Sunday 9 August 2015

Multiple multi-faith failure — on Facebook

This was recent exchange in the Skepticule Facebook group, begun by Bruce Lynn:

  • There Isnogod Getoverit Isn't that Dark Matter? I can't make it play, BTW
  • Bruce Lynn Works for me. Did you try the link in the title?
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Yeah, it took me to a page I didn't want to go to, not to Dmatter, and then refused to let me back off it - I had to get back here through my history
  • Bruce Lynn Did you click on the word "video"?
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Yeah, that worked, but it took me to a page headed "More Videos by Seven Factor". Hmmmmmm. None of my business, but isn't this a dodgy claim? I would send you here, instead. Seems a little less.... thievy. But maybe you know something I don't?

    Please consider supporting my work through Patreon here: http://www.patreon....
  • Bruce Lynn Hmm...I hadn't really cared. I just shared the thread that I picked up without going back to the source.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit As far as I could see, the link (the one that worked) did not source one to DarkMatter2525, it does seem to lack a citation, which appears a bit rude
  • There Isnogod Getoverit (not you, you understand, your source)
  • There Isnogod Getoverit But Bruce, if DM2525 is new to you, there is hours of stuff there you can indulge in. Go for the Geoffrey videos.
  • David Ward Miller Bruce,
    Enjoyed the parody--the stereotypes were hilarious.

    Seems the main point is that the radical diversity of the many silly religious beliefs of theists "god" is evidence those beliefs are not credible and in fact foolish, while the single well-spoken and clear thinking atheist reveals this to be true of all atheists, and such intelligent articulate solidarity makes atheism credible. That was the funniest part of it to me! Thx! The stereotype of the atheist revealed the common pseudo-intellectualism and smug arrogance as he portrayed gross ignorance of atheists diversity of beliefs and levels of intelligence (5% of self proclaimed atheist say they believe in a deity!, ha!)?
    Again thx!
  • Bruce Lynn David - Ok, fair point that you didn't like the biased "style" of the piece. What did you think of the "content"? Is the caricature of sectarian diversity and conflict flawed? What is the God-friendly explanation for sectarian conflict?
  • David Ward Miller Bruce,
    Sectarian conflict is a sad ugly reality. Atheists seem to think they are holy observers outside looking in. Atheism is a belief system that rejects any deity and strives to eliminate such beliefs--sometimes in benign ways, other times by vary
    ing levels of persecution (old USSR, Moa & China today, denying ID adherents professorships, even Dawkins infamous attacks on religion as child abuse, etc.). Whatever our "beliefs" we tend to desire to "convert" others. I'm with you that we should do so without violence or denial of freedom of speech.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit But this is a point, presumably there a multitude of false religions - most if not all of the caricatures would presumably say this (ie all the others have it wrong). And surely it is not controversial to say that the main vector deciding one's religion is social (usually geographical) context.

    Given that, and given that whatever is true the majority are still wrong, how does a religionist know they were lucky enough to be born into the true faith, even though the odds were against it?

    To me the conflict is a point, but not a very strong one. The diversity, and the knowledge that regardless of diversity, I am still right (I don't care if you include atheotards in that too) and you are still wrong, seems to me to be the stronger argument.
  • Bruce Lynn David -
    Do you feel that the "ugly reality" of sectarian differences undermines the case for a God (ie. why would a powerful God create a situation for un-peace in his name)?
    Do you think that all the sects are "correct" in their own way and are just experiencing different manifestations of the same God?

    Or do you think that some religions *are* more right than others?
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Presumably Bruce, if some are more right, and their scripture demands it, they are right to convert by violence (divine command theory). The others are wrong to defend themselves (it frustrates divine command).
  • Bruce Lynn TIG - You are jumping to conclusions and speculating. The OP is really about the premise that "you can't have multiple *truths*", and if that premise holds, then how do you explain the various "truths" of various religion. Let's not digress into the implications of one assumption or another.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Bruce, sure I was speculating, but my earlier point was that the diversity was more impressive than the violence, but in the light of what you said (ugly reality) it seemed to bring the violence back into the question. If you like, I was correcting myself. Although the diversity and context driven faith was (and is) more impressive to me as an argument, your point directed me back to what that "ugly reality" means `on the ground' - ie regardless of philosophical discussion. I guess both topics are useful. One hits at basis of belief (in diversity), the other relates to consequences of diversity. But its your OP, I'm certainly happier on the nice clean topic of the diversity argument. Its less muddied by historical "but s/he started it"s,
  • There Isnogod Getoverit (or, to put it another way, the only argument against ISIS is that they are following the wrong god, and the wrong orders, the actions themselves would be fine if they were ordered by the right god)
  • Paul S Jenkins Are there any religious sects whose adherents say something like, "We're right, of course. But that sect over there — they're right too. And that sect next to them, they're actually slightly more correct than we are."

