Accelerated fundamentalist education

 

The harmfulness of ACE

Jonny Scaramanga, a former British Christian fundamentalist, called my attention to the abusive nature of a particular form of conservative Protestant education called “Accelerated Christian Education” or ACE in short.

Jonny’s blog should really be viewed as an example of how Christians and atheists ought to interact with each other.
Despite all the traumatic experiences he went through, he remains extremely respectful and kind, and I highly advise Christians to visit his blog and Youtube channel in order for them to realize the real ordeal a fundamentalist upbringing can be.

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ACE aims at furnishing an individual Biblical education adapted to the abilities of every child. In comparison to high schools which are supposed to produce illiterate teenagers, ACE presumably leads kids to develop a Christ-like personality.
Of course, most Christians should view this promise as deceitful since it is obvious that children have always the choice to decide themselves against the Good and lead a selfish lifestyle.
I strongly doubt that statistically speaking, there is a real difference between children raised in a good Christian home and children raised by loving godless parents having a commitment for humanitarian causes.

In another video, it is pointed out that God has created every kid with his or her unique features and has a wonderful plan for him. Consequently his academic needs to be “diagnosed”.

Even if it is off-topic, I cannot help but remark there is a huge irony here. Proponents of ACE emphasized the value and worth of the human individual but fail to tell us that, according to their theology, a huge number of the wonderful babies they show us are going to end up in hell where they will be tormented forever.

Jonny criticizes both the secular (methodological) and religious aspect of ACE.

He pointed out that the ACE of fundamentalists is based on the radical behaviorism of B.F. Skinner, which I find extremely ironic since Skinner was a hardcore materialist denying mental causation.
Jonny rightly exposes the unethical aspect of raising children with rewards and punishments as if they were animals to be tamed.

He also correctly notes that ACE (and fundamentalist homeschooling in general) really hinders children from developing a social life, leaving them with a big handicap as they will enter the professional world.

As for the religious aspect, he showed how ACE teaches creationism and presents many non-senses (springing out of a literal reading of the Bible) as established facts. He also explained that ACE teaches people what to think and to learn (most often fictional) facts instead of showing them how to think by themselves and critically analyze data and ideas.
He went on and pointed out the obvious truth that such a “knowledge” is of no use whatsoever since people will have forgotten all these things as adults.
Jonny summarizes very well what a good education should be: learning to evaluate truth claims instead of learning their content.

Globally I have a very positive impression of his blog which is far from websites of hateful anti-theists such as Dawkins or Jerry Coyne. He makes a real effort to understand the fundamentalist mindset and seems really willing to help persons going through the same ordeal instead of just expressing his frustration and anger (like folks at DebunkingChristanity usually do).

Finally, I want to point out that progressive Christians such as myself also constantly combat the abuses and atrocities caused by fundamentalist education and brain-washing.

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote an excellent article exposing all the flaws of the “Truth Project” which is a fundamentalist “education” for adults.

As a rule, I think that everyone ought to fight abuses and injustices wherever she finds them, especially if they are committed by individuals sharing her worldview.
There are Christian, Muslim, capitalistic , communist and antitheistic extremists and all people cherishing liberty and love should join their forces to keep them at bay and limit the psychological damages they cause.

I know that some of points are controversial and I’m looking forward to having an interesting dialog with people having other opinions.

Jesus and a dinosaur

36 thoughts on “Accelerated fundamentalist education

  1. Thank you for running this post. Some within the ‘atheist movement’ will probably count it against me that a Christian could write such a glowing review of my blog, but I take it as a compliment.

    I look forward to the discussion arising from this too.

    • Hey Jonny, there are already critical comments calling into question the harmfulness of ACE.

      Since you are more knowledgeable than I in that domain, you might wish to response yourself.

      Friendly greetings from Lancashire.

  2. He also correctly notes that ACE (and homeschooling in general) really hinders children from developing a social life, leaving them with a big handicap as they will enter the professional world.

    Where is the evidence for this? There’s nothing about a homeschooling education that hinders children from developing a social life. You’d have to mean that placing a child in a public school environment is literally the only way for a child to have a social life – and that’s obviously, trivially untrue.

    As for the religious aspect, he showed how ACE teaches creationism and presents many non-senses (springing out of a literal reading of the Bible) as established facts. He also explained that ACE teaches people what to think and to learn (most often fictional) facts instead of showing them how to think by themselves and critically analyze data and ideas.

