Thursday, September 10, 2009

Atheistic Fundamentalism: Ridicule Them into Unbelief!


Anyone who doubts the evangelistic nature of certain fundamentalist atheists ought to pay attention to the musings of Richard Dawkins on his own website. This from a comment (comment #16) he wrote to a Jerry Coyne post at RichardDawkins.net earlier this year:

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.

And so Dawkins advocates the use of ridicule and belittlement. How is this unlike a political party, fearing defeat on some policy debate, issuing a talking-points bulletin encouraging members to just make fun of the other side. Would anyone take such an approach seriously? Where I come from, such tactics are considered clear indicators of a lack of meaningful persuasive argument: “If I can’t rationally convince you, I’ll bludgeon you into agreeing with me using mockery and derision.”


Maybe he is right. When I read his book, expecting to encounter some meaningful challenges to my faith, I was utterly disappointed. I found no such arguments. Maybe he can shame me into apostasy with ridicule. Ah, but, if I find his arguments less than compelling, and I am also unmoved by his wisecracks, then of course he has a handy category for me: I’m just one of the “irremediable”. Nice.



Hey. Maybe it works the other way, too ...


Dr. Dawkins, wherever you are, look at this cartoon.

Listen to the masses of Christians laughing at you. Are you starting to believe yet? Keep looking; feel all that shame and embarrassment washing your atheism into oblivion. Is it working? No? Oh, I see — you're irremediable, too.

68 comments:

Rich G. said...

Cliff:

I saw this in his entry:

"The pro-religion stance of the NCSE is offensive and unnecessary — a form of misguided pragmatism. First, it dilutes their mission of spreading Darwinism,"

Funny... I thought the purpose of the NCSE was to promote rational, objective view of science, not a particular set of dogmas.

Tom Gilson said...

Shall we call this the argumentum ad contemptum?

BrownPanther said...

I'll start by saying that I agree that ridicule is hardly a responsible method of persuasion, regardless of its partial productivity. However, I think that focusing on the cause of this behaviour is even more productive than a straight-up critique of it. That's where we tend to find solutions and our own responsibilities in the matter. Ideally, isn't criticism always more productive when paired with solutions? It would be easy for me to disregard any personal onus here considering I try not to operate in the same way as Dawkins, but that would only be a superficial reaction.
I think that the inclination toward such negative methods is understandable if not condonable. Many in these atheists movements are feeling the need not just to fight, but to fight back--fire with fire. It's a natural reaction. My first reaction isn't to simply say "let's escape the plantation" but "let's come back, hang the mother&#*$# who kept me there and burn his house to the god@#*& ground." Fortunately, that's not the ONLY reaction I have to choose from. Once we understand Dawkins' and others' aggressive response to be a reaction to the widespread marginalization and derision of atheists, we can start to understand our role in doing something about it. Clearly, there's fault on both sides as far as contributing to this climate. Even if you or I try to refuse to participate in discourse on such a reactionary level, I think it's important to understand the indirect contributing role we play.
If I belonged to an organization that was responsible, outside of my direct involvement, for any kind of bigotry or unjustifiable aggression, I would feel the need to resign out of protest, not wanting to validate by association. Sometimes we don't have that luxury. Whether or not we identify with others under the heading of "Christian," "theist," or "atheist," they are identified with us. We may not appreciate the association, but it's there and we're unwillingly validating their position or behaviour by simply being who we are or believing what we believe.
I'm rambling and thinking "out loud," so I'll stop soon. The point is that you're right to criticize, but I'd like to see this as an opportunity to look at what we can do about our part in all of it. Naturally, your theistic voice speaks much, muich louder within the theistic community than mine, and vice versa. My hope would bet that, rather than embitter us, this will embolden those on both sides to advocate as much as possible against irresponsible and ultimately unproductive discourse within our ascribed "factions," focusing on the solution rather than the problem.

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Guys,

Sigh

You need to read the very quote Cliff puts in his post again.

"I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully."

He is suggesting ridiculing peoples beliefs works for the fence sitters not for believers - very little if anything at all can work for believers - they haven't used logic and evidence to reach their beliefs so it certainly won't shift them. He says this explicitly as well - no need for nuanced interpretation;

"But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable."

Come one, I thought you guys were all for the careful and thoughtful interpretation of the written word.

I am in agreement with Dawkins in that my own experience suggests that for religious people, it is only experience of the world and people which gradually frees some of them and opens their eyes.

e.g. claims that Condom use spread AIDS are so on the face of them daft that I know a few people who started being rational after looking into such claims.
They became aware of such claims being in doubt by people cracking jokes about them.

Anyway - I am unsure why the point that Dawkins makes has been missed by you all - it is in black and white.

Constructing such an obvious strawman was, I am sure, accidentally because the evidence it is such is smack bang in the middle of the quote.

Speaking frankly, most religious beliefs are pretty damn silly from where I am sitting. I am entitled to this view and will vigorously defend my right to take the mickey, just as I would defend your right to take the mickey out of me. The fact that most peoples' refusal to even discuss rationally the reasons for such belief are also thoroughly amusing.

Look at the discussion thread from the last post.

Talk about an evidence free zone.

As another example; Some of the recent comments made about the UK NHS system by US politicians are also so transparently made up, laughable and breathtakingly stupid that ridicule would appear to be the only proper response a decent person can have.

Suggesting that such a response to these nutty ideas indicates that there is no rational argument against them says more about your own values than mine and is of course a simple non sequitur.

Regards,

Psi

BrownPanther said...

"He is suggesting ridiculing peoples beliefs works for the fence sitters not for believers - very little if anything at all can work for believers - they haven't used logic and evidence to reach their beliefs so it certainly won't shift them. He says this explicitly as well - no need for nuanced interpretation."

Because nothing is either gained or lost regarding the "irremediable," why not address the fence-sitters exclusively through rational discourse rather than the inherently social and emotional appeal of ridicule? The undecided and unconsidered aren't immune to reason are they? Where's the motivation for ridicule? It's unnecessary to sway the moderates and childish and unproductive in attacking the steadfast. Once one abandons reason as one's primary method of appeal, one gives up the ability to claim that theirs is the rational position for the rationally minded. It's an evangelistic tactic, not a rational one. Are we, as atheists, more interested in acquiring numbers or attaining knowledge and truth and sharing it with those who are wanting it?

