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Thread: Christopher Hitchens

  1. #201  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    SpeedFreek said:
    I am merely responding in kind to a crass and incorrect statement about atheism.
    The statement, even more succinctly, was that the only reason atheists don't believe in God is because of behaviors they know that God, if He exists, would disapprove of. Perhaps that is inartfully stated, and specifically points to atheists when it would, in a sense, be true of all non-believers. The only thing the Bible suggests separates us from God is missing the standard he has set and not being willing to tell Him we're sorry.
    How can you entertain that belief? Some people simply lose their faith when they see things done by large groups of Christians. Consider the Catholic semi-endorsement of Nazism, or just the number of cities that got bombed - mostly by Christians in WW2. You start out thinking that being a Christian will mean something about how you behave, then watch all the other Christians gather together and do something hideous, bullshitting themselves all the while that it's still somehow God's will.

    If you start to watch people at church and compare their behaviors against ordinary non-religious folk, and find the non-religious folk are closer to the ideal of "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you". One might ultimately conclude that their religious affiliation is actually more of a barrier to them being a good person than it is a benefit.

    According to Jesus Christ himself, the two great commandments were to love God and to love each other, and the rest all hang on those two, but I've yet to see a religious denomination that teaches that as a main principle.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Kojax said:

    Consider a child who is molested by a priest. Later in life, how would that person be able to accept the authority of the God from whom that priest had supposedly derived the authority he held without indirectly feeling that they were also validating what happened to them? They reject God because it's the only way to be assured of rejecting their experience at the hands of His representative. You do a terrible disservice to those victims when you make statements of the kind you made.

    Well, you just put this person into the conflicted position of blaming a God he no longer believes in for the actions of a human being. That is, if God does not exist, how can you then say you do not believe in Him because of someone acting under his (non)authority has done something wrong. This kind of thinking involves something of a double negative. I mean, if God does not exist, how could He authorize people to do something wrong. And if he does not exist, how could you blame Him for the occurrence. This is an arguement which defies logic.
    No. In the suggested scenario, the person would be initially blaming a god they still believe in, then migrate to the point where they no longer believe at a later time. It's easier for them psychologically. Otherwise they'd have to spend the rest of their life asking themselves: "why did a person who believes in Jesus Christ do this to me?"

    How is it that people who "take up the name of Christ" get to both take the name and not take the name? Are we only supposed to only remember the things they do right?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    daytonturner wrote:

    The reason he was respected above the ilk of Dawkins and Dennet is because he addressed the issues of the discussion and did not impune the intelligence of believers and resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical.
    From Wikipedia:

    In an interview with Radar in 2007, Hitchens said that if the Christian right's agenda were implemented in the United States "It wouldn't last very long and would, I hope, lead to civil war, which they will lose, but for which it would be a great pleasure to take part."[147] When Joe Scarborough on 12 March 2004 asked Hitchens whether he was "consumed with hatred for conservative Catholics", Hitchens responded that he was not and that he just thinks that "all religious belief is sinister and infantile".
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    Reply to Prasit:

    The first Hitchens quote is what I think could be called a platitudinal hyperbole. First of all, I have no idea what Hitchens' idea of the Christian right's agenda was, so I have no way to know what I would be disagreeing with if I disagreed and I have no idea what you are agreeing with other than perhaps the wiki link you placed in your comment.

    I did a search on "Christian right agenda" and I notice that on the first three pages of results, all the articles were written by or published by anti-Christian entities. And even the wiki article is dotted with statements which are misleading. For instance, the wiki article says: "The Christian Right has promoted the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as opposed to the teaching of evolution." This is not exactly accurate in that it suggests the Christian agenda proposes the teaching of creationism and intelligent design to the exclusion of the teaching of evolution whereas the real postion is the discussion of these concepts side-by-side.

    The overall difficulty in this is that you have people of one persuasion attempting to define the overall agenda of a widely diverse and differing second group. What is disconcerting is that the left wing anti-religious group equally feels it's position is misrepresented by the Christian right's statements of their agenda. I am reminded of something we in Christian circles often point out -- When Peter talks about Paul, you learn more about Peter than you do about Paul. When you read what socio-political group A says about socio-political group B, you do not really pick up a lot of knowledge about group B. You only learn what group A thinks about group B which usually amounts to little more than unfounded prejudice based on misinformation and disinformation disseminated by others of the same unfounded prejudiced bias.

    The second quote from Hitchens sort is sort of reflected by the previous post by kojax. It is a classic example of the psychological phenomenon that we see what we want to see.

