Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I miss Carl Sagan

"It is self-evident that the insane are willing to resort to things that the sane cannot even consider nor sometimes even imagine. Therefore they always have the element of surprise."
-Saint Brian the Godless

***

And now a quotation from someone considerably more famous, and rightly so:

"If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing? Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship. My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, then our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, then our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival in an extremely dangerous time. In either case the enterprise of knowledge is consistent surely with science; it should be with religion, and it is essential for the welfare of the human species."
-Carl Sagan

I miss Carl Sagan. A clearer mind and better communication skills are seemingly impossible to find amongst today’s spokesmen for the side of science, which is basically identical to the voice of reason in our society. He was clever, thoughtful, had a disarming manner, and he knew how to make science interesting, even to a lot of people not interested in science. I wish there were a lot more like him. Of course if wishes were fishes I could put on a far better 'feeding the poor' show than Jesus did.

I have always liked the above Sagan quotation; however I see that even Carl, intelligent as he was, missed the obvious.

The part that I refer to is this interrogative sentence:
“If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing?”

YES, Carl, YES. That is PRECISELY what today’s Christians, many of them at any rate, believe!

Your audience in that quotation, or rather the Fundamentalist Christian portion of it, not only believes that God wants them to be sodden blockheads, they believe it so deeply that they compete to be the most sodden blockhead of all! Of course they don’t actually think of themselves as sodden blockheads in those exact words. No, they’re the faithful, the flock, the True Believers, the Chosen Ones, the righteous God-fearin’ common folk that just ‘know’ in their bones that prairie wisdom and so-called ‘common sense’ along with religious faith of course, are in every way preferable to logic and reason, proof and evidence. And so of course therefore, science is rendered that much pious malarkey, all bets are off, up is down and black is white. That loud slamming sound was the closing of their minds. Their reality has just trumped your reality, Carl. You lose.

(After all, as we all know, momma grizzlies and such don't truck with no book larnin' when a wink and a nod suffices as long as Jesus is in your heart)(Katie Couric rot in hell!)

Now Carl, what to do? Your whole logic is stymied! Your eloquence is wasted on those most in need of it. What you thought was the undeniably obvious, turned out to be anything but.

You’ve underestimated our stupidity as a species, Carl.

It’s not your fault, though. I find that the reverse of old Bertrand Russell’s saying is often true as well. You know the one: “A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

Conversely and unfortunately for you Carl, a clever man’s understanding of the mind of a stupid man is limited by the fact that he is too clever to imagine being that stupid. At a gut level, he can't believe it's possible.

Too bad you’re dead, Carl. You were perhaps sufficiently brilliant to solve this conundrum for me, the “How to reach them” conundrum. I can’t seem to find any satisfactory solution. And it's not like I haven't tried. At first I thought there was a chance, but it's like their minds reset every Sunday or something. Any progress is deleted on a weekly basis.

(sigh)

(Oh well, at least you left us Cosmos. And that Jodie Foster movie.)

And Carl, not to make you spin in your grave, but they vote! How they vote! More even than in your day... They vote in droves! They vote in direct inverse proportion to their intellects! They are worse than sheep; they are lemmings, and not how lemmings actually are, no, but how they were incorrectly portrayed in that film by Mr. Disney. They listen to any caucasian that knows the secret word (Jesus Christ) and then they vote like maggots on a carcass, whipped into their dipterous larval frenzy by everyone and anyone from national-level right-wing politicians down to bloviating A.M. Radio personalities, their rabid pastors, myopic internet blogs, and that ever-present cable television version of ‘Pravda,’ Fox News. (Otherwise known as 'The Retarded Network') (Yes, I fucking said it!)
They osmotically absorb their fork-tongued hyperbiased non-reality-based talking points from their chosen Officially Sanctioned Disseminators of Truth, whichever one makes them feel the most special, and oh by the way, they pay attention to actual facts and verifiable truth about as much as an orca pays attention to a drowning gnat.

They not only can never think for themselves; they are so far away from ever even being able to imagine thinking for themselves that they’ve convinced themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt that that they already do. And that's enough for them. And for those who helped convince them. For they exist embedded in a matrix of reality-denial, a support-group of fellow dunces.

Mutual ignorance can have a peer-bonding effect. Who knew?

They are under the induced delusion (one among many) that a lack of knowledge is amply compensated for by a surfeit of blind belief, as long as you call it 'faith.' Proud of their ability to ignore the obvious, they persist in their beliefs in the face of any evidence to the contrary. (What evidence?) You see Carl, in their estimation the people like you, the realists, the science and logic based persons, are the actual ‘sodden blockheads’ because they (you) (we?) ‘understand, but worship nothing’ so to speak.

They are the blind insisting on their superior vision here, Carl.

And sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings Carl, but they are not impressed with you. Never were. All you ever were to them was a voice of the opposition, the hated adversary science, and therefore evil, so basically ‘don’t let the door hit you on the existential ass on your way to hell’ is how they feel about you. Sure, you were a visionary to many people, but not to them, never to them. To them, you and your kind, are anathema.

The bungled and the botched have decided that the rational reaity-based people are insane, and they breed faster than we do and are more organized than termites. It's like a cancer. It's scary, Carl. This country is seeing a rise of agressive religious anti-intellectualism that is like nothing I've ever seen before in my lifetime.

We’re fucked, Carl.

402 comments:

  1. Re: the title of this post...

    Me too. I could hear his nasal-inflected voice while reading the quote...

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  2. Sagan is a personal hero.

    One of my favorite exchanges was when a reporter asked him if there was life on other planets. Sagan, a huge proponent of searching for extraterrestrial life said, "I don't know." The reporter kept pushing and Sagan said, "it's ok to be unsure."

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  3. Of course there's life on other planets.

    For God said, "Let there be life!" And there was life in the weirdest places.

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  4. Was watching the Thunderf00t vs. Ray Comfort conversation on the You-inter-toobs.

    Ray says something like, "Why do we feel like we're the pinnacle of creation?"

    Um, Ray, 'cos 'otherwise there'd be no hope?'

    How does a person justify his own existence?

    Well, I guess a lot of people imagine that they have a mental friend making sure that they're going to be 'okay'. It's comforting to have an invisible friend, ask any child.

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  5. Every day, twice a day, Emma watches this show about a deaf woman who is an FBI agent.

    Every day, twice a day, they play the opening song, which happens to be a country and western.

    It just hit me how country and western song writers can add as many syllables to a word as they like to make it fit.

    How you feeling? Alright?

    Someone from the South, 'cording to this Law of language of song writers might feel 'alri-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yight'.

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  6. “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear” - Thomas Jefferson

    It seems that Jefferson was hinting at the same idea, albeit it from an unscientific stance.

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  7. Jefferson was barely a deist, if even that.

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  8. You know, it just occurred to me...

    The ONE scientific instrument that did the most to debunk the BS in the bible was a telescope.

    Just a quick poll:

    Who here has actually looked at Jupiter or Saturn or Mars or Venus with a sufficiently powerful telescope that you can see actual detail?

    I have. I even own a Wild T-2 that I set up in my yard on clear nights and look at the planets.

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  9. Right about Jefferson, Ed.

    It's a fucking shame what Texas is trying to do with Jefferson.

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  10. When are you putting up a new post, mac?

    I miss the ladies...

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  11. I'll work on that, Ed .
    I just haven't been motivated lately... as if I ever was ;-)

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  12. Who here has actually looked at Jupiter or Saturn or Mars or Venus with a sufficiently powerful telescope that you can see actual detail?
    -----------------
    I have not. I am fascinated with the heavens, but in my 'impressionable years of youth' I was much more fascinated with invertibrate zoology, specifically entomology. Also I was very interested in herpetology. I even worked in an exotic pet store, the largest in RI, over 450 tanks.
    However, I still loved the heavens. I did have a 20-60X zoom spotting scope of decent quality as a kid and spent many an hour staring at the craters of the moon, identifying mare ibrium etc... and also frequently observed venus in its crescent phases.
    I am as you likely know, a gemologist. One particular fascination that I have besides fossiliferous amber (even published a few articles in Rock and Gem Magazine in my day about that, and about photomicrography in general) is meteorites. I am enthralled b them. I used to deal in them. I've met the world's largest dealers personally, at various shows including Tucson, AZ. I have a few great specimens of my own. They're not cheap. I have a fist-sized lump of the least expensive kind, Gibeon octahedrite, (all meteorites are named after where they fell; gibeon is a place in south africa) a nickle-iron with visible ablation (air-burn) and a flat polished surface (etched) showing the Widmannstaten pattern, an interlace crystal structure of two iron minerals, kamacite and taenite. The pattern is almost three-dimensional, and can only be created by molten proto-planetary core material (nickle-iron) cooling at approximately one degree celsius per one thousand years, at near zero gravity. It's the very stuff this solar system is made of, and the oldest thing we humans can actually touch, being in excess of 4.5 billion years old. You can even find small diamonds or crystals of peridot within, or graphite nodules... it's also very tough material, breaking the best diamond sawblades in many cases. That piece of gibeon is worth about five hundred dollars, weighing less than a pound or so. I also have a really nice untouched unpolished specimen of 'sikote allen' if I recall the name right... a russian fall, a lot of pieces... the meteorite blew up before it hit the ground, so think 'shrapnel' only showing burn patterns where the air melted the iron away (ablation.)
    Oh, how I could go on... That nugget of sikote allen is worth about two hundred, and it's pretty tiny. Maybe one ounce at most. But the very rarest meteorites, say a MARTIAN meteorite, are insanely expensive. Like, 500K for one half the size of your fist. (Martian meteorites are the product of an ancient large meteorite impact *on mars* that splashed martian planetary crust material into *space* and then eventually after like a zillion years a few rare chunks fell hereand there on earth... you can imagine how interested science is in them. There's like three known.
    I wear a ten millimeter sphere of gibeon meteorite on my right hand all the time. I have a silver ring so designed as to hold the sphere in a round hammered dome design. No mounting; it's held in by my finger, so when I take the ring off, the sphere falls out in my hand. Very heavy stuff, even a ten mm sphere...

    I always wanted a really good reflecting telescope, but never found myself in the position of affording one in my general triage of personal expense management.

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  13. Ed; "Who here has actually looked at Jupiter or Saturn or Mars or Venus with a sufficiently powerful telescope that you can see actual detail?"

