Why This Blog Is Different

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 23, 2009 in News

I want this blog to be different, in productive and admirable ways, from most other atheist blogs out there. Here are the ways in which this blog is – or strives to be – different:

  1. Correctable and honest. I do not pretend to have all the answers. Readers regularly correct me, and I post corrections and even apologies (1, 2, 3). I make mistakes and fix them publicly (12, 3). I’ve changed my mind about some major issues since this blog began.
  2. Fair. I don’t think atheists are necessarily better or more rational people than believers. I regularly and harshly attack many popular atheist writers and doctrines.
  3. Broad and deep. I have posts on the Historical Jesus, early Christianity, Creationism, Islam, jokes, atheist films, ethics, logic, arguments, politics, and many more topics. But I also use extended post series to delve deepinto complex topics that are rarely discussed that deeply at a popular level.
  4. Cutting edge. I don’t merely rehash ancient arguments for and against God. I often engage them in their very latest and most compelling forms. For example, I will eventually have an in-depth post series devoted to each chapter of a recent and sophisticated defense of theism, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, published in 2009.
  5. Original. Mostly I just want to clarify and discuss what other people – who are smarter and wiser than I am – have already argued. But I do occasionally write original philosophical research. In particular, no philosopher has attempted anything like my project to create a complete taxonomy and map of all arguments supporting and attacking the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God’s existence.
  6. Constantly updated. In addition to posting regularly, I strive to keep most of my old posts up-to-date. Examples include my post series indexes and my list of 500+ atheism vs. theism debates, which can be updated several times a month. But I also go back and update other posts whenever I notice an error or broken link or something.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Sogn Mill-Scout June 24, 2009 at 11:40 am

I commend you for your dedication, insight, commitment to honesty, and breadth of study (especially impressive for one so young).

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Eric June 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm

As much as I enjoy your posts, I may enjoy the mileu you’ve established, by example, in the comments even more. I would be extremely disappointed to see this wonderful website turn into another ‘Pharyngula’; however, I see no reason to think that it will with you at the helm! Great work!

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Shamlan November 9, 2009 at 7:09 am

Hey man, i really do respect your stance towards finding the truth and love many of your arguements in alot of subjects, but i gotta tell ya… do you really think you have the right to publish things about religions? There are alot of misunderstandings lurking in religions, especially mine, Islam; so i don’t think any post of yours should comment on Islam when you dont know the complete truth about it, let along other people who just experienced it for a little while or judged the religion on its extremists, not the religion’s teachings itself.
There are many extremists in my religion that twist the words of the Holy Quran and say it without knowing the exact meaning of its happening; so please man, don’t publish these posts about other religions when you dont have competence in that area, please… if you want to spread these things about religions, atleast acknowledge they are from extremists.

Also man, there are many things in religion that don’t make sense in the beginning, but they really do at the end.

Thanks for your time

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Sid November 19, 2009 at 8:50 am

A great blog that I come back to regularly to learn. Very nicely done.

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Mark November 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

“I do not pretend to have all the answers”

Yes you do. You say you have evidence God does not exist. In fact you say the evidence is irrefutable. In fact you are so sure there is no God you have renounced your religion and degraded Jesus Christ to a magic sorcerer only a completely demented fool would embrace, which in effect publicly reduces your own family members to such foolery.

I’m not beating up on you. As I said before I respect you for having the guts to stand up for what you believe. I’m simply pointing out a fallacy in your manifesto.

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Mark November 25, 2009 at 5:51 pm

On second thought, if you truly believed you didn’t have all the answers, wouldn’t you be an agnostic?

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hsofia December 18, 2009 at 12:41 am

Mark – where did he say he had evidence that God didn’t exist? I would be very interested in seeing/hearing this evidence of non-existence.

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Janus Grayden December 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

Hsofia, Mark seems to believe the term “atheism” to mean that you say that God definitively doesn’t exist in any form.

Mark, atheism isn’t coming from a place of absolute knowledge that no deity exists in any form. It is the idea that, unless such a being can be shown to exist, we’ll continue our lives as if it didn’t exist.

Consider your position on leprechauns, fairies, and unicorns. You can’t prove that they don’t exist. You could certainly try, but you’ll never do so to an extent that will satisfy someone who truly believes in such things. They could claim that it is impossible for you to have looked absolutely everywhere for them or that they’re very good at hiding. However, you, the skeptic, don’t need absolute proof of their non-existence. You’re not going to chase rainbows as a profession. The believer could claim that you’re crazy for not chasing rainbows. After all, don’t you know that there’s a pot full of gold there? Do you know how much gold is worth these days? You’d be set for life. In the off chance you’re wrong, you’ve only lost a day, so what? The reward outweighs the risk.

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caseywollberg February 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

“do you really think you have the right to publish things about religions?”

