Another great example of how the truth hurts. What an awesome woman.


edit: I'll just add my favourit YT comment here:

"The stupid people just outnumbered her. Always a big problem."

edit2: she's a standup comedian (thank you @Grimm)

posted by hpqp 3 years 3 months 1 week ago • 6,482 views • 2:34
JiggaJonson says...

I don't think it's rude either. There are many ideas I don't respect because I disagree with them. For those who agree with the idea that you have to respect everyone else's views no matter how insane, I direct you to this 5 year old girl:


xxovercastxx says...

I don't support the idea that you have to respect every opinion but calling people idiots doesn't help either.

One of the things I've come to hate about debate is people are less interested in discussing, comparing and evaluating ideas than they are about thumping their chests and insulting people. Even women are apparently not immune to machismo.

Does anyone really think this is going to help? Will we (atheists) be more accepted/trusted/respected if we just call enough people idiots? Will theists see the errors of their ways if only we insult them enough?

There's a reason argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy; it's a failure to make any relevant argument and often a sign of incompetence.

The objective of debate is to sway people to your side (though not necessarily the people you're arguing against) and you don't do that by forcing them to shore up their defensive wall.

shagen454 says...

Haha, if Heaven & Hell are real and the flying spaghetti monster accepts aborted fetuses into heaven without condition - then I really wish my mom would have aborted me. And anyway, whatever happens, complete annihilation of consciousness & being or turning into space rays, dark matter or something, whatever it is - I'm sure it's better than living on this amazing planet that is being totally ruined by a bunch of prehistoric sheep.

NetRunner says...

>> ^EvilDeathBee:

"There's no such thing as money. Money doesn't exist but you believe in it"
Seriously?


You know, that struck me as so mindbogglingly dumb I couldn't believe he said that out loud, much less on television.

But the more I think about it, maybe he was on to something. In a sense, he's right -- money isn't real. Money only works the way it does because we believe it will. You have to have faith in it, or it won't do anything.

The problem that creates for him is that if that is the definition of faith, then God is just as much of a man-made fiction as money is. He only exists through our collective belief in Him, and if we stop believing, He ceases to exist as a force in our lives.

Now of course, we could always go the same route we went with money -- set up an enforcement mechanism so that if people try to operate outside the monetary system, they get jailed. That'll make believers out of everyone, right?

Maybe someday we'll realize just how right that guy was...

Phreezdryd says...

The faithful aren't interested in facts, evidence, history, reality, or anything outside their personal fantasy bubble. Where did that guy get the belief that aborted fetuses go to heaven? What happened to unbaptised babies going to limbo?

If there was a way to prove there's no god or afterlife, I'd laugh at them for a month.

hpqp says...

@xxovercastxx

Ah, the old accomodationist argument (I'm of the "PZ Myers school" of antitheist critique; his most recent piece on the subject).

I don't think there's a chance in hell that the people she's debating will ever be convinced to change their religious views. People that are watching, however, might be shocked out of their tradition-following torpor and realise just how idiotic faith is. Also, there's nothing macho about speaking the truth, even when it's spoken so bluntly. And it feels good to hear someone unabashedly say out loud what most of us think anyways.

Grimm says...

I love the "you too" tactic that these people almost always fall back on.

Faith? You have faith too.

Belief? Atheism is a belief too.

Religion? Atheism is a religion too.

Clearly demonstrating that they A) can not defend their belief/religion without falling back on the childish argument "you too, you too" and B) they do not understand that the word "atheist" is used to describe a person that does NOT have faith/belief in a god and does not belong to any religion.

lampishthing says...

They abolished limbo a few years ago. Recession and all that.>> ^Phreezdryd:

The faithful aren't interested in facts, evidence, history, reality, or anything outside their personal fantasy bubble. Where did that guy get the belief that aborted fetuses go to heaven? What happened to unbaptised babies going to limbo?

bareboards2 says...

I read the comments before watching the vid.

I was so impressed with her reason and her presentation -- and then she blew it with the "idiot" word. Reason reason reason reason childishness.

Well, it's all well and good that this is being discussed publicly. That is my takeaway on all these vids -- I personally think that there are so many "believers" because they are in the closet as much as any gay person in the middle of the Bible Belt is.

All these vids are, at the minimum, the It Gets Better support network for unbelievers who don't realize that there is a bigger world out there than the small enclave in which they live.

EMPIRE says...

Religious people may not be idiots (and there are many cases of known historical, very intelligent figures, who were also religious).

HOWEVER, they have a complete lack of coherence and are completely intellectualy dishonest, and that's just fact. If you rationalize even a part of the myths from your religion, and set some of them aside as being not real, you are being incoherent with your so called faith.

Either you believe your religion to be what it is, and what it was, and that ALL the religious books it's based on are real and the absolute truth, or you're not really believing it, just making a version you feel confortable with.

So, there are actually only 3 possible stands on religion: You are either a zealot (and unfortunately there are a lot); you are a complete incoherent intellectualy dishonest person; or you are an agnotic or atheist.

Honestly I just think people are a bunch of cowards. Mind you I AM afraid of death. I just don't let that fear cloud my judgement and reasoning. People are too afraid to face the reality of their own mortality and dismiss the inherent bullshity nature of religion.

xxovercastxx says...

>> ^hpqp:

I don't think there's a chance in hell that the people she's debating will ever be convinced to change their religious views. People that are watching, however, might be shocked out of their tradition-following torpor and realise just how idiotic faith is.


Then why debate at all? With probably a few exceptions, the only people who will be amused or impressed by this woman are already atheists. She could have made the same argument but stayed on topic (ie. attacking faith) and it would have carried far more weight.

The first article Myers links to (which he says he agrees with) in the article you linked above defines accommodationism as:

Refusing to make arguments against religion — not because you personally don’t enjoy them, but because you think it’s inherently disrespectful to criticize people’s religious beliefs, and/or because you think religion is in a special category of ideas that ought not to be criticized. And trying to convince other atheists that they shouldn’t do it, either.