    A friend of mine has a ridiculously expensive telescope. I don't know if I would say you could see "detail" but you could see the rings on saturn and shadows of moons on jupiter.

    Very cool either way. My favorite, and you can do this even with a cheap telescope, is to look at the edge of the moon, where you can see the shape and texture of the various mountain ranges.

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  14. I have seen Jupiter and Saturn through a telescope. I don't know why, but seeing the actual rings of Saturn through a telescope is far better than even the best pictures we get from NASA.

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  15. Pliny used to have a link to Evangelical Realism, an excellent site, which is now 'deconstructing' Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis.

    Great stuff, since Christians, especially the Catholic Philosophical Apologists, the likes of Eric, rely heavily on Lewis' authority that all Christians have this base belief which they can all agree on, and imagine that he is starting from generic ideas and I suppose ending up at a generic Christianity.

    Lewis is particularly smooth, so if you like that kind of thing, pointing out the flaws in a great hero of Christianity's arguments, have a look every now and then as Deacon Duncan exposes them for all to see.

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  16. So, you learn something new everyday. Did you know that the “mark of the beast” or 666, was actually a code for Nero based on the Aramaic spelling of “Nero Caesar” using Hebrew Numerology.

    Also, let me recommend the free podcast by Mike Duncan, The History of Rome.

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  17. Apparently we atheists are extremists now...
    These religious people are a real pain in the balls.

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  18. That nazi prick is annoying me. He belongs in jail for his heavily flawed moral stances, and here he is, baron harkonnen of the church, pooping on atheists. Who knew we were radicals?
    I wish there were justice in this world.

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  19. Baron Harkonnen, nice.

    Where's St. Alia of the Knife when you need her?

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  20. So, I'm still stuck on this "infinite mass" equalling "total mass in the universe" thing.

    Doesn't feel right, but I can't think of how they aren't (at least theoretically and assuming the math is good) the same thing.

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  21. Funny that you guys should mention Dune:

    I'm starting through the entire series again, beginning with "The Butlerian Jihad", the first of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's prequel trilogies.

    I have ALL the Dune books.

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  22. I've only ever been able to get through to the beginning of God Emperor of Dune. And that's a struggle as I've always lost interest after blind Paul wanders off into the desert.

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  23. But if you like Dune, check out Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. It's one of those books I didn't love but it's stuck with me and I always find myself rereading it.

    I'll probably pick it (or Dune) up again once I finish Singh's The Big Bang (still trying to get my head around 'infinite mass').

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  24. the Widmannstaten pattern...

    Looks like a cross between Mondrian and Kandinsky...

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  25. Funny, it always reminded me of an Escher interlock.

    It's prettier in person. The bright areas change with the angle of the light because of the directional nature of their crystallization.

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  26. I finished God-Emperor of Dune... I think that was it. The one where Paul finally becomes a sandworm.

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  27. Brian,

    It was Paul's son Leto II who became a sandworm...

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  28. About the latest in astronomy, I think that it's a question of breaking out of your mindset, which might take generations.

    People live in the present and cannot keep non-intuitive facts in their minds while describing their own discoveries. They tell us that the farther away an object is the farther back in time we're looking at it, but they're determined that they have a 'good bead' on how the universe(which consists of objects seen as they were sometimes billions of years ago) looks NOW.

    Pliny even told us that he finds it impossible to imagine that a galaxy viewed as accelerating away from us could not at present have altered it's relative acceleration and be accelerating less or even decelerating now.

    Perhaps it is impossible to believe that a galaxy might have slowed down and is now accelerating back to us and it's just that the light, the spectrum shift of the light, just hasn't reached our telescopes yet.

    I don't think that it was much more than 70 years ago that most of us thought that the Milky Way WAS the universe and that the smudges that are galaxies sometimes bigger than our own galaxy are so far away and moving at such speeds.

    Consider this. This is the time-frame in which the sayings and acts of Jesus are presumed to have been remembered and finally written down.

    Seems to me that at the time of writing, most people, who gave a crap, wouldn't be able to recall a time when there WEREN'T Christians/Christianity in some form.

    It's these little known scribes* which Irenaus(sp?) had faith in and HIM who modern Christians have faith in, not Jesus.

    *anachronistic stories about said scribes count for nothing at all. Their NAMES for example.

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  29. Right, Ian!

    I'm pretty sure I tried to articulate that kind of argument before about the time factor(not sure if I did, or IF I did whether it was successful...):

    "Consider this. This is the time-frame in which the sayings and acts of Jesus are presumed to have been remembered and finally written down."

    Consider this as well: In those days, there was

    No photography
    No telephones
    No newspapers
    No videotape
    No CNN

    ...but we're expected to swallow that story in one gulp, and ask for more.

    Incredible.

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  30. Ask yourself this, Christians:

    Honestly, how many people were present to watch a couple of guys slowly die because they had been crucified (which was a fairly common event in those days)?

    Why would anyone care, beyond the rubber-necking involved in being able to watch some Roman soldiers drive iron spikes through his wrists and feet?

    I mean, even if I thought he might be the Messiah, I wouldn't hang around in the noonday sun in a desert climate, watching to see the exact moment when he stopped breathing, especially when it was KNOWN that some of those jokers could linger for two or three DAYS on a cross before snuffing it.

    If we're to believe the Gospels, It was already accepted common knowledge that Jesus was who he said he was, in which case the New Testament is a moot exercise; it needn't have been written if it was

    THE TRUTH.

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  31. Ed: "I mean, even if I thought he might be the Messiah, I wouldn't hang around in the noonday sun in a desert climate, watching to see the exact moment when he stopped breathing, especially when it was KNOWN that some of those jokers could linger for two or three DAYS on a cross before snuffing it."

    This is a really good point that I hadn't considered.

    Of course, even Mark talks about his actual death (after only 9 hours, swoon theory, anyone?) and about the women as witnesses and Pilate giving the body to Joseph of Arimathea. So we have to at least treat that as historical (which Christians often confuse with the word "fact").

    And to be fair, if it was my son that was being crucified, I'd stay for the long haul, just like Mark claims of Mary.

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  32. I think that's the crux of the matter(get it? Crux = cross).

    If the testimony of the scribes had been more compelling, if Jesus had said something SO profound that wasn't already common knowledge, such as, "Do unto others...", there'd be no need to have their characters play out this scenario where the establishment is against HIM(Jesus).

    If the message is that the establishment is corrupt, why is it that Christians try to be in control OF establishment to this day?

    Instead we hear from Christians that, "This is NOT the time to turn the other cheek!", and such, at every opportunity. We hear how we, the public, ought to be bending to their will(which they interpret as God's Will of course), but God, according to them, (a) gave us choice, (b) denounced establishment (c) denounced earthly power, if that's any different, and therefore so should THEY!!

    I don't see any blueprint, in the Bible, for young radical Christians to run for Senate on free market, hell with the poor, ram the Christian God's WILL(i.e. their will) down the public's throat.

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  33. Here's another good point, Ryan, although you may already be aware of it:

    Mark, the first Gospel doesn't say anything about Pilate posting a Roman guard on Jesus' tomb.

    No guard, no one watching to see if the boys came down in the dead of night and whisked the body (swooned Jesus?) away to Galilee...

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  34. This is why critical thinking needs to be taught in elementary schools.

    Education has made advances in method, why not curriculum?

    How is it that there are so many liberal thinkers in education yet at the local level not much gets through?

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  35. "How is it that there are so many liberal thinkers in education yet at the local level not much gets through?"

    Because liberal schoolteachers are bound in their curriculum by elected school boards. And there's the textbook (Texasbook?) factor.

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  36. Ah.

    I forgot about that, simple really, but it didn't cross my mind.

    There's something up on AOL about social conservatives possibly taking over the tea-party. Best part of the article was the reminder that there's a neo-con named Dick Armey.

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  37. Checked out the site "Rapture Ready", which seems to be chronicling events leading up to the 'good guys'(or at least the 'godly guys') being physically, as well as the usual 'spiritually', up to Heaven.

    'Course the latest news can be bent to suit themselves, but what struck me was a link at the side.

    "Is 2012 the End of the World?"

    This seems to be grasping at straws for the simple reason that, the teensy-weensy reason that, the people who made the calender which 'ended' at the year 2012 were worshipping a different god.

    What?

    Their scripture told them that Jesus will come back 'as a thief in the night' yet worshippers of some other hokey god nailed it? THEN Hollywood made a freekin' MOVIE about it???

    We are dealing with children when it comes to this. They don't recall their own premises half the time.

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  38. there's a neo-con named Dick Armey.
    ---------------------

    Please, not when I'm drinking my morning coffee ;)
    I hate coffee in the sinuses.

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  39. "We are dealing with children when it comes to this. They don't recall their own premises half the time."

    Exactly pboy, culture is the unknown component to the fundamental religious mindset.

    Considering Christians in particular, Yeshua the slightly crazy, heretical Jewish rabbi, would probably roll his eyes.

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  40. Hi guys...

    My first post from the new house. Cool.

    Just saying hi... have to unpack more boxes!

    C-ya.

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  41. Ian said,

    "Their scripture told them that Jesus will come back 'as a thief in the night' yet worshippers of some other hokey god nailed it?"

    I'm sure you're aware that the Mayans didn't "prophesy" the end of the world. They just ran out of room on their decoder-wheel calendar, and it ends on December 12, 2012 (by our reckoning).

    If it WAS a prophecy, then the Mayans were shitty at uttering prophecies, since they missed the date by about 600 years...

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  42. ...at least for the Mayans, at any rate.

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  43. Bienvenidos a la casa burro!

    Espero que disfrutes de un suenyo reparador.

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  44. "...they missed the date by about 600 years..."

    What?

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  45. Political Mayan: Hey why'd you guys stop making the calendar?

    Priest Mayan: You try calculating this shit day after day. We're tired. And Bob's not doing the human sacrifice this afternoon, his old lady just took off. So he's a bit uh, you know, drunk.

    Political Mayan: You do it then.

    Priest Mayan: Hmmm, 'What's that?!' I just got a message from the sun god, he said to 'Fuck off.'

    Political Mayan: Jesus Christ!

    Priest Mayan: He said to 'Fuck off' too. Yeah, none of them like you.