Yes, he does, and he’s right. And petulant little cowards like you would do well to figure that out. The more you flail about in resistance to human rights like free speech, the less serious are your claims that your particular version of Islam is not an extremist one. We are going to have to beat this into your thick skulls: you are not going to intimidate us into keeping silent. Your religion is nonsense. If I have to, I’ll say it even as you saw my head off, or drag me into an international court for a “defamation” trial. Both acts are abominable violations of human rights and they won’t be tolerated.

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Jade Margery February 23, 2010 at 8:52 pm

@caseywollberg

Hey, easy now. Shamlan isn’t a coward for his post, quite the opposite. He is requesting respect and understanding, to have his beliefs and culture judged on the merits of the many rather than the wrongdoings of a few. He asks, politely, and in a place where few people will agree with or like him, that someone learn about his religion instead of condemning all of it just because that’s what’s popular these days. His use of the word ‘right’ doesn’t refer to freedom of speech, it means ‘you may need to do better research before you have the authority to talk about certain things’.

Spouting vitriol and shouting stereotypes is easy–like assuming all Muslims would like to cut off our heads–and it isn’t brave. Trying to get other people to treat you with dignity and respect without resorting to threats or violence… now that’s hard.

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caseywollberg February 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

@Jade Margery

You’re incredibly naive and ill-informed, and you have committed several errors in logic. I hope you will be open-minded enough to consider my critique of your arguments.

1)”Shamlan isn’t a coward for his post, quite the opposite.”

If Shamlan isn’t a coward, then why does he not support people who speak out against those who conduct themselves deplorably in the name of his religion? If he does not agree with the views in question, he should have no problem with someone who excoriates them, indeed, he should join in. He should also, if he wishes for his form of Islam to be considered separate from that which he considers extremist, be able to present Koranic arguments against the extremist view, you know, to help us infidels better understand the “moderate” views of True Islam (TM). A coward hides behind the cultural taboo against speaking badly of religion, instead of actually contributing to the discussion in a manner resembling someone with a spine.

2)”He is requesting respect and understanding, to have his beliefs and culture judged on the merits of the many rather than the wrongdoings of a few.”

The many rather than the few, eh? Gee, it seems from your metric here that there are precisely two well-defined sects of Islam and that they are exactly partisan, with a clear majority subscribing to (apparently) the “moderate” view. Too bad it isn’t that simple. In fact, what you’re engaging in here, along with Shamlan, is a no true Scotsman fallacy. Keep in mind that the “extremists” will say that “no true Muslim” would compromise with the teachings of Islam the way the “moderates” have. Why should I take Shamlan’s word that his form is the “true” form? The “extremists” certainly self-identify as Muslims, and they tout the Koran and Islamic doctrine as their reasons for their deplorable activities. I’ll tell you what, I’ll allow for the sake of argument the illogical claim that “no true Muslim” would be an extremist, as long as you will accept the more reasonable position that no true moderate would oppose free speech. Fair enough?

3) “that’s what’s popular these days.”

No. You know what’s popular these days? Appeasement. Exactly what you’re doing. You are aware that the UN just recently passed a binding resolution criminalizing free speech that offends religious sensibilities, right? Why do you think Shamlan thinks no one has the “right” to criticize his religion? Oh, this…

4)”His use of the word ‘right’ doesn’t refer to freedom of speech, it means ‘you may need to do better research before you have the authority to talk about certain things’.”

Perhaps your telepathic powers are waning, or maybe it is just your lack of reading comprehension, but I don’t think you are really qualified to comment on what Shamlan *really* meant until you do a little more research. See the problem there? You made an interpretation. And that’s exactly what Shamlan’s religion amounts to. When you’re talking about religion, “authority” amounts to the whims of the interpreter, and that doesn’t amount to much. In any case, an appeal to authority is a fallacy. It doesn’t count as an argument. Shamlan didn’t make an argument, which was why I interpreted his statement about rights at face value: he was saying, in so many words, “Who do you think you are to criticize my religion–YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT!” And that is incorrect. Everyone has the right to say whatever they damn well please. Furthermore, if he doesn’t claim the teachings that are being criticized, then why is he offended? Because he agrees with the “extremists” on at least one point: free speech should be limited to non-religious subjects. And, as I rightly pointed out, that makes him an extremist.

5) “Spouting vitriol…”

Shove it up your ass. How’s that for vitriol? Learn how to discern the argument within the vitriol and you will be on your way to having successful discussions with people who passionately disagree with you. Your concern is noted.

6)”assuming all Muslims would like to cut off our heads”

And? Come on, don’t hold out on me; what was the other thing I said? Why didn’t you include it? It had to do with dragging people into court for speaking their minds, right? Remember that? Remember what I said about the anti-blasphemy law, which criminalizes free speech? Well, it’s already being used against people. See, the “extremists” send madmen with axes to murder those who dare to express dissent, while the “moderates” simply make dissent illegal. They make a great team, and guess what? You are endorsing the effort! Way to go! You really have no concept of what it takes to preserve the freedoms you (as yet) enjoy, do you? A great person once provided the answer: eternal vigilance. And like I always say, without moderates, there would be no extremists. Where the hell do you think they come from? But you don’t care, as long as you can keep living in the world where there are exactly two kinds of Muslims: the True Muslims, and the Extremists.