    No, I thought not. We can belong
    to particular groups because we share interests, preferences or opinions, but religionists appear to claim exclusive possession of "The Truth". And the operative word here is "exclusive". If one religion is right, then another is perforce wrong. Because if they were both right they wouldn't be different religions, they'd be the same religion. It follows, therefore, that if any religion is right, the majority of humanity is wrong. Consequently for any particular religious individual, probability would suggest they are wrong.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Unless you could think of an emergent attitude, that can arise out of any particular religious context... Now let me see.... emergent out of any religious context..... hmmmm.
  • David Ward Miller Bruce,
    Good questions & commonly posed. Thoughtful deep questions deserve the same response which take much more time! Pardon my quick answers...

    1. No.
    (1) Freedom of choice, (2) fallen human nature bent on selfishness (to different degrees), and (3) spiritual forces determined to deceive--all combine to mar a good creation of humanity (I realize many atheists reject the three premises with the exception of the first being hotly contested).
    All questions like this first one go back to the basic "why would a good-great God allow evil, suffering & deception?" I'll not re-plow that ground here.
    In the NT we have Satan tempting Jesus by quoting-twisting Scripture to promote his evil will. Jesus frequently warned his followers to beware of false prophets & teachers.
    Rather than theistic diversity pointing to atheism, the many religions point to a human seeking a God and are evidence of being created in Gods image and seeking to know that God. This quest, along with with a fallen nature and deceiving spiritual forces has resulted in all sorts of religious beliefs. The predominance of theism over atheism points to the stamp of God on a fallen humanity. When the iron curtain dropped in Russia after 70 years of atheism indoctrination, the country ran toward all sorts of religious beliefs to fill the atheism vacuum.

    2. No.
    The basic law of non-contradiction cannot call two contradictory beliefs true (Xianity's crucified-risen God-man Jesus & Islam's never-crucified good-prophet Jesus).
    Furthermore, all truth is narrow and error is broad. 2+2=4 is the only answer. There are an infinite number of wrong answers. Water is H2O. There are an innumerable number of wrong answers. Oddly, when it comes to religion people say whatever you believe is true if it's true for you. Of course, that makes no sense. Either Jesus was virgin born or not. Fed 5000 with one boy's lunch or not. Crucified or not. Risen from the dead or not.

    3. Yes
    2+2=3.9 is closer to the truth than 2+2=39. In my thinking... belief that a good prophet non-deity Jesus is closer to the truth than denial Jesus ever existed and was a total fabrication. Theism is closer to the truth than atheism. Just as you might say agnosticism is closer to the truth of atheism than theism.

    Many atheists are just as confident they are right and just as dogmatic as many theists. Honest doubters can be found in both camps. Atheism is a belief system that demands a world and world view without any deity. And there is much diversity in the atheist's camp! To say all we atheists agree on is there is no God is as ludicrous as a theist saying all we agree on is there is a "god."

    I see the ugly sectarian violence including all sects, including the "sects" of atheism. The stupid evil violent theists and the intelligent good peaceful atheists is a false, arrogant and self-righteous categorizing.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,

    I cannot resist making a few changes in your post -

    "We can belong to particular groups because we share interests, preferences or opinions, but atheists appear to claim exclusive possession of "The Truth". And the operative word here is "exclusive". If atheism is right, then any other belief is perforce wrong. Because if we were both right we wouldn't be different beliefs, we'd all be the same belief system. It follows, therefore, that if atheism is right, then the vast majority of humanity is wrong. Consequently for any particular atheist individual, probability would suggest they are wrong."
  • Bruce Lynn David - Good, thorough, thoughtful response. Thanks.
  • Bruce Lynn David - The problem is that history has shown that "belief" is more problematic than "non-belief".

