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March 22, 2008

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The sheer brass BALLS. I mean, I'm used to cdesign proponentists staring facts in the face and ignoring them, but this is just beyond the pale.

Evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
You know, technically that person's right. Evolution did lead to atheism and eugenics. Humans, like all other animals, were the products of an unbroken chain of evolution by natural selection from a common ancestor. Without humans, there would never have been a Holocaust, there would be no eugenics or atheism (except by default), and there certainly wouldn't have been a Nazi Germany.

Now, the implication that evolution must lead to atheism or eugenics is a problem. One tiny change anywhere along that chain of natural selection--environmental upheaval, different predator/prey relationships, viral mutations, etc.--could have derailed the evolutionary track which eventually led to the human race. Even after that, any number of alterations in human history and the more slippery notions of social and conceptual evolution could have prevented the rise of Hitler or the acceptance of eugenics. Evolution doesn't necessarily lead to Nazis and atheists anymore than it necessarily leads to pandas and finches. It's just that in one case, it did.

So, in a technical sense, evolution did lead to Hitler...but it's only true if you accept the theory and fact of evolution. Otherwise, the most widely-promoted alternative would have you believe that God the Designer leads to atheists and Nazis, and we all know that that would be silly.

Without Christianity, Hitler would probably have found another excuse.

It could be argued that anti-Semitism in Europe at the time was almost exclusively the fault of christian beliefs though, beliefs stemming back centuries and fed on by Hitler, the Nazis and the peoples of occupied Europe who aided them.

If that is true, then the Holocaust may very well not have happened without christianity, or more probably would have happened to another racial group (let's not forget, the genocide carried out by the Nazis went far beyond just European Jews).

Christianity was not the sole cause of the Holocaust, but I'd argue that without Christianity there would probably not have been one, or at least one that was not aimed almost exclusively at the Jewish people.

You might to want to read, or perhaps talk to, some historians who are specialits in Nazi Germany. You seem to be pretty much goin on skimming through Mein Kampf. I won't say too much more since that isn't my field either.

1. Hitler, in his heart of hearts was probably an atheist--at least that is what is deducible from his actions (same is true of Dick Cheney or Caesar), though he used religion as a political tool. I don't mean by this that atheism is inherently evil, but that he clearly could not have beleived that his actions were going to undergo any sort of moral scrutiny such as divine judgement.

2. Hitler's views on race seem to have been fixed by childhood experiences and his own imagination, but part of the jsutifcation he used for them was pseudo-scientific eugenics. He believed in a very distorted strawman of evolution: namely that the Jews and Aryans were two comepting species fighting for the same niche so one had the right and biological necessity to destroy the other; the same 'logic' suggested purifiying the Aryans by eliminating chidlern with brith defects. So he did not used evolutionary science, but rather a distorted misunderstanding of evolutinary science. That is exactly the point where he should be likened to ID.

3. Much of the pseudoscience that Hitler and the Nazis beleived was propagated by Ernst Haeckel's [i] Riddle of the Universe[/i] not directly by reading Darwin, so that is the book you should look to to uderstand the Nazi misuse of evolutionary science.

Hitler, in his heart of hearts was probably an atheist--at least that is what is deducible from his actions

Tell me, how the hell can you tell whether someone's an atheist from their actions?

Skeptico replies to Helena Constantine

Re: You might to want to read, or perhaps talk to, some historians who are specialits in Nazi Germany. You seem to be pretty much goin on skimming through Mein Kampf.

You’re welcome to skim it yourself, or even read it in more detail. And tell me where he says he was influenced by Darwin.

Or you could explain why it is that he was influenced by Darwin but never mentioned it once.

Re: Hitler, in his heart of hearts was probably an atheist--at least that is what is deducible from his actions

Total circular reasoning:

Only atheists do things as bad as Hitler
Hitler did really bad things
Therefore Hitler was an atheist

You stated your conclusion in your premise.

Skeptico - my respect for you just plummeted. You walked right into a quagmire trap of christiotard apologetics by arguing about whether or not Hitler was an atheist. It's completely irrelevant.

What's relevant is that Hitler's followers were not atheists. That's why they lapped up all that christian lets kill the jews for jesus crap. Whether or not Hitler believed it, he spouted it as part of his call to arms, and it worked. The Einsatzgruppen were not darwinists. The SS were not atheists or even fans of PZ Myers. Pope Pius the XII, who celebrated Hitler's Birthday every year was not speaking to the atheist darwinists in his flock when he spoke of the "fervent prayers which the Catholics of Germany are sending to heaven on their altars" for Hitler's success and well-being.

Don't waste your time arguing about Hitler. Argue about what proportion of the Nazi party were avowed atheists (0% I am figuring)

It is doubly disgusting to me that christotard apologetics are so morally bankrupt that they'd try to shift blame for something like Nazi anti-semitism onto darwinism, and secondly that they are so stupid that they think it's a good argument.

Nuff said.

Oops, I tried inserting an image link but it didn't work.
http://nobeliefs.com/images/NaziPriestsSaluteHitler.jpg
favorite picture of catholic bishops and priests giving Nazi salute - good darwinist atheist Nazis all, I bet.

Hitler, in his heart of hearts was probably an atheist--at least that is what is deducible from his actions (same is true of Dick Cheney or Caesar), though he used religion as a political tool. I don't mean by this that atheism is inherently evil, but that he clearly could not have beleived that his actions were going to undergo any sort of moral scrutiny such as divine judgement.

I think that's a highly naive point of view, to put it mildly. You don't seem to understand the mind of the lunatic zealot. If someone like ol' Adolf or bin Laden or whomever truly sees themselves as some sort of messianic figure or as a person chosen by "Providence" (a favorite term of HItler's) to do the things they're doing, then sure, it would be easy for them to believe their actions have the stamp of divine approval all along. The reason truly evil people can do such truly evil, beyond-the-pale things is because they convince themselves their evil actions are in fact the ultimate expression of good.

You walked right into a quagmire trap of christiotard apologetics by arguing about whether or not Hitler was an atheist. It's completely irrelevant.
While it is completely irrelevant to his actions, it's still a point of fact that needs to be cleared up when it comes up. Which is why all this started with "So what," methinks.

1. Hitler, in his heart of hearts was probably an atheist--at least that is what is deducible from his actions (same is true of Dick Cheney or Caesar), though he used religion as a political tool. I don't mean by this that atheism is inherently evil, but that he clearly could not have beleived that his actions were going to undergo any sort of moral scrutiny such as divine judgement.

This is, almost entirely, complete crap, as has been pointed out a couple of times already. Just exactly how do you deduce that Hitler was atheist from the fact that he invaded Poland? Or ordered genocide?

The entirety of human history is filled with tyrants and leaders who order invasions and atrocities and were devout believers in their particular brand of fairy tale and superstition. Is it your assertion that in their heart of hearts they were all atheists?

Does this mean that anyone who does something evil must be an atheist? If so, then yes you do mean that atheism is inherently evil, because only atheists ever do anything evil.

Hitler believed he was doing God's work (in his own words) by eradicating the Jews, therefore he probably believed he would be divinely judged but that it would be favourable because of this. He believed his almighty would judge him and be pleased with his work.

What more powerful drive for doing wrong can there be?

You didn't mention the influence of Martin Luther's writings on Mein Kampf. From excerpts I've seen, they're sometimes hard to tell apart.

Blaming Hitler on Darwin is like blaming Hitler on America. Many of the ideas adopted for the "Final Solution" come right out of the Eugenics movement, which was in full swing in the early 20th century. And Eugenics was invented right here in the USA, so he was America's fault.

Or not. So, besides being irrelevent, and wrong, the Hitler/Evolution argument is no better than other competing bad arguments :)

I guess I should have phrased my comments differently...

When religiotards bring up the Hitler/Darwin thing, don't waste your time even addressing it. Just jump straight to "Hitler did not act alone; a vast number of Germans were the ones who did the actual killing. And they were following Hitler's christian rhetoric and acting based on 'traditional' christian antisemetism. The Germans following Hitler were not moved by darwinist or evolutionary arguments - they were motivated by religion. Whether Hitler believed in what he was saying is irrelevant: his followers did and believed he was doing god's work - not Darwin's"

Marcus Ranum,

I got it the first time around. The best commentary on this thread so far.

Evil wears any face that suits its agenda and there will always be countless to leap on its bandwagon and follow.

Who is really to blame?
The cunning leader or flock of followers?
Or those of us who stand idle and simply watch it happen over and over?

Marcus Ranum, in my experience, even if I say that it doesn't matter what Hitler believed, just his followers, the other person will still focus on Hitler himself. This argument that Hitler was not an atheist would be useful if you encounter someone who does that.

Who is really to blame?
The cunning leader or flock of followers?

The person whose finger pulls the trigger.

Hitler could have ranted and raved until he was hoarse but he could not have accomplished much beyond that. This is why incitement to violence is treated as a lesser crime than murder.

It is "politically correct" to assign the lion's share of the blame to Hitler, personally - which is pretty ridiculous, if you think about it for a few seconds. Hitler, personally, was a good scapegoat (in the literal sense!) along with his handful of close supporters. By shovelling the blame off on them, the real question of how it happened can be avoided.

in my experience, even if I say that it doesn't matter what Hitler believed, just his followers, the other person will still focus on Hitler himself

Of course. Because if they actually tried to think about Nazi Germany rationally, they would realize that they were being stupid - and nobody enjoys that. Besides, nobody's going to offer the Hitler gambit if they're not already stupid to begin with.

What shocks me is that Ben Stein is that stupid. I mean, I can believe a bit of thoughtless and dumb and even a load of intellectual dishonesty. But for a jewish dude to play the Hitler gambit without thinking through its obvious rebuttal - that's just WMD (Weapons of Mass Dumb)

Skemono asked (Mar 23) how anyone could tell whether someone was an atheist from their actions. That's easy! Atheists are rude, arrogant, obnoxious bores, who act as though they know everything, treat everyone who has the audacity to disagree with them with complete contempt - example: 'religious folk are trolls, because they believe in an invisible sky-daddy (and unicorns), therefore they should be insulted' - and, although they claim not to believe in God, are so egotistical that they think they are God's gift to the ignorant (and superstitious) masses.
They also engage in silly and pointless gimmickry (eg. scribbling out 'In God We Trust' from dollar bills), and publish ill-informed junk philosophy books (eg. 'The God Delusion') and then moan and complain, because they are so clueless, when others (i.e. 'believers' - over 90 percent of the population of planet earth) hate them.
That is how you distinguish an atheist from a normal person.

Person who didn't post a name, I'm tempted to say you're being sarcastic..... but then I remember that I frequent FSTDT and then I'm not so sure.

Sarcastic? Maybe, but then I actually have met many internet atheists who fit this description perfectly. Not ALL of them are like this of course, but, unfortunately, far too many of them are.
Maybe this is a dumb question, but what is FSTDT? I'm guessing that it's a tracking system of some description. Correct?

It's amazing! I just looked up "screed" in the dictionary, and there was Blank's first post, verbatim!