    (Political Mayan leaves)

    Priest Mayan: The idiot who decided to mix politics and religion needs a butt kicking.

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  46. Harry said,

    "...they missed the date by about 600 years..."

    What?"

    you know... The Mayas.

    Their world ended around 1450, even though the calendar goes to 2012.

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  47. I said,

    ..."I'm sure you're aware that the Mayans didn't "prophesy" the end of the world. They just ran out of room on their decoder-wheel calendar, and it ends on December 12, 2012 (by our reckoning)."

    Um,that should be December 21st...

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. Nice Ed. Thanks for passing that along. I'll be looking up in the heavens tomorry.

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  50. I gotta know if Dinesh is equivocating here with his backhanded compliment to Peter Singer

    Do any of you remember him holding a different position?

    I do.

    But I could be wrong.

    DD Ramone and Peter Singer

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  51. I do as well, of course I couldn't his AOL articles archived anywhere so there's no way to tell.

    On a side note, I really hate when he gets loud.

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  52. D'Souza is a whore. A very expensive whore.

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  53. "On a side note, I really hate when he gets loud."

    No doubt.

    I disagree with both men about certain things, and unless someone is already indoctrinated, does Dinesh actually think raising his voice convinces people?

    I know the answer to that. The above is a limited choice fallacy...DD Ramona Quimby doesn't think about it at all.

    Which reminds me of a George Harrison lyric.

    "There's a preacher out there warned me about Satan
    Could be that he knows him
    Cause' He acts like he's possessed..."

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  54. D'Souza reminds me of Cavilling Ray and the 'thing' about religious philosophers who, much like cavilling children can drone on and on about how you can't prove them wrong.

    These religious philosophers are exactly the same but they create this elephant in the room whereby you're not supposed to mention that they're cavilling at all, deliberately side-stepping any point brought up or implying that it's a matter of opinion and such.

    "Did you hit your sister?"

    "Why no mother, I cannot tell a lie, I did NOT!"(actually it was the book I swung at my sister that hit her! Hehe)

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  55. Funny and true, pboy. Hehe.

    I wasn't aware that the reason that Bill Maher lost his first show (Politically Incorrect) was that something his guest Dinesh D'Souza said to him that he agreed with, got him in trouble. Did you? Bill mentioned it last friday.

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  56. I see in them, the 'apologists,' a real feeling of pride in their ability to run rings around people verbally. They get off on the illusion of power and intelligence it gives them, never realizing nor caring if they did, that they have made lying their way or life, never seeing how fucking pathetic that is.

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  57. (I believe the thing that D'Souza said that Maher agreed with that lost him his job, was the statement that muslim terrorists and suicide bombers and such, aren't cowards.

    No, reeeeaaaalllly? It takes balls to blow yourself up for a belief, sorry, on that one I have to agree as well. I don't admire it one iota, but it is definitely not cowardly.

    Or is it... hmmm...

    Well, killing indiscriminately like that is, but they're religious nuts so they can't see that part... They're willing to die for their beliefs...
    funny thing, I just realized that that's not real balls.... real balls is willing to die for something when you're an atheist. That takes a lot more chutzpah than when you totally believe you'll wake up in a pig-pile of virgin girls.

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  58. The word 'coward' gets bandied about a lot.

    I was watching one of those 'lockup' shows and one of the inmates said you have to fear a coward 'cos they're the one's that'll run up behind you and stab you and such.

    But it's politics really, 'cos if you're fat and/or weak, the only thing you can do to retaliate against a bully would be to 'jump' him.

    I think that you'd be a coward to put up with the bullying, especially in prison where there's no escape.

    But one can't be a coward from BOTH perspectives surely. Surely it's not genetic or lack of exercise.

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  59. Peeb,

    I did a search on 'Cavilling Ray' but couldn't find anything. Is he, she, it, Canadian specific?

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  60. Cavilling Ray was a regular at the old DD blog. He was an Eric clone. In fact I personally think he might well have *been* Eric.

    There were other names too, if I recall. Pboy? Weren't there several apologist types around at the time? Or rather, wasn't there a sucession of them one after the other?

    They all seem to base their defense on Aquinas, too. As if that's definitive in any way... Too funny. They act like it's scripture or something 'infallible' like that...

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  61. I remember Ray, Eric and Renzo who were all very similar.

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  62. Thanks for clearing that up Bri.

    I remember Renzo well enough. I suspected, and I think you guys did too, that he was Dinesh.

    I just got reacquainted with Aquinas in metaphysics on Tuesday. His best theological arguments were all co-opted from Aristotle. Not to mention that one could stick numerous gods in the conclusion.

    Aquinas = Aristotelian supported Deism.

    That got me to thinking, not about Aquinas, but that deists are technically atheists. That's why I prefer Pliny's term agmystic, or making it amystic. Atheism is too specific.

    Hitchens term anti-theist is nice. Well, not nice, but you get the drift.

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  63. On second thought, Renzo wrote and reasoned more intelligently than Dinesh. Dinesh' blog writing sucked, and he got paid for it, the bastard.

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  64. Funny how second thoughts are often separated from their counterparts by years.

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  65. Harry said "I remember Renzo well enough. I suspected, and I think you guys did too, that he was Dinesh."

    That actually never occured to me. I didn't get paranoid until Fanboy seemed to change.

    Also, I like the term atheist in a Melvilian sense (from hells heart, I stab at thee, with my last breath I spit at thee, for hates sake).

    But really we're all agnostic, no?

    I mean I know self professed athiests deride self professed agnostics as wimps, but seriously, how can you possibly not know there's a god.

    It's like Ian's "coward". It all comes down to definitions. What the F is "god" mean anyway?

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  66. Ryan said,

    "Also, I like the term atheist in a Melvilian sense (from hells heart, I stab at thee, with my last breath I spit at thee, for hates sake...)

    I thought that was Khan Noonien Singh...

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  67. It was Khan that introduced me to Ahab.

    KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  68. "As per usual, but with a black pastor this time. Nii-iiice."

    Brian Brian Brian,

    Don't you know Ted Haggard said to give the guy a fair shake?

    That's Ted Motherfuckin Haggard man!

    He walks with the Lord, always tells the truth, is straight as an arrow...

    If he says to hedge our bets, we should.

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  69. "'It's fundamental to all Christian beliefs that Christians are simultaneously saints and sinners,' he said. 'We're saints in the eyes of God, but we all know we're sinners, which is why we value redemption.'"

    -Ted Motherfuckin Haggard

    A bit tangential to what I was saying but still salient is the above. There's no cognitive dissonance in that statement. None. He's a clear and consistent thinker, never gives mixed messages, doesn't even believe in mixed messages. I promise you all this is true, or my name ain't Harry C ;-)

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  70. Brian Brian Brian,

    Don't you know Ted Haggard said to give the guy a fair shake?
    --------------------------
    Yeah, but Ted's idea of a 'fair shake' involves ejaculation, so I don't take it too seriously.

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  71. Are you supposed to shake before or after ejaculating?

    (wondering if I've been doing it wrong...)

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  72. Before, and during. Afterwards only messes up the computer screen.

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  73. "I remember Ray, Eric and Renzo who were all very similar."

    Renzo and I were similar because we are the same person.

    I confess that I began to post as "Renzo" on Dinesh's blog after I noticed that people started reacting to *me* and not to the *content* of my posts. I began posting on Dinesh's blog to discuss the issues with intelligent people, not to get into personality based disputes. I never used Renzo as a sockpuppet to support my posts as Eric, or anything like that; indeed, as far as I can remember, after I started posting as Renzo, I never posted as Eric there again. I just used the name to redirect the focus of the discussion to the issues.

    The Dinesh blog was the first blog I ever commented on regularly, and I did not then know, as I do now, that changing names, for any reason, is bad form online. Since I learned that (basically, since Dinesh's blog shut down and I started posting on a number of other blogs), I've never changed my name on any blog.

    I don't know anything about the "Ray" fellow, though. But if he sounded like me, he can't have been all that bad.

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  74. "His best theological arguments were all co-opted from Aristotle. Not to mention that one could stick numerous gods in the conclusion."

    Well, you could stick numerous *names* in the conclusion for *the same* god the arguments lead to (just as you could call one person Bob, Robert, Mr. Robert Smith, Dr. Robert Smith, Crazy Bobby, etc.), but certainly not numerous *gods* if by that you mean gods with different properties. The god Aquinas's arguments support is necessarily one being with the set of properties commonly attributed to the god of classical theism. Now, yes, to the extent that any other gods share all those properties, you could say that the arguments lead to that god as well. But as far as I know, the only other religions with gods that uncontroversially share those properties are Judaism and Islam, and that doesn't seem to be much of a problem to me, since Christians and Muslims both claim that there god is the god of Judaism.

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. Eric,

    Actually kind of nice to see you post again, but all you're doing is quibbling.

    I had a question for you and for the life of me can't remember what it was... a ha!

    I wanted to know what you thought of Dinesh' position at the end of the Peter Singer v. DD video I posted a link to.

    More specifically, do you think he equivocated from the position he held on the old blog about atheists' ability to be moral?

    Also, do you concur with his former assessment (if there was one), his current assessment or not at all?

    So you were Renzo huh... Congratulations. You are more articulate than Dinesh.

    How'd it feel doing apologetics along side someone who often came across as a semi-informed cracker?

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  77. Brian,

    You'll be happy to know Libertarians and other third party candidates in my home state were more or less forced off the ballot.

    ReplyDelete
  78. "but all you're doing is quibbling."

    I don't think the Aquinas point is quibbling at all. There's a huge difference between sense and reference, as you well know; if by "stick numerous gods in the conclusion" you were referring only to sense, that's one thing, and I agree with you, but if you were referring to the referent, then that's something else entirely (and for most gods it's obviously false, e.g. Zeus, Odin, Osiris, etc.).

    Re: Dinesh and Singer, it seems to me as if Dinesh didn't say anything there that he hasn't said before, and that he's being consistent. At least, I don't remember him saying anything contrary to that on his blog, and I know he didn't say anything contrary to that in his book. As for me, I agree with him: the theistic argument(s) from morality is not that atheists can't *be* moral, but that they can't *ground* morality. That is, the argument starts from the premise that we're moral realists, and goes on to conclude that a necessary condition of moral realism is the existence of god. I know that some people, e.g. Floyd, are not moral realists, but most people are, and most of the New Atheists that Dinesh has focused his guns on, both in his writing and in his debates, are too. So Dinesh is using a premise the that people he is debating already accept.