    Kojax seems to be able to perceive the aberrant behavior of some Christians, but finds this worse than the very same behavior exibited by non-Christians because, apparently, he holds the professing Christian to a higher standard of conduct than he holds non-Christians. This results in a strange conflict which is reflected by the anti-religious element in that it is willing to accept the behavior of people with a lower standard because they, at least, live up to that lower standard, meanwhile trying to discredit the people with a higher standard because they cannot live up to it.

    As to the apparent semi-endorsement of Nazism by some Catholics: there were numerous political and religious factions of that time which sought to appease Hitler. Had they won out in the long run, we would all be posting in German on this forum today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    When you read what socio-political group A says about socio-political group B, you do not really pick up a lot of knowledge about group B. You only learn what group A thinks about group B which usually amounts to little more than unfounded prejudice based on misinformation and disinformation disseminated by others of the same unfounded prejudiced bias
    In this case, though, we have what you regard as an unusual situation: knowledgable people accurately describing a socio-political group of people according to their common characteristics and consistent behavior.

    Starting with the observation that the described people, unlike the describers, do form a sociopolitical group.

    That is, we actually have a reality here, a set of physical circumstances and events. And some people are right about it, and some others are wrong. See how that works? It's the world in which we find science, and reason, and honest discussion of events.

    In another world, we find this kind of stuff:
    First of all, I have no idea what Hitchens' idea of the Christian right's agenda was, so I have no way to know what I would be disagreeing with if I disagreed and I have no idea what you are agreeing with other than perhaps the wiki link you placed in your comment.
    This was intended - no joke - to defend a favorable judgment of Hitchens, justify the higher esteem in which fundies hold Hitchens compared with Dawkins and Dennett.

    This is a world in which ignorance is justification - in which physical error and incomprehension are correct and accurate positions if they are based in ignorance.

    Clearly the warmer feelings fundies have toward Hitchens are not based in Hitchens greater respect for their theistic beliefs, religious influence, and the like. They claim ignorance of Hitchens's positions in such matters. So we look elsewhere.
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    Iceaura said:

    [What we have is a] knowledgable people accurately describing a socio-political group of people according to their common characteristics and consistent behavior.
    Well, so long as you understand the street runs both ways. Although I suppose observation of the anti religious, if characterised as uncommon and inconsistent, would make their behavior highly unpredictable such as we might find in Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. I am not sure, but it sounds as though you are saying the far left anti-religious element does not form a socio-political group, but rather an elitest group which is capable of judging the conduct of others without any bias.

    My observation of that group would suggest that their behavior is to support homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion and legalization of drugs to name a few. And I did not even mention the occupy movement which seems to be more focused on civil disobedience and despoiling parks than on actually coming up with solutions to the problems they perceive.

    Iceaura also said:

    This is a world in which ignorance is justification - in which physical error and incomprehension are correct and accurate positions if they are based in ignorance.
    Is this an example of self fullfilling prophecy? Or just the most clear, concise explanation of post-modern relativism I have run across?
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Well, so long as you understand the street runs both ways.
    It doesn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I am not sure, but it sounds as though you are saying the far left anti-religious element does not form a socio-political group, but rather an elitest group which is capable of judging the conduct of others without any bias
    Nobody was talking about any "far left" element at all, antireligious or otherwise.

    The existence of a "group" such as you describe is specifically denied - you are in error about that.

    And yes, your group's conduct can be judged without any particular bias, on common grounds of reason and physical fact.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    This is a world in which ignorance is justification - in which physical error and incomprehension are correct and accurate positions if they are based in ignorance.

    Is this an example of self fullfilling prophecy?
    Unfortunately, it is not prophecy but description. It is accurate. And it is of your group, and your posts here.

    Your justification of your positions by claims of ignorance, your insistence on the validity of assertions you make simply and overtly because you don't know any better, is right here on this thread - quoted - as well as throughout this forum.
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    I have no way to know what I would be disagreeing with if I disagreed and I have no idea what you are agreeing with other than perhaps the wiki link you placed in your comment.
    Don't think too deep. I just point out that while you say Hitchens did not resort to the inflamatoric hyperbole of calling religious beliefs fairy tales and mythical, he did say they are sinister and infantile. I do think 'sinister and infantile' is more inflammatory than 'fairy tales and mythical'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner View Post
    Reply to Prasit:

    The first Hitchens quote is what I think could be called a platitudinal hyperbole. First of all, I have no idea what Hitchens' idea of the Christian right's agenda was, so I have no way to know what I would be disagreeing with if I disagreed and I have no idea what you are agreeing with other than perhaps the wiki link you placed in your comment.