When will people catch on to the fact that The God Delusion is not a philosophy book?

Atheists are rude, arrogant, obnoxious bores, who act as though they know everything, treat everyone who has the audacity to disagree with them with complete contempt

So you're saying that you're an atheist?

Just jump straight to "Hitler did not act alone; a vast number of Germans were the ones who did the actual killing...

A point that whilst not made in this post has been made before on this blog, and yet even what you say here is too simplistic because it wasn't just Germans that did the killing.

People all over occupied Europe were falling over themselves to help exterminate the Jews, and all feeding on the antisemitisim fuelled by centuries of christian dogma.

Don't forget the religious mindset and style of apologetics as well; followers can't be blamed for what they do when following, it must be the leader who is at fault and therefore if they can show Hitler was an atheist and Darwin inspired him, that condemns atheism and evolution and exonerates his religious followers.

Proving Hitler was an atheist is all that matters to them because it frees the religious followers of any blame.

By shovelling the blame off on them, the real question of how it happened can be avoided.

I've made the same point elsewhere when people try to dismiss what occurred in occupied Europe by blaming it all on "The Nazis", this evil and all encompassing group that excuses everyone else. If you attribute everything to "The Nazis" then it becomes easier to accept what people did to each other and you don't have to ask the really hard questions.

FSTDT: "Fundies Say the Darndest Things". Website that compiles stupid and/or hateful things fundamentalists have said.

Oh, and blank, could you provide some evidence for what you say. I'm not seeing it anywhere. From my experience, atheists know that they don't know everything. It's the fundies who absolutely explode when we dare to ask the question, "How do you know that?" It is not arrogance to point out that we do not have perfect knowledge.

The God Delusion was well-informed, and all the courtier's replies people scream about the intricacies of theology generally prove our collective point: If they can't provide one solid piece of evidence for the existence of their deity, then why should we study the whole thing? Can't the theologists just chime in with the good evidence, and toss out the sophistry? From my experience, no, they can't. There likely isn't any good evidence for a deity, yet. They usually lack even a good example of what would amount to deific evidence.

As for my humble self, I'm just the sort who repeats simple truths and solid arguments, trying to phrase them in a way that they'd stick. I'm still waiting for decent counter-arguments. So far, I just usually hubris-filled screamers like you.

So, why'd you change the subject to something as irrelevant as our alleged arrogance, rather than present an actual argument?

I also don't think that Hitler though of himself as Christian, even though the Nazis used the religion in their propaganda. Hitler's private communications indicate as much. He lamented that Christianity was the prevalent religion of Germany, since he considered it to be too meek and he would have actually preferred Islam over Christianity. However, I do think that Hitler felt absolutely justified in his actions, and if he believed in God, he certainly believed that he was doing God's work.

Marcus Ranum

"The person whose finger pulls the trigger."

I agree but what about those who watched and did nothing? Are they blameless?

"Atheists are rude, arrogant, obnoxious bores, who act as though they know everything, treat everyone who has the audacity to disagree with them with complete contempt"

This description fits many groups and individuals on the internet today. Apparently it is a typical marker for those schooled but failing education, discipline and tolerance for the beliefs of others. They have yet to gain the ability to think outside their own box or some box they adopt from some other equally unknown person.

Bronze Dog

"If they can't provide one solid piece of evidence for the existence of their deity, then why should we study the whole thing?"

You have no intention of this "whole thing" study. So that question is moot.

Here is one that is not. What solid evidence do you have of the non-existence of their deity?

Tom Foss

Do you consider "Blanks" observation "screed" because a number of you (atheist or not) on this board fit that definition?
Or are you totally oblivious to that fact?

What solid evidence do you have of the non-existence of their deity?
Shifting the burden of proof is bad, mmmkay?
You have no intention of this "whole thing" study. So that question is moot.
Oh, so you're a mind-reader.
Here is one that is not. What solid evidence do you have of the non-existence of their deity?
King of Ferrets pointed it out: you're shifting the burden of proof. That's a logical fallacy. You lose.
Do you consider "Blanks" observation "screed" because a number of you (atheist or not) on this board fit that definition? Or are you totally oblivious to that fact?
No, I consider it a screed because it had nothing of substance to say, tossing out nothing more than venomous caricatures and unsubstantiated claims. I thought about rebutting it, until I realized there was nothing there to rebut. It's cherry-picking, ad hominem, red herring pap, with only the most tenuous thread of a connection to reality.

Also, you seem to be unaware of what a "fact" is. That seems to be a good starting point.

King of Ferrets,

The comment you are referring to below is mine. I am sorry I thought I was signed in when I posted above. Apparently not.

"Shifting the burden of proof is bad, mmmkay?"

Bad by whose definition?
Yours?
Why?
There is no proof?
Or YOU simply can not come up with any?

I am well aware of what the God believers can or can not prove. I am interested in what the Atheist can or can not prove.

From my vantage point it looks like you travel on the same ship. Where neither of you can prove or disprove anything.

I could definitely be wrong so any Atheist here give me your best shot.

"Bad by whose definition?
Yours?
Why?
There is no proof?
Or YOU simply can not come up with any?"

It's bad because it is impossible to prove a negative. One cannot prove that something does not exist somewhere in the universe... At the risk of sounding trite, there are plenty of regularly used examples of this; invisible pink unicorns, Russel's teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster come to mind. Nobody can possibly provide conclusive evidence that there is absolutely no such thing as an invisible unicorn. Can you? I can't?

And yet, if somebody claimed that there definitely was an invisible unicorn, it would be incumbent on them to provide evidence. Retorting simply with, "well, why can't YOU provide proof there isn't a unicorn out in the universe somewhere?" simply does not hold water.

Now I understand your mindset... Your mindset is that the idea of god(s) is a reasonable claim, but that the idea of an invisible unicorn is patently ridiculous. You don't think that the two are equatable at all.

The thing that you should consider, particularly if you really want to make an earnest effort at discussion rather than simply butting heads, is that to those of us that don't believe in god, the claim that an invisible, psychic, undying, all powerful being is just as patently ridiculous as an invisible unicorn. From our standpoint, it's exactly the same as saying that a wizard made the universe using magic. Even if we don't know the answer to how something in our universe occurred, saying it happened 'by magic' is no answer at all.

So when you say to us, prove that god DOESN'T exist, the question that we hear is equatable to asking us to prove that a unicorn or wizard doesn't exist. Nobody can 100% prove that anything that can be imagined isn't lingering about somewhere in the universe, but if we have no evidence in support of it, there is no cause to go around believing in something improbable 'just in case'.

Dave,

Very good "Debating God 101" synopsis.

I would have thought almost everyone who debated god would at least have passed that course. :)

Skeptico replies to Valkyries

Argument from Ignorance:

Explanation

Arguments from ignorance infer that a proposition is true from the fact that it is not known to be false. Not all arguments of this form are fallacious; if it is known that if the proposition were not true then it would have been disproven, then a valid argument from ignorance may be constructed. In other cases, though, arguments from ignorance are fallacious.

Example

(1) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God.
Therefore:
(2) God exists.

This argument is fallacious because the non-existence of God is perfectly consistent with no one having been able to prove God’s non-existence.

It’s a fairly basic logical fallacy – one of the first arguments you should learn not to make if you want to avoid looking silly.

Hey Skeptico,

I am honored that you have replied to my post.
These are just observations and opinions from a newcomer that stumbled upon your board.

My ego is sound enough to look silly. How about yours?

I am not scientific at all.
So I am saying to myself.
Please tell me this is NOT how the scientific mind works?

No ... not in a million years would I ever think up, consider or accept your example as anything but a silly joke.
Sorry!

My non-scientific common logic tells me this:
(1) No one has been able to prove the existence of God.
(2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God.
(3) Therefore we don't know.

Not me, not you, not anyone on this board knows.
However if you claim otherwise I am certainly open for the discussion of your thought process.

The people on your board can fight, call names and pretend they are smarter than any opposition. The reality is those of you that engage in this behavior are all the same just on different sides of the fence. So as you employ these gutter sniping tirades pull up a mirror and have a look.

At what point did clean vigorous debate turn into common gutter sniping? Do those of you who engage in these gutter snipe tactics think you look smart or cool to the outside world?

You don't!
Do you think you influence anyone but the choir?
The choir is an easy mark. Why don't you step up your game and use your evident pent up anger, aggravation and frustration to do something constructive in the world? Maybe that is to much of a challenge for ya all?

Lets get back on topic.
Who cares what or who motivated Hitler?
How different from Hitler's basic philosophy are some of you who feel its your duty to save the world from the woos, christians or whoever?
One basic difference that I see.
Hitler had the power and authority to carry out a plan.
You have the power to rant and rave with no one significant to pay attention and those significant who blow you off as sniping wingnuts.

98% of the world has little or no respect for scientific mumbo jumbo especially when it comes from people with only a couple of college courses under their belt.

Are there any legitimately credentialed scientists commenting regularly here?
I find it hard to believe a legitimate scientist would take part in any of the degraded debate I have so far seen here.
Some of the posters here have made great arguments so congrats.
Those of you that behave like jerks?
Keep your chins up because one day you will naturally and scientifically mature out of your jerkdom state.
And the world will naturally and scientifically be a better place.

Sorry but your board is malfunctioning I am signed in as Valkyries but the board is not marking the post as such.

I do not believe in posting anonymous on a board.

You're looking for an argument from authority, but that is not required to point out the continual flaws in your "argument". Your insistence that one has to find evidence to prove a negative can be applied to anything that a person can make up, something you seem to be ignorant of.
I assume you can find the negative evidence that Dave suggested for the likes of the Roman, Greek or other pantheons? I'm sorry, but I find your rationale wholly laughable, and also your talk of arrogance the height of hypocrisy.
The others here have answered you clearly and with a sound argument, and you brazenly laugh it off like, never mind their tone which more looks like answering you in kind. That you don't really seem to have anything to offer aside from character attacks is supremely foolish and detracting of your own. It is true that talk is cheap and actions speak louder, but your posturing is ridiculous and your comparisons wholly unwarranted, backing to sniping when you have nothing of merit to offer.

My non-scientific common logic tells me this:
(1) No one has been able to prove the existence of God.
(2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God.
(3) Therefore we don't know.

Not me, not you, not anyone on this board knows.


And therefore the only rational conclusion is to assume that god doesn't exist, for whatever definition of god you're using.

You are absolutely right. We do not know that God exists or does not exist.

We have is a working hypothesis that God does not exist but this is open to revision as new evidence and argument presents itself. No one is claiming to have access to some complete and unassailable truth, you just have to go where the evidence leads you (in this case: nowhere).

PS: Godwin!

My non-scientific common logic tells me this: (1) No one has been able to prove the existence of God. (2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God. (3) Therefore we don't know.

Not me, not you, not anyone on this board knows.

Revised format:
(1) No one has been able to prove the existence of anything.
(2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of anything.
(3) Therefore we don't know.

Under blank's "logic", well, I was thinking of making a detailed description about burden of proof, epistemology in general, and the inherent hubris involved in certainty, but let's just summarize it as him effectively saying that knowledge is impossible.