7) “Trying to get other people to treat you with dignity and respect without resorting to threats or violence… now that’s hard.”

Uh huh. You mean threats like the anti-blasphemy law, which I’d like to know if Shamlan supports (yes or no, Shamlan)? No, Jade. It isn’t hard to hide behind the unwarranted favoritism religious ideas receive, since any coward can do it. What’s hard, what takes some courage, is to take a long critical look at your own beliefs, to make a good-faith contribution to the discussion, and be willing to stand with the critics in denouncing the horrendous actions and deplorable claims made in the name of your faith! It is absolutely incredible that “moderates” are so petulant and feverish when it comes to silencing dissent and so reticent and defensive when it comes to criticizing extremists.

Sorry, but you are so dead wrong it isn’t even cute.

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caseywollberg February 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I forgot another point in response to your last statement. Maybe you can write this down in your diary as the day you learned an important distinction. Respect for people is not the same thing as respect for their ideas, and if I didn’t respect Shamlan or you, I wouldn’t tell you how awful your ideas are.

Try respecting people’s *rights*. That’s how you respect people; let them have a voice, listen to what they say, honestly consider it. Then if the ideas they express are too horrible for you to tolerate, rip them to shreds with your own. This is called the free exchange of ideas, and criticism is a necessary part of it. If you want to buy special respect for certain ideas, the cost will be respect for people and their rights. The Founders of my country learned this from their understanding of history, and to our great shame and peril we have largely dismissed the lesson.

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Jade Margery March 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm

*Sigh* It is late. Why am I even doing this… meh.

You called a fellow human being a ‘petulant little coward’ for saying something you disagree with. The charges you would happily level against him–being unwilling to support someone who is critical of extremists, not quoting the Koran, explaining moderate views, etc. are pointless–you do not know this person or how he acts in real life, he may well do all of the above on a regular basis. You are just calling him names on the internet based on a two paragraph post. I was pointing out that it is not cowardly to voice your opinion in a place where it is not going to be popular, and also that he is not hiding behind the ‘don’t question religions’ taboo… he is asking that his culture be judged on its merits as well as its faults instead of only the latter, as seems to be the case with most western commentary (your own included). This is a far cry from ‘How dare you question my religion!’

I am well versed in the ‘no true scotsman’ logical fallacy, thank you for the redundant refresher course, and that was not my position at all. Obviously some Muslims are extremists, as are some Christians, and even some athiests and agnostics. However, knowing that some Christians will burn crosses on people’s lawns does not lead me to judge that every Christian I meet has the desire to add flammable holy symbols to my garden, nor does the fact that some Muslims cut off heads or support the anti-blasphemy law mean that all of them want to.

‘Appeasement’ is not what I am interested in. How about mutual respect and treating other people with dignity, without pre-judging them? Is that appeasement? Is that soft? ‘Cause I gotta say, I’ve been doing it for years and it’s anything but easy.

It is amusing that you fault me for my interpretation and then claim that your interpretation is the correct one in the same breath. That is what religious folk do, isn’t it? I believe mine was a reasonable assumption given the context of the rest of his statement, which was spoken politely, complimented Lukeprog’s other writings, and ended with the request that if he is only going to use the bad parts, at least admit that they are supported by a small but vocal and violent minority. It is no different than if you or I went to a Christian blog and asked that if they can’t be bothered to really examine athiesm, could they at least stop comparing us to Stalin?

“Shove it up your ass” is indeed vitriol, and does nothing for your case but portray you as immature and rude. No matter how intelligent or well thought out your argument, you will never convince a person if you are insulting them. It is not the job of the listener to sift through a paragraph of incivility to find a few gems of thought… it is your responsibility to make sure your own arguments are clear and well presented.

I actually spend a good chunk of my time contemplating, researching, and supporting civil rights, and I do not have a dichotomous view of anything, let alone various religions, but thank you for your unbased assumptions nonetheless.

“What’s hard, what takes some courage, is to take a long critical look at your own beliefs, to make a good-faith contribution to the discussion, and be willing to stand with the critics in denouncing the horrendous actions and deplorable claims made in the name of your faith!”

That is hard too. But it is not the only hard thing.

I fully support criticizing and examining all kinds of ideas, especially religious ones, even the not-violent kind. I don’t support doing so in a way that is rude, or ignorant, or stereotyping, or any combination of the above, and although I’m no psychic I derived from his comment that this may also be Shamlan’s opinion. Might be wrong of course, but I doubt he’ll be back ever so it’s rather moot. I wouldn’t even be back myself except for this darn insomnia + curiosity.

To your last comment, I do not enjoy being lectured on subjects I am well versed in by someone who does not know me… it is something that religious people do often enough, who needs it from the non-religious too?

