Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Honesty

This is a second post in a series that looks at the ‘values’ that can be found in a survey conducted by Reginald Bibby at the University of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) that allegedly showed that atheist place less importance on a number of key values when compared to theists.

Today, I will look at the issue of honestly. Bibby’s survey reports that 95% of theists hold that honesty is very important, while only 89% of atheists hold this particular value.

The fact that 95% of theists report that they consider honesty very important simply proves how little they value honesty. One of my great frustrations in writing this blog has been in confronting the constant barrage of ‘disinformation’ that comes from theists. Now, one more piece of disinformation that I can add to the list is the disinformation that many of them give, that they actually value honesty.

Reason dictates that I cannot prove that theists do not have the level of respect for honesty reported in this survey by identifying a few instances of dishonesty. After all, I might just be drawing the examples of those who are in the 5% that do not value honesty. However, I can provide reason to dispute the claim made in this survey by showing that these ‘lovers of honesty’ certainly do not care enough about honesty to do anything about the liars and sophists that speak in defense of theism.

Bibby’s survey itself provides a case that illustrates the low regard for truth that we find among theists. I encountered news of this survey on the site Focus on the Family under the headline, Believers in God More Likely to Do Good. The report contained a link to a press release describing the survey. The press release contained the statement, “ That's not to say that God-believers always translate their values into action.”

So, Focus on the Family wrote an article in which they lied about the research they were reporting on. Yet, as I said above, evidence of a lie does not show that the whole religious culture has no respect for truth. Evidence of this further conclusion is, instead, found in the fact that the religious community on the whole does not care enough about lying to condemn or criticize those who lie. Lies are ignored, when one is lying in defense of The One True God. This takes more than a 5% that does not view honesty as ‘very important’. This requires that a substantial portion of the community views lying as unimportant or even as a positive good.

To say that a substantial portion of theists are, at best, indifferent towards honesty or actively supports dishonesty is not to say that every Christian is a liar. It is only to say that those who are honest lack the power to force honesty on their brethren, which suggests that they are too weak to actually enforce their values on others. Either it is not the case that 95% of theists value honesty, or the 5% minority is able to exercise some extraordinary powers over the alleged honest supermajority.

Another example of theistic dishonesty is found in the works of David Barton, who once filled society with a number of false claims about the words of the founding fathers. According to Barton’s quotes, the founding fathers wanted nothing more than to establish a nation ruled by a Christian version of the Taliban. Many of these quotes were later exposed to be made up or taken out of context to change their meanings.

People who actually love honesty and hate deceptionwould find this behavior contemptible. They would warn their fellow citizens of Barton’s dishonesty and condemn him for it, while at the same time condemning any co-religionist who repeats those lies. We do not see this type of behavior among theists, giving us reason to doubt that these theists have the dislike for deception that they claim to have.

Here, I want to point out that dishonesty comes in a number of stripes. Just as with other crimes, an individual can knowingly or intentionally carry out. There are also crimes that a person can carry out that represent negligence or recklessness.

If a person values not killing other people – if not killing other people is very important to him, it is not enough for the agent to show this by refusing to intentionally or even knowingly take somebody else’s life. A person also shows his love of life by making sure he does not take the life of another through accident or negligence. We can say of the reckless individual that he really does not care who gets hurt. We can say of the reckless speaker or writer that he cares as little about truth and honesty as the reckless driver.

Barton himself, and those who carelessly repeat them, are showing how little they care about honesty in the same way that a drunk driver shows that he really does not care about the lives and well-being of those he might hit. This indifference to the truth is not consistent with the claim that these people make that they truly love honesty. They only love claiming to love honestly – probably because pretending to be honest is useful.

More evidence of the way in which dishonesty permeates the theist culture can be found in their devotion to Fox News. Fox News recently won a lawsuit filed by two employees who claimed ‘wrongful termination’. According to the court records, these employees refused to insert false elements into a news segment. Fox News apparently felt that its audience was not overly concerned with whether its reports were true or not. Apparently, they were right. These people who claim that honesty is their most important value registered no objection to the Fox News decision to fight in court in the name of dishonesty.

