Bullying in the name of Reason and Science

I just stumbled across a blog post from anti-theist Jerry Coyne where he took to task Lawrence Krauss for being too “moderate” (according to Coyne’s own enlightened standards).

I really think it’s a masterpiece in its own rights.

 

“Lawrence Krauss’s new book, A Universe from Nothing, is supposed to be very good; one of its points, I think, is to show that science disproves the cosmological argument for God.  In today’s Notes & Theories from the Guardian‘s science desk, Krauss has an essay called, “The faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs.” I suppose this stuff needed to be said, but if Krauss is calling for accommodationism, as he seems to be doing, his argument is naive.  Saying that the faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs is like saying, “tigers must learn to be vegetarians.”

I was a bit peeved from the opening paragraph:

Issues of personal faith can be a source of respectful debate and discussion. Since faith is often not based on evidence, however, it is hard to imagine how various deep philosophical or religious disagreements can be objectively laid to rest. As a result, skeptics like myself struggle to understand or anticipate the vehement anger that can be generated by the mere suggestion that perhaps there may be no God, or even that such a suggestion is not meant to offend.

Really? Is it really such a struggle for Krauss to anticipate and understand the anger of THE (my emphasis) faithful? I think not. And yes, some of the strategy is to offend, directly or indirectly, because one of the best ways to reveal the emptiness of faith is to mock it, and mock it hard in front of the uncommitted. That’s what P. Z. was doing when he nailed that cracker, and what I was doing when I drew a picture of Mohamed.

After citing several familiar examples of how reviled atheists are in America, Krauss concludes:

It is fascinating that lack of belief, or even mere skepticism, is met among the faithful with less respect and more distrust even than a fervent belief in a rival God. This, more than anything, leads to an inevitable and deep tension between science and religion. When such distrust enters the realm of public policy, everyone suffers.

It is fascinating, but understandable.  If someone believes in a rival God, they’re at least confessing belief in a sky-fairy—something transcendent. I can easily see why that’s far less threatening than suggesting that one’s belief in sky-fairies is unjustified and ludicrous.  For deep down, many religious people are deeply worried that they may be wrong.  If you put the basic beliefs of Catholicism in simple language, for example, as I think P. Z. Myers has (and Ben Goren on this site), they sound absolutely ridiculous. No wonder religious folks get all huffy if you suggest that they’re wrong or deluded, and why, in the end, they resort to asserting that evidence isn’t relevant at all: what’s relevant is revelation and what feels good to believe.

Krauss continues:

As a scientist, one is trained to be skeptical, which is perhaps why many scientists find it difficult to accept blindly the existence of a deity. What is unfortunate is that this skepticism is taken by many among the faithful to be an attack not only on their beliefs, but also on their values, and therefore leads to the conclusion that science itself is suspect.

The first sentence is bloody obvious.  And yes, it’s unfortunate that this situation exists, but it’s also inevitable—for religious values stem from religious beliefs. Where else would you get the idea that aborting an early-stage zygote is the same as human murder, or that it’s a sin for a man to lie with another man?

Krauss, who appears to have done a good job showing that the Universe could have arisen ex nihilo, then turns accommodationist, saying that new scientific knowledge need not drive a wedge between science and society.

As a result, the longstanding theological and philosophical question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”, like many earlier such questions, is increasingly becoming a scientific question, because our notions of “something” and “nothing” have completely changed as a result of our new knowledge.

As science continues to encroach on this issue of profound human interest, it would be most unfortunate if the inherent skepticism associated with scientific progress were to drive a further wedge between science and society.

As a cosmologist, I am keenly aware of the limitations inherent in our study of the universe and its origins – limitations arising from the accidents of our birth and location in a universe whose limits may forever be beyond the reach of our experiments.

As a result, science need not be the direct enemy of faith. However, a deep tension will persist until the faithful recognise that a willingness to question even one’s most fervently held beliefs – the hallmark of science – is a trait that should be respected, not reviled.

The last paragraph seems rather naive. Unless there are mercenary considerations at issue, I’m baffled why he thinks science need not be a direct enemy of faith.  It 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.

Getting the faithful to show respect for the way science works will not bring about a truce between science and religion, for lots of religious people already have that respect for science. They just don’t apply it to their own beliefs. That “deep tension” will persist not until religion respects science, but until the hokum that is religion goes away forever. (And if you think that’s not possible, look what’s happened in Europe over the last 200 years.) I wish Krauss had had the guts to say that in his essay.  But then he wouldn’t sell so many books.”

 

The hate of the New Atheists

 

I am thankful to Coyne that he showed us the true face of anti-theism. It is certainly not just about “ending religious  privilege” or “relegating religion to the private sphere”.

No, it is about WIPING OUT all religions by using vile emotional bullying and all sorts of vicious propaganda.

There was a time where I tried to patiently dialog with anti-theists and wanted to understand their stories. All I got in return were the most intolerable insults you can think of and the conclusion that I must either be a lunatic, a hopeless idiot or a liar.

 

As the Great Richard Dawkins put it:

““Mock them, ridicule them in public, don’t fall for the convention that we’re far too polite to talk about religion…Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe, which need to be substantiated.  They should be challenged and ridiculed with contempt.

“I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt … I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.”

https://i1.wp.com/www.machosofty.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/130304RD-religion-shirt-_G0G5019final4.jpg

Militant atheist Richard Carrier added:

“By and large the minds of the ridiculous can’t be changed. It’s their flock we’re talking to. But even the ridiculous change under ridicule some respond by getting more ridiculous (and those are the ones who could never be swayed even by the politest methods), but others accumulate shame until they see the error of their ways (I’ve met many ex-evangelicals who have told me exactly that). Thus, ridicule converts the convertible and marginalizes the untouchable. There is no more effective strategy in a culture war.”

 

I constantly speak out for the need for a reasonable and polite dialog between moderate atheists and religious believers and am certainly willing to read challenges against theism from respectful atheistic authors.

Yet I hate being mocked and ridiculed by people towards whom I have only been friendly. This makes me angry and causes me to boycott all kinds of writings resorting to a similar strategy.

According to Carrier, the fact I did not react to emotional bullying by becoming an atheist means that I am a ridiculous and incorrigible “untouchable”.

 

I cannot help but consider Coyne, Dawkins and Carrier as anti-theistic prophets calling their followers to a holy war for getting the world rid of religious darkness once and for all.

 

The last lines of Coyne were particularly troubling. Basically his (implicit) reasoning was as follows:

1) It would be good to live in a world where creationism (and other anti-scientific beliefs) have wholly disappeared.

2) If ALL religions were to fade away, creationism would be no more.

3) Hence it is morally good to use our best types of psychological warfare to utterly destroy ALL religions.

 

Interestingly enough, French racists use exactly the same kind of reasoning:

1′) It would be good to live in a France where anti-white racism no longer exists.

2′) If ALL blacks and Arabs were driven out of the land, anti-white racism would be no more.

3′) Hence it is morally good to expel ALL blacks and Arabs from France.

 

Let us grant that both 1) and 1′) are true.

2) and 2′) are certainly technically true in both cases.

If ALL religions were to go away, there would be no longer any form of creationism, and if ALL blacks and Arabs no longer lived in France, anti-white racism would be no more.

But it should be clear that a vital fact has been entirely left out of the picture in the second racist reasoning. There are countless blacks and Arabs who are not racist against white folks and are completely respectful of French laws and customs.

It would be egregiously wrong to expel them as well for this would be a gruesome form of collective punishment.

 

Exactly the same thing can be said about Coyne’s reasoning.

There are countless moderate, progressive and even conservative religious believers who are not opposed to science and reason and who do not cause any harm to the society in which they live.

Advocating to systematically bully them out of their faith is equally egregious.

The fundamentalist mindset of the New Atheists is crystal-clear when you consider the number of times they fall prey to the cognitive distortions “binary thinking”, “overgeneralization” and “focusing on the negative”.

They all too often seem utterly unable to realize and recognize that like everything in our universe, the religious landscape of planet Earth is extremely complex and multifaceted. There is not one Islam and one Christianity but many forms of them, some of them promoting peace and tolerance, some of them fostering hatred, superstitions and (verbal or physical) violence.

 

Likewise, there are numerous kinds of atheists out there, many of them being nice and respectful people and some of them being hateful self-righteous bigots like the individuals I’ve dealt with in this post. And there are clearly forms of anti-theism preaching the use of physical violence for reaching their noble goal of annihilating all religions. This is all too obvious when one considers the persecutions of religious people by the hand of Chinese and the former Russian anti-theists in the name of making their respective countries free of religion.

 

I really think that anti-theism is a loathsome hate-group which should not be tolerated in an open society but harshly combated like all other extremisms.

In the same way hateful Christian fundamentalists are an utter embarrassment for the Master they pretend to follow, militant atheists are a shame for the very Reason and Science they profess to cherish.

 

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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81 thoughts on “Bullying in the name of Reason and Science

  1. The use of hate and ridicule is not dialogue but a form of violence.
    To suggest that these methods are appropriate is anti-human.
    I agree that they should not be condoned.

    • Hating evil is anti-human? There is Romans 12:9, after all: “abhor evil”. It strikes me that the error is not hatred, but what is being identified as ‘evil’.

  2. Coyne says “Getting the faithful to show respect for the way science works will not bring about a truce between science and religion, for lots of religious people already have that respect for science. They just don’t apply it to their own beliefs. That “deep tension” will persist not until religion respects science, but until the hokum that is religion goes away forever. (And if you think that’s not possible, look what’s happened in Europe over the last 200 years.)”

    You claim this says “There are countless moderate, progressive and even conservative religious believers who are not opposed to science and reason and who do not cause any harm to the society in which they live.