"'But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable.'"
Come one, I thought you guys were all for the careful and thoughtful interpretation of the written word."

Maybe you missed that part that said "anyone who doubts the evangelistic nature of certain fundamentalist atheists ought to pay attention to the musings of Richard Dawkins on his own website." I understand if you did. It would've taken a careful and thoughtful interpretation. I think the original post indicates a clear understanding of Dawkins' point. His point being that an evangelistic emotional appeal is more useful than logical appeal for the sake of reaching the people on the fence.

"claims that Condom use spread AIDS are so on the face of them daft that I know a few people who started being rational after looking into such claims.
They became aware of such claims being in doubt by people cracking jokes about them."

A bit of an assumption of causation here, enit? Is it the ridicule of the stance that causes further exploration or the awareness and dialogue regarding the issue that causes it? If we KNOW it's the joke-cracking, that certainly demonstrates an effectiveness, but it hardly speaks to the best and most responsible method by which to change minds.

"As another example; Some of the recent comments made about the UK NHS system by US politicians are also so transparently made up, laughable and breathtakingly stupid that ridicule would appear to be the only proper response a decent person can have."

At least try to demonstrate some reasoning here. How do you figure? Would listening to why people make this claim and others parrot it and presenting counter evidence wherever possible be indecent? Would it deprive one of personhood? Would it be improper? What about the myriad other options concerning how to respond? Not validating it by saying anything comes to mind, among others.

"Suggesting that such a response to these nutty ideas indicates that there is no rational argument against them says more about your own values than mine and is of course a simple non sequitur."

BrownPanther said...

I don't see that the original post claims the absolute nonexistence of rational arguments against theism. It does seem to accuse the perpetrator of such a response of lacking rational arguments. Again, especially coming from the "rationalist" camp, what's the motivation to abandon rationality when it's on your side? As Dawkins so eloquently puts it, the irremediable are irremediable. The fence-sitters, by being alterable, are, by definition, not irremediable, so what's the motivation for abandoning logical argumentation? Is it ONLY ridicule that can sway the moderates? If so, what's the value of swaying them in the first place? As soon as the next emotional appeal comes along they'll be back on the other side.

I would also point out the fact that your response, which includes an accusation of a strawman fallacy, includes several itself, but hey, you'll probably just ignore it, so I should just ridicule you...right? Should be more productive.

Steven Carr said...

Should we ridicule people who worship a being that they claim strikes children dead?

Or just pity them?

2 Samuel 12
But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."

15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill.... On the seventh day the child died.

I tend to pity rather than ridicule.

Dawkins might ridicule people for believing in talking donkeys, but if he took time out and actually listened to some Christians defend their beliefs, he may start to think that it is rational to believe in talking donkeys.

Steve Douglas said...

Excellent post, Cliff.

As you and BrownPanther pointed out, it's those irremedial who can't be reasoned with. Why not try some respectful, rational discourse with the fence-sitters? Emotive rants and crass sarcasm has its appeal, but mostly among the type who can't be bothered to analyze and argue dispassionately.

Ridicule influences people of a herd mentality more than anyone else; since when are herd mentality types known as "fence-sitters"? I think he just wants to find an excuse to set out his condescending arrogance for public display.

Cliff Martin said...

Rich,
Isn’t one of the hallmarks of fundamentalism an unwillingness to countenance those who take a slightly more moderate stance? Some atheistic evolutionists (e.g. Dawkins) consider any suggestion of the compatibility God and Darwin intolerable. Hmm. Sounds like some fundamentalist religious folk I’ve known.

Tom Gilson,
Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your website, and I like what I saw!

BrownPanther,
Yes, you are right: Christian preachers have often used similar tactics, to their shame. I do expect better of Dawkins, a high profile scientist whom I respect, enjoy reading and listening too, and generally like. Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I do work within my own community to turn these discussion toward rational discourse.

Psi,
I think I got Dawkins’ point. What did I miss? What about my post strikes you as a straw man approach? I know that you use ridicule, but it is different with you. Unless I misread you, your use of ridicule is almost always good-natured, and a little tongue-in-cheek. The kind of ridicule I encounter in Dawkins is strident, intolerant, and mean-spirited. Do you truly find such tactics defensible?

Steven Carr,
Oh please! You’ve got to come up with some more informed responses here. Assuming what believers believe about the Bible, and then using your assumptions to bludgeon them is hardly effective.

Steven Douglas,
If some Christians can be so easily picked off by the use of ridicule, indicating (as you point out) their herd mentality, what does that say about the church? Sadly, too many Christians are subject to the Dawkins tactics. Is that because the church is satisfied to herd the simple minded instead of equipping them with a sound rational basis for faith?

Steven Carr said...

Well, I'm sure you are far more sophisticated in your theology than Jesus, or even the author of Luke , who thought Adam was a real person, or even the author of 2 Peter who happily wrote about talking donkeys.

I was always brought up to regard books with talking animals in them as having the truth value of Aesop's Fables.

But Jesus appeared to believe in possessed pigs. How ridiculous is a possessed porcine?

And why do Christians claim their god kills children, and then demand that atheists worship the Christian God?

Steven Carr said...

Many atheists do find ridiculous the Christian claim that there is a god who will consign millions of Muslims to Hell, no matter how sincerely these Muslims prayed to God.

Rich G. said...

Steven:

"I was always brought up to regard books with talking animals in them as having the truth value of Aesop's Fables."

Does this mean that you do not believe there is ANY "truth value" in Aesop's fables?

I was taught that they illustrated truths about human nature and behviour. Just because the mental picture of a fox conversing with a raven is obviously impossible, it DOES present an entertaining story containing an important teaching.

If I follow your reasoning (as I read it), I should also seek to wipe from all public discourse all of Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Tales and the like, because they are tell lies about the 'real' world.

Steven Carr said...

'Does this mean that you do not believe there is ANY "truth value" in Aesop's fables?'

Of course I do.

They have far more educational value than stories of virgins not having oil in their lamps, or people being salted with fire (or is it fired with salt) or people telling their friends how to get free money by looking in the mouth of a fish.

Stories like Jack and the Beanstalk are good stories, provided people don't really believe you can get into another world by ascending into the sky, as Jesus is alleged to have done, in one of the many 'jumping the shark' moments in the Bible.