This is not at all what I am promoting. You attack their argument and their ideas, viciously, but you don't attack them with childish name-calling and insults. Myers actually makes a nearly identical argument to mine in that article. He even makes reference to the "high-horse tactic" ("And then there’s the usual high-horse tactic, where whatever it is he is doing is superior.") which is quite similar to what I called machismo earlier.

So am I still an accommodationist? Do you feel I'm accommodating you by only attacking your argument? Would my argument be better if I also said you were a deluded moron?

(To be clear, I don't think you're a deluded moron. I'm just trying to make my point.)

Also, I'm not above mocking religious people from time to time, I'm just saying it's counter-productive in a debate or anywhere else that you might hope to sway opinion.

xxovercastxx says...

>> ^NetRunner:

But the more I think about it, maybe he was on to something. In a sense, he's right -- money isn't real.


Oddly, I was thinking about this just a few weeks ago.

It's not that money isn't real, though, it's that it's an abstraction. Prior to money people traded labor: You give me 10 fish (the product of your labor) and I'll give you an axe (the product of my labor).

All money does is give us a convenient way to carry "labor" around. I sell an axe for $5 and the money represents that labor contribution. Now I can buy $5 worth of fish from you whether or not you need a new axe.

I think it's one of those things that most of us know, but we never really consciously think about.

The only other way "money isn't real" that I can think of is that whole it's-only-valuable-because-we-all-agree-it's-valuable thing.

criticalthud says...

They're still engaged in a primitive debate.
Conceptually, we can't even get passed the notion that god is a singular "being" like us, rather than a vast intellectual complexity - that only becomes more complex as evolution continues. and we are all part of that process. recycled energy in an infinite process.

we're just so fucking self-centered that we miss the the intelligence that is all around us, and just how interdependent we are on the biodiversity we are mindlessly destroying.

we miss the fact that there is a collective intelligence of this planet, without which, we would be nothing. and instead of nurturing it, we're jerking off.

FlowersInHisHair says...

Trouble is that by being rude (it was rude, be honest) she immediately turned the other debatees against anything else she might have said, and anyone in the audience who was on the fence would have chalked it up against her, too. Better would have been to say that faith wasn't good enough for her, or that she demands more than faith, or that she values evidence above faith. The fact that she called them idiots makes her look inarticulate, sarcastic and angry. She's right, of course - the afterlife is indeed an idiotic notion - but a formal debate is not the place for name-calling.

hpqp says...

I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I was calling you an accomodationist. The idea that we shouldn't call spades spades, nor imply that having faith is idiocy (what Kate does) is, however, a typical argument of the "don't be a dick" stance, which I and many others disagree with. Being direct - even insultingly so - about the absurdity of certain beliefs can and does cause certain viewers to snap out of the comfort of their beliefs and question them. It has the added benefit of getting attention, as @bareboards2 mentioned above. As for the "why debate?" question, I think you know the answer to that.

Of course, just calling people idiots is no way to argue a point, and is in fact counterproductive. That is not, however, what Kate does. The "I don't believe shit by faith because I'm not an idiot" phrase comes as a shocker conclusion to the argument for why faith is idiotic, i.e. it is believing something (and relies on the foisting of that belief upon others) without a shred of evidence.

If she would have said "I personally don't believe in Santa because I'm not a three year old" no one would be up in arms. The truly scandalous thing is that so many grown adults still believe something equally stupid and much more dangerous. A 3-yr-old who believes in Santa is simply deluded. An adult who does is an idiot (or, to be nice, a deluded individual).

Being forthright and even "rude" is only one among many ways of communicating an idea. Just because it's confrontational does not make it an invalid one. I look forward to the day when treating faith as the idiocy that it is will be as un-scandalous as calling geo-centrists idiots is today.

edit: @FlowersInHisHair, you say she immediately turned the other debatees against anything else she might have said, and anyone in the audience who was on the fence would have chalked it up against her, too. Better would have been to say that faith wasn't good enough for her, or that she demands more than faith, or that she values evidence above faith. The fact that she called them idiots makes her look inarticulate, sarcastic and angry.

Firstly, while she does turn the debatees against her (as if they weren't already), that is not necessarily the case for the viewers. People will not necessarily immediately side with the ones implied as being idiots... they might think about it a bit first. Saying that faith "isn't good enough for her" allows for the interpretation that it's okay for other people... not exactly the point being made imo. Finally, just because someone implies that someone else is an idiot doesn't necessarily make the speaker of the insult appear inarticulate or angry... Randi calls charlatans all kinds of names, why is no one up in arms against that? Why should religious nuts/beliefs get special treatment?


>> ^xxovercastxx:

>> ^hpqp:
I don't think there's a chance in hell that the people she's debating will ever be convinced to change their religious views. People that are watching, however, might be shocked out of their tradition-following torpor and realise just how idiotic faith is.

Then why debate at all? With probably a few exceptions, the only people who will be amused or impressed by this woman are already atheists. She could have made the same argument but stayed on topic (ie. attacking faith) and it would have carried far more weight.
The first article Myers links to (which he says he agrees with) in the article you linked above defines accommodationism as:

Refusing to make arguments against religion — not because you personally don’t enjoy them, but because you think it’s inherently disrespectful to criticize people’s religious beliefs, and/or because you think religion is in a special category of ideas that ought not to be criticized. And trying to convince other atheists that they shouldn’t do it, either.

This is not at all what I am promoting. You attack their argument and their ideas, viciously, but you don't attack them with childish name-calling and insults. Myers actually makes a nearly identical argument to mine in that article. He even makes reference to the "high-horse tactic" ("And then there’s the usual high-horse tactic, where whatever it is he is doing is superior.") which is quite similar to what I called machismo earlier.
So am I still an accommodationist? Do you feel I'm accommodating you by only attacking your argument? Would my argument be better if I also said you were a deluded moron?
(To be clear, I don't think you're a deluded moron. I'm just trying to make my point.)
Also, I'm not above mocking religious people from time to time, I'm just saying it's counter-productive in a debate or anywhere else that you might hope to sway opinion.

bareboards2 says...