    Advocating to systematically bully them out of their faith is equally egregious” (as the claim that if ALL blacks and Arabs no longer lived in France, anti-white racism would be no more).”

    This is a false analogy. And the claim for ‘no harm’ does not follow but is simply made as if true when it’s highly debatable (that’s why New Atheists argue that even in its most moderate form, religion causes pernicious harm).

    The analogy is false because Dawkins asks us to ask about specific claims <i.contrary to how we understand reality to operate. We are to ask Catholics, for example, to say whether they really believe wafers turn into flesh, wine into blood, and IF SO to then ridicule and mock them for holding this ludicrous belief exempt from the method of science all of us respect (unless we exempt certain beliefs from this method). The reason why mockery and ridicule are effective is because it causes shame to those who try to allow for this exemption, this privilege, and, over time, Dawkins point (and the one Coyne is referring to) is that such mocking treatment will bring people to reapply respect for how science works about these beliefs, too, and stop believing in claims that have little if any evidence in reality to support them.

    Dawkins Convert’s Corner is compelling evidence that this method works where the tensions between beliefs and reality are most pronounced and that many people later admit to its effectiveness. Krauss’ notion that such confrontation doesn’t have to happen to bring about an equivalent conversion (all we need to do is insist that the method of science be respected) has no equivalent evidence. Pretending that theistic beliefs can be accommodated along with with respect for the way science works does not produce conversion and this is Coyne’s criticism. (Note that the post was updated by Coyne, who says “In the following post I have apologized for the intemperate nature of this piece and for the accusation that Krauss might be an accommodationist. I’m leaving this original post here as a testament to my peevishness and poor judgment.”) The deep tension will remain if Krauss’ suggestion is followed. And that deep tension will remain as long as religious beliefs remains accommodated by exemption and privilege rather than challenged directly and overcome by compelling evidence from reality… not by force, not by expulsion, not by death as you continually try to assert, but by respecting the way science works regarding religious claims.

    The argument here is about exposing religious claims to the light of honest inquiry and not exemption in order to reveal the paucity of their descriptive value about reality and the tension they cause. Maintaining beliefs contrary to how we understand reality to work is worthy of ridicule and mockery – and not force, expulsion, or death as you consistently frame the New Atheist argument.

    Although there is deep tension between races and cultures in some places (like France), can there be an equivalent conversion these New Atheists are talking talking about away from being Black, away from being Arab, and becoming ‘French’ by ridicule and mockery? Your analogy is as ludicrous as it is intentionally misleading.

    • Dawkins Convert’s Corner is compelling evidence that this method works where the tensions between beliefs and reality are most pronounced and that many people later admit to its effectiveness. Krauss’ notion that such confrontation doesn’t have to happen to bring about an equivalent conversion (all we need to do is insist that the method of science be respected) has no equivalent evidence.

      Please establish that you’ve surveyed enough evidence, for your claim here to be trustworthy. Dawkins has provided a specific place to concentrate those who have converted to atheism based on his work. If there is no equivalent place for those who have taken Krauss’ approach, then we ought to expect such people to be located more diffusely. So please provide convincing reason to believe that what you have observed has sufficient bearing on reality.

      • Ain’t it interesting, labreuer, how largely anonymous/unverified testimony from a biased source becomes ‘compelling evidence’ for the evangelical atheist? 😉

        That along with ‘it gets the results I want, ergo it’s right’ style thinking. If ever I hear about a quivering man, an atheist moments ago, fervently praying to allah while a group of men armed with scimitars look on with satisfaction, I’ll remember that.

        • Indeed! @tildeb has shown a predilection for ducking out of discussions when they get too hot for him. But I say that the correct response is merely to point out this pattern, show how new data points match it, challenge @tildeb to change behavior, and that’s about it. Ridicule doesn’t really seem to accomplish much in the way of rationality. Some atheists are happy to manipulate emotions in the name of rationality; this seems utterly hypocritical and I refuse to play that game.

  3. Issues of personal faith can be a source of respectful debate and discussion. Since faith is often not based on evidence, however, it is hard to imagine how various deep philosophical or religious disagreements can be objectively laid to rest. As a result, skeptics like myself struggle to understand or anticipate the vehement anger that can be generated by the mere suggestion that perhaps there may be no God, or even that such a suggestion is not meant to offend.

    Coyne needs a dose of UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse:

    No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (14–15)

    Morality and values are “not based on evidence”—not if you accept Bacon’s redefinition of ‘knowledge’, which was crucial in the Enlightenment rejection of formal and final causes. This whole thing that Coyne, Loftus, et al are doing is clearly an attempt to banish value systems they do not like. Example:

    John W. Loftus: Luke, you and I share notions of the good. Where we differ is due in some large part to your faith. Since your faith is irrational so is your notion of the good in those areas.

    (Note that John censored that discussion.) Notice how Loftus can blame the differences between us on my faith. That’s very convenient! He can pretend that he only believes things based on evidence while I also believe things based on faith. Too bad that’s utterly false. Be not deceived: the point here is to banish concepts of ‘the good’ from secular discourse, except those concepts that the New Atheists find personally palatable.

    • Oh rubbish. Coyne teaches a course (now widely emulated) that presents best arguments for evolution, best arguments for creationism, and then a third section for students to hash out which arguments seem to bear up the best. The ludicrous notion of a global flood seems to be the argument most ridiculed by contrary evidence in reality. Holding fast to the belief in such a claim reveals the kind of exemption – fully religious – that Coyne criticizes.

        • Sorry for the confusion, labreuer I should have clearer.

          You said, “This whole thing that Coyne, Loftus, et al are doing is clearly an attempt to banish value systems they do not like.”

          To which I responded, rubbish: as an evolutionary biologist, Coyne does ‘battle’ with ridiculous and contemptible contrary claims made about reality promoted by religion constantly, namely, creationism.

          Evolution and claims about creationism are not value systems and arguments about their validity and not some armchair metaphysical musings about vaguely dissimilar philosophical notions. What incompatible about them is that each claims to be an explanatory model about the reality theists and atheists (and agnostics who can’t seem to locate an decision in their own minds) share. Only one model is correct in that it works all the time and this is demonstrable when we – meaning people of reason – use reality to independently arbitrate them. This is the purpose of his class, to get people to compare and contrast and use reality to guide their evaluations about these incompatible explanatory models. Nowhere in this exercise is Coyne’s purpose to “banish value systems” he doesn’t like; he want’s YOU to put aside the ridiculous and contemptible claims and do so by the use of your reasoning. For this, he is called a hate-monger, a militant, someone who should be censured by law, and other ridiculous and contemptible name-calling and misrepresentation.

          • To which I responded, rubbish: as an evolutionary biologist, Coyne does ‘battle’ with ridiculous and contemptible contrary claims made about reality promoted by religion constantly, namely, creationism.

            Right, because creationism has done even a fraction of the amount of damage as has, e.g., the colossal failure demonstrated in Milgram experiment § Results alone. (e.g. Proper understanding would have helped us understand what Hitler was doing and was capable of doing.)

            I simply cannot believe that the bulk of the objection has to do with creationism. Destroy religion because of creationism? That’s nonsense, that’s like amputating the arm when the finger has gangrene. Even within creationism, I know that some object to the philosophy which is often attached to the science of evolution; they aren’t able to properly disentangle the two.

            Only one model is correct in that it works all the time and this is demonstrable when we – meaning people of reason – use reality to independently arbitrate them.

            When it comes to the realm of values—which is the realm that matters above all—there is no such independent arbitration. I point you to Alasdair MacIntyre’s Whose Justice? Which Rationality? and Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse for examples. Excerpts:

                One of the most striking facts about modern political orders is that they lack institutionalized forums within which these fundamental disagreements can be systematically explored and charted, let alone there being any attempt made to resolve them. The facts of disagreement themselves frequently go unacknowledged, disguised by a rhetoric of consensus. And when on some single, if complex issue, as in the struggles over the Vietnam war or in the debates over abortion, the illusions of consensus on questions of justice and practical rationality are for the moment fractured, the expression of radical disagreement is institutionalized in such a way as to abstract that single issue from those background contexts of different and incompatible beliefs from which such disagreements arise. This serves to prevent, so far as is possible, debate extending to the fundamental principles which inform those background beliefs. (WJ, 2–3)

            No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (Disenchantment, 14–15)

            Science didn’t stop nuclear weapons from obliterating humanity, humans did, using as part of their reasoning content which could not possibly come from science. Destroy that content by claiming the supremacy of science and you doom the human race.

          • But, again, Coyne isn’t talking about value systems. He’s talking about how religious people exempt their religious beliefs from the method of science when it comes to factual claims about reality! Theists are the ones pretending this is about value systems and worldviews and scientism and so on. It’s not. It’s about being consistent and intellectually honest! The criticism about Krauss’ article was the idea that use of the same reasoning about the same claims will bring about mutual respect. Coyne disagrees in that the problem is a fundamental incompatibility between the method of science and the method of faith that fuels all kinds of claims made about reality – like crackers into flesh by the use of Latin – that is full religious bull pucky so ridiculous, so ludicrous, that such claims and the people who insist on making them are deserving of mockery and contempt for this astounding silliness.

            But you’re not responding to this observation, this justified line of reasoning, this explanation for how to convert people away from respecting such lunacy; you want to make this discussion about value systems… as if religion is magically endowed by divine revelation to provide better guidance than areas of study like philosophy, ethics, and biology. This claim, too, is ridiculous when we look at the justifications used by the religious to enact religiously acceptable moral justifications.

          • But, again, Coyne isn’t talking about value systems. He’s talking about how religious people exempt their religious beliefs from the method of science when it comes to factual claims about reality!

