enoch says...

i was having a great discussion with IamtheBlurr about this very subject.
i am a man of faith,but i keep my faith personal.
i have no interest in making people believe my faith is valid or justified.
i do not need peoples acceptance of my faith to validate either myself, or my faith.
and arguing about faith is just silly in my opinion,so i dont engage in debates about faith.it is an exercise in futility.

Jaace says...

Sadly, the only people you can possibly convince with this argument are those who already of the opinion. Religious folk will just counter with "you can't explain God with science." It's circular and pointless. Maybe that's what is inside the cube? A circular pointless argument; anything is possible.

I like the video though, upvote.

IAmTheBlurr says...

>> ^enoch:
i was having a great discussion with IamtheBlurr about this very subject.
i am a man of faith,but i keep my faith personal.
i have no interest in making people believe my faith is valid or justified.
i do not need peoples acceptance of my faith to validate either myself, or my faith.
and arguing about faith is just silly in my opinion,so i dont engage in debates about faith.it is an exercise in futility.


Hehe, Hows it going yo?

I watched this video just earlier and thought of you actually.

I remember when you initially wrote to me the concept of not having an interest in making people believe what you believe and I came to this thought; just something to chew on...

If proving what you believe to other people is not a priority to you, do you also not make a priority of proving it to yourself? If you do make a priority of proving your beliefs to yourself, what is the difference between yourself and others?

Just a thought.

KamikazeCricket says...

As someone once photoshopped: Arguing on the Internet is like competing in the special olympics: Even if you win, you're still retarded.



Don't act like you've never done it either.

Nithern says...

So, if I pray to God, that the plane I'm about to board, does flies me safely to my destination. And that because I prayed, the plane flew and landed safely. I am some how considered illogical, because I put something in a realm that logic can not understand nor explain correctly. Because, if the plane did not land, and did crash, how would I ever know the plane didnt land? Assuming of course, the event happened faster then my mind could understand the event?

According to this narrator, faith can not exist, because the rules of logic say on page 194, section G, paragraph 2L-3, that such is flawed. Ok, but what happens if you die, and sent to Hell, because God does not follow the rules of logic?

This sounds (to me at least), an attack on religion. And a Christian religion at that. Since, it says, the only acceptable concept, is the one that exists in the rules of logic. Sounds alot like someone saying God, is the only God, and all others are fakes.

How do you make this narrator tell others he's full of crap? Simple: Violence. You make anyone believe they are going to die, and die painfully, most will do and say what you wish. If you torture someone by any of the number of things we've seen in human history (including the last 8 by Mr. Bush), they will do and say what you wish. So, go ahead and make your logical arguement all you want, but without wisdom, you may soon find the flawed thinking in your mind. Funny how the concept of 'wisdom' comes from religion, eh?

dbarry3 says...

>> ^IAmTheBlurr:
>> ^enoch:
i was having a great discussion with IamtheBlurr about this very subject.
i am a man of faith,but i keep my faith personal.
i have no interest in making people believe my faith is valid or justified.
i do not need peoples acceptance of my faith to validate either myself, or my faith.
and arguing about faith is just silly in my opinion,so i dont engage in debates about faith.it is an exercise in futility.

Hehe, Hows it going yo?
I watched this video just earlier and thought of you actually.
I remember when you initially wrote to me the concept of not having an interest in making people believe what you believe and I came to this thought; just something to chew on...
If proving what you believe to other people is not a priority to you, do you also not make a priority of proving it to yourself? If you do make a priority of proving your beliefs to yourself, what is the difference between yourself and others?
Just a thought.


Cats made of airport is a rather funny image.

Enoch and IAmTheBlurr, you raise some very good questions.

I actually did not find much that was disagreeable with this video. His analysis on the practice of faith in general had some validity. The whole nature of faith is that we put our trust in an object when not knowing for certain all we can know about that object. Empirically it is not perfect. But what is? When I walk down my rickety apartment stairs to take the trash out I am expressing a whole lot of faith that the old floor boards will support me and prevent me from falling two stories and breaking my leg. So far the stairs have proven (fairly) trustworthy so I continue to use them.

The video seems to be directed more so against people who make annoying claims about their religion based upon faith, and since faith is not exact their arguments are invalid and they have no right to force their religion upon others.

Fair enough.

Enoch suggests that faith can be personal, and that it does not need to be validated by others to remain significant in one's own life (Enoch, correct me if I have misinterpreted).

IamTheBlur raises a very excellent question: (I want to paraphrase, and please correct me if I phrase it poorly)If one's faith is not expressed outwardly for validation, what good is it?

I'm not going to answer for Enoch, but I will speak for myself that I believe that faith must be coupled with works. If I proclaimed to have faith in my rickety apartment stairs, yet do not walk on them, what sort of faith would that be? No substantial faith. What's worse is that if I were to proclaim faith in my rickety apartment stairs yet did not walk on them but forced my neighbor to go down them then I would be a hypocrite.