    The obvious glaring problem here: since when do public schools ‘show children how to think by themselves and critically analyze data and ideas’? If teaching children facts that they have to memorize and accept is nonsense, then typical public schooling is condemned right along with ACE.

    The sub-issue – then do you oppose schools teaching that a literal reading of the bible or creationism are ‘nonsense’? Or is it permissible to teach such things as facts, facts, facts, and if they disagree, they’re wrong?

    (Note: I’m not a YEC. Never been a YEC or an OEC. I’ve accepted evolution since I heard of it in school.)

    Of course, most Christians should view this promise as deceitful since it is obvious that children have always the choice to decide themselves against the Good and lead a selfish lifestyle.

    It’s also obvious that people’s choices are, to some degree – and perhaps a large degree – influenced by their upbringing and their culture.

    I’m not defending the ACE curriculum. I actually know little about it – but I don’t think your criticisms work much here. I especially question the talk about how the ACE curriculum is ‘based on the work of’ BF Skinner. Is this really the case? Or is it simply that ACE heavily emphasizes rote learning, which is kinda-sorta similar to Skinner’s behaviorism? Because ‘rote learning’ has not been discredited.

    As a rule, I think that everyone ought to fight abuses and injustices wherever she finds them, especially if they are committed by individuals sharing her worldview.

    Alright – I’ll call you on this.

    You are German, correct? Currently Germany is one of the many nations where homeschooling is illegal. I think the threats and dangers of mandatory state-overseen education – in which children, five days a week, six or more hours a day, move from room to room in a concrete bunker dancing to the sound of bells and asking permission to go to the bathroom – are obvious.

    Do you oppose this law?

    • Hello Crude again.

      I could reply myself to your criticism of my criticism of ACE but I think that Jonny is more apt to the task.

      I’m a Frenchman from Lorraine, a region where there is still a minority speaking a German dialect. So I understand myself as a Germanic Frenchman.

      I corrected my sloppiness above and replaced “homeschooling” by “fundamentalist homeschooling”.
      It is a real shame that it is forbidden in Germany, for there can be some kinds of religious and non-religious homeschooling which are not harmful at all.
      And since “sexual liberation” is taught in many German public schools to young kids, I would probably send them into a private school if I were a German father.
      As you know well, I have nothing against committed lifelong gay relationships but I find it very problematic to teach to small children that having sex is a natural act like eating.
      So yeah there is also a clear totalitarian trend at work here.

      • …Sex is a natural act. It’s not like it’s some bizarre arcane ritual where you write the runes in goat blood and a baby appears.

        • Yeah, but it is not a natural act like eating for it has extremely stronger emotional and spiritual consequences.
          I really believe that sex and love belong together, even if I reject the notion that “true love waits” for marriage.

          Thanks for having commented!

      • I’m a Frenchman from Lorraine, a region where there is still a minority speaking a German dialect. So I understand myself as a Germanic Frenchman.

        Well, that’s news to me. Alright! My apologies for mistaking your country of origin. The fact that you’re french is interesting.

        And thanks for the clarification. I think homeschoolers get a rotten rap.

      • Here in Austria, homeschooling is legal, but students must take a state exam every year to make sure they are up to par- if they aren’t, then they must attend public school.

    • Where is the evidence for this? There’s nothing about a homeschooling education that hinders children from developing a social life. You’d have to mean that placing a child in a public school environment is literally the only way for a child to have a social life – and that’s obviously, trivially untrue.

      Conflating the discussion of homeschooling with a discussion of ACE is a red herring here. ACE is popular with fundamentalist homeschoolers, but I almost never talk about that because I have no direct experience. I was taught ACE in a private Christian day school, and these day schools are where I direct most of my criticism.

      I follow the blogs of numerous ex-fundamentalist ex-homeschoolers (Some of the best include Homeschoolers Anonymous, Defeating the Dragons, and Wide Open Ground. What these blogs frequently describe is how they only ever socialised with other fundamentalists. They all subsequently struggled enormously when socialising with non-fundamentalists. I experienced the same on leaving my fundamentalist school.

      I have never discussed home schooling more widely because it’s not something I claim to know about.