I upvoted this because I believe this is part of the future of science. It is easy to dismiss these concepts as new age touchy-feely stuff and poo-poo it out of hand.

But it is similar to something discussed in this vid http://videosift.com/video/Dark-Energy

70% of the universe is unexplained and for "placeholder" purposes, it is now called Dark Energy, until scientists can figure it out. This wasn't even a question 50 years ago, now our brightest minds are looking into it.

"Gaia consciousness" could well be the Dark Energy of the future.

Until then, whether it exists or not, it is fact that we are seriously screwing with the ecosystems of this planet. So whether there is "collective intelligence" or not, we had better get on to seriously changing our behavior.

>> ^criticalthud:

They're still engaged in a primitive debate.
Conceptually, we can't even get passed the notion that god is a singular "being" like us, rather than a vast intellectual complexity - that only becomes more complex as evolution continues. and we are all part of that process. recycled energy in an infinite process.
we're just so fucking self-centered that we miss the the intelligence that is all around us, and just how interdependent we are on the biodiversity we are mindlessly destroying.
we miss the fact that there is a collective intelligence of this planet, without which, we would be nothing. and instead of nurturing it, we're jerking off.

buzz says...

The "idiot" comment was not constructive and therefore not particularly helpful, but the comment that we should abort babies to send them to heaven was sensational!!!

bareboards2 says...

Um, I think you misunderstood me, hpqp. I think she was flat out wrong to call people of faith idiots. I too think it is counterproductive. I agree with @xxovercastxx 100% on his/her first comment on this thread.

It is rational and respectful arguments that are going to make it possible and palatable for some closet atheists to feel comfortable claiming their rational side. Insulting their loved ones possibly keeps them in the closet -- they are not going to want to join such folks.

The angry closet atheists don't need permission to break free -- they are loaded for bear and raring to go.

AnimalsForCrackers says...

>> ^xxovercastxx:

I don't support the idea that you have to respect every opinion but calling people idiots doesn't help either.
One of the things I've come to hate about debate is people are less interested in discussing, comparing and evaluating ideas than they are about thumping their chests and insulting people. Even women are apparently not immune to machismo.
Does anyone really think this is going to help? Will we (atheists) be more accepted/trusted/respected if we just call enough people idiots? Will theists see the errors of their ways if only we insult them enough?
There's a reason argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy; it's a failure to make any relevant argument and often a sign of incompetence.
The objective of debate is to sway people to your side (though not necessarily the people you're arguing against) and you don't do that by forcing them to shore up their defensive wall.


But...but... calling people idiots and addressing the argument aren't mutually exclusive propositions.

Simple insults aren't ad hominem unless they're used as a substitute for actual reasoning. Calling someone an idiot doesn't magically negate the relevant criticism that preceded it.

"Your argument is wrong because you're an idiot, liar, or some other negative human characteristic picked out of a grab bag to give the appearance of discrediting you and thus, your entire argument." = ad hom

Sure, I suppose you could make that argument that even a biting, rational critique interspersed with some choice derogatory flourishes can undermine any attempt at bringing the other person to reason, but I disagree that a definitive statement like yours can be made on whether it's ineffective on everyone; I like to think there's multiple paths of approach. Often the target of ridicule isn't the one you convert, but the people on the sidelines watching.

Sagemind says...

Money isn't real?!
What the hell is that supposed to mean?

It sure is real. I've got it right here in my hand.
I can see it, I can touch it, I can smell it, (if I crumple it)I can hear it, (If I put my tongue on it)I can taste it. If I barter for something, I can use it in trade.

It is a token used for convenience. There is no way my employer can give me two pigs and four chickens every couple of weeks for the services I do for them so they give me tokens which represent items of trade and that in turn can be used by me to barter for other goods and service.

Yes, the banks have taken it a step further and digitized it so that now we use credit points on a plastic card still using the dollar and cents model. I can still trade those digital points for bills and coins that I can hold in my hand and I can still trade either points or coin for goods and services.

It`s still real. I don`t see this line of debate as a valid argument for an imaginary deity. A deity can be neither touched, seen, smelt, tasted or heard. It has never been proven in any way that they listen to you or grant you wishes. They have never left anything physical (something our senses can identify) in this world to prove they exist.

Believing in deities may grant you solace but solace is circumstantial as far as proof goes and people are fooling themselves with this every day. I can believe with all my heart that a stuffed animal can talk to me and guide me, and I can convince myself that it's true but no matter what I sell myself on the inside, the reality is that it's all in my head and not real.

People who believe in God have allowed themselves to be fooled. They may be and often are smart people but even smart people can be fooled, especially when they want it to be true. And most of them NEED it to be true, otherwise they don't see any reason for their existence. They can't accept that they aren't special, that they are mortal, that there is an end so they cling to the fantasy and call it faith.

Jinx says...

What Netrunner said. Watching this video was frustrating because I was waiting for her to call him out on that bullshit. He may as well have admitted that religion is the utlimate placebo, an imaginary pacifier for our terrified little ape brains. What a moron.

Don't stop believing in fairies or they cease to exist.

xxovercastxx says...

>> ^AnimalsForCrackers:

But...but... calling people idiots and addressing the argument aren't mutually exclusive propositions.


I agree. As I said in my followup comment, she had a good argument going but she threw it away with the childish insult. I'm close to making a logical fallacy of my own when I say that but the key difference is I'm not saying she's wrong because she called people idiots, I'm saying she's hurt her image and credibility by lowering the quality of the debate.

>> ^AnimalsForCrackers:

Calling someone an idiot doesn't magically negate the relevant criticism that preceded it.


Agreed but I believe it's counter-productive. People become defensive when you call them idiots and people on the defensive are not open to persuasion.

>> ^AnimalsForCrackers:

Sure, I suppose you could make that argument that even a biting, rational critique interspersed with some choice derogatory flourishes can undermine any attempt at bringing the other person to reason, but I disagree that a definitive statement like yours can be made on whether it's ineffective on everyone; I like to think there's multiple paths of approach. Often the target of ridicule isn't the one you convert, but the people on the sidelines watching.