Of course, since he's defining God, he's the one who has to give us a method of falsifying him. If you make a claim, you have to provide some method of falsification, otherwise you're just making a scenario for your own closed-mindedness. Of course, he should have started trying falsification himself.

Reminds me of Egnor demanding scientists prove that "biological information" can increase when he deliberately chose not to provide a definition for his freshly invented term.

Valkyries:

Please tell me this is NOT how the scientific mind works?

I see, you would rather that scientists accept that everything and anything, everywhere and anywhere, is possible. Brilliant.

No ... not in a million years would I ever think up, consider or accept your example as anything but a silly joke.
Sorry!

That's your problem then, and it explains a lot. What Skeptico pointed out was a very basic rule of logic.

You would apparently argue that since we cannot prove that a giant Octopus flavoured blancmange does not run the universe, we must conclude that we don't know, and that anyone who says it does not exist is arrogant. Well, where do you stand on the blancmange thesis of the universe then?

My non-scientific common logic tells me this:
(1) No one has been able to prove the existence of God.
(2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God.
(3) Therefore we don't know.

Let's apply this to the Blancmange theory of the universe shall we?

My non-scientific common logic tells me this:

(1) No one has been able to prove the existence of the giant Octopus flavoured Blancmange that runs the universe.

(2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of the giant Octopus flavoured Blancmange that runs the universe.

(3) Therefore we don't know.

Dear oh dear.

Remember, as far as the Blancmange theory of the universe goes:

Not me, not you, not anyone on this board knows.
However if you claim otherwise I am certainly open for the discussion of your thought process.

The reality is those of you that engage in this behavior are all the same just on different sides of the fence.

Although obviously your noble self is above name calling and is the only truly worthy party involved.

Why don't you step up your game and use your evident pent up anger, aggravation and frustration to do something constructive in the world? Maybe that is to much of a challenge for ya all?

And of course since you know us all so well you know that our lives are all worthless and we have never done anything of note with them. What was that about gutter sniping and name calling? I thought I read that somewhere recently, but obviously you wouldn't stoop so low.

How different from Hitler's basic philosophy are some of you who feel its your duty to save the world from the woos, christians or whoever?

Oh your absolutely right, wanting to further the progression of civilisation through the continued enlightenment and growth of human knowledge is exactly like trying to wipe out races you consider sub-human through industrialised slaughter and military conquest. We've been so blind. Do you really consider yourself to be mature and wise?

98% of the world has little or no respect for scientific mumbo jumbo especially when it comes from people with only a couple of college courses under their belt.

Really? 98%? And you have proof of this?

You do understand the irony of even typing this statement on a PC and publishing it over the internet, don't you?

And there we go with the gutter sniping and name calling again. It's a good job you are above that sort of thing.

Are there any legitimately credentialed scientists commenting regularly here?

Why is that relevant? And what is a legitimately credentialed scientist in your eyes?

Those of you that behave like jerks?
Keep your chins up because one day you will naturally and scientifically mature out of your jerkdom state.
And the world will naturally and scientifically be a better place.

What are you, 5 years old? 'Jerkdom state'. Good grief, grow up. Is this what it's like to be mature and wise?

At what point did clean vigorous debate turn into common gutter sniping?

"At what point did clean vigorous debate turn into common gutter sniping?"

Well, in this very specific case, I think it can be traced to the point where someone said that Hitler must have been an atheist based on his actions. It is regretful that the statement appears to have turned the conversation into a venom-hissing match, but you have to admit that it was a particularly heavy first stone to have cast (to use a biblical metaphor).

After all, what if somebody went into a Christian forum and proclaimed, "Oh, that guy molested a child? Well, then he MUST have been a Catholic... because, you know, that's what Catholics do."

We don't need to pretend, I'm sure it's happened at some point.

I'm sure that defenses would go up quite quickly, and that the Christian forum would suddenly become a most uninviting place. You must concede that that comment wasn't a particularly great introduction to stating an opposing view.

"How different from Hitler's basic philosophy are some of you who feel its your duty to save the world from the woos, christians or whoever? One basic difference that I see. Hitler had the power and authority to carry out a plan. You have the power to rant and rave with no one significant to pay attention and those significant who blow you off as sniping wingnuts."

I think that's another particularly heavy stone to cast. It's a fairly demonizing thing to say that atheists, if we had our way, would like to round up Christians and send them off to concentration camps. You can't blame people for getting a bit offended by that.

I can't in any way act as the spokesperson for atheists; I can only speak for myself and the atheists that I personally know. As for myself and those around me, we don't want to round up Christians and have them killed, or to outlaw Christianity... We don't want to force people to stop praying or take away their bibles or forcibly remove their beliefs.

What many of us want is, frankly, to not have other people's supernatural beliefs dictate our laws. We don't want our children to be taught creationist dogma, or to have to pledge allegiance to a country 'Under God' with schools that we pay for. We don't want our homosexual friends to be harassed or denied freedoms because some bronze-age text says that a magical being doesn't approve.

And to many Christians (not all) even these seem like unreasonable demands. People who would raise protest if our currency suddenly started saying 'In Allah We Trust' can't bend their mind around why we would cross out 'In God We Trust' on our money. They don't understand why we won't shut up about Creationism being taught in schools, or why we get upset when we're told we must have no morals, or that Hitler must have been an atheist because only an atheist would commit genocide.

And so the face of atheism that people see is defensive, because for generations Christians were on the offense. But atheists aren't always like that most of the time.

For example...

I was at a show over Easter weekend, and I saw a number of friends that I hadn't seen in some small time. At one point in the evening, it occurred to me that out of all of the people I had spent time with, I was probably the only atheist. I knew that some of my friends were Christians and some were Jewish and some were Wiccan, and many of them I had no idea what they believed. But they were all people that I cared a great deal for, and they were all people I got along with because nobody was standing around waving a flag trying to make their beliefs the rule for everybody... As a result we got to focus on what we have in common rather than what is different.

I like to think that's what most atheists want... To get along with people based on our similarities rather than having to keep reinforcing our boundaries. But this is only going to happen when fundamentalist religion stops trying to make their beliefs the law.

We may seem pushy, but we're really only pushing back.

Sorry, I'm afraid I did ramble a bit.

Debating the existence of 'God' is pointless unless you define what you mean by 'God'.

Clearly the story of the 'God' character as described in the Bible is in conflict with the history of this planet and the universe as it can be deduced from the available evidence.

Re: "At what point did clean vigorous debate turn into common gutter sniping"

... I could be wrong, but my guess would be "at the beginning of spring break".

School starts again next week. Forecast - the degree of juvenile chatter will fall somewhat at that point.

Spring break already ended for me, so that can't be right.

Thank you JC.
For a moment I was afraid I was going to be arguing against black+black=red with a pile of rocks.

Thank you Dave for your well thought out comments. I appreciate them!
I would select you to be on my team for change any time.

So I ended up with 2 of you that can communicate without fear of crashing like humpty dumpty from a feigned lofty perch.
Nice going you two!

So Dave, you are indeed right I did lob a stone or two into this milk pail.
Why? The cream always rises to the top while the muck sinks with the stone.

"Well, in this very specific case, I think it can be traced to the point where someone said that Hitler must have been an atheist based on his actions. It is regretful that the statement appears to have turned the conversation into a venom-hissing match, but you have to admit that it was a particularly heavy first stone to have cast (to use a biblical metaphor)."

I must correct you however this was not my particular stone. I think that one was dragged into this forum by your Moderator and rightfully so.
He has clearly and accurately stated his case. I am not an Atheist but I see his points and happen to agree with many or perhaps most of them. Not that my agreement or disagreement means a whit in the world or on this board for that matter.

As far as the Hitler likeness stone? Guilty!
Here is the point.
I highly doubt gassing Jews was the basic start-up Hitler plan. Like most things it was probably an evolution. The start of that evolution was born in the same mindset as some of those posting here.
That base is low self esteem manifesting in arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others.

That being said here is my un-scientific common logic example:
1. "I am intentionally offensive when dealing with liars and nitwits." John Best (fence side 1)
2. "Go crawl back under whatever rock you slithered out from under and come back when you are not an idiot." Jimmy_Blue (fence side 2)
3. Makes you equal

I suppose we could debate equal what? Liars, nitwits, idiots?
Its clear neither of you has gained the ability to communicate well with others in a pinch without your brains shifting to a minus gear or shutting down entirely.

You know what Jimmy_Blue? You have made some pretty good arguments on certain things. Why do you muck it all up by lowering yourself into a crap pit?

Dave. Back to your response to the non-proof of God.

"It's bad because it is impossible to prove a negative. One cannot prove that something does not exist somewhere in the universe... At the risk of sounding trite, there are plenty of regularly used examples of this; invisible pink unicorns, Russel's teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster come to mind. Nobody can possibly provide conclusive evidence that there is absolutely no such thing as an invisible unicorn. Can you? I can't?"
No I can not. Neither can I prove there is such a thing. Likewise I can not prove there is or is not a God.

"And yet, if somebody claimed that there definitely was an invisible unicorn, it would be incumbent on them to provide evidence. Retorting simply with, "well, why can't YOU provide proof there isn't a unicorn out in the universe somewhere?" simply does not hold water."

"Now I understand your mindset... Your mindset is that the idea of god(s) is a reasonable claim, but that the idea of an invisible unicorn is patently ridiculous. You don't think that the two are equatable at all."

No I do not think you understand my mindset but that's okay.

Lets leave "reasonable claim" and "patently ridiculous" out of it because both are personal perceptions.

Now they become exactly the same.
Neither can be proved or disproved by either sided.

The real point is does any of this matter enough to resort to name calling of those who have a different perspective or belief system?
For those of you ready to rush forward with fists flying screaming "YES".
My next question to you is:
What gap in your character makes that behavior necessary for YOU?

Here is a little challenge for those of you that wish to participate.
I hope this will be permitted by our moderator.
Post back your answer and your logic behind it.

The moon is made of green cheese.
1. yes
2. no
3. maybe

I will come back in a few days and see if anyone offered an answer or solution to the question.

Thank you Skeptico I did not think about Spring Break

You all have a great week end!

Valk, it still sounds like you're effectively saying knowledge is impossible.

There is no evidence that the moon is made of green cheese. Astronauts who visited the moon did not find green cheese. The various methods of analyzing the material found no green cheese. From the Earth, it didn't look like green cheese, beyond one guy describing the apparent texture as being similar. There is no known plausible mechanism that would create a giant ball of green cheese in Earth's orbit. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the moon is made of green cheese.

As far as I can tell from your posts, you'd plunk it down as a '50%' maybe because we can't absolutely prove the negative.

I think you answered that quite nicely, Bronze Dog. I think what Valk might be steering towards (and please correct me if I'm misinterpreting here, V) is more in the area of philosophy, wherein one can't prove or disprove anything empirically as the act of observing evidence is in itself subjective...

Which, when discussing philosophy, is a fun and interesting exercise... But I think when we go about in our day-to-day lives we need to discard the notion that reality and what constitutes as proof may be subjective. If we didn't then we would be spending every moment of every day pondering if the floor would really hold our weight.