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  79. The thing I recall best about Cavilling Ray Two-truths(loved that name) was when I suggested we simply have a conversation, no tricks, no wordgames.

    Then he asked me two questions which seemed to be 'saying' one thing but, and he was ecstatic when I 'fell' into it, actually not.

    Took the opportunity to call me stupid, and 'done'.

    To this day I don't think he realised that it was him making my point about his 'two-truthy', cavilling style.

    cl, from 'The Warfare Is Mental' blog, is exactly the same Eric.

    "There's a huge difference between sense and reference, as you well know;"

    What?

    We 'don't' all need to be taking religious philosophy courses, or, to be clear, religious and/or philosophy or philosophical religious or any combination thereof courses to understand a point made simply and clearly.

    Right out of the gate here you're not discussing this with us, no, Aquinas is, apparently discussing this with us and you're just an untouchable 'shadow warrior' behind the scenes.

    Point being that we could 'slay' Aquinas(for the sake of argument), right? But then you just say, "Well, I didn't say that it was my opinion, I simply said that I tend to agree with Aquinas!(HAH!)

    And THAT, my friend, is cavilling.

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  80. Now my last comment was about 'style of argument', but I really do expect you to 'go on' about 'how you never said exactly that', and this is how you block the advancement of your very own argument.

    Pointing out such things as 'God' is 'not an argument' is splitting hairs and we all KNOW this.

    We could all be cavilling children and point out, at every opportunity, that there are, perhaps, differing possible meanings to a said thing. So what? It's really just diverting the thrust of the other guy's point, right?

    But this is my main point here, my main question.

    Are we simply fencing with words? Do you honestly think that Aquinas 'answered the atheist position'?

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  81. Priceless peeb,

    If I keep laughing this hard my stomach's going to hurt.

    "What?"

    Oh man. I'm laughing while... oh shit... hahaha... I just snorted, like a pig. Marvelous.

    That's precisely the response needed.

    I have a prophecy for myself, spasmodic laughter for the rest of the time I'm up. I'd have to be asleep not to think about that and giggle.

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  82. There is a giant difference between substantial reality, touchable, measurable things, and things such as notions.

    But it's either/or, isn't it?(Is it?)

    We cannot pretend that a thing is a touchable, measurable thing when it is simply a notion, can we?

    We can infer that the entire universe consists of touchable, or at least measurable things, or it wouldn't be real?

    If we went to the beach, for example, it would be reasonable to suppose that the ocean was all water, and not some illusion, isn't that right?

    And yet it is not reasonable to suppose that two people who professed undying love, are still in love at the doors of a divorce court. It's not quantifiable, as such.

    Neither is God.

    Therefore God is like love and not like a substantial thing.

    Yes?

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  83. Aquinas' god is the god of Judaism the same way Kung Pow Chicken is a Chinese Buffett.

    Sure, you can find Kung Pow Chicken on a Chinese Buffett, but there's also tons of other delicious and totally unrelated stuff besides Kung Pow Chicken.

    If you want just Kung Pow Chicken, it takes selective eating. If you want just Aquinas' god, it takes selective reading.

    And welcome back. Also, I could be making this up after the fact, but I do sort of recall Renzo being a bit more of a jerk-ass then Eric.

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  84. "Sure, you can find Kung Pow Chicken on a Chinese Buffett, but there's also tons of other delicious and totally unrelated stuff besides Kung Pow Chicken."

    I agree; in fact, I said just that:


    "The god Aquinas's arguments support is necessarily one being with the set of properties commonly attributed to the god of classical theism [um, Kung Pow chicken...sounds, weird, but you chose the terms! ;)]. Now, yes, to the extent that any other gods [Chinese buffets] share all those properties [serve Kung Pow chicken], you could say that the arguments lead to that god as well. But as far as I know, the only other religions with gods that uncontroversially share those properties [the only other buffets that serve Kung Pow chicken] are Judaism and Islam, and that doesn't seem to be much of a problem to me, since Christians and Muslims both claim that there god is the god of Judaism."

    The point is that there's a core that these three religions agree about concerning god's nature that no other religion I can think of shares. So, as far as I can tell, the Aquinas bus will take us to more than one buffet, but not to all buffets, since it will only take us to those buffets that serve Kung Pow chicken, and there are only three of those (and two of the buffets, though they differ from the other, are derived from it).

    Wow, that was strange.


    Floyd, simple question: If you agree that Aquinas's arguments are such that they allow us to insert various gods in the conclusion, does that mean,

    (1) they allow us to insert various names for the same being in the conclusion (just as we can call Venus, 'the morning star,' 'the evening star,' 'the second planet from the sun,' 'Venus,' etc.)

    or

    (2) they allow us to insert various beings in the conclusion *other than* the three I've already conceded (that is, I've already conceded that the core properties are in concord with the core properties of the god of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but would you go on to say that we could also insert Zeus, Odin, Osiris, etc. into the conclusion?),

    or

    (3) (1) and (2)?

    As I said, I think (1) is true, and (2) and (3) are false.

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  85. Eric said,

    "...As for me, I agree with [Dinesh]: the theistic argument(s) from morality is not that atheists can't *be* moral, but that they can't *ground* morality."

    I gotta ask (and welcome back, BTW):

    If morality IS, then why does it require "grounding"? I mean, who cares whether the source is evolutionary psychology or whatever, as long as some imagined deity isn't involved?

    I think that the entire morality debate is just another bare-faced attempt to demand that God is required.

    "Right" is right, whether YHWH pronuncicates* it or doesn't. And the converse, that without a "divine" source for morality, that people would run amok without theri 'moral compass' is ridiculously absurd.

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  86. Eric; I think you misunderstood me, which is hard to fathom, considering how clear and eloquent my Kung Pow Chicken argument was 

    What I meant was the Bible is the buffet that Aquinas picked and chose his Kung Pow chicken from. "Kung Pow Chicken" is the one (or several) aspects of god present in the Jewish myths that are chosen to make up Aquinas' god.

    Crispy pork, Crab Rangoon and the Egg Rolls are all the other parts of the bible where YHWH (or Elohim, whomever!) doesn't fit Aquinas' god. And just like a Chinese buffet, you can chose not to eat the Crispy pork, Crab Rangoon and the Egg Rolls if you don't like...

    I'm aware that you get around this with the whole revelation vs. inspiration thing. But that just seems ad hoc to me.

    -----------------------------

    As to how you actually understood my Kung Pow argument, I could claim that parts of any religion are just inspiration (i.e. ignore) and the parts that conform with Aquinas are revelation (Brahman anyone?). Not just the Abrahamic Religions.

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  87. Lest we forget, Ryan (and Eric!), the Lo Mein is watching, and altering the results with his noodly appendage...

    rAmen.

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  88. I said "Eric; I think you misunderstood me, which is hard to fathom, considering how clear and eloquent my Kung Pow Chicken argument was "

    So the little square was supposed to be a smiley face indicating a joke.

    Lo Mein be with you Ed.

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  89. Back to morality:

    Long before there were any coherent concepts of deities, humans roamed the savannahs of central Africa.

    Now, as living beings, humans are pretty ill-equipped for survival: slow, weak; no offensive weaponry such as claws or fangs.

    How did we survive the predator-rich environment?

    We used the one thing that makes us viable, our brains. We formed cooperative communities (not as if this occured to humans as some sort of epiphany; almost all higher primates exhibit a social structure in their "tribes" or family groups, and we most likely ALWAYS behaved this way), banded togrther for mutual protection and benefit, such as resource gathering, child-rearing, etc., and survived.

    Morality is nothing more than a societal agreement to cooperate for the benefit of the tribe.

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  90. For the life of me, I cannot understand how saying "Morality come from evolution, biology and society" is any less grounding then saying "Morality comes from [insert deity]".

    The difference of course is that morality as observed across cultures and time is exactly what we'd expect from the first statement, and not at all what we'd expect from the second statement.

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  91. Eric is right.

    Apologies, I miswrote(?). I was only thinking about Aquinas' most logical arguments, which are Aristotelian.

    (The whole shebang may be Aristotelian, but I'm not sure where one argument comes from. It may indeed be Aquinas' own).

    If I'm not mistaken there are five main, that might simply mean most famous, arguments.

    1. First Mover
    2. First Creator
    3. Necessary and Contingent Beings
    4. Gradation of Being
    5. Argument from Design (not the
    watchmaker, just telos)

    Only the first three seem to be strong (technically), depending on how you phrase them, but any 'Universal Creator' god could go there.

    I don't believe Eric can defend any theistic stance from the first three. Not to mention there are other logical inferences one could make by avoiding the ad infinitum paradox.

    -----

    Eric,

    Side point, and not really worthy of discussion now, is you're opinion on paradoxes. I didn't bring it up last time we debated them, because our back and forth was a little heated.

    No information gain be gained from a paradox, and if you'll allow the qualifier... itself. One simply "moves around it."

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  92. "The difference of course is that morality as observed across cultures and time is exactly what we'd expect from the first statement, and not at all what we'd expect from the second statement."

    Well said.

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  93. Thanks Harry, but of course they have "the fall" to explain away that one too.

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  94. I would like to add, I don't think either the Big Bang, or universes from universes, are any more complicated than postulating God.

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  95. "are"

    That's supposed to be 'is,' I think. Blasted grammar.

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  96. Still haven't wrapped my head around "infinite mass".

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  97. Ryan said,

    "For the life of me, I cannot understand how saying "Morality come from evolution, biology and society" is any less grounding then saying "Morality comes from [insert deity]"."

    I guess what I was saying is that the theistic claim of moral "grounding" relies more on a dictum ("I am that I am, and I said so!") vs. an agglomerative process based on experience of what works (because if it doesn't work, then that tribe fails and goes extinct, or they are conquered and assimilated).

    You can call that "grounding" if you want, but I was using it more as authority vs. pragmatism.

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  98. Maybe I misunderstood the both of you, but I thought Ryan was not so obliquely commenting on religion, and not in a sense disagreeing with you Ed.

    BTW what the heck is that green thing that kind of looks like Professor Nordberg with wings?

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  99. Ed; taking the "bible as rulebook" out of the equation they also have the argument that morality as is actual evidence of gods existance.