The object of faith is what ultimately is at the heart of issue. When discussing faith and religion an honest and unfortunate reality is many people put their faith in religion itself rather than any deity, meaning that many people expect salvation and justification to come from involvement in and obedience to the accepted cultus and rituals of a specific religion and not a god (ex. If I attend church every Sunday, if I abstain from premarital sex, if I tithe 10% I'll earn salvation). This is ultimately faulty because all one is doing is placing their hope in a system and certainly not any divine being.

When considering Christianity (which seemed to be highlighted in the video) an honest analysis of the teachings of Jesus Christ reveals that he too revolted against this slavish obedience to religion. The people he most disputed against, and ultimately the people who put him to death were the religious elite. Yes, today Christianity is rightly defined as a religion in a classical sense (as it includes a set of beliefs and rituals), but what makes it unique is what is known as the Gospel message, being that Jesus brought hope that far exceeds our best attempts at righteousness. In fact, I believe that it is perfect hope, and yes, this requires faith.

Faith in Jesus is to be outwardly expressed through loving others. "Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world" James 1:27. So if my faith leads me to do something along the lines of what is just stated I would guess that most people would validate my actions (unless they hated orphans and found widows to be a waste of space).

Is this faith in action done perfectly by anybody proclaiming to be a Christian (me included)? No. But what strikes me as most unfortunate is that Christianity is identified with people who "attack, condemn, or blackmail people who don't believe" (quoted from the video) more than what Jesus Christ taught.

And I still think that "cats made of airports" is pretty funny.

HadouKen24 says...

There are a few things about this video that I feel I should comment on.

1) It's a bit erroneous for QualiaSoup to claim that the spiritual or supernatural realms proposed by various religions are conceived as realms we have no connection to or ability to contact or explore. If that were the case, then all religion would be a non-starter. Rather, the claim is that there are points of contact--specifically, those central to the particular religion, such as the temples and oracles of ancient Greece, or the revelation of Holy Scripture in Christianity. These give us an "in" for something like an empirical analysis.

2) Skeptics treating God concepts as scientific hypotheses is getting a little tiring. It's not intended as a scientific statement; why should we expect it to conform to the standards of a scientific epistemology? It is, in fact, the primacy of such an epistemology which is under contention.

3) QualiaSoup's point about the inconclusiveness of miracles is well-received--but it is on the same continuum as arguments that we can't know if we are just brains in vats being fed stimuli by mad scientists. If an image of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu were to materialize and defuse all our nuclear weapons, I don't think it would be unreasonable to take as our starting hypothesis that Amaterasu really did just finally prevent a nuclear holocaust. To be sure, scientific investigation may then question that claim and open it to further scrutiny which may or may not confirm the hypothesis, but that does not mean that, prior to such disconfirmation, we do not have at least some good reason to believe in Amaterasu.

All empirical judgments must be made in terms of our background knowledge. Part of that background knowledge is our knowledge of popular religious beliefs. If we have an independently verifiable experience which matches well with the religious beliefs of our--or perhaps another--culture, then we would have grounds to at least provisionally accept at least some of those beliefs--if only in modified form.

4) Finally, it is certainly the case that the kind of demanding pushiness that Soup criticizes is thoroughly unpleasant and unreasonable. Private reasons to believe in a God or gods do not justify that sort of behavior. His words on the problems with that particular attitude toward faith are perfectly appropriate. I worry a bit that the problems with the video will make it difficult for reasonable Christians and Muslims (since those are the two groups I see engaging in that sort of "dialogue") to perceive where he does in fact hit the mark.

If he's not going to phrase things in a manner that such people will respond to, it would be nice if he could present a few comments on the aspects of those two particular religions that encourage such attitudes and behavior. It seems to be strongly linked to monotheism--Judaism has less of such problematic attitudes, but they are still present, and seem to have been much more present in ancient Judaism. In polytheistic traditions, one tends to find a much higher respect for debate and diversity of thought. One need only look at the vigorous debates between Greek philosophers, who could agree on the subject of the gods no more than in any other areas, or the staggering profusion of religious practices and beliefs to be found in India. It is misleading to speak of such traditions as "tolerant;" the word implies that it takes some effort of will to maintain civility, when in fact polytheists tend to accept such diversity as a matter of fact.

chilaxe says...

Re:HadouKen24

You do seem well-informed on this topic.


1) "These give us an "in" for something like an empirical analysis."

It doesn't seem similar to empirical analysis if people's experiences of mystical feelings are all mutually contradictory. One person believes he or she senses one thing when reading a religious book, and another person senses nothing.


2) "Why should we expect it to conform to the standards of a scientific epistemology?"

These videos are intended for the portion of the population that's open to a rationalist approach. If scientific thought builds civilizations, with their advanced medicine and space travel, and religious thought doesn't have a history of verifiable achievements, a portion of the population will regard the balance of evidence as favoring a rationalist approach.