"The real point is does any of this matter enough to resort to name calling of those who have a different perspective or belief system?"

No, not at all. And I'm about to say something that will likely get me scorn from both sides of the theistic debate:

I think that most of the time, people's beliefs or non-beliefs about the supernatural don't really matter all that much.

Now, bear with me on this... Hear me out a second. Put the torches down :)

Think about your day-to-day life and the people you interact with on a regular basis. Think about your co-workers, your boss, the guy that rings up your beer at the grocery store... think about the girl that sits behind you in class that you talk to every day. Do you know what their beliefs are? Most people in my day to day life, I have no idea what they believe - even people I've known for years! I may know what their favorite food is, where they grew up, what their career goals are... I may know intimate details about their childhood, but I usually don't know what they believe. All I know is that they're good people who I like.

Valk, if we'd run into each other in person instead of in an atheism forum, we'd probably be talking about... I dunno... music or films or something. Our beliefs would probably never come up.

And for those exceptions where people you know do regularly shove their beliefs down your throat? I think everyone can agree that those people are jerks. But if you did an honest comparison of all the people you deal with every day, those people probably are a small minority.

But, as usual, I can only speak for myself. I'm sure things would be different if I lived in Mississippi or Virginia. As it happens, I live in San Francisco, which I am quite aware is kind of a cultural bubble.

But I digress.

Out of all the qualities a person has, their religion, or lack thereof, is usually the least interesting thing about them. Being an atheist is certainly the least interesting thing about me.

And yet I spend a great deal of time reading atheist forums. Why is that? The reason is that there are two situations when people's religions do matter - when they matter a LOT:

a) When people's beliefs infringe on the rights of others and
b) When people are harmed by superstitious belief.

These are both serious scenereos. And while I try very hard to be diplomatic, it is sometimes impossible to try and combat these two situations without having to attack and disassemble the belief itself. How can we combat Creationism being taught in public schools unless we take to task the fact that Creationism is unscientific? How can we defend the rights of homosexuals without showing that the Christian's doctrine of homosexuality being 'an abomination' is based on bronze-age superstition.

It is not necessary to attack people with a different perspective just because they have that perspective... But I do think that sometimes another perspective starts to edge a little too close to the rights of others, and then it's not only acceptable, but necessary to push back a little. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the kid gloves.

And everybody knows (I hope) that people's online tone is far different from how they act in real life. It may seem that people on this atheist forum can be rude and strident, but people on the Christian forums are rude and strident and people on the bloody Doctor Who forums are rude and strident. You think it's silly to attack people for their theological beliefs? This is the internet! People attack each other over their favorite Pokemon.

In a way, I think this may be healthy. By and large most people try to be civil in their daily lives, and the internet can allow folks to vent hostility in a relatively harmless medium. I'd rather have somebody flame me online than sock me in the face in real life.

1. "I am intentionally offensive when dealing with liars and nitwits." John Best (fence side 1) 2. "Go crawl back under whatever rock you slithered out from under and come back when you are not an idiot." Jimmy_Blue (fence side 2) 3. Makes you equal

I suppose we could debate equal what? Liars, nitwits, idiots?
Its clear neither of you has gained the ability to communicate well with others in a pinch without your brains shifting to a minus gear or shutting down entirely.


Stop using ad hominem arguments about how mean and insulting we evil evil people are Valkyries. An argument stands independent of those presenting it. If Hitler said the sky was blue and your father said that the sky was dark brown, who would you believe? There's also the fact that you could be said to be doing the same thing they do, which would also make you equal, making your holier-than-thou stance hypocritical.

And to your challenge... Despite it being idiotic, I'll answer it.
The moon is most likely NOT made of green cheese because there is no reason for it to be made of green cheese, there is no known way for it to be made of green cheese, all evidence including eyewitness accounts point to it not being green cheese, and those all combined mean that, until extraordinary evidence can be provided that the moon is, in fact, made of green cheese, we should keep our default negative stance.

Now, bear with me on this... Hear me out a second. Put the torches down :)

What torches? I don't see any torches.
*notices his torch*
Oh, wait, you mean that torch.
*puts out the torch and tosses it in the garbage*

I am not scientific at all. So I am saying to myself. Please tell me this is NOT how the scientific mind works?

No ... not in a million years would I ever think up, consider or accept your example as anything but a silly joke.


It's a good thing you're not afraid to look silly.

My non-scientific common logic tells me this: (1) No one has been able to prove the existence of God. (2) No one has been able to disprove the existence of God. (3) Therefore we don't know.
That's the problem with "common logic"--it's prone to common logical fallacies. In the beginning, you shifted the burden of proof, which is a basic fallacy in inductive logical pursuits, like science. In science, it's up to whomever is making the positive claim ("X exists") to justify their claim with evidence; it is not the job of anyone else to disprove their claim.

For instance: if my friend comes up to me and says "I have a billion dollars in my pocket," my immediate response is not "I believe you," nor is it "I believe you do not have a billion dollars in your pocket," it's "Really? Show me." If my friend's response is "well, you can't prove I don't," I'm perfectly reasonable in saying "then I don't believe you have a billion dollars in your pocket." After all, how easy would it be for him to show me? All he'd have to do is take his wallet out. How would I disprove him? I suppose I could steal his wallet, but then he could say "no, it's in my other pocket." I could take his pants off, search the pockets, and say "there's nothing here," but he could just as easily respond "it's in a secret pocket." So after cutting the pants apart and finding no pocket, he could easily say "no, no, it's a shirt pocket," and so forth. This is why we require the person making the claim to provide supportive evidence, and this is why we're completely valid in saying "I don't accept your claim" until they do provide evidence.

Note here that I'm not saying "I know you don't have a billion dollars in your pocket" or "I believe you have [some other denomination] in your pocket." Knowledge--that is, justified true belief--doesn't even need to enter into this. And the fact that I reject his claim to have a billion dollars in his pocket doesn't automatically mean that I believe he has some other amount, or no money, in his pockets. Those are separate claims, and I'd need separate evidence to support them before I believe them.

What your "common logic" has done in the second instance is present another logical fallacy: the Middle Ground fallacy. When presented with two extreme position, you assume that the position exactly in the middle of the two is the correct one. If Max says "2+2=4" and Jim says "2+2=6," that doesn't mean that the correct answer is "2+2=5," nor does it mean that "I don't know" is a reasonable position, as you seem to think. No, the reasonable position is to accept the claim with the most evidence to support it. If both claims are equally well-supported by the evidence, then we reject the less parsimonious one--the one which has the most unknowns in it.

That concludes Epistemology 101. Where do we go from here?

Not me, not you, not anyone on this board knows. However if you claim otherwise I am certainly open for the discussion of your thought process.
Depends on what you mean by knowledge. If you mean "absolute 100% certainty," then you're right. No one knows whether or not gods exist. In fact, no one knows anything, because absolute 100% certainty is an unattainable ideal.

But there are more useful, realistic definitions of "knowledge." In science, we recognize that all knowledge is conditional, it's an approximation. We refine our knowledge through repeated observation; as we make more observations, we collect more data, which may change our knowledge and certainly changes how accurate that knowledge is at representing reality. It's not 100% and it never will be, but I still feel comfortable saying "I know the world is round," because all the observations for the last several thousand years support that conclusion. If someday observations come out that contradict this, I'll consider changing my position.

The people on your board can fight, call names and pretend they are smarter than any opposition.
Hello Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. I believe you'll find you have quite a bit in common.
At what point did clean vigorous debate turn into common gutter sniping?
I think you'll find two things here (and in the majority of the skeptical blogosphere): people are generally given the benefit of the doubt initially, and people receive the respect they earn. Some of us have different threshholds for when we stop giving people the benefit of the doubt; I know I tend to play nice longer than Jimmy_Blue does, and Bronze Dog usually tends to play nice longer than I do. But if you come here cordially, you'll (generally) be received cordially.

That treatment isn't a given, however. I don't speak for everyone here, but in my mind, respect is earned. If you make a genuine effort to read what has been posted, respond to questions asked of you, and learn from your mistakes, then you're going to be treated with a lot more respect than the person who comes in with nothing but vitriol and accusations, who refuses to pay any attention to questions or what others write, and who makes no effort to learn. Responses to such a person may degenerate into ridicule and anger pretty quickly, but it needn't be that way. I'm pretty sure there's a rule about this sort of thing. I seem to recall that it's named after a precious metal. The Silver Guideline? The Platinum Principle? I can't quite recall...

Do you think you influence anyone but the choir?
Absolutely. We may not speak to you, but debates are rarely for the people involved. Speaking as a former woo and former Christian, I can say with some certainty that the skeptical websites do help people think more critically. And I think you'll find that (especially the bigger sites and books) receive conversion stories and letters of thanks and praise for helping them find a more reasonable lifestyle.
The choir is an easy mark. Why don't you step up your game and use your evident pent up anger, aggravation and frustration to do something constructive in the world? Maybe that is to much of a challenge for ya all?
Define "constructive." See, I think "providing an open resource debunking harmful woo" is a constructive process. I think "fighting (as much as we can) against charlatans, quacks, and dogmatic religionists" is a constructive enterprise. I think "teaching people how to use logic and think critically and scientifically" is incredibly constructive. So, what's your definition of the term?
How different from Hitler's basic philosophy are some of you who feel its your duty to save the world from the woos, christians or whoever?
Um...our philosophy is dialogue and education, Hitler's was extermination. That's a pretty big difference. Plus, we can actually demonstrate, with facts and figures, that the people we think are harmful actually are.
98% of the world has little or no respect for scientific mumbo jumbo especially when it comes from people with only a couple of college courses under their belt.
Wow, more unsubstantiated assumptions, along with an argumentum ad populum. Just because you (and your computer, your electricity, and your Internet access) don't appreciate science doesn't mean that 98% of the world is on your side. And even if it was, popularity doesn't make them right. You really ought to learn these logical fallacies, Valkyries.
Are there any legitimately credentialed scientists commenting regularly here? I find it hard to believe a legitimate scientist would take part in any of the degraded debate I have so far seen here.
Argumentum ad Ignorantiam searching for an appeal to authority. Define "legitimately credentialed," and then explain why it would matter. Facts don't depend on whether or not someone has extra letters after your name.
Those of you that behave like jerks? Keep your chins up because one day you will naturally and scientifically mature out of your jerkdom state.
Scientifically mature? What does that even mean?

Side note: I do believe that was the pot telling the kettle to stop being black.

Skemono:

And therefore the only rational conclusion is to assume that god doesn't exist, for whatever definition of god you're using.

Thanks, Skemono, though I wish you'd gone into just a little more detail.

Pay attention, Valkyries: this will be on the quiz.