    I think that fails for the same reason I meantioned (why would evidence for god vary across time and culture and be better explained by something else?).

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  100. "BTW what the heck is that green thing that kind of looks like Professor Nordberg with wings?"

    It's my Halloween Costume:

    Lego Cthulhu.

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  101. Nice.

    To paraphrase Dolemite, Ed, you're so bad you kick your own ass twice a week.

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  102. I think that it is just 'cos they are 'down to', "You have a sense of right and wrong, THEREFORE there is a God who wrote these rules on your brain(heart)"

    It's ludricous really, because the people who are screaming morals and values are the people who are simply using this notion to gain votes to make the system favour the rich and the corporations.

    Apparently the truth is not one of their morals or values.

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  103. These morals and values people aren't happy unless we are being governed by 'the fix is in' method, where they line their pockets supporting or being against proposals which they are being bribed to support or be against.

    It's not a secret, it's a moral I guess, or a value.

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  104. Just as long as y'all don't throw out the morels with the morals...

    they're too yummy to get rid of.

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  105. Religion plays the morals card because it's really all it has left. That and it can be wielded like a weapon.

    As science relentlessly chips away at superstition and provides a better and better approximation of reality, it has outstripped religions' precision and accuracy with respect to explaining the universe.

    The morality fall back position assumes that humans cannot choose a moral course without help, when that is precisely what we must choose since we are on our own out here on the edge of the Milky Way.

    Is that comforting? perhaps not. Is it easier than lazily being the vessel into which a higher authority pours its instructions? No.

    For society to choose morality, it takes a great effort and sacrifice with no goal other than the best existence for any of us. It takes thought, empathy and daily sacrifice - not just an hour every Sunday.

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  106. Wierd Synchronicity Department:

    Last night, at ~3:30 AM, I was awakened by strong winds and rain. I lay awake for about a half hour, and fell asleep again.

    During the rest of the night, I dreamed that the willow tree in my back yard lost another trunk (two have broken in the last two years, under similar high wind situations), one that is leaning toward my driveway where I park my Corvair convertible. In the dream, I was relieved to see that the tree trunk missed the car by a few feet, and also in the dream, I felt relieved.

    Today, I didn't go to work as I had planned yesterday, because the weather conditions frankly still suck here.

    At around 11:30 AM, as iI was sitting here blogging, I heard a tremendous noise in the back yard, and sure enough, the wind had broken the same trunk I dreamed about, and it had missed hitting the Corvair by a few feet.

    (cue Twilight Zone theme music...)

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  107. Wow Ed. Sometimes I dream about things that are on my mind too!

    Cue Twighlight Zone music!

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  108. I'm guessing that before we had language we had to think things through in dreams. Maybe dreams are one side of your brain 'telling' the other side the answer, movie style, to some puzzle and that's why they're mostly bullshit. Garbage in, garbage out.

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  109. I've learned plenty from dreams.

    The emotions one feels in the dream, perhaps certain people and places can give insight to an actual state of mind.

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  110. "Wow Ed. Sometimes I dream about things that are on my mind too!"

    Ya know, I think the implication that I was concerned ahead of time was written into the story...

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  111. Wow Ed. Sometimes I dream about things that are on my mind too!
    ---------------
    And then they come true, right?

    Right?

    Um, if not, how is your comment relevant, sir?

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  112. I think this is a case of being mystified when dreams come true and ignoring the thousands of dreams that don't.

    A broken clock is right twice a day...

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  113. I was just saying that it was a coincidence that sometimes I dream of things that are on my mind too. Like you did.

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  114. Wonder what you would have thought if the tree hit your car, Ed?

    "Darn, that wasn't in the dream!"?

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  115. Well, I haven't driven that particular car insince 2005, so it wouldn't inhibit my travels.

    But I would have been pissed because I had plans to restore that one.

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  116. .. and you would have then taken the dream as a warning to move the car to make the tree miss it.

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  117. Right, but it's raining out, and the car is on jackstands because the tires are dry rotted and flat.

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  118. "If morality IS, then why does it require "grounding"?"

    It is possible, isn't it, to believe that X is the case while at the same time holding a view of the world that doesn't allow any space for X, right? Well, that's the position the theist claims the atheist who believes that there are real moral obligations is in. This is especially true if the atheist is a naturalist, as most atheists are.

    The theistic claim is *not* that atheists don't behave in morally praiseworthy ways, or that atheists don't believe that certain things are truly right and others truly wrong, or that atheists can't give good reasons for acting in ways we call moral. Rather, the theistic claim is that the atheist cannot show where moral obligations -- "oughts" -- fit into his world. In other words, the atheist has borrowed a whole category of being that has no place in his ontology. What is a moral obligation in an atheistic world? Most of us would agree that there are such things as real moral obligations (positive and negative), but how can that be the case if atheism is true?

    Some people point to evolution, the social necessity of behaving in ways we call moral, and so on. Ed did here: "Morality is nothing more than a societal agreement to cooperate for the benefit of the tribe." But this is not what we mean when we speak about moral obligations. For example, if we move from the tribe to the nation state, how would Ed explain the moral condemnation of one nation's acts by another? If morality just is cooperating for the benefit of the tribe/group/nation, and if an act we would generally describe as immoral benefits the group, we have no grounds, on Ed's conception of morality, for morally opposing that act; yet we all know this isn't the case. Or, say a lone individual stands in the midst of his group and shouts, "What we're doing is wrong!" We can all make sense of such a thing, and we all consider such people to epitomize heroism and nobility, but Ed's conception of morality has no place for it. Further, to see that Ed's conception is obviously false, just replace the variable in the following propositions with the same act: "X is morally good" and "X is beneficial for my group. Clearly, we can think of all sorts of scenarios in which the two propositions, with the same act replacing X in both, would be in conflict. But if Ed is right, that cannot be. So much for that theory!

    But back to the main question: What is a moral obligation? Well, it's a statement that's either in the form of a command ("Do this." "Don't do that.") or it's an admonishment ("You ought to do this." "You ought not to do that."). Now if there really are moral obligations, such commands and admonishments must point out moral facts: there must be something in the world to which they correspond, something that makes, "Help those in need" true and "harm those in need" false. What is it? We've already seen that it can't be "the benefit of society" or "evolutionarily adaptive behavior for members of social groups." So, what is it?

    The theist has an answer: moral values (good and evil) are grounded in god's nature, and moral obligations or duties (right and wrong) are grounded in god's commands. The theist claims that god exists, so there is, in his worldview, something real to which moral facts refer (god's nature or god's commands).

    Further, this way of conceiving morality renders the most common objection to theistic morality, i.e. the Euthyphro dilemma, useless by exposing it as a false dilemma.

    So, a theism can explain our moral experience, whereas atheism cannot, and theism can answer the strongest challenges its conception of morality gives rise to, while atheism cannot.

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  119. "What I meant was the Bible is the buffet that Aquinas picked and chose his Kung Pow chicken from."

    Aquinas's project is natural theology, the point of which is to show what we can know about god wholly apart from revelation. So Aquinas, as a matter of method, wasn't picking through the Bible. Further, some aspects of the god his arguments reveal are not mentioned at all in the Bible (e.g. we know from the Bible that god is all good, but Aquinas's conception of good -- fullness of being -- isn't found in the Bible, and the move from god's purely actual nature to his fullness of being, and hence to his supremely good nature is not to be found in the Bible).

    "Crispy pork, Crab Rangoon and the Egg Rolls are all the other parts of the bible where YHWH (or Elohim, whomever!) doesn't fit Aquinas' god."

    If by "doesn't fit" you mean "contradicts," then I disagree. The so called "god of the philosophers" is perfectly consistent with the god of scripture. Of course, if you insist on reading the Bible in a ham handed way, then you can claim that since the god Aquinas's arguments lead to doesn't literally have legs with which to walk in the garden, it cannot be the god of the Bible; I hope that by now you know how I'd respond to something like this.

    "I don't believe Eric can defend any theistic stance from the first three. Not to mention there are other logical inferences one could make by avoiding the ad infinitum paradox."

    Could you clarify both these points for me?

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  120. Um, sure.

    I think one can defend a deism from the first three I listed but not a theism (defining theism as a transcendent and intervening god),

    Second, before I clarify about the other logical inferences, do you agree with the mainstream scientific speculation about "the" beginning of the universe?

    I think you're incorrect but, I have to quit presupposing you're a fundamentalist. "Bad epistemic limits! Lay down, roll over, now go away!"

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  121. "...do you agree with the mainstream scientific speculation about "the" beginning of the universe?"

    I just meant the Big Bang. Regardless of variety or multiverse.

    Shit. I don't even know your concept of the universe. Meh, that's not my fault. You don't generally describe your god. You can say what he's not though.

    That'll keep us busy till Ragnarok. Poor Odin, he deserved a better end dontcha think?

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  122. "Meh, that's not my fault. You don't generally describe your god."

    ... or the worldviews that entails.

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  123. "I think one can defend a deism from the first three I listed but not a theism (defining theism as a transcendent and intervening god)"

    I more or less agree. But they do, if successful, refute atheism. And they do establish the necessary conditions for classical Christian theism. So I agree, they don't get us to orthodox Christianity, but they do take us pretty far along the way to it from atheism.

    "do you agree with the mainstream scientific speculation about "the" beginning of the universe?"

    I've found that many people have very different ideas of just what that mainstream opinion is, so I'd have to hear what you think it is first. But I'm not a physicist, so I do tend to take what good physicists say on the grounds of their authority (unless it's obviously incoherent, e.g. Hawking's recent remarks about the beginning of the universe).

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  124. Rather, the theistic claim is that the atheist cannot show where moral obligations -- "oughts" -- fit into his world. In other words, the atheist has borrowed a whole category of being that has no place in his ontology. What is a moral obligation in an atheistic world? Most of us would agree that there are such things as real moral obligations (positive and negative), but how can that be the case if atheism is true?

    -----------

    It can come form the same place as religion - we make it up. We decide as we always have. We can chose to behave in a manner that provides general welfare and security. The only difference is that we have to build a consensus not based upon mystic rewards and punishments but rather on common good and goals. We can chose to build a future. We can chose to eschew instinctive responses.