Now why are all those millions and millions of Muslims not being found by God and converting to Christianity, despite their sincere prayers to God?

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Guys,

There are now several people that seem to be claiming that Dawkins thinks that rational discourse should be abandoned in favour of ridicule and humour.

He doesn't say this.

He certainly doesn't do it.

His latest book is a great example of rational argument.

I think it fairly obvious that anyone who recommends just one kind of approach to the fence sitters will be missing out on something. A mixed/balanced approach would be most effective.

Fence sitters are not a homogeneous bunch I am sure and will respond in different ways to different views.

I am reminded of comments about Darwin being descended from apes on his mothers or his fathers side.

Comments about people who don't believe in god being fools - a regular comment aimed at me also springs to mind - that's from some kind of book isn't it?

Brownpanther;

I stand by my comment that the post ignores Dawkins own words as I quoted above.

I have not made any assumptions about causation - that's what folks have told me did it for them.

Please tell me where my straw-men are - I am always happy to learn.

I have seen a clip of one woman shouting at a guy telling hi he is like Hitler for supporting healthcare reform - he was jewish.

That woman did not warrant any kind of rational argument in my view.

Cliff,

He says to use ridicule with fence sitters - you I presume are not one of these - but you tell us how his approach would not work on you. The you say how it won't work on him either you are sure - again he isn't a fence sitter.

So yes you do have his approach but no you don't have his point in that you are suggesting it won't work in a situation he doesn't suggest it is used in anyway.

See what I mean?

Cheers,

Psi

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

Yes, I see your point. I merely cited my own experience with Dawkins to suggest that since his rational arguments are found wanting (by me), perhaps he should resort to ridicule. Of course, I am one of those irremediable types. I get it.

The larger point of the post is not whether ridicule is effective, or with whom, or even whether Dawikins has abandoned rational appeals in favor of cutting humor (which you correctly point out he has not). Rather it was to demonstrate the evangelistic fervor of Dawkins, and the tactics he is willing to utilize in order to gain converts. The whole discussion reads like a fundamentalist evangelistic strategy session. On the one hand, I found it humorous. On the other, I found it very telling.

Rich G. said...

Steven:

"Now why are all those millions and millions of Muslims not being found by God and converting to Christianity, despite their sincere prayers to God?"

Despite superficial similarities, Allah is a *very* different god from what has been presented by Christians through the centuries. Muslims understand this; that is why they try to stamp out the blasphemy that Christ represents to them.

BTW, I do not think this is the central issue for most atheists. It sounds (to me) like one more of G.K.Chesterton's "any stick is good enough to beat Christianity with".

BrownPanther said...

Cliff,
I know you've been and continue to be a strong advocate for rationality among your own community, and I think that's wonderful! I wasn't trying to chastise or suggest that you don't. That seems to be a theme in your blog in general. Your criticism of atheistic evangelism is sound and more than called for. I just always like the focus to be on the solution that's coupled with the criticism.

Psi,

I saw that video of the woman calling the man Hitler too. It was pretty out there! I agree that the woman probably wouldn't be responsive to a substantive rebuttal, but I'm not clear as to what you're arguing. Are you suggesting that ridicule is then the only recourse in such a situation? Isn't that a false dichotomy?

Also, I don't see why I should actually address your straw men specifically. You probably wouldn't be responsive to it. It seems most productive to simply call your reasoning foolish in order to sway undecided readers of these comments, enit?

BrownPanther said...

This seems relevant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snvD-8tJDb0&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=60FA6951C8318996&index=3

Krauss tempers Dawkins pretty well throughout the entire discussion, but he specifically calls him out during this portion

Steven Carr said...

Is Rich G. really claiming that millions and millions of Muslims who pray five times a day, fast during Ramada, give to charity etc , are NOT sincerely looking for god?

And that they are all going to Hell, because they are worshipping a false god, while the real god doesn't bother to show himself to them?

If Rich G. had been born in Lahore, he would be chastising Christians for theior blasphemy in saying that God has a Son.

But Dawkins can ridicule theologians all day long for not coming up with any way to settle even basic issues such as whether Islam or Christianity is the true religion.

Theologians are never going to produce any evidence to shut up Dawkins about why the real God allows millions and millions of people to worship the false god.

Rich G. said...

Steven:

"Is Rich G. really claiming that millions and millions of Muslims who pray five times a day, fast during Ramada, give to charity etc , are NOT sincerely looking for god?

I never said that. All I said was that Allah is not the same as God of the Christians. Very different statement.

I will say again, I don't believe that this is your real issue. If I was to answer it, you would simply come up with another objection... and another... and another. I wonder, what is the core issue for you, once all the superficial issues are stripped away?

BTW, the theologians have presented reasoned evidence, but there is a major difference between "prove" and "persuade".

tommct said...

What it seems to me with this post is that there is a genuine offense to atheists uniting. If a witty tongue is behind us, then somehow the rational argument isn't good enough for us. We must have been duped to be like zombies behind a Jim Jones, this Dawkins guy. Gimme a break!

If you can genuinely say that Dawkins is unfair, then call him a liar. Call his ilk fools. It's an effective tactic because "nobody likes to be made fools."

Cliff Martin said...

Tom,

It seems strange that you would manufacture a motive behind the post (my offense over atheists uniting) and then bristle in your own offense at my supposed offense. Give me a break.

Actually the post is about the evangelical atheistic fundamentalism of Dawkins, and about the lack of civility in discourse.

Tom said...

The label "atheistic fundamentalism" does not apply to Dawkins. By conflating Dawkins' condoning of mockery with this "evangelical" label you don't promote civil discourse yourself.

Cliff Martin said...

Tom,

Actually, if you look through this thread, you will find the following comment by me:
I do expect better of Dawkins, a high profile scientist whom I respect, enjoy reading and listening too, and generally like.

Can you find any such conciliatory statement from Dawkins regarding any Christian? I think my manner and tone do promote civility. But I am not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Also, from an earlier comment by me:
Isn’t one of the hallmarks of fundamentalism an unwillingness to countenance those who take a slightly more moderate stance? Some atheistic evolutionists (e.g. Dawkins) consider any suggestion of the compatibility God and Darwin intolerable. Hmm. Sounds like some fundamentalist religious folk I’ve known.