Respect for people is very different from respecting their ideas. I don’t respect Shamlan’s ideas about religion, but I do respect that he voiced his opinions in a polite and non-confrontational way. He didn’t say he would like to see Lukeprog before the international courts, or headless, those were things you brought to the conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if more religions people talked like that rather than passing anti-blasphemy laws? But why would they, when speaking respectfully only earns them contempt and misunderstanding?

Ironically, I find the ideas you express to be very sad and intolerant, which is why I have taken the time to craft this response. This is called the free exchange of ideas, and you may happily consider yourself criticized.

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caseywollberg March 3, 2010 at 1:45 am

Jade, you are plain ignorant if you think those supporting anti-blasphemy laws are a “small but vocal…minority.”

“you do not know this person or how he acts in real life, he may well do all of the above on a regular basis.”

I don’t have to. I wasn’t speaking to his person, but to his position. Do you understand that? And before you claim that I can’t address someone’s position properly while calling them a coward, let me just inform you that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

“No matter how intelligent or well thought out your argument, you will never convince a person if you are insulting them.”

And what makes you think I was ever interested in convincing anyone? Insulting Shamlan was only part of my intention, the other was informing him, thusly: you will not stifle anti-religious speech. Period. And, Jade, that *is* what he wants to do, just like every other Muslim who speaks the way he does (all your wishful thinking and creative interpretations notwithstanding).

“he is not hiding behind the ‘don’t question religions’ taboo… he is asking that his culture be judged on its merits as well as its faults”

You are being disingenuous as well as creative. He didn’t say anything about his culture. He said, “Do you really think you have the RIGHT to publish things about religion?” That’s what he said, and it is crystal clear. But because you are a concern troll, you had to find a way to make me look like the bad guy because I used a harsh tone. Boo fucking hoo. So, you spin some yarn about what he *really* meant.

“This is a far cry from ‘How dare you question my religion!’”

Only if you put words in his mouth and practice wishful thinking.

“It is amusing that you fault me for my interpretation and then claim that your interpretation is the correct one in the same breath.”

I didn’t make an interpretation as he wasn’t writing poetry. You are the one whose position requires you to interpret.

“It is not the job of the listener to sift through a paragraph of incivility to find a few gems of thought…”

Yes, actually, it is, if the “listener” (how would a listener sift through a paragraph?) wishes to engage in the discussion. Really, Jade, this idea of yours is just absurd.

“it is your responsibility to make sure your own arguments are clear and well presented.”

You say that like incivility and clear, well presented arguments are mutually exclusive. They aren’t. Where did you go to school, Care Bears Academy?

“It is no different than if you or I went to a Christian blog and asked that if they can’t be bothered to really examine athiesm, could they at least stop comparing us to Stalin?”

False analogy.

“I don’t support doing so in a way that is rude, or ignorant, or stereotyping, or any combination of the above…”

Right. I know. That’s what this is all about. Don’t you feel good about yourself now? You’re so nice, and I’m an asshole. So what? I prefer to stand up to the forces that present a very real threat to our freedoms: one of those forces is the intolerance of blasphemy, and I won’t back down, even if you don’t think it’s nice.

“I derived from his comment [blah blah]”

No, you derived your interpretation not from his comment but from your necessity to admonish people for being rude. You followed your confirmation bias from there.

“I do not enjoy being lectured on subjects I am well versed in by someone who does not know me…”

Well, get used to it. You’re doing plenty of lecturing yourself. In fact, you started the lecturing, remember?

“I don’t respect Shamlan’s ideas about religion, but I do respect that he voiced his opinions in a polite and non-confrontational way.”

Bullshit.

“He didn’t say he would like to see Lukeprog before the international courts, or headless, those were things you brought to the conversation.”

Jesus! Does he have to *say* it? Does he have to threaten these things verbally? He expressed an attitude toward free speech that I find deplorable. It happens to be precisely the same attitude that is behind the anti-blasphemy resolution, which is supported not by a small minority of extremists, but by a large majority of so-called “moderate” Muslims–you know, the True Muslims.

“But why would they, when speaking respectfully only earns them contempt and misunderstanding?”

Naivete combined with an obsession with tone makes one a very confused individual.

“Ironically, I find the ideas you express to be very sad and intolerant”

Intolerant? Perhaps Sharia rule is more to your liking. It’s coming, you know? Do you ever do any reading on Europe’s Islamification? Nah, just keep your head in the sand; the real world is too harsh for a nice person like you to be bothered with. Leave it to the mean people to falter in their toleration of the evil to which you’ve closed your eyes and ears–because you’re such a good person, and so tolerant.

“you may happily consider yourself criticized.”

Happily indeed, if “you are an asshole” is the worst criticism you can muster. I mean, I already knew that!

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anti_supernaturalist April 5, 2010 at 11:55 am

James Madison de-deifies the State
Disputes about gods are irrelevant to our radical freedom

vicious circles of religious irrationality end in repression and violence

Reading those who discourse in absolutes on behalf of some fictional “god” nauseates me. What happens when others’ “absolutes” do not bow down to theirs? Do they use a so-called sacred text to justify its own contents? Of course. Do they thump harder on their fictional volumes, supposedly dictated by divine voices? Of course.

