This is the Message Centre for Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 1

Q*bert

Actually -- I never could resist the last word -- the last bastion of a losing argument is to convince yourself that you've won a moral victory and make a grand, disdainful exit. smiley - winkeye Myself, I think personal attacks are fair game, so long as they're not just for personal satisfaction. Feel free to use them on me. (This is going to be a long rant BTW)

Now, I could point out that you got personal long before I did ("I'm getting sick and tired of all the ignorant people saying that atheism is a religion," is what you said, which sounds personal to the ignorant people.) and I let it slide. I could point out that you haven't been putting much seriousness into the arguments I did give, but that might be my own fault. I could point out that I was not "guessing" about what the Albanians did to theists as you accused; the encarta aticle stated explicitly that Albania was officially declared an Atheistic state, and that therefore anyone who practiced religion openly would be a political dissident more or less by definition, would they not? I could point out that even if I had just been "guessing", in your haste to exit you neglected what I consider to be much more important points that I made which had nothing to do with that. I could point out, belatedly, that the point out that the reason I brought up Albania in the first place was to show that Atheistic philosophies are just as likely to use fear as motivation as Theistic philosophies, and since you acknowledge the political purges are atrocities in one of your own posts, I consider my point supported anyway. I could point out that organised Atheist groups, so I've read, are officially recognised as religions by the United States Congress and are elegible for the same tax-exempt status given to Churches, which implies that there are atheists who not only agree that Atheism is a religion, but actually lobbied to have it acknowledged as such. I could point out how ironic it is that the guy who says those who are offended most easily should be, is the same guy who stormed off in a fit of pique.

But I won't.smiley - winkeye

What I will, in fact, point out is what I believe I learned about your commitment to your beliefs from our little tiff. If you still believe that this means that I have no further rational arguments left, then this should be a splendid opportunity to laugh in my face.

Let's start at the beginning:
>Big deal. I'm sure the fat clergymen saw it as an atrocity, but >really, how much of an effect will it have on the laymen? They'll >still work and live and play just like always. If they need their >daily dose of god, they've still got their home bibles, and they >could organize their neighbors into prayer meetings.
Well, no they couldn't, but I said I wouldn't point that out. What really pissed me off bout this statement was the implication that it would have no effect on the laymen. It seems to me that Christianity and Islam are very important to the believers so that, if you asked them, it would have a pretty damned big effect on them. But you know best.

Turn it around: Say a militant Fundamentalist group took control of the government and confiscated all private property, but continued to sanction those sects whose beliefs agreed with their own. Public discussion of atheism is banned, but you can still organise your neighbours into philosophical meetings and you still have your home copies of all the great atheist works. (Printing new ones on church-owned preses is verboten, of course.) Tell me again how this is not barbaric.

Come to think of it, that *is* essentially what you accuse theists of doing. Spreading fear, making the opponent look bad, the whole bit. Correct me if I'm wrong. But when atheists do it it's a win-win situation for everyone but fat clergymen. What balm. What salvation. What utter hypocritical bullshit. Maybe it's me, but I just can't see a defender of the first amendment saying the above quote.

And I said as much in the thread. And you backpaddled. You said that you only meant that it wasn't as bad as I was making out. (I still think it was, but that's dymanite under the bridge.) What I found really interesting was the reaction. As soon as I questioned the possibility that you might not be really sincere in your beliefs you got suddenly defensive. Fair enough, so would I. But I would actually have defended my sincerity, and you didn't. You immediately assumed I'd misunderstood. I'm prepared to bet that it never occured to you that you might really have made a lapse. Moreover, you tried to shame me with insulting insinuations about how I had not even begun to show any evidence.

And when I made it clear that I hadn't misunderstood, and provided examples of what I thought were pretty good pieces of evidence, that's
the exact point at which the paragon of reason lost patience with me. I am clearly too irrational to deal with, my insulting messages are just a last-ditch defence, and there's no point in continuing.

Now I didn't plan the discussion that way beforehand, but it makes me think. Wise men say that a man's religion isn't what he believes on Sunday, but the other six days of the week. Now it occurs to me that the forbidden subject here was the personal; it was all right for you to pass implicit judgement on the entire clergical profession (er, what about Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe in God but not hell?) but Godless forbid if I question *your* integrity. And yet, and yet, you seemed to take it on faith that that this was a legitimate position, that anyone of us who does not believe thus simply isn't intelligent. And you do not question this. Hmm.
You said that i lost the argument. I think I won, just by rattling your cage for a second. That proved that Atheism can be a religion better than anything I sad before it.

OK, I'm done. That's all I wanted to say. This is already getting close to web harassment, so I'm really done. Just felt the need to get that off my chest.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 2

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

You can *think* anything you want to, but you didn't win. In order to win, you have to play. And you didn't play.

You argued that atheism is based on fear, and you offered evidence to support it: Albania. Well, it really didn't qualify as evidence. The Albania article said that the church property was confiscated, and atheism was declared as the state religion. From there can come a plethora of possibilities, but I'll name three:

1) The government of Albania greatly feared the influence of religion as counter to their own power, and so they made a concerted effort to stamp it out, with purges of religious leaders, arresting people who violated their laws against worship, etc.

2) The government seized church property in the same way it seized all national property, and declared atheism as the state religion simply because it ensured that no religion would be able to be exempt from the government. It really did not consider the religion situation to be a problem, and so people continued to gather for worship in other places, and the holidays were openly observed.

3) The government considered religion a threat to its power, but decided that it was too widespread to take sweeping action against. The government purged a few church leaders, but made no concerted effort to stamp out secret meetings and underground celebrations.