Another example from Fox News is an incident in which Bill O’Reilly, the host of Fox News’ most highly rated show, was shown to have edited a film clip to distort the claims of Senator Joe Biden.

The report was a blatant lie. However, these lovers of honesty showed no offense at this deception. Lovers of honesty would have felt extremely betrayed by this activity, suggesting that at least those theists who are fans of Bill O’Reilly and Fox News are not, in fact, the lovers of honesty that they claim to be.

The O’Reilly event needs to be compared to Dan Rather’s report that documents showed that Bush obtained special treatment while serving in the National Guard. In this case, there was absolutely no evidence that Rather acted to distort Bush’s record. Instead, his crime was failure to verify the authenticity of the evidence provided by an outside source. For this, he issued an apology. These are the actions of somebody who holds that honesty is important or, at least, somebody who seeks to appeal to an audience that values honesty. This is not the type of audience that Bill O’Reilly speaks to, since they did not seem to care about his deception.

Also from Fox News, a survey in September 2003 showed that Fox News viewers were the least well informed of all news viewers on relevant facts concerning the attack on Iraq. If Fox News viewers were, in fact, interested in truth and honesty, this should have inspired them to switch to options that were giving people a more honest account of the invasion of Iraq. But, yet again, they showed that honesty is not one of their key concerns.

Another trait that we can expect from those who value honesty is that they would establish and support institutions whose job it is to keep people honest. The academic community has just such an institution in the form of peer-reviewed journals. In order to get published in a peer-reviewed journal, an author has to submit his article to reviewers whose job is to make sure that the author’s work is internally and externally valid. They remove not only dishonest claims, but reckless and unfounded assertions, allowing the author to claim only what the evidence actually supports.

Authors who write on subjects such as intelligent design, religious-based archaeology, and social science and medical research that aim to show the power of religion and prayer, are routinely unable to write documents that are capable of passing this type of review.

The list goes on.

A great many theists claim that inserting ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance and adopting ‘One Nation Under God’ were, in no way, motivated by a desire to establish a religion, in violation of the First Amendment. Nothing is more absurd. All this shows is that the audacity of lying is so prevalent in the theistic community that they can all mutually agree, with scarcely a voice of dissent, to swear to statement that is so blatantly false. Let somebody try to claim that a pledge to ‘one nation under no God’ or a motto of “We Trust In No God’ is not religiously motivated, and they will suddenly discover truths that appear to conveniently escape their notice today.

I routinely hear from them the lie that atheists assert an absolute certain knowledge that no God exists and, in refuting this statement, claim to have refuted atheism. This lie comes in the face of the fact that atheists routinely use arguments that make reference to Bertrand Russell’s orbiting teakettle, the flying spaghetti monster, fairies in garden, the invisible pink unicorn, the Easter Bunny, and any of the tens of thousands of gods that even the Christian does not believe in. The argument is simple. “When you understand why you do not believe in these things, you will understand why we do not believe in your God.” None of these examples require absolute certainty. Yet, we continually hear the lie that ‘atheists assert with absolute certainty that there is no God.’

Recently, the more heavily religious side of the political spectrum treated us to the swift-boating of 10-year-old Graeme Frost and his family. When Graeme Frost appeared in a video criticizing Bush’s stand on a bill providing health insurance for children, a group of misleadingly dishonest claims about the family spread like wildfire among bloggers and pundits whose audience consists primarily of the type of people who claimed in Bibby’s survey to have such a love of honesty.

During the 2004 Presidential campaign, Bush constantly told his audiences that the Constitution forbids the President from spying on Americans without a warrant. He said this while the ink was not even dry on executive orders he signed authorizing the spying on Americans without a warrant.