3) "If an image of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu were to materialize and defuse all our nuclear weapons, I don't think it would be unreasonable to take as our starting hypothesis that Amaterasu really did just finally prevent a nuclear holocaust. "

Yes, if there was a verifiable supernatural event, that would constitute some evidence.

However, using mystical feelings as evidence, as most people would, doesn't seem to be supported by the balance of evidence when neurotheology, the neuroscience of theology, is taken into account. (Since 1994, neuroscience has been breaking down exactly what happens in order to (assumedly) create mystical feelings... e.g. turn off the neural circuits responsible for the sense of division between self and world, and suddenly we feel "connected to all things.")

Not everyone believes in relying on the balance of evidence, but this video is intended for those who do, or to at least give folks a sense of the advantages of relying on the balance of evidence.

schlub says...

>> ^Nithern:How do you make this narrator tell others he's full of crap? Simple: Violence. You make anyone believe they are going to die, and die painfully, most will do and say what you wish. If you torture someone by any of the number of things we've seen in human history (including the last 8 by Mr. Bush), they will do and say what you wish. So, go ahead and make your logical arguement all you want, but without wisdom, you may soon find the flawed thinking in your mind. Funny how the concept of 'wisdom' comes from religion, eh?


So, threatening people with a violent death if they don't believe is somehow irrefutable proof that you're right and your god does exist?

Wow, I'm convinced thank you! </sarcasm>

Or, are you simply saying the maker of this video should be brutally murdered because he doesn't agree with you and he just punched a bunch of holes in your beliefs? Yeah, that's reasonable... and WISE! Thank you religion! Someone should update Oxford on this whole wisdom is due to religious viewpoint...

Almanildo says...

>>HadouKen24
Thank you for a well-reasoned point of view from the opposite side. We're seeing way too little of that.

1) It's a bit erroneous for QualiaSoup to claim that the spiritual or supernatural realms proposed by various religions are conceived as realms we have no connection to or ability to contact or explore. If that were the case, then all religion would be a non-starter. Rather, the claim is that there are points of contact--specifically, those central to the particular religion, such as the temples and oracles of ancient Greece, or the revelation of Holy Scripture in Christianity. These give us an "in" for something like an empirical analysis.

QualiaSoup does indeed assume that the spitiual realms or deities of religions are unknowable. I'll show you why:

2) Skeptics treating God concepts as scientific hypotheses is getting a little tiring. It's not intended as a scientific statement; why should we expect it to conform to the standards of a scientific epistemology? It is, in fact, the primacy of such an epistemology which is under contention.

There, you said it yourself. Treating God as a scientific hypothesis is simply a sophisticated way to say that you demand a reason to believe in it. This reason has to be either some sort of evidence or some logical or philosophical argument. As QualiaSoup points out, the philosophical arguments are flawed. So skeptics seek evidence for God.

It seems like you are trying to evade the question by having it both ways. First you assert that God does have an effect on our daily lives, through points of contact with our world. Then you refuse to treat these effects as potential evidence requiring analysis.

kceaton1 says...

The problem with god or gods is that, as said in the video, the attributes must be explained. If god(s) follow or give rules to this universe such as physics or morality then that god(s) has entangled itself with the universe and must meet certain criteria to do anything. If god(s) have the power of choice for example good and evil, there must be an underlying process to allow him/her/it to make the choice, i.e. like our brains. This allows us to measure and quantify what this "being" is capable of and to which extent he can no longer control a situation, perhaps making it possible for humans to be more powerful than a god(s).

For now the only conceivable way I could see a God existing is if he/her/it is now in a state of superposition relative to the universe (at least physics wise). But, this ends up forcing us back to the question of what is in the box, because until we look it will be in any state.

If god(s) ever becomes perceivable, quantitative, or "real", as our current definition of god(s) is understood to be meant, they would become liars the second proof appears. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

HadouKen24 says...

>> ^chilaxe:
Re:HadouKen24
You do seem well-informed on this topic.

1) "These give us an "in" for something like an empirical analysis."
It doesn't seem similar to empirical analysis if people's experiences of mystical feelings are all mutually contradictory. One person believes he or she senses one thing when reading a religious book, and another person senses nothing.


Strictly speaking, simply having a feeling when reading a book is not a mystical feeling. It is just a feeling. I am referring more to things like the [i]writing[/i] of the Bible or the contact that the Oracle of Delphi was said to have with Apollo.

2) "Why should we expect it to conform to the standards of a scientific epistemology?"
These videos are intended for the portion of the population that's open to a rationalist approach. If scientific thought builds civilizations, with their advanced medicine and space travel, and religious thought doesn't have a history of verifiable achievements, a portion of the population will regard the balance of evidence as favoring a rationalist approach.


Sure, a scientific approach is extremely useful for developing new kinds of vehicles, safer homes, and so on. No one denies that. It is not at all clear to me how or why a scientific approach ought to be taken for all phenomena or to explain all ways of thinking about things.