The current hot issue among atheists is whether or not secular evolutionary scientists ought to countenance theistic evolutionists at all. Of course, many evolutionary scientists show tolerance and accommodation toward believing evolutionists such as Francis Collins. Others say we should in no way tolerate them, and evolution must be kept under the proprietorship of atheists only. I don't have to tell you which group Dawkins is in. Now the first group I would call tolerant moderates. The second group I would call intolerant fundamentalists. My dictionary defines fundamentalism as "strict maintenance of ... fundamental doctrines of any ... ideology." Do you have a better term for Dawkins approach?

Tom said...

From Wikipedia, Richard Dawkins has rejected the charge of "fundamentalism," arguing that critics mistake his "passion" - which he says may match that of evangelical Christians - for an inability to change his mind. Dawkins asserts that the atheists' position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind, but is held based on the verifiable evidence - as he puts it: "The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."

Your definition of fundamentalism is "strict maintenance of fundamental doctrines..." The doctrine that Dawkins promotes is rationality and the demand for evidence. This describes the whole scientific community, which is most certainly committed to such fundamentals.

I have not been following Dawkins as of late, so I don't know what his stance is on having discourse with theistic evolutionists. I can imagine that he would not be in agreement.

When it comes to evolutionary science there is no "proprietorship" to atheists. There is just science! If the scientist tried to bring God into the picture, it's liable to cloud the scientific picture, but really, that's up to the peer review process. Similarly, evolutionary science is not out to push an atheistic agenda. That would also be sniffed out by reviewers who are wanting good evidence not bias.

As far as Dawkins' tactics, I don't know what to label them, but generally speaking, I applaud his diligence and his ability to confront entrenched ideologies.

Cliff Martin said...

Tom,

Of course, I would not expect Dawkins to accept the label of fundamentalist. That he rejects the moniker does not make it untrue in every sense.

Fundamentalism can mean many different things. When I moved in strict Bible Belt fundamentalism, one of its primary tenets was "separation". That is, these fundamentalists separated themselves not only from non-believers, but also from other believers whose "separation" was not as total as theirs. It was, in my view both then and now, craziness. You didn't need to be a theological liberal to make their blacklist; you could be a theological toe-the-line conservative, but if you consorted in any way with a liberal, or even with a moderate ... or it you consorted with a conservative who ever consorted with a moderate, you were blacklisted.

I see this same thing in people like Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, who want to exclude from their circle of evolutionists not only believers in God but even other atheistic evolutionists who "accommodate" theists. Did you read the sited post by Coyne?

Perhaps no one is a fundamentalists in every sense of the word. The sense in which Dawkins fits the bill, IMO, is in the area of this exclusivism.

To suggest that theists are unable to do good science (as you seem to, and Dawkins and Coyne most certainly do) is to deny room at the table for Copernicus, Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Faraday, Mendel, Dalvin, Planck, and more recently, Francis Collins. Collins can't do science? Come on!

When you write "Similarly, evolutionary science is not out to push an atheistic agenda."

I agree with you that it should not do this. But this is exactly what Dawkins is doing both overtly and covertly. I have a Christian friend who became an evolutionist because her first college level biology teacher announced on the first day of class "I believe in evolution and I believe in God". That teacher would be roundly rebuked by Dawkins, who wants evolution taught from a strict atheistic viewpoint. I doubt if God ever came up in the class again, but that would not matter to Dawkins. Just the brief mention of belief disqualifies the teacher. In what I have read of Dawkins, he most certainly does use science to push an atheistic agenda.

Dawkins believes (and says so) that evolution implies atheism. Thousands of Christian biologists who are doing evolutionary science everyday would disagree.

Psiloiordinary said...

Cliff,

You seem totally unaware of Dawkins friendship with Bishop Harries and his joint activities with several leading figures in several faiths in the fight against creationism.

These simple facts seem to leave you comments without foundation.

Or in other words - that's rhubarb - where are you getting from?

Cheers,

Psi

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

I am basing my remarks upon the post cited in my OP by Jerry Coyne and the subsequent thread of comments in which Richard Dawkins is active.

Did you read it?

I am not aware of his work with the Bishop, but based upon what I read at his website, I would wonder how genuine his "friendship" is. If I have misread Dawkins, if he is actually accepting of Christian evolutionists, I would love to be corrected. But please read Coyne together with Dawkins' comments.

Rich G. said...

Tom:

A few points, if I may:

I noted these from the Wiki excerpt:

"Dawkins asserts that the atheists' position ... is held based on the verifiable evidence"

I think it would be more accurate that the atheists' position is based on THE LACK of verifiable evidence. You may not be able to PROVE the existence of something, it is much harder to prove its non-existence.

"Dawkins asserts that the atheists' position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind... as he puts it: "The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence!"

I would suggest the fundamentalism as not "unable" but "unwilling". I admit that I have not read Dawkins extensively, but according to the quotations I have seen, he demonstrates a fundamental unwillingness by setting up his own definitions of what a "god" should look like, and what would constitute evidence that he would consider verifiable and convincing. So he then concludes that God does not exist when he does not fit into Dawkins' test. But it's kinda like saying (but in a much more sophisticated way) "There are no salmon, I have never seen one in my bathtub!"

Then there is the nature of "evidence". Legally, testimony *is* considered to be evidence; it may be substantiated, challenged, impeached, confirmed, or what-have-you, but it can in no way be considered scientific 'proof'. However, we still have little trouble accepting such subjective statements as 'evidence' of what a person has done, even with the potential risk of fallibility.

Most believers of my acquaintance
accept this fallibility, and will usually admit it. None of my atheist friends even consider it possible.

Rich G.

Rich G. said...

Point of clarification:

Most believers of my acquaintance
accept this fallibility, and will usually admit it. None of my atheist friends even consider it possible.


"...fallibility of their convictions..."

Rich G.

Psiloiordinary said...

Cliff,

Perhaps you just need to read around a bit more - and search for the pair of them on the web you can probably even find them chatting on a podcast.

Who said that the less people know about something then the firmer their views tend to be? Can't remember but it seems particularly apt with the vein of posts.

Perhaps you should read the opening comments in the recent Times interview about his friendly co-operation with many religious folks of many faiths battling the tide of creationist ignorance.

I say again - your comments are not based on reality.

So you can go on liking him I think.

Why not have a post on why atheists are the most distrusted minority in the US?