A fair point (in bold), I suppose. In my personal experience I've never seen nor heard of anyone insulted into a new way of thinking, not even on much easier topics than religion. I find it very hard to believe there's a significant population of people that would find it persuasive.

Xaielao says...

If this were in the US, it would have come to blows and we all know it. Interesting video, I got a real good laugh from the 'money isn't real either but you believe in that' analogy. What a piss poor analogy.

FlowersInHisHair says...

@hpqp

I'm the last person to insist on special treatment for religious nuts and their beliefs, you know that. My point is that a formal debate is a place for reasoned argument, not name calling. She was invited on the show, like they all were, to conduct a debate, not insult each other. Even if the other debaters were to behave badly and insult her, the best course of action would still to be civil, and show them up. As for the audience response, you can hear it in the video. Hell, I'm on her side, and I think she was out of order.

Porksandwich says...

The money analogy was sort of appropriate in that it's a system that works because people and their governments trust/believe/whatever in it. The paper or coins don't have any "worth" beyond their raw materials without that system and the belief in it.

If one day all grocery stores stopped taking money and anything designed around money in exchange for food, your credit card, bills in your wallet, coins in your pocket are no longer worth anything to those stores. We all know it's a ludicrous idea, but just picture a situation where money no longer has value for exchanges...then figure out how you'd operate without it.


Religion and Faith (we always think of faith as being strictly toward religion, but it's not..think we really need another word for it, but capitalizing it will have to do). It's all based around the idea that you pay for things now in exchange for something after death. So......comparing it to money falls apart right there because money has results you can see in exchanges. Religion is based on Faith that one day what you pay now will be rewarded later.....it's just something none of us can know. It'd suck to find out you were wrong later, but it might be worth it to not be burdened with the guilt religions seem to try to infuse into everyone for various things.

My problem with religion is that the people who are the best examples of it being a good way to live usually aren't the ones trying to beat it into your skull as the end all be all way of living. The ones trying to recruit are usually massive hypocrites surpassing the "family values" politicians with the mistress on the side whose also banging his secretary and meeting guys in bathroom stalls. Plus a lot of churches make a load of money by selling religion/forgiveness/marriage/etc......I understand a need for cash to operate but being obscenely profitable and using it to continue opening churches but never "following your teachings by example" through charitable activities or other similarly "good" deeds is a big warning sign to me.

mgittle says...

>> ^NetRunner:

>> ^EvilDeathBee:
"There's no such thing as money. Money doesn't exist but you believe in it"
Seriously?

You know, that struck me as so mindbogglingly dumb I couldn't believe he said that out loud, much less on television.
But the more I think about it, maybe he was on to something. In a sense, he's right -- money isn't real. Money only works the way it does because we believe it will. You have to have faith in it, or it won't do anything.
The problem that creates for him is that if that is the definition of faith, then God is just as much of a man-made fiction as money is. He only exists through our collective belief in Him, and if we stop believing, He ceases to exist as a force in our lives.
Now of course, we could always go the same route we went with money -- set up an enforcement mechanism so that if people try to operate outside the monetary system, they get jailed. That'll make believers out of everyone, right?
Maybe someday we'll realize just how right that guy was...


We already have a system which forces people to operate within the monetary system. OK, it's not as extreme as your example, but courts only enforce contracts if parties agree to pay compensation/damages/etc in our government's fiat currency. It's called legal tender law

JiggaJonson says...

>> ^blankfist:

>> ^JiggaJonson:
>> ^blankfist:
Reminded me of a libertarian having a discussion on VideoSift.

plays a tiny fiddle

I bet that's the sentiment in that room, too. It's comfortable to be among your own and share the popular viewpoint.


It's more like everyone collectively says "FINE! Well what's a practical way to do _______ without any government involvement?"

You respond, and the first time someone says "Well no that wouldn't really work well because _______" you troll your way out of the conversation.

blankfist says...

>> ^JiggaJonson:

>> ^blankfist:
>> ^JiggaJonson:
>> ^blankfist:
Reminded me of a libertarian having a discussion on VideoSift.

plays a tiny fiddle

I bet that's the sentiment in that room, too. It's comfortable to be among your own and share the popular viewpoint.

It's more like everyone collectively says "FINE! Well what's a practical way to do _______ without any government involvement?"
You respond, and the first time someone says "Well no that wouldn't really work well because _______" you troll your way out of the conversation.


Not related.

SDGundamX says...

@hpqp who said:

Randi calls charlatans all kinds of names, why is no one up in arms against that? Why should religious nuts/beliefs get special treatment?

There are two problems to that line of reasoning. First, Randi is not saying that people who believe in charlatans are idiots (which would be the more accurate analogy than the one you proposed)--he is making the factual (and tautological) claim that people who deceive people are charlatans (ie deceive people). In discussing people who fall for charlatans he often uses the word "credulous" (which basically means too trusting) not "idiocy."

Second, Randi can demonstrably show people how the charlatans are pulling off their tricks. In other words, he has factual evidence to prove they are charlatans. For most religions (I'm excluding Scientology since L. Ron Hubbard basically admitted to making it up to make money) it is impossible to provide such factual evidence (showing that they are false). The Crucifixion and (supposed) Resurrection, as just one example, simply doesn't lend itself to testing through the scientific method. Of course, we can look at other evidence (archaeological for instance) but like I said, for most religions there's no smoking gun either way (in support of or against).

So it comes back to the question of credulity. What do you believe? People look at the evidence and have widely different thresholds for how much evidence they need before they believe something. For some people, the fact that people they admire and respect believe in the religion is enough to convince them to believe as well. At the end of the day, I think for the vast majority of religious people, whether their religion is factually "true" or not doesn't matter. A lot of people believe because they feel their faith improves their life--provides them with social and psychological comfort, gives them a sense of mission and hope, etc.