Vicious (logical) circles are a refuge for the refuted. Religious ideologies dictate the type of interpretive gloss true believers scribble in the margins of comix perversely accepted as holy discourse.

Theocrats, unchecked by secular authority, will initiate repression, violence, even a coup d’état to impose their holy government. Very much related to founding our secular state are the disastrous Puritan takeover of power in Britain (1649-1668) and Gibbon’s analysis of xianity’s central role in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776). The Constitution of the United States which is…

the founding document of our secular state does not contain the word ‘God’.

James Madison, primary author of the Constitution, in 1789 explained its three prescriptive clauses limiting the reach of religious authoritarians: “. . . Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience.” (1 Annals of Congress 730. August 15, 1789)

The first two requirements appear in the anti-establishment doctrine of the first amendment and the third appears in the no religious test provision of Article VI Section 3. — Freedom of conscience is the core right, the right to disbelief, often not seen in the glare of the first amendment. The Constitution makes freedom of conscience a necessary condition for unfeigned religious belief to be possible.

Here is radical freedom which millions of Americans would deny to all. Even should some god exist, as claimed by theism or by deism, we have the sovereign right to reject any claim that it must be acknowledged, accepted, or worshiped.

Disbelief, as a form of a psychological attitude toward some claim, does not require any evidence. I may silently maintain that any god is unworthy of my belief. No agent of the state can demand that I give up freedom of conscience in order to hold elective office.

a thought experiment in freedom of conscience you can try at home

Dare to exercise your rights to disbelief and to be free from religion. Consider what rejection of “spiritual” discourse brings with it. First, there would be no supernatural agents, locations, states, or events of any kind whatsoever:

1. No supernatural agents: minds, souls, spirits, ghosts, godlings, gods, God (Allah, YHVH), cosmic soul, the absolute.
2. No supernatural locations: hell, purgatory, heaven, buddha realms, moral world order, Platonic/Plotinian world of forms
3. No supernatural states: the numinous, sin, grace, revelation, life after death, illumination, nirvana, buddha mind.
4. No supernatural events: mysterium tremendum, redemption, resurrection, rapture, mystical union, karma, or reincarnation.

Second, nothing would alter in nature: not the Universe, the Solar system, the Earth, physical events, biological events, psychological events. Humanity’s supernatural hypotheses say nothing about nature — unless they are treated as testable statements. Each could turn out to be false.

Third, nature itself would be neither meaningful nor meaningless. Neither a source of comfort, as in natural theology, nor a source of despair, as in existentialism. Both comfort and despair are psychological errors rooted in the same mistaken presupposition that meaning could be found by searching “the starry heavens” for divine agents or by quarrying human inwardness for moral certainties or cosmic “laws”.

Ultimately in rejecting reality, xianity exults in denial. Xianity is nihilism: “[God] chose…the things that are not—to nullify the things that are….” 1Cor1:28 NIV

We deny “faith” as the trusting suspension of disbelief. Our skepticism rejects childish credulity. Following Nietzsche we assert: There are altogether no supernatural phenomena, only supernatural interpretations of phenomena. (Cf. ‘Beyond Good & Evil’ section 108.) There are no gods, only ideological chatter about gods.

religious Ponzi schemes offer humbuggery and vampirism

Faith provides no contact with reality — consequently religions, above all the big-3 monster theisms resolve into nothing but ideological power structures. They must indoctrinate, lie, punish, bribe, co-opt power. They must feed upon the faithful — sucking money, time, psychological energy, and life itself (“martyrs”). Then they work to establish their political agendas as theistic dominions. And, they enforce their empires by thuggery, violence, and warfare. (Just as the “C” Street Family seeks to do in Uganda, and later here in a theocracy which I call “Ameristan”.)

Religions’ sacred Ponzi schemes cannot be permitted. Their defrauded dead investors are numbered in millions; their fraudulent tax-free take in billions. Their ideologies are inimical to constitutional secular democracy and to an open society — they are dismissive of human life, freedom of conscience, and freedom of thought.

The de-deification of western culture is our task for the next 100 years. We owe it to James Madison.

the anti_supernaturalist

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David K from Philly May 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Wow. Fair? High-quality? At the behest of my friends, I’ve watched numerous videos produced by you. Many of them refer to those holding opposing views by using pejorative terms like “sheep” and “stooges”.

I’m not saying atheism or theism is right or wrong, but I would hardly call your stuff “fair” or “high-quality”.

But, good luck believing that.

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caseywollberg May 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

@David K from Pilly:

Waaaah waaah waaaaaaaaaaahhhh! It’s not fair! Waaaah!

Look, lamebrain. If someone calls it like they see it, how is that unfair? What is unfair is the unfailing tendency in theists to move goalposts (I have evidence–>it’s all about faith), play semantic games, ignore valid arguments altogether or try to slip out of them by employing logical fallacies–not to mention outright lying for their precious liar lord. But you keep on trolling away with your self-righteous and irrelevant concern about tone; compared with your “everybody gets a trophy” conception of fairness, a few hurt feelings among sophists is highly preferable.