Psi

BTW the fact that you won't tell us which of his arguments you find lacking and the fact that you won't discuss the reasons why you have the faith you do, contrasts rather vividly with Dawkins own views and attitudes.

Your continued silence on these issues whilst at the same time lambasting him loudly (and hollowly I might add) is the elephant in the blog - if you see what I mean.

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

"I say again - your comments are not based on reality.".

I based my comments on a direct quote. Is that not reality? How, in your opinion, did my comments veer off from what he himself said?

Now, it may be true that there is more to the picture. But my remarks in the OP and in this thread are based, in large measure, upon the discussion among atheists which I cite in the OP. In my opinion, we are given an inside view of how Dawkins really feels about people of faith, which may not always align with his public persona. Again I ask, did you read it?

"... the fact that you won't tell us which of his arguments you find lacking".

Not sure to what you are referring here. I have said that I found none of Dawkins’ arguments in The God Delusion compelling ... so, take your pick. I did explain how I found several of those arguments lacking in my review of his book.

"... you won't discuss the reasons why you have the faith you do, contrasts rather vividly with Dawkins own views and attitudes."

I have on this post discussed at length my “Reasons for Belief” (see side-bar). What is the contrast you are referring to?

I am guilty of “loud lambasting”? Dawkins is not? I suppose this all has to do with point of view. When I listen to Dawkins, when I read Dawkins, I hear a lot of loud (and hollow) lambasting in which he reveals again and again his unvarnished contempt for Christians and that he has not done his homework on what Christians believe.

In this post, I have merely removed Dawkins’ mask, let him speak for himself, and responded. Again, please show me where my remarks are not based in what Dawkins said.

Rich G. said...

Psi:

"Why not have a post on why atheists are the most distrusted minority in the US?"

They are?? I've never heard this. What's your source?

Rich G.

Tom said...

I find Dawkins very informed on Christianity for a few reasons: He was a Christian, he is focused on describing it through memes, and he knows a that a good argument is to criticize it knowingly and pointedly.

You are right, Cliff. He is very vocal about it, too, which is why he has become a leading voice for atheists.

Tom said...

Rich said, I think it would be more accurate that the atheists' position is based on THE LACK of verifiable evidence. You may not be able to PROVE the existence of something, it is much harder to prove its non-existence.

You are right on the first part and wrong on the second. With respect to the second part, think Leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus, Shiva, Volcano gods, etc. What is there to disprove besides human superstition?

Rich G. said...

Tom:

"You are right on the first part and wrong on the second. With respect to the second part, think Leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus, Shiva, Volcano gods, etc. What is there to disprove besides human superstition?"

I didn't say 'impossible', I said 'harder'.

Very few people accept the existence of leprechauns as anything more than entertaining stories. Their existence has not been demonstrated either by science or philosophy, so we assume their non-existence. We are CONVINCED of this, but it has not been PROVEN (strictly speaking). They *could* be living happily on the third moon of the planet Tartar in the Zebulun star system - but I doubt it.

BrownPanther said...

Here you go, Rich:

University of Minnesota Study on American Attitudes Towards Atheists & Atheism

http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheitsHated.htm

Rich G. said...

Tom:

"I find Dawkins very informed on Christianity for a few reasons: He was a Christian, he is focused on describing it through memes..."

Hmmm... Memes.

According to my somewhat limited research, 'memes' haven't been proven to exist. It seems to be a term that Dawkins has popularized (perhaps even coined) for the mass market, but is not generally accepted by the social scientists.

From Wikipedia:

In his chapter titled "Truth" published in the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, Dieter Lohmar questions the memeticists' reduction of the highly complex body of ideas (such as religion, politics, war, justice, and science itself) to a putatively one-dimensional series of memes. He sees memes as an abstraction and such a reduction as failing to produce greater understanding of those ideas. The highly interconnected, multi-layering of ideas resists memetic simplification to an atomic or molecular form; as does the fact that each of our lives remains fully enmeshed and involved in such "memes". Lohmar argues that one cannot view memes through a microscope in the way one can detect genes. The leveling-off of all such interesting "memes" down to some neutralized molecular "substance" such as "meme-substance" introduces a bias toward scientism and abandons the very essence of what makes ideas interesting, richly available, and worth studying.[19]

Also this:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolution-cultural/#Mem

Rich G.

Cliff Martin said...

It has always been interesting to me that Dawkins, who insists upon nothing less than solid material evidence to verify a being who is by definition immaterial, readily accepts and defends his own unproven (and for some highly dubious) memes. Anyone else see an inconsistency?

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

Why not have a post on why atheists are the most distrusted minority in the US

I do not doubt that atheists are the most distrusted of people groups in America. I find this lamentable. You and I have discussed this before, and you know that I would trust many atheists I have known above certain Christians I have known. However, this is frankly not a matter of deep interest to me. I have other things I would rather post on. But if you offer a post at cogita tute, I will gladly point my readers to it.

Incidentally, I do not see how Dawkins' rancorous (my opinion!) manner helps to reduce this distrust. Do you?

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Cliff,

Such a post would be very short.

Believers don;t make decisions using reason based on evidence sometimes and this is another example of such - p.s. see Rich's comment above about testimony.

Re Dawkins. I am simply pointing out that you are taking things out of context and ignoring other evidence of Dawkins attitude. A bit like the condoms debate where you quote a couple of op-eds versus my plethora of research papers.

I think when creationists do it it's called quote mining or confirmation bias.

I'm afraid to say that the quality of comment here is falling rapidly. Perhaps I am to blame as much as anyone but none of the points I have raised have been addressed so I am struggling to see the point in making them.

Simply saying you don't agree doesn't address a point. Making unsupported points, being asked to support them and then ignoring this also seems only to perpetuate the stereotype of the believer.

I also find the hypocrisy of the whole thrust of the comments about Dawkins rather amusing.

Perhaps I will drop back in a month or two to se how things have calmed down.

Psi

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

"I also find the hypocrisy of the whole thrust of the comments about Dawkins rather amusing."

Yeah, it was a little "here's some of your own medicine" presented (I thought rather obviously) with tongue in cheek. Hypocrisy? No. An attempt to reveal the lengths Dawkins will go to to win a convert, yes. An effort to show the absurdity of strategizing to use ridicule as a tactic, yes. An attempt at humor, yes, though obviously some failed to see anything funny.