The long-winded point I'm trying to make is that you, personally, choose not to believe until there is hard (empirical) evidence. That's your choice. I respect that, not the least of all because it is the same choice I make. Where I think you and I differ is that I do not demand everyone make the same choice as I do. When "New Atheists" call someone an "idiot" because that person chooses to believe in a religion, the New Atheists themselves are the ones demanding special treatment. They are essentially saying that everyone must think the same way that they do, and those who don't are somehow inferior.

New Atheists are of course free to point out the logical flaws, inconsistencies, historical inaccuracies, and so forth that every religion contains. You don't have to respect ideas, but if you want to improve society you better damn well make sure you respect people. Showing respect for a person in no way, shape, or form implies that you agree with them. Showing disrespect, as other posters have already noted, is probably best way to ensure that your message never reaches the people who most need to hear it.

hpqp says...

@SDGundamX

You make a very fair point, and I agree with you to a certain degree. I agree that it is important to respect people, even when one does not respect certain among their beliefs.

When it comes to evidence, however, I disagree that there is no evidence against the beliefs of theists; all the evidence points to those beliefs being the creation of men from a specific timeperiod in history. In a court case you don't necessarily need a "smoking gun" to disprove someone's alibi, if their alibi is so obviously made up, or logically impossible.

As for the New Atheists themselves are the ones demanding special treatment. They are essentially saying that everyone must think the same way that they do, and those who don't are somehow inferior., I would refer you to my Santa Claus comparison above. Sure, Santa Claus may exist, but for a grown person to believe in Santa when all the evidence points to him being the production of the human imagination is - to put it bluntly - dumb... even idiotic.

You say A lot of people believe because they feel their faith improves their life--provides them with social and psychological comfort, gives them a sense of mission and hope, etc. This is exactly the delusion that the so-called "New Atheists" are trying to fight against (amongst other things) because not only is it an empty promise, but it also lends credence (and thus power) to the belief systems it is attached to (X-ity, Islam, etc.) which in turn do far more damage.

It's funny that you exclude Scientology because "Hubbard admitted to making it up". Historical evidence shows that John Smith was a conman and a charlatan, yet try and tell a mormon today that his/her faith is based on a conman's made up religion. The people who believe may or may not be charlatans (look at all the preachers/gurus who make huge profits... heck, check out the golden decked halls of the Vatican), but those who founded such beliefs most probably were, at least to a certain degree.

Finally, as to whether or not being rude is always counterproductive, it would seem that is a matter of divergent opinions (you can tell what mine are in the comments above).

BicycleRepairMan says...

@SDGundamX said:Second, Randi can demonstrably show people how the charlatans are pulling off their tricks. In other words, he has factual evidence to prove they are charlatans. For most religions (I'm excluding Scientology since L. Ron Hubbard basically admitted to making it up to make money) it is impossible to provide such factual evidence (showing that they are false). The Crucifixion and (supposed) Resurrection, as just one example, simply doesn't lend itself to testing through the scientific method. Of course, we can look at other evidence (archaeological for instance) but like I said, for most religions there's no smoking gun either way (in support of or against).

Well thats a bit like saying the lottery has a 50/50 chance isn't it? Its like your forgetting that atheists also have "beliefs" about the resurrection: We believe that it didn't happened and that it was made up.

Take this video of James Randi explaining a little matchbox trick. Sure, some of us might say the trick has been exposed and thoroughly debunked. However, you could still believe there were magic crystals from the lost city of Atlantis involved somehow, and explain that there is "no factual evidence for or against". Of course, you might say: thats easy: i can do the matchbox trick right now, iaw replicate the trick, and thereby find a plausible, natural place of origin for the "magic".

Well I can do the same for the jesus myth: "2000 years ago Susej was nailed to a cross and three days later he rose from the dead." There, I just told a fictional story similar to the jesus one and thus proved it was possible to simply make it up.

Conversely, there is no evidence that a)any of that stuff actually happened OR b) that it even could happen. But again, there's plenty of evidence that shows that it could have been made up.

hpqp says...

Uh, yeah, it's the same as your "conscious experience" before you existed.

>> ^bmacs27:

So, do you guys hold any opinion on what happens to your conscious experience after death?

bmacs27 says...

>> ^hpqp:

Uh, yeah, it's the same as your "conscious experience" before you existed.
>> ^bmacs27:
So, do you guys hold any opinion on what happens to your conscious experience after death?



You should listen to Admiral Ackbar more often.

What evidence do you have for that opinion?

hpqp says...

You mean, apart from everything we know about how the brain works? And that our experience of consciousness is a function of that organ?

Moreover, what is the alternative, an immortal "soul"?

>> ^bmacs27:

>> ^hpqp:
Uh, yeah, it's the same as your "conscious experience" before you existed.
>> ^bmacs27:
So, do you guys hold any opinion on what happens to your conscious experience after death?


You should listen to Admiral Ackbar more often.
What evidence do you have for that opinion?

NetRunner says...

>> ^xxovercastxx:

>> ^NetRunner:
But the more I think about it, maybe he was on to something. In a sense, he's right -- money isn't real.

Oddly, I was thinking about this just a few weeks ago.
It's not that money isn't real, though, it's that it's an abstraction. Prior to money people traded labor: You give me 10 fish (the product of your labor) and I'll give you an axe (the product of my labor).
All money does is give us a convenient way to carry "labor" around. I sell an axe for $5 and the money represents that labor contribution. Now I can buy $5 worth of fish from you whether or not you need a new axe.
I think it's one of those things that most of us know, but we never really consciously think about.
The only other way "money isn't real" that I can think of is that whole it's-only-valuable-because-we-all-agree-it's-valuable thing.


Honestly, that's textbook economics. It's part of why I'm so hard on people who talk about "fiat currency" as if that's not redundant. It's all fiat. Using gold as currency is still done by fiat. Money in any form is an abstraction, just like property.

In addition to my overall point (he gave up the game!), I was also trying to hint that if you're an atheist who rejects religious faith as a basis for moral doctrine, then you should also approach the doctrine of money & property with the same level of skepticism.

