves, believe or not believe, and they, themselves, are responsible for their belief or lack of it.

So pretty much, the demand that a believer must *prove* God or (as someone else noted) shut up deserves the response Pogo gave. And no, there wasn't an actual "shut up" in there, but there was certainly the implication that the ability of a believer to prove God defined defined whether or not courtesy or good manners applied to the situation.

I particularly liked the analogy of putting up "White? No problem!" posters during February. It's not a perfect analogy but there is a large area between being an atheist (or believer) in public, as is all of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution that our ability to practice our faith will not be infringed, and being obnoxious about it... which is rude, every bit as rude as feeling that it's utterly important to point out to some random person saying how beautiful his wife is, to point out that she's ugly and you wouldn't do her even for money... just because it's true.

In any case, what isn't in our Constitution, in any form whatsoever, is even the concept of "freedom from religion."

A Christian, or Moslem, or Wiccan or Pagan or Buddhist or anyone else does not have to pretend, in public, to be religion-free in order to comfort those who don't want to be confronted by the faith of others any more than an Atheist has to pretend to be a Christian.

Original Mike said...

Very few people, unless they're merely being argumentative, would deny the self-evident existance of the things on you're list. To claim the existance of God is in the same category is just plain ..., well no need to repeat myself.

elHombre said...

Original Mike wrote: 'If you, the atheist, claim that love and happiness and beauty and humor and hatred and families and music exist, go ahead and prove it. Soon as you do, I'll join right up with your team.'

Pogo, your comments are usually [cogent], but this one is just asinine.

Not that Pogo needs my help, but one argument might go something like this: In the structured universe of immutable laws of nature normally associated with atheism, love, happiness, beauty, humor, hatred, etc., exist only as illusions stemming from complexity in the evolution of human behavior.

The point may be disputable, but it is hardly asinine.

Original Mike said...

In the structured universe of immutable laws of nature normally associated with atheism ...

WTF?

Pogo said...

I was in fact poking fun, but elHombre makes it even more fun.

Original Mike said...

I particularly liked the analogy of putting up "White? No problem!" posters during February.

For the record, I find the FFRF reprehensible. Particularily so at Christmas time. And to add insult to injury, they're from my home time. I wish they would shut up and crawl back under the rock they came from.

Original Mike said...

I was in fact poking fun

Glad to hear it. I've always thought you a smart guy. I didn't enjoy the prospect that I was wrong.

kynefski said...

If you make your skeptical freedom from "dogma" one of the selling points for your atheism, no one is being silly if they wonder whether "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the dogmas you've thrown overboard.

@Paul Zrimsek, I encourage you to think this through. Common morality arises from empathy and self-interest. The notion that it is imposed by religious command is terribly corrosive. Among other effects, it encourages adolescents to question their decency as they develop critical thinking. (I'm guessing that you can identify.)

If folks wish to believe in supernatural agency, we have religions in abundance to support their beliefs, but we shouldn't support their efforts to reserve goodness for themselves.

Scott M said...

@corsair

Perhaps I missed your answer, but I don't believe you responded to my honest question about where your morality comes from if you claim to be a through-and-through atheist (as opposed to agnostic).

Again, as the nihilists would contend, since there is no naturally occurring morality of any kind...indeed nature seems to be at odds with what we consider moral in many things...where does your answer to "what makes a right action right" come from?

I hold that your glib suggestion about believers believing in the god their parents did to be no different from any answer to my preceding question that comes from somewhere around, "I abide by the cultural norms of the society I am a member of". Societal norms are the direct result of nuture, not nature, as acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are taught and passed along.

Joe said...

To be clear, an atheist believes God does not exist. An agnostic believes you can't prove God exists or not. An apatheist says the entire question is irrelevant.

I'm agnostic in the sense that you really can't prove God exists or not (thus pox on both the believer and atheist houses), but am apatheist in that I don't care anyway.

Joe said...

Societal norms are the direct result of nuture, not nature, as acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are taught and passed along.

I disagree somewhat. Seems that the vast majority of societies, regardless of religion, adopt a fairly common base set of morality This would indicate that's it's hardwired into us.

Yes, we are taught certain ways, but this reinforces what our instincts already are.

So, for example, no genuine societies anywhere find parent/child incest or murder within one's own tribe permissible.

dick said...