    1. Belief is actively used to manipulate believers (eg. Santa Claus).

    2. Belief is falsely impacted by human biases and imperfections.

    Belief and Non-Belief are not on equal planes. Belief demands a higher level of support. Either through logic or evidence. Unfortunately, most Believers use rhetoric, logic and evidence that wouldn't pass a year 7 science/math/critical thinking exam.

    The big problem with Belief is that it rarely exists by itself. If it did, then I think that there would be very few problems in the world with religion. The problems accrue when that "appeal to authority" (ie. have the most correct belief) is used to influence the world we live in by determining laws and rules by which we need to live. Because Belief is not based on logic or analysis, then Belief-based social rules cannot be effectively analysed or debated. Instead the advocates can go "We need to live this way because God said so and I believe in God."

    I really don't care what anyone believes. I ONLY care when those believes start dictating what food I can eat, what days I can work, what clothes I can wear, what words I can say, what words I have to listen to, what healthcare I have access to, etc.
  • Paul S Jenkins David, as an atheist I do not claim exclusive possession of “The Truth”. In fact, at the level of basic atheism I don’t claim anything other than what I perceive. I observe the world, and do not perceive any gods. I accept that there are philosophical arguments for the existence of a god, but philosophical arguments alone are not sufficient to persuade me that a god exists. Philosophers can argue for the existence of all kinds of incompatible things, but until good evidence is produced in favour of one or other of these, I will remain unconvinced.

    I’ve been unconvinced for a long time — many decades — so in the absence of evidence for the existence of a god I have formulated my worldview (incomplete though it necessarily is) on the premise that no gods exist.

    In the context of the OP, atheists are not saying, “You religionists of different faiths are all wrong and we’re right.” Rather, they are pointing out that religionists of different faiths all claim to be right, and want their beliefs to be given greater credence than those of all other religions. But so far no single religion has been shown to be more true than all the others. This, in a nutshell, is why we need secularism.
  • David Ward Miller Bruce,

    There is no such thing as "non-belief." I've heard the attempts of atheists/non-theists to make themselves exempt from belief. I don't buy it. You and I "trust" in something for our values, morals, justice, war, and etc. If I understand you,
    the object of your "trust" is human scientific discoveries and human logic based on that. You are a believer. We all are. You live by your reasonable faith as I do mine. I respect your sincere beliefs. I also see a "religious" passion that actively proselytizes your atheism and claims an actual or at least a practical gnosis that God does not exists and such a belief is wrong and harmful to society causing unnecessary conflict.

    Herein lies the fundamental problem in this discussion. You claim "non-belief" (atheism is a belief) is less problematic than "belief" (religion) in history, when the recent history of the "non-belief" of atheistic communism was one of the bloodiest, cruelest and oppressive in all history. But modern atheists say, "those atheists really had a bad belief, or they mixed in whatever that polluted atheism, but what we have today has no history of dominance and is a pure enlightened 'tolerant' peace-loving modern atheism (that's on a mission to eradicate all religion as it is stupid belief equal to believing in Santa Claus or a spaghetti monster).

    Bruce, I somewhat concur with you, only with a twist ...

    1. Beliefs, whether atheistic or theistic, are actively used to manipulate believers (eg. Santa Claus, Down syndrome babies be aborted, euthanasia, state-controlled children, identity as a smart ape with less hair, burkas, public nudity, etc ).
    2. Beliefs, whether atheistic or theistic, are falsely impacted by human biases and imperfections (Dawkins saying teaching religion is "a form of child abuse" & Down's syndrome pregnancy advice: "Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."). If there is no God, then we are at best left only with human biases and imperfections to set moral boundaries.

    Beliefs are not on equal planes. Some beliefs demand a higher level of support (Buddhism, radical Islam, universalism, militant anti-theistic atheists). Many atheists claim that they have the corner on logic and evidence. Unfortunately, Dawkins and prominent atheists like the four horseman use "rhetoric, logic and evidence that wouldn't pass a year 7 science/math/critical thinking exam."