Maybe you can come up with some independent moral justification for property, but you shouldn't just start with property as an axiom from which all morality flows, anymore than the religious people shouldn't start with the word of God as the axiom from which all morality flows. Both are tautological faith-based arguments, and should be discarded.

SDGundamX says...

>> ^BicycleRepairMan:

@SDGundamX said:Second, Randi can demonstrably show people how the charlatans are pulling off their tricks. In other words, he has factual evidence to prove they are charlatans. For most religions (I'm excluding Scientology since L. Ron Hubbard basically admitted to making it up to make money) it is impossible to provide such factual evidence (showing that they are false). The Crucifixion and (supposed) Resurrection, as just one example, simply doesn't lend itself to testing through the scientific method. Of course, we can look at other evidence (archaeological for instance) but like I said, for most religions there's no smoking gun either way (in support of or against).
Well thats a bit like saying the lottery has a 50/50 chance isn't it? Its like your forgetting that atheists also have "beliefs" about the resurrection: We believe that it didn't happened and that it was made up.
Take this video of James Randi explaining a little matchbox trick. Sure, some of us might say the trick has been exposed and thoroughly debunked. However, you could still believe there were magic crystals from the lost city of Atlantis involved somehow, and explain that there is "no factual evidence for or against". Of course, you might say: thats easy: i can do the matchbox trick right now, iaw replicate the trick, and thereby find a plausible, natural place of origin for the "magic".
Well I can do the same for the jesus myth: "2000 years ago Susej was nailed to a cross and three days later he rose from the dead." There, I just told a fictional story similar to the jesus one and thus proved it was possible to simply make it up.
Conversely, there is no evidence that a)any of that stuff actually happened OR b) that it even could happen. But again, there's plenty of evidence that shows that it could have been made up.


I don't necessarily disagree with you. It all goes back to credulity--each person decides for themselves how much evidence they require to believe something. I think for the vast majority of people the evidence against the matchbox trick is overwhelming. The same can't be said for the case against most religions--the people who feel the evidence is overwhelming (or put another way, that there isn't enough evidence to justify their belief) are atheists. The problems are deciding what constitutes "evidence" and the fact, as I mentioned above, that people believe in religions for a host of other reasons besides the evidence (personal experience being probably the foremost).

Back to the original point, calling people idiots neither adds anything constructive to the discussion nor is it really even true for most people (either religious or atheist).

SDGundamX says...

>> ^hpqp:

@SDGundamX
You make a very fair point, and I agree with you to a certain degree. I agree that it is important to respect people, even when one does not respect certain among their beliefs.
When it comes to evidence, however, I disagree that there is no evidence against the beliefs of theists; all the evidence points to those beliefs being the creation of men from a specific timeperiod in history. In a court case you don't necessarily need a "smoking gun" to disprove someone's alibi, if their alibi is so obviously made up, or logically impossible.
As for the New Atheists themselves are the ones demanding special treatment. They are essentially saying that everyone must think the same way that they do, and those who don't are somehow inferior., I would refer you to my Santa Claus comparison above. Sure, Santa Claus may exist, but for a grown person to believe in Santa when all the evidence points to him being the production of the human imagination is - to put it bluntly - dumb... even idiotic.
You say A lot of people believe because they feel their faith improves their life--provides them with social and psychological comfort, gives them a sense of mission and hope, etc. This is exactly the delusion that the so-called "New Atheists" are trying to fight against (amongst other things) because not only is it an empty promise, but it also lends credence (and thus power) to the belief systems it is attached to (X-ity, Islam, etc.) which in turn do far more damage.
It's funny that you exclude Scientology because "Hubbard admitted to making it up". Historical evidence shows that John Smith was a conman and a charlatan, yet try and tell a mormon today that his/her faith is based on a conman's made up religion. The people who believe may or may not be charlatans (look at all the preachers/gurus who make huge profits... heck, check out the golden decked halls of the Vatican), but those who founded such beliefs most probably were, at least to a certain degree.
Finally, as to whether or not being rude is always counterproductive, it would seem that is a matter of divergent opinions (you can tell what mine are in the comments above).


See my answer to @BicycleRepairMan--what people accept as evidence in this matter and how much evidence is required for people to believe (or not believe) in a religion varies from person to person. Further complicating matters is that belief is not binary--it's a very wide continuum that includes people who aren't sure but practice the religion anyway.

My point about the New Atheists is that they feel the evidence against religion is sufficient. They are entitled to that opinion--but at the end of the day it is only an opinion. They should be free to express that opinion and tell people their reasons why they came to that conclusion. But they shouldn't pretend that their opinion is "fact" or belittle those who haven't come to the same conclusion.

About the "faith improving lives" bit--there is a fair bit of empirical evidence for the benefits of religious faith (in terms of both physical and psychological health: see here and here for more info) so I can't see how you can argue it is "delusional." Unless you meant that religion isn't the only way to obtain the same benefits, in which case I absolutely agree. But I find an interesting parallel in your thinking the New Atheists can tell a religious person that he/she is delusional if that religious person believes religion has a positive effect on their life with Christians who claim that atheists think they are happy but in reality suffering because they aren't one with Christ. Seems like two sides of the same coin to me.

I'm glad I amused you with my reference to Scientology. But this is a very rare case where we have a "smoking gun" so to speak. While I agree with you that there is a some suspicious stuff going on with Mormonism (how some passages in the Book of Mormon are very similar to other books available at the time John Smith lived), I'm unaware of any hard evidence that John Smith actually admitted to making it all up. Again with Mormonism, we're back to people having to personally decide for themselves what to believe (and all the issues that entails).

Just one more thing... since you believe there are times that being rude or insulting can be productive, I'd like to know if you have any examples (personal examples are fine) of that being the case. I'm just curious what brought you to that conclusion.

dystopianfuturetoday says...

I actually dig going up against the masses. Videosift is a pretty tolerant crowd when compared with some of the conservative and market libertarian forums I've tried to engage. Count your blessings, homie. >> ^blankfist:

Reminded me of a libertarian having a discussion on VideoSift.

hpqp says...