“I’m not saying atheism or theism is right or wrong…”

You’re a weasel.

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David K from Philly May 10, 2010 at 2:52 am

caseywollberg,

You don’t seem to get it. I don’t care if someone is honest in how they feel. They can call people whatever they want. It’s their prerogative. But, if you’re going to be honest, be honest. What Aronra engages in isn’t fair reporting or high-quality. It’s propaganda just like “Pastor” Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. They cherry pick facts, twist them to suit their agenda, then use ad hominem attacks against those that disagree.

It’s fine if you want to do that. But, call it what it is – propaganda.

In both cases, whether you’re an atheist or theist, both Aronra and Phelps do more harm to their respective ideologies than good.

As far as me being a “weasel” – whatever. You’re just some dude on the interwebs.

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caseywollberg May 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Uh…David? This isn’t Aronra’s blog. I think Luke’s a bit too big for his britches, but I don’t think he’s engaging in propaganda. You apparently got the wrong guy. Besides, as far as your argument goes, you are moving the goalposts. Try again, there, Slugger.

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Ella Emma July 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

It is not so much that your arguments are ineffective, Casey, but that they are prolix and inelegant.

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caseywollberg July 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Opinions are like assholes, Ella. Do you have anything relevant to say? (There, hope that wasn’t too prolix for you.)

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Ella Emma July 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Evidence of relevant is indicated by your desire to respond (or aren’t you keeping up with developments in ethics on this site). That, in turn, thwarts your assertion of vacuousness. Perhaps, Casey, you confuse passion with aggression.

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caseywollberg July 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm

“Evidence of relevant is indicated by your desire to respond”

Uh, no, that’s a non sequitur. My desire to respond to vacuous comments does not make said comments relevant to the discussion. This discussion between you and me is orthogonal to the one you were critiquing for rhetorical style.

“(or aren’t you keeping up with developments in ethics on this site)”

No, I’m not (why should I?), and this has nothing to do with ethics, except that the ad hominem, style over substance fallacy, is not merely illogical, but dishonest.

“Perhaps, Casey, you confuse passion with aggression.”

Perhaps you need to back away slowly, sophist.

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caseywollberg July 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

By the way, just to glory in substance over style or tone, I wish to recommend the post by anti_supernaturalist, above. I missed it before, and it is wonderful.

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Ella Emma July 18, 2010 at 2:57 am

Casey, perhaps you’re going for the potty-mouth philosopher angle (a.k.a., if you can’t convince, get visceral). That might bait the Pentecostals and afford you a few self-indulgent chuckles, but all those adjectives of anger just make your prose insipid. Worse than wrong, it’s messy.

Seeing as writing doesn’t work, you could work up a routine: Casey, the Don Rickles of religion. You had a zinger back on February 21: “We are going to have to beat this into your thick skulls: you are not going to intimidate us into keeping silent.” Beat them so they don’t intimidate us. That’s funny stuff, Casey Rickles.

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 5:08 am

“(a.k.a., if you can’t convince, get visceral)”

First of all, “can’t convince” is a bald assertion on your part. Second of all, it’s irrelevant. I wasn’t attempting to convince anyone; I said as much, if you had bothered to read for content. I wasn’t angling for anything, I was expressing distaste. If you had an ounce of comprehension skill you would recognize this.

“Beat them so they don’t intimidate us.”

Are you really so stupid as not to understand the metaphorical nature of the phrase, “beat this into your thick skulls”? I doubt it.

What you are engaging in is sophistry. You don’t like my tone (this is obvious now), but you saw that I eat tone trolls for breakfast, so you pretend to be a style troll instead. Well, guess what? I don’t see any difference: a troll’s a troll, and trolls taste good with a side of bacon.

Maybe you can come up with an actual argument that addresses one of my points, or are you just here to engage in ad hominem?

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 5:19 am

“It is not so much that your arguments are ineffective”

“(a.k.a., if you can’t convince, get visceral)”

You’re so concerned that I’m a meanie, whether my arguments are convincing is neither here nor there with you. One minute they are and one minute they aren’t. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you use this forum merely to ridicule people whose positions you don’t like, because you sure as hell can’t refute them honestly.

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Ella Emma July 18, 2010 at 5:20 am

“If you had an ounce of comprehension skill . . .
Are you really so stupid . .
trolls taste good with a side of bacon . . .”

Moving more toward a Michael Richards shtick, I see. Perhaps the use of comedy in lieu of content helps you cope. That’s fine. I just wish you could write better.

I know who you are, however, Case-Munch.

;-)

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 6:39 am

“Perhaps the use of comedy in lieu of content helps you cope.”

Hey, pot, you got the wrong kettle. “In lieu of content”? Really? What would you know about content? And at least my comedy is actually funny. Yours is just a pitiful attempt at mudslinging.

“I just wish you could write better.”