      The obvious glaring problem here: since when do public schools ‘show children how to think by themselves and critically analyze data and ideas’? If teaching children facts that they have to memorize and accept is nonsense, then typical public schooling is condemned right along with ACE.

      Certainly where I live (southwest England) the public schools are leagues ahead of ACE. I wouldn’t want to get drawn into defending state schools. They may well be mediocre, but even by those standards the education offered by ACE is catastrophically lacking.

      The sub-issue – then do you oppose schools teaching that a literal reading of the bible or creationism are ‘nonsense’? Or is it permissible to teach such things as facts, facts, facts, and if they disagree, they’re wrong?

      Interesting question. I take a similar position to my supervisor, Michael Reiss. You can find his thoughts briefly here on video and here in print. I think that science lessons should make it absolutely clear that science does not accept creationism, and that evolution is not scientifically controversial. As to whether what science tells us is the “truth”, well, that’s a rather more advanced philosophical question.

      I especially question the talk about how the ACE curriculum is ‘based on the work of’ BF Skinner. Is this really the case? Or is it simply that ACE heavily emphasizes rote learning, which is kinda-sorta similar to Skinner’s behaviorism? Because ‘rote learning’ has not been discredited.

      No, I can give you four academic citations saying that ACE is based on Skinner, including one by someone who was employed by ACE at the time of writing.

      Rote learning may not have been discredited, but most educators would certainly question the value of an education which is based on rote learning to the exclusion of almost everything else – and that’s what ACE offers.

      • Thanks for your answer Jonny.

        I might be largely responsible for this confusion since I wrote “homeschooling in general” while I meant “fundamentalist homeschooling in general”.

        I have now corrected this mistake.

        Cheers.

      • Conflating the discussion of homeschooling with a discussion of ACE is a red herring here.</blockquote.

        […]

        I have never discussed home schooling more widely because it’s not something I claim to know about.

        If the claim that homeschooling cripples one’s socialization is not yours, then that’s that.

        As for your blog sources – I have no doubt that homeschooling can be done poorly, or that there are people out there who have had rotten experiences with it. The problem is, it’s not as if I couldn’t turn up a whole lot of public or even private school horror stories if I so wanted. Is it really a good idea to make claims about the effectiveness of homeschooling based not only on anecdotes, but some highly self-selected anecdotes?

        Certainly where I live (southwest England) the public schools are leagues ahead of ACE. I wouldn’t want to get drawn into defending state schools. They may well be mediocre, but even by those standards the education offered by ACE is catastrophically lacking.

        That’s apples and oranges. I’m not even talking here about general academic performance, which is what you seem to be talking about. I’m talking about the ability to ‘think for oneself and critically analyze ideas’. Do you really think that this is emphasized in state schools? And if so, on what basis do you make this claim?

        Keep in mind, you can have absolutely fantastic average schools in a school, but critical thinking can still be next to nil in terms of what is taught.

        Interesting question. I take a similar position to my supervisor, Michael Reiss. You can find his thoughts briefly here on video and here in print. I think that science lessons should make it absolutely clear that science does not accept creationism, and that evolution is not scientifically controversial. As to whether what science tells us is the “truth”, well, that’s a rather more advanced philosophical question.

        I don’t think this answer works, and here’s why.

        It seems petty to point this out, but I don’t think it is: ‘Science’ doesn’t teach that, because ‘science’ is not a being. It’s a method. What you’d have to be saying is that most scientists reject creationism (in the sense of a young earth, etc), or don’t take evolutionary theory to be scientifically controversial. But why should this carry weight? You were just talking about the importance of children thinking for themselves and the value of critical thinking. Now it seems – and perhaps this is wrong – that you think it’s important that they learn and accept the scientific consensus on these matters, and discourage questioning that.

        I don’t think the two views are compatible.

        No, I can give you four academic citations saying that ACE is based on Skinner, including one by someone who was employed by ACE at the time of writing.

        I’d like to see them. Once again, there’s a big difference between ‘their teachings are based on Skinner’s philosophy’ and ‘they use rote learning, which Skinner emphasized’. Perhaps they do, in fact, claim to accept Skinner’s teaching on this.

        Rote learning may not have been discredited, but most educators would certainly question the value of an education which is based on rote learning to the exclusion of almost everything else – and that’s what ACE offers.