    I did a search on "Christian right agenda" and I notice that on the first three pages of results, all the articles were written by or published by anti-Christian entities. And even the wiki article is dotted with statements which are misleading. For instance, the wiki article says: "The Christian Right has promoted the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as opposed to the teaching of evolution." This is not exactly accurate in that it suggests the Christian agenda proposes the teaching of creationism and intelligent design to the exclusion of the teaching of evolution whereas the real postion is the discussion of these concepts side-by-side.

    The overall difficulty in this is that you have people of one persuasion attempting to define the overall agenda of a widely diverse and differing second group. What is disconcerting is that the left wing anti-religious group equally feels it's position is misrepresented by the Christian right's statements of their agenda. I am reminded of something we in Christian circles often point out -- When Peter talks about Paul, you learn more about Peter than you do about Paul. When you read what socio-political group A says about socio-political group B, you do not really pick up a lot of knowledge about group B. You only learn what group A thinks about group B which usually amounts to little more than unfounded prejudice based on misinformation and disinformation disseminated by others of the same unfounded prejudiced bias.

    The second quote from Hitchens sort is sort of reflected by the previous post by kojax. It is a classic example of the psychological phenomenon that we see what we want to see.

    Kojax seems to be able to perceive the aberrant behavior of some Christians, but finds this worse than the very same behavior exibited by non-Christians because, apparently, he holds the professing Christian to a higher standard of conduct than he holds non-Christians. This results in a strange conflict which is reflected by the anti-religious element in that it is willing to accept the behavior of people with a lower standard because they, at least, live up to that lower standard, meanwhile trying to discredit the people with a higher standard because they cannot live up to it.

    As to the apparent semi-endorsement of Nazism by some Catholics: there were numerous political and religious factions of that time which sought to appease Hitler. Had they won out in the long run, we would all be posting in German on this forum today.
    Like Kojax, many people feel that Christians are held accountable to a higher standard of conduct since their faith is centered around morally correct behavior which is obvious that many that claim to be christians but do not follow by example in their behavior towards others in society.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    Like Kojax, many people feel that Christians are held accountable to a higher standard of conduct since their faith is centered around morally correct behavior
    Or maybe because Christians feel the need to tell others how to behave? In that case, it is going to get noticed when they fail to behave as they say others should.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Barbi View Post
    Like Kojax, many people feel that Christians are held accountable to a higher standard of conduct since their faith is centered around morally correct behavior
    Or maybe because Christians feel the need to tell others how to behave? In that case, it is going to get noticed when they fail to behave as they say others should.
    I don't think Christians are any more prone to moralizing than anyone else. In particular, it is easy to find on this forum plenty of threads started by atheists with titles like "Is the Bible the root of all evil."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I don't think Christians are any more prone to moralizing than anyone else. In particular, it is easy to find on this forum plenty of threads started by atheists with titles like "Is the Bible the root of all evil."
    Maybe you're right, I guess both theists and anti-theists are prone to this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I don't think Christians are any more prone to moralizing than anyone else. In particular, it is easy to find on this forum plenty of threads started by atheists with titles like "Is the Bible the root of all evil."
    In a country that's two thirds Christian, then it is less likely that they would go round moralising, as the practice would be redundant, but in a country where they are the minority they do. Do you get atheists moralising to you in the street. I doubt that. It is something that just isn't done.
    it is not an even playing field. strange is correct. especially where I live.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Do you get atheists moralising to you in the street. I doubt that. It is something that just isn't done.
    No, you seem to prefer the internet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Do you get atheists moralising to you in the street. I doubt that. It is something that just isn't done.
    No, you seem to prefer the internet.
    Well can you wonder at it, in a country two thirds religious, it would be dangerous, to do it in the street.
    But over here, I'm safe. The majority are non-religious, and there is still no moralising in the street.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Do you get atheists moralising to you in the street. I doubt that. It is something that just isn't done.
    No, you seem to prefer the internet.
    Well can you wonder at it, in a country two thirds religious, it would be dangerous, to do it in the street.
    But over here, I'm safe. The majority are non-religious, and there is still no moralising in the street.
    So then, what you are saying is that since atheists do not proselytyse in the street, they are morally superior to those who do proselytyse in the street. Right?
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    They certainly are less up in yo grill.
    pavlos likes this.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Do you get atheists moralising to you in the street. I doubt that. It is something that just isn't done.
    No, you seem to prefer the internet.
    Well can you wonder at it, in a country two thirds religious, it would be dangerous, to do it in the street.
    But over here, I'm safe. The majority are non-religious, and there is still no moralising in the street.
    So then, what you are saying is that since atheists do not proselytyse in the street, they are morally superior to those who do proselytyse in the street. Right?
    No, but as Kalster said they aren't up in your face, like the religious.
    I never mentioned superiority, that was a strawman on your part.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    I never mentioned superiority, that was a strawman on your part.
    No. You wouldn't have mentioned it unless you thought there was something wrong with preaching in the street. A defect which you, as an atheist, do not suffer from.
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    Strange said:

    Or maybe because Christians feel the need to tell others how to behave? In that case, it is going to get noticed when they fail to behave as they say others should.