We have no idea what scenario actually took place in Albania, because we don't have any evidence. You made the assumption that scenario 1 is correct. Evidence is an argument. Logic is an argument. Assumptions are NOT an argument. And when I pointed this out to you, you refused to recognize it. So, you have offered no arguments to support your thesis that atheism is based on fear, and therefore it deserves no consideration.

You argued that theism is not based on fear. I countered with evidence directly from the bible, hundreds of passages involving death, destruction, mayhem, threats, etc. The god of xtianity is a vengeful god, and the OT expressly teaches his followers to FEAR him. You have countered this very powerful argument with... nothing. Therefore, the counter-argument stands, which is that theism IS based on fear.

Regarding your fundamentalist takeover: This would be no different than the current situation. Atheists are hated even more than homosexuals in the US... only 5% of the people said they would support an atheist who ran for public office, compared to 12% for a homosexual. Atheists don't organize, anyway. There are no atheist churches. There are a few organizations, but they are more political than anything else... the Freedom From Religion Foundation, for example, champions the seperation of church and state in US politics. And as for tax eexmpt status... if you've read that, I'm sure that you can find evidence to support it. But if you cannot, then you are offering an assumption again. You really should take a logic class or debate class or something, and learn how to conduct an argument before you barge into one.

And that is what offended me. Your personal attacks are rather unpolished, and really didn't deserve comment. I'm above such petty trash-talk, since, as I'm sure you've noticed, I am an expert at the insult. What offended me is that you were trying to conduct an argument with nothing in your arsenal but supposition and assumption, and you kept insisting that they were actual arguments. I cannot have a kicking contest with an no-legged man, and I cannot have an argument with someone who has no arguments. And so I departed. I did note your smug self-assertion that you'd won something in that thread, and now you've come to my page in a weak attempt to validate that. Perhaps when you get over your own ego, you'll be qualified to discuss mine.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 3

Q*bert

There you go again, not actually listening to any opinion that difers from your own in your haste to get a clever and urbane response out.

First off, I didn't assume #1 was right, I assumed that #1, #2, and #3 were all equally barbaric. #2 is a NIMBY response on the level of shunning or apartheid, designed to encourage atheists to look down on theists as people and therefore encourage the fear of peasant superstition (at least theists have absolutes to appeal to when they do that). #3 is just #1 plus government impotence.

Secondly, if you go back to the original thread, what I actually said was that theism is no more based on fear than atheism. I started out the way you said, then shifted my phrasing when it became clear that you weren't getting it. But hey, if you're going to insist on saying atheism isn't based on fear, then neither are Jehovah's Witnesses.

Thirdly, there are religions besides Christianity. And a lot of diversity within Christianity. You're making some sweeping generalisations here - what would a logic teacher say about that?

Jeez, I think I've said all of this before, some of it three or four times. You'd think the iconoclast that lurks in the night would have more capacity for subtle points than a socket wrench. smiley - smiley


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 4

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Well, #1,2, and 3 are not all equally barbaric. You were trying to point out that atheism is based on fear. Situation 1 would have proven your point, and that is why you propagated it. Situation 2 has nothing to do with fear... it is all about greed. Situation 3 isn't based on fear, either... it's just an assertion of power. So situation 1 would prove your point, but 2 and 3 would hurt your case. And since we don't know which scenario, from 1 to 2565483, actually occurred, we have no reason to discuss Albania further. It had nothing to do with a NIMBY response... I was simply looking at the evidence and how it pertained to your particular argument. Feel free to get upset about Albania all you want, but if you want to use Albania to prove that atheists are horrible, you'll have to do better than that. All you've proven is that the Albanian government is horrible, and I think we already knew that.

Yes, you did say that theism was no more based on fear than atheism, and vice-versa. And yes, I am going to insist that atheism is NOT based on fear. I've already shown you how theism is based on fear, but you have yet to show me that atheism is. An atheist has absolutely nothing to fear, because there are no invisible, anthropomorphic entities judging our every move. Yet someone who is a good little theist is complimented as a "god FEARing" individual. The purest man on earth is complimented thusly:

"In the land of Uz there was a blameless and upright man named Job, who FEARED God and avoided evil." Job 1:1

Jehovah's Witnesses live in fear of the apocalypse, since they believe they will be the 144,000 saved when it comes. It proves they are bad at math as well as living in fear, since there are millions of JW's in the world today. But atheists, while recognizing the possibility of an incumbent Extinction Level Event, don't expect any anthropomorph to inflict it upon us, nor to bail us out of it. And so there is nothing to fear. If an ELE does occur, it will be a completely natural phenomenon that can be dealt with by human beings who manage to avoid panic attacks and putting their faith in an imaginary apparition.

Any diversity in xtianity is merely doctrinal. They still all study the same bible (except the Mormons, who do not subtract from it, but add to it), so anything their bible teaches is a tenet of xtianity as a whole. I believe I can say that with some authority, as one who has attended worship services in Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist (both American and Southern fundamentalist), Presbyterian, and Calvinist churches.

Jeez, you certainly did say it all before. Now, if you'd only add an argument to back up your statements, we'd actually have a debate. As of right now, we still don't.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 5

Q*bert

Uhh, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't greed for one thing just fear of the opposite? Can you have greed without fear? In situation #2, why would they want all the power and property if they weren't afraid of what would happen if they didn't have it? In situation #3, why would they want to assert power in that way except to limit the power that their political enemies can wield? And why would you be so hellbent against fear of large anthropomorphic entites unless you were convinced that it would interfere with people's ability to deal with ELE? And why do you keep bringing up Xtianity when I've already hinted that you've focused too narrowly on it already, unless you don't know anything about other religions and are afraid to admit it? (Or are just afraid of the other religions.)