        The problem is that this changes the criticism of ACE. It’s not that rote learning is bad, it’s that it’s inadequate. Rote learning is going to do a good job of teaching you some things, and not others. Valid criticism.

      • This is in reply to Crude’s reply to my comment.

        Is it really a good idea to make claims about the effectiveness of homeschooling based not only on anecdotes, but some highly self-selected anecdotes?

        I don’t think they should be used to make claims about the effectiveness of home schooling, but I don’t think that’s what they are being used for either. I think the stories are about individual cases, and I think they matter because individual people matter.

        That’s apples and oranges. I’m not even talking here about general academic performance, which is what you seem to be talking about. I’m talking about the ability to ‘think for oneself and critically analyze ideas’. Do you really think that this is emphasized in state schools? And if so, on what basis do you make this claim?

        As I said, I don’t want to get drawn into defending state schools because that’s not my purpose here. The quality of state education has no bearing on the quality of ACE schools, although it may have some bearing on whether it’s justifiable for parents to choose one over the other.

        But since you ask, I would like to see it emphasised more in state schools, but I have no doubt it happens more in state schools than in ACE. For example, GCSE history exams involve a paper where students are given historical sources and asked to evaluate them. GCSE coursework involves completing scientific experiments, and explaining what conclusions can be drawn from the evidence.

        More importantly, I think ACE does not just fail to teach critical thinking. I think it actively discourages it.

        It seems petty to point this out, but I don’t think it is: ‘Science’ doesn’t teach that, because ‘science’ is not a being. It’s a method. What you’d have to be saying is that most scientists reject creationism (in the sense of a young earth, etc), or don’t take evolutionary theory to be scientifically controversial. But why should this carry weight? You were just talking about the importance of children thinking for themselves and the value of critical thinking. Now it seems – and perhaps this is wrong – that you think it’s important that they learn and accept the scientific consensus on these matters, and discourage questioning that.

        You raise some interesting philosophical questions here which I need to think about more. I think it’s preposterous to suggest that creationism can be taken seriously as science (and pretty far out to suggest it can be taken seriously as theology); I am guessing you agree. But there are questions relevant to science here, and these I suppose are really questions of emphasis. Only so much can be covered in 12 years of education, so what do we choose to include? To what extent do we consider pre-scientific myths to be worthy of discussion in science lessons?

        References on Skinner follow. The essential point is that ACE is a system of programmed learning, which Skinner pioneered. But why on earth is it so important to you whether ACE purports to be based on Skinner, or just appears to be?

        Baumgardt, Jacqueline. 2006. “Perceptions of the Accelerated Christian Education Programme as Preparation for Tertiary Education.” Master’s Thesis, University of South Africa (http://perweb.firat.edu.tr/personel/yayinlar/fua_35/35_65952.pdf)

        Hill, Brian V. 1990. “Is It Time We Deschooled Christianity?” Pp. 119–33 in Christian Perspectives for Education, edited by Leslie Francis and Adrian Thatcher. Leominster: Gracewing.

        Knowles, Brian. 1994. “Some Aspects of the History of the New Life Churches of New Zealand, 1960-1990.” PhD thesis, Dunedin: University of Otago. (http://webjournals.ac.edu.au/journals/ET/knowles-b-new-life-churches-phd-otago-1994/)

        The problem is that this changes the criticism of ACE. It’s not that rote learning is bad, it’s that it’s inadequate. Rote learning is going to do a good job of teaching you some things, and not others. Valid criticism.

        Well, my biggest criticism of ACE is that the assessment frequently doesn’t require children even to understand the material, only to be able to repeat it verbatim. Understanding is achieved at best. Ability to analyse or apply the knowledge is never tested, let alone the ability to combine it with other knowledge or evaluate that knowledge.

        As for Coyne’s and Myers’ conclusions about my research, well, I have certainly seen this week that my work has been used be people with an agenda against homeschooling and/or Christianity. I haven’t exactly decided what to do about this, but its the nature of publishing on the internet that people can use the information I provide for their own ends. Coyne and Myers have so far not attributed views to me that I do not hold, so I have no reason to complain.

  3. Please stop repeating the lie that homeschooling necessarily prevents a social life. There is nothing inherent in homeschooling preventing children having friends, and nothing in public schooling that causes children to have them. I have seen homeschooled kids interact with one another (yes, kids from several different families), and public-schooled kids interact with one another, and it is night and day. If that’s how public schools “teach socialization,” madam, you can HAVE it. The homeschooled kids interact across a wide age range and, generally speaking, are friendlier and more welcoming of differences. Especially, but not limited to, the secular kids.