I was surprised in this post by two things.
1) The apparent sensitivity of several atheists. Like some kind of raw nerve was struck. Many examples of this, perhaps most telling is how the discussion shifted to the persecuted minority status of atheists. Touchy.
2) What seemed to me a blind allegiance to Richard Dawkins by some, which smacks of a cult following. This is marked by an inability to laugh at what I think is truly laughable, and a rush to his defense ("Oh, despite the blatant direct quote, dear Richard is really not like that...") Come on. I have read and watched Dawkins. I know he is not always bombastic and disrespectful. But when I see him with his gloves off, I wonder how sincere his "Mr. Nice Guy" persona is.

"... being asked to support them and then ignoring this also seems only to perpetuate the stereotype of the believer."

Psi, I could, of course, level the same charge. I have in the last two posts asked for meaningful debate from Isaac, from you. I have asked many questions, some that could be answered yes or no, and you have ignored them, refused to answer. I think we have been shooting past each other.

I agree that the quality of comments has nose-dived. I absolutely refuse to accept all the blame, or to grant you the high ground you assume.

Rich G. said...

BrownPanther:

"Here you go, Rich:

University of Minnesota Study on American Attitudes Towards Atheists & Atheism
"

Thanks for the link. However, I have been unable to find much that isn't a report on a pro-atheist website. I have not been able to drill down to the real study report.

As near as I can tell, the surveys questions were limited to "Would you want your child to marry a...", rather than more generic measures of trust. I would suggest getting a copy of "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrell Huff before putting so much stock in the reports of bias like this.

Rich G. said...

Psi:

"Believers don;t make decisions using reason based on evidence sometimes and this is another example of such - p.s. see Rich's comment above about testimony."

You misunderstand my point. We all, every day, take testimony as evidence. It is not limited to "Believers".

Veritas said...

Psi,

...Believers don;t make decisions using reason based on evidence sometimes and this is another example of such...

Everyone makes decisions using "reason" based on some sort of evidence. Even you! But I see where you are coming from, and I agree, reason coming from someone who does not have absolute proof of their own personal beliefs, is no real reason at all, it is an argument, however strong, but it is not conclusive, and therefore must be taken on faith to some extent or another. It may be based on "facts", but those "facts" only have meaning within the framework of the structure of our own assumptions. For some of us, we assume there is nothing that can or does operate outside of the boundaries we can measure at our leisure, with instruments like telescopes and rulers. Others simply have different assumptions, which we are not at liberty to question, since we are all in the same position.
Even I understand that unbelief is still a stance of faith, and there is no neutral ground (except complete ignorance). My premises, you ask? Come now, we are all gentlemen here! We should all understand by now (me even at such a young age!) that one can not "prove" anything, but that there are only arguments, strong and weak, that we eventually must weigh for ourselves and decide whether there is enough evidence for us to "buy into" this concept or that.
However my point also stands: It is unfair for us to claim that others do not make decisions based on reason, since you have no monopoly on all information. In other words, perhaps leprechauns did exist, once, maybe not on Tartar, but maybe in Ireland, we can not disprove they never have existed. All we have so far, Comrade, is an argument (or wait, did we argue anything at all?), and no proof of anything.

"...but none of the points I have raised have been addressed so I am struggling..."

Correct me if I am wrong, but our friend here is struggling. Shouldn't we accommodate him? He brings up some very important points (I can't really find them, but I am sure they are there, and I am also certain they are relevant to the topic at hand).
Go ahead Psi, state your points, so that we can stop trying to comb them out of your posts. Then we will be able to deal with the most relevant ones to this topic first!
Look forward to hearing from you, bro!

P.S.(By the way, I was reading something you guys said earlier, making fun of a certain talking donkey in the Christian Bible. Don't we have a talking monkey with a kitten somewhere? Perhaps I need to ask my biology teacher again, or go back to wikipedia. Sorry, just a random thought.)

BrownPanther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BrownPanther said...

Rich,
I agree that the use of "least trusted" in the headline and article is overreaching that particular study a bit, but it is an informal assessment of the study. There have been several others that do make a strong argument against acceptance and "trust" of atheism, especially relative to a growing respect for theistic beliefs of any stripe.
Considering you admittedly didn't read the original study (which I did't provide due to length concerns), you weren't privy to the study's methodology. Until you do, you're simply assuming statistical bias. I also don't appreciate the condescension inherent in assuming my ignorance of faulty data-gathering and presentation. If you'd like to specifically point out the unethical/dishonest/flawed methods in many of these studies, I'm always open to that enlightenment. I'm fairly well-versed in ethical data acquisition methods and presentation within the social sciences.
Here's all the information you'll need to access the original study and THEN make an educated assessment of it's methodology. Intellectual rigor may even demand that you expand your research to the plethora of similar studies conducted in recent years before deciding that all of these studies with congruous findings are inherently flawed.
Edgell, P., Gerteis, J., & Hartmann, D. (2006, April). Atheists As Other: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society. American Sociological Review, 71(2), 211-234.
Abstract (from author):
Despite the declining salience of divisions among religious groups, the boundary between believers and nonbelievers in America remains strong. This article examines the limits of Americans' acceptance of atheists. Using new national survey data, it shows atheists are less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups. This distrust of atheists is driven by religious predictors, social location, and broader value orientations. It is rooted in moral and symbolic, rather than ethnic or material, grounds. We demonstrate that increasing acceptance of religious diversity does not extend to the nonreligious, and present a theoretical framework for understanding the role of religious belief in providing a moral basis for cultural membership and solidarity in an otherwise highly diverse society.

BrownPanther said...

...or maybe the American Sociological Review is just a "pro-atheist" publication

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Veritas,

Sigh,

You seem to know an awful lot about my position - unfortunately nearly all of it dead wrong - I've been over this many a time already on this very blog.

The huge majority of atheists including Dawkins and me don't claimt o know for sure god does not exist.

Why do you have to make up our side of the argument.

I feel like we are going round in cicles.

I have persistently taken part in this blog for months now asking for reasons why people take the views they do? Offering friendly dialog and happy to listen and answer an questions about my own position.

I am coming to the conclusion that people of faith generally aren't interested in thinking or talking about the reasons for their views and instead make up what it is that atheists like myself think (usually in a condescending way I might add), rather than asking us, and criticising us for not being prepared to engage in polite dialog.