This is exactly what made me think you were a pompous hypocritical bigot in the first place: you've set up different rules for yourself than for the rest of the world. You know why we don't have a discussion yet? Because you've set the definitions up in such a way as to ensure you can't be wrong. I feel like I'm trying to convince somebody an apple is green and he's pointing out that it has little brown specks that are visible under a magnifying glass and therfore it's ridiculous to say it's green unless I can prove the specks don't exist.

For example, you talk about how I don't follow proper etiquette for rational discussion. I wasn't aware this was a formal debate but fair enough. How about how you can't seem to provide any evidence examples beyond the mainstream western religions, which is a pretty good example of fallacious argument by composition? What about your little temper tantrum about how nobody will support an atheist president? That would be ad hominem, unless there was some relevance to the point at hand you failed to make clear. And remember, you're the one making the allegation that religion *is* based on fear, so the burden of proof is therfore on you. You've got to convince me, according to the proper rules of debate, not the other way around.

But what fun is that for me? Let's focus more on how you seem to be a reactionary trapped in a rebel's body. Why isn't atheism based on fear, again?



Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 6

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

"Uhh, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't greed for one thing just fear of the opposite?" - I believe philosophers could have a field-day with this particular question. Do people who grasp for power fear powerlessness? Do money-hungry robber-barons fear poverty? I'm going to answer "not necessarily." After all, once people have an excess of power or money, there is really little to fear from the opposite extreme. The government of Albania had an excess of power, and they controlled the means to ensure that that power was not challenged. But anyway, regardless of what the government may or may not have feared, that still doesn't make that fear a fear for atheists in general. They selected atheism as a political expedient, not out of any sort of devotion (which would be silly in atheism, anyway). They did the same thing Emperor Constantine did when he named xtianity the state religion. Constantine remained the high priest of the cult of Sol Invictus until his deathbed, but named xtianity for everyone else, because it was politically expedient.

I'm glad to see your futility and frustration is getting worse. It means I'm really getting to you, and I'm doing it with far fewer personal attacks. I'm finding this incredibly amusing. Will you cry and stamp your feet next?

I don't understand why you're crying about my focus on western theology for evidence against your futile arguments. Your argument was about theism. Xtianity is a theism. If I can show you one theism that is based on fear, then your argument fails. But I used the Old Testament for evidence, which is utilized in all three monotheistic families of religion: Judaism, Islam, and Xtianity. Therefore, I have proven that the vast majority of theists (the most common religion in the world is Islam, and Xtianity is either 2nd or 3rd behind Buddhism) incorporate fear into their religion. My point is proven. I suppose that's why you're really bitching about it. More than anything else, you hate being wrong, and I'm proving you wrong on every turn. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... get over your own ego before you're qualified to discuss mine.

"Why isn't atheism based on fear?" That's a ridiculous statement. Why should I have to prove a negative? You are the one who posited the positive of that statement, and you have offered no evidence. Therefore, since the arguments for fear as a basis of atheism have no merit, we can deduce that their is no fear element.

However, because your case is so weak, and because I know you're grasping for something to get a hold of, I will indulge you. In order to prove that atheism is based on fear, you have to find a fear element in the basic philosophy. Are there things that atheists fear? Yes. Are they things upon which the belief is based? No. Atheism isn't really a belief... it is a DISbelief. If there is nothing to believe in, there is nothing to fear. Ergo, it is impossible to find a basis for fear in atheism. If there is anything to fear in atheism, it is the fear of being wrong. Lots of people maintain theism simply because of that fear (aka Pascal's Wager). But by openly declaring atheism, an atheist repudiates that fear.

Now, if you are prepared to discuss any of this in a rational manner, then feel free to post again. If all you have to offer are further taunts, whines, and tantrums, then please save your strength. I will consider any furtherance of those tactics to be, as you mentioned before, web harassment, and I will take steps. As this conversation is taking place on my own page, it would be rather difficult to simply unsubscribe and leave it to the ether, as I did with our previous discussion. I will therefore petition the Towers to remove this thread in its entirety.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 7

Q*bert

If you believe that you can judge the whole of theism by one form, then I would agree my arguments are indeed futile. It's just that if I'm not mistaken that's logically equivalent to saying that because many women still do the majority of housework, that's all they're good for and it's an inherent trait of the gender. (You understand my annoyance.) You haven't proven your point until you can prove that the fear is an *inherent*, *unavoidable* part of theism, and more so than in atheism, *and* that the fear is demonstrably unjustified. (No, you don't have to prove a negative, but in this case it's prudent and would add credibitiy to your case.)

Re atheism as disbelief: Disbelief is arguably just belief in the opposite scenario. And while atheism is just a belief in the absence of a god, theism is just the belief in the presence of a god. There isn't inherent fear in that. Lots of people believe that god is actually a pretty nice guy. To find the fear you have to focus on specific examples of those categories. So you can say that Xtianity, etc, is based on fear, and we can argue about that, or you can argue that all theism is based on fear, and we can argue about that. But they are separate issues.