There are a number of philosophical and religious positions which are utterly undecidable on the grounds of science and, if correct, render science woefully incomplete. One must evaluate these positions according to criteria other than scientific, such as coherency, consistency, etc.

3) "If an image of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu were to materialize and defuse all our nuclear weapons, I don't think it would be unreasonable to take as our starting hypothesis that Amaterasu really did just finally prevent a nuclear holocaust. "
Yes, if there was a verifiable supernatural event, that would constitute some evidence.
However, using mystical feelings as evidence, as most people would, doesn't seem to be supported by the balance of evidence when neurotheology, the neuroscience of theology, is taken into account. (Since 1994, neuroscience has been breaking down exactly what happens in order to (assumedly) create mystical feelings... e.g. turn off the neural circuits responsible for the sense of division between self and world, and suddenly we feel "connected to all things.")
Not everyone believes in relying on the balance of evidence, but this video is intended for those who do, or to at least give folks a sense of the advantages of relying on the balance of evidence.


The "balance of the evidence" is that, when you put people having similar religious experiences in an MRI machine, you see similar things happening in their brains, and the things you see are more or less the kinds of things you'd expect to see whether or not you believe there is an anomalous element to the experience.

"Neurotheology" is not nearly advanced enough to come to any conclusions about the ultimate nature of such experiences, and may in fact be incapable of making such conclusions.

HadouKen24 says...

>> ^Almanildo: There, you said it yourself. Treating God as a scientific hypothesis is simply a sophisticated way to say that you demand a reason to believe in it. This reason has to be either some sort of evidence or some logical or philosophical argument. As QualiaSoup points out, the philosophical arguments are flawed. So skeptics seek evidence for God.
It seems like you are trying to evade the question by having it both ways. First you assert that God does have an effect on our daily lives, through points of contact with our world. Then you refuse to treat these effects as potential evidence requiring analysis.


Sure, we have to provide some reason why we believe in something. That does not mean that the reason has to be construed in strict scientific terms. It may need to be in some sense empirical, rational, and all that, and hence capable of being grappled with intellectually, but that does not mean that what is being investigated is open to scientific inquiry in the way that rocks and bacteria are.

Science relies on a rather narrow kind of reason--instrumental reason--and not reason totally or simply. There are other forms of inquiry--such as the phenomenological investigations of Husserl, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty--which depend on very different kinds of reason.

MaxWilder says...

>> ^Nithern:
So, if I pray to God, that the plane I'm about to board, does flies me safely to my destination. And that because I prayed, the plane flew and landed safely. I am some how considered illogical, because I put something in a realm that logic can not understand nor explain correctly. Because, if the plane did not land, and did crash, how would I ever know the plane didnt land? Assuming of course, the event happened faster then my mind could understand the event?
According to this narrator, faith can not exist, because the rules of logic say on page 194, section G, paragraph 2L-3, that such is flawed. Ok, but what happens if you die, and sent to Hell, because God does not follow the rules of logic?
This sounds (to me at least), an attack on religion. And a Christian religion at that. Since, it says, the only acceptable concept, is the one that exists in the rules of logic. Sounds alot like someone saying God, is the only God, and all others are fakes.
How do you make this narrator tell others he's full of crap? Simple: Violence. You make anyone believe they are going to die, and die painfully, most will do and say what you wish. If you torture someone by any of the number of things we've seen in human history (including the last 8 by Mr. Bush), they will do and say what you wish. So, go ahead and make your logical arguement all you want, but without wisdom, you may soon find the flawed thinking in your mind. Funny how the concept of 'wisdom' comes from religion, eh?


HAHA! I love it! Proof served up fresh, that no matter how clearly you lay out simple truths of logic and reason, some theist will misunderstand and twist it so that they can still believe what they want and feel more than justified!

Watch the video again. It just says that there is absolutely no justification for your faith. And it explains why, in small words. If you don't understand it, that's because you don't want to understand it. That is the definition of stubborn ignorance, a.k.a. "faith".

L0cky says...

>> ^quantumushroom:
There are some people who wouldn't believe in God's existence if God were standing right in front of them, so why worry about it?

But he's not standing right in front of me. That's kinda the point.

Memorare says...

Faith: intentional ignorance. Belief in something you know isn't true.

Being aware of the thousands of years of debate, I think most intelligent rational honest believers, if pressed, will admit they know the video's arguments are correct, and that their faith comes down to this:

Why do you believe?
I believe simply because i choose to believe.
But why do you choose to believe?
Because... what if it's true.

Fear. Eternity is a long time to go "oops" and people are covering their bets saying "well yeah i know it makes no logical rational sense but... what if."

sme4r says...

>> ^Payback:
Well, I find the cube, and there was a dead cat in it.


Was it made out of airport? I prayed for it to be.

@Nithern - Wisdom came from the religion? Can you please explain? ...or are you going to get violent.

deadgoon says...

>> ^PHJF:
I just it when religious nuts cite the bible like it's some sort of divine How To book.