            I agree that it’s bad to exempt beliefs from the best available forms of scrutiny. So for example, you have Massimo Pigliucci’s On Coyne, Harris, and PZ (with thanks to Dennett), plus Lawrence Krauss: another physicist with an anti-philosophy complex. Furthermore, you have folks like John Loftus who won’t give any system for dealing with values—in The Outsider Test for Faith for example, he continually says that “we should only think in terms of the probabilities”, despite the fact that his metaphysics leads to isought.

            I just reviewed Coyne’s post and I really cannot support your claim that he is only talking about “factual claims about reality”. He is talking about all beliefs (unless you can show him discriminating?), and surely that must include ought-beliefs as well as is-beliefs. Or would you say that you have zero ought-beliefs, @tildeb?

          • Listing The Pig as some kind of response to the ‘best’ form of scrutiny to Coyne post’s thesis I accuse you of avoiding is yet another avoidance. You’re still not dealing with it. Once again, you try to make it about value systems and claim because all of us spend some time utilizing values, therefore this post must really be all about value systems and so your response does address the post… albeit in a circumbendibus fashion through the warren of metaphysical considerations about values and systems.

            Good grief.

            But that’s still not addressing the reason for Coyne’s criticism, introduced here by Marc as if it demonstrates hate-mongering. It doesn’t.

            The Pig’s post is yet another mewling whine he makes from his little patch of the Wilderness about New Atheists not genuflecting enough at the feet of Mother Philosophy… ‘best’ represented by good atheists, of course… if not by the likes of Massimo then by other lesser qualified metaphysicians but definitely not by those philosophical fleas like Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and The Hitch. No, those best selling authors are Luddites, you see, because they fail to utilize enough sophisticated philosophy to suit him who ‘best’ represents atheism.

            So tedious. So typical. So drool. New Atheism isn’t about the kind of philosophy Pigliucci exercises; it’s about criticizing religious privilege… you know, like the kind of privileging done by people who exempt certain claims – crackers poofed into flesh and then poofed back again – from reality’s arbitration of them.

            That’s not the ‘best’ kind of scrutiny to use, labreuer, when considering if Coyne in this post has a strong or weak point in his criticism about how to address (and on what basis) the factual claims made about reality by people who first exempt certain beliefs – like wafers into flesh – from reasonable arbitration. The Pig can’t seem to wrap his sophisticated mind around why this might still matter if not done properly clothed in Massimo’s acceptable philosophical garb.

            And yes, Coyne is talking about all belief claims made about reality to be similarly subjected to arbitration by the same reality rather than respecting that some of these can be exempted for religious reasons. I’m glad you seem to be finally getting that point. According to Marc, however, that point is supposedly evidence of New Atheist ‘hate’.

          • And yes, Coyne is talking about all belief claims made about reality […]

            Does Coyne think there exist belief claims not “made about reality”, belief claims it’s OK to have? Do you?

          • The Pig’s post is yet another mewling whine he makes from his little patch of the Wilderness about New Atheists not genuflecting enough at the feet of Mother Philosophy… ‘best’ represented by good atheists, of course… if not by the likes of Massimo then by other lesser qualified metaphysicians but definitely not by those philosophical fleas like Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and The Hitch. No, those best selling authors are Luddites, you see, because they fail to utilize enough sophisticated philosophy to suit him who ‘best’ represents atheism.

            I could replace a few words and this would be precisely what a right-wing Christian fundamentalist would say. You appealed to nothing rational, your comment is full of weasel words, you use derogatory epithets, and you appeal to popularity as if that means anything other than popularity. @tildeb, do you expect anyone to take you seriously? You’re like a pastor who has had three affairs and now is just open about continuing affairs, attempting to preach about sexual purity.

  4. I actually sympathize with people especially who study evolution in this particular dogfight. Cosmologists haven’t had to fight off quite the amount of ignorance that the biology field has had to contend with. When I watch debates between people such as Ken Ham and Bill Nye or the older debates between Kent Hovind and and basically anybody, the level of stupidity they bring to the table makes Christianity seem utterly laughable. When I see debates that WLC does he at least makes the things he says sound somewhat plausible and does talk about real science. Even though the debate between him and Krauss was contentious it at least brought real science to the table as opposed to fairy tales. He doesn’t try to shoehorn a 6000 year old earth into what we observe. He doesn’t try to tell me that Noah actually put two of every kind of animal on a boat and that the earth actually flooded. The debates are more realistic so the discourse is somewhat more civil, so I get it.

    The positions are certainly more nuanced then what Coyne lets on but fundamentalism deserves to be mocked and ridiculed.

    • I actually sympathize with people especially who study evolution in this particular dogfight. Cosmologists haven’t had to fight off quite the amount of ignorance that the biology field has had to contend with.

      Because… what, people don’t have absolutely ignorant ideas of cosmology? Or, for that matter, most sciences?

      Have you seen what people think of gluten?

      The positions are certainly more nuanced then what Coyne lets on but fundamentalism deserves to be mocked and ridiculed.

      No, it doesn’t. And this kind of thinking is just bullying redux.

      I have a suggestion: a person who sincerely believes X, even if X is wrong (even obviously wrong to educated people, which person X may not be), is not automatically deserving of mockery and ridicule. People who mock and ridicule others for the simple crime of being wrong deserve to be mocked and ridiculed.

      What they deserve is to have someone explain to them why they are wrong, without exaggeration or belittling.

      And for the record? You can blame various atheists – including some scientists – for some of the people who reject evolution. Coyne and Dawkins and others make wildly unscientific, unsubstantiated, pig-ignorant claims about evolution and science, and they go uncorrected. Insofar as they do that and people resist accepting this or that scientific claim as a result, they share some of the blame.

  5. Maybe we can hope that the emergence of those such as Coyne, Hitchens and Dawkins are just the death throes of the old modernist certainties. In the same way that the inerrantist fundamentalists are hell bent on the destruction of themselves by ridiculous internecine witch hunting and schism, due to the overcoming of their own certainties, maybe the anti-theists will tear themselves apart too.

    I am too much of a pessimist though to think that a new “enlightened” age will come where more people realise we actually know a lot less than we don’t know and try to be nice to each other instead.

    Thank God for God, it won’t last for ever, but I am getting a bit impatient for it all to end :-0

    • Considering Dawkins is rapidly decaying from ‘Brilliant evolutionary biologist (who hasn’t done science in literally decades, apparently)’ to ‘Old man who shouts at clouds’ in the minds of many – largely for his anti-progressive sins – I think they’re past their prime. They have been ever since the election of Obama, really.

    • Yeah, I also think that True Enlightenment would not be people acquiring more factual knowledge but realizing that their factual knowledge is far more uncertain than they like to think.
      “All I know is that I don’t know” Socrates reminds us.

      • Too bad you won’t apply that wisdom to your understanding of New Atheism. You prefer your warped version where you condemn not the valid criticisms raised about harm caused by religious privilege (oh no, you have determined that that harm belongs solely with those right wing fundamentalists) and why it needs to be dismantled from deserving any intellectual respect whatsoever. No, your version is much nicer where you condemn those who raise these criticisms most effectively to the widest audience. You condemn us to be hate mongers and militants not because what we argue isn’t true but because New Atheists as a group deserve condemnation for tone. I do not know why you feel justified to do so but I presume it’s because you fear our effectiveness with the next generation.

        • You prefer your warped version where you condemn not the valid criticisms raised about harm caused by religious privilege (oh no, you have determined that that harm belongs solely with those right wing fundamentalists) […]

          Citations, please. My recollection of Marc’s posting and commenting does not seem to match this, so I’d like you to support your assertions with evidence.

          You condemn us to be hate mongers and militants not because what we argue isn’t true but because New Atheists as a group deserve condemnation for tone.

          Perhaps Marc has noted a deep irony, in the supposedly über-rational people hypocritically using emotional manipulation to serve the ends of rationality.

          I do not know why you feel justified to do so but I presume it’s because you fear our effectiveness with the next generation.

          Do you often presume in this fashion?

          • Can’t you read? Marc has made many comments distancing himself (and his theology) from what he calls the Christian Right. In this post he does so again, with his presumptuous conclusion:

            In the same way hateful Christian fundamentalists are an utter embarrassment for the Master they pretend to follow, militant atheists are a shame for the very Reason and Science they profess to cherish.

            In the last post about his letter to John Shore, Marc states:

            I’m also against the Christian Right and expose quite often their false priorities and distortion of the Gospel.

            Marc has written posts on why he believes this… or have you been napping each and every time?

            You keep asking me repeatedly for citations for these kinds of passing references when the references are numerous and obvious. If not for clarity of criticism or revealing an important component of the comment, why keep doing this if not as a purely churlish response for me asking for citations that ARE centrally important to the criticisms and/or comment raised by others and presented as if true when that is the very issue up for debate?

            And yes, I do presume, which is why I identify it when I do so. This is not a failure on my part, labreuer, but an intellectually honest assertion that I know perfectly well may be wrong. The key for you is to comprehend why identifying the presumption matters. You might want to give this point more consideration.

          • Can’t you read? Marc has made many comments distancing himself (and his theology) from what he calls the Christian Right. In this post he does so again, with his presumptuous conclusion:

            The fact that sometimes Marc comes down hard on fundamentalists does not, in and of itself, establish your point. Indeed, you reference John Shore, who appears anti-Christian Right, and yet Marc came down hard on him.

            You keep asking me repeatedly for citations for these kinds of passing references when the references are numerous and obvious.

            I wasn’t aware that I’ve done this more than 2–4 times, but if I understand your position correctly, asking for evidence is a good thing. Ensuring that you have properly sampled the evidence is a good thing. Are you really content to rely on your faulty memory when you offer harsh criticisms? Do you really think you’re that immune from confirmation bias? It seems to me that if you really cared as much as you make yourself out as caring, you would be collecting data, and not just anecdotes.