My take on it, as I've said, is that the problems you ascribe to theism are only one facet of it, and the problem is not religion, but bad religion. Furthermore, those problems are not going to go away - even if everybody becomes atheists, they'll still basically be people.
To argue that atheism is not based on fear is to argue that atheists are less prone to incorporate fear or awe into their philosophies, less likely to become fanatical when defending the ideals they have centred their life around, and that cynical leaders will be less likely or able to take advantage of the above. None of those are true -- as you yourself pointed out, leaders were quite capable of using the fanaticism of their followers in Albania, just as in Byzantium. I think that helps me more than you, because that demonstrates that Atheistic philosophy is effectively a religion in that it is designed to prevent one's doubts from overtaking one, and that it can be based on fear just as easily as theist belief. And as you yourself have pointed out, atheists do have fear of being wrong. (You say that like it's a trifle, but in the same breath you have claimed that fear of being wrong is what has led me to commit web harassment. Hmmm.)


re greed and fear: That's a very logical stance, but I think you'll agree fear is not logical and therefore can't be dealt with rationally. Based on my own observations of human psychology, I think the fear of poverty is still present in a miser, just dormant while the actual prospect of poverty is absent. If that miser is actually threatened by, say, a stock crash, there's the fear as big as life. And if he's the type to let fear get in the way of his principles, (or he has no principles) then he's going to do some nasty stuff to stay on top. Besides -- if the Albanians are using fear in others (and that's sort of inherent in any legal ban) to alleviate their own fear, how is that different from a priest railing at his parishioners to assure his own place in paradise? He could be very sure of his own worthiness already, but there's always the chance of being that much closer to God.

Sufficiently rational? Hey, if I'm the one who's being gotten to, then how come you're the one threatening to leave? We all have lives, but you had no problem getting this far. As I've said I don't see anything wrong with personal attacks when they're justified, and I even gave you permmision to respond in kind. I was fully prepared to fight to the death. smiley - smiley But hey if it bothers you that much just say the word and I'll stop. No point in annoying you if you're not going to listen.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 8

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

This argument is actually an attempt to address the issues. I'm astonished. I will continue... for now. I am threatening to leave because to this point, this conversation has gone nowhere, and I have better things to do with my time. Let's see if it actually goes somewhere, or continues to do donuts...

I'm not judging theism by one form, I'm judging three. With Xtianity, Judaism, and Islam proven to be rooted in fear, the phrase, "theism is not based on fear" becomes meaningless. It was never my intent to prove that all theisms are based on fear. However, I have proven that most are. That will do for my purposes. Because you've said that theism is not based on fear any more than atheism is. So now that we've established that fear is an inherent property of 3 of the 5 largest religions in the world, I bring you to atheism.

So far your arguments that atheism is based on fear have been pure sophistry. You're asking the wrong question. You're starting by asking "What are atheists afraid of?" and using the answers as evidence that atheism is based on fear. You've got cause and effect reversed. What are atheists afraid of? Well, here is what I'm afraid of... ignorant masses making foolish decisions based on superstitions that will affect me personally or the ones I love. I'm also afraid of rattlesnakes. Is fear of rattlesnakes proof that atheism is based on fear? No. And neither is the first fear, although for a different reason. The fear has to be inextricably linked to the belief... it has to be a part of the belief itself. Many atheists probably do not share my fear, as they expect that the Constitutional seperation of church and state is enough protection. But to believe in the Yahwist god is to fear him... if you believe him, you MUST fear him. His believers are instructed to do so. But if you believe in no god at all... what could there possibly be to fear? No god, no fear. Anything other fears which might grow out of that belief have nothing to do with the belief itself. Therefore, my fear of idiots is NOT an inherent property of my disbelief. That is your logical flaw.

You haven't proven any atheist fanaticism in Albania. Drop the subject. It isn't helping you, and it's making the conversation go back in circles again.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 9

Q*bert

"But to believe in the Yahwist god is to fear him... if you believe him, you MUST fear him." Tell it to a Satanist. smiley - smiley

Actually, a lot of Christians interpret the scripture as saying that Jesus took the fear out of God. Redemption and the lamb of God and all that. Sure you can still go to hell, but hell isn't a place, it's whatever happens when you're ingrateful to God. The responsibility is your own. And God couldn't create humanity any other way because it wouldn't be us. Or so goes the reasoning. I don't agree, although since God is transcendental I can't dispute it.

"I'm not judging theism by one form, I'm judging three." Well, there's a huge differnce. I wonder if I could find three Jews that are really good with money. I wonder if I could find that the majority of Jews in the U.S. are solvent. I wonder if that would make any difference to any discussion of whether Jews are good with money.

"It was never my intent to prove that all theisms are based on fear. However, I have proven that most are." Odd. That's not what you said earlier. Anywho, even if most theist beliefs are based on fear, I fail to see the relevance. You still have to judge each on its own merits, do you not? If not all theisms are based on fear, then you should stop dealing with them in generalisations.

"So far your arguments that atheism is based on fear have been pure sophistry." If they are, then I could say the same for your arguments about fear and theism. As I suggested above, it is perfectly possible to believe in God and not fear him. One could believe in him but be secure in one's knowledge that one is going to heaven (this tying in with your claim that fear is only present in those who have reason to fear, which I personally consider to be analogous to saying that you're only afraid of the spiders you can see), or you could be actively opposed to God and accept damnation as inevitable, as some Satanic cults do. And again, this is all a moot point until you convince me that love and fear are incompatible and that the fear is unjustified (speaking as a Subgenius, for whom Jehovah-1 really is a Mad Alien).

"Anything other fears which might grow out of that belief have nothing to do with the belief itself. Therefore, my fear of idiots is NOT an inherent property of my disbelief. That is your logical flaw."
Your logical flaw is the assumption that a disbelief in God is the sole basis of your religion. That's like saying that belief in God is the sole basis of presbyterianism -- it ignores the differences between it and every other religion that also believes in some form of god. As I have said repeatedly, Atheism, Monotheism, Pantheism, etc. are not religions; but existential atheism is, and so is Marxist atheism, Confucianist atheism and Humanist atheism. As an example of humanist atheism as religion, consider: humanism is based on the basic dignity of the human species and our responsibility for our condition. You yourself have repeatedly insisted that we always have a choice. However, if one does not believe that we are responsible for any important part of our existence, as I do, then this pretty well invalidates the whole worldview. So as I see it, Humanism is a religion based on worship of responsibility, and this is based on fear, because, if you assumed that not taking responsibility would not have any serious effects, then it would make no sense to be a humanist.