If read properly it's more like Aesops's Fables. Good, clear lines on morality and common sense. In some ways... It doesn't explain why people would destroy other cultures or races because an omnipresent being said they were chosen to go forth and conquer.

It's ok, though, because they were just following orders.

enoch says...

>> ^Memorare:
Faith: intentional ignorance. Belief in something you know isn't true.
Being aware of the thousands of years of debate, I think most intelligent rational honest believers, if pressed, will admit they know the video's arguments are correct, and that their faith comes down to this:
Why do you believe?
I believe simply because i choose to believe.
But why do you choose to believe?
Because... what if it's true.
Fear. Eternity is a long time to go "oops" and people are covering their bets saying "well yeah i know it makes no logical rational sense but... what if."


wow,
that just won the award for "worst straw man argument EVAH".

Winstonfield_Pennypacker says...

Hmm - I'm more curious about INTENT here than anything else. Let's suppose for a moment that Joe Q. Theist sees the video and says, "Hmm - well he made a couple decent points." What then?

1. It could be simple self-righteous shadenfrued. Such persons may simply enjoy wagging their finger at what they consider to be the quaint, anachronistic, and occasionally foolish behaviors of their fellows.

2. Another goal could be recruitment. He may be seeking to convince others to abandon religion and faith completely so that they can join together as a larger group of similarly minded persons.

3. Possibly fame & money are his goals. He may simply be trolling for attention by attacking establishment morality. Or, if he's got a website with advertisers, then he could just be interested in hiking his own profits by addressing a controversial topic and garnering traffic.

Hey - this sounds familiar... Self-righteousness... Prosoletyzing... Attention... Money... This guy is a missionary for his church. Ah - nice try there pal. I've got 7th Day's and Jehovah's hitting me up to join their churches already. Not interested in hearing your particular spiel.

Seriously though - what is with atheists anyway? Faith-based initiatives contribute to society and the world with massive charity, good works, and personal benefits. They're clearly not 'all bad' as some would have us think. And - if you don't want to have 'faith' then none of them are forcing you to do anything. What's so awful about just taking personal satisfaction in your own beliefs privately? Why do you feel the need to bash someone for having different beliefs than you?

"Wah wah wah - I got treated bad by some religions guy when I was a wee tot and it scarred me for liiiiiiiiife..." Pht - grow up. They're PEOPLE. If they do stuff like that it is not because God told them to. It's because they're jerks, and they'd have been jerks to you as a kid whether you were a theist, atheist, or a purple flying spaghetti unicorn. You're blaming something that's tertiary to the issue at best (God) and ignoring the primary problem (the PERSON).

dgandhi says...

>> ^Winstonfield_Pennypacker:Faith-based initiatives contribute to society and the world with massive charity, good works, and personal benefits.

At significant expense to society. A few hundred years of tax exemption (not even counting church tax a la Germany) comes out to a hell of a lot of money that we all gave up for this "charity".

I really don't peg you for one to rally behind this sort of tax whoring.

Winstonfield_Pennypacker says...

At significant expense to society. A few hundred years of tax exemption (not even counting church tax a la Germany) comes out to a hell of a lot of money that we all gave up for this "charity".

I strongly endorse any methodology that keeps money out of the hands of government. I state confidently that (1) government doesn't need more tax revenue (2) government has no business taking money in the first place (because they waste the bulk of it) and (3) money is better spent by private sources. I thoroughly and completely reject the fallacious position that giving money to a church is 'taking it' from society. Such donations are - in fact - a far more efficient transmission of funding to the needy than any government program ever has been, currently is, or ever will be.

HadouKen24 says...

>> ^Winstonfield_Pennypacker:
Hmm - I'm more curious about INTENT here than anything else. Let's suppose for a moment that Joe Q. Theist sees the video and says, "Hmm - well he made a couple decent points." What then?
1. It could be simple self-righteous shadenfrued. Such persons may simply enjoy wagging their finger at what they consider to be the quaint, anachronistic, and occasionally foolish behaviors of their fellows.
2. Another goal could be recruitment. He may be seeking to convince others to abandon religion and faith completely so that they can join together as a larger group of similarly minded persons.
3. Possibly fame & money are his goals. He may simply be trolling for attention by attacking establishment morality. Or, if he's got a website with advertisers, then he could just be interested in hiking his own profits by addressing a controversial topic and garnering traffic.
Hey - this sounds familiar... Self-righteousness... Prosoletyzing... Attention... Money... This guy is a missionary for his church. Ah - nice try there pal. I've got 7th Day's and Jehovah's hitting me up to join their churches already. Not interested in hearing your particular spiel.


Your fictional average theist (what the heck is that supposed to mean, anyway? I don't even know what an "average Christian" would look like) would be using very poor reasoning skills in making such a judgment. Not only is such speculation about his motives entirely ungrounded, but it is irrelevant. To claim that, simply because his motives could be questioned, his argument and conclusion must be false, is to commit a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy.

QualiaSoup's arguments stand or fall on their own.