    Yes, I said “secular.” Did you really think it was only Christians doing this?

    • Hello Dana. My apology.
      I have replace “homeshooling in general” by “ fundamentalist homeschooling” since this is what I meant.

      As a child I was bullied in a public high-school, so I know that the problems you evoke are real. My parents switched me to a Catholic highschool where I felt much better.

      I entirely agree that good parents who homeschool their kids can take care of socialization with other children who could be better off than in a public school.

      BUT I know many cases of fundamentalist children who lack social skills due to the “education” they received.

      Samantha ( http://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com ) is an example of those.

      I truly hope you can forgive my sloppiness.

      Best wishes from Lancashire.

  4. And one more thing.

    There are Christian, Muslim, capitalistic , communist and antitheistic extremists and all people cherishing liberty and love should join their forces to keep them at bay and limit the psychological damages they cause.

    Right now, Peter Boghossian has wrote a popular (among atheists) book, treating religious belief and ‘faith’ as an out and out mental disease. He’s pushed for it to be classed as such on the DSM, he talks about it being a ‘mind virus’ to be ‘contained and eradicated’, complete with scientific studies on how to “cure” it. On top of this, he urges raising atheist children explicitly.

    Will Scaramanga be commenting on that?

    • Hello Crude.

      I don’t know Jonny enough to know what he will and won’t do.

      I think it is a general human problem to focus on the errors and immoral behaviors of other groups while largely ignoring those in one’s own camp.
      This is something Jesus clearly spoke out against.

      This is why on my blog I criticize both Christian and atheistic fundamentalism.

      I haven’t read the books of Peter Boghossian, but he seems to be striving for a totalitarian state.
      I think he is an enemy of liberty, he does not want a neutral secular state but a state which will systematically combat all religions, like in the former soviet union.

      Did you read his books? I might be wrong about that, but this is the impression I took from quotes I read.

      Lovely greetings from Lancashire.

      • I haven’t read the books of Peter Boghossian, but he seems to be striving for a totalitarian state.
        I think he is an enemy of liberty, he does not want a neutral secular state but a state which will systematically combat all religions, like in the former soviet union.

        Did you read his books? I might be wrong about that, but this is the impression I took from quotes I read.

        I’ve read his writings, including portions of his latest book. The important thing to recognize here is that whatever you may think of Boghossian’s book and views, they are – as of this moment – highly celebrated in the atheist (likely Cult of Gnu) community.

        So advocating for a totalitarian state is one thing. But he is not fringe.

    • I haven’t read Boghossian. From your depiction of his work, I doubt I would agree with him. I don’t think religion is a mental illness. I do think that fundamentalism is intellectually indefensible, but I don’t think that goes for all forms of religion.

      I also don’t advocate raising children explicitly to be atheists. What I resent most about my education is that matters on which reasonable people may disagree were presented as if there is one right answer, and if you thought anything else you were depraved.

      I advocate an education where children are equipped and encouraged as far as possible to consider these arguments for themselves.

      (I’ve posted a longer reply to your first comment, but it contains links so it is currently awaiting moderation).

      • Well, that’s good to hear. I suggest you take a good look at how your writings are being presented by Coyne, Myers, etc, because I can guarantee you – if you regard belief in God and acceptance of various religions to be intellectually defensible and reasonable – you are being praised by a group that not only strongly disagrees, but regards belief in God as a literal mental illness.

        • ” if you regard belief in God and acceptance of various religions to be intellectually defensible and reasonable”

          He probably does not view belief in God as rational but would not go as far as describing it as a psychiatric delusion.

      • He probably does not view belief in God as rational but would not go as far as describing it as a psychiatric delusion.

        He’s pretty explicit about this, Lothar:

        It is crucial that the religious exemption for delusion be removed from the DSM. Once religious delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment into the problem of faith can be created. These will include removal of existing ethical barriers, changing treatments covered by insurance, including faith-based special education programs in schools, helping children who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, and legitimizing interventions designed to rid subjects of the faith affliction.