    The big problem with atheism is that it rarely exists by itself. If it did, then I think that there would be very few problems in the world when it reaches political dominance and intolerance as it did in recent history. The problems accrue when that "appeal to authority" of "science" (ie. we now have the most correct belief until self-correcting science corrects it) is used to influence the world we live in by determining laws and rules by which we need to live. Because atheism attempts to base values on logic and analysis without any moral absolutes then atheist-based social rules cannot be effectively analysed or debated, as there is no absolute reference point. One may argue for the logic of not taking innocent life, but when that life is worth saving or when life becomes life are subjective moving targets. Atheist advocates can go, "We need to live this way because my present ever-changing-could-be-proven-wrong-next-year science said so and I dogmatically believe in my no-god science and trust my oft-errant logic."

    I really DO care what anyone believes, because it effects behavior now and eternal destiny. All beliefs tend to start dictating what food I can eat (science says sugar is unhealthy, so tax sugary drinks or limit their size), what I can smoke (tobacco or pot), what days I can work (remember the disastrous anti-religious secular 10-day week after the French Revolution), what clothes I can wear or not wear (legal nudity in San Francisco) what words I can say, what words I have to listen to (f-bombs, the n-word, "Jesus Christ, what next!"), what healthcare I have access to (or must take to avoid the wrath of the government IRS), if clergy, who I must unite in marriage, how many or what gender of consenting adults I can legally be married to, if I can be a science professor and hold to ID, etc.

    As you may know from my posts, I'm more libertarian in terms of public policy.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit I have a belief, if we are forced into this unnatural way of seeing things. It is a lack of a belief in pixies. That is also an epiphenomenon.
    Oh, and gnomes.
    And fairies.

    And orbital teapots.
    And hamsters living in my television.
    And pink spotted ferrets.
    All beliefs. All epiphenomenal. Which is why nobody really uses that conception of beliefs, because I could add a trillion more to my list, and still nothing will have changed. Its just adding a new imaginary non-belief belief, to my list of non-belief beliefs. Meh.
  • Paul S Jenkins “If there is no God, then we are at best left only with human biases and imperfections to set moral boundaries.”

    So much easier just to look up the answer in a book. As for “best” — I wouldn’t trust moral boundaries set up any other way.

    David, the rest of your rant (I use the word advisedly) is a hoary old mish-mash of straw man, projection and missing-the-point. You do realise you’ve tried your word-substitution game on a passage of Bruce’s that explains precisely why that particular game doesn’t work?
  • Paul S Jenkins 'There is no such thing as "non-belief."'

    David, see this glass jar full of jelly-babies? It contains an even number of jelly-babies. Now, do you have a belief about the number of jelly-babies in the jar? Do you believe my claim that it's an even numb
    er? If not, does that mean you actually believe it's an odd number? Or do you, in fact, have _no belief_ about whether the number is odd or even? What if I hadn't claimed it's an even number — would that affect your belief about whether the number is odd or even?
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Its like Matt is sitting here in the room
  • Paul S Jenkins Listen mate, I've met him. I'm allowed.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit I've had an email from Aron, how does that score?
  • Paul S Jenkins That scores an ace (of clades).
  • David Ward Miller Paul,
    I did not mean to come across as ranting. I'll try to post with more obvious graciousness and calmness!
    1. Rather than delving into your lengthy jelly-babies illustration addressing the issue of "non-belief", would you give to me your concise
    definition of it and any, if any, ways you see it differs from unbelief and disbelief? Thx.
    2. Rather than applying your definition of non-belief to jelly-babies, would you apply it to "god" (to make it more interesting consider applying your definition to life after death, heaven/hell, beauty, love, free will or something other than jelly-babies or pixy dust)? Thx.
    3. I don't like to be categorized, as categories lack specificity in many of the important nuances. So although not definitive as to your personal belief/disbelief/unbelief/non-belief, would you put a number/score where you fit on the Dawkins "spectrum of theistic probability" belief scale of 1 to 7? As you know, Dawkins gave himself a score of 6, not a 7.
    4. Finally, what is your take on Carl Sagan's famous words: “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."?

    Thx again for these helpful clarifications.
  • Bruce Lynn David - To clarify, think we are talking across different "planes" about "belief" and "non-belief". I am talking "specific belief" and you are talking "general belief". In response to your comment about how "we all believe". Yes, at a *general* level we all do. Agreement/concurrence.

    All of my point we were about "specific" belief. "Do believe in God?"
    1. Yes, his name is Jaweh.
    2. Yes, his name is Allah.
    3. Yes, his name is Jesus.
    4. None of the above

    As Sesame Street says, Option #4 is not like the others.