    Other than my last post, I have not mentioned any specific behaviors. I do not think it is a matter of Christians feeling the need to tell others how to behave as it is a matter of Christians asking others to take a close look at their own behavior to see if it actually fulfills any known and defined standard.

    It is not that Christians hold others to a higher standard of conduct than they themselves aspire to. It is more that non-Christians seem to think Christians should be able to live up to a higher standard than non-Christians. But we all suffer from the same problem -- we are usually more concerned with our own well being than we are with the well being of others. We are usually more concerned with making our own decisions than in following the sound advice of others or the rules of our social group with which we disagree.

    If we put our conduct up against the Biblical standards of human conduct only as it relates to other human beings, we each will find that we have not met that standard in one or several areas. The question is not what was your conduct, but do you realize that it not only may have consequences in your earthly life but also may have consequences on your eternal life. The fact that some believe there is an eternal life and others do not believe there is an eternal life has no bearing on the whether or not there is an eternal life.

    I don't like that this post sort of boiled down to a Pascual's Wager thing. But this IS sort of why Christians subject themselves to the ridicule and scorn we experience at the hands of the blatantly anti-religious such as many of the people who post on a forum like this. We think you have made a bad bet. It is not a matter of correcting behavior -- it is neither better nor worse than the behavior of any human being. I would suspect any behavior you can envision -- good or bad -- is behavior that has been displayed by both religious and non-religious people.

    To characterize Christianity as being about behavior is similar to characterizing cancer as being about pain. Christianity does not attempt to alter behavior so much as it attempts to alter motivation. Behavioral science has shown that merely altering behavior does not necessarily alter character. Christianity's goal is to alter character and with that will come altered behavior.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    The fact that some believe there is an eternal life and others do not believe there is an eternal life has no bearing on the whether or not there is an eternal life.
    Hold that thought.

    No bearing. Absolutely none. Either way.

    Now, you were claiming that expresions of opinion were evidence for the truth of the opinion, earlier.

    Do you see why we think you guys are confused, here?

    And how we can tell that some alleged civility in Hitchens's expressions of atheism etc is not what recommends him to you?
    Last edited by iceaura; February 8th, 2012 at 05:06 PM.
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    No, Iceaura, and you don't either.

    Because one person says believes the light was green and another says he believes the light was red does not prove which color the light was. Each person's testimony on which way he saw the light would be evidence. If one person was color blind, his testimony would be suspect. In the same way, if one person is blind to the existence of non-physical aspects of the Universe, his testimony that there is no God would be equally suspect. Also, how could such a person believe in the existence of dark matter or dark energy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Because one person says believes the light was green and another says he believes the light was red does not prove which color the light was. Each person's testimony on which way he saw the light would be evidence
    Presuming the existence of a colored light in the first place.

    That presumption grounds the ascription of "evidence" to that kind of opinion. If there were no colored light, neither opinion about the color of the light would be "evidence" of its color.

    If two blind people differ on the existence of a light, is either one of their opinions "evidence"? If two Chinese people guess differently on the current shape of a cloud over Nebraska, is either one of their guesses "evidence"?

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    In the same way, if one person is blind to the existence of non-physical aspects of the Universe, his testimony that there is no God would be equally suspect. Also, how could such a person believe in the existence of dark matter or dark energy?
    Hold that thought.

    Clearly, then, by your argument, someone who did find the existence of dark matter or energy believable would have a valid opinion about the existence of God - you would accept that opinion as evidence of the existence or nonexistence of God.
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    Ha Ha. You are funny, Iceaura.
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    Because one person says believes the light was green and another says he believes the light was red does not prove which color the light was. Each person's testimony on which way he saw the light would be evidence.


    We can start by asking each person to tell the color of traffic light

    In the same way, if one person is blind to the existence of non-physical aspects of the Universe, his testimony that there is no God would be equally suspect.
    We cannot say whether a person is blind to a certain entity if it is not certain whether that entity actually exists. Otherwise I can tell that you are blind to Zeus.

    Also, how could such a person believe in the existence of dark matter or dark energy?
    He may find the evidence that the motion of all celestial bodies do not correspond to the masses of all observable matter in the universe. So he concludes that there must be some other matter that have mass but not observable otherwise.
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