            It also sounds like you want everyone to fight your fight. Have you considered that maybe Marc doesn’t see religion being given the elevated status you do, given that he lives in France? Have you considered that Marc’s home, Lorraine, is having its culture destroyed by the central government, in the name of Secularism?

            I’m waiting to hear more about how manipulating emotions is a good way to achieve rationality. It sounds like nuking a city to save it, but perhaps you have a compelling defense.

            As to your presumptions, I always consider it a red flag when the pattern is that a person’s presumptions make him/her feel better. This instance matches that pattern; I don’t know about the others.

      • I presume several of the posters here are from the US and wonder what the experience is there in relation to here in the UK. There was an article on the BBC News website about “atheists” coming out in the US and that many atheists feel to some extent oppressed. It appears from this that the situation “over there” is totally different from that “over here”. In the UK there is no real issue about being an atheist as it is at least the main underlying cultural mind-set of the media, education, government and most other things. In fact, to be a “committed Christian” is the sort of thing which generally gets ridicule and curious glances.

        To what extent is “committed Christianity” a cultural norm in the US? Is it geographical? I.e in many Southern states and more rural areas? Are the US anti-theists just a product of reaction to a fundamentalist American Christian Hegemony, plus a lot of anti Muslim Paranoia thrown in?

        In the UK anti-theists seem a bit odd, particularly in their reaction to “Christianity” as most people think Christianity is dying out anyway and a bit of an oddity itself. Although, since 9/11 fear of “fundamentalist Islam” is becoming a greater and greater subject of contention. Not because it threatens our religious values but because it threatens our secular/liberal milieux.

        • Ross, one of the reasons why I comment here on Marc’s blog is to challenge the kinds of claims many theists make about New Atheism. Do not presume they know what they are talking about, or build opinions on these kinds of misrepresentations… especially the kind of misrepresentations like those that twist anti-theism to be synonymous with anti-theists. The agenda here is not to respond to New Atheism honestly but to misrepresent it as something it’s not – a movement of violence and eventual gulags towards religious people. New Atheists come to this debate armed only by reason and concern. What people do with it is up to them. Yeah, so very militant!

          New Atheism is a global movement to get religion out of the public domain and to stop it from exerting such a pernicious influence that causes real harm to real people in real life in the name of piety. Part of that attempt is to show why imposing religious beliefs on reality does not produce knowledge but forms of bigotry, misogyny, and other unnecessary discrimination that are incompatible with a kind of society that respects the autonomy of the individual. Sure, some forms of religion are more obvious than others in producing and supporting these negative effects but the method itself – imposing religious belief on reality in very innocuous ways – is just as responsible as the most unwavering fundamental extremes for creating the environment from which these major impediments to an egalitarian society continue to produce.

          For example, in Britain we can demonstrate this pernicious harm by the rise (and the effects) of independent religious schooling (and the indoctrination that is imposed on children) paid for by the public and substituted for education. In Ireland, we can show how the Catholic dominated public law kills people for religious reasons. In Germany, we can show how municipal taxes diverted with governmental approval to various religious orders pays for physical abuse and sexual predation of children. We can demonstrate how the rise of religious ghettos in France – particularly muslim – produce a very significant cohort of young people willing to participate in jihad. This preparation in developing a ripe recruiting ground for jihad is even more significant in Britain … a production numbering in the millions by British born, British raised, British educated muslims politically willing to support killing in defense of their religious beliefs. This fact should raise your concerns from a passing assumption of benign religious affiliation to significant alarm. To pretend and/or presume there’s really no problem is really a refusal to deal with a reality that exists independent of any beliefs held about it.

          • You’ve made lots of unwarranted assumptions here I don’t have the time to go into.

            One striking example: in France ethnic violence does NOT stem from Islam (in general) but from anti-white racism :
            https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/anti-white-racism-and-extraordinary-claims/

            And please, cease speaking of Religion with a capital R as a unified entity.
            There are countless religionS out there with radically different outlooks on life and on morality.

          • What is the matter with you?

            I said, ” We can demonstrate how the rise of religious ghettos in France – particularly muslim – produce a very significant cohort of young people willing to participate in jihad.”

            You interpreted that to mean that I think that in France ethnic violence comes from Islam. That’s not what I said, Marc.

            And the word religious means the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Yes, there are many variations on a theme (religionS, as you write) but I speak of the the them (Religion as defined). Although it is concerning what each these varieties have to say about outlooks on life and especially morality, that has nothing whatsoever to do with my commenting about your misrepresenting New Atheism to be a movement of hate.

          • […] your misrepresenting New Atheism to be a movement of hate.

            Maybe Marc should have said “movement of derision” instead, and used you as a prime example?

          • ““movement of derision””… or as a movement of mass destruction. Mass destruction of reason and basic human decency 🙂

            This can be easily backed up by all the cognitive mistakes militant atheists commit all the time.

            A major one consists of FOCUSING their attention on the worst religious groups out there and concluding from their misdeeds that Religion with a capital R (meaning ALL religions) is evil.
            This is clearly one of their most absurd logical leaps.

            The atrocities committed by Bin Laden are evidence that the Salvation Army is evil too.
            Why?
            Because both are Religious!

            Of course, all these things occur implicitly in all their hateful posts.

            But if you make the effort to strip away their rhetoric, analyze their arguments, conclusions and draw their logical implications, you’ll be very quick to see that the emperor has no clothes.

          • I would simply point to @tildeb’s inability to refer to certain people (people he doesn’t like) as people. Instead, he calls Edward Feser “The Feser” and Massimo Pigliucci “The Pig”.

          • I fail to see the SLIGHTEST reason why radical Muslim violence could justify one’s willingness to obliterate progressive Christianity as well.

            And this clearly what Coyne is advocating: he wants ALL religious people to become atheists and advocate the use of ridicule and emotional bullying for that purpose.

          • … especially the kind of misrepresentations like those that twist anti-theism to be synonymous with anti-theists.

            Do clarify the difference! You did mean to say:

                 anti-theism
                 anti-theists

            , right? It would seem that anti-theists are part of anti-theism, and represent it. Indeed, anti-theism wouldn’t exist without any anti-theists. You just got done saying that while there are religionS, there is also Religion. Is there not also Anti-Theism?

            New Atheism is a global movement to get religion out of the public domain […]

            And once that’s done, the New Atheists can pick and choose ‘the good’ all by themselves—well, with other Approved Secularists—and smuggle it in under the name of rationalism, as well-illustrated by UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse:

            No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (14–15)

            I wait in anticipation for you to explain how New Atheism has beliefs about reality, which are also about ‘the good’, without crossing the is–ought gap.

      • I would simply point to @tildeb’s inability to refer to certain people (people he doesn’t like) as people. Instead, he calls Edward Feser “The Feser” and Massimo Pigliucci “The Pig”.

        Well, tildeb is “The Twerp”, so I suppose he must do what he can.

        I also love the ‘global movement’ bit, when it’s largely a gaggle of internet people acting like children and pretending to be knowledgeable about things they rarely understand – science, reason, religion, etc. The Cult of Gnu is ever animated by their delusions of importance.

  6. Yes, Coyne and others advocate ridicule and contempt for people who refuse to subject their claims about reality to reality’s arbitration of them but insist that others hold these beliefs to be respectable by a special exemption. This is not a totalitarian decree but a means to an end, namely, an end to respecting religious claims about reality as if they were equivalent to knowledge claims about reality. And yes, Coyne and others want religious people to engage their brains and utilize reason to see these religious models about reality for the frauds they really are and to stop empowering such ridiculous beliefs as turning wafers into flesh or that creationism is an equivalent knowledge model about reality to evolution. Whining that such assertions are done in a tone that hurt your feelings is not a reasonable defense; it’s demanding the exemption that currently promotes and sustains the religious privilege be prolonged not on merit of demonstrable benefit but in the face of pernicious harm in the name of consideration for fragile feelings. Not gunna happen, Marc, no matter how often you misrepresent the criticism to some weird version of an imaginary anti-theist call for obliteration. The criticism against religious privilege is valid no matter how grossly you try to misrepresent it.

    • Not gunna happen, Marc, no matter how often you misrepresent the criticism

      The only misrepresentation that happens is in your bizarre portrayals of the criticisms, and the precious, fragile whining you ceaselessly engage in.

      A world of reason and science terrifies you, tildeb, because it is a world where your views are not just open to question, but are quite easily recognized as silly – so you avoid it at all costs, and imagine yourself as a brave soldier in a ‘global movement’. The reality is, you’re not, nor is Coyne. You’re just a typical twerp, a wannabe bully – not an actual bully, merely a wannabe. And Coyne? He’s delighting in making rubes like you dance on his behalf. He knows that all he has to do is mock and act like a jerk, and the twerps will coo.

      But they are the only ones who do. And the only ones who ever will. Even many atheists are sick of Dawkins and company – and that will only continue.

      I say this, Tildeb, to help you. Because, mark my words – in five years time or so, there’s a good chance you’re going to look back at how you behaved online about matters like this, cringe, and hope your anonymity stays intact.

      • I can only say a loud “Amen!” to that 🙂

        I appreciate you recognize there are many atheists who utterly reject the anti-theistic hatred I’ve exposed in this post.
        A British atheistic friend mine told me that she’s completely disgusted, dumbstruck and shocked by Dawkin’s irrational behavior and hateful statements.
        So it would be great to stop saying that atheists in general are immoral and hostile. The only thing one can likely say is that militant atheists have in average a low morality in comparison to other worldviews and groups.

        I’d love to learn your take on this comment of mine:
        https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/bullying-in-the-name-of-reason-and-science/comment-page-1/#comment-10222

        Otherwise, do you think that with this whole post, I’ve been successful in showing that anti-theism is truly a loathsome hate group ? Do you have perhaps other examples to add?