"You haven't proven any atheist fanaticism in Albania. Drop the subject. It isn't helping you, and it's making the conversation go back in circles again." Balls. If it weren't helping me you would have told me why it wasn't helping, just now. Let's review: I started with the statement that the ban on religion was based on fear. You said that it wasn't; it was based on greed. I said that greed presupposed fear, you disagreed, I countered your counter-argument. (And I stand by that. How is it possible to desire something and not fear that it will be taken from you?) That isn't going in circles. That's a standard rational progression (and one which would seem to leave me in the advantageous postion, I might add.)

I hate to tell you this, but that's how rational arguments work. The arguments that don't go in circles don't go anywhere. When a rational debate goes smoothly, it's because one side can't defend its points or both sides basically agree. Now you know I don't agree, and you haven't given me any reason to doubt my ability to make a defence, so this will continue to go in circles. Until you explain to me what makes the fanatic Xtian's fear of people rejecting God any different from the fantic Atheist's fear of people accepting God.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 10

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

"I wonder if I could find three Jews that are really good with money. I wonder if I could find that the majority of Jews in the U.S. are solvent. I wonder if that would make any difference to any discussion of whether Jews are good with money." - You're warping again. If three Jews can be found who are good with money, then the phrase "Jews are all bad with money" becomes invalid. That is what I have argued. First you said that theism is not based on fear, so I demonstrated three cases that violate your case. Then you said that theism is not based on fear any more than atheism. You still haven't demonstrated how atheism incorporates any fear element, and since I have demonstrated three theisms that do, your other statement was also reduced to meaninglessness.

"If not all theisms are based on fear, then you should stop dealing with them in generalisations." - You're really should make up your mind. You're the one who started this discussion about theism in general. Every time I reveal a specific case that disproves you, you chide me for not being general enough. Then I go to generalities, and you whine at me for not being specific? I don't suppose you're female, are you?

There is no such thing as Marxist atheism, Confucian atheism, or whatever you want to label it. Atheism is a nonbelief in god...period. If someone ascribes to the personal philosophy of Humanism, it exists completely apart from their disbelief in a god. Many Christians are Humanists as well... they just aren't aware of it. The difference between a philosophy and a religion is in personification. If you worship responsibility, you have a philosophy. If you worship the personification or mystical force of responsibility, you have a religion. Marxism is a philosophy. Confucianism is a philosphy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Humanism is a philosophy. Atheism isn't a philosophy, but neither is it a religion. In order to be a religion, it would have to have a belief in a mystical being. All it has is disbelief.

"Your logical flaw is the assumption that a disbelief in God is the sole basis of your religion. That's like saying that belief in God is the sole basis of presbyterianism -- it ignores the differences between it and every other religion that also believes in some form of god." - You're warping again. I never said belief in god was the SOLE basis. But belief in god is the primary basis. But presbyterians have all kinds of beliefs... atheists have only one. And even then it isn't a belief... it's a disbelief.

You keep trying to make more of atheism than there is. Atheism's entire bible consists of one line "There is no god." If you can find a fear element, it exists in that one statement. If you can find a full-bodied religion, it exists in that one statement. Because the whole of what you keep insisting is a complete religion is really just that one statement. Now you've read the atheist bible, feel free to resort to it for inspiration and enlightenment.

"Let's review: I started with the statement that the ban on religion was based on fear. You said that it wasn't; it was based on greed. I said that greed presupposed fear, you disagreed, I countered your counter-argument." - Alright then, I must have misstated myself. I meant to say that the ban on religion is not *necessarily* based on fear, and that an equal case can be made for it being based on greed. Your to counter it devolved into an interesting philosophical dissertation, but since we have no evidence, we cannot explore the answer as it applies to this specific case. That is why I chose not to pursue that dialogue any further... it is a dead end. We know nothing about Albania. Your speculation is unfounded. That is why it isn't helping you.

"Until you explain to me what makes the fanatic Xtian's fear of people rejecting God any different from the fantic Atheist's fear of people accepting God." - I will respond to this sentence fragment. The Xtian fears the atheist because of reasons based on mysticism and ignorance. Atheists don't fear xtians embracing god... we just fear some of the things they get up to. We fear the things they get up to based on reason and observation. You don't think it's reasonable to fear Islamic fanatics who will sail a boat laden with explosives up to your hull, stand and salute, and blow themselves up? Atheists simply don't do things like that. The idea of an atheist fanatic is absurd and ludicrous.

BTW... Satanists don't believe in a god, Yahwist or otherwise. You should study it more... it's actually quite interesting, and rather harmless except that it promotes total selfishness and self-centeredness. Still, as far as religions go, it's one of the less dangerous ones.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 11

Q*bert

"Every time I reveal a specific case that disproves you, you chide me for not being general enough. Then I go to generalities, and you whine at me for not being specific? I don't suppose you're female, are you?" Cute. What I actaully said, if you'd actually paid attention, was that you couldn't make generalisations from the specific cases you were using, AND that if you weren't going to, then your entire argument is practically useless. Knowing that gators, snakes, and some lizards are carnivores, does it follow that reptiles are carvores? Sure, in a manner of speaking. But is that a useful assumption to make when talking about the impact of reptiles in general on world ecology? No. You can say that *some* theist philosophies are based on fear, but the use of the umbrella-term theism implies that you're talking about all of them. Logical debate depends on precise definitions of this kind or it descends into stereotyping. You could look it up.

And I'm male, thanks. And Canadian. If you hadn't told me, I would still know you were a male American. (Uh-oh, I'm making personall attacks again...)