One of the most important ideas in science is the Null Hypothesis. A positive hypothesis goes something like this: "Drug X will perform better than the placebo at treating ailment Y." The complementary Null Hypothesis would be "Drug X will not perform better than the placebo," or even more strictly, "Drug X will have no effect on ailment Y." We then design an experiment that would allow us to reject the Null Hypothesis--in this case, taking a large sample of patients with ailment Y, giving half of them Drug X and half of them a placebo. If Drug X does not outperform the placebo, then we retain the Null Hypothesis, because the results support it. If Drug X performs better than the placebo, we reject the Null Hypothesis, and then we set about testing the positive hypothesis.

This is what it boils down to: science is about taking your current hypothesis and trying to falsify it--that is, to show that it is false. You start with the Null Hypothesis, then (hopefully) reject that and move to the positive Hypothesis. Then, you do everything you can to try to falsify the positive hypothesis; if it survives all your attempts to show that it's wrong, then you end up with a very strong, very well-supported hypothesis, which you can tentatively accept. If it fails your tests, then you reject that hypothesis and go back to the beginning of the process.

Another principle that's important to understand here is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The more unbelievable or radical a hypothesis is, the more evidence you'll require to overturn the Null Hypothesis. So, if a hypothesis contradicts prior observations or other well-supported theories and laws, it better have some really convincing support.

Going back to our earlier example, if my friend says to me "I have five dollars in my pocket," I wouldn't require much evidence to believe him. In fact, I might believe him on his word, because who would lie about such a mundane thing? Five dollars is a fairly normal amount to have in your pocket; in my experience, I've known many people to have five dollars in their pocket, so I know it's both possible and common.

When my friend says "I have a billion dollars in my pocket," that's a far more extraordinary claim, so I would require more evidence to believe it. I start by accepting the Null Hypothesis--"my friend does not have a billion dollars in his pocket." Already that Null Hypothesis is supported by my observations--I have never known anyone to carry around a billion dollars in their pocket, though I have known people to carry many other denominations--and known physical laws--how would you fit a billion dollars into your pocket? Even at the highest denomination bill ever printed in U.S. currency, you'd have to have over a thousand of them in one pocket! So I'd require a significant amount of evidence to overturn that fairly-well-supported Null Hypothesis.

No, I don't know with 100% certainty whether or not my friend has a billion dollars in his pocket. I don't necessarily believe that he has zero dollars, or five dollars, or some other amount either; I wouldn't have any evidence for that. But I don't believe that he has a billion dollars in his pocket, whatever else he might have in there, and I won't believe until I see convincing evidence to support that claim. I am an a-billion dollars-ist.

Which brings us right back 'round to the God question: I don't know with 100% certainty that a God does not exist, but then again I don't know anything to that degree of certainty, nor do I claim to. I don't necessarily believe that there is no God; that claim would require further evidence. But I do not believe that there is a God, and I will not believe until I see convincing evidence to support that claim. I am an atheist.

We'll return to some of that momentarily.

Michael:

Clearly the story of the 'God' character as described in the Bible is in conflict with the history of this planet and the universe as it can be deduced from the available evidence.

Excellent point, Michael. Here, we venture a little beyond atheism, recalling what we know about realistic knowledge (it is tentative, it may change based on observations) and the Null Hypothesis (if we find significant evidence, we reject it; more extraordinary claims require more extraordinary amounts of evidence in order for us to reject the Null Hypothesis).

I feel comfortable saying "I know that the Earth revolves around the sun." This theory is so well-supported and so consistent with the evidence that the chances of it being overturned are slim. It would require some incredibly convincing evidence to cause us to reject the theory of heliocentrism.

Similarly, I feel comfortable saying "I know there's no such thing as Leprechauns." The Null Hypothesis with regard to Leprechauns (i.e., "Leprechauns do not exist") is very well supported by the fact that centuries of earnest searching have not turned up any Leprechaun remains, or even significant circumstantial evidence regarding Leprechauns.

The Null Hypothesis is further supported because the Leprechaun hypothesis contradicts other observations about the universe: for instance, rainbows do not have ends, they aren't even physical objects, just incidences of light refraction. If you approach one, it moves farther away; if you observe one from above, you see that it is a complete circle with no end for a Leprechaun to hide out at. Besides that, depending on which accounts you believe, the Leprechaun hypothesis would require us to re-evaluate what we know about humanoid anatomy (which would be unlikely to function correctly at some of the purported sizes of Leprechauns) and how the universe operates (i.e., according to consistent physical laws, not magic).
The Leprechaun hypothesis flies in the face of many well-established theories and oft-repeated observations, meaning it would require very significant evidence for us to reject the Null Hypothesis of Leprechauns. Naturally, if I came across a tiny green-clad man guarding a pot of gold in the streets of Dublin, I'd re-evaluate my position. But to about the same degree that I know that the Earth revolves around the sun, I know that there's no such thing as Leprechauns.

So it is with the God hypothesis. The Null Hypothesis with regard to the God of the Bible is supported by the lack of any evidence of his existence, despite millennia of fervent searching, despite thousands of experiments designed to falsify the Null Hypothesis. Furthermore, the Jehovah Hypothesis flies in the face of many well-established theories and consistent observations, chief among them the observation that the universe seems to function according to consistent laws and predictable mechanisms, not the whims of a capricious deity. I feel that the Null Hypothesis with regard to the God of the Bible is very well-supported, and it would require some pretty extraordinary evidence to cause a rejection of that Null Hypothesis. If I encountered such evidence, I'd certainly alter my position, but until that point I feel as secure in saying "I know that Jehovah doesn't exist" as I do saying "I know that Leprechauns don't exist."

Now, and this is important, that's not atheism. It's a subset of atheism, certainly, but atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God. If someone asks "do you believe in God," and you say anything but "yes," you're an atheist. What I outlined above--saying "I know there's no Jehovah"--has a variety of labels, but Gnostic Atheism seems to be the most descriptive. On the other hand, the slightly different "I believe there's no Jehovah" might be termed "strong atheism" or "antitheism."

I suppose this would be a good time to point out some definitions:
Theism and Atheism deal with what you believe.
Gnosticism and Agnosticism deal with what you know (or, more precisely, what you claim to know).
Theism and Atheism refer to the possible positions regarding the question "do you believe a God exists." If you believe--that is, if you have an active, positive belief in the existence of a god or gods--then you are a theist. Anything that falls short of active positive belief is atheism.

Some folks mistakenly think that Agnosticism is some middle ground between theism and atheism, when it's really a position on an entirely different question. If I ask you "do you believe in a god?" and you say "I don't know," you're not answering the question. Either you're saying "I don't know if there's a god," which doesn't address what I asked (which was whether or not you believe, not whether or not you know), or you're saying that you don't know whether or not you believe, which makes you an atheist, because you lack (a-) active belief in a god (-theism).

Phew!

Valkyries:

For a moment I was afraid I was going to be arguing against black+black=red with a pile of rocks.

So I ended up with 2 of you that can communicate without fear of crashing like humpty dumpty from a feigned lofty perch.
Nice going you two!

Why? The cream always rises to the top while the muck sinks with the stone.

The start of that evolution was born in the same mindset as some of those posting here.
That base is low self esteem manifesting in arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others.

Why do you muck it all up by lowering yourself into a crap pit?


Valkyries, you say things like this, yet you claim some kind of moral high ground with regard to "being a jerk" and the level of discourse. Here's the bottom line: you've been saying this sort of thing all along, you've behaved like a prick, and you've been treated as such. If you wanted respect, you'd treat others with some. Instead, you toss out these passive aggressive insults and judgments, then accuse others of being arrogant and elitist. It's easy to see nothing but dung when you have your head up your ass.

I highly doubt gassing Jews was the basic start-up Hitler plan. Like most things it was probably an evolution. The start of that evolution was born in the same mindset as some of those posting here. That base is low self esteem manifesting in arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others.
You clearly have no idea about the history leading up to the Holocaust, the reasons for the Germans' persecution of the Jews, or the reasons that most of Germany went along with it. The short version: the depression that followed WWI left the Germans looking for a scapegoat. Anti-semitism was the rule rather than the exception in most Christian countries at the time, which made the large Jewish populations in Germany and surrounding areas--particularly with Christian prejudices toward Jews' supposed blood magic, usury, and persecution of Christ--an easy target. Hitler rose to power by simultaneously making a scapegoat out of the Jews and puffing up German pride in their supposed Aryan ancestry--the Germans were a superior people, it's just that the Jews (and gypsies, and homosexuals, and trade unionists) were keeping them down. The solution? Cut away the cancer and the nation would be well again.

Did he start with ideas of gas chambers and furnaces? Probably not. But if you take a look at Mein Kampf, you'll see that he certainly started with blaming the Jews for all of Germany's problems.

As far as "arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others," I'm not sure where you're getting that on these boards. I suppose if it's a fault to not tolerate evil people, then we're guilty. I suppose if it's dangerous to fear a nation ruled by dogma and superstition, then we're guilty. As far as superiority, I keep hearing that from people who come here, but I can't say that I feel superior to much of anyone. Ignorance isn't a fault; you can't be blamed for not knowing something, and we're all ignorant of a great many things. We work to correct each other's ignorances. Willful ignorance, well, that's something else entirely.

That being said here is my un-scientific common logic example: 1. "I am intentionally offensive when dealing with liars and nitwits." John Best (fence side 1) 2. "Go crawl back under whatever rock you slithered out from under and come back when you are not an idiot." Jimmy_Blue (fence side 2) 3. Makes you equal
Ah, yes, because two quotations devoid of context obviously demonstrate that the two people saying them are exactly the same.

Or, perhaps there's a difference, in that John Best was accusing people of being liars, though he could provide no evidence to support that, and nitwits, though he made no effort to learn or read what others wrote to him, while Jimmy_Blue wrote that after two very long comment threads where he (and others) tried to argue constructively with Best, to no avail, while Best threw out nothing but ad hominem and willful ignorance.

You might want to upgrade your un-scientific common logic to a more workable model.

The moon is made of green cheese. 1. yes 2. no 3. maybe
No, because the evidence (observations, calculations of density, mass, and gravity, observations, the testimony of people who walked on the surface and collected artifacts, and observations) contradicts the hypothesis that the moon is made of green cheese. Thus, I reject that hypothesis, and I accept the well-supported hypothesis that the moon is made of rock and dust.

Do I know this 100%? No. But I don't claim to know anything 100%. I know that the moon is not made of green cheese with about as much certainty as I can know anything. If I came across significant evidence that supported the green cheese hypothesis, I'd re-evaluate my position, but it'd have to be pretty strong evidence to overcome the weight of the evidence in favor of the rock and dust hypothesis.

Just so that I feel I've done something tonight besides rant, I'm going to do the one thing Tom forgot (or just didn't think was important):

If both claims are equally well-supported by the evidence, then we reject the less parsimonious one--the one which has the most unknowns in it.

This is called Occam's Razor.

Aside from that, Tom says everything I wish I thought of saying first.

Tom Foss

I love your posts. They have a great energy and there is no doubt you fully believe everything you write. I have to respect you for that at least.

"It's a good thing you're not afraid to look silly."

Yes it is. I consider it a plus in life. It has taken me a long way. Can you say the same for yourself?

"That's the problem with "common logic"--it's prone to common logical fallacies."