        Cheers.

      • So it would be great to stop saying that atheists in general are immoral and hostile.

        Wait, who? Who’s saying that? -Me-? I regularly stress that there’s a difference between the Cult of Gnu, other atheists, etc. That said, I don’t think the issue is without subtle nuances and complications, but certainly the Gnus are a subset – a small subset – of atheists.

        But absolutely most atheists/irreligious don’t act like freaking tildeb.

        Otherwise, do you think that with this whole post, I’ve been successful in showing that anti-theism is truly a loathsome hate group ?

        I think you give evidence, but really, it’s a bit like asking if you’ve provided evidence that the Klan is not a fan of Catholics or blacks. I mean… -they- provided the evidence themselves in advance. Amply so.

        You certainly did pick out some choice bits of evidence though, in context, and it helps to have it in one convenient place.

        That said, I disagree about ‘Christian fundamentalists’ – at least, that word seems to cover too large of a group. And I think you’ve seen recent evidence that ‘Christian progressives’ are not exactly immune from hate of their own. But, that’s a sideshow here.

        • That said, I disagree about ‘Christian fundamentalists’ – at least, that word seems to cover too large of a group. And I think you’ve seen recent evidence that ‘Christian progressives’ are not exactly immune from hate of their own. But, that’s a sideshow here.

          I’m getting very disturbed by the focus on hate qua hate. We have Mt 7:15 as a warning on this matter, and we ourselves are told to hate in Rom 12:9. Failure to hate evil is likely a disqualifier for entry into heaven, per Rev 21:7–8 as well as the other instances of “one who conquers“.

          It seems much more important to identify who/what a group thinks is ‘good’ and who/what a group thinks is ‘evil’. I am reminded of something Jacques Ellul said in The Subversion of Christianity:

              We should also mention the constant readiness to negotiate, that is, to keep up dialogue, not to regard the police or the communist party as an enemy to be struck down but as an adversary with whom dialogue is always possible, and to do everything to make it possible. (204)

          To put it another way, can we call ideas evil with people always having ≥ “one small bridgehead of good”, in line with 2 Cor 10:3–6?

          Finally, I present Heb 5:14, with the critical distinction between καλός (kalos: ‘good’) and κακός (kakos: ‘evil’). I mention the Greek because kakos has the sense of “not being as it should be”. Can we see how to redeem, or are we merely seized with the impetus to destroy, destroy, DESTROY? I mention Heb 5:14 as a whole because many are unable to discern between the good and evil elements in an idea/person; it is so tempting to judge childishly and call an idea/person 100% good or 100% evil. The false generalization from ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ will do us in if we aren’t careful.

  7. The World is a very strange place. To anyone possessing “Commen Sense” (which oxymoronically is not very common:-( ) Coyne’s argument is irrational and his approach very juvenile, yet because someone has allowed him to write PhD after his name, he is given undue deference and many are persuaded that he actually has some real authority to promulgate his ideas.

    In the same way a particularly frustrated failed artist gained a hell of a lot of power in Germany, in the early to mid last century (please forgive me for possibly proving Godwin’s Law here). There are other numerous examples of “idiocy” being given credence and deference and this in itself is one major reason why the World has become very unpleasant for many over the years. Maybe this is the whole reason that the World becomes unpleasant/Nasty/wicked/evil.

    Of course the biggest issue with Dawkins, Coyne ,Etc, Etc is that somehow there is a belief that if “intelligent” people were in charge of the World, things would get better. This being the counter claim of things being bad because un-intelligent people seem to be in charge. The fashion for “scientists” to claim generally that “science” ought to be the basis for controlling and ordering most things is probably just the usual excuse for the power-hungry to justify their own power-hunger”.

    As the “myth of Progress” becomes more recognised as the myth it is, and the myth of “knowledge as opposed to belief” becomes more recognised as a crock of ****. I wonder what might replace this as a common “Zeitgeist”.

    “Post-Modernism” might posit the death of the “Zeitgeist” itself and I personally wonder about the whole principle of the thing, bearing in mind how it is not universal and that there are different “Zeitgeists” in different places, but for where we are in the West what may be next?

    Is the principle of “power” itself just a form of evil, or is it really possible that power can be wielded benignly? Those of us who pay attention to and hope to learn from the example of Jesus may notice that his power was not in wielding power, but in giving it up.

    Certain views on Libertarianism or Anarchy posit the principle of non-power being the best suited methodology for producing a better World, but how can giving up power protect us from those who wish and act to gain power?

    This becomes more and more of an issue in the current World where globalisation/multinationalism and the possibility of “One World Governemnt” seem not only possible but fairly probable.

    Getting back to my point about Jesus and his laying aside of power, where should those of us who look to him for guidance position ourselves in these matters?

    Jerry Coyne openly and blatantly advocates the use of power to gain power, should we assume that anyone, regardless of the colour of their beliefs who promulgates the use of power over others is actually a dangerous, if not evil force?

    • As noxious as they are personally, I’m actually less and less worried about the Coynes and the Dawkinses. Dawkins is, really, a joke at this point – not even his followers quote his arguments (the big excuse is ‘they’re terrible, but he’s meant to be arguing against people whose arguments are also terrible, basically’), and he’s out of step with the current cultural fads – hence his demotion from ‘Brilliant evolutionary biologist’ to ‘old man embarrassing himself on twitter’ in the media. Coyne’s prominence as an atheist is limited to ‘has a blog, is a professional at making fruit flies have sex’. They’re childish individuals, but that’s about it – and the sort of people they influence tend, uh, not to be the brightest or most well-adjusted anyway.

      There’s always a risk, but when their last anti-theist incarnation really came into power (league of militant atheists, etc) they seemed to be saying something new and offering some attractive solutions to gullible people. Nowadays, it’s more.. at best, ‘that was entertaining.’ At worst, ‘Ugh, that twerp again.’

      That said, even if I don’t think there’s such a risk of the sort you mention – and hey, I could be wrong – I do think it’s time to stop tolerating individuals like this. The only people who deserve contempt, belittling and mockery are people who deploy it regularly, along with dishonesty, against even civil people. The funny thing is, for all their tough talk, these guys have tremendously thin skin.

  8. Michael starts this thread with an assumption, that The use of hate and ridicule is not dialogue but a form of violence. To suggest that these methods are appropriate is anti-human. I agree that they should not be condoned.

    The assumption is that ‘hate’ accurately defines New Atheists who criticize with mockery and ridicule the religious for failing to use the same standard of evidence for particular beliefs that they themselves use for all other kinds of equivalent claims describing reality. This assumption is wrong.

    Now read these comments and see who it is maligning the character of real people (and not just their ideas), vilifying (not just criticizing) a group of people and calling for a legal reduction in their rights. Look at the actual tone used in this dialogue to indicate who is keeping to the original criticism (religious privilege to exempt claims from reality’s arbitration of them) and who is advocating for the ‘form of violence’ Michael associates with hate.

    Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Atheists face this vitriol every day and when they push back against others imposing ridiculous beliefs on them (while demanding the privilege to do so), they are vilified as militant promoters of hate.

    Again, a ‘form of violence’ that argues up means down and white another (and equivalent) kind of black.

    Who is it that uses this method here in a form far beyond ridicule and mockery of specific beliefs, specific criticisms, specific actions? Who is doing the generalizing and group condemnation? Most importantly, in this small community of commentators discussing this blog post, what is really being condoned here and by whom?

    I agree with Michael but he mis-indentifies who is exercising hate. The use of hate we see on display here doesn’t come from me, a New Atheist. It comes form those who seem unable to practice what they preach.

      • Why, it’s almost as if ‘promoting rationality’ isn’t the goal at all!

        Or, better yet, that he doesn’t understand what ‘rationality’ is.

        Then again, in this case? It’s probably not an ‘either/or’ situation but an ‘and’ one.

        A militant atheist disciple of hate, furious at the world for refusing to grant unquestioned and undeserved privilege to people belonging to his cult, justifying the use of reason-eschewing tactics in the name of reason.

        What was that (Marxist!) saying? History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce?

        We already had the militant atheist tragedy. Guess what stage we’re at now?

        • I’ve never managed to engage an atheist on the matter of when emotional manipulation is allowed. The closest I ever got was reading a few blog posts by Loftus, in which he claimed something along the lines of, “emotion got them into it, emotion will get them out”. It is naive to think that there is a ‘neutral’ state of ‘proper’ emotion, but this was evidence that at least some atheists have a concept of ‘proper’ emotion. My next question is from whence this concept arose.

          @tildeb, of course, wants no part in that discussion, because he would have to abandon his arguing point that we must match all of our beliefs to reality. The following interchange is instructive:

          labreuer: I just reviewed Coyne’s post and I really cannot support your claim that he is only talking about “factual claims about reality”. He is talking about all beliefs (unless you can show him discriminating?), and surely that must include ought-beliefs as well as is-beliefs. Or would you say that you have zero ought-beliefs, @tildeb?

          tildeb: And yes, Coyne is talking about all belief claims made about reality to be similarly subjected to arbitration by the same reality rather than respecting that some of these can be exempted for religious reasons. I’m glad you seem to be finally getting that point. According to Marc, however, that point is supposedly evidence of New Atheist ‘hate’.

          Notice how @tildeb didn’t quite answer my question, and pretended that I was “getting [@tildeb’s] point”, when actually I was deeply questioning it! A very clever move. @tildeb is being very careful to avoid the question of right emotion or right sentiment or right morality, because he knows he cannot use his favorite strategy (scientism) to deal with them. And so I asked @tildeb the following question; I fully expect him to ignore it (I would love to be pleasantly surprised), and will be using it as evidence against him unless he changes his behavior to date.

          labreuer: Does Coyne think there exist belief claims not “made about reality”, belief claims it’s OK to have? Do you?