Seriously though - what is with atheists anyway? Faith-based initiatives contribute to society and the world with massive charity, good works, and personal benefits. They're clearly not 'all bad' as some would have us think. And - if you don't want to have 'faith' then none of them are forcing you to do anything. What's so awful about just taking personal satisfaction in your own beliefs privately?

If only it were the case that no one was forcing beliefs on people! Sadly, that's not the case, and it is through faith-based initiatives that it is done.

All too often, Christian and Muslim missions and charities make participation in religious services mandatory if one is to receive the benefits those organizations distribute. This is done all over North and South America.

Further, in outside the Americas and in the poorer areas of the Americas, the people who run Christian hospitals and charities all too frequently deny services to people who refuse to convert. Some of the workers are in fact proud to reveal this fact; they consider it their duty.

The people who go to these charities usually have no other options. And in many cases, the consequence of not receiving their benefits is death. They must literally convert to Christianity or die. Islam is, of course, not immune to this sort of thing; the Taliban holds its grip on Afghanistan by similar means.

Even in milder cases, the message is clear: you owe us, and the best way to pay us back is to convert. Charity provided by evangelistic, monotheistic religions comes with strings attached. It is not clear at all to me that their giving is a social good.

rebuilder says...

The scientific method lets us gain knowledge of the physical world through observation of phenomena. We can only observe whatever has a manifestation in the physical world and interacts with it, and whatever interacts with physical objects must be of a physical nature itself. Anything else is as good as non-existent to us as it does not affect our universe.

If someone can propose a method, even just a rough idea, by which a non-physical entity, whatever that means, can interact with physical entities, I'd be very interested to hear it.

Winstonfield_Pennypacker says...

Not only is such speculation about his motives entirely ungrounded, but it is irrelevant. To claim that, simply because his motives could be questioned, his argument and conclusion must be false, is to commit a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy.

So, using this line of thought I can logically reject the various arguments that posit 'religion' and 'faith' are negative influences merely because there are some people who happen to have been part of a religion have had questionable motives. To do otherwise would be a classic example of an ad hominem logical fallacy, no?

All too often, Christian and Muslim missions and charities make participation in religious services mandatory if one is to receive the benefits those organizations distribute. Further, in outside the Americas and in the poorer areas of the Americas, the people who run Christian hospitals and charities all too frequently deny services to people who refuse to convert. Some of the workers are in fact proud to reveal this fact; they consider it their duty.

I have found no document to this date from a major religious charitable institution that states that mandatory conversion is required before assistance is distributed. I've personally assisted dozens of religious charity operations and disaster relief programs and not once have they dangled conversion as a carrot. People were given what they needed whether they were members or not. Yes, religions do routinely invite (voluntary) people to attend services. I see no problem with that.

I'm not saying there aren't a few bad apples in the barrel, but by and large what you're saying here just doesn't ring true. It sounds more like you are falling victim to the same generalized, rumor-based ad hominem bashing of 'religion' that in general demeans the atheist community. It's the same thing that bad theists do. Bad theists denigrate other belief systems in order to make thier own belief system seem more compelling, or to justify themselves. Shame on anyone that does such things. It isn't enough for them to take pleasure in their own beliefs. They feel like they have to undermine everyone else. It is very Rochefoucauldian.

This reinforces my general belief that it is not the 'religion' (theism, atheism, whatever) that produces jerky people. People will be jerks no matter what group they affiliate with. So I don't blame 'atheism' for producing jerks. I blame the jerks that are a part of the atheist movement. I don't blame 'religion' when people behave badly. I blame people for being poor practicioners of their own philosophy.

sme4r says...

Clearly there are benefits from having faith, people who have a deep faith tend to live morally righteous lives, and people who "find" faith, tend to right their wrongs. The ten commandments are just a good set of ideas to follow to live longer. The problem I have with faith, most religions for that matter, is that the stupidest people seem to be attracted to it, as its pointed out in this video. It's all a crutch, though. A place holder for your decision making process. Any thing the bible can tell you, could have been just as easily produced by your own mind. The want to act better, the urge to live an honest life... It's all there in front of you and a book has little to do with it.

Most of the arguments for why a "God" exists are baseless and easily refutable... but you assume the person you are dealing with is on the same level of willingness to understand that you are or that you need them to be in order to make a meaningful decision. The biggest problem, and this stands for all humans, is that you can't reason with the unreasonable. People who are stupid enough to blindly follow some poorly written, and poorly re-written book are lying to themselves anyways, and probably have no interest or aren't capable of understanding logic and evidence.

This video is really for the benefit of people who already know that you can't prove "God" exists, What they need to do is make a video explaining how to snap the masses out of this 2000 year brain washing. I'm thinking something with a lot of colors and pictures of animals.

asynchronice says...

I'd wager religious folks run the far greater risk of being 'jerky'; at least a rational argument has a semblance of rules to adhere to which can be mutually agreed on.