I can see this "logical fallacies" stuff is apparently important to you but for me its just time consuming and boring.
It reminds me of when someone talked me into reading "A course in miracles". It took 1000 pages and 365 days and equated to "See Spot run."
That was also boring.

"That concludes Epistemology 101."

Great! Thank you! You are a very good teacher. I could come to the same conclusion with what I call "common logic" does that mean I am working with "logical fallacies" and do not know it?

Here is where we part company on your billion dollar friend example.

If my friend said he had a billion dollars in his pocket. It would not occur to me to say prove it. I would be absolutely thrilled for him. Why would or should I care if he did not? Maybe I don't have an inquiring mind. Maybe I believe he would not lie.

If I was your billion dollar friend and you said prove it. My response would be worse than take a hike. It would not matter if you believed me or not. Because your belief would not alter the reality of my billion one way or another.

Where does that scenario fit into the "logical fallacies" scheme of things?

"Where do we go from here?"

I don't know anywhere except back there?

"If you mean "absolute 100% certainty," then you're right. No one knows whether or not gods exist."

Thank you! Does anyone know with any certainty? Why waste time arguing the point? Do YOU actually care if he does or does not!

"In fact, no one knows anything, because absolute 100% certainty is an unattainable ideal. "

I know I am sitting here at my laptop typing a response to your comments with absolute 100% certainty.
I know with absolute 100% certainty that on my dining room table I have a new motherboard, processor and video card ready for me to build a new computer. Does that blow the "unattainable ideal theory"?

"I don't speak for everyone here, but in my mind, respect is earned."

Do you think any of you deserve respect when you call others idiots and morons?
I fail to understand why any of you (as smart as you appear to be) find it necessary to be pushed over that edge.
Why is it so important for you to be right or in control?
By the way you will NEVER find a post (and I have thousands) where I have called anyone a moron or idiot.
Jerk? Just a behavioral observation that unfortunately none of you can deny since it is pretty much black and white.
If you equate that with the bad behavior I have pointed out in this group know I understand it is your minority opinion.
What would you call the antics pulled here?
A+ intelligence drops to D- with bad behavior in my book.
If you choose to cloud your sometimes brilliant posts with bad behavior its your image that suffers not mine. It just might behoove you to pay attention to what you are being told.

"And I think you'll find that (especially the bigger sites and books) receive conversion stories and letters of thanks and praise for helping them find a more reasonable lifestyle."

I am sure they do. On the other hand the "woo sites" and "Christian sites" could trot out conversions by the truckload too. Is that your motivation? Converting others to Atheist?

"Define "constructive." See, I think "providing an open resource debunking harmful woo" is a constructive process. I think "fighting (as much as we can) against charlatans, quacks, and dogmatic religionists" is a constructive enterprise. I think "teaching people how to use logic and think critically and scientifically" is incredibly constructive. So, what's your definition of the term?"

Giving whatever aid and encouragement I can to others so they can achieve their goals in life. Fortunately I have the means in life to do that.
Why do you think you can discern what "harmful woo" is for another?
I would also consider educating against charlatans, quacks, and dogmatic religionists is a constructive enterprise. I also think teaching people how to use logic and think critically is incredibly constructive. Science? It's still in its babyhood and those (like you) who swallow it hook line and sinker appear to be far to restricted for my taste. But that is simply my opinion.

"Plus, we can actually demonstrate, with facts and figures, that the people we think are harmful actually are."

"Christianity" and "wooism" are harmful? Is that your premise? If so how so?

"Define "legitimately credentialed," and then explain why it would matter. Facts don't depend on whether or not someone has extra letters after your name."

It matters to me because the scientist in the trenches doing the research for your facts probably is not motivated to call those who do not buy into his spiel an idiot or a moron. Plus anytime I can get an expert to spout facts to me I consider that more valid than some kid on a blog who may be simply flapping his jaw. And yes if the subject is important I will get the information from the experts myself and make my own judgment after that. I have never needed anyone to hold my hand and help make my decisions.

"I highly doubt gassing Jews was the basic start-up Hitler plan. Like most things it was probably an evolution."

"You clearly have no idea about the history leading up to the Holocaust,"
"Did he start with ideas of gas chambers and furnaces? Probably not."

So now I have a clearer idea about the history leading up to the Holocaust than you first thought?
By the way I was around during the Holocaust were you? And it's not prick its prickette

"Or, perhaps there's a difference, in that John Best was accusing people of being liars, though he could provide no evidence to support that, and nitwits, though he made no effort to learn or read what others wrote to him, while Jimmy_Blue wrote that after two very long comment threads where he (and others) tried to argue constructively with Best, to no avail, while Best threw out nothing but ad hominem and willful ignorance. "

No Jimmy_Blue wrote that to a totally different person. Not Best. So your excuse on his behalf does not wash.
The point is both sides do not know how to communicate in a civil manner. One bad behavior does not justify another. The next point is: If you do not have the discipline to keep your cool then you have no business in a debate period.

King of Ferrets:

"An argument stands independent of those presenting it. If Hitler said the sky was blue and your father said that the sky was dark brown, who would you believe? There's also the fact that you could be said to be doing the same thing they do, which would also make you equal, making your holier-than-thou stance hypocritical."

This is a trick question right? Neither I would look in the sky and tell them it was a pink sunset and I would be right.
Sorry somehow I missed your point. Did you have one?
I could be? Either I am or not which is it? I will keep in mind this is your somewhat uncertain opinion.

Dave:

Thank you again for your well thought out response.
I agree.
I would also assume behavior face to face is much different. Those taking the aggressive posture in person would likely find teeth flying out their ass. So why better behaved in person? Fear of spending the rest of their lives wearing dentures perhaps?

A couple things for this guy:

Science? It's still in its babyhood and those (like you) who swallow it hook line and sinker appear to be far to restricted for my taste. But that is simply my opinion.

Oh, please, please show us your wonderful method that's better than science! You'll be hailed as the greatest mind of the 21st century! Science is the best method we have of evaluating things, so if you think you can do better, go out and prove it, and if you can't then stop saying that trusting science is bad. Oh, and just so you know, the scientific method has been around for a while, so it's not really in its infancy. It's been around longer than your grandfather, even if he does seem like he's been around forever.
This is a trick question right? Neither I would look in the sky and tell them it was a pink sunset and I would be right.
Sorry somehow I missed your point. Did you have one?
I could be? Either I am or not which is it? I will keep in mind this is your somewhat uncertain opinion.
Please, please tell me you're joking so that I can laugh. PLEASE! Let's assume it's happening at noon, so the sky is, in fact, blue. The point is that even people who are "jerks" aren't wrong by default and people who you consider to be morally upright aren't always right. Let's try giving another example, if Hitler loved puppies, would that make loving puppies a bad thing?

"The fact I was kinda of annoyed when I wrote that post might have obscured the fact that I never said I'm going to be going around and forcing conversions at gunpoint. I'm going to try to get people to listen to reason and realize that what they hold near and dear is wrong."

1. It might be better to wait until your annoyance passes before you write your posts. Anger tends to over ride common sense.
2. Trying to get them to listen is a better objective.
3. You might want to consider what they "hold near and dear is wrong" is simply your opinion. Your right may not be their right.

"Urge to kill Valkyries for marginalizing me because of my age rising"

You need to gain some dicipline in your life. Urge to kill Valkyries for marginalizing me because of my age rising?

If that is what you got from my post I am more than sorry. It was not my intent. There is no doubt in my mind you are way smarter than I am. 15 years ago I met a 10 year old that was more computer literate than I would be if I lived to be 150. But you know what? We had something to learn from one another. I considered him my very smart little friend.

Let me pass on something I learned from a very wise man when I was 30.
Never fall sway to what others say about you. The outside people world will NEVER define you unless you allow them to do so. Just because someone calls you a widget does not in reality make you one. Now what I do have over you is more than a half century of hardened experience. You think that might count for something?

"No, it's not. Hating isn't always bad."

You might want to do some research on that. Hate is a waste of your time and energy and it only hurts you.

In reality religion is not responsible for all the ills in the world.
And you are indeed right reach for the sun and if you miss you might hit the moon.

1. It might be better to wait until your annoyance passes before you write your posts. Anger tends to over ride common sense. 2. Trying to get them to listen is a better objective. 3. You might want to consider what they "hold near and dear is wrong" is simply your opinion. Your right may not be their right.
1. I'm pretty down to earth in most situations anyway, and it just affected the phrasing a little. Just this once, the little change made a large difference. 2. I just said that was what I was going to do! 3. My opinion is more likely to be true based on current evidence. Not all opinions are equal.
You need to gain some dicipline in your life. Urge to kill Valkyries for marginalizing me because of my age rising?
The "urge to kill rising" thing is a semi-obscure reference.
f that is what you got from my post I am more than sorry. It was not my intent. There is no doubt in my mind you are way smarter than I am. 15 years ago I met a 10 year old that was more computer literate than I would be if I lived to be 150. But you know what? We had something to learn from one another. I considered him my very smart little friend.
It seemed like a rather accurate impression of what you said to me. Calling someone "little one" isn't exactly the best way to give them the impression that you respect them.
Never fall sway to what others say about you. The outside people world will NEVER define you unless you allow them to do so. Just because someone calls you a widget does not in reality make you one. Now what I do have over you is more than a half century of hardened experience. You think that might count for something?
What, you think I don't know that? What bothered me was that you didn't appear to respect me and just seemed to be marginalizing me due the the fact that I was young. Young people have opinions, they can be well informed, and I have arguments to support my position.
You might want to do some research on that. Hate is a waste of your time and energy and it only hurts you.
I haven't noticed hating religion wasting any energy or time. I like to call it channeling my hate into a constructive form, said constructive form being debunking religion, woo, etc.
In reality religion is not responsible for all the ills in the world.
And you think I don't know that? That makes me think that you actually do believe that I'm unintelligent.

Valkyries:

If you'll excuse me I'll start with one of your last comments and go back to the earlier ones:

No Jimmy_Blue wrote that to a totally different person. Not Best.

You're wrong.

Go back and read the post I made and check who I was, quite obviously, responding to. I'll give you a clue, the post starts with 'Bestie'

Further to that, go and read some of the threads that Best made his appearances on, then explain to me why my calling him an idiot is unjustified. It was after all 'Just a behavioral observation'.

Now back to the start:

So I ended up with 2 of you that can communicate without fear of crashing like humpty dumpty from a feigned lofty perch.

Shock horror, more gutter sniping. I didn't expect that from you at all.

I'll tell you something that appears to have escaped you over your long life Valkyries. It doesn't matter if you have convinced yourself you are Oscar Wilde when you develop and deliver an insult, it is still an insult. And you are no Oscar Wilde.

Why? The cream always rises to the top while the muck sinks with the stone.

I've heard a different version of this that we could apply to your comments. Shit sometimes floats. It's still shit though.

I highly doubt gassing Jews was the basic start-up Hitler plan. Like most things it was probably an evolution. The start of that evolution was born in the same mindset as some of those posting here.
That base is low self esteem manifesting in arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others.