      • Labreuer,

        @tildeb, of course, wants no part in that discussion, because he would have to abandon his arguing point that we must match all of our beliefs to reality.

        I’ll add another fun one to the mix.

        PZ Myers disagrees with Jerry Coyne about various topics central to their positions – including what would count as ‘evidence’ for the existence of God, whether it’s possible in principle to rationally believe in God, etc.

        Which one is ‘matching all of their beliefs to reality’? Because…

        A) If the answer is “both”, then disagreement alone does not suffice to show that someone is not ‘matching their beliefs to reality’.

        B) If the answer is ‘one of them’, then apparently the Cult of Gnu can’t even keep their own leaders ‘matching their beliefs to reality’ even when it comes to atheism itself.

        It’s a pretty obvious problem, but hey, when you’re in a hate group based on emotional manipulation, reason takes a back seat.

        Oh, another thing.

        Do the Cultists think -they- are not emotionally manipulated… even by their leaders?

        Do they approve?

        • On Deeper Waters, I just posted the following snippet from Josef Pieper’s Abuse of Language ~~ Abuse of Power:

              I spoke of public discourse becoming “detached from the notions of truth and reality”. This brief characterization may still be too mild; it does not yet express the full measure of devastation breeding within the sophistic corruption of the word. It is entirely possible that the true and authentic reality is being drowned out by the countless superficial information bits noisily and breathlessly presented in propaganda fashion. Consequently, one may be entirely knowledgeable about a thousand details and nevertheless, because of ignorance regarding the core of the matter, remain without basic insight. This is a phenomenon in itself already quite astonishing and disturbing. Arnold Gehlen labeled it “a fundamental ignorance, created by technology and nourished by information”. But I wanted to say, something far more discouraging is readily conceivable as well: the place of authentic reality is taken over by a fictitious reality; my perception is indeed still directed toward an object, but now it is a pseudoreality, deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible any more to discern the truth. (33–34)

          Feser provides a compelling model for the movement from ‘authentic reality’ → ‘pseudoreality’ in Eliminativism without truth, Part I:

          From an Aristotelian point of view, the Cartesian conception of human nature grotesquely distorts it in several ways. First, it abstracts from matter its mathematically definable features — ignoring aspects that are not so definable, such as substantial form, immanent teleology, and secondary qualities– and then reifies this abstraction, redefining “matter” as that kind of stuff which has these mathematically definable features, and only those features. Second, the Cartesian abstracts from human nature its mental aspects and then reifies them, resulting in the notion of a “thinking substance.” Third, whereas the Aristotelian sees what is distinctive about our minds as their intellectualcapacities, such as their capacity for grasping universally shared concepts, the Cartesian tends to focus on conscious awareness, understood as something private, directly knowable only via introspection. Fourth, the Cartesian then slaps together his desiccated notion of matter and his reification of introspected conscious thought and calls the resulting aggregate a “human being.” For the Aristotelian, this is a little like squeezing every last drop of juice out a certain piece of fruit, peeling off the skin, drying it out and throwing away the pulp — then putting the dried out skin next to a glass of the juice and saying “An orange is what you get when you put this dried skin next to the glass.”

          Over here, I quote from Donald E. Polkinghorne’s Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences (Google books preface), in which the error of this ‘authentic reality’ → ‘pseudoreality’ is exposed scientifically.

          If by ‘reality’ you actually mean the whole reality which God created, then I do think all beliefs ought to be conformed to it. But if by ‘reality’ you mean something smaller, forcing conformation to that is called ‘slavery’. @tildeb, by calling everyone to be “conformed to the pattern of this world”, is attempting to enslave people. He probably doesn’t know this, but that’s irrelevant. Ignorance is not an excuse, because God always provides us sufficient revelation/reason/evidence. If your eyes and ears are open, of course. “He who has ears, let him hear!”

      • Emotional manipulation?

        Give your head a shake.

        I’m saying here’s a post vilifying New Atheists for supposedly spreading hate. Here are the reasons why the post is incorrect. Here on commentators supporting the post who do what the post tries to convince us is what New Atheists do to receive vilification and discrimination. Note the absence of vilification for these commentators for doing exactly what the post vilifies New Atheists accused of doing.

        There is no emotional manipulation going on here. But, as is typical, you miss the irony completely, ignore the central criticism, substitute a misrepresentation, vilify the misrepresentation, and then accuse the New Atheist for doing something not done but the unwilling recipient of a false belief imposed on them.

        You guys are real piece of work.

        Now look at a typical talking head fundamentalist in this short clip criticized by the host – a New Atheist. In it we find a typical kind of ridicule and mockery used by New Atheists in response to claims so ludicrous that rationality and reason play no part in its formation or dispensing. The person promoting hate is not the New Atheist; it’s the guy exercising and promoting the death of atheists and other minorities deemed ‘immoral’ in terms of piety. Becasue so many commentators here have such real difficulty grasping the obvious so busy are they inserting their false beliefs on others that this example demonstrates hate and not the criticisms of those who make fun of its pious promotion.

          • Do you mean to demonstrate again @labreuer that you cannot follow a simple series of sentences and arrive at the stated conclusion without first asking some irrelevant question that only tangentially appears to have some merit?

          • Seeing as the second paragraph of Marc’s response to Coyne is the following,

            No, it is about WIPING OUT all religions by using vile emotional bullying and all sorts of vicious propaganda.

            , I think it’s completely relevant to talk about emotional manipulation. Furthermore, your criticism is one of hypocrisy. It seems perfectly reasonable to see whether you yourself are actually less hypocritical than those you accuse. If that is not the case, then your example provides nobody any reason to believe (a) it is possible to be less hypocritical than you; (b) it would be a good idea to be less hypocritical than you.

            As to your general complaint (I temporarily ignored it to attempt to get you to answer my simple question, to no avail), see these two comments of mine. Hate qua hate is not evil in my eyes; hatred directed at that which is not evil is evil.

          • Your ‘simple’ questions are ‘simply’ a means to avoid my criticism of the OP. Over and over you ask these questions to take the discussion in an entirely trivial direction where no satisfactory answer can ever be related back to the original criticism. That’s why it’s a diversionary tactic that you think presents you in an academic light of earnest inquiry when it is nothing more than a means to an end where you have no desire, which you then demonstrate time and gain, to actually inquire into the criticism itself.

            When I refuse to go down the rabbit holes you want me to follow (away from criticism of the OP) you then call me names and malign my character. It’s tedious.

            For example, in my video link to what hate speech actually sounds like (where the preacher seems to gleefully anticipate death for atheists and homosexuals and others of less ‘moral fiber’ than those ‘anointed in the blood of Jesus’), the host calls this glee ‘crazy’ and circles a finger around his ear. This is ridicule and mockery from New Atheists (not emotional manipulation for crying out loud), having first demonstrated the hate speech’s divorce from reason and logic. This is the kind of response New Atheists urge people to use when confronted by those who demand exemptions from the method of science for claims they make made about reality.

            You have diverted my point away from this criticism… criticism aimed at demonstrating that what Marc calls ‘hate’ from New Atheists is no such thing. What this ridicule and mockery is is often a response to real and not imaginary hate speech that literally calls for the kinds of punishments and death sentences Marc falsely accuses New Atheists of promoting (‘obliterating’ religion, for example, not by reason as New Atheists say and demonstrate but by some imaginary jack-booted cohort dragging theists from their beds through the streets and loading them into boxcars bound for some anti-theist concentration camp).

            New Atheists do not promote hate. They promote reasons why faith of any kind that tries to justify claims made about reality should not be privileged from reasonable science-based inquiry. This is why many New Atheists blog about and criticize, with the same vigor, the same ridicule, the same mockery, faith-based ideas found in any supernatural subject area and where mysterious mystical force are offered as explanations.

            Marc would have his readers believe (without evidence, I must add) that New Atheists therefore ‘hate’ homeopaths and tarot card readers, dowsers and anti-vaxers, climate change denialists and naturopaths, for exactly the same reasons he presents in these posts maligning the characters of a group of people based on an affiliation with New Atheism. When these New Atheists make the same call for getting rid of public support for these snake oil sales jobs, Marc would have us presume that this is compelling evidence that this group is like any other far right wing hate group.

            Rubbish.

            This line of reasoning Marc uses to malign and discriminate against New Atheists is ludicrous but many people here are so glamored by religious piety that they simply fail to remain rational enough to consider why and how their sympathetic belief does not inform reality. As for those who use this belief as a license to spew vitriol at New Atheists, grow up and get a life.

            New Atheists are not promoters of hate. But rather than face the unpleasant criticisms they use that work exactly the same way against homeopathy as they do against all the forms of theism (save a vague kind of deism), many pious people choose to jump on board the hate wagon aimed at New Atheists and make the same calls for penalties and punishments against this group based on their belief in the righteous sanctimony of their own piety. The hypocrisy is that these same theists want to use the very punishments and penalties they pretend to abhor in their quest to vilify New Atheists when applied to other embattled minorities… like themselves!

            Claiming that New Atheists are hate-mongers deserving of (at least) legal censure is both disgusting and revolting hypocritical behaviour from people who are capable of thinking better than this. And that includes you, labreuer.

          • Your ‘simple’ questions are ‘simply’ a means to avoid my criticism of the OP.

            You have multiple criticisms. Off the top of my head:

            1. New Atheists do not hate.
            2. Anti-New Atheists are the haters.
            3. Religious belief has too much privilege.
            4. Theism, except for deism, necessarily involves beliefs which contradict “reality”.

            1. I don’t see a meaningful difference between hating and shaming in this discussion; both hate and shame are meant to make the object of hatred/shame “go away”. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: depriving the object of ability to influence, exterminating the object, or converting the object.