    If I asked you, "What colour is Kim Kardashian's underwear?" (allusion to recent Skepticule podcast, not a personal perverted obsession...promise), you could answer...

    1. Pink
    2. Purple
    3. Red
    4. Don't know (don't care)

    Any answer would be appropriate. My answer would be #4 and I suspect yours would too. And that's fine. But what happens when an MP proposes a law saying "Everyone in the land should wear pink underwear because I believe that is the colour of Kim Kardashian's underwear which we should all follow"? At that point, you would say, "Hey, wait a minute..."
  • There Isnogod Getoverit I want to address one very small point - David asks Paul where he sits on the scale.

    But this is not as simple as asking someone "how many fingers do you have"

    For me, for example, the omnigod is logically impossible, so that's 7, but for a lesser nonbiblical version of the same god, or another god, that's less than 7 (no evidence for supernatural).

    For bigfoot, as an animal, there is less reason to suspect it to be impossible, but yet no real evidence, so maybe a 6. Is there an undiscovered breed of hedghog in he UK? Maybe, say 5. Are there an odd number of jelly babies, in the jar? That's a 4, obviously.

    Paul will have different scores. But the point is, epistemology is a more nuanced affair than asking someone "what do you believe",

    On Sagan and Dawkins. Their opinions are of no importance to me, whatsoever.

    Now, David, I honestly don't know your answer to this. I'm thinking of a hypothesised god. He created the world less than 10,000 years ago. What is your score, that you would give, about that god?
  • Paul S Jenkins David,

    1. Non-belief is the lack of a belief-position on a particular claim. So it's neither "I believe this is false," nor is it "I believe this is true." Rather, it's a statement (if a statement is necessary) of agnosticism about a claim. In other w
    ords, it's a statement about knowledge rather than belief. Regarding "unbelief" and "disbelief" — these tend to be taken as negations of particular belief-positions (YMMV, so I usually try to avoid them if I want to be precise).

    2. Many years ago, when I was trying to find out if there was, as I had repeatedly been told, a god, I had to adopt a position of non-belief, because I neither believed a god existed, nor did I believe no gods existed. If I had simply accepted what I'd been told, I could have adopted a belief in a god until some strong contrary evidence or disproof was presented. But to be consistent I would have had to adopt beliefs in all sorts of weird and wacky stuff until they were shown not to be true, such as alien abduction, chemtrails, ley lines, chakras, fairies, astrology (the list goes on, and on). So I realised that the burden of proof lay on those making the claim ("chemtrails are a government conspiracy", "God exists", etc), and I therefore provisionally adopted a position of non-belief. As the years went by, that position became less and less provisional as the evidence continually failed to be produced.

    3. From the above you can see that I began my investigation into the god-question at 4 on the Dawkins scale. I'm now probably at 6.5 — an agnostic atheist.

    4. Sagan is often misquoted. This comes from "Conversations with Carl Sagan", University Press of Missisipi, 2006 (ISBN 1-57806-736-7). Here's the expanded quote:

    "Those who raise questions about the God hypothesis and the soul hypothesis are by no means all atheist. An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do know to be sure that no such God exist ..."

    Sagan is talking here about a gnostic atheist, and there seem to be far fewer of those than agnostic atheists, or indeed gnostic theists. As for this bit: "By some definitions atheism is very stupid," — he didn't say it.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Paul - its good to hear the full quote, I couldn't be asked to find it for the reason cited above. But had Sagan said "By some definitions atheism is very stupid,", by how may points, would you say, your 6.5 be lowered ?
  • Paul S Jenkins My degree of agnosticism would be unaffected by the veracity or otherwise of a Sagan quote. (As well you know ;-)) So no points.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Those who obey orders, will never understand the importance of that.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,

    Here's my attempt at summarizing your well-written post:

    -Non-belief is a close synonym for agnosticism.
    -Unbelief & disbelieve are more synonymous with strong atheism.
    - Your self-categorized preference is one of a non-believer (later your clarify that to mean very close to a disbeliever).
    - Your personal testimony is moving from a 4 on the Dawkins scale to around a 6.5 today as an "agnostic atheist" (placing yourself a stronger atheist than Dawkins!)
    - there is about the same evidence for a god as the chemtrails scare.
    - Sagan never said the famous quote, "By some definitions atheism is very stupid." It's just another meme (if I may use a term coined by Dawkins).