@SDGundamX (warning, long post, in 2 parts, w/tldr @end)

From the content of your reply I'm going to assume (or should I hope?) that you are playing the devil's advocate in your defense of religious belief/faith(addressed in 2nd comment below); correct me if I'm wrong. As for me, I readily admit that my defense of rudeness is presented in a spirit of controversy; I also prefer direct but insultless argumentation in these kinds of debates, but am not against the occasional use of painful - even insulting - truths.

On "Rudity"

Before answering on this subject, I think it is important to stress that the woman above is a comedian, something surely stated in her presentation at the show's beginning. I would defend her exclamation regardless, but the fact definitely makes it easier, since hyperbole, shock and insult are all tools of the comedian's/satirist's trade. You might say that she's not at a comedy show, to which I would answer that one need not be.

You ask for examples of rudeness/insult-laden arguments being productive. I would gesture very generally in the direction of those whose wavering minds were decided by the argumentation of the "New Atheists", some of whom are utterly disrespectful of faith and religious beliefs... 'insultingly so' I might add. Sure, they do not say outright "religious believers are idiots" (nor does Kate mind you), but say as much and worse about their beliefs. PZ Myers, one of the most foul-mouthed "New Atheists" on the web and irl (one example which even I found excessively harsh), has been encouraged by ex-believers to continue debating creationists (something he, like others, has renounced, because of the weight of the stupidity); because it works.

I don't think my personal anecdotal evidence counts for much, but since you asked (and since I'm rambling)... The process of my parents' deconversion from evangelical christianity, brought about by yours truly, contained copious amounts of insult, the quality and quantity of which would make the mild "idiot" comment above seem like a compliment in comparison. I'm not particularly proud of my teenage, anger-spurred vulgarity of that time, and were it to be redone I'd definitely tone it down, but I am proud of my relative success: one of my parents is now about as antitheist as I, and while I suspect the other of harbouring a remnant of faith in the supernatural, at least it is never brought up and no longer affects family life or decisions.

You might argue that my insulting descriptions of their dearly-held beliefs were not what convinced them, and you'd be partially right. There were plenty of actual arguments amongst the harsh words. But I was told later (by the parent I fully convinced) that my passionate (read "insulting") tirades against their beliefs is what got them to be questioned; it was the fact that a person they considered as not entirely unintelligent could voice such statements so bluntly that shook them from the comfort of their position of belief. I have also reacted with mocking contempt when facing friends and/or family tempted by other nonsense like conspiracy theories or homeopathy. After OBL's death, one of my close friends let slip that her soon-to-be husband was a 9/11 truther and that she found his stance convincing. I spoke my mind freely (as I do with friends), with words including "pathetic", "stupid" and "he's lost a lot of intellectual respect". Needless to say she was angered (especially since I'd never met the bloke yet), but it did not hinder her from accepting the follow-up argumentation. Had I been more diplomatic, she might have let my argumentation pass by ignored, in favour of an emotionally charged stance.

Yes, I realise the examples above do not concern public debate, but private discussion with people who already had a favourable opinion of me. I don't usually spend time in the company of people who dislike me (or vice-versa), nor do I make a habit of being blunt with people I don't know (okay, maybe a bit on the webs). I have been known to tell evangelical work colleagues that their belief that humankind is twice the offspring of incest is both ridiculous and disgusting, and yet they still speak to me (it helps that here in Europe such beliefs are held by a fringe). Dunno if it had any effect on their beliefs though (and really don't care).



tl;dr: it's a comedian's role to speak truths in uncomfortable ways; persuasion can still be efficient when insult is involved; I'm a contrary bitch with very few friends (but quality ones )
>> ^SDGundamX:
[...] since you believe there are times that being rude or insulting can be productive, I'd like to know if you have any examples (personal examples are fine) of that being the case. I'm just curious what brought you to that conclusion.

hpqp says...

@SDGundamX

On the So-Called Benifits of Religious Belief

First, I'm going to assume that you simply googled "religion+health+studies" or stg like that, and did not read before posting; frankly, I don't blame you. I can only hope you are not as intellectually (and downright) dishonest as the second link you posted: the very first study cited is completely misinterpreted; basically, since kissing multiple partners can increase probability of meningococcal disease, and strict religious tradition would prevent that, religion prevents meningococcal disease. Yeah, really strong science in favour of faith right there. Some of the studies cited actually prove the opposite of what the site is peddling, but they excuse this by accusing the meddling of "Jews and Buddhists" in the prayer groups. I'm actually surprised at some of the studies the website cites, one of which concludes that "Certain forms of religiousness may increase the risk of death." Some of the studies make no mention of religion whatsoever. I could go on, but the point is made.

As for the studies - and they exist - that show positive correlation between health and religion, they concern only the social benefits of religion as community*. The so-called "New Atheists" are the first to point out this positive role, although the uniting and socially reinforcing factor of religion is the same force that fosters and reinforces hate, prejudice and discrimination against the self (guilt) and the "Other" (non-members of the ingroup, "heathens", gays, blacks, "Westerners", you name it). When people use the socially unifying and reinforcing benefits of religious organisations to defend religious beliefs, a certain comparison quickly comes to mind, which Godwin's law prohibits me from making...

As for faith itself, a recent study suggests that it can actually have negative effects on health, because of the stress and guilt believers put upon themselves when prayed for (link). Regardless, even if a positive placebo effect could/can be attributed to faith/rel. belief, it does not make it any less idiotic or objectionable than the belief in homeopathy or vaudou.
(if interested in what I think of the "faith is comforting" argument, pm me, I'm filling this thread enough as is)

Your "two-sides of same coin" analogy fails entirely: telling a believer they're delusional is not denying their perception of their own happiness. A child happy at the prospect of Santa delivering presents is delusional, but truly happy. The idea that there is the same amount of evidence against and for religious belief is pure ludicrous. The Abrahamic God (let's not bring in the thousand and one others for now) has been logically disproven, even before el Jeebs showed up with his promise of hellfire. There is also substantial evidence that he is man-made, as are the book(s) describing him, which are full of inconsistencies (and outright fallacies) themselves.