            2. I’m sure some are. I believe that evil ought to be hated, and I see evil in some of what New Atheists say and do. I happen to think that New Atheists have some valid criticisms. Sadly, they insist on getting many facts seriously wrong (see David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies and Keith Ward’s Is Religion Dangerous? for starters). They do much which makes it all to easy to dismiss them in toto.

            3. I probably agree. This, however, is likely to be extremely culture-dependent. Marc lives in France; France is known to be incredibly anti-religion. You appear to be projecting your own experiences—perhaps you live in the American South?—onto the rest of the world. I live in San Francisco; religion doesn’t really seem to have a whole lot of privilege around here.

            4. You’ve done nothing remotely close to establishing the truth of this statement. So far, I recall you criticizing (i) transubstantiation; (ii) young earth creationism; (iii) Jesus’ resurrection. What you really seem to be doing is adopting scientism, and acting like the physicists at the end of the nineteenth century as described by Albert Michelson (not all agreed, more sources).

            When I refuse to go down the rabbit holes you want me to follow (away from criticism of the OP) you then call me names and malign my character. It’s tedious.

            I call you names? Where? And what constitutes “malign my character”? Quotations, please—or retract your claims.

            This is ridicule and mockery from New Atheists (not emotional manipulation for crying out loud)

            Are you honestly claiming that ridicule and mockery are not efforts designed to impact emotions? If you are not claiming this, then please explain what constitute valid ways to impact emotions (such that the word “manipulation” does not apply), and please tell me how these valid ways are grounded in what you are calling “reality”.

            New Atheists do not promote hate.

            And yet, Marc quotes Coyne saying “I’m baffled why he thinks science need not be a direct enemy of faith.” Do you seriously think that New Atheists can consider ‘faith’ an enemy, and yet not engage in hatred?

            As for those who use this belief as a license to spew vitriol at New Atheists, grow up and get a life.

            Have I done anything which you consider “spew vitriol”? If so, please quote me.

            Claiming that New Atheists are hate-mongers deserving of (at least) legal censure […]

            Who is claiming this?

          • I’m getting the sense that @tildeb’s comments are laced with all sorts of tiny little factual inaccuracies, which make his points stronger than they are, in reality. Whether that reality is what he calls “reality”, I don’t know. He has taken to ignoring requests for evidence or dismissing them as irrelevant/attempts to evade. Evade what, I don’t know—if he were to simply present the evidence, and if it were what he claimed, the discussion could move forward.

      • I’m getting the sense that @tildeb’s comments are laced with all sorts of tiny little factual inaccuracies,

        Getting the sense? *Little*? Most of what he says would qualify as more than ‘inaccurate’. It’s largely amateur-hour rhetoric that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, which is precisely why whenever you do exactly that – scrutinize – he blows right past it all.

        I mean, I’d say it’s at least instructive, but honest to God – this is a microcosm representation of the whole of the Cult of Gnu since a year after its inception. We’ve seen it before. These are, quite literally, about the only thing they can bring to the table: frantic, panicky wharblegarble, delusions (‘It’s a global movement which..!!’), and confident statements that you are absolutely, positively not supposed to stop and think about.

        Which, think about it – kind of maps to hate groups MOs in general, doesn’t it? When’s the last time you saw a hate group that was known for being contemplative, encouraged discussions of their claims and points, welcomed being asked for evidence or having their contradictions pointed out, and more? All that plus throwing things like “The Pig”, etc.

        He has taken to ignoring requests for evidence or dismissing them as irrelevant/attempts to evade. Evade what, I don’t know—if he were to simply present the evidence, and if it were what he claimed, the discussion could move forward.

        Well, that’s a big if. If he couldn’t present the evidence, or if the evidence didn’t support his points, or if that evidence weighed against him… well, that wouldn’t be ‘moving the discussion forward’ from his point of view. Pretty much the opposite.

        I admire your attempts to actually try to reason with Tildeb, but here’s my view: people like that, people so invested in the Cult of Gnu, can’t reason. They have no respect for reason as a good, because the moment it doesn’t go the way they wish, they have nothing but anger and foul names for it. Likewise with science. They reject both, and that emotional manipulation and bullying they struggle to wield is something they use on themselves as well.

        Talking with them is not available as an option. All that is left is talking-at.

  9. labreuer, go back and read my very first comment. I lay out what Coyne says, what Marc says, and my criticism of Marc’s faulty analogy.

    Now go back look at how you have focused your comments, time and again, and see if the two connect to my original criticism about the OP.

    See what I mean?

    Whereas I continue to refer to the OP and my criticism of Marc’s faulty analogy, each time you comment you attempt to go somewhere else. I don’t play along. You then comment on why this happens and fill in the reasons for my non-compliance with all kinds of supposed faults on my part rather than accept the explanation I have already written you. Just because you think the reasons I give for my non-compliance to your new directions doesn’t suffice, this doesn’t give your license to attribute my faults to be the real cause.

    Along comes the toxic spill that goes by the name Crude to offer his vitriolic hatred of New Atheists as ‘support’ for your misrepresentations and you respond to these offers usually with some measure of agreement. That’s a clue about your own accommodating moral compass in the matter of tone and desire to have a dialogue, by the way…

    Regardless, this accommodating is name-calling by proxy as well as a blatant example of the same kind of misrepresentation of others that brings such glee to Crude.

    Now go back and start over.

    • tildeb,

      Whereas I continue to refer to the OP and my criticism of Marc’s faulty analogy, each time you comment you attempt to go somewhere else.

      He’s going after your thoughts and claims you present in this thread. It is – I know this is shocking to you – fair game. You, meanwhile, have gone all over the place – from talking about the *snrrk* “global movement” of atheism, to claims about religious belief and religious people, and otherwise. What you object to is people actually questioning your statements and claims, or ask you to support them.

      You’re apparently of the mindset that you can throw out whatever you like, and if people question or express skepticism about you’re claims, that’s horrible of them. But really, it’s just people using reason.

      And yes, when you systematically engage in this kind of thing, people will start speculating as to exactly -why- you do it. Pretty fair.

      Along comes the toxic spill that goes by the name Crude to offer his vitriolic hatred of New Atheists as ‘support’ for your misrepresentations and you respond to these offers usually with some measure of agreement.

      As usual, this is a case of the pot calling the ivory black.

      Oh, don’t get me wrong – I have very little respect for you, and certainly for the Cult of Gnu. But ‘vitriolic hatred’? No, I just think you guys are an intellectual joke, a pale echo of a monstrosity once upon a time. You are to the League of Militant Godless what the modern KKK is to the KKK of old. The same intellectual mistakes remain, the hatred remains… but far more pathetic of a specimen. A man in a klan outfit in 2014 is a joke. A new atheist yelping about his ‘global movement’ – Dawkins’ legions stand ready to attack the comboxes, no doubt – is pretty similar.

      No, the vitriolic hatred is all yours. It does not go away just because you deny it.

      Such is the reality you do not want to face.

      Regardless, this accommodating is name-calling by proxy as well as a blatant example of the same kind of misrepresentation of others that brings such glee to Crude.

      It’s a shame for your claims, then, that Labreuer isn’t ‘misrepresenting’ you. The namecalling? That would be me. I call you The Twerp from now on, because that’s what you act like towards anyone who opposes your imaginary legions. I don’t like would-be emotional bullies and hatemongers, even if they are pathetic compared to the ones of old.

      That said, I admit that my criticisms of you can be biting. You’re, at this point, afraid of even confronting me directly. But the best part is, you have no leg to stand on regarding criticisms of my behavior. Remember: you /endorse/, and your sad little gaggle of fellow Gnus endorse, ridiculing and shaming people for the purposes of changing their mind, if you think they are wrong. In the words of your Lord, Richard Dawkins, you endorse using barbs on people, sharpening them until they really hurt, and shaming people. The butt of contempt and all that.

      So, against people who defend that advice – like yourself – I’m happy to do so.

      Did Dawkins never tell you that you may be the butt of contempt someday if you behave so?

      Heads up, Tildeb. It’s not the only way he and his crew swindled you.

      • By the way, Lothar. Somehow you seem to have missed this one, though the wording is similar in one quote in your OP:

        Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

        You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!

        That would be one Richard Dawkins.

        Wrong as usual, of course, and as he’s finding out lately thanks to his tweets. But the instruction is key: hurt people. Mock them, shame them. Scare people – particularly the people who ‘haven’t considered the question very long or very carefully. Let the shame and fear and worry fill in the blanks for them.

        Dawkins’ advice is not reason – it is anti-reason. He’s not even pretending these people will become more enlightened, more rational or reasonable as a result of his efforts. They will simply act the way he wants them to act, and believing what he wants them to believe.

        Which is, at the end of the day, the soul of the Cult of Gnu: anger that people – how DARE it – believe differently than they.

        • Thanks for it! Do you have a link? I’d like to add it to my post.

          This a pearl. Yeah, Dawkins is advocating bullying people out of their faith instead of convincing them through rational arguments.

          And if you don’t give in, this means you’re “irremediably religious” and beyond any hope of salvation.

          What a bunch of loathsome assholes!

          • I find it a demonstration of Coyne’s point that you, Marc, cannot see the gross distortion of reality Crude relies on to justify in his own mind his vitriol for New Atheists. I’m beginning to think you are a lost cause to be so invested in vilifying a group of people that you are no longer capable of reasonable critical thought about your bias.

          • Sure, I have bias, and it’s important to me that I be aware of it. I also realize my biases are my preferences and not to be trusted as accurate descriptions of stuff independent of me. That’s where we differ, and why it matters effecting our perspectives. You are imposing your biases on New Atheists and mistaking your bias for reality. And a powerful clue that you are falling for this confusion is when you agree with Crude’s misrepresentations not because they have any truth value independent of your bias but because they align with your biases. That’s a critical error.