Finally, I want to make it clear that these points cannot be answered by claiming that there are atheists guilty of the same offense. It is certainly true, and I have criticized some of them in this blog. Yet, if one has captured a thief in the commission of a crime, he cannot legitimately defend himself by saying that there are other thieves. And no rapist or murderer deserves to be let off the hook because they can honestly claim that they are not the only ones who have ever committed rape or murder. Regardless of how many atheist liars there might be, the evidence still proves that theists are not the lovers of honesty they claim to be.

In fact, if I could have one wish granted for the well-being of humanity, it would be worth it to wish that people generally had a greater respect for and love of truth than we currently find in our society. Nothing makes the job of trying to make the world a better place more difficult than dealing with the deafening noise of people who either recklessly or intentionally fill the air with false claims.

All it takes is for people to realize that there is, in fact, a great deal of value to be found in simply pausing for a second at the end of each sentence one writes or just before each sentence one intends to speak and ask, ‘Can I really defend that as being true?’

18 comments:

lackawack said...

I seem to have detected a new and welcome urgency in your recent work.

Thank you.

Donald Carl Isenman

Makarios said...

Good post. You point out areas of glaring deficiency in the lives of religious people and even in the lives of those who claim to be Christians. Of course you know that I can’t leave it at that - so

You say that the Focus On The Family article states in essence,
. Believers in God are more likely to do good [than non believers].
. Believers in God are not able to translate that into perfection

I’m not sure how is that a lie.
==========

You say, “the religious community on the whole does not care enough about lying to condemn or criticize those who lie.”
How do you know?
Do you have access to the communications department at Fox News and such?
True, the religious community may not complain in the numbers or to the degree that you might desire but to say that no one complains is a bit of a stretch.
=============

You say, “To say that a substantial portion of theists are, at best, indifferent towards honesty or actively supports dishonesty is not to say that every Christian is a liar.”

Actually every Christian is a liar, just as you and I and every person on the planet lies on average 5 - 10 times per day. Christians differ in that we cry out for help and forgiveness in light of our helplessness to completely rid ourselves of this despicable act. Does that mean that I no longer lie? No. It just means that I lie about a 1000% less than I did in my pre Christian days.
=================

You say, “A person also shows his love of life by making sure he does not take the life of another through accident or negligence.”

True enough. And most Christians go further in stating that the creating and nurturing and protecting of life, from conception till death and even in sickness is more important than acquiring a high income and possessions and position and recognition.
================

You say, “Lovers of honesty would have felt extremely betrayed by this activity.”

. And you know that many or even most of his listeners didn’t feel betrayed, how? You’re probably correct in your assumption but you don’t really know, do you?

. How do you distinguish between political conservatives and religious conservatives? Hitchens proves that one is not necessarily the same as the other.

. Are you suggesting that everyone who works at Fox News is a Christian?

. Are you suggesting that every Christian everywhere answered the questions to this study?

Your argument on this point are bordering on the ridiculous Alonzo.

I think, Alonzo, that in your enthusiasm to trash a report that you perceive to present atheists in a less than honorable light, you are forcing yourself to step beyond the bounds that a peer review would find acceptable.

The person who has the most regrets (in parenting for example) may in fact be the one who has tried the hardest, EVEN while doing the worst job. Yet this same person may value good parenting more than most other people; perhaps even more than an atheist :-)

I believe that the difference in the results in this study is caused by two radically different philosophies. Christians highly value the things that they recognize are missing in their lives.

Atheists, I believe, operate from the philosophy of, ‘I don’t need God in order to be a good person. Because I don’t need God to be a good person, therefore I must be a good person.’ Unfortunately, this philosophy condemns atheists to a life of willful and determined blindness regarding their own shortcomings; shortcomings that can never be truly acknowledged without a tremendous sense of defensiveness.