You're right (there's a first time for everything). Gassing the Jews was not in the basic plan. It was introduced when using bullets was deemed to be too wasteful; and those poor Wehrmacht and SS soldiers, well bless their sensitive hearts; they couldn't take shooting women and babies in the back of the head anymore.

Just like athiests though, right?

Could you possibly be any more insensitive, overwrought, ignorant, ridiculous, patronising and wrong? I'm quite frankly flabbergasted that anyone can try and argue that the attempted extermination of an entire race comes from the same mindset as people who have no belief in God and who promote the power of critical thinking.

It was a lack of critical thinking that led to the Holocaust. You know, the kind of lack of critical thought that could allow someone to believe their friend had $1 billion in their pocket just because they said so. That sounds familiar for some reason...

That being said here is my un-scientific common logic example:
1. "I am intentionally offensive when dealing with liars and nitwits." John Best (fence side 1)
2. "Go crawl back under whatever rock you slithered out from under and come back when you are not an idiot." Jimmy_Blue (fence side 2)
3. Makes you equal

Really? Go and read Best's comments elsewhere. I was merely making a behavioral observation. He is an idiot.

Its clear neither of you has gained the ability to communicate well with others in a pinch without your brains shifting to a minus gear or shutting down entirely.

I'm so glad that you in your aged and wise nobility have managed to remain above the level of gutter sniping. Otherwise, you might sound like a hypocrite.

You know what Jimmy_Blue? You have made some pretty good arguments on certain things. Why do you muck it all up by lowering yourself into a crap pit?

Well obviously your opinion counts for so much because you have clearly managed to remain above all of that sort of thing.

I call it like I see it. If you don't like it, oh well.

Now, let's point something out right here. I made many points in counter to you, you have attempted to respond to none and instead have made repeated ad hominem attacks. Indeed, your very first post in response to me on the God Fails thread accused me of using logic that was ridiculously stupid (in other words you started the mud slinging) and you have given no justification for why. But, you insist on trying to claim some sort of moral high ground in this debate. You are in short, nothing but a patronising hypocrite who has mistaken age for maturity and opinion for wisdom.

Neither can be proved or disproved by either sided.

And so the Null hypothesis comes into play. By the way, you never did give your answer to the Blancmange theory of the universe.

The real point is does any of this matter enough to resort to name calling of those who have a different perspective or belief system?

Yes. If you have an idiotic belief, I'll call you an idiot. Why must we play nice just because it is someones belief? People believe Jews are inferior, should I politely discourse with them, or call them racist morons? It is just a behavioral observation after all.

Woo and religion have killed people, have caused the oppression of millions, the abuse of millions. It is absolutely time to start calling it and its believers and promoters for what they are.

What gap in your character makes that behavior necessary for YOU?

What gap in your character makes you sit meekly by?

The moon is made of green cheese.
1. yes
2. no
3. maybe

I asked you first:

The universe is run by a giant Octopus flavoured blancmange:
1. Yes
2. No
3. Maybe

Post your answer and your logic.

Thank you Skeptico I did not think about Spring Break

I think you may have missed his point entirely.

Tom:
I know I tend to play nice longer than Jimmy_Blue does, and Bronze Dog usually tends to play nice longer than I do.

Pretty good assessment of our varying approaches I think. Never did have much patience for the stupid, ignorant and proud of it brigade.

Back to Valkyries:

I have to respect you for that at least.

Do they teach you how to be this patronising or do you have to practise?

I can see this "logical fallacies" stuff is apparently important to you but for me its just time consuming and boring.
It reminds me of when someone talked me into reading "A course in miracles". It took 1000 pages and 365 days and equated to "See Spot run."
That was also boring.

Quite honestly, words fail me. This amounts to:

I think that considering things rationally is boring and takes to long, so I don't bother to do it

An admission that hardly came as a surprise, but still startling to see someone admit it.

I could come to the same conclusion with what I call "common logic" does that mean I am working with "logical fallacies" and do not know it?

Not working with but using, quite openly and proudly. That is the problem. Using logical fallacies makes your argument invalid at best and just plain wrong at worst.

If my friend said he had a billion dollars in his pocket. It would not occur to me to say prove it. I would be absolutely thrilled for him. Why would or should I care if he did not? Maybe I don't have an inquiring mind. Maybe I believe he would not lie.

Maybe you're exactly the sort of person who would have followed Hitler.

If I was your billion dollar friend and you said prove it. My response would be worse than take a hike. It would not matter if you believed me or not. Because your belief would not alter the reality of my billion one way or another.

Or maybe you're the sort of person who would be Hitler.

I know I am sitting here at my laptop typing a response to your comments with absolute 100% certainty.
I know with absolute 100% certainty that on my dining room table I have a new motherboard, processor and video card ready for me to build a new computer. Does that blow the "unattainable ideal theory"?

Actually, philosphically and logically speaking you fell into your own trap. You don't actually know those things with 100% certainty. But, there is no way to prove or disprove the alternatives.

For instance, you could actually be imagining all of this. Or dreaming it whilst in a coma. Or you could be a brain sitting in a vat in an alien laboratory having all these images, sensations and memories created for you.

So, given your own 'common-logic' argument, you don't know those things you claim you do with the certainty you claim you do. You, by the standard you have established, have to conclude you don't know any of those things you claim you know with 100% certainity. Your conclusion must be that you don't know, because you can't prove or disprove.

How embarrassing for you, a complete contradiction of your own point when you thought you were being clever.

Do you think any of you deserve respect when you call others idiots and morons?

Nope, where did we say that we did? Do you think you deserve respect for being so hypocritical about it?

By the way you will NEVER find a post (and I have thousands) where I have called anyone a moron or idiot.
Jerk? Just a behavioral observation that unfortunately none of you can deny since it is pretty much black and white.

So you don't use those terms, apparently you think you are somehow above insulting because you think you are clever about doing it.

When I call someone a moron or an idiot, it is simply a behavioral observation. They were behaving like an idiot or a moron. You say jerk, I say idiot. There is no difference other than you have convinced yourself there is one so you can post self-righteously smug and condescending posts on the internet.

Once again, you highlight your astonishing hypocrisy.

A+ intelligence drops to D- with bad behavior in my book.

In your opinion. In your opinion calling someone a jerk isn't an insult either. So we know what value to give your opinions.

If you choose to cloud your sometimes brilliant posts with bad behavior its your image that suffers not mine. It just might behoove you to pay attention to what you are being told.

You do understand irony, don't you? What exactly do you think it does to someones image when they say behaving a certain way is bad, then do it, then pretend they haven't, then play semantics to try and pretend they haven't?

Giving whatever aid and encouragement I can to others so they can achieve their goals in life. Fortunately I have the means in life to do that.

That's nice. Me too. Come down off your horse now, it's an awful long way to fall.

Why do you think you can discern what "harmful woo" is for another?

Easy, if it causes harm, its harmful. Wasn't too hard was it?

I also think teaching people how to use logic and think critically is incredibly constructive.

That's interesting, given that you think it is too time consuming and boring. Could you at least try to be consistent?

Science? It's still in its babyhood and those (like you) who swallow it hook line and sinker appear to be far to restricted for my taste. But that is simply my opinion.

Really? Science is over 2000 years old, but it is still in babyhood?

"Christianity" and "wooism" are harmful? Is that your premise? If so how so?

Wooism - encourages people to give up successful conventional medical treatments for alternative ones that don't work. Encourages people to give vast sums of money for treatments or divinations that don't work. Causes emotional and mental trauma when people are alledgedly put in contact with the dead. I could go on.

Christianity - oppression of women for 2000 years. Oppression of Jews. Oppression of homosexuality. The Crusades. Witch hunts. The Inquisition. Suppression of science. Suppression of literature and knowledge. Child abuse. Repression of sexuality. I could go on.

It matters to me because the scientist in the trenches doing the research for your facts probably is not motivated to call those who do not buy into his spiel an idiot or a moron.

You mustn't get out much.

Plus anytime I can get an expert to spout facts to me I consider that more valid than some kid on a blog who may be simply flapping his jaw.

Flapping on about age and using it as an insult, again. At least your consistent in your hypocrisy. Hitler was a lot older than us too.

By the way I was around during the Holocaust were you?

And you think this is important because? Were you involved? Were you there? If so, how come you demonstrate such complete ignorance of it?

Give it up on the age thing, it is showing you for exactly what you are.

If you do not have the discipline to keep your cool then you have no business in a debate period.

How very Hitler like, censoring debate.

Sorry somehow I missed your point.

Yes, that's the problem you see.

If that is what you got from my post I am more than sorry.

Cobblers, you make a point of mentioning age fairly regularly and now you want us to believe it was not done with purpose?

Now what I do have over you is more than a half century of hardened experience. You think that might count for something?

Not in this no.

Allow me to give a quote or two that I think express this sentiment better than my own words might:

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up by itself.

- Tom Wilson

from the earliest times the old have rubbed it into the young that they are wiser than they, and before the young discovered what nonsense this was they were old too, and it profited them to carry on the imposture;

- Somerset Maugham

Hm, sorry, there's a quoted bit in there that didn't format right. Here's what it should look like:

  • How different from Hitler's basic philosophy are some of you
  • sniping wingnuts
  • scientific mumbo jumbo
  • I find it hard to believe a legitimate scientist would take part in any of the degraded debate I have so far seen here.
  • Those of you that behave like jerks? Keep your chins up because one day you will naturally and scientifically mature out of your jerkdom state.
  • arguing against black+black=red with a pile of rocks.
  • So I ended up with 2 of you that can communicate without fear of crashing like humpty dumpty from a feigned lofty perch.
  • the muck
  • arrogance, intolerance, fear and need for power or superiority over others.
  • Why do you muck it all up by lowering yourself into a crap pit?
  • YOUR logic is ridiculously stupid
  • little one

Tom:

Dude, you're awesome. I wish I was half as sensible at fifteen as you are.

Must resist urge to start jumping for joy at being complimented by you...
I've been kind of sitting around for 3 years absorbing the information on logic, debating woos, etc. That's probably the main reason I'm so sensible... so you and the other commenters could be kind of considered my logic teachers, since I only recently (last year or so) started frequenting other skeptical blogs. I have commented a couple other times, you might remember Corey near the start of the thread about God Is Not Great. I started going by a different pseudonym a while back, so I changed it when I started commenting here again.

Well, seeing the continuing behavior of Valkyries, I think I'm fully justified in expressing my anger, finally.

I'm growing more confident that an old thing I used to say isn't an oxymoron: "Militant apathist." She makes fun of us for actually caring and futilely argues for us to stop. We worry about the people harmed by false certainty and uncritical acceptance of anything. We care about whether or not one hypothesis is more likely to be true than another. We care because knowledge is a wonderful thing that lets us make the world a better place. Every argument she makes seems to say that we should just give up and go with the crowd.

Valkyries:

"Maybe I don't have an inquiring mind."