And who the hell are you, Strunk and White? You have no relevance here. GTFO.

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Ella Emma July 18, 2010 at 6:50 am

You’re a boy proudly wearing a shirt made from a flag, but ashamed that his mother sewed it for him. You’re the minister who lost his faith and now raises a fist at a god for not being there. You’re the hooker looking to bring others down a peg or two, just so they don’t stand above you. You’re the kid with a rock on Kristallnacht.

Fortunately, this exchange affords a segue into why I looked for this site. In making this segue I am opening the discussion more, inviting the perspectives of others. (Casey is now a comedy act; a vocation purchased at the expense of credibility.)

Bertrand Russell told us that he did not want to be a Christian because, well, just look at the repulsive conduct of Christians. I do not sense any supernatural aspect and figured that I must be an atheist. (An acquaintance suggested that I haven’t the ability to sense God, which led to an interesting discussion about responsibility.)

My brother, likewise lacking the ability to sense the supernatural, seems to be enjoying what he calls cultural Christianity — Catholicism in particular. He rather likes the pomp and pageantry, the music and art, the seasonal, celebrations, and the social initiatives of the community.

We applied Russell’s observation about Christians to atheists and find the shoe fits their feet just as well. So perhaps I do not want to be an atheist because, well, just look at the repulsive conduct of atheists. Do I really want to cast my lot with the likes of those who ostensibly espouse a militant religion of another sort?

One might say: don’t judge the tree of atheism by a few bad apples? Well, wouldn’t the same true of those who believe in a god?

Rather by accident I came across an audio segment by Luke responding to listener questions. One person asked about the conduct of atheists in the blogosphere. Luke’s perspective was refreshing: practice critical thinking and be open to where it takes you. Perhaps one shouldn’t judge by the conduct of either saints or sinners; instead apply the meter-stick of critical thinking. (Okay, Luke didn’t exactly say that last bit, but it got me thinking.)

In any case, I am came to this site to learn about constructive atheism, perhaps a bit about desirism. I came here to decide whether I am an atheist or something else. I am not a Christian or other faith-believer, but — unlike the analog of my brother — I do not find much inviting about cultural atheism (if there is such a thing).

Drawing back to the point of this web page: this site is different, for me, in that it seems to be open to a third-path.

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lukeprog July 18, 2010 at 6:58 am

Interesting. Thanks, Ella.

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 7:53 am

“Casey is now a comedy act; a vocation purchased at the expense of credibility.”

More bad logic, Ella. Most comedians do what they do to make a point. I’d like you to defend your position a little bit. How does comedy reduce the credibility of the comic? I suspect you are just demonstrating a high-brow bias (unalloyed, of course, with any high-brow intelligence).

“Bertrand Russell told us that he did not want to be a Christian because, well, just look at the repulsive conduct of Christians.”

You are misrepresenting the views of this giant, by insinuating that he was an atheist merely because of this argument, which would mean he rejected theism based on a logical fallacy. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on your distortions, since Russell famously defended his atheism with logical arguments.

“So perhaps I do not want to be an atheist because, well, just look at the repulsive conduct of atheists. Do I really want to cast my lot with the likes of those who ostensibly espouse a militant religion of another sort?”

Like I said, a fallacy, now followed up with a canard.

“One might say: don’t judge the tree of atheism by a few bad apples? Well, wouldn’t the same true of those who believe in a god?”

Of course, but then you’re the one introducing the fallacy. This is just rhetorical masturbation on your part, which shouldn’t be indulged in public.

“practice critical thinking and be open to where it takes you. Perhaps one shouldn’t judge by the conduct of either saints or sinners; instead apply the meter-stick of critical thinking.”

Yeah, so why don’t you try it out. Be advised, however, that it is irrational to assert that one’s tone or style invalidates the critical thinking evident in one’s arguments. To do that, you have to, you know…address the arguments.

“I do not find much inviting about cultural atheism (if there is such a thing).”

You must distinguish between atheism and this “cultural atheism” you’re going on about. Atheism is lack of belief in gods. That’s it. Some atheists would like to gain the benefits of community so lauded by practitioners of various religions (whether they be believers, or merely praxis observers like your brother). But so what? That doesn’t change the concept of atheism into a religion.

“Drawing back to the point of this web page: this site is different, for me, in that it seems to be open to a third-path.”

I think Luke would disagree, though I doubt he’d say so.

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 8:08 am

“You’re a boy proudly wearing a shirt made from a flag, but ashamed that his mother sewed it for him. You’re the minister who lost his faith and now raises a fist at a god for not being there. You’re the hooker looking to bring others down a peg or two, just so they don’t stand above you. You’re the kid with a rock on Kristallnacht.”

And you’re a wild-eyed moron with her panties in a bind. Why don’t you calm down a bit and tell us what you really think about me?

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caseywollberg July 18, 2010 at 9:01 am

“Interesting. Thanks, Ella.”

Groom that sycophant, Luke.