    It's a circular argument that in no way proves the existence of any gods. The atheist's discussion of moral obligation is based upon debate, discussion and practical reality. The morals of an atheist have to be compelling from the standpoint of logic since we cannot fall back on 'well, god said'.

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  125. "It's a circular argument that in no way proves the existence of any gods."

    The standard moral argument isn't at all circular:

    (1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts.

    (2) There are moral facts.

    (3) Therefore, god exists.

    That's a logically airtight argument (modus tollens), and as I said, most people agree with (2) (now that's not an argument that (2) is true, but when discussing the moral argument with most atheists -- i.e. those who agree that there are moral facts -- it does provide us with a place to reason from). So the important question is whether (1) is true. And if (1) and (2) are true, the argument is a successful proof of god's existence.

    One could also recast the argument as an inference to the best explanation from (2) if you're suspicious of deductive arguments. Or, one could construct an inductive argument from (2). Anyway, agreement about (2) does provide us with a key premise in any of the many variations of the moral argument for god's existence.

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  126. (1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts.

    Is this what you are paying for in university? It's just nonsense.

    If god does not exist, then there are no lakes, since lakes exist...

    Why even bother arguing with a premise like that????????

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  127. "If god does not exist, then there are no lakes, since lakes exist..."

    Yeah, the difference is that we can conceive of a godless universe with lakes; the issue (1) raises is whether the same is true of morality in a godless universe.

    That aside, (1) is plausible when you consider that moral facts are not felt as they are stated -- e.g. it's wrong to harm an innocent person for your own enjoyment -- but are felt as commands or as exhortations -- e.g. "Do not harm, or you ought not harm an innocent person for your own enjoyment!" We cannot find exhortations or commands in nature, but the fact that moral facts are experienced this way does make sense if they're grounded in a personal god.

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  128. (1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts.

    (2) There are moral facts.

    (3) Therefore, god exists.

    Seriously, you cannot really believe this is a compelling argument.

    #2 is a claim with some pretty heady assumptions. How do you define moral facts? Societal conventions are facts from a practical standpoint, that doesn't make therm divine.

    Men can create moral facts (conventions) without gods to guide them.

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  129. With the vast variety of human cognitive biases it is very easy to imagine someone experiencing very compelling senses and proscriptions without the direction of any real gods.

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  130. Yeah, the difference is that we can conceive of a godless universe with lakes;

    Yeah, just like we conceive of a godless universe with moral facts.

    So when we see other social animals behaving in ethical ways, does that count as "find[ing] exhortations or commands in nature"?

    I would like to know how you would identify a moral command in nature other than observing it in another species.

    And the fact that moral facts are experienced as we experience them makes just as much (way more really) sense if they're grounded in society and evolution than if they are grounded in a personal god.

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  131. What a moral fact is is pretty straightforward: a true moral proposition. Let's see if we can establish at least one moral fact (that's actually all we need to establish (2)).

    Would you agree that it's morally wrong to torture newborn babies for fun? Or that it's morally wrong to discriminate on the basis of race or sex? Or that it's morally wrong to take from the needy to help the rich? Or that it's morally wrong for authority figures to molest little children? Or that it's morally wrong for those in power to cover up the crimes of their associates?

    Would you agree that at least one of the above expresses a moral fact, i.e. is such that we could say "it's true that" before the "it's morally wrong" (e.g. "It's true that it's morally wrong for authority figures to molest little children?" and so on)?

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  132. "Yeah, just like we conceive of a godless universe with moral facts."

    I can't; tell me how. What feature of the world makes any moral fact true? Name one moral fact, and tell me what feature of the world makes it true.

    "So when we see other social animals behaving in ethical ways, does that count as "find[ing] exhortations or commands in nature"?"

    Depending on how this is read, it's (1) a category error or (2) circular or (3) an anthropomorphic account of animal behavior.

    It's a category error if you mean to say that animals behave ethically, because ethics by definition involves not just action, but intention. If a mad scientist takes control of my body while I'm out looking for someone to rape, and instead forces me to save someone from being raped, I've done nothing that's morally praiseworthy. Similarly, if the scientists does so while I'm merely out for a stroll, and if I'm unconscious while he takes control of my body, I've done nothing morally praiseworthy. But notice that in both cases my behavior was, to a third party, morally praiseworthy. Hence, ascribing moral properties to an act requires intention, an awareness of moral obligations, etc., and all this requires conceptual capacities far beyond any other animal.

    It's circular if you mean to say we derive our understanding of what is good and bad from animal behavior, for animals also kill, rape, steal, etc., so why label certain behaviors moral and not the others?

    It's a sort of anthropomorphic projection if you take animal behavior and ascribe moral properties human beings experience to it (this is another way of looking at the category error problem).

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  133. Just got back from the football game...

    Thanks for watching my back, fellas.

    BTW, we won 33 - 16.

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  134. Eric said,

    "...(1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts.

    (2) There are moral facts.

    (3) Therefore, god exists.

    That's a logically airtight argument (modus tollens), and as I said, most people agree with (2) (now that's not an argument that (2) is true, but when discussing the moral argument with most atheists -- i.e. those who agree that there are moral facts -- it does provide us with a place to reason from). So the important question is whether (1) is true. And if (1) and (2) are true, the argument is a successful proof of god's existence.

    One could also recast the argument as an inference to the best explanation from (2) if you're suspicious of deductive arguments. Or, one could construct an inductive argument from (2). Anyway, agreement about (2) does provide us with a key premise in any of the many variations of the moral argument for god's existence."

    For emphasis:

    "So the important question is whether (1) is true."

    Then you never talk about it, you leave it behind, as if it was already accepted and proven.

    You say,

    "(1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts."

    AND

    "The theist has an answer: moral values (good and evil) are grounded in god's nature, and moral obligations or duties (right and wrong) are grounded in god's commands."

    Which is it?

    God, therefore morals,

    OR

    Morals, therefore God

    ?

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  135. You say,
    "(1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts."
    AND
    "The theist has an answer: moral values (good and evil) are grounded in god's nature, and moral obligations or duties (right and wrong) are grounded in god's commands."
    Which is it?
    God, therefore morals,
    OR
    Morals, therefore God?"

    Ed, the former is an explanation, so no one is saying, "God, therefore morals." Read it again:

    "The theist has an answer: moral values (good and evil) are grounded in god's nature, and moral obligations or duties (right and wrong) are grounded in god's commands."

    See? There's no argument there.

    ""So the important question is whether (1) is true."
    Then you never talk about it, you leave it behind, as if it was already accepted and proven."

    That's not what I did. Look at the post again. I was responding to the charge that the moral argument is circular, and did so by laying out the basic moral argument. I then went on to point out where the real issue is. I didn't anywhere assume (1) has been "accepted" or "proven"...can you show me where I did?

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  136. Or, to make it even simpler:

    "(1') If god does exist, then there are moral facts.

    (2+3) There are moral facts. therefore, god exists."

    Totally circular.

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  137. The important thing to remember is a neat little clause my Logic prof taught me. 'Syntactic not semantic.'

    A great example:

    All fish are mammals
    Eric's left nostril is a fish
    Therefore Eric's left nostril is a mammal

    The above is a valid argument. Is it absurd? Why yes it is. But the conclusion follows from the premises with 'strict necessity' as the author of my text loves to put it.

    If Eric were being a bit more genuine he would forgo the syntactic showmanship in favor of Aristotelian universals. How about it Eric? You up for that?

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  138. " I didn't anywhere assume (1) has been "accepted" or "proven"...can you show me where I did?"

    Your omission of any further discussion of (1) leaves one to wonder:

    Is it a done deal, or is "the important question whether (1) is true?"

    It's a question you left unanswered.

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  139. (Damn! The cat just took a huge, greasy dump, and now the whole house stinks!)

    ReplyDelete
  140. " Rather, the theistic claim is that the atheist cannot show where moral obligations -- "oughts" -- fit into his world. In other words, the atheist has borrowed a whole category of being that has no place in his ontology. What is a moral obligation in an atheistic world? Most of us would agree that there are such things as real moral obligations (positive and negative), but how can that be the case if atheism is true?"

    The problem is that that you've backed into this from your theistic philosophical point of view, not a 'theistic' point of view as viewed by the vast majority of theists themselves.

    We hear from the Pope that Hitler views were atheistic simply because the Pope sees that as benefitting his group over the atheist out-group.

    I certainly cannot imagine there being a Judgement Day where God etc. is there condemning me because my views are akin to Hitler's.(bearing mind that I cannot, for the life of me, believe that there is a supernatural realm with super-beings in it)

    Seems to me that the only tangible 'things' you have on your side is the body count of people willing to at least SAY that they believe.

    But, from their political view, and their self-centred, "I'm alright Jack!" complete unwillingness to share their wealth in the form of taxes, denying that it is their World that we have to live in, while trying to force us to 'think as they do' through the churches, Fox News etc.

    I just can't believe that you imagine there are philosopical grounds to argue the case for plutocracy or even de facto fascism in the name of God and 'security'.

    Seems to me that you are allowing Christians great latitude when it comes to real life, allowing lip-service to their religion, ends-justify-the-means tactics etc., and are just about 'this close' to admitting that some atheists are MORAL compared to a large proportion of professed theists who profess to BELIVE on account of the ABSOLUTE MORALIY that they themselves totally disregard.

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  141. Or, to make it even simpler:

    "(1') If god, then morals.

    (2+3) Morals, therefore, god."

    All I did was delete some extra words, change a couple of punctuation marks, and changed a couple of letters from lower to upper case.

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  142. " Rather, the theistic claim is that the atheist cannot show where moral obligations -- "oughts" -- fit into his world. In other words, the atheist has borrowed a whole category of being that has no place in his ontology. What is a moral obligation in an atheistic world? Most of us would agree that there are such things as real moral obligations (positive and negative), but how can that be the case if atheism is true?"

    The problem is that that you've backed into this from your theistic philosophical point of view, not a 'theistic' point of view as viewed by the vast majority of theists themselves.

    We hear from the Pope that Hitler views were atheistic simply because the Pope sees that as benefitting his group over the atheist out-group.

    I certainly cannot imagine there being a Judgement Day where God etc. is there condemning me because my views are akin to Hitler's.(bearing mind that I cannot, for the life of me, believe that there is a supernatural realm with super-beings in it)

    Seems to me that the only tangible 'things' you have on your side is the body count of people willing to at least SAY that they believe.