And yet this same group will go out of its way to keep any nativity scene from a park. Here you have a group plastering a bus with these signs even if they pay for them but don't want the Christians to put up any symbols of their own. In many places they are against even permitting the Salvation Army to put their kettles outside the major stores. Target got a lot of stick for that one the past couple of years when they banned the SA kettles.

Used to amuse me that Lakewood, NJ would not allow a nativity scene by the lake but every year put up a Menorah by the same lake.

Pogo said...

"a fairly common base set of morality This would indicate that's it's hardwired into us."

That's the common answer for all of life's questions to evolutionary behavioralists.

We see X, therefore X is hardwired.

If it were scientific, you could devise a way to refute that premise.

elHombre said...

Original Mike wrote: 'In the structured universe of immutable laws of nature normally associated with atheism ...'

WTF?

Try this: Without God we are just bags of protoplasm structured by evolution and controlled by laws of nature. There is no love or hate, just chemical reactions. If you shake a can of Coke it doesn't emote, it just fizzes. You can call the fizz whatever you want. The fizz is real, the nomenclature represents the illusion.

Original Mike said...

If it were scientific, you could devise a way to refute that premise.

Sure, but the IRB would probably balk at the necessary brain surgery

Original Mike said...

Without God we are just bags of protoplasm structured by evolution and controlled by laws of nature.

And I'm cool with that.

And the fizz feels like love, so I accept it as love.

elHombre said...

... a fairly common base set of morality This would indicate that's it's hardwired into us.

Hardwired by whom?

Watch closely, Original Mike. Here's where we get into "immutable laws of nature" and "complexities of evolution."

We'll get back to Joe on the "murder within one's own tribe" bit.

Joe said...

If it were scientific, you could devise a way to refute that premise.

Yes, by examining all tribes and cultures, especially those isolated from the rest of the world and those that have no discernible religion (there are a few, though they are vanishing), and categorize the similarities and differences.

Original Mike said...

Put another way: "No god? ... No problem!"

I just reject rubbing it in other people's faces. Especially at Christmas time.

elHombre said...

And the fizz feels like love, so I accept it as love.

Cool. If that's all the proof you need, I understand why you thought Pogo's comment was asinine.

Pogo said...

"Sure, but the IRB would probably balk at the necessary brain surgery"

Well, then let's do it in China!!

Original Mike said...

Well, then let's do it in China!!

I'm shocked at that suggestion, Pogo. My hardwiring rejects that as immoral.

elHombre said...

Joe wrote: 'If it were scientific, you could devise a way to refute that premise.'

Yes, by examining all tribes and cultures, ....

I don't think that addresses the premise Pogo was writing about.

BTW, would you say that an Islamic father killing his daughter because she was raped contradicts your claim that "no genuine societies anywhere find ... murder within one's own tribe permissible"?

elHombre said...

@Pogo and OM: I'm pretty sure the International Rugby Board (IRB) has jurisdiction in China, but I don't think they are interested in brain surgery or hardwiring -- just hard tackles. LOL

Pogo said...

"My hardwiring rejects that as immoral."

I'm sure we could find someone less bothered by it.

Hey, Phil Jones, professor and director of the Climatic Research Unit in the UK, is probably available and, by past record, willing. That AGW money is gonna dry up, so he may be looking for a new venture.

Palladian said...

"And why no Ramadan ads and such? Maybe because in the US, we aren't really beat over the head with it every year like the more common religion."

No, we just get a few plane-missiles through a few major buildings every so often. Much better than all that head-beating poor corsair has to withstand every year. In fact he's been head-beaten by the Baby Jesus so many times that he seems a little... affected.

Palladian said...

Angry muslims aren't into head-beating anyway. They're more the head-removal types. Much more permanent an affliction than the annual cranial pummeling with the golden chalice full of frankincense and myrrh.

Palladian said...

I hate secular Christmas, by the way. Not because it takes away from the religious holiday, but because it sucks. If I see the word "cheer" or "merry" a few more times I'm going to knife Santa in his fucking fat gut.


wv: crizz. Crizz kringle. Ho ho ho? No, no! Yo yo yo! Das right, bitches!

Synova said...

