The Raving Theist

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I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

November 11, 2006 | 37 Comments

“Fundamentalism is fundamentalism,” says Matt Buchanan, whether it’s the fundamentalism of the “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris or the fundamentalism of the Religious Right. Noting that “[u]nquestioned faith in reason is still faith,” Buchanan concludes:

Here’s the problem. When atheists are as intolerant as the religious conservatives they’re waging war against, they’re just as bad. To attack religion for seriously restricting free thought in light of New Atheism’s own staggering fanaticism goes beyond hypocritical.

But aren’t religious liberals and agnostic liberals — and Buchanan must be one of those two, mustn’t he? — just as intolerant of the view of theist/atheist fundamentalists? And isn’t their faith in their reasons for condemning the fundamentalists still faith?


37 Responses to “I’m Rubber, You’re Glue”

  1. Kreme
    November 11th, 2006 @ 4:54 am

    The moment you remain stern in defining all criticism of religion, as fundamentalist, I’d say so. There’s a danger of developing a PC BS frame of mind for the sake of not upsetting anyone, when clearly, these people upset others by passing bigoted laws rooted in religious influence against people who live nonharmful lifestyles not based in the religion. There is no fundamentalism when there’s validity in the criticisms being raised. If it hurts your feelings, then stop trying to impose unfair dogmas that hurt others.

  2. gordonliv
    November 11th, 2006 @ 5:38 am

    Seems like you need to point him in the direction of your “Basic Assumptions” article on this site – and maybe make a few additions to it as well… along the lines of “it doesn’t matter what argument you come up with to counter atheism, or what mud you try to sling at it, it will always win by simple reason and logic”.

  3. Professor Chaos
    November 11th, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    So, if you’re intolerant of those who are intolerant, are you intolerant, too?

  4. "Q" the Enchanter
    November 11th, 2006 @ 9:08 am

    If Dawkins truly were “fundamentalist” in his atheism, Buchanan’s intolerance would be justified. But of course he’s not. So it isn’t.

  5. Crack Daddy
    November 11th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    That’s merely trying to subvert the connotation associated with the word by picking and choosing a specific scenario in which to apply its general definition. It makes sense since those who would profess belief merely pick and choose when they wish to apply reason and a requirement of proof.

    I would also have to say that every atheist I know is open-minded enough to accept either outcome of an argument won on its merits. I can’t see how requiring an argument to have merit could be classified as fundamentalism. If you wish to classify that as fundamentalism then I argue we are all fundamentalists of the same ilk, and some of us (I really don’t have to specify this is meant to mean believers – do I?) pervert our standards of evidence. In which case there are only purists and cheaters.

  6. Facehammer
    November 11th, 2006 @ 12:03 pm

    I’m a fundamentalist atheist. I’m far too easily persuaded by evidence. I’m too open to logical thought and arguments. I should really shut the fuck up and let people talk as much shit as they’re like, especially when they’re demonstrably wrong.

  7. Steven
    November 11th, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

    I hate religion.

    My atheism will never make me kill someone thought.

    Can religions say the same?


  8. Steven
    November 11th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    I hate when people say you should respect other peoples beliefs. Thats nonsense. You should respect their right to believe what the want but not respect what the believe. I wouldn’t respect a nazi in his beliefs or someone who is pro war so why does religion get a pass when you could make a case for it being crazier than the two examples above.

  9. nevins
    November 11th, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

    Steven is quite correct here. Basic humanis values asks that we respect each others right to have a belief, but by no means requires us to respect the belief itself.
    Indeed, at some level, all theists must minimally hold to this tennet as well. There is a certain detant between most religions that says they will not openly state that all other religions are wrong (and that those adherents are all going straight to hell!). It’s analogous to the two party system of government in the US; the republicans and democrats greatest fear is not the dominance of the other party, but that there will arrise a viable third party (this is the origin of the republican party in the 1850s; they stuck it to the Whigs and know it could happen to them). So most major religeons refrain from too much inter-religeous hostility to stay unified against competing ideas that could bring them all down.

  10. Godthorn
    November 11th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Steven, the faux virtue of respect for the beliefs of others is a nostrum concocted by religionists as a means of safeguarding their own dear set of superstitions. Most people in the world think Christianity is nonsense. Most people think Islam is nonsence. Most think Hinduism is nonsence. The “respect” principle provides a degree of protection for all of them against the assaults of reason and science. While each is absolutely committed to vanquishing all the others, they are nevertheless united in that one respect, since alone, not one could stand against the rest of mankind.

  11. Dr.BDH
    November 11th, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

    Buchanan’s column is a polemic with copious use of emotionally charged terms (war, staggering, intolerant, crusaders, “reasoning” in scare quotes, etc.) and precious little, if any, logical argument. A word of caution to all rhetoricians: citing “South Park” episodes does not improve the validity of your arguments. When Buchanan is done flailing at his strawman atheist fundamentalist, perhaps he can put forward some reason, any reason, for accepting the truth of any religious belief. Meanwhile, taking a term of commonly accepted import — in this case “fundamentalist,” which in current usage refers to particular literalist religious believers — and mistakenly applying it to another case entirely is that old fallacy, so common in these religious debates, of category error. Grade F, please revise and resubmit for credit.

  12. Crosius
    November 11th, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

    Same old, incorrect equation of religious faith (of the belief without evidence sort) and secular belief (of the model from evidence sort).

    Believing that a bridge designed by calculations derived from the measured behaviours of materials will hold your weight because the materials you built it out of didn’t undergo a miraculous conversion to jello last Tuesday is not the same as believing in an intangible, unmeasurable, all-powerful entity.

    Only by erroneously equating these two memetic concepts can the author fabricate some sort of false dilemma.

    It’s not even necessary to debate the conclusions he draws – his assumptions are false.

    That’s like debating with someone over their theories about whether teddy-bears speak English or Japanese, without bothing to point out that teddy-bears do not, in fact, speak at all.

  13. Aric Clark
    November 11th, 2006 @ 8:24 pm

    I would like to humbly suggest that many of you here seem to have missed the point of a critique of Dawkin’s brand of aggressive atheism. It is not that atheism in general is without merit, nor that atheists don’t make many valuable contributions to an open debate between differing viewpoints. The critique is that the very spirit of debate you seem to be prizing is compromised when anyone on any side demands that they be allowed to set the terms of the debate and refuses to acknowledge the validity of any paradigm beside their own. I must disagree with Dr. BDH the word “fundamentalist” does not refer only to literalist religious believers. It refers to an idealogue of any background whose viewpoint is completely uncompromising and inflexible. What scientific rationalists often miss is that their own arguments rest upon the assumption that the universe is in fact a rational place. At heart you must simply accept the scientific method on faith because there is no way to prove it is not as delusional as any other way of interpreting experience. I personally find scientific rationalism to be meaningful and useful, but only because I’ve accepted it as a legitimate paradigm to begin with.

    In this sense there is no way that you can ever “win” the argument against religion. It isn’t possible to kill another faith purely on the basis of your own faith. What would be much more interesting and useful is to see if you could possibly learn from each others different perspectives on life and incorporate what is of value into your own way of thought. Of course, that would require first of all that you admit there is something of value there to learn.

  14. axolotl
    November 11th, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

    Buchanan’s main criticism of Dawkins and Harris seems to be that they are “intolerant” of the theistic mindset. I see nothing wrong with being “intolerant” of a world view that insists it holds the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” but the only evidence it can provide is “I know in my heart …” and “… the says so …”.

  15. "Q" the Enchanter
    November 11th, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

    Aric, theists use the same “paradigm” atheists do when it comes to evaluating truth claims generally. It is only when talk turns to matters about god that they request a paradigm “shift.”

    Naturally, atheists after the Dawkins mold contend that this “epistemological” approach is ad hoc and evasive. In what way is that contention wrong? What general epistemological principle underlies Christians’ selective deployment of the “faith” paradigm?

  16. Cthulance
    November 11th, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

    “At heart you must simply accept the scientific method on faith because there is no way to prove it is not as delusional as any other way of interpreting experience.”

    You are so flat out wrong here. The scientific method works–it produces tangible and verifiable results–and it increases our understanding of the natural world immensely. Science delivers the goods.

    Religious folk label science and rationalism as faith-based because they want to reduce them to the same untenable basis they intuitively understand their own worldview to have. They want to put everyone on equal footing because their path to knowledge and understanding simply holds no water.

  17. Godthorn
    November 11th, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

    Are you suggesting, Aric C, that I entertain the possibility that black is white, that down is up, that Socrates and Archimedes and Einstein, and all others who have relied on reason, have not merely seen darkly, as through a stained glass, but have all along been viewing a polarized image? Are you recommending that I seriously accept the possibility that a goblet of wine may be transmogrified into the actual blood of a man two thousand years dead, or that after my death I may return to life as a beetle, and after my next death come again as a cow or a dog, or that whether I spend most of eternity in bliss or in torment may actually depend on whether or not I can bring myself to believe in absurdities?

    But I suspect that what you are reccommending is not that I should lend any credence to all the nonsensical stuff that comprises the body of every religion, but that I be open to what you and they seem to think is the “true spirit” of religious belief, an openness to spiritualized versions of love, sympathy, charity, et cetera, all of which are of purely human and animal origin and have nothing at all to do with religion.

    But perhaps you would put it somewhat differently. Whatever the case, I will continue to attempt to cure the deluded ones through reasoned persuasion and occasional electric shock. I refuse to encourage them by joining them on a daytrip through their Disneyland.

  18. Dr.BDH
    November 12th, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

    Aric Clark: when debating or even discussing religion, “fundamentalist” does indeed mean what I said, a believer in the literal truth of a particular dogma. It does not refer to other ideologues. Pol Pot, for example, is not characterized as a fundamentalist. One may accuse some atheists of being ideologues, but one can not accuse them of being fundamentalists without distorting the accepting meaning of the term in reference to religious belief. It is as inappropriate as calling some atheists evangelicals, or pagans, or papists. There might be a poetic image created by such use, but it is rhetorically fallacious in argument.

  19. beepbeepitsme
    November 12th, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

    How does one define a “fundamental atheist”?

  20. Mijae
    November 13th, 2006 @ 4:57 am

    Well this is what my dictionary says:

    Fundamental atheist:

    1. Any atheist who doesn’t bend over backwards to say how much they still respect religion.
    2. Any atheist who openly asserts the idea that atheism may actually be true.
    3. Any atheist who makes enough of a good point that a religious person might actually think of questioning their beliefs.
    4. Any atheist who makes enough of a good point for a more timid atheist to feel socially awkward about praising them in the company of religious friends.

  21. The Power of Greyskull
    November 13th, 2006 @ 7:46 am

    Scientific protocol provides results which can be independently verified and observed by everyone. It gets results. This is why rational thought is the default.

    If I leave a saucer of milk outside overnight and it is gone by the morning, should I assume that this is due to the a priori assumption that it had naturalistic causes for it’s disappearance or am I just being fundamentalist by not entertaining the idea that it could have been leprechauns?

    November 13th, 2006 @ 11:03 am

    People can be passionate and driven about many points of view. That is quite a difference than a blind, unyeildding adherence to dogma.

    By its very nature atheism is not based on a set of arcane dogmatic rules …. atheism and fundamentalism are an oxymoron.


    What is with Raving Antiabortioinist’s ever so vague point about those “in the middle” also being so intolerant … who cares — they should develop a spine, and actually make a decision as to the existence of god and finally get on one side or the other.

    Besides – why shouldn’t atheists finally become more vocal about theism and religious fanatics in particular … I for one am getting tired of living with a bunch of superstitious nuts that want their crazy beliefs a part of our government and education!

  23. Facehammer
    November 13th, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

    Someone who’s too logical.

  24. Aric Clark
    November 13th, 2006 @ 7:33 pm


    if you don’t see the problem with intolerance under any circumstances that is part of the problem. Indeed it is unscientific. From a scientific point of view ALL truth claims are provisional – theories. To reject or otherwise be intolerant of any truth claim is to attempt and establish something science cannot do – objective truth. This doesn’t mean that there is no basis for sorting between better and worse truth claims, only that no truth claim can ultimately be thrown out because we never have definitive proof.

  25. Aric Clark
    November 13th, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

    Q the Enchanter:

    No one uses the same paradigm as another for anything in life. We are all locked in our subjective frame of reference from which there is no escape. So there is no epistemological bait and switch going on there are just conflicting viewpoints.

    Now I won’t dispute that many people of any belief set are dishonest about their own outlook because of doubt, ignorance or any number of reasons. But faith is not a trump card pulled out to silence debate. Faith is an acknowledgement of the limitations of our subjective viewpoint in many ways analogous to Hume’s inductive reasoning. Hume points out that scientific observation can never predict the future because to do so is always to reason inductively from the past (ie: the sun rose yesterday and the day before that so it seems likely it will do so again tomorrow). However, we have no access to the future to prove this claim. We can only rely on our past observations. We are stuck, literally, relying on faith that what we expect to happen will happen. That scientific theories have gotten very effective at reasoning inductively does not mean they are factual, but only that they are strong affirmations of faith that experience (so far) has justified.

  26. Aric Clark
    November 13th, 2006 @ 7:46 pm


    On “delivering the goods” I won’t disagree that we owe many things positive and negative to advances made under the scientific paradigm. However, quite frankly, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions have been “delivering the goods” for millenia. Different frameworks deliver different goods – no Christianity never produced a microwave, but science never produced a Mother Teresa either.

    And science is on no more sure footing than religion I’m afraid. To uncritically assume that you have access to absolute objective truth which disproves alternative truth claims is the soul of arrogance – the very thing theists are often accused of.

  27. Aric Clark
    November 13th, 2006 @ 7:55 pm


    You claim that love, sympathy and charity are purely animal in origin, but you demonstrate none of them. Demeaning people you disagree with by referring to their beliefs as “Disneyland” is not any way to convince people that your world view is a good way to make people better than they are.

    In fact, by attempting at the outset to reduce the debate to a matter of black and white, up or down you show that you have nothing in common with Socrates or Einstein – fine thinkers who never saw or thought in those terms. Both of those men valued mystery and the transcendent.

    And NO I am not recommending you admit to some watered-down spiritualized version of any religion. What you call nonsensical absurdities are neither to most of the people that have ever lived. By rejecting out of hand things which you have neither understanding of nor a scientific basis for analyzing them you clearly reveal that you are just reactionary and not an independent thinker at all.

  28. Aric Clark
    November 13th, 2006 @ 8:02 pm

    Dr. BDH:

    Simply contradicting one another does not constitute argument, nor is it productive. So I will concede that the term fundamentalist does often apply to a specific movemement within American Christianity, however the restrictive way you seem intent on defining it is exemplary of the same kind of black and white thought which Dawkins and others often fall prey too.

    Words do not have one to one correspondences. They have semantic fields. Every word can be and is used in a variety of different senses. This is not misleading, it is human. The word fundamentalist etymologically means “one who adheres to the fundamentals”. Go to it has multiple definitions (the first of which is the one you are using) but also included is this one:
    “strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles”

    In relation to truth claims the same is true. We all view the world with different eyes and come to different conclusions. To choose to talk about reality in terms other than scientific fact is not misleading it is a perceptual difference which has equal claim to validity. The moment you can start to accept that the world is not a black and white place is the moment that the possibilities of meaning open up.

  29. beepbeepitsme
    November 13th, 2006 @ 9:27 pm

    The word fundamentalist/fundamentalism refers primarily to those with a religious belief.

    “A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.”

    To call someone a “fundamental atheist” seems like a conflation of terms and an argument which wants to suggest that “atheism” is a belief system or a religion.

    An atheist is merely someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of a god or gods, as, if a theist is someone who believes in the existence of a god, an atheist is just someone who doesn’t. The word, “atheist” describes what people do NOT believe in, not what they DO believe in.

    So, an atheist may be someone who does not believe in god and they they may be someone who does not accept evolution; as the term atheist does not describe what someone believes in.

    Some atheists define themselves as secular humanists. Secular humanism DOES present a list of beliefs, which do not incliude religious beliefs. So, I think it is semantically reasonable to call someone a “fundamental secular humanist”, but to call someone a “fundamental atheist” is a contradiction and a conflation of terms.

  30. Weston
    November 14th, 2006 @ 1:24 am

    Aric: with regards to your response to axolotl, you’re not exactly right about science’s ability to uncover objective truths.

    The acceleration due to gravity, the speed of light, the temperature at which water boils, freezes, etc., ALL OBJECTIVE TRUTHS ESTABLISHED BY SCIENCE. The preditcable orbit of the planets, the return of Haley’s comet every 76 years. It doesn’t stop with physics.

    Diabetics are deficient of insulin, UV light causes gene mutations, Muscular dystrophy is caused by lacking a protein in muscle cells, HIV causes AIDS.

    Science is provisional at the frontiers only, the very tip of the very edge of what we cannot not as yet characterize and predict. Science uncovers objective truths about the world.

    Be my guest and see how provisional it is that human beings require oxygen, food, and water to survive. Seems pretty objective to me.

  31. Doug H
    November 14th, 2006 @ 3:29 am

    Often it seems that the claim is made that atheists are reasonable and theists are not, or that atheists use reason to interpret the world and theists do not. This is a really frustrating way to characterize the disagreement between the two “camps”. (I know there is great diversity in theists and atheists; here I’m referring to the perennial theist/atheist debate which seems to be manifesting here) It seems to me that both sides are using reason, at least to a degree. The problem I see is that reason requires premises. You can’t just “reason” in a cognitive and symbolic vacuum. You have assumptions and you reason from there. To put it bluntly, if your premises include “all religion is meaningless garbage” then of course you’re not going to find theists reasonable. You’ll reject their premises out of hand, which makes it impossible to reason together or communicate reasonably. If, on the other hand, your premises include “the Bible is literally true and inerrant”, of course you’ll find atheists unreasonable because they can’t accept your premises as a matter of course. Both sides see themselves as being reasonable – the problem is a disagreement about premises.

    So the next step seems to be to attack premises. “Of course religion isn’t garbage, look at all the good that comes from it! Also, how can you not see the existence of God when I see God everywhere!?” Or, “How can you take your book to be true and other religions’ books to be falce!? Why disbelieve in all but one of the gods!?” These attacks don’t seem to actually get anyone anywhere either, becaues what it comes down to is a difference of experience, and everyone will take their experience to be fundamental evidence behind what they think and/or believe. Atheists have no experience they would characterize as God, and therefore have no evidence that would point to a God. Therefore, they can’t in good conscience believe in God. On the other hand, theists have a multitude of experiences that they characterize as God, and so they cannot in good conscience disbelieve in God for which/whom they see so much evidence. Each side is baffled by the other side.

    Here one might refer to belief in God as a delusoin, that all of these people are delusional. On the other hand, though, God isn’t a teacup orbiting the sun (in reference to the awful Bertrand Russell analogy). God is more like love. You can account for love with reference to chemical reactions of hormones and neurotransmitters, but no one is telling poets to shut up about love just because it can be accounted for in a reductionistic way. (Maybe a minority of people out there would tell poets to shut up about love, but most of us don’t seem inclined to listen) Similarly, experiences that theists call “God” can probably be accounted for in reductionistic terms – brain waves, particular neuralogical states, etc. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist, in the same way that it doesn’t mean that love doesn’t exist. Its probably possible to take anything and strip it of its meaning and present it as the interaction of physical forces. But just as the poet is better at talking about the truth of the experience of love than the biochemist, the theist is potentially better at talking about the truth of the experience of God. Simply being able to explain something doesn’t satisfy a need for meaning, and it certainly doesn’t address the experience of meaning. It only satisfies someone who wants the world to be reductionistic. For someone who doesn’t want that world, who doesn’t see the world in those terms, it borders on meaninglessness. For that person, there is a transcendent, mysterious quality to things like love or perhaps God that a reductionist explanation does not begin to address. The reductionist is answering a question that the lover, or the theist, simply isn’t asking, and doesn’t care to ask.

    What we come out with is mutual unintelligibility between the two positions. Each is unable to account for the experience of the other. Because there are so few shared premises, reasoned discussion is nearly impossible. Each side thinks the other is being obtuse and unreasonable. It keeps resulting in these frustrating discussions which never seem to lead anywhere. Unless you have two sides who are willing to at least respect each others’ premises, you can’t have a conversation that’s very meaningful – and this goes for both sides.

    For myself, I’m a theist, and I have friendships and conversations with atheists all the time. We’re able to respect each other, and I accept that their reasoning is honestly based on what they think are best premises, and they often accept that my reasoning is based on what I think are best premises. There’s still room for conversation and relationship because the starting point is mutual respect and consideration rather than a desire to semantically beat the other person into submission. There are also atheists and theists who I can’t talk to, who I might characterize as “absolutist” or “fundamentalist”, who are interested in winning an argument and proving themselves objectively right. I don’t think I’m ultimately right in all I think and believe, but I’m not about to accept that anyone else is either. Reasonable, intelligent, wise, thoughtful, knowledgeable people can carefully consider their positions and respectfully disagree while still being open to discussion, to seeking greater truth. If you don’t think that’s true, I don’t know how we can have a conversation at all.

  32. Thorngod
    November 14th, 2006 @ 11:05 am

    Well, Doug H, we may have difficulty engaging in conversation, but we can obviously produce extended diatribes, because you just produced one.

    I’m going to restrict my comment to what I think was your most significant and revelatory misconception. It’s expressed in your ¶ 2: “Atheists have no experience they would characterize as God, and therefore have no evidence that would point to a God.” Au contraire! “God” was a very real presence for me into my young adulthood, and I detected “evidence” of him everywhere. It was only after my serendipitous discovery of critical thought–and my refusal to exempt my religion from rational inquiry–that I detected the true nature and origin of my “God” and the forged nature of the “evidence.”

    You and I can discuss virtually any general subject with at least an honest attempt at logic and in a reasonably unemotional manner–any subject, that is, except religion. All religious claims are nonsensical, and are obvious superstition to all intelligent and religion-free observers. (Again, as I stated in a prior entry, morality and our animal sentiments are not a province of religion.)

  33. Doug H
    November 14th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    Ok, Thorngod. In response I guess I would say that my conception of God that I had in childhood and young adulthood has also been overturned, but in my case it has led to what I think is a better understanding of God, rather than a negated understanding. I’m also quite aware of critical thought, and do not divorce my religiosity from rational inquiry. Part of the reason for my extended diatribe was to try to address where assumptions like yours come from and why they tend to preclude conversation. Statements like “All religious claims are nonsensical, and are obvious superstition to all intelligent and religion-free observers” is an excellent example that I think supports my diatribe. Not only is that statement demonstrably untrue (by the brute fact of the existence of intelligent religion-free people who are able to see value in religion), it is also simply a reiteration of your underlying premises – that “intelligent” means “non-religious”, or that intelligence precludes religion, etc. I’m glad if you found, in atheism, a way to more genuinely be true to yourself and to your convictions. I hope at some point you may be able to see that the majority of the world, which is religious, is not a mass of stupid, irrational, delusional manaics, but are simply people like yourself who are trying to find meaning in their lives.

    I think you’re wrong to call my previous post a diatribe – it was however overly long and verbose, and that’s my fault. I did my thinking in my typing and didn’t go back to edit it and make it more efficient. For that I apologize.

  34. Thorngod
    November 14th, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

    “Intelligent” does not mean “non-religious.” There are humans far more intelligent than I who are religious. But while they are capable of critically astute analysis of any non-emotionally charged subject, they are prevented (or “protected”) by a specialized module in their frontal cortex from all assaults by reason on their beliefs. I came to this conclusion on my own over thirty years ago, after puzzling for many years over what seemed to me utterly inexplicable, the ability of intelligent humans to cling to patently irrational ideas. I characterized the responsible agent as “a knot of cells somewhere in the brain that protects emotionally charged beliefs [religious, sexual, racial and others] from all rationality.” That “knot of cells” was recently discovered by neuroscientists, who mistakenly identified it as a module exclusively dedicated to religion. But they will find, if they have not already, that it protects all emotionally charged biases and convictions.

    So, repeating my contention that all religious claims are nonsensical, I challenge you to select one and show the logical and/or empirical facts that will support it.

  35. Godthorn
    November 14th, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

    Aric C, you apparently did not understand my use of the black/white, up/down reference–which is not important unless you were deliberately distorting my meaning–but I’ll just point out that gray/gray does not sufficiently express the degree of contrast I percieve to exist between realism and religion.

    I did not attempt to “demonstrate” that the so-called higher human sentiments were of more primal origin because, to anyone who has open-mindedly observed our fellow mammals, the fact is too obvious to deny. It is denied almost exclusively by the religious, and no longer even by all of them. These sentiments are more refined in humans, partly because we are more complex and partly because most humans exist in a far less threatening environment than do most other animals. If you want confirmation of my contention, sit in on any advanced class in animal psychology. But check your religion at the door.

    As to my reference to Disneyland, I offer you the same challenge I offered above to Doug H: Pick any religious claim and show me how it can be supported by logic or by the observable facts of the world.

    And as for “most of the people that have ever lived…,” most were and are dolts who believe in ghosts great and small, in the predictive power of dreams, in holy oils and waters, holy lands and mountains, holy men and holy shit (check the Dhalai Lama cult for that one!), in levitation and reincarnation, and even in the possibility of communicating with the dead! “Most of the people” have their brains entangled in their intestines–and these are the people who’s beliefs you suggest I try to understand. Well, I think I understand them all too well, but as for attempting to join in “fellowship” with them and share their “understanding” of things–NO THANK YOU!!!

  36. Skinnydwarf
    November 15th, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

    Buchanan misses the point. I don’t have faith in reason. It really ticks me off when people say that I have “faith” in reason, and their “faith” in God is just as valid. That is just not true. Believe in God all you want, have all the faith you want. You can even preach about morality and how evil Gays are; that is your right. Just don’t tell me that I have “faith” in reason, and therefore your “faith” in God is just as valid. It’s not.

    I don’t have faith in reason. I don’t need it. Faith is believing something without evidence. I have evidence that reason is superior to faith in God: Reason (through science) produces consistent, testable results.* If the same result keeps occurring, that is pretty darn good evidence that the theory is at least partly right. So I do not need faith to trust reason.

    When is the last time religion predicted something that came true, consistently? The Bible doesn’t count. Reason produces results. Reason produces evidence. I don’t need faith to believe in reason- I have evidence.

    When all is said and done, I’m going to believe in things that I have evidence for, and not believe in things that I don’t have evidence for. That seems to be the sensible thing to do. It is just leads me to not belive in God. If you want to believe in something without evidence, be my guest.

    If you have faith in God, you are believing in God WITHOUT EVIDENCE. If you had evidence for God, you wouldn’t need faith to believe in him. You would believe in God because of the evidence. Because that evidence is not forthcoming, people resort to faith to justify believing in God. That’s all well and good, but don’t pretend that you have evidence.

    *Yes, I understand this argument is a little bit circular. Wanting results is sort of a method of reason used to test the validity of a belief, and using it to test the validity of reason itself might be a bit circular. But you get the idea.

  37. "Q" the Enchanter
    November 15th, 2006 @ 3:40 pm

    “No one uses the same paradigm as another for anything in life.”

    When it comes to truth claims that are in contention, we all use the “paradigm” of reasons-giving, all the time. Indeed, your own comment continues on after the remark I quote, supra, to provide a set of reasons in an attempt to counter the arguments I gave in my comment.

    You go on to say that “[f]aith is an acknowledgement of the limitations of our subjective viewpoint in many ways analogous to Hume’s inductive reasoning.” But this analogy is wholly inapposite. Hume did not show, as you put it, that “science can’t predict the future” (which it manifestly can and does). What he showed was that in predicting the future, scientists (and all of the rest of us) rely on a nonrational commitment to induction.

    “Nonrational” here, it’s very important to note, means “not based on reason.” Which is different from “irrational,” which means “counter to reason.” So “faith” in nonrational beliefs like induction is not at all like “faith” in arguably irrational beliefs like the Christian God as most commonly conceived. (If apples started falling up, we wouldn’t expect the inductivist to exclaim, “You must have faith that gravity governs apples!” To put it in epistemological terms, “faith” in induction is ideally “defeasible” [i.e., capable of being “defeated” by new information-bearing arguments], whereas “faith” in God is ideally indefeasible.)

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