"There is no such thing as Marxist atheism, Confucian atheism, or whatever you want to label it. Atheism is a nonbelief in god...period." Then how come you won't treat theism the same way? Theism is just a belief in a god... period. Not the Yahwist god, nor even a mystical god, just any god. Theism's entire bible consists of one statement: "There is at least one god." If you can find a full-bodied religion, it is in that one statement. Therefore, all of your "examples" are worthless because they have no bearing on the discussion at hand. Theism is a religion, or it isn't. Atheism is a religion, or it isn't. And since they both deall with the same branch of metaphysics, ie. the question of god's existence, if one is, then so is the other.

Furthermore, may I point out that the diferences in types of theism are based on differences in opinion as to what God is and what it means, and differences in types of atheistic philosophies depend on differences of opinion as to what the lack of god is and what it means. Ergo, philosophies based on atheism are to atheism as as cults are to theism. And there are philosophies that depend on atheism, or at least belief in no god that intervenes; for example, Marx's "religion is the opiate of the masses" only works if you assume that there really isn't any truth to the Xtian's claims that God favors the meek, otherwise it's obviously more profitable in the long run to be a non-revolutionary. Humanism's focus on responsibity depends on a lack of a god who really makes the decisions for us. Existentialism actually does come in both Xtian and atheist flavours, but having studied them I know they're not interchangeable. And so on.

"The difference between a philosophy and a religion is in personification. If you worship responsibility, you have a philosophy. If you worship the personification or mystical force of responsibility, you have a religion. Marxism is a philosophy. Confucianism is a philosphy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Humanism is a philosophy. Atheism isn't a philosophy, but neither is it a religion. In order to be a religion, it would have to have a belief in a mystical being." Oh? Then why don't Reconstructionist Jews believe in a personified God? They believe in God as a force, like gravity. They regard themselves as a religion, receive legal recognition as such, and are treated as such by theologians and sociologists. You could look it up.
(BTW, Lucinda and I kept arguing after you stomped off and she provided a much better definition of religion which is too long to reproduce here.)

"That is why I chose not to pursue that dialogue any further... it is a dead end. We know nothing about Albania. Your speculation is unfounded. That is why it isn't helping you."- Another rule of logical debate that I learned in philosophy class is anything that has not been countered is assumed to be granted. The reason I brought up that interesting philosophical dissertation was to demonstrate that whether you thought that the Albanians banned Christianity based on greed, lust for power or whatever, it still boiled down to fear. You did not contradict me, so you have tacitly acknowledged my correctness so far. Furthermore, I believe I made it clear that I thought that no matter what motivations the Albanian government had for banning religion, it must have been based in fear. No other realistic motivation makes sense. It doesn't matter that I don't have much information, I believe I have enough. You didn't contradict that either. Ergo, I HAVE established that at least one group of atheists have indeed turned fanatic and based their religion on fear (and there must have been someone in Albania who was sincerely Atheist, or it wouldn't have been politically expedient for leaders to pretend). To un-establish it, you must either provide me with a possible motivation for their actions that is
not based on fear, or else you must contradict my interesting dissertation (ie. that any strong desire necessarily implies fear, even if the fear is not imminent.)

Admit it, you liked me better when I was slinging insults.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 12

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

"Knowing that gators, snakes, and some lizards are carnivores, does it follow that reptiles are carvores?" - This is not what my argument proved. You said theism was not based on fear, so I proved that some of them are. So the corrolary to this, using your analogy, would be that if you said that all reptiles are plant eaters. Then I show you a few examples of predatory reptiles, and your statement becomes meaningless. But you didn't say that the fear in theism was an absolute... you just said it was no more or less than atheism. I have proven that fear does exist in some theisms, and I have shown that there is absolutely no fear in atheism. Therefore, your statement that theism is no more based on fear than atheism is meaningless.

"Theism is just a belief in a god... period." - Theism does not end there. Theism is a belief in a specific god or gods, whoever or whatever he might be. Theism is a bulk term to group any belief system that incorporates supernatural beings. Atheism is just the disbelief in any supernatural being. So while atheism is quite simple, theism is very complex. You keep making the mistake of believing that atheism is just as complex, such as your manufactured terms "Marxist atheism" or "Confucian atheism." There is no such thing. You will find Marxists who are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, or whatever. Marxism is completely independent of atheism. The same can be said for Confucianism, Humanism, or any other philosophy you might care to name. Theism is different. You cannot be a Hasidic Jew without being Jewish. You cannot be Presbyterian without being Christian. And you cannot be a Shi'ite Muslim without being Islamic. But you can be a Humanist without being atheist. I have a legion of Humanists waiting to prove you wrong at my Freedom From Faith Foundation, many of whom are agnostic, Zen Buddhist, Quaker, Hermetic, etc.

"Another rule of logical debate that I learned in philosophy class is anything that has not been countered is assumed to be granted." - Well then, since you have not countered my argument that you have no evidence for any of the assumptions you've made about Albania, I will consider it granted. Speculation is one thing, but until you provide a shred of evidence, your speculation is meaningless.

And no, I actually think this conversation is in danger of arriving someplace and having a point... smiley - winkeye


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 13

Q*bert

"So the corrolary to this, using your analogy, would be that if you said that all reptiles are plant eaters." No. The corollary would be if I had said that herbivorous diet was not considered an inherent trait of the reptile class. Just acknowledging complexity within the category.