    My response is ...
    First, one of gratitude. Thax for answering my inquiries with such clarity and brevity. Most helpful on many levels.
    2. Knowing your journey into your present passionate and activist agnostic atheism gives a peek into the person behind the posts.
    3. Naturally you would expect me to bristle at equating the available evidence for God to that of chemtrails, fairies and astrology. But I'm used to such silly shallow mockery (I recently wrote an OP opposing the chemtrails nonsense).
    4. I've heard some others claim Sagan never said the phrase,
    "By some definitions atheism is very stupid."
    Your source is:
    Conversations with Sagan
    Edited by Tom Head
    University Press of Mississippi
    January 5, 2006
    194 pages (paperback)
    My source is:
    "Sagan: A Sagan File"
    by Joel Achenbach
    Skeptic Magazine
    Vol 13, No. 1 (2006)

    Here is where Achenbach, an obvious skeptic and fan of Sagan, culled his quote...

    "WE MOVED OFFICES, and I began to purge files, stuff I don’t need and haven’t looked at in years. Digging deep, I came across a fat file marked “Sagan.” The astronomer died in December 1996. Save? Throw away?...

    ... By most definitions he would be called an atheist, but he hated the term. “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.”

    Your quote ends right at the point Sagan is said to say his disputed words.

    The authenticity of the quote is worth looking into.

    Of course, if authentic, Sagan did not say "atheists are very stupid," only very stupid by some definitions. I think you would agree with that. I certainly could say with conviction, "By some definitions, theism is very stupid!" That was where I was coming from in my question to you.
  • Paul S Jenkins Two points David:

    Dawkins says in The God Delusion that he’s a 6, leaning towards 7 — agnostic about gods as much he’s agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden. I’ve heard him state he’s a 6.9.

    I think arguing about what Sagan did or didn't say isn't likely to get us far. Arguments from authority tend to be used as a substitute for clear evidence. I’m still waiting for clear evidence for the existence of any gods. I’m not proclaiming that there are no gods, I’m just waiting. The time to believe something is true is when there is clear evidence to support it. Until that time I keep by belief in abeyance.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit I don't believe Dawkins said any of this. It seems like him, and it seems reasonable, and its not a very important point - else I would check for myself, and maybe then my tentative acceptance that he may well have said this, with the benefit of evidence, would move its epistemological position form one subset of knowledge to another. ie, with evidence, I may well believe it. But I still don't care.
  • Paul S Jenkins "But I still don't care." I tend to agree; I was merely correcting David's assertion that I'm a stronger atheist than Dawkins. Not that it matters, but it irks that these misapprehensions perpetuate despite previous correction. Such as the idea that "5% of self proclaimed atheist say they believe in a deity!" — this is obviously false, by the simple reason that it cannot logically be true, no matter what an apparently respectable polling organisation is purported to have found. What next? 25% of married men are bachelors?
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Although 5% of atheists *could* be idiots, or ticked off the survey without any interest, understanding, or care - its not a completely impossible situation. Its just that it would not speak in any way to what any % of atheists believe. Obviously, as you say Paul 0% of atheists believe in a deity. But what % of atheists know what atheism is? What % of self-proclaimed "christians" would David see as christians. And as we should all accept, why the hell would any of us care? Nobody votes on reality, reality is just (a) an illusion; (b) reality; (c) what I make up every time I wake up. Delete those that I don't think apply.

    On a side note, I thought I was an agnostic for years, until I discovered the "real" meaning of certain words.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,
    Here is the quote I have from Dawkins:
    "On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn't, I call myself a six. That doesn't mean I'm absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don't."

    Do you have one that differs?
    He certainly acts more like 6.9!
  • Paul S Jenkins It's not that important David. Please accept that if I heard Dawkins say he's a 6.9 and I say I'm 6.5, then I don't think I'm as strong an atheist as Dawkins. But whatever.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,

    Just wanted to be accurate. You corrected my 6.0 scale and if you have no evidence for him saying he is 6.9 that's ok. As I said, he acts more like 6.9.