My ancestors didn't get the "thou shalt not kill" thing and thought the silly Christians very craven even insipid for it. Who would follow a god that got after you for doing perfectly ordinary things?

It wasn't even all that long ago, a thousand years after the birth of Christ, that the response to a boy killing another boy with an ax was met with the response... Oh, he'll have to be a viking then, as though there was nothing wrong!

The idea that all real cultures and societies share our essential understanding of morality is, well, it has to be projection, ignorance and willful thinking, because I know that my *own* valued and nearly fetishized horrific and bloody displays and human sacrifice and only stopped when the Christians arrived. They did other things, too, such as maintained an unusual level of democracy for the time and maintained vast trading (alongside the raiding) networks, art, craftsmanship, and all that. And when a warlord died they burned his body with those of young women and servants, his horses and his dogs.

Oh! But that's religion!

Well, where did it come from?

We may have a god shaped hole and a compulsion to explain the universe one way or another (thus our propensity for religion is the SAME force that drives our obsession with science) but the idea that there is a common morality that flows from our biological reality is not supported by the history of our species.

That said! We can certainly apply rules of cause-and-effect to most moral questions.

But the only real difference between "you'll have greater reproductive success if you become wealthy through looting and rape lots of women" and "the best way to get locked up for life is to be a rapist" is due to the cause-and-effect of a cultural construct that might or might not exist. It is in NO WAY inherent that there will be bad consequences.

traditionalguy said...

Synova...I agree that our DNA does not give us a morality. The revealation of a holy God recieved from hearing words spoken by his inspired representatives (The Law and the Prophets) has to teach us how to live a safe life, also called observing the rules of morality. Everything in balance works, but our nature that recieves revelation from God's word can also make many submit to abuse from religions that give us wolves dressed as sheep. Love of the truth is the best protection these days.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Common morality arises from empathy and self-interest. The notion that it is imposed by religious command is terribly corrosive. Among other effects, it encourages adolescents to question their decency as they develop critical thinking. (I'm guessing that you can identify.)

Not really, no; I gave up on attempts to derive "ought" from "is" even before I gave up on religion. But why would adolescents question their decency unless their questioning is leading them (despite the Atheist Straddle's claims to the contrary) to conclusions that aren't compatible with morality as the rest of us know it?

Alex said...

My opinion is that religion/atheism has nothing to do with how people treat each other. People are either innately decent/horrible is my experience. Religion has nothing to do with make a good person into a bad one or vice versa.

MC said...

"In the structured universe of immutable laws of nature normally associated with atheism, love, happiness, beauty, humor, hatred, etc., stem from complexity in the evolution of human behavior."

There, fixed that for you, because I don't see how those things are 'illusionary' if they come from the evolution of human behaviour but not illusionary if a god gave them to us.

LutherM said...

So AA, by her own declaration, is "a true blogger".
There seems to be a disturbing imprecision in the Althouse blog, confusing FICTIONAL and Mythical.
Would Althouse say that Portnoy is mythical?
While it can be interesting to compare and contrast the mythical and actual Washington, or Lincoln, or Robert E. Lee, I seem to have missed in my studies discussion of the mythical Eliza Doolittle.

However, I'm sure that PROFESSOR Althouse would write with more precision.

kynefski said...

But why would adolescents question their decency unless their questioning is leading them (despite the Atheist Straddle's claims to the contrary) to conclusions that aren't compatible with morality as the rest of us know it?

I don't know. I spent quite a lot of time in adolescence struggling with doubt, thinking it wrong, and hoping that something would drive me to belief.

elHombre said...

MC wrote: There, fixed that for you, because I don't see how those things are 'illusionary' if they come from the evolution of human behaviour but not illusionary if a god gave them to us.

Sorry I'm so late with this.

Let's see, you "don't see," but you fixed it anyway.

I keep referring to "illusory superiority" (or in your case 'illusionary') here, but it simply is not a deterrent.

Anyway, here is the follow up post, hope it helps: Try this: Without God we are just bags of protoplasm structured by evolution and controlled by laws of nature. There is no love or hate, just chemical reactions. If you shake a can of Coke it doesn't emote, it just fizzes. You can call the fizz whatever you want. The fizz is real, the nomenclature represents the illusion.

It's okay, though, if you want to pretend otherwise instead of accepting or debating the point. It's the new atheist way.