Bye all,

Psi

Cliff Martin said...

Psi,

First I want to express my hope that you do not stop dialoging here. I value your input, and at time (as you know) find myself on your side of issues. I think you are unfair in characterizing me as someone disinterested in rational thought, and reasons for faith. I am frequently criticized within Christian circles for leaning way too far in that direction. So its all about perspective, I suppose. As is your closing paragraph, which I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing below:

I am coming to the conclusion that skeptics ... make up what it is that Christians like myself think (usually in a condescending way I might add), rather than asking us, and criticising us for not being prepared to engage in polite dialog.

Cuts both ways, my friend.

Rich G. said...

BrownPanther:

"...or maybe the American Sociological Review is just a "pro-atheist" publication"

I wasn't saying that. I just was unable to sort through overwhelming number of (pro-) partisan sites to get to a neutral publication.

The reference to "How to Lie With Statistics" wasn't meant to imply that I thought the survey to be either bogus or a deliberately biased report. It was just that reports I saw rang a few of Huff's caution bells.

Rich G.

veritas said...

Dear Psi,
I am glad that you weren't really being serious when you claimed you wouldn't read the post for a couple of months! I think you have quite a lot still to say. You still have many questions to answer! It had me worried there, for a moment, that we might lose one of the real best original minds on the blog.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to say that i know a lot about your position. In fact, I hardly know anything at all, as you pointed out! i would not say I am a very bright individual, but I would like you to clarify when you said you have been over this several times: I just spent all afternoon going back over your earlier posts and have been unable to find where you are talking about. Perhaps you could put down a link or something. You do quote a lot of books and stuff written by other more distinguished thinkers, and you seem to make a lot of jabs towards others, but I don't find the places you are talking about. It would really make me less confused if you could...
But then again, you don't answer to me. Or at least you didn't in your reply to me. Which is ok, I understand that perhaps I was talking rubbish. As I said, I am not the brightest or most experienced bulb in the box.
Um, I am concerned, however that you say that a huge majority of atheists do not "know" that god does not exist. Perhaps I didn't communicate clearly. I believe this is one of the points I was trying to make. I know i am not a very well writer, so it may have been muddled.

...I agree, reason coming from someone who does not have absolute proof of their own personal beliefs, is no real reason at all, it is an argument, however strong, but it is not conclusive, and therefore must be taken on faith to some extent or another.

...Continue below...

veritas said...

...continued from above...

We hold our beliefs on our interpretation of data, which is the evidence we use for our belief structure. If, therefore, a person claims that they have some sort of evidence for a belief in a god (or the tooth fairy, or Father Christmas) I have the scientific obligation to take that claim seriously, lunatick as they may sound. If billions of people claim they have evidence (a feeling, a miracle, an experience, a visitation), I have the scientific obligation to take that claim seriously, lunatick as they may sound. Science is about isolating causal patterns of phenomena, and ability to reproduce said phenomena within controlled settings. And as far as I understand theism, it is ultimately a belief in a being (God/Jesus/Goddess/Ganesh/Hera/Coyote) who is not subject to causality. He/She/It/They would by definition be "the eternal first cause". That being the case, such a being would not be able to be measured by empirical means or isolating patterns, since there is nothing you could "do" or "mix" that would make her/him "appear". Atheism, as I understand it, is belief in a closed causal system in which nothing outside exists (or if something does it is not relevant to us) and by definition all phenomena are "instigated"(caused) and therefore able to be measured, or at least detected. The idea of a god or gods (theism, deism) who exists and lives outside of the causal system would by definition be unverifiable, simply because we would not control such a being or be able to invoke it. That does not mean it would not be able to be detected by humans, but simply not isolated. Such a being would be "outside the box". Some people (those people who "don't think") say that they have had encounters with him or her. Those people are obviously mad. But, then again, aren't we all a little mad? I often feel I am. That is why I go on tangents like this. I don't think anybody (when questioned for 5 minutes) would argue that we can really "know" anything. That was a point in my post when I said...

...one can not "prove" anything, but that there are only arguments, strong and weak, that we eventually must weigh for ourselves and decide whether there is enough evidence for us to "buy into" this concept or that...

Even the most conservative Christian would be able to see that, "uninterested in thinking" as they may be. Wait a minute, such people would be ultimately incapable of thinking. Ever. Since "interest" implies thinking. If, therefore someone has "no interest" in thinking, it could be reduced into "does not think about thinking". That just sounds weird, friend. I must have misunderstood what you said...

Anywho, I apologize for being "dead wrong" about your and Mr. Dawkins' stances. You ask why I must make up our side of the argument, did you ever think I was simply making up my side of the argument, and hoping that some atheists are more on the same page than most theists. There seem to be as many points of disagreement amongst "people who are interested in thinking" as those who are not! I simply was trying to be encouraging. Of course you are "prepared to engage in polite dialog". It is I who am not. Don't leave the post, I wont bother y'all anymore.

Veritas

Isaac Gouy said...

Cliff @ September 15, 1:35 PM > I am not aware of his work with the Bishop, but based upon what I read at his website, I would wonder how genuine his "friendship" is.

Didn't you read The God Delusion?

"My friend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, and I wrote a joint letter to Tony Blair, and we got it signed by eight bishops and nine senior scientists."

p335 The God Delusion

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

This is so typical of you. Instead of responding to the point I am making, you choose to point out my memory lapse. Yes, I read the book. No, I do not remember that detail. (And you claim to not understand why I say that you mainly try to trap people in their words!!)

Rather than focusing on minutia, I invite you to comment on my contention that Dawkins statements throughout the Coyne post on his website belie his public persona of reaching out to Christians. Agree? Or, disagree, and tell me why. Imagine the possibilities of a meaningful discussion!

Psiloiordinary said...

Cliff

When replying to Isaac - "Don't you mean - oh yes - sorry, perhaps I should change my position?"

QED

Veritas - Sorry to sound off on you - I guess I am generally tired - I just finished an assignment and I am very busy workwise.

Can you all throw my teddy back into my pram?

- - -

Atheists don't usually have faith in their position because they will happily and I mean happily, change their positions on things when shown evidence.

My item of faith, like most atheists is that logic and reason works. I point at billions of items of empirical evidence that this seems to work.