    Im also interested in verifying the Sagan quote. I shared my source & don't have the book of Sagan quotes you referenced. May pick it up as Sagan publicly trailblazed several areas.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,
    Please accept I heard God say Dawkins was actually a 7. 😇
  • Paul S Jenkins

    I can't seem to find the source of "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who...
  • Paul S Jenkins Not that it makes or will make a blind bit of difference...
  • Paul S Jenkins "Please accept I heard God say Dawkins was actually a 7"

    Tell me about this "God" — which YouTube channel is he on?
  • Paul S Jenkins BTW, that debate at Oxford I linked to isn't worth watching. Kenny (moderating) was dreadful.
  • Paul S Jenkins Also, I can't remember if it was at that debate I heard Dawkins say he was 6.9 — it's just something I remember him saying, so I Googled "richard dawkins i'm a 6.9" and it was the top hit. There are lots of others.
  • Paul S Jenkins Which is all very well, but where does it get us? Nowhere. Dawkins did or didn't say something. Sagan did or didn't say something. So what? It gets us no closer to evidence for deities, nor does it offer any insight into the opposing stance.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,
    I find it interesting to see how prominent atheists (agnostic atheists, non-theists, anti-theists, etc) move along the Dawkins scale as even Dawkins evidently did from 6 to 6.9.
    I've a church staff member raised by a category 7 atheist mother, w
    ho ran away from home at age 16, and is now a passionate Christian. She like other former atheists moved up the scale (down to you, ha).
    I've a another friend who was an outspoken atheists I recently baptized. I'd say he went from 6.99 to an outspoken 1.5.
    It's those people hanging around 4 that intrigue me. Like you. And why people move in each direction.
    We both agree that name dropping does not prove anything.
    We've gone over our differing views on evidence or lack of it in lengthy past posts, perhaps it's time to revisit it on a different OP. I doubt there is much new either of us has not heard from each side.
  • There Isnogod Getoverit Yes. But here is the thing. If Jesus said you should pray in quiet, in a closet, or somewhere, not obnoxiously in front of people. Or if Jesus said you should in fact go around making everyone see how religious you are, with a soppy smile, so they can share the good news. Then it seems that if you take this source as *direction*, it really matters what JC "actually" said (or wanted).

    To be clear, I don't, here, care which, if either is the "correct" direction.

    But if Dawkins, Hitchens, Sagan, or whoever said "Inner peace can be gained by wearing a bucket as a hat", we don't care. We will never care.

    It seems that you do not recognise the irrelevance to us of the "prominence" you refer to. What you may also not be aware of is how many of us are in fact irritated by the prominotards - something you will presumably have discerned by my not-so-subtle attack on atheolebrities, on the last episode of Skepticule. There is no dogma. There is no faith. There is no leadership. There is no authority.

    Skepticism is merely about evidence. Atheism, as a consequence of skepicism (and that is only a subset of atheism) is merely the same thing, in a specific context. For most of what we talk about, god is an irrelevance. We are skeptical of conspiracy theorists, ghosts, magic cures, Loch Ness Monsters, Dragons, homoeopathy, grand just-so explanations, political fantasies, horoscopes, [add 100 other items], palm reading, alien abductions, and gods.
  • David Ward Miller Paul,

    I just heard today of a four-time pro bowl NFL running back going public about his atheism, after being raised in a Muslim home. The article said in part:

    "To promote acceptance of atheism worldwide, he recently joined the group Openly Secular as a spokesperson. Adrian Foster hopes to use his celebrity platform to dispel what he calls 'a lot of ignorance about nonbelief.'"

    Of interest to me is the obvious connection and blending of secularism with atheism and "nonbelief." As it's my conviction the secular drive is an anti-theistic front for humanistic-agnostic-atheistic proselytizing and control of the public political and educational sectors. I've heard your adamant stance against my view of secularism, but I see a much different reality than the PR statements.
  • Paul S Jenkins "Openly Secular" is a campaign of the Richard Dawkins Foundation (which is an atheistic organisation), not the National Secular Society (which isn't). We secular humanists have no control over what celebrities do or say. As has been pointed out many times (including by theists) it's not necessary to be an atheist in order to be a secularist.

    Whatever anyone may think about a so-called secularist-atheist-humanist agenda, this has no bearing on the truth or otherwise of theistic claims. The supernatural claims of religion are untrue.

There may be more by the time you read this. If it offers anything substantial I might post an addendum.

UPDATE 2015-08-11:

Continued here: