The Raving Theist

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Atheist Blogger Hits Out Against Sarcasm

June 29, 2006 | 58 Comments

New York, New York, June 29, 2006
Special to The Raving Atheist

Three years after mocking Pope John Paul II for condemning the use of sarcasm, The Raving Atheist has himself condemned the use of sarcasm.

In a February 2003 “news” item titled “Pope Hits Out Against Sarcasm,” the atheism-themed blog parodied a Catholic press report bearing the same headline by suggesting that the then-Pontiff’s criticism of sarcasm was somehow equivalent to the condemnation of alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, metaphor, allegory and understatement.

Yesterday, however, TRA denounced his own writings for their inexcusable sarcasm, arrogance, egotism, condescension, bullying, rudeness and cruelty and promised to operate without malice in the future. “At the time I wrote the original post, I was fully aware that sarcasm was more than a mere literary device. Unlike the other ones I listed, sarcasm is intended to inflict gratuitous injury and shame upon a person in order to divert attention from an honest assessment of the actual merits of his or her words or conduct.”

“My earlier post was the worst form of sarcasm — it ignored the Pope’s simple call for a higher standard of human dignity in favor of the pretense that he was calling for a ban on harmless semantic techniques,” he said.

The Raving Atheist said he did not object to the employment of the less offensive device of irony, especially if directed only at oneself. He refused, however, to comment on his potential future use of onomatopoeia, stating that “right now there is a great buzz at my site that I have converted to theism, and I must deal with the booing and hissing of my disillusioned readership.” TRA also said that he must address criticism that his mea culpa, although sincerely felt, was as self-aggrandizing and egotistical as any of his prior posts — something he realized after re-reading it but was too dishonest to immediately correct or admit.

Comments

58 Responses to “Atheist Blogger Hits Out Against Sarcasm”

  1. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    June 29th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    This is getting old …

  2. Choobus
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    I can’t sleep at night anymore. All I can do is toss, maybe turn, and wonder, ‘has RA converted? Has he turned to the pink side? What could make a seemingly intelligent and committed atheist desire the ignorant peace and security of a cosmic nipple to feed him and nurture him? Could it happen to me? If I convert now and pray really hard, maybe God will help England destroy Brazil in the semi finals? Even better, let France beat Brazil, and then we can hammer those frog eating ponces and then shit all over Germany in the final. Does Jeebus have the power do do this? Fuck, is it 3.30 already? I might as well have a quick wank. 4 hours sleep is plenty anyway.’

  3. Dawn Eden
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    Don’t forget, RA, if you’re no longer to use sarcasm, I believe the Magisterium has stated that one may still — in extreme circumstances — resort to the comfy chair.

  4. Thorngod
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

    Methinks he doth protest too much–and to himself, at that!

  5. Thecanc
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    If RA is going to go soft, then I think the rest of us who can reason on a 3rd grade level should be extra nasty.

    To all the Jesus lickers –

    Your stupid, your retarded, and the God you worship is a homosexual who kills babies and has sex with the corpses.

    Thank You.

  6. SteveG
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    Brilliant Post!

  7. Lurker
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

    That wasn’t very nice, Thecanc. But I’m sure you meant it that way.

    Speaking of stupi…, I mean, incorrect… the word that seems to escape you is you’re. Write it down.

  8. Choobus
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    What’s this, a three’s up with Lurker, Steve G and the new and improved nice-guy RA (Repentant Atheist)? That ios some hot Jesus lovin’ action right there.

  9. SteveG
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    Dude! And to think, after I defended you honor!

  10. Choobus
    June 29th, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    I meant that in a good way Steve. Come on now, this is me, your amigo Choobs! You guys can be like the three musketeers, travelling the land, turning the other cheek and spreading the good news. (In any case, what is this honour of which you speak….)

  11. benjamin
    June 29th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    Atheist Blogger Strikes Out on Entertainment
    Special to Benjamin

    Six days after condemning himself for putting godidiots in their place, The Raving Atheist has condemned the use of sarcasm, and all entertaining literary techniques. The result is a series of very dry and boring blog entries that in no way constitute “raving.” The readers have become disgruntled, as is apparent by the numerous comments regarding these boring posts. The theist readers are overjoyed by the Accommodating Recreant’s (AR) civility toward them and their ideas about sky-daddy, virgin births, original sin, crucifixion and resurrection. Meanwhile I’m hoping for a resurrection of my own. I’m hoping RA is resurrected better than ever before. And I’m hoping those theists would appreciate the irony.

  12. Dada Saves
    June 29th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    But his line about onomatopoeia is really, really funny, isn’t it? (Contra TRA, I’m still using sarcasm.)

    Maybe in the early stages of Christ-Psychosis, humor is the first thing to go.

  13. disillusioned
    June 29th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    This is really quite creepy. It’s like one of those TV shows where the perfectly sane, model citizen suddenly begins to associate himself with some awful cult, responding to the criticism of his family with “because this is where I belong. You just don’t understand how important this is,” all amidst the creepifying, smiling smugness of the high cultists, who chant eerily, “There there, don’t listen to them. You’re one of US now.”

  14. Nokot
    June 29th, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

    Just because The Raving Atheist is no longer raving, doesn’t mean he is no longer atheist. At most I could imagine an atheist of his wit becoming a deist.

  15. Thorngod
    June 29th, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

    Yeah, well…. That’s a question I just posed Lily, who says she was once an atheist. Try to imagine! I can just barely conceive of the possibility for myself, but only in the final stages of paresis.

  16. Sean
    June 29th, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

    I find this whole episode hilarious. So what if he wants to be more polite? He may be doing it just to see the reaction in the comments, or he may be sincere, who knows. Being polite doesn’t mean he can’t still point out flaws in theistic arguments though. He’ll just be polite about it…perhaps. I actually got bored with the site, being the same old same old day after day with predictable comments to any post, and only dropped by once or twice a week. I now find it interesting again. Maybe that’s a part of his plan too.

  17. Stan
    June 29th, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    “Come back, Chef! We miss you!”

    “I’m sorry, chilluns’…”

    (Chef dies)

  18. Jamaal
    June 29th, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

    For some reason, I’m loving this entry and loving the hint of a simpler tone to this blog in future. The sophistry is usually applied so thick on atheist websites and blogs that it takes me two or three readings to tease out any actual relevance. I don’t know what TRA’s future intentions are with this thing, or if he has converted to some form of theism, but reifying the uniqueness of the probability of his genetic existence seems a far poorer excuse for a pro-life position than the simple, traditional argument from divine judgement.

    Now, to the angry atheist readers of this blog:

    1. You are right that there is no “God”.
    2. There is a fundamental problem in certain types of logical thinking of people who believe in the existence of one.

    Now, since that’s been said, you can stop screaming “Retard!” at theists all day. It undermines one of your positions. If you would scream ‘retard’ at a person you actually thought was retarded, it undermines a claim of athiest morality. If you wouldn’t, then you’re not saying what you think.

    I would think that the important agenda for atheists would not be trying to convince people with basic flaws in certain types of reasoning that they are wrong, but to engineer a way through which their belief systems would cease their domination of our legal system. The eradication of belief seems the least likely to succeed. The sufferings, both through self-abuse and external abuse, that theists have managed to hold on to faith throughout are terrible, legion, and common knowledge. I think that faith will survive an attack of raspberries from a handful of nerdy know-it-alls.

    That said, this entry makes me slightly optimistic about whatever direction that this blog may be heading in, and makes me suspect that it may not run out of steam without all the sarcasm and the “I’m smart, you’re stupid!” POV about its subjects.

    Why I felt the need to express, I have no idea. I guess that I just want to say to TRA that if he hasn’t converted to religion and is just making an attempt to move to a more constructive attitude, somebody who has no use for fiery chariots and divine trumpets still thinks that’s great.

  19. Xianghong
    June 29th, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

    Is RA going to do penance on all his previous posts?

  20. Thorngod
    June 29th, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

    Well, Jamaal, I, for at least one atheist, realized long, long ago that reason cannot inflict more than an occasional bruise to the body of Christ or to any other major religion. If it could, then the Enlightenment would have achieved a hell of a lot more than it ended up achieving. However, we atheists cannot afford to drop our guard and make nice to the rightious, lest they enfold and smother us again. Like you, I am reluctant to rant. I prefer to reason. But reason is inadequate to the task. Against the irrational, reason alone cannot stand. We need the ranting of those victims among us whom religion has cheated, belittled, raped, robbed and prostituted. You and I, Jamaal, have the luxury to reason; they are entitled to rant.

  21. Anonymous
    June 29th, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

    To Sean and everyone excusing RA’s lack of raving:
    In any other controversial sphere, RA’s politeness would be quite welcome (i.e. politics, abortion, etc..). However, due to the fact that religion makes scientific and existence claims, politeness and mutual respect should not be tolerated (as the liberal theoligians want you to believe). One should not coddle someone who creates a sky-daddy and gleefully exists in a pyschotic state. We can’t sit back and respect idiots and their idiotic retardnes. Faith is something to be mocked and belittled because it has no basis in reality. God does not exist and those that envision a personal diety caring about little blobs of matter on a tiny speck of inifinte space need to wake up.

  22. Kafkaesquí
    June 29th, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

    Didn’t anyone else hear that irony was dead? Man, this is going to be a boring summer…

  23. Nokot
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:20 am

    To Anonymous of comment 21: Considering that our species may not have a future unless we are able to defuse violent religious zealots, it is imperative that we reconsider whether mocking and belittling all theists is the most efficacious approach. Besides, it’s just not nice.

  24. Anonymous
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:38 am

    Nokot:
    I completely agree. As has been stated many times before, religion, with its fallacious and destructive ideals, causes more problems than it solves. Unless we progress out of this childish adolescence that is religion, we will not survive as a species. I do agree that mocking one’s tightly held beliefs solves nothing; however, the circumstances of the discourse matter greatly. In an academic debate or similiar context, being polite should be the default mode of communication (although of course not warranted). If we intend to make progress in social policy, spreading the truth of science or otherwise, we must understand and not dismiss publicly their viewpoints. But of course, this is the fucking internet and privately we can criticize their insanity as much as we fucking want to. The general public doesn’t concoct their image of atheism or godlessness or scientific principles that indicate a purposeless universe from the internet. No, they have crazy pastors to do that for them. So in an arena like this blog, we can have some fun and vent a little. Vicariously, the RAVING atheist allowed us to do this. I guess the virus can infect even those who seemed most immune.

  25. bernarda
    June 30th, 2006 @ 2:05 am

    Sarcasm is in fact too good for some people, like that vicious, misogynist moron mass-murderer John-Paul II.

    He is the biggest mass-murderer in history for his promotion of the spread of Aids in the developing countries. So let’s not use sarcasm on him, but say directly that he is a fascist scumbag.

    Does that meet RA’s criteria? RA seems to have gone around the bend.

  26. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 9:38 am

    Unless we progress out of this childish adolescence that is religion, we will not survive as a species.

    Who cares whether we survive as a species? You take it for granted that this is a good thing. On what do you base this as a worthwhile goal? The universe should couldn’t give a hoot.

    You mock the idea of religion, but then attempt to substitute a set of ideals that are built on nothing.

    If we intend to make progress in social policy

    Progress towards what goal? And Why towards that particular ideal?

    spreading the truth of science or otherwise

    Truth? But I thought truth was relative?

  27. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    He is the biggest mass-murderer in history for his promotion of the spread of Aids in the developing countries. So let’s not use sarcasm on him, but say directly that he is a fascist scumbag.

    I’ve seen this charge a thousand times here. Would you mind if we explore it a bit?

    How is it that a Pope’s moral proclamation that condoms are illicit equivalent to making him a mass murder?

    Does he weild any power other then his moral voice to actually stop a person from using one?

    Is a person who is engaging in activities which make it necessary to use a condom likely to listen to the pope’s admonition?

    Isn’t it more reasonable that the person who might take that admonition seriously is already one who is more likely than not engaging in a lifestyle that is less likely to need for a condom?

    What I am getting at is that any person likely enough to give a rat’s ass about the pope’s statement on condoms is likely already not engaging in un-married, non-monogamous sex, and likely has little need for a condom to protect against AIDS.

    The person engaging in the behaviors that have a higher risk of AIDS transmission associated with them are NOT very likely listening to the pope on condom use and would use a condom regardless.

    So where exactly is the culpability of the pope here? You make it sound as if he somehow physically prevented people from using a condom? It makes no sense whatsoever.

  28. Jahrta
    June 30th, 2006 @ 10:15 am

    Steve – we’re talking about people in developing nations, where it is a widely-held belief that the way to cure AIDS is to have sex with a virgin. I think it’s safe to say in this situation that these people are severely behind the rest of the modernized world in terms of their understanding of medical practices and science in general. This is not to say that there aren’t skilled African scientists working on the AIDS problem – just that in subsaharan cultures, superstition and third-world thinking still rule supreme. These are the people who are going to take the word of the “developed” peoples at face value – they are impressionable, naive and uneducated, which also makes them ripe for indoctrination in any number of savior cults.

    In this case, I would say that, while not directly culpable for the situation in Africa, the Catholic church should at the very least shoulder some of the blame being leveled against them.

  29. Anonymous (same as above)
    June 30th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    SteveG:
    I’ll resond to your comments seperately.
    Survival of this species: You’re right, the “universe couldn’t give a hoot” about our survival. We’re insignificant in a cosmos that may include an inifite number of universes. However, each time life arises and slowly progresses into the technological society we have right now, it’s quite miracolous (albeit probably not rare). We owe it to the universe and nature from which we’ve sprung to try to survive. (Don’t read into my personfying of the natural world as some type of pantheist bullshit)
    In accordance with long term survival, we need to progress to a more stable world. The disconnecting and vile effects of religion oppose this goal. Religion, with its false ideals and archaic mode of thinking, hinders peaceful discourse and scientific/medical research. To increase quality of life and survive as a species, we can’t have some fuckjob blowing himself up and crazy christians opposing stem-cell research because somehow a fucking embryo is a life.
    Finally, truth is not completely relative. Unless you want to create some fantasy dimension or spout Matrix type philosophical bullshit rhetoric, science and empirical evidence provide answers to the same questions religion has failed at answering. We know where we’ve come from, we might possibly know where we are, and where we’re going. All religion can tell us is daddy is waiting for you in heaven for fucking eternity (eternity?!?!?!, thats gotta be hell). I love Godiots.

  30. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 11:07 am

    However, each time life arises and slowly progresses into the technological society we have right now, it’s quite miracolous (albeit probably not rare). We owe it to the universe and nature from which we’ve sprung to try to survive.

    From the beginning, that has been my problem with commenters at this site. The drumbeat is that belief is irrational, insane, illogical. But then when a theist pushes back a bit on the supposed superior rationality, sanity and logic of the claimant, well we begin to see statements such as this…

    “We owe it to the universe and nature from which we’ve sprung to try to survive.”

    But the universe and nature are blind, and impose no obligation. We impose the obligation. But are such claims any more rational, or sane from the materialist perspective? You see it’s difficult for me to take criticisms of my own rationality and sanity seriously when this is the alternative offered.

    In accordance with long term survival, we need to progress to a more stable world.

    You keep claiming progress with no definition of what it is or what it is we are progressing towards.

    You likewise make a lot of other unsubstantiated claims that prove nothing about religion. What they really prove is that you think religion is opposed to your ideals. But you provide not rational, and no method for evaluating whether your ideals are worthy other than that you happen to think they are.

    I don’t think you have a clue as to quite how much you are taking for granted, and how much it is contrary to your fundamental premise of atheistic materialism.

    Finally, truth is not completely relative.

    Really, that’s an amazing claim. Mind if we push in? Name me an object truth that can be supported from atheistic materialism.

    and where we’re going.

    Really? Where exactly are we going. Materialism would have it that the end game is oblivion, which means nowhere.

  31. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 11:22 am

    In this case, I would say that, while not directly culpable for the situation in Africa, the Catholic church should at the very least shoulder some of the blame being leveled against them.

    The fact is that the message the Catholic Church is preaching regarding this issue is not limited to ‘don’t use condoms’. That statement is part of a wider ethic that if followed would have a profound effect on curtailing AIDS. The entire ethic would be that one should engage in only married, monogamous sex, without the use of contraceptives. That is the ideal the church holds up. And if followed it would be successful.

    To divorce the condom issue from the rest is to badly distort the picture. If the pope had said, engage in all the sex you want, however you want, but you can’t use condoms, well that would be a different story.

    But again, the folks following the condom ethic would likely be following the whole ethic.

    The people not listening on the full ethic are not going to listen on the condom issue.

    It’s a great piece of rhetoric, but it falls apart upon inspection.

  32. noah nywno
    June 30th, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    Personally, I feel these “rational defense of morality” discussions have a habit of going nowhere quick. But it is Friday and the “sucker-for-punishment” in me has decided to come out.

    SteveG,

    I am an atheist who happens to agree with most of your recent posts on this issue. I too don’t inderstand why any atheist would attempt to make definitive moral claims. I personally don’t think the universe cares if we survive or destroy ourselves because there is nothing in the universe TO care. And we certainly don’t owe the universe, or even each other, anything. Not in any objective sense.

    But I also don’t think I need an objective justification for what I find moral or immoral any more than I need an objective justification for what I find beautiful or ugly.

    Bottom line, morality is subjective and I’ve seen nothing in the world to give me an inkling that it may be otherwise.

    I am willing to accept that others may not find moral what I find moral, or beautiful what I find beautiful, in which case I am happy to live and let live.

    But I will be more than willing to strike back against those who would insult what I find beutiful or moral and I will not tolerate those who would do me harm based on what I find beautiful and moral. And if your idea of morality and my idea of morality are at such odds that it puts my life or happiness at risk, then my attempts to defeat you are nothing more than competitive attempts to survive.

    I don’t think things need to be any more complicated than that.

    Noah

  33. Sarah
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    Quote: “right now there is a great buzz at my site that I have converted to theism, and I must deal with the booing and hissing of my disillusioned readership.”

    Why go soft now? The people who read this blog understand sarcasm. We are not children.

    At http://www.subversiveminds.com/rant they use sarcasm, and other than a few nutjobs (sorry was that bullying), everyone seems to get the joke. Please, we can handle it.

    Don’t lose your balls on our account (rude enough for ya)!

  34. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

    Noah,
    Great post.

    But I will be more than willing to strike back against those who would insult what I find beautiful or moral and I will not tolerate those who would do me harm based on what I find beautiful and moral. And if your idea of morality and my idea of morality are at such odds that it puts my life or happiness at risk, then my attempts to defeat you are nothing more than competitive attempts to survive.

    I don’t think things need to be any more complicated than that.

    I largely agree with your comments (especially from the materialist perspective-which by the way I don’t hold). It’s the battlefield of ideas that we are on, and I have no problem with your attempts to defeat me, as long as you understand that I am going to do my best to do likewise.

    Again, what I was pushing back against was that somehow the moral stances taken by the materialist is superior because it’s based in superior rationality or sanity.

    According to the atheistic paradigm, all one can say is that there is no objective moral truth. After that, any moral systems developed are on equal footing (read equally irrational). To claim that theists are any more irrational doesn’t seem to me to stand up.

    Sorry if you were spoiling for a fight. ;-) But your beef is really with Anonymous, not me. :-)

  35. Anonymous
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    SteveG:
    Yes the universe is blind, has no foresight/insight, and doesn’t care about us. Yet, I’d liken my reverence of nature with that of unrequited love. I respect and admire an entity (that of nature) that does not reciprocate. The only reason we’re here, on this message board, alive is due to the randomness that is nature. In destroying ourselves, we would dismiss the billions of years of progressive evolution that has brought us to fruition. To respect this awe-inspring process, to not waste it, is an obligation that I feel is worth pursuing. These claims are rational because no supposed diety is introduced. It seems that your viewpoint comes from not only your religious pyschosis, but also an ignorance of basic scientific principles. Science offers us a connection to the universe that gave us life. To kill ourselves is to deny this very real connection. (When I state this connection, I mean nothing spiritual, rather our mutual structure and laws.)
    I would define progress as divorcing our species from superstition and religion. My claims of the irrationality and destructive nature of religion are quite substatiated (see Holocaust, YEC, Inquisition, Osama bin Laden, etc..). Religious lunacy with its opposition to science and peace is clearly “against my ideals”.
    Finally, the end game is oblivion (as far as life is concerned). But I was referring to our ultimate fate as a species (perhaps furthur evolution, space travel, rather than the Second Coming..haha you’ve got to be kidding me?!?!) and the fate and nature of the universe (multiple big bangs, brane cosmology, etc..). Oh but why do you need science when you have the book of Revelations. That tells you everything you need to know. So retreat to your fantasy land designed for the ignorant child.

  36. PanAtheist
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    RA:
    Scizophrenic much?!

  37. noah nywno
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    SteveG,

    I’m certainly not spoiling for a fight, I’ve just learned through harsh experiance that these conversations tend to end with neither side willing to come to an understanding. I guess I just wanted to make sure the materialist position was stated as concisely as possible. I hope I’ve succeded.

    The only time I find theistic moral arguments irrational is when they are based on outright denial of facts that ARE objectively reached (ie. science), but that is a can of worms I don’t wish to open at the moment. And, of course, I realize we are speaking of certain theists who don’t necessarily represent the whole.

    In any case, I’m glad we have an understanding.

    Noah

  38. SteveG
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    Anonymous:
    You are truly clueless as to what I believe. In any event I think I’ll let your emotional, irrational, dreamy post about connections to the universe and ‘progressive evolution’* stand as is, and let the readers of the thread determine who of the two of us has spoken more rationally.

    I feel pretty good about my prospects in that regard,. But anyone who holds me as a psychotic because of my beliefs is not worth continuing a discussion with.

    Ciao anonymous

    *In case you were unaware, evolution-something I am fine accepting-has no ‘direction’ according to materialism. Any labeling it as ‘progressive’ is wishful thinking and utterly irrational.

  39. Anonymous
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

    SteveG:
    You are correct. Evolution is completely unguided. I added progressive in front of it to specify how we’ve advanced and moved forward steadily from single celled organisms to Lucy to ignorant theism to enlighted atheistic materialism (read a dictionary for the fucking defintion).
    I take exception with your assertion that my comments were both “irrational” and “dreamy.”
    First, “dreamy”. Read some Carl Sagan and find similiar sentiments. I can actually sympathize with your need for something greater than you. I have found this to be the vast, mysterious universe. That brings me to “irrational.” Have you ever heard of carbon or hydrogen? Its found billions of light years away, but also in our own bodies. I think this revelation is quite intriguing and inspiring. It is not irrational or dreamy at all to feel a connection to the endless universe. Contrastingly, the feeble minded beliefs of theists ignore this and concoct an improbable deity who serves the same purpose. And who decided to write a book 5000/2000 years ago, yet makes no mention of any modern science and its discoveries of the nature of humans and the universe (which he purportedly created). Hmmmm, yet Godidiots still believe. I wonder who’s irrational.

  40. Choobus
    June 30th, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    anon. are you talking about Lucy Muff?

  41. SeldomScene
    June 30th, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

    Are you people still trying to tell if RA has converted???

    Of course he has. Note that his original pledge concerned only Jesus and Christianity. Why no other gods or religions?

  42. June
    June 30th, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

    I have found it easier to think of Evolution as Adaptation to the Environment. It makes eminent sense that individual organisms as well as entire species need to adapt to their surroundings, especially when survival is at stake. Obviously, the mechanisms differ. An individual pulls on a blanket when it gets cold; a species develops fat or fur. Also obviously, the adaptations will often match the environment so well that some will insist that they were intelligently designed. That’s how powerful Adaptation is; nevertheless, it’s still a blind process.

  43. Thorngod
    June 30th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    NoahN, SteveG & Anon– Another perspective:
    If we three and perhaps a few females were the last humans on Earth, how concerned would we or should we be for the survival of the “Human Race”? There is no such entity; there is only the feeling, perceiving, striving individual. In the situation I presented, our primary concerns should be our personal comfort and the health and happiness of any children we had produced. One or two among us might very well be obsessed with the continuation of humankind, as many over-wealthy and strange-thinking people are today, but if we were truly wise, I think we would close out the game. After we final six or eight were dead, who would register a loss? Who would care? Just as there is no absolute morality, there is no absolute value. The universe has no “need” of life forms, and if life forms had as much prescience as guts, they would have no use for the universe. Once born into this, of course, we are obligated by the elan vital, by fear of death, and by the expectations to others, to struggle on. But before you were here, there was no universe, and when you die, the universe dies with you. –I won’t bother with morality for the moment. It’s not of much moment anyhow.

  44. Brian Macker
    July 1st, 2006 @ 11:53 am

    The reason I visit this site is because I’m an atheist from Long Island and I channel surf. So I can’t help but run into the God Squad couple. They seem like nice guys but are ultimately wrong on their very area of expertise. I get the impression that they aren’t very well versed in other intellectual areas either. Ultimately their failure in their chosen field is due to a lack of the ability to question. I liked seeing RA here point out the things that were slipping past this theistic duo. The sarcasm was appropriate since they are suppose to be experts.

    It appears to me now that there is no point to this site. RA is now neither raving nor an atheist. Now that he has disavowed the use of sarcasm he will no longer be entertaining.

    His vow not to disclose his true beliefs while maintaining this site is a far worse ethical crime than the use of sarcasm ever would be. Like most methods sarcasm can be used for ethically. Likewise hyperbole, metaphor and other literary devises can be used for unethical ends. Same goes for alliteration. Think that is a silly thing to say? Well do you think the KKK uses alliteration for ethical ends. Alliteration and sarcasm are means. Means that are not in and of themselves unethical unless they are means to unethical ends. Alliteration is a means to make people remember, and recognize a phrase more easily. A means to advertise since what is easier to remember is easier to advertise. Promoting racism is an unethical end and the alliteration of KKK is a means to that end.

    As I said before. I think RA has gone off the deep end. Continuing to identify himself as the RA if he is not an atheist is deeply unethical since he is in no danger if he doesn’t. Saying he is not revealing his religious belief while running a site called the Raving Atheist is living a lie. By continuing to run the site he is in effect claiming to be an atheist. Running the site is a continuous claim. He has already broken his vow or is a liar.

  45. Nokot
    July 1st, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    “According to the atheistic paradigm, all one can say is that there is no objective moral truth. After that, any moral systems developed are on equal footing (read equally irrational). To claim that theists are any more irrational doesn’t seem to me to stand up.”

    It seems to me you are arguing this:
    1) Suppose that that no moral objective truth exists.
    2) Suppose that claiming otherwise is irrational.
    3) Fact: All moral systems claim to be moral objective truth.
    4) Conclusion: All moral systems are irrational.

    #3 is false and so #4 does not follow. Maybe our definitions of a “moral system” differ.

    Anyway SteveG, I think when Anonymous rants he has in mind the most incoherent of theists. You are a reasonable person SteveG. I would not characterize you as irrational (from discussions following your guest post on TRA, though I confess I’ve forgotten the details of those exchanges), but rather, I’d say you are someone with whom I disagree. That I find your arguments incomplete or incorrect (read: irrational?) is implicit in saying I disagree.

  46. Michael Bains
    July 1st, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    SteveG, I agree entirely with Nokot’s above assessment. You seem a wonderful human being, dude. No BS.

    That being said, I feel the need to defend the use of sarcasm (a tool I use far less frequently than once was the case) and smack a slackin’ Choobus upside the head with that defense.

    Choob, you goob! I come here to hear you Raving when TRA has become a mellower “soul”, and I find this bit of decent human tripe: You guys can be like the three musketeers, travelling the land, turning the other cheek and spreading the good news.

    You’re (LOL! how d’ya make a middle finger emoticon??) phrase shoulda been “spreadin’ the other cheek.” I can only guess that you to (that mid-fing thing ‘gain) are mellowing and finding humanity in the most incongruous of places: other humans.

    OK. My soapbox just collapsed and I need an onamatopaeic adjective but got nuthin’. L8

  47. SteveG
    July 1st, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

    Nokot/Michael Bains,
    FWIW, when I discuss things here, by default my usual way is to take the atheistic materialist position and argue from that perspective. To speak your language as it where. I would be the fool to come in here and start trying to convince atheists of my beliefs by quoting bible passages.

    From the beginning, my main intent has been to 1) hold a mirror up to a large number of the atheists here who seem to me to take a lot of the assumptions they hold for granted (evidence: see the discussion above on JPII as fascist murderer), and are very uncritical in analyzing their own, and other atheists positions and 2) to answer as reasonably as I can, questions asked of me of what and why I believe what I do.

    With that as a background, I’d like to clarify what you pointed out.

    It seems to me you are arguing this:
    1) Suppose that that no moral objective truth exists.
    2) Suppose that claiming otherwise is irrational.
    3) Fact: All moral systems claim to be moral objective truth.
    4) Conclusion: All moral systems are irrational.

    #3 is false and so #4 does not follow. Maybe our definitions of a “moral system” differ.

    Again, arguing from the materialist perspective, I was not suggesting statement 3 or 4. I was rather suggesting…

    1) Suppose that that no moral objective truth exists.
    2) Suppose that claiming otherwise is irrational.
    3) Fact: All moral systems must be subjective
    4) Conclusion: All moral systems are equally irrational.

    I was doing this as a push back to try to get Anon to see that once an atheist moves past the statement that ‘there is no objective truth’ and starts talking about connections to the universe via carbon, and obligations to perpetuate the species, etc. that they are really on no firmer footing, objectively speaking, than the theist they claim is irrational, insane, etc.

    From the atheist viewpoint, both individuals are simply trying to bring meaning to their ultimately pointless existence and neither meaning derived can be said to be more ‘sane’ or rational in my estimation.

    Anyway SteveG, I think when Anonymous rants he has in mind the most incoherent of theists.

    I am not so sure. I got the impression that the comments were aimed directly at me. Anon specifically called me a religious psychotic and a Godidiot, so I am hesitatant to give the benefit of the doubt. But that’s neither here nor there at this point. My feelings aren’t hurt in the least. I just know that when I start seeing the language, the conversation has no chance of going anywhere.

    You are a reasonable person SteveG. I would not characterize you as irrational (from discussions following your guest post on TRA, though I confess I’ve forgotten the details of those exchanges), but rather, I’d say you are someone with whom I disagree.

    Thank you for your kind words, and I feel the same about you. I truly, truly wish that posters such as you Michael Bains were the dominant type of voice here, but that is not the case. I think that is part of what TRA is trying to change.

    That I find your arguments incomplete or incorrect (read: irrational?) is implicit in saying I disagree.

    I don’t read that as calling me an irrational person. It’s simply saying I am mistaken. I have no problem with that.

    Both of us can be people who attempt to approach things rationally, and make an error in that effort and come to a wrong conclusion. The point of discussing these things should be for us to explore those notions, challenge each other, and see who (if either of us) has a more reasonable position.

    It becomes difficult to communicate when one is dismissed as a religious psychotic. Just sayin.

  48. Anonymous
    July 1st, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

    SteveG:
    Shockingly, you’ve taken my claim of your religious pyschosis and Godidiot thinking negatively. (note the sarcasm) However, I did not intend for my comments to insult you, yet I do not retract my statements at all. I only resorted to this “name calling” because I fashion a belief in the supernatural/ God to be contrary to rational thought and akin to a belief in unicorns, ghosts, the Lochness Monster, Thor, etc… No one would argue over the pyschotic nature of those belief systems. My view of religion is of the same nature and thus, my comments directed towards you reflected that. Any flavor of theism does not deserve my respect and I will not apologize for my dissent.
    And even though we fall on different sides of the fence, I do consider you somewhat reasonable (as evidenced by your arguements above). That view may change dramatically upon hearing your actual views on specific religious ideals (i.e. the resurrection, Noah’s ark, and others). I’d like to respond now to several statements above:

    …starts talking about connections to the universe via carbon, and obligations to perpetuate the species, etc. that they are really on no firmer footing, objectively speaking, than the theist they claim is irrational, insane, etc.

    I disagree. In this situation, I make a scientific claim and then extract a philosophical meaning from it. I must concede that my assertion of a conneciton the universe via molecules and standard laws does border on dreamy and emotional, but never is it irrational. The fact that we’re a part of the larger cosmos by structure is indisputable and thus entirely within the realm of science. I stray from science when I use this to provide meaning to the human species as a whole. Yet, the basis of the arguements is firmly rooted in science, which is of course, objective. I do see your point though. The science is of course objective, but the connection I speak of is a personal ideal that quite possibly many others don’t share. I begrudingly somewhat agree with you of the subjective nature of this contention, but clearly not on its purported irrationality. Yet, theism is guilty of both outright subjectivity and inanity. Theism exists entirely outside the realm of science, in a fantasy land with “things unseen.” Thus, their “faith” and “beliefs” are entirely subjective as no objective, controlled, scientific evidence supports their claims. Not to mention, the arguments of theism that defy logic (caused universe, uncaused creator) and science (resurrection, intervening diety) thus marking it nonsensical.

    Next:

    Anyway SteveG, I think when Anonymous rants he has in mind the most incoherent of theists.

    I got the impression that the comments were aimed directly at me. Anon specifically called me a religious psychotic and a Godidiot, so I am hesitatant to give the benefit of the doubt.

    This is related to the first part of my post. I suspect you’d classify yourself as a vague or moderate theist. And although your brand is not entirely allergic to reason, it still reeks of irrationatily. I don;t want to start with liberal vs. fundamentalist theism here, but I was not intending those “insults” for just the fundamentalists. Practically, liberal theism is more suitable for a stable world. Philosophically, liberal theism is guilty of loads of doublethink and thus is somewhat more frustrating. I believe any type of belief in god, moderate or otherwise, is not worthy of my respect and subject to the name calling above.

  49. SteveG
    July 1st, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

    For the record, I am neither a fundamentalist, nor a liberal/moderate. I am a theist of what would likely think the worst kind. I am a 100% orthodox Roman Catholic. Do with that what you will, but I’d suggest that you at least familiarize yourself with what that means philosophically, and theologically, before you lash out. I might suggest that you give off a whiff of being mostly unfamiliar with it, but I won’t since I am not inclined to pre-judge your knowledge.

    With that aside, I hope you’ll understand if I say that your latest comment doesn’t make me hopeful in the least that there would be any point to conversation. When your default position is one of open and admitted derision, there’s not much of a path forward now is there?

  50. Thorngod
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 12:36 am

    ANONYMOUS, your philosophy is obviously “based” on scientific information, but it is in no legitimate degree supported by it. Neither quanta nor the life force nor the star stuff of which you and I are composed are mindful of us and our silly yearnings and protests. It is exactly here that our fuzzy forebears went wrong in the first place and ended up in the cozzening, crushing arms of Vishnus, Sivas and Jesuses. Be careful your “philosophy” does not transmogrify into a religion. The universe owes you nothing, and you owe nothing to it. The only obligation you can establish an excuse for is to sentient things–and only to those now living, not to those that have expired or to any that are merely potential. This is where the RA apparently went awry. If your atheism is authentic, and if you also care about the suffering in the world, a modicum of research and careful logic will carry you in an opposite direction.

  51. Michael Bains
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 7:04 am
  52. bernarda
    July 3rd, 2006 @ 2:42 am

    Does this violate Raving Atheist’s law against sarcasm?

    http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/db/2006/07/02/index.html

    Many of you have probably already seen this Doonesbury on creationism.

  53. allonym
    July 3rd, 2006 @ 8:02 am

    I read something in one of the above posts that set my mind spinning off on a tangent, so I apologize for the off-topic-ness in advance.

    How could one possibly reconcile a belief in Christian theism and the acknowledgement of evolution? If modern man descended from some more primitive lifeform, and God supposedly created man in his image, what image must that have been then? Is he Cro-magnon? Ape? I’ve heard some religious folk who say they accept evolution as science, but I don’t see how it’s possible to be a middle-roader on this one. Anyone care to explain?

  54. Thorngod
    July 3rd, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    It took a long time (by our measure). He’s still working on it. I’m not sure he’ll ever get it right. But among the innumerable problems with any brand of spiritualism, evolution is one of the least problematic.

  55. Lily
    July 4th, 2006 @ 10:52 am

    allonym, Thorn–

    What does God look like?

    Evolution poses no problems on that score. God made man in His image. If God is wholly immaterial (and He is) than clearly, the likeness is not one of a physical nature.

  56. Thorngod
    July 4th, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

    Which, tongue in cheek, is more or less what I was saying, Lily. But as to immateriality, I think the concept is self-defining: Immaterial; no such thing.

  57. Steve
    July 20th, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

    And to think, I just checked in to TRA to see if TRA was still R or A…now we’ve got some great philosophical discussions on the actual meaning of existence. Here’s my two cents…

    The universe takes no notice of us. We could choose to take no notice of it, and Syd Barrett DID just die, so I’d say that job’s open again. Taking this route could easily lead us down the path that theists like to say we’re on anyway, to wit: “Without any concept of god, what reason do you have for moral behavior?” And there’s a certain logic to that question. Ultimately, as has been noted above, there is NO consequence to the universe as a whole whether we behave “morally” or not. Adolph Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer are both dead, as are countless other beasts, and the universe goes on. On the other hand, Jeebus and Ghandi are also both dead, and the world seems no better (especially after averaging in the Hitlers and Dahmers) than it was before they came along. So behave morally or don’t. The universe won’t notice.

    On the other hand, we have each found ourselves born into some kind of society. It may be a society of “free” people, as the West imagines itself to be, a society of “unfree” people, as the West imagines most other places to be (Sarcasm-minor, for you musicians out there), or a society that doesn’t deal so much with concepts of “freedom” as with concepts like “continuity” and “fitting in.” But regardless of the society into which we find ourselves (totally by accident) born, there are certain societal norms that seem to be common. Don’t punch people in the face (at least, not without a good reason). Don’t take without asking. Don’t kill each other (randomly). Any (hell, all) of these societal norms will be broken from time to time, often by the society at large (cf. war). But within times of “normal” societal existence, these norms try to prohibit certain similar types of behavior, regardless of the society. We violate these norms (that is, we act “imorally”) at our own peril.

    Our moral sense is therefore defined by some combination of 1) our willingness to behave within societal norms, and 2) our own estimate of our ability to go against those norms without suffering the penalties for doing so (perhaps these can be summed up as an evaluation of risk vs. reward). It’s really the carrot and the stick all over again. Laughably, theists and atheists alike conform based upon these same precepts. The main difference is that theists tend to expect their reward or punishment in an afterlife, while atheists realize that the rewards and penalties are most likely to occur during this one known life. By the way, the Hitlers of the world constitute a different approach to morality: the individual who is convinced that he alone dictates what is moral, and therefore is free to behave as he pleases, believing it to be the definition of morality, or believing himself to be above such definitions. These individuals usually end up being ganged up on by the rest of us, mainly to protect ourselves.

    So you are left with a dilemma: behave as you wish, knowing it will matter not to the universe? Or behave (somewhat) as society dictates, knowing that it will matter not to the universe, but WILL matter within your own frame of existence? I think the fact that you are reading this, rather than going over to rape your neighbor and steal her stereo, answers that question. I think those of us who behave “morally” have opted for peaceful co-existence within our society. Either that or we’re afraid of burning in hell. Holy crap! Does this mean that those people who ARE raping their neighbor and stealing her stereo have simply realized the ultimate futility of existence?

    At any rate, these are the questions with which I frequently torture myself. I’d welcome your thoughts. That is, assuming any of the rest of you really exist…

  58. Stan
    March 21st, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Steve,

    I find little to argue against in your post. Obviously the cosmos doesn’t care whether we behave morally or immorally. The cosmos is actually unable to care, unless it is conscious (an idea to which I do not subscribe).

    Morality therefore only has meaning within a social context. Since we are all members of society, I fail to see why this presents a dilemma.

    As to the idea that existence is futile, I fail to see that conclusion as a necessary consequence of materialism.

    Please accept this response as proof of my existence…

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