        Removing the exemption that classifies a phenomenon as an officially recognized psychiatric disorder legitimizes research designed to cure the disorder. These classifications also enable researchers to assess their treatments and to continue to build upon what works. Of course there will be institutional and social barriers discouraging research into controversial areas, but with this one change THE major barrier – receiving approval from the IRB to disabuse human subjects of faith – would be INSTANTLY overcome.

        There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding these faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.

        That would be from his latest book.

        • Actually I meant that Jonny is not like that🙂

          The texts you quoted are truly terrifying. This confirms my impression that this New Atheism is similar to the raise of fascism in Italy and of militant communism in Russia.

          If these people get power, I dare not imagine what would occur to liberty and freedom.

          Anti-theism should really be viewed as a far-right hate group.

      • Actually I meant that Jonny is not like that🙂

        If Johnny’s saying belief in God is irrational, well, I’d like to see him say that. That’s quite a claim to make.

        The texts you quoted are truly terrifying. This confirms my impression that this New Atheism is similar to the raise of fascism in Italy and of militant communism in Russia.

        Well, keep in mind that Boghossian isn’t being condemned by the atheists, but currently celebrated.

        And I’m willing to bet that Bog’s got supporters who won’t come out and defend his statements, but who try to play ‘Atheist Good Cop’ and stay silent in the face of what he advocates.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this! Thanks to ACE and A Beka, I was totally screwed in high school when I had to do group assignments for the first time. I was in college before I learned how to work productively in a group.

  6. Postscript: those bright lights at ACE teach that the Loch Ness Monster is real:

    Some scientists speculate that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark…. are dinosaurs still alive today? With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence…

    Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

    I guess they’re trying to give Ken Ham a run for his money.

  7. Reblogged this on Leaving Fundamentalism and commented:
    I haven’t talked much about my own escape from ACE on this blog (I’m saving it for the book!), but I did an interview about ACE with LotharLorraine yesterday and a lot of it came out. If you want to know why I oppose ACE, there it is.
    The interview was done as a Skype chat, so that explains my at times fragmented answers, but I think it’s come out well, especially now Lothar’s removed the horrific photo of me he originally posted with the interview.

  8. Good grief, Crude and lotharson. Your misunderstanding of Boghossian’s thesis combined with your fear of atheists and lack of critical thinking leads you to draw conclusions that are not just wrong but borders on delusional.

    His thesis is one I’ve long promoted, that how people come to conclusions about reality matters because they act on this understanding. There are justified beliefs and unjustified beliefs classified by how the conclusions and explanations are reached. When we allow reality to arbitrate our beliefs, we have some measure of independence from our biases and prejudices. This is essential to recognize in critical thinking. We can fool ourselves if we use only measures dependent on our beliefs. I’m sure you can appreciate how using beliefs to justify those beliefs is a method that doesn’t work very well. Yet this is <i.exactly the kind of justification used in any faith-based – and not adduced evidence – belief! If a religious believer had compelling evidence arbitrated by reality to support a particular belief claim, he or she would bring that forward to help justify why he or she believes that a particular claim had merit independent of the beliefs brought to the claim. this is the method of science… where no dependent faith is required.

    But believers don’t have this arsenal of evidence adduced from reality available. That’s why they introduce faith into justifying the claim! And this inclusion is where disagreements arise between believers themselves.

    Religion is not alone in utilizing the method of faith to justify claims made about reality. We see exactly the same method used to sell many dubious products and extraordinary explanations… from alternative medicine to conspiracy theories, from denying the efficacy of vaccinations to a refusal to accept climate change caused by human activity. Faith-based beliefs are not – ever – justified. And this is the claim Boghossian makes, teaching people that how we arrive at our conclusions and explanations about how reality operates is a vital component to evaluating their justifications. And that’s why he criticizes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from exempting behaviours – listing the signs and symptoms of illnesses – if categorized to be ‘religious’. Is this exemption justified? Because the method of arriving at the claim is of dubious justification, Boghossian argues that this is insufficient reason to then allow the exemption. And he’s right.

    But rather than understand Boghossian’s argument about why the method used to arrive at conclusions and explanations matters, you two saddle up your biases and prejudices and take them for a ride… allowing these biases and prejudices free rein to arrive at the destination you’ve preselected: accusing atheists of trying to impose a totalitarian anti-theist political system based on hate.