Getting a bit tired of persistent attempts to say atheists are on level ground with theists when it comes to debate. It sounds noble, but it just simply isn't true. The burden of proof is quite the load to carry.

HadouKen24 says...

So, using this line of thought I can logically reject the various arguments that posit 'religion' and 'faith' are negative influences merely because there are some people who happen to have been part of a religion have had questionable motives. To do otherwise would be a classic example of an ad hominem logical fallacy, no?

No, that would not be an ad hominem. It would be a (perhaps rather weak) inductive argument. Since the argument goes to the desirability of religion (whether or not it is a negative influence), rather than the truth claims of religion, it is perfectly valid to talk about ways in which members of that religion may or may not be influenced to behave well or poorly.

I have found no document to this date from a major religious charitable institution that states that mandatory conversion is required before assistance is distributed.

You mean a major Christian institution, don't you, rather than a major "religious" one? There are Jewish and Muslim charities that only offer aid to Jews and Muslims (this is significantly more toxic for Muslim charities, as Judaism is not in the practice of seeking converts).

It is rarely done, among Christian ministries, so overtly as to leave an obvious paper trail. Rather, at the individual hospitals, charity wards, and so on, non-Christians are turned away if they refuse to convert. Exactly how common this is, is very difficult to tell, but it's certainly common enough to constitute a problem.

It is not a problem, as I said, in the US or the industrialized world. Your personal experiences with charities operating in the US or Europe is not representative. It is a problem in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

It is also not, generally speaking, a problem with US organizations that take public funds. Federal rules prohibit government money being used for proselytizing. In fact, a small number of US religious charities have refused to accept government funds under Bush's "Faith-based Initiatives" program precisely for that reason; it would restrict their ability to require service attendance when providing aid.

Winstonfield_Pennypacker says...

The problem I have with faith, most religions for that matter, is that the stupidest people seem to be attracted to it.

I'd argue that what you are seeing is not a factor of the religion, but a factor of projecting the behavior of a radical minority onto the innocent majority. Those who have 'religion' are a far larger group than the 'non-religion' folks. There's literally billions more of them. So it is easy to cherry-pick the fringe kooks and portray them as the majority. But while there are a large number, the kooks are a statistical outlier compared to the far huger group of normal, quiet, everyday people of faith who aren't anywhere near as controversial (and therefore get no attention).

Imagine that there were 5 billion atheists and only a few hundred thousand theists on the planet. How hard would it be to could come up with videos of kooky atheist behavior? Not very. That's not because atheism 'made' people stupid. It would be because so many stupid people were atheists. See?

Getting a bit tired of persistent attempts to say atheists are on level ground with theists when it comes to debate. It sounds noble, but it just simply isn't true. The burden of proof is quite the load to carry.

'Debate' about what? You'll have to be more specific. Your statement only has potential validity if you specify your topic.

Since the argument goes to the desirability of religion (whether or not it is a negative influence), rather than the truth claims of religion, it is perfectly valid to talk about ways in which members of that religion may or may not be influenced to behave well or poorly.

I fail to see how that does not apply equally to atheist advocacy pieces such as this video. My original argument (above) was regarding the INTENT of this guy in doing this vid. Was it shadenfrued, prosoletyzing, money, attention, or what? How is he any different than the religions he is attacking? Not very much from what I can see. If it is argued that 'religion causes influences people to behave poorly' then it is perfectly valid criticism to examine how this guy's atheism is influencing HIM to behave poorly. Therefore your argument that it is an 'ad hominem' attack to examine THIS guy's behavior, but it is merely 'inductive reasoning' to examine how religion influences people negatively must be rejected as specious and biased.

Charities

Since the entirety of your set of accusations against churches 'charity for conversion' has been admitted to be wholly anecdotal it cannot be discussed rationally. I can't discuss Muslim practices as I've not witnessed them. Nor Bhuddist or Hindu.

HadouKen24 says...

I fail to see how that does not apply equally to atheist advocacy pieces such as this video. My original argument (above) was regarding the INTENT of this guy in doing this vid. Was it shadenfrued, prosoletyzing, money, attention, or what? How is he any different than the religions he is attacking? Not very much from what I can see. If it is argued that 'religion causes influences people to behave poorly' then it is perfectly valid criticism to examine how this guy's atheism is influencing HIM to behave poorly. Therefore your argument that it is an 'ad hominem' attack to examine THIS guy's behavior, but it is merely 'inductive reasoning' to examine how religion influences people negatively must be rejected as specious and biased.

But you aren't just inquiring into a possible link between atheism and poor behavior. In your original comment, the logical work done by your analysis of his motives was to justify your dismissal of his position. That is blatantly fallacious.

In contrast, most atheists distinguish between why they reject religious truth claims, and why they may or may not think religion to be harmful. This distinction must be kept in mind by all involved in the discussion to avoid misinterpretation of opposing views or accidentally presenting a fallacious argument.

It must be kept in mind by all parties that a particular religion could be true, yet have negative social consequences if believed. Likewise, atheism could be true, yet have negative social consequences.