I tend to dismiss hearsay simply because it has repeatedly been shown to be so unreliable. Especially when we are talking about something so huge about why we are all here.

I have read some apologetics and find logical holes almost the diameter of the text itself - I have written about this - so I will back this up - I wish Cliff would back up his comments that he finds holes in Dawkins position.

Suggestions that believers and atheists are somehow equivalent melt away when looked at clearly. IN fact I have mainly seen such claims from creationist/fundamentalist sources, strangers to reality indeed.

Do you know any atheists? Have you ever asked them about their positions?

Are you a believer? What in? Do you have reasons/evidence why?

I was referring to previous posts on this blog over many months so it is not surprising that you can't find it.

Psi

Psiloiordinary said...

Here is a beautiful bit of rational ridicule;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPwGV1h4lW8

I could have said every word apart form the being a christian and republican bits.

This kind of approach - which seems to be exactly what Dawkins and I would support - from a non atheist right winger so you can't just dismiss it for those reasons Rich ;-)

Psi

Rich G. said...

Psi:

"
This kind of approach - which seems to be exactly what Dawkins and I would support - from a non atheist right winger so you can't just dismiss it for those reasons Rich ;-)
"

While I may agree with some parts of what he said there, Frank is far from a "right-winger". I have not followed Frank's work much (I did read his "Addicted to Mediocrity" [which I agreed with] and his "Dancing Alone" [of which I remember little]), but he seems to evidence a bitter rejection of his father's words and works.

There is much in mainstream evangelicalism that deserves to be rejected, but I think Frank's broad-brush treatment goes too far.

Rich G. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac Gouy said...

Cliff > Instead of responding to the point I am making, you choose to point out my memory lapse.

I don't share your celebrity fascination with Dawkins - so none of this holds interest for me.

I do wonder that someone without perfect recall would claim Dawkins said such and such, and Dawkins believes such and such, apparently without checking if Dawkins said anything of the kind.

I've invited you to say whether you think it would be wrong to bear false witness against Dawkins - it was a serious question.

I've asked you to make clear whether you understand what's wrong with the comments you made about Dawkins before going back to the discussion of Hart's book you abandoned.

Rich G. said...

"Here is a beautiful bit of rational ridicule;"

It seems to me that this is the only form of humor that I see from atheists (as well as my friends of the "liberal/progressive" persuasion). I see no light-hearted whimsy, little appreciation for satire, and no recognition of irony. All are taken too seriously. And this is not confined to this blog; I see it universally throughout every internet discussion site I go to - whether DailyKOS, UTI, Salon.com, Council-of-Elrond, LostPedia, or... (I could go on).

What is it about atheists that makes you take yourselves so seriously? What it it about the presence of a single "believer" that is so threatening that they must be beat down?

C.S.Lewis wrote:
"Christianity, if false, is of no importance,..."

BrownPanther said...

Rich,
I'm not sure it's fair to ascribe negativity or senses of humour to a broad group like that.
1) It seems as silly to me to consider an "atheist," "Christian," "liberal," or "conservative" sense of humour as it is to consider "atheist" or "Christian" science. What is it about these categories that you see as contributing to someone's sense of humour?
2) I think a cynical sense of humour is in-style right now, regardless of ideology.
3) Have you ever watched The Daily Show, Colbert Report, or read or listened to much of Rachel Maddow's work? Half the time, she's probably a good example to the contrary of your recent experiences.
4) I really wish that I could answer your question, but the premise itself is flawed. a) I'm an atheist. b) I don't think that Christians in general should be "beat down" or ridiculed. It's not okay and we should all be quick to contest that form of social oppression in whatever context it occurs. c) I think I have a playful sense of humour most of the time, including that which lambasts some of the sillier bits concerned with pop-politics/atheism/theism.

As to the Lewis quote, while I'm a big fan of his, this strikes me as either naive or misleading. I'd be hard-pressed to find a Christian (or secular humanist for that matter) who, themself, would claim that their faith doesn't affect the ways they view and interact with others and the world in general. By this alone, the ideology is consequential, whether true or false, for better or worse.

Rich G. said...

BrownPanther:

"I'm not sure it's fair to ascribe negativity or senses of humour to a broad group like that."

As with any generality, there will be specific exceptions, and I am glad you are one. But this has been my near-universal experience online.

Psiloiordinary said...

Rich,

I spat out my breakfast reading your last comment - you are amazing.

My irony meter just exploded. Well done, that really cleared out my sinuses!

That bloke is a christian. :-)

Hang on a mo - your name is Rich - and your comments certainly are that! Are you an atheist pretending to be a christian?

I hope this is enough satire for now;-)

Here is a little light hearted whimsy from the popular beat combo known as Motorhead;

"See ten thousand ministries,
See the holy, righteous dogs,
They claim to heal,
But all they do is steal,
Abuse your faith,
Cheat and rob,

If god is wise,
Why is he still,
When these false prophets,
Call him friend,
Why is he silent,
Is he blind?!
Are we abandoned in the end?

Let the sword of reason shine,
Let us be free of prayer and shrine,
God's face is hidden, turned way,
He never has a word to say,
He was never on your side,
God was never on your side,
Let right or wrong alone decide!
God was never on your side!
No, no, no!

(Guitar solo)

He was never on your side,
God was never on your side,
Never!
Never!
Never!
Never!
Never on your side!
Never on your side!
God was never on your side,
Never on your side..."

Is that better?

Could make a good hymn too I think. Just like onward christian soldiers really with out the killing bits.

Must go for a lay down now and then a nice cup of tea!

Cheers,

Psi

BrownPanther said...

Psi,

I think that all you're doing is reinforcing Rich's opinion.

Psiloiordinary said...

ahem . . . . satire . . . .

Psiloiordinary said...

. . . and anyway Rich is quite coapable of reinforcing his opinions on his own, he needs no help from me

:-)

Rich G. said...

Psi:

"I spat out my breakfast reading your last comment - you are amazing."

Glad to provide an unexpected diversion. I'll try harder next time.

". . . and anyway Rich is quite coapable of reinforcing his opinions on his own, he needs no help from me"

Pipe down... You're making it harder to pay attention to the voices...

"ahem.... satire...."

Your quotations still lack the light-hearted quality of effective humor. That song's message is still one of ridicule, according to the classic definition of the term.

Nice try.

Rich G.