    Both of you reveal a scope of mental processes deeply influenced by very poor reasoning, very poor comprehension, very high bias, very high prejudice, all in the service of what you assume is a pious regard for a broken method of thinking about how reality operates. The reality you’ve created exists only in your mind and you have no means at your disposal to self-correct these bizarre and absurd explanations. This is the very problem Boghossian is talking about, and you’ve demonstrated why your method is such a problem because you end up arriving at an unjustified, uncritical, delusional conclusion that if acted upon can and will cause real harm to real people in real life not based on reality but your unjustified beliefs about it.

    As a person, I am offended by your unjustified and hate-inspiring attack on a group of people you demonize based on your own biases and prejudices; and that’s the very definition of discrimination you meet with flying colours. As a New Atheist, I’m not surprised. This is standard operating procedure for many theists who assume pious belief is good… because it’s supposedly good. Not sharing this ‘good’ belief must therefore mean those who do not believe is ‘bad’. And that’s the extent of critical thinking many theists undertake… a failure, in other words, of methodology (to find out what’s true, what’s justified by reality’s arbitration of the belief) – of epistemology, to use Boghossian’s description of this method – to use the brain (you believe) god gave you. In my mind, one does not serve the divine by being by exercising discrimination against one’s fellow human beings.

    But you find that bit of wisdom in any ACE or PACE workbook any more than you will in any of scriptures used to defend claims of justified faith.

    • I follow Boghossian on Twitter. He makes eminent sense to me. As do Dawkins & Coyne who I do not, in the slightest, find hateful.

      Can you provide any reasoning as to why you find these men hateful? Full of hate?

      The notion that any of these people or any rational person who adopts atheism (by virtue of discarding the claims made by theologians) want a totalitarian state, is, a fantasy beyond the realms of delusion.

        • A willingness to ridicule ridiculous ideas (rather than accept them as ‘another kind of knowledge’ different from but equivalent to justified knowledge) and mock causal claims made about reality that have little evidence in their favour and much against them is called ‘hate’ in the world of the brittle faitheists. Challenging religious privilege (to not just hold but promote ridiculous ideas lacking independent merit) is deemed to be not just an act of war (as if atheists were violent – hence the liberal use of the ridiculous term ‘militant’ for those daring to criticize) but an indication of ‘fundamental extremism’. Such extremism (the new label for ‘reasonable’) will undoubtedly lead all to suffer a totalitarian dystopian world brought about by those (atheists) worthy of moral suspicion – a reasonable fear, we are assured, of impending doom from the excesses of this inevitable nihilistic (atheistic) immorality. Baby killers, donchaknow.

          In this religious context of what reasonable is, is it any wonder that erudite people like Coyne have their words smeared with the label of ‘hate’? See how that diverts from the incompatibility problem raised by Coyne in the link provided? Only if you live in an alternate universe!

          • Again, Religion is NOT a monolithic phenomenon.

            It is so extraordinarily diverse that average values are of very little use to conclude about the science-friendliness and tolerance of a particular religious group.

            If Coyne wants to prove that progressive religious believers (as well as moderate Conservatives) are an impediment to Progress, he has to show this by STUDYING THEM apart.

            Cheers nonetheless.

          • I have not read Coyne saying that all religious people are an impediment to progress. This is your understanding.

            Let’s look at what Coyne actually says in the link you provide to suggest ‘hate’.

            What he has said was:

            “It (science) need not be a direct enemy of only one kind of faith: deism. As for the remaining thousands of faiths that see God as interceding in the world, yes, science must be their enemy. For religion—especially theistic religion—is based on revelation, dogma, and indoctrination, while science is based on reason, doubt, and evidence. No rapprochement is possible.”

            Rapprochement between what, Marc?

            Let me help you.

            Coyne is saying there is no rapprochement between the method of justifying religious claims (by way of revelation, dogma, and indoctrination) with the method of science (by way of reason, doubt, and evidence). This is a methodological incompatibility (except with deism that doesn;t make such interventionist claims). And that’s what he’s criticizing Krauss about – the appearance of suggesting there IS a compatibility (Krauss was very clear in a follow-up article that he did not mean to suggest these two methods were compatible when they obviously produce contrary claims… only one of which produces knowledge and it ain’t religion… including deism).

            What you define as expressing ‘hate’ is really legitimate criticism. And for this misunderstanding, you then continue to vilify these outspoken critics.

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