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graham veale October 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I think that’s a fair assessment of what you try to do, Luke. You don’t seem to buy into the “McAtheism” that pollutes the web.

It’s a nice experience to come across an atheist who just says “You know, I just happen to disagree with you.”

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wissam October 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I can’t help but notice that there are some arguments missing on this website.

1. The Argument from Theological Noncognitivism

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/argument_from_noncognitivism/

2. Anton Thorn’s Argument from the Fact of Existence.

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/argument_from_existence/

3. Plantinga’s dozen (or so) arguments:

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/two_dozen_or_so_theistic_arguments.pdf

/I would like to see a refutation of the evolutionary argument against naturalism. I actually find to be the only convincing argument for theism.

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Anto August 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Caseywollberg.
To be so poisoned especialli agaist muslim, are you one of those who think well’ I’m atheist but afterall catholicism is less worse than Islam? Have you ever wondered why nowadays christian religion is apparently (and by some means, actually) less extremist than Islamism and more tolerant toward countrary opinions, with lesser number of real enforcers of the faith? Did you happen to think the reason is merely political, maybe the illuminism, the Break of Porta Pia? and the consequential falling of Pope’s temporal power, doesn’t this says nothing to you?
Disgracefully nothing of this happened in muslim countries, so many of them live with theocracy and shari’a just like Italy or Spain between medieval and reneaissance. Religion is linked with power and is its instrument, think about Bush “God with us”. Just like many catholic are rebelling with this materialist non private or intimate, superficial, violent, bigot, non spiritual etc. way of living their faith bending it to the means of policies, a growing number of muslim is starting to think the same way, think about Ben Jelloun (maybe an atheist, I’m not sure though).

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Ella Emma August 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

You raise an interesting point, Anto, but how can we meaningfully measure tolerance?

Also, it would seem that conviction goes contrary to tolerance. That is, the more an adherent is convinced of this or that tenet, then the less said adherent is going to tolerate conflicting beliefs. This would seem to be true of beliefs held in general, whether religious or not.

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Psyche August 30, 2011 at 3:47 am

Amazing. Atheism never sounded so pure! :)
Im not entirely an atheist, but neither a dedicated theist either. I am the half breed of religion! :)

Keep us entertained! \m/
Psyche

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antitheist October 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

“do you really think you have the right to publish things about religions?”

Yes, he does, and he’s right. And petulant little cowards like you would do well to figure that out. The more you flail about in resistance to human rights like free speech, the less serious are your claims that your particular version of Islam is not an extremist one. We are going to have to beat this into your thick skulls: you are not going to intimidate us into keeping silent. Your religion is nonsense. If I have to, I’ll say it even as you saw my head off, or drag me into an international court for a “defamation” trial. Both acts are abominable violations of human rights and they won’t be tolerated.

Absolutely, 100%! If we as humans want to prosper and survive we need more people like this in the world, people who can stand up to all this non-sense bullshit!

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tsahpina November 15, 2011 at 4:31 am

i have two things to say
one that i cant really trust a nonsmoker who once smoked,this means that she/he is capable of mentally functioning the way that led to smoking
likewise i feel i cant really trust a former beleiver cos his mind worked the same way as of a smoker
the difference is that the religious person was taught to be so when was a baby
but so was a smoker
so i dont trust either
they are not real nonsmoker who is actually an antismoker an athist
they once indulged in a lie
so their brain is capable of beleiving and practicing these two lies
the other thing i want to say is that on one of the pages here i say u commenting on christianity as being something…of course something negative,i dont remember what cos the whole idea is negative
i remark that religion doesnt end with christianity and that we should never talk of christianity but of religion.islam is worse than christianity
and finally id ad or add that the interview witha religious and the atheist in NICE.I loved the athists answers thou i think that he should not let himself so down to say none of yr fucking business.he should have said none of yr BLEEDING business.sounds better.but if he wanted to be really polite he should have said ‘have u’
i havent thought what he should have answered if the opponent had answered no.oh yes he should have replied to him that he will regret it when he grows impotent.its like the granny who was asked at the porch of heavens if she regretted having done so much sex without aiming at conceiving and she answered that she regretted she did not ask men to make love to her but only waited until they asked her in which case she accept all the nice invitations from men.another granny when turning 100 was asked how she kept her skin so unwrinkled…she made to 122…and she answered that the only wrinkle she has is the one she is SITTING ON
never mind it has nothing to do with atheism but is NICE
tsahpina
whatever

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Pachomius November 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Thanks a lot for your blog being different.

And I am trying to locate transcribed versions of debates in your collection, hope you have them, as the youtube versions are so burdensome to watch and listen to.

Why not you undertake this work of transcribing youtube debates for people like myself?

Thanks for your blog being different even though you are now it appears an atheist.

And I will just tell you this, whatever your being atheist, just keep in mind that you are going to have to debate with God if He does exist when you die.

And if you can convince Him that you have acted according to your best intelligence and most pure honesty you might just win against Him in your debate with Him.

Hahahahaha!

Pachomius

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