Don't fuck with the crocoduck
May 11, 2007 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Does God Exist? The Nightline Face-Off
Former child star Kirk Cameron and his evangelist colleague Ray Comfort (infamous for their banana argument) take on atheists in a debate over the existence of God. Per usual, you can expect calm, cool, collected temperaments and absolute respect for a difference of opinion. Especially since both parties have been previously featured on Nightline, the former taking to the streets to challenge atheists and the latter proposing a God-rejecting blasphemy challenge. You know you're rubbing your hands in anticipation of the fireworks, but you better let Bill O'Reilly weigh in first. For more youtube goodness, parts 1 and 2 of the Nightline piece (the full debate is available in the first link).
posted by Mach3avelli (299 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh damn would I like a crack at the mofos.

The respect shown to the obviously insane extremes of "faith" advocates in the US is nauseating. You want to believe? Fine. But don't tell me what to fucking believe.
posted by spitbull at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2007


3... 2... 1...
posted by ninjew at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2007


this was already posted yesterday

and deleted.
posted by Stynxno at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2007


Is there a transcript somewhere?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:05 AM on May 11, 2007


[reads and watches everything]

Aha! So that's settled then!
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on May 11, 2007


wendell
posted by dead_ at 11:05 AM on May 11, 2007


Going, going, gone.
posted by greycap at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2007


Mmmmm. Bananas taste good with peanut butter.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know you're rubbing your hands in anticipation

Oh, hands will certainly be rubbing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Both sides are equally annoying.

I've had more atheists try to convince me of the non-existence of God than Christians trying to convert me.

I'm a Buddhist, so I guess I just annoy everyone.
posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on May 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


So far, all I'm seeing is warmed-over "Argument from Design".

Meh ...

I remember when Nightline had a modicum of respectability, before the invasion of the current crop of tabloid hacks. Used to hear people quote Koppel all the time. Never heard anyone say squat about Bashir that wasn't predicated with a snort.
posted by RavinDave at 11:09 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm just sorry these tags will go to waste.
posted by chinston at 11:11 AM on May 11, 2007


Careful, the Unofficial Mefi Police won't like this one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on May 11, 2007


Somewheres online there is a Kirk Cameron hosted training video for dealing with atheists. I don't care to find it though.
But its worth watching, and I'll betcah it has been on here before. Apart from that I caught some of a Cameron movie on the local xstian station just last night.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:13 AM on May 11, 2007


Oh and WENDELL
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:14 AM on May 11, 2007


Crocoduck sounds like he'd be a member of Alpha Flight.
posted by chunking express at 11:14 AM on May 11, 2007


Whatever happened to Alpha Flight? Did the Canadian government retire them after all the Weapon X bullshit? I mean, how come we didn't see any of them in the House of M or in the Genosha thing? (I might have just not been paying close enough attention).

This post is Gamma Flight, at best.
posted by klangklangston at 11:16 AM on May 11, 2007


Yes, this was post before and deleted, but this is a good post (as opposed to the other one, which was a thirteenkiller post).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:18 AM on May 11, 2007


Um, duckodiles is the preferred nomanclature, please.
posted by NationalKato at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2007


posted
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2007


Do not feed the trolls.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2007


There's a new series called Omega Flight, about Canada's attempts to deal with the wave of super-powered thugs who have washed over the border in the wake of the Civil War registration thing.

It stars US Agent, whom I love almost as much as watery metaphors.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2007


zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by pyramid termite at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2007


Quick, delete this thread before the crybabies show up and start crying and shitting their pants.
posted by 2sheets at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2007


[NOT CAMERONIST]
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:21 AM on May 11, 2007


I'm sure that they'll get to the bottom of the ol' God question and live in harmony ever after. No doubt.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:21 AM on May 11, 2007


MetaFilter: DO NOT WANT.
posted by effwerd at 11:21 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Afterwards, Cameron sighs and says that he's discouraged by people passing false information disguised as science. Some minutes earlier, he was waving an idiotic picture of a duck-crocodile transitional form. What a tool.
posted by RavinDave at 11:22 AM on May 11, 2007


A major American news network hosting a debate on the existence of God - featuring Kirk Cameron, no less? Yes, this is entirely more trivial than David Hasselhoff drunkenly eating pizza. Delete away, admins!
posted by billysumday at 11:22 AM on May 11, 2007


Dawkins and O'Reilly interview: "blather"
posted by acro at 11:25 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crocoduck.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:27 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


O'Remixed
posted by acro at 11:28 AM on May 11, 2007


Well, at least both sides will be poorly represented.

That said I think this "new wave" of evangelical atheism can be a good thing, but I would hope that people don't get into the habit of insulting religious people. The goal should be acceptance, rather then trying to make people feel that you think you're smarter then them. "Brights", for example, is a horrible example of intellectual elitism.

Frankly a lot of atheists can be just as obnoxious and annoying as a lot of religious people. Not the majority in either case, though.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 AM on May 11, 2007


The banana thing is just astounding. I had no idea. None. Seriously.
posted by OmieWise at 11:31 AM on May 11, 2007


Click here for the mobile edition.
posted by parmanparman at 11:32 AM on May 11, 2007


last post?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:34 AM on May 11, 2007


In before Jessatex.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:35 AM on May 11, 2007


Oh boooo, I spent a good chunk of time making what I consider a pretty well-constructed post. I hope it doesn't get deleted.
posted by Mach3avelli at 11:37 AM on May 11, 2007


to save everyone time, here's the short version
posted by pyramid termite at 11:38 AM on May 11, 2007


Blazecock Pileon : Careful, the Unofficial Mefi Police won't like this one.

Freeze mother-fuckers! Up against the car! You have the right to keep your fucking mouth shut. You have the right to bleed if I hit you in the head with this flashlight. You have the right to get your ass prosecuted by an attorney, and don't worry, we will be providing you with one. Do you understand these rights? I said shut the fuck up!

Now get your ass in the back seat of the cruiser and don't make a sound or I'll shoot you and make it look like you took a swing at me.

/unofficial Mefi police brutality
posted by quin at 11:38 AM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


to save everyone time, here's the short version

Where's your god now Cameron?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2007


*sneak*
posted by Skorgu at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2007


Don't fuck with the crocoduck

It was worth it for that alone.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:42 AM on May 11, 2007


Yes, God exists. Who do you think created the Ebola virus? It's an impressive creation, where an infected person will bleed out of every orifice in their body. Good work God!
posted by disgruntled at 11:45 AM on May 11, 2007


You know, Matt and Jess and I have sort of argued it back and forth, and we're just gonna leave this one up. So enough with the deletion predictions, and on with the thread that makes us not regret it, maybe?
posted by cortex at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Damnit Cortex. Whatever happened to "pls leave the LOL XIANS for your own blog kthxbi"?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2007


Listening to either of these groups puts me in a total frenzy of brain-fever and bloodlust. At least while these kinds of people are stuck in place with their horns locked, many more of us are free to saunter past in peace without getting gored.
posted by hermitosis at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2007


Call this an experimental whack-a-Hoff. I actually agree with that sentiment, but let's get off the beaten path for a thread and see what happens, yeah?
posted by cortex at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2007


Not deleted?!?!

THERE IS NO GOD!!!!
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:53 AM on May 11, 2007


The banana thing is just astounding. I had no idea. None. Seriously.
posted by OmieWise at 7:31 PM on May 11 [+] [!]


But you know what's even more amazing?

Bananas were designed by people. Seriously - they never occurred in nature. They were selectively bred, like every other food crop on the planet. Banana's can't even reproduce without people.

They should have picked the dandelion for their example.

(apologies if you were being sarcastic - but I know that the original guys were not. They picked a heavily human-engineered food crop - I can't think of a worse example for divine intelligent design.)
posted by jb at 11:53 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


what's that apostrophe doing there! Satan must has misdirected my fingers.
posted by jb at 11:53 AM on May 11, 2007


It's too bad the Nightline discussion couldn't be as civil and enlightened as this one. America, you're retarded.
posted by billysumday at 11:54 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


jb-Yeah, totally sarcastic. I thought about writing something about selective breeding, but I decided I couldn't even approach that idiocy with a straight face.
posted by OmieWise at 11:57 AM on May 11, 2007


This is Nightline? what the fuck?
I mean, I knew Ted Koppel was out, but seriously. What the fucking fuckety fucking fuck. This is what happened to nightline? It became a confused dateline/enquirer/americanidol incoherent mashup of platitudinous nonsense?
I am sad. It used to be a news show... I think it was the only one on TV (not including public TV).
posted by mdn at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2007


Such debates are a waste as no resolution can be reached and logic, the weapon of debate, will never settle this question.
posted by caddis at 11:59 AM on May 11, 2007


delmoi: Frankly a lot of atheists can be just as obnoxious and annoying as a lot of religious people.

"Dude, you believe in Santa."

vs.

"Dude, you're going to suffer an eternity of unimaginable torment and pain."

I guess I'm agreeing. Sorta.

But, duuuuude. SANTA CLAUS!!!
posted by LordSludge at 12:00 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why?
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on May 11, 2007


Neither side of this debate represents me or really anyone I know.

I'd rather fucking watch professional wrestling.
posted by psmealey at 12:01 PM on May 11, 2007


Such debates are a waste as no resolution can be reached and logic, the weapon of debate, will never settle this question.

This debate may not resolve the question of "God" for everyone, but discussions like these, taken together over the course of a period of time, do change people's minds. Or should no one ever discuss religion?
posted by billysumday at 12:02 PM on May 11, 2007


That's a really good point, jb. I had never even thought about that before.

Watch, they'll realize this and then say "Ok, fine, not the banana. But corn, now THAT is something that proves intelligent design..."
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2007


but discussions like these, taken together over the course of a period of time, do change people's minds.

I doubt that.
posted by caddis at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2007


Can someone explain to me the crocoduck without me having to watch this damn thing? What is it supposed to prove (in the Mind of Cameron)?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:07 PM on May 11, 2007


HEY LIZARD! DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE WIGS!! I AM GOING TO YELL AT THE TREE-CREEPS!!! WEAR THE HATS ON YOUR HEAD!!
GO TO THE DINNERS WITH EXECUTIVE LIZARD-WIG!! HE IS GUARDING THE SODAS!!!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Never heard anyone say squat about Bashir that wasn't predicated with a snort.

Man, I am out of touch. You can't possibly be telling me that they gave Nightline to Martin Bashir after Koppel retired/moved to NPR. this must be some other Bashir. Hold on, I need to check google...Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2007


desjardins: "Both sides are equally annoying.

I've had more atheists try to convince me of the non-existence of God than Christians trying to convert me.

I'm a Buddhist, so I guess I just annoy everyone.
"

So... You don't believe in God then, eh? I mean, as a Buddhist, you believe nothing inherently exists. God (especially the xian definition) IS inherent existence.
posted by symbioid at 12:09 PM on May 11, 2007


Crocoduck vs. Wolverine: too close to call.
posted by chunking express at 12:09 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


From the first link: Let's hear their best evidence as to why God doesn't exist,

Really? You want me to prove a negative. Ok, I'll do that as soon as you prove conclusively that Superman can't actually fly.

/Puts down axe. Stops grinding.
posted by quin at 12:09 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm starting to believe that god is impossibility. If there were a god, surely such a deity would not create such immensely dense and pedantic idiots as the people who like to endlessly discuss this "debate" as if their side is winning or can win it. So maybe all of these obnoxious and redundant threads do chage minds...
posted by dios at 12:10 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


This debate may not resolve the question of "God" for everyone, but discussions like these, taken together over the course of a period of time, do change people's minds.

It is admittedly more difficult to have a cogent discussion when a vocal, shrill minority is excessively noisy about not liking the subject being brought up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on May 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Superman can't fly, he is however "able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound."
posted by Pollomacho at 12:13 PM on May 11, 2007


touché dios
posted by caddis at 12:13 PM on May 11, 2007


A wild banana.

Alternately,

A wild banana.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:14 PM on May 11, 2007


Oh, the latter is NSFW.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:15 PM on May 11, 2007


"There's a new series called Omega Flight, about Canada's attempts to deal with the wave of super-powered thugs who have washed over the border in the wake of the Civil War registration thing.

It stars US Agent, whom I love almost as much as watery metaphors."

Is it any good? Christ, I haven't bought comics in so long! They're pretty fucking pricey, compared to most things I could do with that $3...
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on May 11, 2007


Man a wild banana looks pretty gross. I love science.
posted by chunking express at 12:16 PM on May 11, 2007


"You know, Matt and Jess and I have sort of argued it back and forth, and we're just gonna leave this one up. "


Honestly, thankyou very much (& cortex too).

As an atheist who is terminally fed up with Dawkins letting his insufferable snottiness ruin his brilliance, and who thought it a huge shame that "Kelly" in the Face Off debate above - though doubtless a lovely individual - decided to go for the unserious party frock and crazy dyed hair look even before she argued so horribly - I wish someone could explain why the professional atheists in the USA don't get their bloody act together.

I've raised this point - with some heat - among serious scientists here (in NY). Most of them laugh - a little rudely - and say there is no point debating - since they would run out of things to say after 2 minutes.

When I say - equally somewhat rudely - you know what? Beating the other lot by a huge margin is the least of your problems. Atheists generally make a pretty sorry showing in most tabloidy forums, because they generally seem insufficiently prepared, slightly unhinged and/or snotty - the serious scientists look amazed - and we move on to other topics.

Why do atheists fail at this stuff?

(And yes, I've read Francis "Genome" Collins' book "The Language of God" to see if an evangelical Christian who is also a hard scientist can actually put a decent argument together for the godsquad side. And he can't. He basically says a scientist can "look at a waterfall" and believe in God, thus science and fath can go hand in hand. Great. In short, he completely dodges the crux of the question).

Why don't atheists prepare properly?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:18 PM on May 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Watch, they'll realize this and then say "Ok, fine, not the banana. But corn, now THAT is something that proves intelligent design..."
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:03 PM on May 11 [+] [!]


Are there any plants or animals which are very useful to people were weren't designed/bred by people? Perhaps some used by some hunter and gatherer communities, but even then the people often change the environment to encourage the flourishing of the plants and animals they like best.
posted by jb at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2007


Bananas were designed by people. Seriously - they never occurred in nature. They were selectively bred, like every other food crop on the planet. Banana's can't even reproduce without people.

Well, actually they are all identical clones. Bannans do not evolve.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on May 11, 2007


Yes, this was post before and deleted, but this is a good post (as opposed to the other one, which was a thirteenkiller post).

stfu. tia.
posted by Stynxno at 12:24 PM on May 11, 2007


Great, thanks.

:/
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:27 PM on May 11, 2007


You know, Matt and Jess and I have sort of argued it back and forth, and we're just gonna leave this one up. So enough with the deletion predictions, and on with the thread that makes us not regret it, maybe?
posted by cortex at 1:47 PM on May 11


Can we agree that this is the only one for the next... say 4 months or so? Unless, of course, some breaking new happens that actually advances the discussion beyond where it was 3000 years ago.
posted by dios at 12:27 PM on May 11, 2007


I have to say that I was pretty impressed with O'Reilly in the above link. Impressed is a pretty relative term in this case.

He started off pretty conciliatory and open minded about the whole thing. I imagined that he'd come off much worse.

Is there a source to see the whole Nightline debate? I get the feeling that a lot got cut out. I feel like we didn't see any of the actual debates or questions. Where's all the vitriol they reference. I did hear the atheist mutter something about Kirk being a numbnuts.

And crocoduck? Seriously? These debates would be so much more interesting if both sides understood the other better. Kirk obviously doesn't understand evolution even if he is trying to be cute. At the same time, if the atheists had a better command of the gospels and their context and history, they'd be able to poke a lot more holes in the religious argument.

All in all though I'm glad the debate was finally settled.
posted by Telf at 12:31 PM on May 11, 2007


Well, actually they are all identical clones. Bannans do not evolve.

Just the ones in American stores. They do have other varieties out there.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:32 PM on May 11, 2007


I wish someone could explain why the professional atheists in the USA don't get their bloody act together.

Because we have much more important things to do, where as to the Christians, it's literally the most important thing in their life.

I've raised this point - with some heat - among serious scientists here (in NY). Most of them laugh - a little rudely - and say there is no point debating - since they would run out of things to say after 2 minutes.

I'm a decent debater and quite presentable. :-D With some honest biologists to help me prep (I have a math degree and a lot of general knowledge so prep would be useful...) I'd be willing to do it. (And I'm also in New York.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:33 PM on May 11, 2007


Kirk Cameron: If you can't be with Boner, be a boner.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:37 PM on May 11, 2007


What the hell has happened to ABC News? When did they become Fox-lite?
posted by bshort at 12:37 PM on May 11, 2007


The banana is a particularly strange fruit to argue creation from, given its genetics.

Now, if Mr. Cameron were to argue that God exists because of bacon...
posted by bonehead at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


this thread is my ticket to IMMORTALITY
posted by facetious at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2007


But, duuuuude. SANTA CLAUS!!!
posted by LordSludge at 2:00 PM on May 11 [+]
[!]


Why?
posted by dios at 2:01 PM on May 11 [+]
[!]


Because he brings us presents, fool!
posted by COBRA! at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2007


Nietzsche is Dead! [and so, too, shall this post].
posted by ericb at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2007


Religions are organisms. They have complex mechanisms to ensure their survival and growth. Atheism, as an organized and proselytizing movement, is an organism as well. The problem for atheism is that it is an underdeveloped organism that can't compete in the current ecosystem. Religions are well-evolved to take advantage of human nature in a way that atheism does not. In the past it would've been a routine matter to round up and exterminate atheists, but the current cultural climate in some parts of the world prevents this. I'd wager that this is because of oil: the temporary glut of resources means that the ecosystem can support many different sociobiological organisms. If/when resources become scarce again, I predict the atheists will once again be exterminated by the major religions. 'Correctness' of the basis for the organism's existence has nothing to do with its survival.
posted by mullingitover at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sadly, Alpha Flight is now dead too. Stupid jerks couldn't stop some random alien...but the Avengers could.

As an atheist, philosopher, and lover of Dawkins, I can barely contain my rage over the ignorance in the reasoning of Cameron et al. Argument by Design has been disproven over and over and over but they ignore that. Morons.

arrgggghhhhhhhh
posted by Dantien at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2007


Is it May already? Call this "trolling for sweeps." or Theo-porn.

Both sides are equally annoying.

I've had more atheists try to convince me of the non-existence of God than Christians trying to convert me.

I'm a Buddhist, so I guess I just annoy everyone.


Somebody already said it, but Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. That doesn't mean atheist, but it's darn close.

I'm Kirk Cameron and my partner and I Ray Comfort ...

If I were in the audience, that's when I would have started the homo-heckling.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2007


wait. Martin Bashir?! bwahahahahahahaha.

Ted Koppel must be rolling in his luxurious, high-thread-count, Egyptian-cotton linens right now.

It was a no-holds-barred debate that was well worth watching.

Indeed!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:02 PM on May 11, 2007


I don't know much about the banana argument but I do think since God put Adam in a garden and expected him to "dress" it it is totally conceivable that God expects us to selectively breed things to get better things. Bananas, corn, apples, dogs, whatever. He created the potential and we get to play with it.

Now I am outta this thread before it goes to hell.
posted by konolia at 1:08 PM on May 11, 2007


Creationism vs. Evolution.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2007


Now I am outta this thread before it goes to hell.

Pinch one off on the coffee table, then run out of the room. Great. Somebody else wanna clean this up?
posted by LordSludge at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2007


I CAN HAZ CROCODUCKS
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:17 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an atheist, philosopher, and lover of Dawkins, I can barely contain my rage over the ignorance in the reasoning of Cameron et al. Argument by Design has been disproven over and over and over but they ignore that. Morons.

arrgggghhhhhhhh
posted by Dantien

Fabulous, Dantien - but "aaaaargh" doesn't win TV debates, does it?

I mean - yeah, it was tabloid Tv and all, but the atheists had tons of warning, I imagine that wasn't the first time duck-o-croc had been whipped out by the other side, and when they fllutter a hanky and produce - tadah! - Argument By Design, the atheists sarcastically counter by "okay so here's God in his ickle-wickle creation-factory" etc etc - which is - as you imply - the bit when we all roll our eyes - but it's delivering straight into the other side's palm!

As in "ooh, here are the sarky atheists trying to put us down."

Save for some good intentions by lupus_yonderboy, it seems no one here can counter with a pert, serious - yet provocatively-put counter blast.

Oh, I dunno.

Maybe it's just become too boring?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2007


Oh noes, our coffee table made out of twigs, doghair, dry vomit and semen is totally ruined!

It's sad that a thread about a Creationist/Evolutionist debate is incapable of generating a one of its own.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


So... You don't believe in God then, eh? I mean, as a Buddhist, you believe nothing inherently exists. God (especially the xian definition) IS inherent existence.

Actually, I'm a nontheist.
posted by desjardins at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2007


Oops, "...a reasoned and respectful one of it's own."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2007


There's no mileage in making competent, reasoned, rational points on TV, just scream louder and more incoherently than your opponent and you're guaranteed to win. *sigh*
posted by Skorgu at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2007


It's sad that a thread about a Creationist/Evolutionist debate is incapable of generating a one of its own.

That would require far more intelligent design.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2007


well said mullingitover but I like to hope that some catastrophic asteroid of enlightenment will destroy the giant lizards of religion and let us tiny mammals come out to play. You know, if you want to push the metaphor way to hard.
posted by subtle_squid at 1:32 PM on May 11, 2007


It's sad that a thread about a Creationist/Evolutionist debate is incapable of generating a one of its own.

I'm sorry, but I believe that Nightline without Ted Koppell doesn't exist.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:33 PM on May 11, 2007


"God expects us to selectively breed things to get better things. "
That's a reasonable inference, given your beliefs. But the banana argument is that God created the banana to fit into the hand perfectly and open easily so that humans can consume it.
That just isn't true, and I would hope we could both agree that it's a lousy argument for the existence of God.
Kirk Cameron is no C.S. Lewis.
posted by 2sheets at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2007


I wish someone could explain why the professional atheists in the USA don't get their bloody act together.

What kind of people do you expect to be drawn to be "professional atheists?" I suspect that for most atheists, atheism is not their defining characteristic.

Why don't atheists prepare properly?

What amount of preparation would be sufficient for an argument that cannot be won by an appeal to reason?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I get the feeling that this post was religious in nature. I this correct?
posted by Wonderwoman at 1:37 PM on May 11, 2007


There's no mileage in making competent, reasoned, rational points on TV, just scream louder and more incoherently than your opponent and you're guaranteed to win. *sigh*
posted by Skorgu

But they didn't quite, skorgu.

XChildstar & Comfort had their visual aids (yeah, yeah, I know). They had their "more in sorrow than anger" tone off nicely (at times). They had a HUGE advantage with the set up - even with the introductory graphics (which made the Rationalists look like a dodgy kiddie porn squad...)

ALL of those things should easily have been countered/improved upon by the rational side.

I just can't fathom why the atheists don't show familiarity with the tricks of tabloid TV. Or why "Kelly" immediately lost a ton of credibility with only having one name (I mean, really - it was as though atheism was an underground movement...).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:42 PM on May 11, 2007


What amount of preparation would be sufficient for an argument that cannot be won by an appeal to reason?
posted by me & my monkey

Preparation about presentation?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:45 PM on May 11, 2007


Farmer A: "My Calf has a double nose!"
Farmer B: "How does she smell?"
Farmer A: "Two awful!"

I blame Friday and Doughnuts
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:45 PM on May 11, 2007


Does the internet exist? Or is it just a disguise for television?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:52 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Preparation about presentation?

Do you really think that would have made a difference? How many people will be convinced to abandon their faith based on that? What kind of faith would that be, to be discarded based on the slickness of a presentation? Damn good Powerpoints, I guess! I guess Powerpoint really is a tool of the devil!

The people who're going to get on a TV "debate" with Kirk Cameron are, like the buffoons they oppose, self-selecting. They're people who want to get into an unwinnable argument with morons. Think about that. Do you think your rational scientist friends want some of that? I wouldn't.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:15 PM on May 11, 2007


subtle_squid writes "well said mullingitover but I like to hope that some catastrophic asteroid of enlightenment will destroy the giant lizards of religion and let us tiny mammals come out to play. You know, if you want to push the metaphor way to hard."

I think the asteroid will be convincingly anthropomorphic software. A day of reckoning will arrive when humans no longer have a monopoly on 'consciousness.' Having a piece of software crying and saying "Please, don't shut down the box. I want to live!" will be something that religions have no precedent for. It will be chaos; religions will argue that an instantiated logical construct doesn't have a soul, but a completely 'human' piece of software will be impossible to deny. I can't wait for the first evangelist to try 'save' a virtual human.
posted by mullingitover at 2:17 PM on May 11, 2007


As a Christian who accepts evolution, I have often wished for a well done debate between creationists and evolutionists, all of whom are believers. That would let us take one issue (whether their is a God) and set it aside to focus on the question of how life came to its present form.

Then, I would like to see the same Christian evolutionists in a dialogue with atheists about the existence of God, so we could isolate that question, too.

If nothing else, it would let people know that there are some of us managing to hold on to good science and a faith tradition without our heads exploding.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:21 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kevin Kelly on Jesus Camp "The film, as is, makes no attempt to understand the strange things its sees - only to drum up fright. But because the documentary of these common Evangelical/Pentecostal scenes are not very common in mainstream media, and because the glimpses are direct, intimate, unflinching, real, and honest as far as they go, I recommend it. Christians, take heed."
posted by acro at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2007


Actually, there is only one argument an atheist can or should make: "Really? Prove it."
posted by signal at 2:35 PM on May 11, 2007


"Prove it isn't."
posted by caddis at 2:38 PM on May 11, 2007


I can't believe (hehe - I said "believe") I missed out on this discussion. But better late than never: God does not exist.
posted by BoatMeme at 2:40 PM on May 11, 2007


caddis: nope, burden of proof is on the giant invisible super hero in the sky.
posted by signal at 2:40 PM on May 11, 2007


Only a loving God could make titties like that.
posted by ColdChef at 2:41 PM on May 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that's going to make him blind. And [I ask them], 'Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child's eyeball? Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy.

- Sir David Attenborough
posted by billypilgrim at 2:45 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


nope, burden of proof is on the giant invisible super hero in the sky

not when you are trying to convince a believer to change. See, the whole thing is silly to argue over as you can not prove it either way.
posted by caddis at 2:45 PM on May 11, 2007


caddis: nope, burden of proof is on the giant invisible super hero in the sky.
posted by signal at 4:40 PM on May 11


Says who? Who assigns burden of proof in this instance? Both sides make claims.

But the absolute stupidity of this all is that neither side has a fricking clue about what the argument is over. Reason has no place in this debate. Why? Because it is a debate about beliefs.

God exists. God does not exist. Those are statements of facts and, when subjected to issues of proof, are not proven no matter what either side argues.

I believe God exists. I do not believe God exists. Those are statements of beliefs, not subject to the issue of proof. Prove me to me that I do not believe God exists. This is the real argument and why this entire endeavor is beyond ignorant.
posted by dios at 2:49 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Prove it isn't."

That's all well and good, 'cept you can't prove a negative.

Atheists can't win in this arena because, when scientists have gaps in knowledge they can only insert "we suppose" or "we posit" or "we don't know yet", while believers say "aha! God goes there. See how simple and right that is?"

Good luck showing them the errors of their thinking processes.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:50 PM on May 11, 2007


They're people who want to get into an unwinnable argument with morons. Think about that. Do you think your rational scientist friends want some of that? I wouldn't.
posted by me & my monkey

No, that's pretty much their attitude, just as you say.

But there's an unyielding, possibly stupid, part of me that thinks it's a huge cop-out to say "oh, the morons are beneath me."

Maybe I'm just the same as other atheists here at heart, but I wish "our" side would learn a few tricks about slickness, not acting like jerks, pop culture manipulation etc rather than just moan "whither the evening news shows?"

I thought that prime time air slot was a pretty much wasted opportunity, if that's all we get AND the decks are stacked with presenter introductions about the views of - direct quote - "the so-called rationalists"!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:54 PM on May 11, 2007


Times of stress tend to make people more irrational then rational. A giant meteor strike would just encourage fire and brimstone religion.
posted by edgeways at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2007


...Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy.
- Sir David Attenborough
posted by billypilgrim at 2:45 PM on May 11 [+]

That's totally a case in point, billypilgrim.

The moment atheists say "so what about suffering, huh? Where's your merciful God there, huh" we know exactly what the response will wriggle around.

a) this is a postlapsarian creation
b) all will be revealed if you have faith etc etc.

So the answer?

Don't raise the bloody point in the first place.

Remember, XChildstar and that Comfort guy "promised" not to make the TV debate about faith on its own. So the strategy should have been to force them to accept the limits they set.

Keep the debate on design by creation. Keep it away from metaphysics.

Look, I don't remotely have the clever answers here.

Just bags of frustration that we blow any advantage on the parts that can be fixed - like TV-appropriate eloquence, laying off the sarcasm and Haggard digs (much as I love em)...
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:06 PM on May 11, 2007


Says who? Who assigns burden of proof in this instance? Both sides make claims.

When one 'side' posits giant invisible super heroes in the sky, I think the burden of proof sort of tips over in their direction by itself.
Lack of belief in g.i.s.h.i.t.s is not a claim. It's a lack of belief.
posted by signal at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2007


Why don't atheists prepare properly?

Indeed. Why don't atheists look into what Christians have actually said about God? Why not ask a Christian what he thinks of this: "What else also is God announced to be by us, but mind, and reason, and spirit?" What about when you tell him that this was written by the Christian Minucius Felix in the 3rd century? What is there in this definition of "God" that an atheist could quarrel with? Is not true Christianity actually a kind of spiritualized atheism?

These are the kinds of questions atheists need to ask of Christians.
posted by No Robots at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2007


(And yes, I've read Francis "Genome" Collins' book "The Language of God" to see if an evangelical Christian who is also a hard scientist can actually put a decent argument together for the godsquad side. And he can't. He basically says a scientist can "look at a waterfall" and believe in God, thus science and fath can go hand in hand. Great. In short, he completely dodges the crux of the question).

for another interesting take, check out paul tillich. i remember a particularly interesting chapter comparing the duality of particle/wave theory explanations of the atom to the duality of jesus as mortal/immortal, but i can't remember which book.
posted by phaedon at 3:12 PM on May 11, 2007


For a well prepared atheist argument, look no further than Sam Harris. Check out 'The end of faith' and 'Letter to a christian nation'. Also, check out this speech and more.
posted by Afreemind2007 at 3:14 PM on May 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ah hell it should be determined, Monty Python style.
posted by edgeways at 3:21 PM on May 11, 2007


What amount of preparation would be sufficient for an argument that cannot be won by an appeal to reason?

VoilĂ .
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just the same as other atheists here at heart, but I wish "our" side would learn a few tricks about slickness, not acting like jerks, pop culture manipulation etc rather than just moan "whither the evening news shows?"

Who's going to pay for this? Good lobbyists get paid. And that's essentially what you're asking for.

And why is there an "our" side anyway? Aren't atheists freed from the burden of proselytizing? I for one would be overjoyed if everyone in the world (but me) became a Christian tomorrow! Of course, I mean a true Christian, not the people currently claiming to be Christians. Think of it! A world full of people rushing to give their possessions to the poor, who'd refuse to kill even in self-defense, who'd turn the other cheek. Imagine if, for example, everyone was a Quaker.

Keep the debate on design by creation. Keep it away from metaphysics.

I don't see how that's possible. Any statement of religious belief, including creationism, is supported only by a specific metaphysical worldview. You are not going to get the argument you want from a creationist, you will get the one you are given.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


When one 'side' posits giant invisible super heroes in the sky, I think the burden of proof sort of tips over in their direction by itself.
Lack of belief in g.i.s.h.i.t.s is not a claim. It's a lack of belief.
posted by signal at 5:07 PM on May 11


So it's nothing more than mere condescending and misplaced ipse dixit? This is why you will be stuck in this never-ending exercise of stupidity in arguing this. "I believe in God" posits a belief in God. How does one prove to you that one believes in something beyond the statement?

This complete inability to grasp the fundamental terms of the debate is why we are doomed to have this moronic argument over and over and over. Neither side can prove their case. The argument of proof is still where it was 3000 years ago. The absence of proof necessarily means that the current futile argument is between two beliefs. You can couch your beliefs in the robes of whatever side you want (I believe based on these scientific facts; I believe based on faith), but it is still a belief that is not proven. So you mock and argue over beliefs, demanding proof when neither side can or needs to present any.

It's a personal decision made by each individual. Both sides need understand that and quit trying to "debate" it and proselytize their positions. This world and this site would be much better if everyone would feel confident enough in their own beliefs that they can ignore the fact that other people believe differently and overcome that juvenile need to chastise or diminish those that are or believe different things.

Yes, it is sad that some religions believe in proselytizing so much that non-believers must be converted at the sword. That sucks. Why "progressive" brights or whatever term want to apply can't acknowledge how noxious it is for them to proselytize so much that non-believers must be converted at the risk of death by boredom, condescension and redundancy. It might be too much irony to point out that it's not very "multi-cultural" or "progressive" for atheists to insult the beliefs of others.
posted by dios at 3:30 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


It appears that I agree with Dios.

You can bring on the seven seals and the thing with the Four Horsemen, now, I think it's time...
posted by Grangousier at 3:36 PM on May 11, 2007


Banana Argument... Wow.

Either I have mutant hands, or those two can't count. In perfect banana-gripping position, I count seven - not five - "grooves".

1) tip of thumb meeting tip of index finger.
2) first knuckle (from the tip) of index finger.
3) second thereof.
4) where the index finger meets the palm.
5) third knuckle of index finger (where a palmar crease starts).
6) where the thumb meets the palm.
7) thumb knuckle.
posted by CKmtl at 3:37 PM on May 11, 2007


For a well prepared atheist argument, look no further than Sam Harris. Check out 'The end of faith' and 'Letter to a christian nation'. Also, check out this speech and more.posted by Afreemind2007

Those are wonderful links (Sam Harris once gave a brilliant review of the creepy Francis Collins book, too), and I will check out the ones I don't know, thanks..

Who's going to pay for this? Good lobbyists get paid. And that's essentially what you're asking for.


Yeah, yeah, I know.

It was just very irritating seeing a potential platform for debate going not very far.

But there are some areas away from metaphysics, me & my monkey,...(I didn't mean "our" side inclusively, by the way - it was just shorthand!). Be ready to counter the Einstein-was-a-secret-Christian thing, have Darwin's comments on the gaps he expected would remain in the fossil record, just don't dribble away the few advantages atheists do have.

I didn't intend to sound so shrill!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:41 PM on May 11, 2007


in any debate i'll always decide based purely on which side has the hottie with the killer rack. the atheists have me on this one.
posted by andywolf at 3:41 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why "progressive" brights or whatever term want to apply can't acknowledge how noxious it is for them to proselytize so much that non-believers must be converted at the risk of death by boredom, condescension and redundancy. It might be too much irony to point out that it's not very "multi-cultural" or "progressive" for atheists to insult the beliefs of others.

Wow, that's the highest density of strawmen in a single paragraph I've seen yet on metafilter. Kudos.

There is no atheist 'side'. Atheist's don't believe in [insert non condescending term for supernatural, all powerful, usually male, usually supporting the believers' political views, super being]. What do they have to prove?
The burden of proof is squarely on those who claim the existence of said beings. Remarkable claims, etc.
posted by signal at 3:43 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm of the opinion (and it is just an opinion), that the only way to prove that a Christian belief is incorrect is to overwhelm with historical facts about the Bible, especially the chosen version of your opponent. There are several Biblical scholars who have written massive amounts of research and comparisons between just about every version of the Bible in print, or ever discovered for that matter. Thus, any time a Biblical passage is quoted to show some example of how "God said x", you can point out "no, he said y. And z. And x+y. And x-y. And y+z. And x+y+z=f." Because really, you can do that with just about every thing, since it's all a translation from either Hebrew or ancient Greek. And if you really want to hurt them, simply point out the historical record of the Christian church, especially the multiple Schisms before and after Martin Luther and his little hissy fit. There's the Council of Nicea, where a good portion of most early Christian texts that were part of earlier versions of the Bible, but were voted out of the cannon by those early church leaders. That was centuries before Martin Luther was born. Then later we get into the King James rewriting of the bible to support the Divine Right of Kings, which really messed with a lot of things, adding in all sorts of stuff about how God ordained that certain people get to be the ruling class and some such nonsense. Don't forget all the other fun stuff with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Shroud of Turin, and all the other great stuff that's very well documented about the history of the Church. Oh, and don't forget about the difference between the Holy Roman Church and Eastern Orthodox. Or any of the multitude of sects that can trace their lineage back to the times of Jesus (these are usually sects that originated and still exist in the areas surrounding Jerusalem). The Crusades, that's a really fun subject to bring up.

So you look at this derth of information and study on the history of the Bible, all the many forms it has taken and still holds in many parts of the world, and you tell me, do you really beleive that this is the 'word of God', straight from his mouth to paper? You're not even reading what was originally written, nor even lining up this supposed record of historical facts which ends somewhere around the first century CE (common era, not Christian Era). And yes, I use CE, because AD is nice and all, but it does not account for a lot of things that the calendar system has been modified to account for. And we're still not even sure that it's on track, since it wasn't even created nor adopted until 1582.

And no, I'm not a history major, just someone who likes to know the stories of how things came to be the way they are, instead of just taking received wisdom (i.e. whatever someone told me I should believe) and running with it (a mistake both religous zealots and athiest zealots tend to do, which is why listening to them argue can be very amusing, but more often than not makes your jaw drop in amazement that they are spouting off something they don't fully understand).

The reason people continue to fall for these shinanigans is because they have been trained not to ask questions beyond the surface of anything. They lost that wonderful thing that 3 year old develop (and in my opinion should never lose) of asking why to everything, constantly. If something bothers you, never settle for just a simple answer. There is always more to the story, more details to be extracted, more information to diseminate and knowledge to be gained. Why does Kirk Cameron and his buddy Mr. Comfort feel the need to try and explain creationism. Does it represent some failing to them if they are wrong? They have chosen a belief that they cannot prove, and thus everything they try to explain is simply an exercise in showing off their faith. And while having faith is part of the human condition, relying on faith for everything is a sure fire way to get everyone in a whole mess of trouble.

I know I've gone on for a really, really, really long time on this, but I really want to get this out of my head before I completely get fed up with this subject (again, for the millionth time).

Christian leaders are always supported by people who need hope. Hope that they are not really an insignificant little speck in the universe, struggling to continue surviving against overwhelming odds that science keeps reminding of us. Life on Earth is unique as far as we know. No where else in the universe has anything like what goes on here happened that we have been able to discover. But we're trying real hard to find out why. Many people turn to religion when nothing else can answer the needs they have for hope. The belief in an afterlife, reincarnation, some reward after life is a wonderfully powerful thing to lie to people about. You can convince someone that bowing to your will and supporting your cause will earn them a spot in a place where there is no need for wants or desire, a part of something good and comforting. And it has been used for centuries to convince people that their current station in life is where they should be and not to strive for better, since those who are above them are there because of some secret plan that God has ordained.

I'm tired of writing now and I've meandered all over the map on this one, so if anyone reads this whole thing, please comment so I at least have some hope that I'm not talking to myself.
posted by daq at 3:46 PM on May 11, 2007 [15 favorites]


The argument of proof is still where it was 3000 years ago.

No. The Enlightenment had a little role to play in this.

What gets me is, once again, the normalization of crazy in America. People have every right to practice their idol worship. But a claim to invisble super-heroes is not as valid as the claim that there are no invisible super-heroes. It's really that simple.

Dawkins and Hitchens bother you? Fine. Debate them back. But Christian theology is based around the tenet that all non-believers burn eternally in hell. Not even Judaism or Islam have the gall to make that claim.

Among my many, many problems with Christianity, the simple rudeness of it all is what sticks out time and time again. I'm supposed to respect you and your skygod, and yet, you go around claiming that I'm eternally damned? Forgive me if I don't drop everything to make you feel more comfortable in your bigoted views.

(fwiw, I'm a big fan of the historical Jesus. Pity contemporary Christianity has nothing to do with him, and I imagine he'd have nothing to do with it.)
posted by bardic at 3:49 PM on May 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


Overthinking as plate of bananas
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on May 11, 2007


for another interesting take, check out paul tillich. i remember a particularly interesting chapter comparing the duality of particle/wave theory explanations of the atom to the duality of jesus as mortal/immortal, but i can't remember which book.posted by phaedon

Gee - thanks a bunch.."I can't remember which book"....

Did you know how many books are listed at your link:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:49 PM on May 11, 2007


I believe in God but I find people that try to prove his existence or not existence just acting stupidly.

I believe in God (or at least some force that is made all this, this doesn't mean he for sure knows that we exists anyway) and in Science. If science brings proofs for something that is at the opposite of what religions claim, so the religions's wrong and science's right.

And still I believe in God and I can never prove his existence to anyone, nor anyone can prove his non existence.
posted by zouhair at 3:50 PM on May 11, 2007


bardic is my hero.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2007


daq,

Read every word & thought it was terrific...up until: "Why does Kirk Cameron and his buddy Mr. Comfort feel the need to try and explain creationism".

From my POV (how atheists need to argue more effectively in these pop debates) that's the bit when Cameron/Kirk heave a huge sigh of relief (because you had them feeling quite ill with your erudition) - and let loose their personal belief that their opposition need to hear their truth.

And when one embarks on the uses to which Christian hierarchical thought has been put (keeping the peasants in line etc) that's another area where they leap in and talk about man's fallen state and distortions of the creed (i.e. not religion's fault, but sinful man's.)

But - yeah. One person here thinks it was very well done - a great deal better than her meanderings!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:01 PM on May 11, 2007


I believe it's Buddhism that teaches that, right or wrong, belief in (a) deity/deities is a natural human instinct, and since proof/disproof is impossible, it's a waste of time to dwell on it. (Some) People have an innate spiritual drive that has nothing to do with socialization or some type of extrinsic benefit of religious piety. These people would invent a belief system and fabricate religious experiences if they didn't have a ready-made religion available to them.

I find this to be a reasonable idea, based on my experience of meeting all sorts of people who, while they're intelligent and reasoned individuals, just feel that there is an invisible superhero in the sky. Intrinsic religious tendency may be a hereditary trait that enhances the odds of survival and reproduction of the individual's genes. An ironclad and compelling argument against the existence of the supernatural would be wasted on these individuals because, in their subjective reality, (insert name of deity here) is real.
posted by mullingitover at 4:09 PM on May 11, 2007


What gets me is, once again, the normalization of crazy in America.

Absolutely - as a foriegner, I was struck by how biased that Nightline clip was against the athiests and for Kirk Cameron & his pal, considering Kirk's beliefs re: creationism are very much out to lunch (I've never met anyone in real life who actually believed the earth was 6000 years old. ie: he's a wackjob)

If strong athiesm is going to move from the private sphere into the public sphere to where it can convince the masses, it needs better presentation.

I'm also really surprised talk about athiesm is frowned on on Metafilter - I thought this was a liberal site??
posted by dydecker at 4:16 PM on May 11, 2007


Gee - thanks a bunch.."I can't remember which book"....

I think it's Dynamics of Faith. If unsure, go with The Essential Tillich.
posted by phaedon at 4:18 PM on May 11, 2007


What gets me is, once again, the normalization of crazy in America.

"holding irrational belief" != "crazy"

For example, you probably believe that it's wrong to kill people for kicks, even if you could get away with it with no repercussions, and there was no threat that you'd be killed by someone else. That's an irrational belief. It hasn't been proven, or justified based on a priori knowledge. I don't think it can be. Does that make you crazy? I hope not.

But Christian theology is based around the tenet that all non-believers burn eternally in hell. ... I'm supposed to respect you and your skygod, and yet, you go around claiming that I'm eternally damned?

No, it isn't. You're painting with a brush broad enough to cover a barn in one stroke. Many Christians don't care whether you believe in their god or not. Many Christians believe that the appropriate way to proselytize is to do good works.

And frankly, if you believe it's a load of crap anyway, why do you care what they think about where you go when you die?

And when one embarks on the uses to which Christian hierarchical thought has been put (keeping the peasants in line etc)

So, if that's evidence against the validity of religious belief, is liberation theology evidence in its favor? This is a game that you can't win. The only way to win is not to play.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:19 PM on May 11, 2007


I thought this was a liberal site??

It generally is, but there's a shrill core of tastemakers who constantly derail discussions of religion and/or atheism by loudly shrieking "ZOMG WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS!!!", thereby fulfilling their own prophesying.
posted by bardic at 4:23 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm also really surprised talk about athiesm is frowned on on Metafilter...

It's not talk about atheism, it's dumb talk about religion. And there's a lot of that around.
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:28 PM on May 11, 2007


I thought this was a liberal site?

God help us if it ever comes to that. For now, it's a site that's chock full of liberals, is all.
posted by cortex at 4:29 PM on May 11, 2007


There's plenty of shrillness on both sides of the aisle. And these threads are fairly constant - there's one every week or so. And, they all end up the same way.

I'm an atheist, but much of what passes for argument from the resident MeFi atheist brigade makes me wince.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:30 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm supposed to respect you and your skygod, and yet, you go around claiming that I'm eternally damned?

But why do you care that they say that about you? YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN HELL!! As an atheist, someone telling me I'm going to hell matters to me about as much as if they said I was going to heaven. I couldn't give a shit.

It's their actions and not their words that I'm concerned about.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 4:34 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


me and my monkey,
But your belief.net link pretty much confirms that it's heaven/hell, theologically speaking, for non-believers (save for buddhism and hinduism), doesn't it?

Which is entirely separate from whether or not individual Christians care about such matters...surely?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:34 PM on May 11, 2007


me & my monkey, please show me where in the Christian Testament Jesus states that not accepting him as the messiah is the way to heaven? Here's a hint -- you won't find it.

Sincerely, I realize there are small enclaves within Christianity that don't hold this hard-line position (I went to a Quaker high school, fwiw), but these are the exceptions that prove the rule. And yes, you'll find radicals within Judaism and Islam who say that non-Jews and non-Muslims are damned, but for the most part, it's Christianity that is unique in its claim that to not accept Jesus as Christ means you burn in hell forever. There's plenty of derision, if not outright contempt, from hardcore Jews and Muslims towards non-believers, but not a doctrinal assertion that they are condemned to eternal suffering.

Many Christians don't care whether you believe in their god or not. Many Christians believe that the appropriate way to proselytize is to do good works.

We can agree to disagree on this one. Granted, I used to live in the south, so maybe the sample pool was a bad one, but most of the Christians (certainly not all) I encountered and knew down there were all about proseletyzing. I went to grad. school at a fairly liberal institution, and every Friday droves of Christian youth groups would swarm in on us during the warmer months to "save souls" (their own words).

As for "caring" about what Christians think, unfortunately I have to these days. Lots of these people think their mythological viewpoints should be treated as fact and/or science, and they need to be stopped. Honestly, in the first Republican presidential debate, over half the candidates said they don't think evolution is true. I have every right to be paranoid, but I'll happily eat a shoe if I'm not justified in my concern.
posted by bardic at 4:35 PM on May 11, 2007


But your belief.net link pretty much confirms that it's heaven/hell, theologically speaking, for non-believers (save for buddhism and hinduism), doesn't it?
The Church also teaches that through the mystery of God's grace, non-Catholics "who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience--those too may achieve eternal salvation."
Which is entirely separate from whether or not individual Christians care about such matters...surely?

Surely. I'm not sure how that's relevant, though. Is marriage a bad thing because people cheat on their spouses?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:43 PM on May 11, 2007


Crap..meant hell for non-believers not either/or. Big blunder.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:44 PM on May 11, 2007


I would like to know why people like Cameron think it is that we're not having debates about whether or not Odin exists.
posted by Flunkie at 4:46 PM on May 11, 2007


I don't believe that Kirk Cameron exists.
Therefore, this thread is irrelevant to me.
posted by newfers at 4:48 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm also really surprised talk about athiesm is frowned on on Metafilter...

I'm not sure why, but I find the idea of "talking about atheism" to be quite funny. I can't imagine a conversation solely about atheism would last very long.
posted by The World Famous at 4:48 PM on May 11, 2007


And I'm disappointed that this thread is not about Matt Cameron.
posted by The World Famous at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2007


er..but non-catholics who seek grace are therefore believers - so that doesn't cover non-believers.

So -what bardic said, basically.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2007


I think it's rather disingenuous to cast atheists in the role of "caring what other people think", when the problem is that it's the imposition of religious beliefs in the public sphere that most object to.
Go worship a cowboy boot full of jelly beans, for all I care, just don't tell me I can't buy beer on Sunday because you received an injunction from bootzilla, or worse, try to replace science with jelly bean divination and expect me to value your opinion as I would somebody who has the enlightenment and a body of research behind them.
And don't even get me started on the gay thing.
posted by 2sheets at 4:51 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


please show me where in the Christian Testament Jesus states that not accepting him as the messiah is the way to heaven? Here's a hint -- you won't find it.

Matthew 25:31-46?

I knew that my Catholic school education would come in handy some day. It was certainly a strong impetus toward atheism for me, too. You might want to bone up on the synoptic gospels, since they're pretty heavy on the works rather than faith - the camel going through the eye of a needle, and all that.

And yes, you'll find radicals within Judaism and Islam who say that non-Jews and non-Muslims are damned

My understanding is that in mainstream Islam, only those who are "people of the Book" will avoid hell. That's just the Abrahamic religions. So my Buddhist friends are straight out. However, some of them believe that if you are never exposed to Buddhism, you will be eternally stuck with this damned samsara.

Granted, I used to live in the south, so maybe the sample pool was a bad one, but most of the Christians (certainly not all) I encountered and knew down there were all about proseletyzing.

The plural of anecdote ...

As for "caring" about what Christians think, unfortunately I have to these days. Lots of these people think their mythological viewpoints should be treated as fact and/or science, and they need to be stopped.

The solution to that is not convincing everyone to be an atheist. At least, I hope it isn't, because that would be an unlikely outcome. The solution is enforcement of the separation of church and state, which is based on religious tolerance. The intolerance of atheists isn't going to help with that.

er..but non-catholics who seek grace are therefore believers - so that doesn't cover non-believers.

Your definition of "seeking grace" is more constrained than, say, the Pope's. Reading religious texts with a lawyer's eye is as pointless as trying to convince religious people through reason.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:03 PM on May 11, 2007


I think it's rather disingenuous to cast atheists in the role of "caring what other people think", when the problem is that it's the imposition of religious beliefs in the public sphere that most object to.

Then it would be a good idea for high profile or vocal atheists to stop mocking what religious people believe, or even ever talking about it. All the "Invisible Super Hero" and FSM talk makes it seem like atheists are mocking the actual beliefs of religious people, and that its the beliefs that they object to or care about.

More often than not, MeFi atheism/religion threads are full of atheists and religious people telling each other that their respective belief systems are wrong -- with atheists vocally mocking or degrading belief in God. If they don't actually care if people believe in God, but are concerned only with societal expectations arising out of the beliefs of others, then they should be attacking the societal imposition of religious ideas, and not attacking the belief systems themselves.
posted by The World Famous at 5:08 PM on May 11, 2007


it's.
posted by The World Famous at 5:10 PM on May 11, 2007


Yes God exists, but he plays favorites.
posted by Roger Davis at 5:14 PM on May 11, 2007


Most people read that parable quite differently, to wit -- people who think they're redeemed but don't actually act that way (wealthy hypocrites) are actually condemned, while the poor who believe in Jesus as Christ are saved.

As for works rather than faith, I agree in principle. And yet, you bloviating about the wonders of your Catholic education proves nothing. As admitted, I'm a big fan of Jesus. And yet, there's a reason why Luther thought the book of James (a short letter basically arguing that works > faith alone) should have been banned from the Bible. And that American Protestantism is to a large extent informed by the Puritan tradition, one that bent over backwards to remind people that it didn't matter what you did in life, that it was already decided where you'd go at death ("Predestination").

As for your ignorance regarding Islam, doctrinally there is no literal hell. It's similar to Judaism. Obviously, religions divide themselves into believers vs. non-believers (any community does, to some extent). The historical differences comes when Jesus claims that all who don't accept him as Messiah are condemned. Sorry, twist all you want, but this is what 2,000 years of revelation come down to.

Further, where have I tried to make anyone an atheist in this thread? I'm not ashamed too have strong opinions on this matter, but the strawman of the "proseletyzing atheist" amuses me to no end. If logic, empiricism, and understanding history is such a grave threat to your faith, then you need to re-evaluate it. If you manage to pull of the Kierkegaardian dance and realize that religious belief is an inherently absurd proposition, and yet one that some people feel necessary to living a complete life, I don't expect to change any hearts or minds. But don't come to the table of publican opinion and expect your faith in invisible skygods to be taken all that seriously.
posted by bardic at 5:17 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


There is a perpetually naive part of me which hopes that those who engage in these sorts of debates (from either side) will wake up some fine morning and say, "Hey, these questions have been debated for thousands of years, by minds far more educated and agile than ours -- let's see what they had to say before we continue."
posted by treepour at 5:22 PM on May 11, 2007


err, public

Although a beer sounds pretty good right now.

And once again, I'm really tired of the supposed parity between theists and atheists. Fine, you think Dawkins is shrill. Fine, you think Hitchens is a drunk. But guess what? They're not actively trying to determine whom you can marry and/or sleep with, whether or not you can adopt kids, or whether or not you get to keep your job.

Not to mention whether a civil, modern society considers steering 737's into skyscrapers singing "God is great" is an acceptable form of political debate.
posted by bardic at 5:24 PM on May 11, 2007


The World Famous writes "If they don't actually care if people believe in God, but are concerned only with societal expectations arising out of the beliefs of others, then they should be attacking the societal imposition of religious ideas, and not attacking the belief systems themselves."

Historically, athiests were systematically murdered for their heresy. We've got a sliver in time where we can say what we think and not be killed for it, and we've got a lot of bottled-up angst. It's entirely likely that at some point in the future things will change and they'll go back to torturing and slaughtering us. In the meantime, what's wrong with speaking our minds? It's not like the major religions are holding back from attacking us in any way they possibly can. The beast is in a cage for now, but rest assured it'll escape and kill again sooner enough.
posted by mullingitover at 5:28 PM on May 11, 2007


Is there a link to the entire debate in a format that ABC didn't edit to make one side look better than the other?
posted by Megafly at 5:29 PM on May 11, 2007


My $.02: The word atheist is stupid. There's no word for people who don't believe in ghosts.

If you must call me anything, call me rational.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:31 PM on May 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


Most people read that parable quite differently

Have you done a survey?

bloviating about the wonders of your Catholic education

One line is "bloviating?" The standard has gone downhill a bit.

there's a reason why Luther thought the book of James ... should have been banned from the Bible

Protestantism != Christianity

As for your ignorance regarding Islam, doctrinally there is no literal hell. It's similar to Judaism.

As for your snide remark about my ignorance, I'm not sure what you mean by "literal hell." I didn't say anything about fire & brimstone, or devils with pitchforks. In many religions, "hell" is shorthand for separation from the diivine. I will admit that I'm not that conversant with Islamic teachings; being an atheist, I just can't get work up much interest.

Further, where have I tried to make anyone an atheist in this thread? I'm not ashamed too have strong opinions on this matter, but the strawman of the "proseletyzing atheist" amuses me to no end.

Do you not see the topic of the thread? It's about a debate between atheists and Kirk Cameron! What do you think is the point of this debate, if not to convince someone of something?

don't come to the table of publican opinion

Who's bloviating now?
posted by me & my monkey at 5:36 PM on May 11, 2007


And once again, I'm really tired of the supposed parity between theists and atheists. Fine, you think Dawkins is shrill. Fine, you think Hitchens is a drunk. But guess what? They're not actively trying to determine whom you can marry and/or sleep with, whether or not you can adopt kids, or whether or not you get to keep your job.

First, I have nothing against drunks.

Second, if your goal is to prevent people from imposing restrictions on you based on their religion, your best bet is to emphasize the value of religious tolerance. You are not going to convince someone to discard their faith through reasoned argument. I should think that's self-evident. You can, however, convince people of the value of religious tolerance. After all, it's been done before.

Historically, athiests people of every religious stripe were systematically murdered for their heresy.

The value of religious tolerance is obvious to much of the modern world.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:43 PM on May 11, 2007


"Then it would be a good idea for high profile or vocal atheists to stop mocking what religious people believe, or even ever talking about it."

Oh boy, let's drag the chicken or egg argument out.
Yes, those poor religious folks were peacefully worshiping in their churches and mosques when those mean ol' atheists burst in and started mocking them, right?
Bullshit.
Not to mention that mockery is irrelevant to the issue.
If you can't stand being mocked, that's your problem.
posted by 2sheets at 5:46 PM on May 11, 2007


I guess I believe in god. In that when all is said and done and it's late at night and I'm talking to myself... deep down think somebody else is listening.

I hope, deep down, that somebody is charge of the universe somehow. That would be nice.

When I'm thankful for how my life is going I give a nod to that thing out there.

When I look up at the stars and lose my self in the vastness and my breath gets sucked away... I thank that thing up there.

What I WON'T do is kiss this god's ass by living every moment terrified of offending it. Nor will I "worship" it. Or sell it's greatness to others.

If it IS great it shouldn't require any of that.

I also believe this thing has no direct control over what basketball teams win, which planes crash, and whose babies die.

If this thing can't get the universe to run right without stoning to death 16 year old girls... then fuck it. How "omnipotent" can it be?

I am fully aware that these "beliefs" are totally irrational. And it wouldn't shatter my universe if they were not true.
posted by tkchrist at 6:03 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm really tired of the supposed parity between theists and atheists.

Parity? ABC picks the least educated fringenuts they can find to represent both points of view. The purpose here is to illustrate that both secularism and religion are silly, and the path to righteousness is offered by ABC itself - the cynicism of the media.

I really wanted to avoid this topic becasue its treated so poorly in this country, probably because intellectualism is considered deviant.

From the ABC site: Ray and Kirk have agreed to offer scientific proof that god exists without invoking faith of the Bible, and we are here to respond to those claims.

Now, Ray and Kirk are idiots of course, but this is a stupid foundation for a debate. There can be no scientific proof that god exists when there are still natural observable phenomena that science can't explain. Science can't explain love or poetry, why would you try to use it to explain God? Furthermore, if God is everywhere, all seeing and all knowing all at once, he by definition cannot be explained by the laws of physics, which render each of those things impossible.

"God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him." - Paul Tillich

Now let's see what the Rational Response Squad, who I wouldn't trust with my algebra homework, can come up with.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:07 PM on May 11, 2007


blah, blah, blah and not a single mind has changed on either side

or as q would put it so elegantly, fwap, fwap, fwap, ad infinitum
posted by caddis at 6:22 PM on May 11, 2007


The "Mike Seiver" line always works on strippers. And ATHIESTS. Also, shop at Pier One.
posted by annasbrew at 6:40 PM on May 11, 2007


Because the gold standard for any mefi post is that it changes peoples' minds?

I enjoy these discussions myself. Discourse, civil or otherwise, can be its own reward. For me, the point isn't so much to prove atheism's worth, but to remind myself and others that there are people out there who live their lives according to completely irrational standards. And that's their right. But again, why should people pat them on the head for thinking their invisilbe superhero will save us?
posted by bardic at 6:55 PM on May 11, 2007


Solution: everyone become Pantheists. It's philosophically deep, vaguely rational, and we can issue cool t-shirts.
posted by illiad at 7:02 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


This slightly chewed black plastic cap of my ballpoint pen is God. Where is your faith? End of discussion.
posted by iamck at 7:11 PM on May 11, 2007


Kelly has enormous breasts.
posted by odinsdream at 7:15 PM on May 11, 2007


Kelly has enormous breasts.

And people say there's no God...
posted by illiad at 7:19 PM on May 11, 2007


Why don't atheists prepare properly?

IANAA, so I can't answer that, but this long thread shows hope in that there is not one reference to the "wizard in the sky" or "imaginary sky friend"; baby steppin'
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:38 PM on May 11, 2007


"God exists by two falls and a submission." This argument was resolved years ago by the BBC.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 PM on May 11, 2007


Oh what a brilliant link to end on, zachsmind!
Thanks.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:26 PM on May 11, 2007


If only it was the end, Jody. ...but you're welcome. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:35 PM on May 11, 2007


It is admittedly more difficult to have a cogent discussion when a vocal, shrill minority is excessively noisy about not liking the subject being brought up.

It generally is, but there's a shrill core of tastemakers who constantly derail discussions of religion and/or atheism by loudly shrieking "ZOMG WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS!!!"

But don't come to the table of publican opinion and expect your faith in invisible skygods to be taken all that seriously.

If you can't stand being mocked, that's your problem.

any time you guys want to quit trolling this site, you can

and let's face it ... these lame ass fpps and the lame ass arguments and straw men that follow out of them ARE trolls

whine some more about how some people don't appreciate you pissing all over this site
posted by pyramid termite at 8:40 PM on May 11, 2007


For me, the point isn't so much to prove atheism's worth, but to remind myself and others that there are people out there who live their lives according to completely irrational standards.

Well, feel free to pat yourself on the back whenever you like. But if you believe in irrational concepts like "right,""wrong," "ethics" or "justice," I don't see how you're any different or better. At least the believers can justify that stuff through an appeal to authority.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:51 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm a big fan of the historical Jesus.

There isn't really one, as far as I know. Frankly, I think he was just some guy who was crucified, died, and was an early victim of identity theft by the writers of the Gospel, who thought it'd be better to hang all these rather seditious ideas on some guy they went to school with and wasn't around to refute them.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:54 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


A few comments:

Dios: Not. Even. Wrong. If you don't understand the distinction between a claim being brought forward and a denial of that claim owing to a lack of evidence why do you even pretend to be a lawyer?

Xtians: LOL. You're not going to change your mind, or even consider doing so, despite what is presented to you. That is the difference between us and that is why I look down upon you.

Everybody else: Joss Whedon is the big sky bully.
posted by Sparx at 8:57 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Xtians: LOL. You're not going to change your mind, or even consider doing so, despite what is presented to you.

and someone else ...

the strawman of the "proseletyzing atheist" amuses me to no end.

lol ... well, at least it's not a coordinated effort, is it?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 PM on May 11, 2007


But if you believe in irrational concepts like "right,""wrong," "ethics" or "justice," I don't see how you're any different or better.

Exactly. I've often felt the proverbial dystopia of trying to reconcile not believing in objectivity (which is to say a single truth) while at the same time obviously believing in objectivity.

For example, I don't believe in the self, or truth, or time, or consciousness. I believe everything is variation; the difference between a rock and my brain is just a matter of how the atoms are arranged or the quarks are spinning.

However, I am. In existing I can't not believe in these concepts. Of course there is self, pain, happiness, morals, minutes.

This is the greater question, as I see it. Not whether or not there is an intelligence or a creator, but if there is/was a single point in the universe that is definably correct (and by virtue of being non-objective, would it not be impossible for us to find that point?).

Seriously. Has anyone laid these ideas out? Give me some help here. Kirk Cameron just isn't providing any answers...
posted by iamck at 9:21 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


lol ... well, at least it's not a coordinated effort, is it?

I never claimed to not be made completely out of straw. Now if I only had a brain.
posted by Sparx at 9:27 PM on May 11, 2007


" I've often felt the proverbial dystopia of trying to reconcile not believing in objectivity (which is to say a single truth) while at the same time obviously believing in objectivity."

I've solved that one: you're all figments of my imagination, and I don't exist.
posted by davy at 9:46 PM on May 11, 2007


Dios:

I think it's funny that a conservative such as yourself makes an essentially relativist argument. Although intellectual conservatives always rail against relativism, they often, more often than Leftists, lately, engage in it themselves.

In my opinion, Dios, there is an objective reality, and beliefs have to be based on something. The question is why do you believe what you believe? Based on what you see and hear? Based on what others tell you? My standard is that you can judge a belief based on how it conforms with what you objectively sense.

People who believe in God have to engage in relativist arguments because the religious stories don't make sense, and objective reality does not act in a way that conforms with a religious world-view. So religious intelectuals have to, ironically, argue that beliefs are equally valid as descriptors of reality (albeit in a different way than secular relativists, I think).

Since objective reality contradicts religious claims, one has to accept the claims "on faith." Faith in whom? In God? In the religious leaders? In stories told to us since we were children?

You know, ultimately, I just trust the scientific community more than the religious authorities. It seems a competative search for the truth, and the truths are the same everywhere. If I were born in India, I would probably be Hindu or Muslim. If I were born in China, I might be an atheist communist. If I were born in Ancient Rome, I would have believed in Zeus. Etc.

In other words, the information provided by scientists and empricists jive more with the way I percieve how the world works. I don't see miracles; things, bad and good, seem to happen randomly distributed among all people. Religious people in general, don't seem to act any differently than anyone else. The objective evidence often contrdicts the stories. Gravity always works; the rules work evenly everywhere. Just the way the world works.

Just observing the universe seems to lead to the conclusion that what we see, hear, etc., essentially has no inherent meaning. Things seem to happen randomly. Some can try to find meaning in things that happen, but there is no objective existence; it's a thing that's entirely in the human mind, or it's subjective. That's why you have to believe in a religious truth before you can interpret what happens randomly as proof of the religious truth.

I realize that people don't accept that kind of reductionist reasoning, that maybe the fact that there is subjectivity at all (or conscienceness) means that something had to create it. But just because we don't understand how something happens doesn't mean that it has to happen in a supernatural manner. Things, in general, don't seem to happen in a supernatural manner, so why does conscienceness have to happen supernaturally?

I think that might be the ultimate purpose of Communion in Catholicism: Every week the priest consecrates the host and wine, which literally become the body and blood of Christ. And make no mistake, a real Catholic believes that those items literally change into Jesus Christ -- God. When I was a child, I used to wonder about how there was enough of Jesus to feed all the Cathoiocs through the ages. Believe me, it is really believed. But the host and wine still look and smell like unlevened bread and water? Chemical tests also show no change. But to be a Catholic you must confirm every week that you LITERALLY believe that.

Every week, a Catholic is asked to believe the unbelievable. It's practice!

And if the universe doesn't have an inherent meaning? what then? So what? Why can't the love of the people around me be enough? We're social animals; were most at home around family and friends. Why all the supersticious bullshit? Just love the people around you.

I'm an ex-Catholic, but I choose to try the best I can to live a Christian ethic, because I think it has a lot to offer. Otherwise, Who cares?!
posted by JKevinKing at 9:58 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is a much better debate. Saladin is awesome.
posted by milquetoast at 9:59 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


me & my monkey : I for one would be overjoyed if everyone in the world (but me) became a Christian tomorrow! Of course, I mean a true Christian, not the people currently claiming to be Christians. Think of it! A world full of people rushing to give their possessions to the poor, who'd refuse to kill even in self-defense, who'd turn the other cheek. Imagine if, for example, everyone was a Quaker.

I'm going to come back to this comment as a high point in the thread. I don't think that many atheists would exist or have the passion that they do if it weren't as a sort of oppositional force to the perception of hypocrisy.

I suspect that most American atheists are probably the end result of some sort of religion. They were indoctrinated early on and the concept never stuck. After a bit, they might have tried to find additional material to support their new ideas. And the libraries would have given them the Inquisition and so on. They would walk away with the idea that to be religious was to be harmful.

But they wouldn't have gone back to the source material. The ideas that Jesus himself preached.

I am a hard core atheist. And I would love to live in a world of honest to god, Christians.

People that believed in taking care of those that were weaker, and giving away their wealth, and not harming in general.

I firmly believe that as an Atheist, I could be happy in a Christian world that actually listened to their Christ.
posted by quin at 10:41 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I suspect that most American atheists are probably the end result of some sort of religion. They were indoctrinated early on and the concept never stuck. After a bit, they might have tried to find additional material to support their new ideas.

I suspect that many people in this thread have overlooked quin's point here. I don't understand people who take the time out of their day to post, essentially, "Geez, shut up already, you're not changing anyone's mind."

It's likely that no one is fully converted from A to B, or vice versa, in the course of reading this or any other single conversation on the matter. But this kind of discussion can plant seeds of thought and encourage fledgling ideas. It can definitely contribute to the changing of minds.
posted by Tubes at 10:59 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm very late to this game, but I have to point out something about the banana video that got me to wondering. As Mr. Comfort is lecturing us about the perfect fit between the banana and the human hand, he and Mr. Cameron are sitting in front of a lake. Which gets me to thinking, "That lake looks good for fishing." Which gets me to thinking . . .

The fish is an incredibly inconvenient food source by the criteria Mr. Comfort is outlining. Fish are slippery, making them difficult to hold in the hand. They are alive and want to get away from me, their scales can be at least inconvenient if not sharp and painful, and some fish (especially catfish) have very pokey bits. Finally, and importantly, they actively bend AWAY from the mouth in a way a banana only wishes it could.

Maybe fish are food for sinners, though Jesus seemed to dig them and actually kind of push them on people.

Perhaps I should stop trying to eat live fish. The whole thing overwhelms me.
posted by pgautier at 11:18 PM on May 11, 2007


The "Christians aren't cool, but Christ was" line always confuses me. The Christian concept of salvation is abhorrent to me- it takes as its starting principle that humanity needs salvation, that there is some horrible, horrible stain or degradation about us that necessitates the intervention of a deity to save us from our own state of filth and worthlessness. I can't think of a commonly-held concept or philosophy more relentlessly anti-human than this.

Christ preached a system of salvation and damnation, with good works as a co-component to his teachings. To pretend that Christ preached good works and not salvation/damnation is just as bad as pretending Christ preached salvation/damnation and not good works.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 PM on May 11, 2007


Jody Tressider - I've read your first several comments, but not subsequent ones (time constraint).

I'm sympathetic, but the reason atheists look like dopes on national tabloid news shows is a matter of who the shows select, and sometimes how they edit the interviews.

At any rate, here are some useful resources in case you're interested in becoming the voice of reason on the subject of evolution.

- Scientific American's Answers to Creationist Nonsense
- Talk Origins FAQ about Theism/Atheism and Evolution (This site has endless good information, easily navigated from the bottom bar of this page.)

- Standard references for evolution v creationism debate
- What evidence is there that humans evolved from apes?
- How to introduce evolution to creationists who are interested
- What percentage of evolutionary biologists accept evolution?
- And lots of good answers to more specific questions at Ask.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:32 PM on May 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't understand people who take the time out of their day to post, essentially, "Geez, shut up already, you're not changing anyone's mind."

"LOL XTIANS" is not going to change anyone's mind. And that's what a lot of the"argument" in this thread is. MeFi is the one place on Earth I'm practically embarrassed to be an atheist.

Christ preached a system of salvation and damnation, with good works as a co-component to his teachings. To pretend that Christ preached good works and not salvation/damnation is just as bad as pretending Christ preached salvation/damnation and not good works.

There's plenty of ambiguity within the gospels. You don't have to pretend anything, only to interpret.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:26 AM on May 12, 2007


This age-old tired question is loaded to get everyone neatly and safely on a 'side' before anyone fucks up and actually thinks about something. "How should I live?" is more universally germaine and would make horrible TV.

I think the only rational response to "Do you believe in God?", other than a slap in the face, is "What the hell do you mean by that?"

These four and their cohorts proceed in typical fashion to make a lot of assumptions and quickly get on with pushing each other's buttons.

Kirk is on about Darwin and the universe's 6000th birthday, Kelly's describing how there never was even a man named Jesus, a woman in the audience is upset that there is cancer. How could you convince a six-year-old that these people are all talking about the same thing?
posted by Bokononist at 12:47 AM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The thing that strikes me most about the banana video is just how homoerotic the whole thing is.

"Look at the penis and see how perfectly it fits the male hand. See how it has a foreskin that rolls back and forth. And see how perfect it fits the 'o' that the male mouth forms.

This is obvious proof that God loves teh Gays, and wants them to fondle and suck bananas and penises whenever the fancy takes them, and those silly evolutionists who think that the penis was made for procreation are just plain wrong, wrong, wrong!"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:22 AM on May 12, 2007


here is what struck me: they said they were going to prove the existince of god scientifically, and then Ray stood up and used his 30 minutes to preach the gospel, using the flimsiest of rhetoric to shoehorn the gospel into the vague form of an argument for god's existence, one which had nothing to do with anything resembling science.

How can xians practice this kind of blatant deception and not consider themselves to have broken the commandment about lying? The Dover ID debacle is another good example of this.

When I was a teenager growing up in the UPC, it was guys like Ray who helped convince me that evolution must be true. I'd go to school in the daytime and learn about utterly cool things like calculus and dynamics and ions and programming, and then at night & sundays sit there listening to these guys spouting on ill-conceived nonsense like, 'science says bumblebees can't fly' and thundering that god revealed himself to them, and meanwhile they're driving around in a Lincoln and they have a microwave in their house and how do we get those things from the bible? and they've made no contribution at all to the incredible riches that they are happy to partake of, given to us by the dedication and persistence of men and women who sought to understand the world, and you look at them and you just think, man, evolution HAS to be true: How could this guy be anything but a talking monkey?
posted by lastobelus at 4:04 AM on May 12, 2007


Metafilter : the one place on Earth I'm practically embarrassed to be
posted by elpapacito at 5:21 AM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


lobsterMitten

Superb links. Thanks.

I heard the tail end of an NPR piece v. recently - guy claimed he was writing a book called "How To Love God Without Being A Jerk".I thought it a fabulous title.

(Googling him - his blog is Bourbon Cowboy, I think - I gather he's an ex-evangelicist, possibly an atheist now. Whatever. As an atheist, I thought the title had super possibilities...)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:31 AM on May 12, 2007


I reckon that Scooby Doo and Shaggy should investigate this "God" fellow. They'd soon get to the bottom of this.

Also, on the subject of religion and entertainment I want very much for Arnold Schwarzenegger to star in a remake of "The Ten Commandments".

"Give me your cloak and sandals."

"I'll Rameses this up your Azzzz!"

Moses fires 2000 rounds from a minigun, missing hordes of the Pharaoh's soldiers. A small display comes up in the corner of his red-tinged H.U.D. "Thou shalt not kill - 0.0 casualties". Moses lets a wry smile escape.

Moses - "I'll take the gold-covered ark with electrical discharge in the 40w range."

Ark-salesperson - "Hey, just what you see pal"

Rameses II - "Hey Moses, you know I ain't gonna let these Jews go right?"

Moses consults his internal H.U.D.
'POSSIBLE RESPONSE: YES/NO; OR WHAT?; PLEASE LET MY PEOPLE GO; FUCK YOU, PHAROAH; FUCK YOU'

Moses - "Fuck you, Pharoah."
posted by longbaugh at 6:55 AM on May 12, 2007


This YouTube analysis of O'Reilly attempting to reason clearly shows his apparent atheism.
posted by Brian B. at 7:55 AM on May 12, 2007


All Christian arguments, over time, will result in one or both of the following conclusions:

I take it on faith.
He works in mysterious ways.

Engaging in any sort of reasoned argument with them, when you know the end result is the theological equivalent to I told you so, is pointless.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:31 AM on May 12, 2007


From CJR Daily: A Moment in the Demise of Nightline
posted by emelenjr at 8:47 AM on May 12, 2007


This YouTube analysis of O'Reilly attempting to reason clearly shows his apparent atheism.
posted by Brian B. at 10:55 AM on May 12


Karl Rove is an atheist too.

They just use the religious right to build their own power. Other than appointing anit-Roe justices and kicking back a bunch of money to churches through the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, what have they really ever done for the religious right? They talk big, walk small.
posted by caddis at 9:02 AM on May 12, 2007


I know I'm a little late to the conversation. But I've gotta give props to Nightline for managing to find the two absolute dumbest people on both sides of this debate. I mean the "Rational" Response Squad, the people who gave us the Be a Asshole to People Who Disagree with You... I mean Blasphemy Challenge, versus Kirk Cameron and Ray "Bananas" Comfort? This is comedy gold. We've got some of the all-time greatest crackpot theories in one show here. The Jesus Myth. Intelligent Design. You couldn't have written something this hilarious.

And yes, the RRS "won" in the same way that there will invariably be a winner any time a group of monkeys at the zoo start flinging handfuls of shit at each other. But ultimately, it's still a monkey covered in shit.

Hands down the best line of the evening, though:

"It's from Israel. It has nothing to do with culture." --Ray Comfort

And that's terrible.
posted by magodesky at 10:14 AM on May 12, 2007


what have they really ever done for the religious right?

Oh, the Bushies pander to evangelicals for votes and support, while privately regarding them with contempt and ridicule.

I've gotta give props to Nightline for managing to find the two absolute dumbest people on both sides of this debate.

That struck me as well. Ignorant clowns on both sides, but the sheer assholery of the "RRS" is beyond belief. Visit their site: obnoxiously self-congratulatory mental flyweights who imagine themselves some sort of antitheological badasses; complete with stupid nicknames and flipping off the camera. What a bunch of tossrags. As self-appointed representatives of atheism they not going to persuade anyone of anything but how douchebaggy they are.

But on the other hand, it would have been pretty unfair to put Dawkins up against Cameron.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:28 PM on May 12, 2007


If believing in a god works for you, more power to ya! If it doesn't, more power to ya! Your belief in the existence or nonexistence of God doesn't change the existence or nonexistence of God one iota. So why does it matter that you can't convince other people to join your side? Or that they can't change your mind? Why must anyone change their mind? Does someone else's alteration of their faith to your point of view somehow reinforce your own beliefs? It certainly doesn't change the very nature of God's existence.

If you don't believe in Him, He's there anyway.

If He didn't exist, your believing in Him won't magically conjure Him into existence.

"There's plenty of ambiguity within the gospels"

Eyewitness testimony in most anything has ambiguity. Many teachers over the years have done the class experiment of having a masked person run into the room, get the attention of everyone in the room, steal something and then run out. After the class' inevitable freakout reaction to such an event, the rest of the class involves the teacher asking the class to dictate what they each experienced. What color were the culprit's pants? How tall was he? What did he take and from whom? Did he say anything or do anything you remember being out of the ordinary?

The end result is essentially descriptions of thirty different culprits. The dictation of the event happens only moments after the event itself, and no two people in the room can agree fully on every action and visual.

So you can imagine, twelve guys who claimed to have followed JC around are going to each have dramatically different subjective accounts of their own experiences with Him. Then the RC Church had to go through all those experiences that were collected and documented and figure out what to do with them. Personally I have a number of issues to take up with those guys who decided what was canon and what was apocryphal, but that's for an entirely different thread. The fact is somebody had to do it. Someone had to make those tough decisions. You think the Bible's a thick piece of edited trite? You shoulda seen all the book collections scattered all over Europe that they scoured through to decide what to put into it. This was the dark ages mind you. A few generations before the internet.

Matt, Mark, John & Luke seemed to have been the most thorough according to most scholars, but each man focused on different details, and chose not to mention others. Scholars have argued for millenia over how accurate these stories are: yet believers simply dismiss inconsistencies as challenges to their faith.

The biblical ambiguity is not evidence of the nonexistence of god. It is also not evidence to the existence of a god. Biblical ambiguity is immaterial. It's merely proof that human beings wrote it. The ambiguities should not be dismissed nor should they be embraced, but one must take them into account. The statements that can be found in more than one account are objectively-speaking, more plausible. Things that all four of them agree upon are what can perhaps more truly be taken as "gospel." Still, your mileage WILL vary. As well it should.

Some believe in God. Some don't. Whether or not God in fact does reside behind the ephemeral Door Number One is something none of us will really know for certain until long after it no longer matters.

What matters for you, is what works for you. What works for you ain't necessarily going to work for everyone else. What matters for them is what works for them. Quit trying to make everyone else conform to whatever you believe in, and I promise you Chocolate Sundaes will start tasting better.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2007


So why does it matter that you can't convince other people to join your side?

Your answer.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:47 PM on May 12, 2007


Again, I doubt anyone participates in a thread hoping to "convert" a theist or an atheist. Further, I don't think many atheists honestly care what a person does with her idol worshipping in her free time.

The problem, and the point, of many people's frustration with religion (and in an American and British context, this means Christianity) is not that there are believers out there, but that there are believers in positions of real power who wish to base public and foreign policy around what their invisible superhero says. Also, the critical separation between church and state has arguably been eroding over the past few decades.

A large portion of Christians simply aren't content to practice their faith among themselves without bothering others. They've decided that they need to advance an agenda. So, if they don't like fact and science, they make up their own facts and science in the form on ID, to offer one example.

Oh, but it's those loud atheists that bother you? The ones that burst into your last Sunday service and ruined it? Oh wait -- that's never actually happened.

And as for the argument along the lines of "Well, I know there are Christian 'God Hates Fags' crazies out there, but me and my church aren't part of them," sorry, but you are. You worship the same skygod (well, son of said skygod), and it's high time you publicly shamed your more ignorant fellow travelers.
posted by bardic at 1:39 PM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Things that all four of them agree upon are what can perhaps more truly be taken as "gospel." Still, your mileage WILL vary. As well it should. "posted by ZachsMind

Cool Hand Luke works this to the max. (Still a great movie if you can stand late 1960s counter-culture Jesus-as-a-dude-rebel vibe - oh, and if you like Paul Newman!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:25 PM on May 12, 2007


And as for the argument along the lines of "Well, I know there are Christian 'God Hates Fags' crazies out there, but me and my church aren't part of them," sorry, but you are.

only in the eyes of a willfully ignorant bigot
posted by pyramid termite at 2:40 PM on May 12, 2007


while I generally disagree with p.t. on this threads, I agree with his ^ to some extent. Bigotry is, in the end, lumping people of a community/class/race together incorrectly, especially painting failings of a few to the whole.

While p.t. snipped out the rest of bardic's statement that more fully explained where he was coming from with that, that statement does strike me as being of the "concern troll" sort.

I would re-work bardic's last to just wish right-thinking Christians would agree that there is an issue in this country and just not try to shush us athiests / secular humanists up when we attempt to discuss the elephant that's in the room.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:51 PM on May 12, 2007


last i checked, there's only three people here who are capable of shutting anyone up, so lose the persecution complex

it's not the atheism that bothers me ... it's the sheer piss poor quality of the arguments ... a lot of it comes off as sheer trolling
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 PM on May 12, 2007


It wouldn't hurt if more Christians were willing to denounce and/or shame the Fred Phelps' of the world.

After that, we can work on less obvious examples of those people who constantly demean or wrong that which we should hold up as postive things about Jesus' legacy -- helping the poor, tolerance, living in peace, etc.

Of course, some of us try to accomplish those things out of a sense of universal empathy with out fellow men, not fear of a skygod plucking us up and throwing us into a lake of fire.

(Btw pyramid termite, is this yet another "Fat Guy Complaining About Sizzler" thread where you just hate the post so much that you feel compelled to comment 20 times? Or are you just going to swoop in and attack me as the big bad atheist of your dreams, like you usually do, not even bothering to try and respond to the general context of what I've written?)
posted by bardic at 3:09 PM on May 12, 2007


it's the sheer piss poor quality of the arguments

Says the guy who doesn't know how to capitalize properly.

Look, religion threads bother you. You aren't capable of engaging with them, you just try to shit all over them. Why don't you just stay out of them? Your blood-pressure will thank you pyramid termite.
posted by bardic at 3:12 PM on May 12, 2007


When Christian groups get up in arms about gay marriage, it makes the news. When Christian groups get up in arms about the lack of a compassionate or effective response to Katrina victims -- which seems a much more archetypally "Christian" issue in what I regard as the purest sense of the term -- I somehow don't hear about it.

Is that a news bias problem, or has it simply never happened? Do Christian groups simply not get up in arms about the kinds of things Jesus actually taught?
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:17 PM on May 12, 2007


I'm with PT on this one. Bardic's comment sounded bigoted to me. It was essentially "Christians, they are all as bad as Fred Phelps."
posted by caddis at 3:20 PM on May 12, 2007


It wouldn't hurt if more Christians were willing to denounce and/or shame the Fred Phelps' of the world.

michelle malkin - "how come those muslims don't denounce the terrorists like they're supposed to?"

btw, i've said plenty of nasty things about fred phelps, mr straw man

(Btw pyramid termite, is this yet another "Fat Guy Complaining About Sizzler" thread

no it's another "stupid dog licks his balls, gets hard on, can't figure out how to finish it" thread, fido

Or are you just going to swoop in and attack me as the big bad atheist of your dreams

troll is not spelled "atheist" ... hth

not even bothering to try and respond to the general context of what I've written?

hurf durf xtainlolstoopid?

Look, religion threads bother you.

no, bad arguments bother me ... it's not about what you believe ... it's about the dumb, sophomoric, utterly brain-dead way you try to explain it

do you GET it?

You aren't capable of engaging with them, you just try to shit all over them.

says the master of the straw man argument in religion threads
posted by pyramid termite at 3:22 PM on May 12, 2007


it's about the dumb, sophomoric, utterly brain-dead way you try to explain it

I used complete sentences, punctuation, and proper capitalization. You can't. I apologize for my misspellings, however.

As for me being a bigot, I can only warn you of the shadowy atheist cabal that is now plotting to destroy Christmas and Easter. All three of us in America.

But I'll take pt and caddis' bleating as yet another sign that many American Christians are profoundly uncomfortable with their own faith. The burden is upon them to stand up and defend their tradition from the Phelps and their ilk, but they'd rather try and bash on me, an anonymous intarweb post, then actually go out and try to convince others that Christianity (and religion in general) has a place in the 21st century. Thanks for playing, kids.
posted by bardic at 3:35 PM on May 12, 2007


Thanks for playing, kids.

see, it's all a game to you, isn't it? ... case closed
posted by pyramid termite at 3:43 PM on May 12, 2007


No pyramid termite, it's a discussion. One in which I've tried to articulate some of my views to greater and lesser degrees of success. And one which you swoop in on, take one thing I said somewhat out of context, and then attempt to make great hay about.

Which is fine. But please, you don't even understand proper rules of grammar and punctuation, and you accuse me of having weak arguments?

Commenter, heal thyself.

Seriously though, you keep eatin' and eatin', all the while bitchin' and bitchin' about the food. You're a constant spectacle. So let me reitirate my first point in this thread -- the primary problem with religion threads on mefi is not that people have different, unresolvable viewpoints. It's that whiners like you and others start us off by saying "We can't discuss this!" at the top of your lungs. Then, lo and behold, some half-decent discussion breaks out, and you're left clutching at straws. So now it's how I'm a bigot. Uh-huh. Fine.
posted by bardic at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2007


one long straw man, ad hominem argument ... i thought it was my side that was supposed to have all the logical fallacies

you're making bad arguments and you know it

by the way, it seems that a couple of people agree with me about the bigotry of your statement ... so your problem isn't just me, is it?

Seriously though, you keep eatin' and eatin', all the while bitchin' and bitchin' about the food.

there's flies flitting around the pancakes, son, you're not bussing these tables anywhere near fast enough

So let me reitirate my first point in this thread -- the primary problem with religion threads on mefi is not that people have different, unresolvable viewpoints.

actually that is ONE of the primary problems

It's that whiners like you and others start us off by saying "We can't discuss this!" at the top of your lungs.

wrong, it's that trolls like you use the threads to indulge in name calling, strawman building and at times, bigotry

look over the first 50 or so comments in this thread ... people are SICK of this here

Then, lo and behold, some half-decent discussion breaks out

metafilter is about the links, not the discussion

remember?

by the way, who's "winning" the "game", troll?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2007


If only there was a place you could take your concerns pt, some sort of "meta" talk.

Honestly, get bent. And please realize this isn't your freshman year poetry course. People might start to take you somewhat seriously if you learned how to write. You've managed to derail this thread, but you've done it at the cost of your (already quite low) credibility.

But please, continue with your page-long, non-capitalized, non-punctuated shrieking.
posted by bardic at 5:43 PM on May 12, 2007


If only there was a place you could take your concerns pt, some sort of "meta" talk.

we did last time ... bugbread and i waited and waited and you didn't show up ... because when it comes to substantive issues dealing with your participation in these threads you can't answer them and won't discuss them ... your last post being more proof of that

don't you like "playing" in meta, bardic?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:49 PM on May 12, 2007


by the way, do you always get into long arguments with people you don't take seriously?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:52 PM on May 12, 2007


bugbread and i waited and waited and you didn't show up

And now we've crossed over into stalker territory.

Well done pyramid termite.

Now please go outside and get some air.
posted by bardic at 6:02 PM on May 12, 2007


Sure I got a favorite out of it, but I really regret commenting in this thread, even if I totally nailed why LOLXTIAN fpps are crap.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:11 PM on May 12, 2007


You think you regret it? I commented to condone it against my better judgment.
posted by cortex at 6:17 PM on May 12, 2007


I think we should be able to talk about Christianity vs. godlessness without it getting deleted. Nothing should be sacred.

It's that whiners like you and others start us off by saying "We can't discuss this!" at the top of your lungs.

I also agree with this. This thread seems to be have killed by people very loudly saying people shouldn't talk about this subject - posting midget fights links etc and poo-pooing other posts. Frankly, I'm really disappointed that the irrationality has managed to hold sway.

Do these threads always end this way?
posted by dydecker at 6:27 PM on May 12, 2007


And despite the bad blood between some posters - which I know nothing about - if this becomes a subject which is off-limits on Metafilter, it's a pretty sad indictment on mainstream American discourse, don't you think? That such a topic would be taboo even among thoughtful people is pretty, well, sad.
posted by dydecker at 6:31 PM on May 12, 2007


I got 9 "+'s". And I haven't even favorited my own comments yet.
posted by bardic at 6:33 PM on May 12, 2007


you don't want to favorite your own comments, bardic ... it might make you think someone's stalking you
posted by pyramid termite at 6:34 PM on May 12, 2007


I agree dydecker, but quite often anyone who identifies as Christian and tries to participate in threads of this type are shouted down and insulted, preventing any sort of actual discussion, leaving those wacky brights to get their Invisible Sooperhero Magic Baby in The Sky circle jerk on.

There is no discourse, and these fpps usually serve only to reinforce people's prejudices and stroke their egos. Personally, I'd support a complete moratorium on posts of this type* on condition that this fpp was permanently made open to comments so that the folks who value these pseudo-discussions would have a place where they can validate their intellectual vanity to their hearts' desires.

*Which would be repealed only in cases of The Rapture or an Interfaith Committee of religious world leaders admitting that they were actually just joking all along, and never expected things to get this out of hand.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:51 PM on May 12, 2007


And as for the argument along the lines of "Well, I know there are Christian 'God Hates Fags' crazies out there, but me and my church aren't part of them," sorry, but you are. You worship the same skygod (well, son of said skygod), and it's high time you publicly shamed your more ignorant fellow travelers.

I'm sorry, but that just seems like a load of BS to me. Putting aside for the time being the fact that there are plenty of Christians who have denounced such people, why should they be held responsible for someone else's idiocy just because they happen to hold certain similar religious beliefs? Do all Muslims have to apologize for al Qaida because they both worship Allah? Or, for that matter, do atheists all have to apologize for communist regimes like China or the Soviet Union because they share the same belief that God doesn't exist? Or even moving away from religion, do Americans have to apologize for every blunder and immoral act committed by our politicians simply because we all share a belief in democracy? I could keep going, but I think I've made my point. It's ridiculous to blame all of Christianity for the words and actions of a few simply because they're all Christian. Things like homophobia aren't even a fundamental part of Christianity. So I could just as easily claim that you're part of the problem because you and fundamentalist Christians both share a belief that breathing air is a good thing.

Anyway, getting back to the question of God's existence, I don't understand why certain Christians can't just admit that it's impossible to prove scientifically. The universe is essentially a closed system with God, if he or she exists, outside of that system. Since science is based entirely on observation and measurement, and since we can only observe things inside the system, it's impossible to come up with any kind of empirical evidence for the existence of God. That doesn't mean he doesn't exist. It just means that it can't be proven scientifically.

By the same token, I don't understand why certain atheists seem to think that a belief is stupid or wrong just because it isn't scientific. Science is great, but it's not the be all and end all of existence. It's a tool. And like any tool, there are things it can do and things it can't do. If I have a hammer and I need to put in a screw, I don't blame the screw for not being a nail. I go get myself a screwdriver. For example, I went to see Spider-Man 3 last week. I thought it rocked (I know, I'm the only one, but bear with me). How do I know that it rocked? I didn't collect any kind of scientific data to prove that it rocks. It's just my personal point of view. You see, science can answer a lot of questions, but there are some that it can't. Like, what makes something such as a piece of art, or a song, or, in this case, Spider-Man 3, aesthetically appealing? What is right and wrong? How should a government conduct itself? What is a good life? These are all questions that can't be answered by science. However, that doesn't mean that they're not worth asking.
posted by magodesky at 6:57 PM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'd support a complete moratorium on posts of this type* on condition that this fpp was permanently made open to comments so that the folks who value these pseudo-discussions would have a place where they can validate their intellectual vanity to their hearts' desires.

i agree with this, with the single reservation that really thoughtful posts of this kind, that actually bring up something new, be allowed
posted by pyramid termite at 6:59 PM on May 12, 2007


"I've got 9 + s" yeah go over to lgf and diss clinton and boy you get your nine. nobody likes phelps, not even the really hard core wingers. for crying out loud, he goes and protests at the funerals of soldiers. he hates everybody, and it is pretty mutual in return, although perhaps some folks listen to Jesus, and just turn the other cheek. your arguments on this are sophomoric. certainly there have been many egregious acts committed in the name of "God." yet, mostly the faithful seek to do the right thing, give to charity, and make the world a better place. you can't get beyond the few bad apples who preach intolerance, you can't separate the parts of faith which preach love from the parts that wallow in intolerance to cover up their own insecurities. your failure to see the difference or recognize the good that some people do is no different than the cry against welfare mothers (all those negro women are the same, just sluts who demand a handout), it is just bigotry, nothing more, nothing less. it's petty, transparent and frankly, pathetic. why not just admit that you hate christians and be done with it. it would be the honest thing to do. it's ok, they will still love you and pray for your redemption, well, at least the ones who actually believe in christianity, as opposed to the american idol version of church which seems to be so popular today. oh yeah, i left off all the caps, just for you.
posted by caddis at 7:02 PM on May 12, 2007


caddis: To be fair to bardic, I'm the one who (Light-heartedly) brought up favorites... but yeah, he should know better than to roll out the whole "Your grammatical and spelling errors completely invalidate your entire argument" canard.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:11 PM on May 12, 2007


Heywood, if you really think the answer to religious intolerance is intolerance of religion, good luck with that. As a practical matter, we as a society will be much more likely to get the majority of religious people to agree with religious tolerance, separation of church and state, and freedom of and from religion, than to convince them to abandon their faith wholesale.

And as for the argument along the lines of "Well, I know there are Christian 'God Hates Fags' crazies out there, but me and my church aren't part of them," sorry, but you are. You worship the same skygod (well, son of said skygod), and it's high time you publicly shamed your more ignorant fellow travelers.

There are plenty of Christians who would tell you that the Jesus they worship isn't the Jesus of Fred Phelps.

You want every Christian to be shamed by the bad behavior of other Christians? Why aren't you shamed, or even embarrassed, by the bad behavior of atheists here? What about the beam in your own eye?
posted by me & my monkey at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2007


Do Christian groups simply not get up in arms about the kinds of things Jesus actually taught?

It's easier if they claim that he caused the floods as some sort of punishment. That's the problem with idolatries: the saviors are also destroyers because they are jealous gods--the image of their political patrons. That's an internal problem worse than the problem of evil. A supreme being can't be jealous, and he can't remain hidden and demand worship without being a fraud (or a test in reverse). If there was a supreme being, it would suck to be a fundamentalist who thinks God loves fear-mongering and requires faith in his presence, which is an obvious failure to recognize a fraud idolatry disguised as minimalist ethics.
posted by Brian B. at 7:32 PM on May 12, 2007


I know most decent Christians would look at a guy like Phelps and think, man, what a whack-job. But then again, if they care what a dirty atheist like me thinks, it wouldn't hurt them to do a better job of telling us just what Christianity is about these days. Because if one was to watch major news operations, , it would be safe to assume that Christians are obsessed with gay sex and little else. Granted, watching the first Republican presidential debate didn't help my paranoiac sensibilities either.

As for atrocities under Communism, I'll admit this is moving the goalposts a bit, but I'd say this -- Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? They offered a form of religion to their people. They demanded blind faith in infallible, unprovable principles, and they got it. (I think it's no coincidence that Stalin himself was a seminary student before he became a revolutionary, but YMMV.)

As an aside, let's face it -- a lot of mefi threads are crappy, on any subject. The religious ones happen to be somewhat crappy (and sometimes great), but piss off certain people. Said people should not enter said threads.

For example.

I thought it was a bit disingenuous of the mods to leave this FPP up as a sort of "warning" when in fact there have been plenty of good religion threads in the past that don't get the same attention. The difference is you don't have the usual whiny bitching going on in constant attempts to derail.
posted by bardic at 7:33 PM on May 12, 2007


monkey: Falwell was forced to backtrack from that BS line, so that's progress.

I am incredibly "tolerant" of religion, I object to framing public policy on, largely, a bunch of goatherd taboos written down thousands of years ago.

I respect the Christian pro-life argument (I refuse to frame it as "anti-choice"), and I respect it even more when they extend it like the conservative Catholics do to contraception, too.

But there arguments wrt abortion, homosexual couples, invading Iraq, special-creation of mankind, selected Talmudic laws, and the rest of the kulturkampf only really make sense when you throw their bible over the wall separating church & state.

I don't like that.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:53 PM on May 12, 2007


I thought it was a bit disingenuous of the mods to leave this FPP up as a sort of "warning" when in fact there have been plenty of good religion threads in the past that don't get the same attention.

It wasn't a warning, it was an admission that we didn't feel like spending the weekend either whacking or arguing about (or both) posts of the specific media extravaganza in question.
posted by cortex at 9:35 PM on May 12, 2007


Because if one was to watch major news operations, it would be safe to assume that Christians are obsessed with gay sex and little else.

Whose fault is that, exactly?

They offered a form of religion to their people.

I'll be charitable and just say that's a disingenuous argument at best.

I am incredibly "tolerant" of religion, I object to framing public policy on, largely, a bunch of goatherd taboos written down thousands of years ago.

I'm right with you on that. The question is, is the best way to prevent this to convert everyone to your belief system?
posted by me & my monkey at 10:12 PM on May 12, 2007


Plenty of ink has been spilled on totalitarian/fascist movements. I'm hardly the first to point out that they have a lot of structural similarities to religious movements. Maybe the analogy doesn't hold for you, but it's far from disingenuous.

And for the umpteenth time, atheism is not a system of belief per se. It's an acknowledgement that existing forms of revealed religious practice don't have enough evidence to back them up. Which is the non-sexy way of saying, it's not a "belief" to think that Odin doesn't actually truly exist. And it's not a belief to think that God/Yahweh/Allah don't exist.
posted by bardic at 10:41 PM on May 12, 2007


caddis writes why not just admit that you hate christians and be done with it. it would be the honest thing to do. it's ok, they will still love you and pray for your redemption, well, at least the ones who actually believe in christianity, as opposed to the american idol version of church which seems to be so popular today.

Sorry, but I can't let this pass, as much as caddis' usual vitriol (and inability to RTFT) deserves to be ignored.

Christianity is unique among major religious traditions in condemning those who don't accept Jesus as the son of god as doomed to eternal damnation. I've had Christians tell me, with the straightest of faces, that I'm doomed to hell, despite the fact that I've lived and stive to live a virtuous life. Sorry, but despite my respect for many of the teachings of Jesus, at its core Christianity is based on a hateful intolerance of all those who don't accept the J-dog as the risen lord. I happen to think all organized religions are silly, but this means Christianity is the silliest. And the most dangerous IMO, despite the fact that there are exceptions to the the rule. But again, if you need the threat of hellfire to live a good life, you've got major issues to start with.

I don't hate Christians, but frankly I have every right to -- they hate me and my non-Christian loved ones, without knowing any of us, for the simple fact that we don't accept your theology. That's simply insane.
posted by bardic at 11:03 PM on May 12, 2007


The question is, is the best way to prevent this to convert everyone to your belief system?

That is not my intent. People are welcome to their beliefs, as long as they learn how to live and contribute to the pluralistic, secular society we call the US of A.

As the quote goes about revolutions in scientific thought, people aren't converted per se, they just die off.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:30 PM on May 12, 2007


they hate me and my non-Christian loved ones

this is pretty much a bigoted (as in over-generalized) statement.

The situation here is more complicated, and subtle, than that.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:31 PM on May 12, 2007


atheism is not a system of belief per se

"Strong" Atheism would qualify since it makes positive claims.

"Weak" Atheism, where I am happy to camp, is sitting on the bullseye of the null-hypothesis concerning hypothetical entities.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:35 PM on May 12, 2007


Because if one was to watch major news operations, it would be safe to assume that Christians are obsessed with gay sex and little else.

Whose fault is that, exactly?


uh, the intolerant dumbasses who are more than happy to pick out Old Testament scripture that doesn't apply to them, but cap their highlighters when it starts applying to things like cheeseburgers and divorce.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:39 PM on May 12, 2007


Maybe the analogy doesn't hold for you, but it's far from disingenuous.

It is irrelevant in a criticism of religion as irrational. If you don't see that as disingenuous, I don't know how to respond to that sort of irrationality on your part.

And for the umpteenth time, atheism is not a system of belief per se.

Thank you for your Cliff's Notes definition of atheism, but I'm sure you're aware that it's not as simple as that. As an atheist, I believe not only that Odin doesn't exist, but that no supreme being exists; not any of the ones described by human religions, or any other one either. That is, however, a belief; reason alone gives me justification to doubt the existence of a supreme being, but only belief can, well, make me believe that.

Christianity is unique among major religious traditions in condemning those who don't accept Jesus as the son of god as doomed to eternal damnation.

So you keep saying, but you don't seem to be paying attention. You're acting like Vatican II never happened. You seem to think that fundamentalist Protestantism is representative of all Christianity. It isn't.

But anyway, again, if you don't believe it, why do you care what they think?

if you need the threat of hellfire to live a good life, you've got major issues to start with.

What does it mean, to "live a good life?" How do you figure that out, solely through rationality?

I don't hate Christians, but frankly I have every right to -- they hate me and my non-Christian loved ones

Some do. Others don't.

Practically every Sunday, some elderly ladies knock on my door. They're Jehovah's Witnesses. They constantly want to convert me. They don't hate me, they see me as a soul to be saved. Should I hate them? Or should I just be polite and say, "no thanks, I'm not interested?'

Look, you obviously have a hard-on for Christians. You've probably had some unpleasant experiences with some. Whatever. But your broad generalizations and, frankly, ugly behavior aren't helping your cause. And, unfortunately, your cause is my cause - I don't want to be governed by religious beliefs, I want to be left alone. Neither of us are going to get what we want with "LOL XTIANS." And, unfortunately, that's what passes for debate from supposedly rational people.

And I'm not talking just about you and the MeFi atheists' brigade. Do you think Dawkins helps, with his "brights" crap? Yeah, the best way to convince someone that they're wrong is to say you're smarter than they are, as superciliously as possible! Good idea!
posted by me & my monkey at 11:42 PM on May 12, 2007


That is not my intent.

No, but it's essentially the subject of this thread.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:48 PM on May 12, 2007


but anyway, again, if you don't believe it, why do you care what they think?

for the nth fucking time, let's go back to 2sheets:

I think it's rather disingenuous to cast atheists in the role of "caring what other people think", when the problem is that it's the imposition of religious beliefs in the public sphere that most object to.
Go worship a cowboy boot full of jelly beans, for all I care, just don't tell me I can't buy beer on Sunday because you received an injunction from bootzilla, or worse, try to replace science with jelly bean divination and expect me to value your opinion as I would somebody who has the enlightenment and a body of research behind them.
And don't even get me started on the gay thing.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:03 AM on May 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


But anyway, again, if you don't believe it, why do you care what they think?

Well, we're officially going in circles now. It matters because in America, there is an agenda to insert Christianity into the public sphere in ways that go against the separation of church and state.

What does it mean, to "live a good life?" How do you figure that out, solely through rationality?

Still trying to figure it out, thank you very much. It has a fair amount to do with rationality (in short, the concept of Utility) and a fair amount to do with what I'm happy to consider an irrational instinct.

Look, you obviously have a hard-on for Christians.

Um.

As for "brights," I don't think it's a good idea myself. Then again, it's not as offensive as people going around calling themselves "saved."
posted by bardic at 12:05 AM on May 13, 2007


but it's essentially the subject of this thread

you're mistaking LOLXIANS-esque ridicule for something else . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:18 AM on May 13, 2007


Go worship a cowboy boot full of jelly beans, for all I care, just don't tell me I can't buy beer on Sunday because you received an injunction from bootzilla

Heh.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:15 AM on May 13, 2007


yeah, "bootzilla"'s got a better zing to it than the "invisible sky god" or "purple unicorn" terms that we tend to reach for first.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:28 AM on May 13, 2007


***Ramble Warning***

Didn't the Jewish/Christian God originally make the Israelites sign the Covenant contained within the Ark to ensure that they would specifically worship only him? Did he not get pissed off when the Israelites erected the Asherah poles or worshipped Baal? This would seem to me to indicate that the whole "only one god" argument that some Christians (not necessarily those posting here) use to be a bit silly. If your own god recognises the existence of others then surely you cannot use this as reasoning to dispute other people's worship.

Yeah, so your god tells you everything is hunky-dory and that you get to live in a sparkling palace of awesomeness and you get the virgins and honey and chocolate and whatever but what if he's playing you? What if there really are hundreds of thousands of "gods"? What if YHWH is just one of many figures outside of our normal frame of reference who we cannot see or touch or hear (barring special supernatural circumstances)?

What if he doesn't have the power to give you all that you've been promised? Maybe he gets some sort of +1 power up for each 1,000 worshippers. Maybe he and Ishtar and Enkidu and Odin and Zeus all hang out in the same pub in an alternate plane of existence and laugh their fucking tits off about who has the most fans.

You see the problem I have with gods of any sort is that they do move in mysterious ways. I kind of like more obvious signs that someone is doing something for me and mine in return for my veneration. I could pray morning, noon and night and could sacrifice my children, fast for a month or whatever but not one time in my life would I ever see physical proof that my god could back up his claims. Never.

Yeah, history is full of "miracles" and deity-influenced disaster but I'll tell you for free that in a modern media-saturated world the chances of miracles or other supernatural mysteries being unexplained by science are fucking nil. All power to you if you need or want a god. If you were raised religious then I consider that to be a shame. Everyone should have the opportunity to come to their own conclusions based on their experiences and choices and not be primed to accept one particular god from birth. Just how many white people in Georgia or Texas just decide to believe in Allah or Odin one day? Fuck all (or next to fuck all at any rate). How many people in Tehran think to themselves "Hmm... It's about time I made a decision about faith - I think the individual best suited to my spiritual needs is Artemis"? Fuck all.

There are many reasons I choose not to believe in any one god or any at all. The most important one to me is that it just doesn't add up. I give my faith and devotion to an arbitrary individual and must give up my money, freedom and time and in return, when I die, I might get something good? Get stuffed. If a saleman were to come to my door promising this I'd tell him to walk. I would prefer to use my love, faith and devotion in the here and now and invest that in actual physical people that I can see and feel (with their permission obviously). If this means I end up on Poseidon's shitlist, well - whoopde-doo. He can poke me with a triden for aeons. Whatever gets him hard.

I suppose I'll be labelled an agnostic rather than an atheist. I hate that argument too. I'd rather be an apatheist. I don't care if there is a god, many gods or no gods. He/She/They have never done anything to or for me. It makes little to no difference to my daily life living here in rainy England. Oh, I can understand in more religious societies it might make a huge difference - socially for example. Over here we have pubs and football and golf courses and working men's clubs and karaoke and all sorts of other places where we can form social bonds outside of the family. I just don't need it and looking at the number of Christian church attendees in the UK shows that most people agree.

The vast majority of worshippers in the UK now and in the future are Muslims and again it's just childhood indoctrination - who doesn't want to be on the winning team when Allah swoops down on his golden perfumed pony distributing cake to all the happy believers? Especially when you've been told from year dot that that is what's going to happen to you and your family. You're special. Really special. God likes you. You personally. He thinks you are great. He'll prove it to you when you die.

I am happy to let people worship who and what they like as it makes no difference to me. As long as it makes no difference to me then all is well but like most people not reading The Deity Express we will point out that we do not have any interest in living by your delightful pamphlets and books and that if it's quite alright we'd prefer a cup of tea and all. Yep, thanks for the moral framework and all - I think secular societies can see benefits in some of those - hence our current laws viz murder etc. That doesn't mean I have to accept the corollary beliefs that go along with it.

This is rather a scattergun approach to my reasoning and also doesn't exactly argue from a scientific perspective but neither is it just a belief. I have made a decision not to believe based on the unfortunate lack of evidence of holy groovers and so I go with the simplest solution - no proof = no interest. If (a) god were to contact me in a way that could clearly to my mind be proven then I'd consider his offer. Some future spritual blowjob in exchange for blood, sweat and toil now just doesn't cut it.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with afterlife services or other non-existent interests.
posted by longbaugh at 4:29 AM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


You're acting like Vatican II never happened.

Probably good practice, given the current pope.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:47 AM on May 13, 2007


It has a fair amount to do with rationality (in short, the concept of Utility) and a fair amount to do with what I'm happy to consider an irrational instinct.

Utilitarianism? Really? I think you might be better off sticking to religion. It has fewer logical flaws.

Anyway, I think these topics would probably go a lot smoother if people stopped focusing on the bad behavior of certain Christians. I know this tends to be the militant atheist's primary defense, but for people who pride themselves so much on their logical reasoning, they don't seem to often notice or care that this is simply a blatant ad hominem that has absolutely nothing to do with the fundamental issue. If every Christian in the world was a complete sociopath, it still wouldn't say anything about whether or not their beliefs concerning God are true.

And I'll give you another logical fallacy. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. After this, therefore because of this. Another favorite of militant atheists. That whole bit about America having the most believers and also high rates of violence is a perfect example. Goes something like, "Religion is bad because it causes war/violence/hate/the ending of Superman Returns/< insert immoral act here>." You see a group of people who are very extreme in their faith. Then you see them acting like assholes. So you assume that they are acting like assholes because of their faith. But you can't necessarily assume that. For instance, if we go back to the war issue, religion has been around in some form or another for millions of years. Yet it's only been within the last few thousand years, interestingly enough starting around the same time that states began using religion as a motivational tool, that we've seen the intense violence over religion that we have today. So why is that? The truth is, those wars were going to happen whether religion was around or not because no war is ever really fought over religion. They're fought over resources, and religion is simply used as a justification. If not religion, then something else like nationalism would suffice just as well. Or, if we want to keep the discussion on a smaller scale, you can't say that people like Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson are assholes because they're Christians. Some people are just assholes. And if they didn't have religion to be assholes about, then they'd be assholes about something else.
posted by magodesky at 6:05 AM on May 13, 2007


It matters because in America, there is an agenda to insert Christianity into the public sphere in ways that go against the separation of church and state.

yes, and that agenda has been part of our culture ever since the mayflower landed on plymouth rock ... it's the people who are trying to secularize the government and the culture who are trying to change things ... you would understand what's going on a lot better if you understood this

i don't think that it's a bad idea to secularize the government at all ... and i've got to point out that in the last 40 years there's been considerable progress on this, that in spite of what people think here, things are getting better, not worse ...

but i don't think the culture is ever going to be totally secularized ... and i get the feeling that's what some people want ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 AM on May 13, 2007


"just don't tell me I can't buy beer on Sunday because you received an injunction from bootzilla"

The injunction against me buying more booze while at my girlfriend's parents over Christmas did more to push me toward atheism than any argument from any rational source. All I knew was that we were going to see a crappy movie, and a pint of brandy or something would have helped me weather it much more smoothly.
posted by klangklangston at 6:46 AM on May 13, 2007


Utilitarianism? Really? I think you might be better off sticking to religion. It has fewer logical flaws.

Well, as I wrote, I was giving you the short version. Limit suffering, grow happiness and personal freedom. Not a bad thing IMO.

And here's a good place for me to practice some practical grace -- Phelps is an obvious anomaly. He doesn't represent most Christians, nor do the 19 9/11 assholes screaming "God is great" represent all of Islam. But man, after a while, doesn't it suck to have a bunch of Jesus/Allah freaks doing horrible things in your name and the name of your skygod? After a while, doesn't it just make more sense to disown them all and figure it out for our own (admittedly flawed, pathetic, irrational, and sometimes amazing) selves?

Anyways, I'll defer to Sam Harris (and his discussion with Andrew Sullivan, two pretty smart guys IMO). I'm sure many will agree to disagree with me, but Harris makes all the points I could ever hope to make on why religion is generally bad. And sometimes good. But mostly something we'd be better off without.
posted by bardic at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2007


Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson are assholes because they're Christians

No, they're assholes qua assholes. I've tried to be clear on this point.
posted by bardic at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2007


Metafilter: assholes qua assholes
posted by psmealey at 8:03 AM on May 13, 2007


Well, we're officially going in circles now.

Don't blame me, you're driving.

It matters because in America, there is an agenda to insert Christianity into the public sphere in ways that go against the separation of church and state.

Is it their beliefs which matter, or their actions?

It has a fair amount to do with rationality (in short, the concept of Utility) and a fair amount to do with what I'm happy to consider an irrational instinct.

How can you so easily condemn irrationality in others, then?

it's not as offensive as people going around calling themselves "saved."

How can that possibly be offensive to you, if you reject the validity of their religion? It's hardly the same thing as saying you're smarter than someone else.

for the nth fucking time, let's go back to 2sheets

For the nth fucking time, the subject of the thread is a debate between some atheists and Kirk Cameron, in which the atheists argue against the existence of the Christian god.

doesn't it suck to have a bunch of Jesus/Allah freaks doing horrible things in your name

As an atheist, are you deterred from your belief when other atheists do bad things?

Limit suffering, grow happiness and personal freedom. Not a bad thing IMO.

Simple slogans answer simple questions. What happens when you must limit personal freedom to limit suffering?
posted by me & my monkey at 8:16 AM on May 13, 2007


But man, after a while, doesn't it suck to have a bunch of Jesus/Allah freaks doing horrible things in your name and the name of your skygod?

that's where the concept of individual responsibility comes in, doesn't it? ... therefore, the only thing that sucks about it is people who ignore that concept when it's convenient for their argument to do so
posted by pyramid termite at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2007


Didn't the Jewish/Christian God originally make the Israelites sign the Covenant contained within the Ark to ensure that they would specifically worship only him?

Sort of. The Covenant is when Yahweh told Abraham to kill one of his sons, Issac, in order to prove his loyalty to said Yahweh (as opposed to Ismail, but for Muslims, Ismail was actually the favored son). At the last second, a ram came out of the woods and Abram (soon to be renamed "Abraham," "most favored") got to kill that in place of his favorite son. The other one was bred from a prostitute and/or "slave", according to whom you ask, and that's where lots of interpretive troubles begin. But that's the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant comes a lot later. It was meant to hold Moses' tablets at a place called Shiloh, but that place was overrun by bad guys and basically paved over.

Any literal or figurative Phillistenes in the house are welcome to correct me, but I'm pretty sure that's a straight version. From an godless atheist, natch.
posted by bardic at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2007


The Covenant is when Yahweh told Abraham to kill one of his sons, Issac,

no, there are several covenants and the one you're thinking of predates isaac ... however, it was reaffirmed at that time

Any literal or figurative Phillistenes in the house are welcome to correct me

i believe the word you're looking for is philistines

1 A person who lacks appreciation of art or culture.
2 A person whose material means exceed his cultural and/or spiritual level.
3 An ignorant person
posted by pyramid termite at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2007


How can that possibly be offensive to you, if you reject the validity of their religion?

My personal irrationality can get me pulled over. Or maybe laid. Or maybe getting a job I didn't expect.

My personal irrationality is just that -- a person trying to do person-type things and make it through. I don't justify my personal irrationality around what Odin or Jesus expected or what Muhammed or Baal wanted, or what have you. Life doesn't work that way. I'd hope we could at least agree on that minor, and very major, note.

Why do theists keep asking me to come up with the answers they're so desperate for, anyways?

Indeed -- pure rationality will not solve all of your or my or anybody's problems. But throwing it all to the wind and waiting for Baby Jesus to solve things isn't so helpful either.

Along the way, I don't take it upon myself to tell other people how they should live their lives within reasonable expectations (is Utility really that crazy of an idea?). I have opinions about the issue, believe me. But I don't go out of my way to make another person's life miserable based on the sayings someone I get to speak to and nobody else does.

That would be silly, wouldn't it?
posted by bardic at 8:41 AM on May 13, 2007


i believe the word you're looking for is philistines

Because they spoke and wrote gud English back then, right pyramid termite?

Gah. I'm happy to stand behind everything I've posted in this thread. It was a worthy discussion. Heck, it might go on some more.

But it's so telling that for posting far too many times in this thread than I should have, it's really all about me the hateful atheist who mispelled a word. From a guy who doesn't know where the shift key is.

Amen.
posted by bardic at 8:49 AM on May 13, 2007


more ad hominems and straw men ... all you're really doing here is admitting that you can't confront me honestly
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2007


So, pistols or sabers? (I'm kidding, btw, since you might take that seriously.)

Since authenticity is apparently what's at stake here, let me be honest -- I think you're a great big lunatic asshole. And I'm sure the sentiment is shared. And that's fine.

See you in heaven!
posted by bardic at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2007


Seeing the name bardic so many times made me want to look up The Bard's Tale on wiki. In a strange and interesting twist of fate/wikipedia it turns out that the chap who wrote The Bard's Tale is heavily into jesus and co. One thing I like about Christ is the whole forgiveness and turning the other cheek thing.

HINT HINT

/Sings "Badh'r Kilnfest", an ancient Elven melody, healing all wounds.
posted by longbaugh at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2007


So, pistols or sabers?

well, we've already established wit doesn't work for you ...

bye, bye, and watch out for stalkers
posted by pyramid termite at 9:38 AM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why do theists keep asking me to come up with the answers they're so desperate for, anyways?

I'm not a theist. So I don't see how your response is relevant to my questions.

pure rationality will not solve all of your or my or anybody's problems. But throwing it all to the wind and waiting for Baby Jesus to solve things isn't so helpful either.

A lot of people would dispute that; it's helpful to them. And "pure rationality" will not help you AT ALL in answering metaphysical questions. These questions provoke unease in people. No one wants to think that they're going to live in pain and misery, then disappear completely from existence. Religion may be no more than a crutch; would you kick someone's crutch out from under them?

is Utility really that crazy of an idea?

As an answer to how to live, it's incomplete at best.

it's really all about me the hateful atheist who mispelled a word.

... who was the same person who attacked another for his poor grammar. Cast not the first stone, and all of that.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2007


And "pure rationality" will not help you AT ALL in answering metaphysical questions.

Kant would disagree with you.

And I'll take incomplete over infallible any day.
posted by bardic at 5:34 PM on May 13, 2007


Kant would disagree with you.

And Hume would surely disagree with Kant. Meanwhile, you cannot apply your formidable powers of pure reason to answer any metaphysical questions for me, can you? I've got a list if you're interested.

It's interesting that you turn to Kant, though - this is the guy with the three proofs of God's existence in Critique of Pure Reason, right? The Kant who had a lot of good things to say about Christianity in Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone?

And Hume has a prose style.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2007


I didn't turn to him, so much as offered up a pretty obvious dismissal of your tortured thinking.

But please, change the subject again. It's precious the way you do that.
posted by bardic at 6:07 PM on May 13, 2007


I didn't turn to him, so much as offered up a pretty obvious dismissal of your tortured thinking.

You want to cite him as an authority to show I'm wrong. That's turning to him. Discussing this with you is one notch above discussing creationism with Kirk Cameron, I think. I'm happy to extend my offer to answer some metaphysical questions with pure reason, if you're interested. Otherwise, I think we're done here. Good night.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:20 PM on May 13, 2007


I think we're done here. Good night.

Thank God.
posted by bardic at 6:31 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


:)
posted by caddis at 6:43 PM on May 13, 2007


:?
posted by LordSludge at 10:45 PM on May 13, 2007


!!!!!!
):
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2007


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