To mix the lines of argument together, as you have done here (and as all too many theists and atheists do), is to become prey to fallacious and distorted thinking.



Since the entirety of your set of accusations against churches 'charity for conversion' has been admitted to be wholly anecdotal it cannot be discussed rationally. I can't discuss Muslim practices as I've not witnessed them. Nor Bhuddist or Hindu.

All I'm trying to point out is that Christian charity is not an unmitigated good. Pressure to convert is one aspect. Another might be the attempts by Christian aid organizations--not merely Roman Catholic organizations--to limit the use of condoms in Africa.

Winstonfield_Pennypacker says...

In your original comment, the logical work done by your analysis of his motives was to justify your dismissal of his position.

Is that not what he is doing? He looks at the motives of theists, deconstructs them, and uses them as a platform to criticize their behavior. He presents an exaggerated and stilted strawman. "Theists do X & Y bad things, so they are wrong..." complete with 'mean' pictures for theists. Such behavior mirrors the emotional blackmail of some theists. "You do X & Y bad things, so you are wrong..." My conclusion was more of a tongue in cheek tweak of that rather amusing hypocrisy. Where the arguments are passing each other in terminology is the metaphysical level on which the subject matter rests.

In contrast, most atheists distinguish between why they reject religious truth claims, and why they may or may not think religion to be harmful. This distinction must be kept in mind by all involved in the discussion to avoid misinterpretation of opposing views or accidentally presenting a fallacious argument... To mix the lines of argument together...is to become prey to fallacious and distorted thinking.

I don't recall having erroneously mixed those issues - but if you interpret it that way then for the sake of clarity I'll address it. I was pointing out the hypocritical nature of the argument in this vid, and then made a general bemoaning complaint about why atheists keep feeling the need to slap religion in general, blanket terms. I make no commentary on why atheists reject religious truth claims. My comments are wholly confined to the topic of 'why do people feel the need to behave badly when dealing with other schools of thought?" The final bit in this vid could be directed as much to atheists as theists... "If you attack someone because they don't share your beliefs, you're invited to consider what that says about you and the values you claim to embrace."

All I'm trying to point out is that Christian charity is not an unmitigated good.

I accept that premise. I also point out that I never stated it was 'unmitigated good'. I said, "They do great good". That cannot be denied.

HadouKen24 says...

Is that not what he is doing? He looks at the motives of theists, deconstructs them, and uses them as a platform to criticize their behavior. He presents an exaggerated and stilted strawman. "Theists do X & Y bad things, so they are wrong..." complete with 'mean' pictures for theists. Such behavior mirrors the emotional blackmail of some theists. "You do X & Y bad things, so you are wrong..." My conclusion was more of a tongue in cheek tweak of that rather amusing hypocrisy. Where the arguments are passing each other in terminology is the metaphysical level on which the subject matter rests.

That's such a distortion of QualiaSoup's video that I have to wonder if we watched the same one.

Let me be clear. I am not an atheist or agnostic. My disagreements with the video and with QualiaSoup's overall philosophical position run very deep. In fact, my first comment lays out a number of them and avers to others. Ideologically, we are opposed. I have every reason to point out flaws in his video.

Yet it is not flawed in the way you claim. He does not say that theists are wrong because they do X & Y bad things. Rather, he claims that they are wrong, lays out his argument as to why theists are wrong, and then proceeds to criticize the bad behavior of a subset of religious believers.

I don't recall having erroneously mixed those issues - but if you interpret it that way then for the sake of clarity I'll address it. I was pointing out the hypocritical nature of the argument in this vid, and then made a general bemoaning complaint about why atheists keep feeling the need to slap religion in general, blanket terms. I make no commentary on why atheists reject religious truth claims. My comments are wholly confined to the topic of 'why do people feel the need to behave badly when dealing with other schools of thought?" The final bit in this vid could be directed as much to atheists as theists... "If you attack someone because they don't share your beliefs, you're invited to consider what that says about you and the values you claim to embrace."

How is it that you think QualiaSoup is behaving badly? If this were a political discussion, this video would be seen as markedly civil compared to most debate and commentary. He is not blindly asserting his opinion or venting his spleen. He lays out his arguments in a calm, logical manner. He doesn't obfuscate or make it difficult to figure out on what premises his arguments stand or fall. This is not a piece of demagoguery or propaganda. As far as I can tell, the video falls well within the bounds of civil discourse.



I accept that premise. I also point out that I never stated it was 'unmitigated good'. I said, "They do great good". That cannot be denied.

If you mean that "American and US religiously based charities do great good in the early 21st century," then maybe that's a supportable position. I have great reservations about it--I do not think that attempting to destroy indigenous religions in Africa and South America or fighting condom use in Africa are anything like goods--but the cultural and legal restrictions on acceptable church behavior act as a deterrent against the abuses seen past and present when churches have significantly greater power--as, for example, in the rampant child abuse in Catholic boarding schools in Ireland up through the 80's.

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