"I have proven that fear does exist in some theisms, and I have shown that there is absolutely no fear in atheism."
"Theism is a belief in a specific god or gods, whoever or whatever he might be. Theism is a bulk term to group any belief system that incorporates supernatural beings. Atheism is just the disbelief in any supernatural being. So while atheism is quite simple, theism is very complex." Oh, well, having read the two above quotes and acompanying paragraphs I've decided that I must concede defeat and acknowledge you are correct...and comparing apples and oranges. I'll simply have to adjust my original statement to say that "Philosophies incorporating atheism as crucial tenets are as prone to fear as theism." Remember what I said about how you arrange definitions so you can't lose?

"But you can be a Humanist without being atheist. I have a legion of Humanists waiting to prove you wrong at my Freedom From Faith Foundation, many of whom are agnostic, Zen Buddhist, Quaker, Hermetic, etc." Sorry. Should've said secular humanism, secular marxism, etc. Otherwise the point holds.

"Well then, since you have not countered my argument that you have no evidence for any of the assumptions you've made about Albania --" I did so. Pay attention. I established that, based on human nature, the only possible motivation the Albanian government could have had for the actions recorded in the encarta article was fear. It doesn't matter it was scenario #1, #2, #3, or #eleventy-seven, it was still based on fear. I even tried to put the game into your hands by asking you to provide a possible motivation that *wasn't* based on fear (one better than your silly belief that greed is not based on fear, or else a better defence of it). Really, Colonel, you need to get on the ball.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 14

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Well now, it seems that I've won a whole slew of points. You're finally beginning to show some understanding that atheism is not a religion, so that line of discourse can be abandoned.

"Remember what I said about how you arrange definitions so you can't lose?" - I'm not arranging the definitions, I'm just using the ones that are available. Don't start getting snippy again just because you're losing. If you want to argue any specific philosophies, I'd be glad to do so on a case-by-case basis. I'd be interested to find what sort of fear element you find in Humanism, for example.

"I established that, based on human nature, the only possible motivation the Albanian government could have had for the actions recorded in the encarta article was fear." - You weren't paying attention. I proved that greed was equally valid, and you countered with a silly speculation that even greed is necessarily based on fear. Since it is such a tenuous case, I saw no reason to discuss it. But if you like another, how about the simple lust for power? With the religion wiped out, the government can establish *themselves* as gods... Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin all did it, but the practice dates back much further, with Augustus Caesar, the Pharoahs, Alexander the Great, the emperors of China and Japan, and Genghis Khan all doing the same thing. I'm sure I can come up with many other possible motivations, but I choose not to for one simple reason: there is no evidence available to prove any of my theories true or false. If you are so certain that the Albanian government actively feared the church, then I'm sure evidence is available in plenty. But until that time, it serves you no purpose to continue to raise the issue. You can believe all you want, but your Albania case has *proven* nothing except that the Albanians banned religion. For their motivations, you haven't a clue. Come back with real evidence, or drop the subject.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 15

Q*bert

I'd like to belatedly retract the second paragraph of my previous posting. It's a bit late now since you have already declared victory on this point, (on what grounds?) but hey. The only reason I even put that paragraph in was to deal with your screwy definitions.

I've been checking the definition of the word Theism. I've checked my Webster's dictionary, My Oxford dictionary, and The Columbia Encyclopedia (Fifth Edition) Here's what the Webster's said:

Theism n. 1. belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the Universe, without rejection or revelation (disting. from Deism). 2. belief in a God or gods.

The other two just confirm this, so I won't bother you with them. Note that the second definition is the one I gave, almost word-for-word. (The first one doesn't semm to correspond to either of ours.)The point is, there's nothing in there about belief in specific gods. I granted that at the time because I assumed you were using a definition I wasn't aware of.

But now, unless you can provide a source for that def., I am forced to conclude that you don't even know what the word 'theism' means. I was using the accepted definition all along.

The only bone I could throw you is that occasionally the word 'theism' is used to describe a religious system; eg. Judaism and the other theisms. However, when 'theism' is used as a proper noun as we have been using it here, that definition does not apply.

"You're trying to make atheism as complex as theism" Au contraire. You're actually making theism more complex in your own mind than it actually is. Either that, or atheism really is as complex as theism and you're attempting to deny it. It's all in your perspective.

Apparently your entire argument regarding fear in theism, and a good chunk of your argument that atheism is not a religion, are based on ignorance of what theism is. Too bad.

Re Albania: Oh, you meant THAT? That's not speculation, that's an observation of human nature. The way I figure it, all the evidence you could ever get of that is from experience -- but that still means it has about as much going for it as your claim that Atheists won't give their lives for somebody else's cause, if not more. To wit:

"I am the great and powerful King. I have spent my life trying to slake my thirst for power. Now my word is unquestioned throughout the land."
"Your majesty, the peasants are revolting. Shall I call our well-trained secret police?"
"We don't have secret police. I'm not afraid of being powerless. Easy come, easy go."

Yeah, that's realistic. But that's the kind of view of human nature you have to be willing to entertain if you're going to make the claim that lust for power and greed are independent of fear. Try again.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 16

Q*bert


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 17

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I offered the definition for theism as "a belief in a specific god or gods, whoever or whatever he might be." And you offered definition 2 of theism as "belief in a God or gods." Now please tell me how they differ. Incidentally, definition 1 is the definition of Western theism, which is what I keep trying to use as an example of theism in general, but you won't let me.

"But that's the kind of view of human nature you have to be willing to entertain if you're going to make the claim that lust for power and greed are independent of fear." - Well then, let's take that bit of logic a bit further. If you are correct, then absolutely *everything* mankind does is based on fear. We mate for fear of being alone. We eat for fear of being hungry. We drink for fear of thirst. You're arguing with me out of fear of being wrong. I vote from fear of my government. We dress for fear of being seen naked. We...