That's striking me as one of your biggest core problems. You rely on arguments from authorities, arguments from popularity (American Idol epistemology. Text in your votes for what 2 + 2 equals.), and other myriad problems. You keep bringing up your age, as if such an elitist sentiment meant anything. When people think something gives them inherent superiority without any effort on their part, they can justify anything to themselves, unable and unwilling to look for faults in themselves.

Science is a self-correcting process. It's designed so that every claim can be potentially proven wrong. It never automatically assumes the positive. False certainty is the bane of self-correction. Science gives us confidence in our conclusions, but if we're wrong about something, there's an escape from our mistakes.

"Speaking as a former woo and former Christian, I can say with some certainty that the skeptical websites do help people think more critically"


Then what the hell is up with that new blog of your?

LOL.

You may not be able to find any thing about Darwin in Mein Kampf, but take a look at the propaganda surrounding the T4 progam. Anyone with any intelligence at all can make the connection between Darwinism and Nazism.

You may not be able to find any thing about Darwin in Mein Kampf, but take a look at the propaganda surrounding the T4 progam.
Indulge an ignorant teenager by explaining what the T4 program is.
Anyone with any intelligence at all can make the connection between Darwinism and Nazism.
Anyone with any intelligence manufacture a connection between Nazism and anything if the audience is stupid enough. In this case, it isn't. Darwin/Nazi comparisons won't work unless you give some ridiculously extraordinary evidence for it. Especially since he repeatedly talked about doing God's Work, and I'm pretty sure the Catholic Church (I assume Hitler was Catholic, since many arguments I've seen about this included something about the Pope approving of Hitler) didn't accept evolution at the time, though I believe they accept it now.

You may not be able to find any thing about Darwin in Mein Kampf, but take a look at the propaganda surrounding the T4 progam.
Indulge an ignorant teenager by explaining what the T4 program is.
Anyone with any intelligence at all can make the connection between Darwinism and Nazism.
Anyone with any intelligence manufacture a connection between Nazism and anything if the audience is stupid enough. In this case, it isn't. Darwin/Nazi comparisons won't work unless you give some ridiculously extraordinary evidence for it. Especially since he repeatedly talked about doing God's Work, and I'm pretty sure the Catholic Church (I assume Hitler was Catholic, since many arguments I've seen about this included something about the Pope approving of Hitler) didn't accept evolution at the time, though I believe they accept it now.

You may not be able to find any thing about Darwin in Mein Kampf, but take a look at the propaganda surrounding the T4 progam.
Indulge an ignorant teenager by explaining what the T4 program is.
Anyone with any intelligence at all can make the connection between Darwinism and Nazism.
Anyone with any intelligence manufacture a connection between Nazism and anything if the audience is stupid enough. In this case, it isn't. Darwin/Nazi comparisons won't work unless you give some ridiculously extraordinary evidence for it. Especially since he repeatedly talked about doing God's Work, and I'm pretty sure the Catholic Church (I assume Hitler was Catholic, since many arguments I've seen about this included something about the Pope approving of Hitler) didn't accept evolution at the time, though I believe they accept it now.

Uhhh... triple post? That's an abnormal error.... never seen above double before.

Danny,

Please read why that nazi-darwin link is soo incredibly ridiculous

Lets blame farmers for Nazi's.

King of Ferrets, I presume that Danny is referring to this--in short, the program of killing people with disabilities. I don't have access to any of "the propaganda surrounding" said program, but I don't see any connection between Charles Darwin and this at all. Blame Pasteur instead.

Skemono:
Thanks for the link. It seems to have a small amount of propaganda on the article, and it uses medical terms. I'm not sure we can blame just Pasteur, we need to blame the guy who discovered cancer too! From the article:

Hitler frequently used medical metaphors for those he sought to remove from the German "racial community" – he referred to the Jews as a bacillus which must be killed or a cancer which must be excised.

The problem is that people equate "Darwinism" with "eugenics," when they are not at all the same thing. Eugenics is based not on Darwinian evolution, but on animal husbandry and the old Christian idea of the "Great Chain of Being," which organized all living (and nonliving) things into a hierarchy. The two ideas behind Darwinian evolution are that nature does the selection, not an intelligent agent (as would happen in breeding), and that there is no specific hierarchy of "superior" and "inferior" animals--instead, animals survive or die off based on how well-adapted they are to their particular environments, and how many offspring they are able to produce.

Eugenics is at the heart of the Nazi mentality, from killing off the "inferior" races to killing off the disabled. Eugenics is fundamentally anti-Darwinian; it promotes artificial selection, it is teleological, and it imposes an entirely arbitrary hierarchy on living creatures. You cannot justify that with Darwinian evolution unless you seriously misunderstand what Darwin said and wrote. You can, however, easily justify it with the basic principles of breeding that had been with humans since the dawn of agriculture, especially when taken with a basic concept of Christian dogma that had persisted since the Middle Ages.

King of Ferrets:

I've been kind of sitting around for 3 years absorbing the information on logic, debating woos, etc. That's probably the main reason I'm so sensible... so you and the other commenters could be kind of considered my logic teachers, since I only recently (last year or so) started frequenting other skeptical blogs.

Well, keep up the good work. And thanks for demonstrating that all this arguing here isn't in vain. It's good to know that we are, in fact, doing something constructive here :).

Well, if we want to really get into eugenics and blame past writers about it, Danny and his ilk should read Plato's Republic.

Plato => Hitler.

You heard it here first folks.

Ancient Greek Philosophy leads to Nazism and so therefore it must be wrong, evil and godless. And it probably makes you a liberal too.

"Many scenes are centered around the Berlin Wall, and Ben Stein being Jewish actually visits many death camps and death showers....."

The Berlin Wall wasn't built until AFTER WW2, by the USSR. The Wall had NOTHING to do with the Holocaust. Read a history book douchebag.

Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for 'exaggerating' or 'going easy' on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of 'agnostism' was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

'Kampf' was a direct translation of 'struggle' from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871.

Catch 22: Haeckel's 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the 'public understanding of science' (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium, although Haeckel's crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS - and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a 'bit'):
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between "white" and "colored races" was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould's scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87). Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation - that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was "experimental" and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970's and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the 'Up' of the ancient city from Plinius' Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

Hitler's formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the "Nordics", a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel's position on the 'Judenfrage' was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

In 1917 the immigration of "defective" groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census.
Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the "nordic" balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the "yellow" group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, 'legally'. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

pauli.ojala@gmail.com
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

Oh, funny, Pauli. Still new to the debate?

Just one sample of your stuff I'll address directly:

Catch 22: Haeckel's 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the 'public understanding of science' (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium, although Haeckel's crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS - and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

1. Very few textbooks have those drawings.
2. The textbooks that do have them are the result of bureaucracy, not science.
3. How many times do we have to urinate on Haeckel's grave?
4. There was this guy who came up with a "Lifecode" book that pulled a Haeckel by casting development to be like the creation of balloon animals and ignoring all the developmental data we have. PZ lambasted it. The IDers cried horror that PZ dared to criticize an author for acting like Haeckel.

Pauli:

What now? Take my advice, lay off the meth.

And try reading a history book.

You want to know what inspired Hitler? Read this.

Or do some research for yourself, here's your research task:

See how many times Hitler mentioned (in speech or writing) evolution, Darwin, natural selection, biology or Haeckel as his inspirations, then compare this with how many times Hitler mentioned God, Jesus, Martin Luther, Catholicism, Protestantism, and religion as his inspirations.

Let us know when your done.

Why do wackadoos like you even post on blogs like this one. Its readers and commentor are made up of people who check facts and dont take things as true just because you said it

For example:

It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871.

Really? thats interesting because that book came out in 1871, while Haeckel didn't publish his drawings until 1874. Further here is a copy of the preface to Decent of man...do you see Haeckel's name anywhere?

Please find a modern biology textbook that still shows Haeckels drawings (as information and not as something like "here's what we used to think") and link it here. If you do not do that, you are simply full of shit.

Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

I don't even understand what you mean. What makes you say they were the most culturally advanced? You are just blathering nonsense.

In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, 'legally'.

is this what you are whining about? Will you whine about it when that research saves your sorry ass when you get Parkinson's or some other disease they are trying to cure with these efforts?

As far as I know they are taking human nuclei and putting them in cell membranes from other animals. You of course realize this will in no way make a half man/half monkey...or did you drop out of biology before you learned that?


All you are whining about is the great thing about science...it changes with new information. It creates new theories that capture previous and new observations. Haekel discovered a lot of things beyond his doomed recap theory. He discovered many species, he predicted the occurance of Java man. So Recap theory is bunk, so is Geocentrism.

Science has moved on and you should too.

Techskeptic:

Pointing out the facts to our Master of Sciing appears to be a pointless exercise, the obvious flaw with his argument was pointed out to him 5 days ago. I'm guessing it won't penetrate the cretinist haze around his brain no matter how many times it is pointed out.

Boy has this nut been busy posting this crap elsewhere.

What a pointless point.

Whichever creationists using it are making basic errors. Firstly they are begging the question.

'Evolution evolved Hitler'. By stating this as a premise, you are also stating it as a belief. Therefore using it as point is invalid.

a) I believe Hitler is evil
b) Evoultion evolved Hitler
c) Evolution is therefore evil
d) Therefore we should not believe in evolution.

The fact is by using as an argument against something means that you are already implicitly stating that it is a fact. If evolution were untrue then your whole point is also false. You'll have to find another explanation for Hitler I'm afraid.

Also, this argument only includes the pieces that are convenient to the user. What about taking it to it's logical conclusion. So Evolution created Hitler. Then what? Then humanity rose against him and has never seen the like of him again. Indeed 'because' of Hitler, Humanity has grown into something it never was before, where persecution on racial and religious grounds is grinding to a halt. Therefore we are evolving into a better form of life.

Please guys, lets not give our kids a 19th century education in a 21st century world.

A mighty and thought-provoking discourse, Tom, and IMHO very reasonable, considering the circumstances.

I have a few basic questions for all people who belong to a defined religion:

What leads you to the inescapable conclusion that [insert name of your creed here] is correct, whereas devout proponents of other religions, who all assert the infallible veracity of their own creeds, are incorrect? Could they possibly be correct and you wrong?

If the existence of a holy book is your main reason for believing, what convinces you that this particular book is correct, whereas all others are incorrect? Have you read any of the other religions' holy books (whose supporters also claim they are divinely inspired) to enable you to make such a determination?

Did your parents take you to other churches when you were a child and leave you free to choose your own religious denomination?

If you have children, do you intend to provide them with the knowledge of a variety of religions and allow them to choose?

If your child were to profess atheism and offer to discuss the matter with you, would you accept their choice gracefully, would you be willing to listen to their reasons, or would you either be angry and/or refuse to listen to them?

(If you are a monotheist), Why is a single deity more reasonable than multiple deities, and at the same time more resonable to the simpler supposition of no deity at all?

Any takers?

I wonder why this should be a difficult thing. It is obvious to any rational person that Hitler worked for the betterment of the faith, he had the support of the Pope, he did what god told him to do. Isn't that what the US now wants, instead of what what the United States was based on... I could understand this shit in Europe, but but not in the US. Sorry, but here we learn from mistakes. I hope.

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