    But, from their political view, and their self-centred, "I'm alright Jack!" complete unwillingness to share their wealth in the form of taxes, denying that it is their World that we have to live in, while trying to force us to 'think as they do' through the churches, Fox News etc.

    I just can't believe that you imagine there are philosopical grounds to argue the case for plutocracy or even de facto fascism in the name of God and 'security'.

    Seems to me that you are allowing Christians great latitude when it comes to real life, allowing lip-service to their religion, ends-justify-the-means tactics etc., and are just about 'this close' to admitting that some atheists are MORAL compared to a large proportion of professed theists who profess to BELIVE on account of the ABSOLUTE MORALIY that they themselves totally disregard.

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  143. Harry, um, I rather clearly didn't limit my discussion to logical validity, so the "syntactic showmanship" charge is completely unwarranted.

    I said (a) the argument is logically valid, and (b) the real issue, for most people, is with the truth of (1). Yet both you and Ed accuse me of focusing on logical validity to the exclusion of the truth of the premises, or on skating by the issue of the truth of the premises. Come one now...

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  144. "I just can't believe that you imagine there are philosopical grounds to argue the case for plutocracy or even de facto fascism in the name of God and 'security'."

    Are you talking to me?

    "Seems to me that you are allowing Christians great latitude when it comes to real life, allowing lip-service to their religion, ends-justify-the-means tactics etc., and are just about 'this close' to admitting that some atheists are MORAL compared to a large proportion of professed theists who profess to BELIVE on account of the ABSOLUTE MORALIY that they themselves totally disregard."

    Huh? Are you talking to me?

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  145. I wasn't dinging your logic, Eric.

    I just don't see the necessity of Premise (1).

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  146. In other words, theists will continue to wedge their symbolic feet in the door of logic, saying

    "Morals require a god (or commands from god) to be valid."

    My argument would look like this:

    (1) Morals.

    (2) Therefore, Morals.

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  147. "I just don't see the necessity of Premise (1)."

    Right, and I admitted that the issue is with (1). We can get into how (1) can be defended sometime, but unfortunately not tonight; I'm off for now.

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  148. I would add that Morality grounded in theism is not morality at all. No, that is fear.

    Doing what is right because it's the right thing to do, that's morality.

    Airtight?
    No sir. All we really need do is look at the history of (any) religion to see that it has been on the slow side coming to what is right since its (religion) inception.
    Your church, Eric, has a storied history of immoral deeds - in the guise of absolute morality, of course.

    It's also not possible that your god bestows this morality on his subjects, yet cannot follow said same ethics himself.

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  149. Eric,

    You were the one who laid out the logical argument format, and said,

    "So the important question is whether (1) is true."

    So, answer the question you posed.

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  150. Tomorrow, if you wish.

    I'm in no rush...

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  151. "Yet both you and Ed accuse me of focusing on logical validity to the exclusion of the truth of the premises, or on skating by the issue of the truth of the premises. Come one now..."

    Ok ok, fair enough. You have been addressing what people's concerns with the premises are, but still putting it together with form as if they were inextricably linked.

    I have some more ruminating to do.

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  152. mac,

    I hate to break this to you, but your objection will roll of Eric's (and any other Christian's) back, just by saying,

    "The problem isn't the Church; it's that there are sinners IN the Church."

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  153. "I'm off for now."

    Buenas nachos teologo.

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  154. For tomorrow then,

    Eric are you a deontologist?

    &

    If not are you a ventriloquist? :-)

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  155. Ed,

    I was in a hardcore band that had a wonderful song called 'Cat Shit.' We were some lovely young lads.

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  156. I know you're right, Ed.

    Never mind that the perpetrators, in many cases, are the leaders of the church.


    "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23
    Seems like there's no extricating the sinner from the church. Why do they keep trying that argument?

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  157. mac,

    It's because they have a need to reserve a "clean room" for their God.

    If not for that, then He wouldn't be holy.

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  158. Harry,

    did you guys ever record anything?

    I'd certainly listen. Just look at my favorite bands listed in my profile if you think I would reject someone just because they weren't "top 40".

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  159. I'm having trouble.

    Eric asserted that this 'If ~p then ~q, q, therefore p' was modus tollens but it's not.

    Modus tollens 'If p then q, ~q, therefore ~p'

    So I did the counter example method using what's called a substitution instance.

    Basically all that means is, if you think an argument is invalid replace the content words with letters then pick other words to fill in for the letters.

    All cats are dogs, All C are D, All Cows are Donuts

    Then do it for the rest of the argument. This is a "proof" method. -But like all things in life it has damn exceptions-

    So because I knew the modus tollens was actually a valid form, I set up it, and Eric's argument next to each other. This is after the substitution.

    Modus Tollens:

    If human then mammal
    Not mammal
    Therefore not human

    Follows well doesn't it...

    Eric's

    If not human then not mammal
    Mammal
    Therefore Human

    Not so great. I know it's not modus tollens, as Eric asserted it was, but I don't think it's valid either.

    Ed, if you're still up any last thoughts?

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  160. Y'all,

    I want to thank everyone for listening to my BS. I regard all of you as "friends" (you too, Eric!) because you make me THINK.

    I live in an area (I may not be alone here) where the average human being is a toothless, alcoholic, trailer-living, factory-working (if they even HAVE jobs) redneck.

    I literally can't talk to them.

    It's also probably why I have three ex-wives.

    Not trying to toot my own horn, but I'm far more intelligent than average, and I'm surrounded by "average" wherever i go.

    Except in here.

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  161. Harry, I was typing while you were, it seems.

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  162. Ah yes, it's on cd but the recording is horrible... well, it's bad.

    All digital, but a limited time, and limited budget, with a producer who was a better musician than a board guy.

    Maybe I can scrounge it up. I don't know.

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  163. But I have to defer to your studies as a philosopher, Harry.

    My discipline is scientific. I only learned enough formal logic as necessary to engage Eric on his own turf (and he knows it, and I know he's going to read this tomorrow and flame me for it, too!), so your question is beyond me at the moment. For example, I would have to look up 'modus tollens' to know what it meant, but I will, and I'll understand it tomorrow.

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  164. "Harry, I was typing while you were, it seems."

    Read then Cthulhu! Read I say!

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  165. "Eric asserted that this 'If ~p then ~q, q, therefore p' was modus tollens but it's not."

    I thought so, too, and I think I did a respectable job of showing him that desite his claim, it's still circular.

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  166. I base that on the double negative in the statement being equivalent to a positive affirmation:

    If ~p, then ~q

    is equal to

    if p, then q.

    Just dump the negatives.

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  167. No thanks necessary,

    I've mentioned it before, I'll mention it again, part of the reason I'm a happy atheist instead of an unhappy theist is due to the regulars here at Brian's Bar and Grill. I gets to use me brain!

    Brian's,'Where everybody knows your fake name."

    My real name is Justin by the way.

    Way to go Ed! You just got to second base. Keep up the sugar and I might tell you which major American city I'm not in.

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  168. Anyhow, before I started bloggging a little over two years ago, I had never been exposed to formal logic structures, Christian apologetics or any of the 'New Atheists'(or the major players in those fields: I had never heard of William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga before 2009; nor had I heard of Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens or...).

    I have described myself as a 'functional atheist' (my terminology), because it fits what I believe; but I wasn't indoctrinated into it, I came by my unbelief on my own when I realized that belief in God wasn't mandatory as a child of about 10.

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  169. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  170. "My real name is Justin by the way."

    Now everybody knows...

    :o)

    ReplyDelete
  171. ...but I'll still call you 'Harry', OK?

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  172. That's fine by me.

    I'm going to go accuse the innocent of something heinous then hit the sack.

    Goodnight Sir Gear.

    BTW, as Harry I forbid you to write at the same time as me. It's discombobulating.

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  173. Of course I was talking to you Eric. Don't you think that it is the apologies of peeps like you and D'Souza that allow, let's say 'less than philosophical' Christians to carry on regardless of their own unChristian, anti-Godly(even) behaviour.

    The Bible has definite points of view regarding wealth and such yet American Christianism, while more than willing to laud you in your apologetic prowess, using it to their advantage, have complete disregard for most of the basic premises of their own religion.

    Lying, stealing and cheating are the norm for some of the same 'morals and values' people who, for example, may abhor abortion only because 'abhoring abortion' gets them votes!

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  174. Oodles of hypocrites out there, Peeb...

    Nothing new.

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  175. I'm off to bed, too.

    I gotta work tomorrow, 'cuz I played hooky today.

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  176. An impasse, some cannot fathom that morality (even the morality we insist is absolute now) is a human construct and always has been. These facts are what we make them. To say that morals (or anything else humans believe with zeal) requires gods is a biased position based upon self-referential constructs. Statements like exortations or commands in nature really have no meaning since this assumes that you have proof of such in Man. And cognitive science pretty much blows a hole in that position since people believe many things which are contrary to objective reality.

    1) If god does not exist, then there are no moral facts.

    (2) There are moral facts.

    (3) Therefore, god exists.

    The proof is weak (or really nonexistent) since you cannot prove 1 or 2.

    As a nonbeliever I can state that moral facts exist absent god's by social contract. Therefore 1 is false and thus proof of god is not supported.

    I could just as easily propose:

    1) Cognitive biases cause people to believe fantastic things absent proof

    2) God's are unproven fantastic things.

    3) therefore god's are the product of cognitive biases.

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  177. Okay, let's try this another way here.

    For the sake of argument, I'm granting that you have made God and your religion a reasonable and logical proposition.

    The consequences of this are to bolster the beliefs of theists in all walks of life.

    In America, at least, the consequences of this are to use their superior morality as a club against the 'liberal agenda' of treating the poor people, the old people and the sick people, the working class people, fairly.

    There is no doubt that the GOP is the party of the Godly, the anti-government, homophobic, rights of fetuses over rights of women, gun toting, rootin' tootin' Godly.

    It is the party where the rich manipulate the fears of the masses to control them by claiming that the other side are immoral.

    But it is not a moral thing to do, manipulate the fears of the masses to control them, isn't that right?

    Perhaps you imagine that the ends justify the means and it IS a moral thing to do, to use the notion of absolute morality itself against people who would otherwise WANT the old, the ill, the poor etc. to be cared for.