See, every positive can be found to be motivated by a fear of the negative through your little logical device. Is that truly the human condition as you see it? Are we really paralyzed by fear every waking moment, paranoid about everything from hair loss to electrocution? I say that it isn't the case. The positive motivations have more power than the negative ones in most situations... the lure of the carrot is more effective than the fear of the stick. Greed and power lust would be positive motivators (denoting what is to be gained) in the Albania situation, while fear of the power of religion would be the negative. All things being equal, greed and power lust outweigh fear 2-1. But we don't know that all things are equal, because we have no evidence. All you have is logic, and now I've that I've exposed its flaw, I'm sure you can finally agree to put this issue to rest.

Besides, if the king in your analogy was that greedy and power hungry, he would still defend the money and power he possesses... keeping that which you have already gained is still just as much motivated by the positives as it is with the negative. Most aristocrats were so arrogant that they didn't even know fear in such situations. He would have to actively believe the peasants could take from him before fear can even become a factor.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 18

Q*bert

"I offered the definition for theism as "a belief in a specific god or gods, whoever or whatever he might be." And you offered definition 2 of theism as "belief in a God or gods." Now please tell me how they differ." They don't really, but you weren't using that definition a few posts ago. The operative words in your definition are "whoever or whatever he might be" ie. not a specific god, as you claimed. You're contradicting yourself.

"Are we really paralyzed by fear every waking moment, paranoid about everything from hair loss to electrocution?" Who said fear was paralyzing? Fear is the great motivator, the origin of the fight-or-flight response. Yes, everything we do is motivated by fear. I thought everybody knew that. You just don't want to look at the negative because you think of fear as "paralysing". If that were true, nobody would watch slasher movies. Fear can be paralysing, but it can also be arousing, lively, exhilarating. Life without fear would be life as a vegetable.

What we were really discussing is whether fear is *used* by the leaders in atheism as well as in theism. And I see no reason to make that jump. People are people. And the reverse is also true: Any negative can be found to be motivated by a desire for the positive. Most Xtians would say that they're are Xtian not through fear of God, but through desire to be with him in heaven. You may see this as a kiss-up strategy, and that's your perogative. But what exactly is the difference?


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 19

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

You're being pedantic on the definition, and you know it. A theism is a belief in a specific god. Many theism worship a variety of gods, therefore the different theisms all worship a different sort of god, "whoever or whatever he might be."

"Yes, everything we do is motivated by fear." - This is another philosophical question, and one with which I strongly disagree. Fear is the great paralyzer, freezing us in indecision and preventing an embrace of risk. Fear is what maintains the status quo, but change is motivated through more positive means... a desire for the gains to be made which far outweigh the fear of failure. Fear can be exhilarating in controlled circumstances, which is what skydiving is all about. But jumping without a parachute is as good a metaphor for life as any other. Very little in life is controlled. So if fear were all pervasive, and completely uncontrolled, we would never have been able to emerge from our caves and put animal skins on our backs.

Leaders in atheism? Who are they? Where is the Almighty, Right and Never Wrong So Obey Me Without Question and Pay Me All Your Money Church of Atheism? Who is its pastor? Where do they assemble for services and clambakes? Atheism is an unorganized, leaderless, non-social belief. And that's because atheism has no need for it.


Hey, howzitgoin Colonel!

Post 20

Q*bert

"You're being pedantic on the definition, and you know it. A theism is a belief in a specific god." That's the problem. We weren't talking about *a* theism, we we were talking about *all* theisms, at least generally. That's what makes the difference. If you're not speaking about any particular theism then you can't say they worship any particular god. Debasement of words. You can say that some or even most are based on fear, but unless you intend to throw out every single theism including those that aren't, you can't make the generalisations you've been making.

"Fear can be exhilarating in controlled circumstances, which is what skydiving is all about. But jumping without a parachute is as good a metaphor for life as any other. Very little in life is controlled. So if fear were all pervasive, and completely uncontrolled, we would never have been able to emerge from our caves and put animal skins on our backs." Maybe you wouldn't. I like to think I would. The flaw in your argument is its dualism. You're assuming that that desire (positive) can exist away from fear (negative). I don't see them as separate things, so you have to accept the positive along with the negative. I'm not denying anything you just said about fear, I'm just pointing out that there's an entire other side of it which you're not acknowledging. Tell me, if a person wears an animal skin on his back to protect himself from frostbite, is it because he wants to live or is afraid to die? (Remember my point about the miser having passive fear, and that there can be passive desire as well.)

Re leaders in Atheism: the structure you're describing sounds very much like what sociologists call an audience cult. An audience cult is a set of beliefs that is distributed by a central set of leaders through pamphlets, books, and so forth. If the audience cult becomes sufficiently widespread, other distributors will become involved, but there is very little interaction between believers. Eg. the Gurdjieff teachings, Carlos Castaneda-oids, about half the New Age. So the leaders of atheism are the people who are most active in purveying it, the philosphers, pamphlet writers, people who run atheist websites, etc. The main diference is that mystical audience cults are, er, mystical, whereas most atheist groups are raional. (Big deal. You can't prove the validity of logic using logic, any more than you can prove the validity of mystical insight using logic, and I've seen atheists, agnostics and theists get downright spiritual about the power of reason.)

Some audience cults even echo the arguments you just gave for why Atheism is not a religion, in order to prove that they aren't a cult. We don't have any leaders, pastors, meetings, they say. We're all about personal exploration. There's no leader. There's just Gurdjieff writing his books and making large amounts of money off of them.

What really makes this relevant is that a lot of religions that are now more organised start off as audience cults. (Think of the early Xtians spreading Xt's word.) You admit that there are some natural followers who are atheists. You gonna tell me that nobody's gonna take advantage of that? Right.


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