      • “Crude’s misrepresentations”?

        Do you wonder why your argumentation is laughed at and dismissed, tildeb? It’s because of things like that.

        I just provided a completely in context quote from Dawkins. There he is, advocating mockery and belittling.

        -I- didn’t say to ‘make the barbs hurt’. HE did.

        -I- didn’t say he hoped to affect people who haven’t thought the matter through much. HE did.

        -I- didn’t say we should sway people from their beliefs because ‘no one likes to be the butt of contempt’. HE did.

        But you know what the problem here is? What Dawkins said is reprehensible. And it’s pretty clear it’s reprehensible, especially from the standpoint of promoting reason. No reason is promoted by treating people with contempt, by hurting them with barbs.

        That is something you can’t handle. Why, it makes your *ahaha* ‘global movement’ look like it has a pretty nasty, petty, anti-reason, well-known leader in its ranks. So, you deny it. You can’t give a reason that isn’t laugh-worthy about how I’ve ‘misrepresented’ him, but you deny anyway. You attack more, you insist anyone who believes the goddamn-obvious may well be beyond hope.

        And there is your problem in a nutshell, Tildeb. I bring arguments and reason and evidence that you can’t answer here. Your bias, your emotional commitments, don’t allow you to admit it. But man, you love your “movement” and you hate “faithheads” like me… so you bluster. And it has reduced you to shoveling Dawkins’ feces.

        Five years, man. Five years, and odds are you’ll be ashamed of what you’ve done. And you may well be angry at how the Cult of Gnu played a part in that, manipulating you against science, reason, and even your own interests.

        Lothar,

        Here’s a good source though some of the links are apparently iffy now.

    • Now go back look at how you have focused your comments, time and again, and see if the two connect to my original criticism about the OP.

      I went back to your argument. As it turns out, I directly responded to it.

      tildeb: Dawkins Convert’s Corner is compelling evidence that this method works where the tensions between beliefs and reality are most pronounced and that many people later admit to its effectiveness. Krauss’ notion that such confrontation doesn’t have to happen to bring about an equivalent conversion (all we need to do is insist that the method of science be respected) has no equivalent evidence.

      labreuer: Please establish that you’ve surveyed enough evidence, for your claim here to be trustworthy. Dawkins has provided a specific place to concentrate those who have converted to atheism based on his work. If there is no equivalent place for those who have taken Krauss’ approach, then we ought to expect such people to be located more diffusely. So please provide convincing reason to believe that what you have observed has sufficient bearing on reality.

      What that looks like to me is you making a factual claim, me questioning it, and you running away from the question.

      ———

      Now, we can contrast the above, to what happened when you responded to me:

      […] Since faith is often not based on evidence, however, it is hard to imagine how various deep philosophical or religious disagreements can be objectively laid to rest. […]

      labreuer: […] Morality and values are “not based on evidence”—not if you accept Bacon’s redefinition of ‘knowledge’, which was crucial in the Enlightenment rejection of formal and final causes. This whole thing that Coyne, Loftus, et al are doing is clearly an attempt to banish value systems they do not like.

      tildeb: Oh rubbish. Coyne teaches a course (now widely emulated) that presents best arguments for evolution, best arguments for creationism, and then a third section for students to hash out which arguments seem to bear up the best. The ludicrous notion of a global flood seems to be the argument most ridiculed by contrary evidence in reality. Holding fast to the belief in such a claim reveals the kind of exemption – fully religious – that Coyne criticizes.

      Here, we can see that you attempt to divert the conversation, away from my point—which was in direct response to the very idea that there necessarily is a way to resolve “deep philosophical or religious disagreements”—toward your preferred discussion of is-beliefs, to the neglect of ought-beliefs. I explicitly talked about values, in response to a statement that pretty clearly includes values, and you attempted to redirect the conversation to your preferred topic, even though you had your own thread for that.

      You see, @tildeb, my root-level comment (which I quoted) had nothing to do with evolution. But you want to talk about it, and so you did.

      ———

      Now that your hypocrisy has been exposed, please choose: either never do what you criticize me of doing, or stop criticizing me for doing it. I’m not even convinced I’m doing it (the OP was clearly criticizing emotional manipulation, and you clearly support some method of impacting others’ emotions, which you will not justify against reality), but at this point that doesn’t matter.

      • No you didn’t directly respond to my criticism, labreuer, and claiming you did is a falsehood. You said Please establish that you’ve surveyed enough evidence, for your claim here to be trustworthy.

        The claim you’re talking about is Krauss’ suggestion that it is reasonable to ask religious people to respect those who question their religious beliefs. Coyne’s response is that this isn’t going to happen without confrontation and uses the comparison of asking a tiger to be a vegetarian. Not going to happen. This claim is (thinking it reasonable that religious people will respect those who question their beliefs) does not come with compelling evidence. This collection of evidence is not my burden of proof to provide, as you very well know; it’s Krauss’ in this context. And it is your befuddled thinking that thinks its reasonable to demand those who point out a lack of evidence for Krauss’ claim must therefore go out and collect enough non evidence to demonstrate to your satisfaction why there isn’t enough evidence. That’s why you need to give your head a shake.

        You’re not questioning the criticism of Marc’s OP by demanding I go out and perform some adequate amount of surveying to suit you; this is a diversion from admitting that Dawkins’ method – confronting ludicrous claims with ridicule and mockery. – works to kickstart the deconversion of some people… as they submit. That’s the required evidence for the criticism I make against Marc’s suggestion that this is evidence of hate. Only in your deeply befuddled brain does this become ‘running away’ from the question you wish for me to have to answer. Again, and as I have said many times, your question is a diversion.

        If answering your question matters so much to you, then you go find answers for it (I suggest you look to the utter failure of BioLogos in achieving its founding purpose). I think you’ll find that reality is not your friend. That’s not my problem either. Not falling for your diversion is not the cowardice you continue to suggest motivates the avoidance. This ‘conclusion’ is you imposing your beliefs on me as if it represents my motivation. It doesn’t. It’s an example of your use of misrepresentation.

        The criticism you are NOT responding to (you seem to have great difficulty locating it so I’ll help you out here) is the one where I claim Marc’s analogy is FALSE and then spend the rest of comment on explaining why. Your goal here seems to be to not defend Marc’s OP and my criticism of it but to malign me and, by extension, New Atheists.

        • No you didn’t directly respond to my criticism, labreuer, and claiming you did is a falsehood. You said Please establish that you’ve surveyed enough evidence, for your claim here to be trustworthy.

          I’m sorry, asking someone to support an empirical claim with evidence does not constitute “directly responding”?

          This collection of evidence is not my burden of proof to provide, as you very well know; it’s Krauss’ in this context.

          False. You clearly stated that method A has evidence supporting its effectiveness and method B does not. You have done nothing to show the reader that you have properly sampled the evidence, to know that method B is ineffective. You’re making unsubstantiated claims, @tildeb. And you know what, if you’re just echoing Coyne, then you’re supporting someone else who is also making unsubstantiated claims. This doesn’t make you sound a whit more reasonable.

          You’re not questioning the criticism of Marc’s OP by demanding I go out and perform some adequate amount of surveying to suit you; this is a diversion from admitting that Dawkins’ method – confronting ludicrous claims with ridicule and mockery. – works to kickstart the deconversion of some people… as they submit. That’s the required evidence for the criticism I make against Marc’s suggestion that this is evidence of hate.

          I’m merely asking you to support the empirical claims you make/agree with by providing the relevant empirical evidence. That you refuse to do this—and call me “deeply befuddled” for requesting it—demonstrates that you don’t actually care about matching your beliefs with reality, except when it suits you. You could have merely retracted your claim, saying: “I don’t have the evidence to support this claim, neither have I surveyed enough of reality to be able to properly claim that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.” But you did not do this. And so, all you really have is that Dawkins’ method of emotional manipulation works sometimes, and you’ve found no analogue with Krauss’ method after… how much searching?

          The criticism you are NOT responding to (you seem to have great difficulty locating it so I’ll help you out here) is the one where I claim Marc’s analogy is FALSE and then spend the rest of comment on explaining why.

          tildeb: The analogy is false because Dawkins asks us to ask about specific claims contrary to how we understand reality to operate.

          As I’ve gone to great pains to illustrate @tildeb, the New Atheists don’t always restrict ‘claims’ or ‘beliefs’ to “how we understand reality to operate”. You certainly want this to be the case, but that is false, as I demonstrated in my first root-level comment. Your response to that comment was to deflect.

          Marc could have separated between when New Atheists target solely claims about Baconian ‘knowledge’, and when they go further, in talking about philosophy and religious beliefs in toto. That you think the New Atheists have no beliefs which lie directly in ought-land (isought), or that these beliefs are irrelevant to this discussion, is what has caused us so much frustration.

        • It’s just practice for the stupidity in the real world. The world is full of people who, like @tildeb, make unsupported empirical claims and then belittle those who ask for evidence. People like @tildeb claim that it’s faith which produces this behavior, but here we have empirical evidence to the contrary. It’s only anecdotal (just like Dawkins’ Convert’s Corner), but I’ve observed this of enough atheists and skeptics who post on the internet, and read enough material praised by atheists, to consider it decently sampled data.

          I’m tempted to call the root problem idolatry: worship of a being not-God: trusting that being to provide salvation and becoming like that being. I am playing fast and loose with the term ‘being’, given Psalm 115 and the observation that idols aren’t really beings at all, but emptiness. Take your eyes off of infinity and you start turning to the right or the left.

      • …Whoops, my mistake, tildeb. I thought “the hate” meant my comment, but no. It’s not an example of irony then.

        Instead, what it is is a video where somebody made a video guide to atheism. Good for them?

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