    It doesn't seem to follow, to say, "We are the Godly, with absolute morality on our side, therefore screw the old, the sick and the poor."

    I'm not saying that you personally think this Eric, I think you know this and would imagine that it would be a cheap trick to say, "How dare you suggest that I believe such things.", when I didn't say you did.

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  178. In retrospect, I'm not sure moral facts exist. Moral opinions, sure, but moral facts, not sure.

    Granted, I could imagine that our shared homo sapian biology could lead to moral facts at the absolute highest level.

    Pliny, I'd be interesting in hearing how you conceive of moral facts as opposed to opinions. I mean the universe is a big place, so it's hard to claim that anything that's not measurable is actually a fact in the common usage of the word.

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  179. "I can't; tell me how. What feature of the world makes any moral fact true? Name one moral fact, and tell me what feature of the world makes it true."

    I think this is simple. There are no features of the world making any moral facts true.

    But that's just silly semantics, a fact is a fact is a fact which cannot be untrue.

    If you mean, "There are no features of this world that make any morals facts.", then I could agree with that.

    But I don't think that's where you're going with this.

    I think that morals have to do with us associating with each other. I would consider it immoral of you to deceive me, and immoral of me to deceive you. It would be immoral of you to take advantage of weakness you see in me and immoral of me to do that to you.

    You see how there is reciprosity here?

    Now if we imagine third party interactions, we can consider both sides and tell right away whether one of the parties is being immoral to the other.

    So, simply using the Golden Rule and the Reverse Golden Rule we can come to a moral decision.

    Do unto others as you would wish them to do to you. AND. Do not unto other as you would not wish them to do unto you.

    This always works, especially for morals because fair is fair. A grown man ought NOT to take advantage of a young girl or boy BECAUSE if the man WERE the young girl or boy HE would not like that being done to him.

    Or. If the man is thrown in prison, HE would not welcome abuse from other inmates and we CAN see some justice there, being social beings, being sympathetic beings, being US, we can see the poetic justice in that.

    If you're going to quibble about where we get our sympathy for our fellow human beings, you're daft, because it comes from inside ourselves, imagining being the victim and even imagining being the offender and imagining being the judge.

    There's no reason to try to back into this with a supernatural solution.

    We spend a good part of our lives expressing our grievances and they ARE grievances simply because we feel badly when we are not being treated fairly.

    The problem is that we're a bunch of jokers willing to put-one-over on others too. We're willing to take MORE than our fair share and to treat others in a less fair manner by changing the meaning of LAW from 'fairness' to 'obedience'.

    Fair gets warped from, "I ought to share and be fair.", to, "I'm the boss, do what I say, and you doing what I say is fair because I'm the boss.(and round and round that goes)."

    Then it TAKES religion to treat another group badly imagining that they ought to pay heed to YOUR god because you imagine that your god is a moral fact maker. Since god is defined as all good, then you bullying unbelievers is cool, right?

    Why you're only bullying them because THEY are doing wrong.

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  180. Ryan,

    We share a common position I believe. I contend that morality is a human construct, and as such is factual only in that sense. Moral facts are always relative to the culture in question. Deists often seem to insist on rationalizing these relative morals only on the basis of higher authority, rather than on common social convention.

    Eric's logic statement fails either because there is no higher authority or there are no hard rules.

    deists may be bothered by the burden of humans having to determine there own morals but that is how it has always been, whether we created convenient gods to blame for the rules or not.

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  181. Pliny,

    Exactly.

    You hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head and now it's flush.

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  182. There do exist however, acts which are punished by nature which have been enshrined into our morality. Don't kill your own family for instance, is 'punished' by you not having descendents to carry on your line. When at first a tribe, and then an entire town becomes your family, as it basically did when we became tribal and later an agrarian social culture, this is extended to 'thou shalt not kill off other townspeople who help your line to survive.' Nowadays it's extendable to 'thou shalt not kill anyone' because basically all of humanity is our 'neighbor' now.
    Of course, these are self-evident.

    Nice to see you around again, Eric. I shouldn't have abused you so.

    Pboy, your longish response a few back, couldn't agree more, and well-said.

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  183. It puzzles me how anyone could possible think the god of the OT is the source of morals. Last I knew that is the god the Christians worship. The Israelis, and the Muslims seem to be in the same mind set with their lack of morals. In the ot that god interfered with mankind, at least that is what the bible says, which has to be an obvious lie according to other ideas Christians buy into. Christians say god does not change so if true where is the moral interference with the way millions of helpless children are treated today. Morals may come from God, but certainly not the god of the bible.

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  184. "An impasse, some cannot fathom that morality (even the morality we insist is absolute now) is a human construct and always has been. These facts are what we make them."

    But consider what follows from that. To use the most common example (it's extreme, but extreme examples clarify the issues), do you honestly believe that if the Nazis had won the war and eliminated everyone who disagreed with them, then it would have been a good thing for the Nazis to have eliminated the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally deficient, etc.? You *must* accept this conclusion, given your premises. Now I can't speak for you, but that conclusion just screams "I'm false!" to me. It's *obviously* false to me insofar as it's contrary to all my moral experience, all my moral intuitions, all my moral understanding, and all my moral apprehensions. When we look out at the world, if something is obviously contrary to everything we apprehend, understand, experience and intuit, we at least suspect that something is wrong with it; in fact, we go much further and conclude that absent some error theory (that is, a theory that successfully explains why things appear as they do, and why they're nevertheless not as they appear), we're justified in concluding that it's false.

    "The proof is weak (or really nonexistent) since you cannot prove 1 or 2."

    Well, it depends on what you mean by "prove." I think that almost no premises in arguments that reach substantial conclusions about reality can be strictly proven. Rather, we usually rely on a plausibility criterion: is the premise more plausibly true than false?

    "As a nonbeliever I can state that moral facts exist absent god's by social contract. Therefore 1 is false and thus proof of god is not supported."

    Now that's a good response! The issue is whether any social contract theory can establish moral facts; I don't think they can. At best, they can establish that people agree to behave in certain ways for certain reasons. But there's a long way from that to moral obligation. For example, take any social contract theory: there's always at least one counterexample in which an act would be both moral and contrary to the "terms" of the contract. Further, social contract theories cannot justify their starting point: Why an I obligated to abide by the terms of the social contract? Contract theorists cannot answer this question.

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  185. Who insist that morals are absolute?

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  186. Eric asked,

    "...To use the most common example (it's extreme, but extreme examples clarify the issues), do you honestly believe that if the Nazis had won the war and eliminated everyone who disagreed with them, then it would have been a good thing for the Nazis to have eliminated the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally deficient, etc.? You *must* accept this conclusion, given your premises."

    The morality I was talking about in the earier post from yesterday

    "Morality is nothing more than a societal agreement to cooperate for the benefit of the tribe."

    generally only addresses the duties of the individual with reference to the survival of the tribe as a small, insular unit.

    Once civilization advanced to the point where nations could go to war against each other as entities in their own right, those earlier 'societal norms' for the individual don't seem to apply any more.

    At the point, the societies (nations) began conjuring their own moral codices, and to add weight to the new 'national oughts', they invented gods (or redefined old gods into new roles)to legitimize the 'national oughts':

    Swear to serve our God.
    Pledge allegiance to our country.
    Be good to your family.

    (sound familiar? It should.)

    It's all about legitimate dominance of the nation over the submission of the people to authority.

    Always was.

    Back to Hitler and the boys...

    If Hitler had been successful, the whole thing would have been swept under the rug, and history would have been rewritten to reflect the new reality.

    You, the person who disagrees with the new history, would be either eliminated, or re-indoctrinated to believe in the new order, and after a few gwenerations, no one would remember, and no one would think to question it any more.

    And no one would call it "wrong" at that point.

    Whenever I hear this argument, neither side usually takes it to its full extrapolation; neither the atheist, fo fear of looking like he agrees with Hitler (he failed, so the point is moot), nor the theist, who apparently finds the logical results unthinkable.

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  187. Eric; that didn't take long. The argument from morality is ultimately just an emotional appeal to try to make uncomfortable the people who recognize the relative nature of morality.

    The nazi victory wouldn't be a good thing, it would just be the thing.

    We can condemn them now from our position in history, but we can't put our selves in the scenerio you presented, not really.

    Plus, I've heard more than enough catholics say it was good that we essentially did the same thing to the native americans because it allowed them to be saved so I'm sure the folks in your alternate history would make similar excuses.

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  188. "...It's *obviously* false to me insofar as it's contrary to all my moral experience, all my moral intuitions, all my moral understanding, and all my moral apprehensions."

    But your morals come from a God who wants you to submit to HIS authority, and THAT'S why it's abhorrent to you; because the God of the Bible preaches "love" while practicimg genocide on nations he doesn't like (because they worshipped other gods).

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  190. One of the things that repels me about the God of the Bible is that He has

    NO sense of humor.

    One of the greatest things in this life is laughter, but Yahweh is always frowning, or killing something for disagreeing with Him.

    Not a fun guy.

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  191. "You, the person who disagrees with the new history, would be either eliminated, or re-indoctrinated to believe in the new order, and after a few gwenerations, no one would remember, and no one would think to question it any more.
    And no one would call it "wrong" at that point."

    Ed, that's irrelevant. If everyone who knows that George Washington was the first president of the U.S. were eliminated tomorrow, the fact that there would be no one left to say, on Monday, "It's false that GW was not the first president" wouldn't affect the truth or the falsity of the original proposition.

    "Whenever I hear this argument, neither side usually takes it to its full extrapolation; neither the atheist, fo fear of looking like he agrees with Hitler (he failed, so the point is moot), nor the theist, who apparently finds the logical results unthinkable."

    Not unthinkable; false.

    "The argument from morality is ultimately just an emotional appeal"

    I no where appealed to "emotions"; I appealed to our apprehension of moral values, our moral intuitions, our moral understanding and our moral experience. All four are distinct from emotion, and we use all four to in our study of ethics.

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  192. Eric said "Ed, that's irrelevant. If everyone who knows that George Washington was the first president of the U.S. were eliminated tomorrow, the fact that there would be no one left to say, on Monday, "It's false that GW was not the first president" wouldn't affect the truth or the falsity of the original proposition."

    You switched from opinion to fact.

    It's my opinion that the holocaust was bad. It's a fact that George Washington was the first(ish) president.

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