Your comment about John Smith suggests that the only evidence that could convict a fraudster is confession; good thing you aren't a judge! Seriously though, your doubt probably stems from your lack of acquaintance with the evidence. You can start by reading his brief biography on Wikipedia; his con trick of "glass-seeing" (looking at shiny stones in a hat and pretending to see the location of treasure), for which he was arrested several times, is eerily familiar to the birth of the Book of Mormon (looking into a hat and "transcribing" gold plates that probably did not exist). He even had to change a passage after losing some pages of the transcript He received a divine revelation that the exact pages of the transcript that he lost needed to be changed, and that God had foreseen the loss of those papers (link).

The further one goes back in history, the harder it is to get historical evidence against religious beliefs, but there are always logical arguments that count as evidence as well (in arguing the idiocy of certain beliefs). Since my Santa analogy above seems not to have appealed to you, here's a different one. Imagine Kate were to have said "I do not believe in witchcraft/vampires because I'm not an idiot." Audience response? "Duh!" or stg similar. And yet there is the same amount of evidence for witches and vampires as there is for deities and afterlife**. The only difference between these three once highly common delusions is that one of them persists, even demanding respect, when it deserves at best critical scrutiny, at worst nothing but scorn.


*(and sometimes those benefits stemming from certain rules, like no alcohol/extra-marital sex etc... still nothing to do with belief.)

**Actually, there is relatively more evidence in favour of vampirism than of deities and afterlife



tl;dr: faith/rel. belief has no health benefits (check sources b4 posting); argument of religion's social role is double-edged; delusions are still delusions if they make you happy (try drugs); Joseph Smith Jr was a (convicted) fraud; idiotic beliefs are still idiotic when shared by the majority, just more socially unacceptable to mock.

>> ^SDGundamX:


See my answer to @BicycleRepairMan--what people accept as evidence in this matter and how much evidence is required for people to believe (or not believe) in a religion varies from person to person. Further complicating matters is that belief is not binary--it's a very wide continuum that includes people who aren't sure but practice the religion anyway.
My point about the New Atheists is that they feel the evidence against religion is sufficient. They are entitled to that opinion--but at the end of the day it is only an opinion. They should be free to express that opinion and tell people their reasons why they came to that conclusion. But they shouldn't pretend that their opinion is "fact" or belittle those who haven't come to the same conclusion.
About the "faith improving lives" bit--there is a fair bit of empirical evidence for the benefits of religious faith (in terms of both physical and psychological health: see here and here for more info) so I can't see how you can argue it is "delusional." Unless you meant that religion isn't the only way to obtain the same benefits, in which case I absolutely agree. But I find an interesting parallel in your thinking the New Atheists can tell a religious person that he/she is delusional if that religious person believes religion has a positive effect on their life with Christians who claim that atheists think they are happy but in reality suffering because they aren't one with Christ. Seems like two sides of the same coin to me.
I'm glad I amused you with my reference to Scientology. But this is a very rare case where we have a "smoking gun" so to speak. While I agree with you that there is a some suspicious stuff going on with Mormonism (how some passages in the Book of Mormon are very similar to other books available at the time John Smith lived), I'm unaware of any hard evidence that John Smith actually admitted to making it all up. Again with Mormonism, we're back to people having to personally decide for themselves what to believe (and all the issues that entails). [...]

bmacs27 says...

Dude, I'm a neuroscientist. If you want to talk brains, we can talk brains. I'll tell you this much though, we have virtually no idea how conscious experience relates to the brain. We know ways in which it relates to sensation and action, but consciousness seems to be this pesky nuisance parameter which defies any explanation based in the physical world.

The alternative to jumping to reductionist conclusions is to withhold belief until you are supported by evidence. You know, not doing that thing you malign religious people for doing.

>> ^hpqp:

You mean, apart from everything we know about how the brain works? And that our experience of consciousness is a function of that organ?
Moreover, what is the alternative, an immortal "soul"?
>> ^bmacs27:
>> ^hpqp:
Uh, yeah, it's the same as your "conscious experience" before you existed.
>> ^bmacs27:
So, do you guys hold any opinion on what happens to your conscious experience after death?


You should listen to Admiral Ackbar more often.
What evidence do you have for that opinion?


bmacs27 says...

>> ^hpqp:

@bmacs27
Okay, now I'm simply stumped. Define "consciousness" please (for a layperson like myself).


Some people call it an "inner monologue." I don't really like that, instead I prefer something like "that which experiences." It's a notoriously difficult term to define in a way that is not circular, but most people report having some intuitive sense of what it is. I find it hard to believe the word would have made it into our lexicon if there weren't some genuine basis for it. I know I have some unified percept through which I experience reality. Do you?

In case you were wondering, I don't mean the medical definition (i.e. responsiveness to stimuli) because that isn't really getting at the phenomenon in question.

gwiz665 says...

Well, gee, God made it into our lexicon too.

I like Daniel Dennett's way of looking at Consciousness. "That which experiences", to me, insinuates that this thing in our brain is what actually experience things. Like a homonculus argument. I reality, I believe, that the brain generates the consciousness stream from the constant experience of sensory input. This explains how our brain can autocorrect itself after something has occurred, or call attention to thing we otherwise aren't paying attention to - a constant noise suddenly stopping will seem like we listened to it intently all the time, while we actually never was paying attention to it; or hearing our names in a crowded room.

>> ^bmacs27:

>> ^hpqp:
@bmacs27
Okay, now I'm simply stumped. Define "consciousness" please (for a layperson like myself).

Some people call it an "inner monologue." I don't really like that, instead I prefer something like "that which experiences." It's a notoriously difficult term to define in a way that is not circular, but most people report having some intuitive sense of what it is. I find it hard to believe the word would have made it into our lexicon if there weren't some genuine basis for it. I know I have some unified percept through which I experience reality. Do you?
In case you were wondering, I don't mean the medical definition (i.e. responsiveness to stimuli) because that isn't really getting at the phenomenon in question.

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