It is only those who are aware of their shortcomings, who admit to their shortcomings, who even repeatedly and publically demonstrate their shortcomings who might actually place a high value on the characteristic they are missing. Like the song says, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

You say, “In fact, if I could have one wish granted for the well-being of humanity, it would be worth it to wish that people generally had a greater respect for and love of truth than we currently find in our society. Nothing makes the job of trying to make the world a better place more difficult than dealing with the deafening noise of people who either recklessly or intentionally fill the air with false claims. All it takes is for people to realize that there is, in fact, a great deal of value to be found in simply pausing for a second at the end of each sentence one writes or just before each sentence one intends to speak and ask, ‘Can I really defend that as being true?’”

I’m with you all the way on that one.

Makarios said...

I think that I want to change my wording from:

"Because I don’t need God to be a good person, therefore I must be a good person."

To

"Because I don't need God to be a good person, therefore it is imperative for me to believe that I AM a good person."

Ya, that's what I meant.

Eneasz said...

Makarios - I believe your holy book has a saying along the lines of "By their fruits, you shall know them."

You critisize every single point basically with the retort "How do you know?" Please refer to your own book's advice. A people who love honesty and despise lies would never let a man like O'Reily stay on the air. Not because of any violent action, but simply because no one would watch such a liar. The fact that he is still on the air, and immensly popular, especially among the highly religious, is very telling. The silence coming from them is deafening. The fact that FOX and O'Reily viewers are primarily fundamentalist christians certainly isn't in question, any attempts to try to claim this (without some damn good evidence) again displays a complete disregard for truth.

I don't see any how any assumption Alonzo has made is controversial. Simply nay-saying with "How do you know?" is basically another appeal to "You don't have absolute certainty, therefore I win." You are using the exact argument that was used as an example of religious dishonesty in this very post.

By their fruits, you shall know them.

Makarios said...

Whoa. Easy boy. I’m just curious. I’ve never listened to the O’Reily show and from the discussion about it, I’m surprised that you and so many other atheists do listen to it.

Although it’s no more confusing than listening to atheists talk incessantly about the fact that they don’t believe in God.

Nevertheless, how do you know that O’Reily’s viewers or listeners, (is it tv or radio?) are primarily fundamentalist Christians? How do you know that they’re not just politically, highly right-wing conservatives? Does O’Reily describe himself as a Christian?

Anyhow, asking 'Prove it' kind of questions isn’t the way I’d normally approach a discussion. I was actually trying to adapt to how atheists seem to think - point by point, fact by fact, step by step. Whenever I’ve been involved in any discussion on a blog with an atheist, any skip from point one to point three on my part is never EVER allowed. So, you know, in light of the all-important peer review and all that, I thought it was important for Alonzo to make his flow of rational logical thought clear and concise. After all, rigid and repetitive, black and white thinking seems to come so naturally to atheists, and, well, when in Rome . . .

Besides, Alonzo is a big boy. I've seen him take care of himself in the past and I'm sure he can do so in this case also.

As well, you seem to be implying that unless someone is perfect in moral character s/he cannot rightly be called a Christian. Yes? No?

Steelman said...

Alonzo and Makarios seem to have brought out the broad brushes.

Alonzo, please don't forget the Christians who do speak out against dishonesty, such as:

David Kuo's book about Bush's faith based initiative program, Tempting Faith.

Chris Hedges' book about Christian Dominionism, American Fascists.

Scientists such as Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, who oppose the Intelligent Design movement.

And, Alonzo, surely you know archconservatives like O'Reilly and Dobson don't represent the attitudes of all Christians? Certainly not many of the ones I know.

Makarios, your rhetoric about how atheists are mostly shallow, self-absorbed individuals who delude themselves into believing they are good, as they blithely live the unexamined life, is risible. Sheldon, posting on the other thread, is an example of the opposite of your stereotyping. I'm another. The reason I constantly examine my actions and motivations is because I want to be the best person I can be for the sake of my family and others, as well as myself. It's about working toward the best possible consequences of my actions during my one and only life. My goals and actions are based much more on the humanistic values I do believe than anything I choose not to.

I consider myself a pluralist: I believe there is a wealth of moral values that can be shared among people of differing metaphysical beliefs, and that those people can work together to build a more peaceful world despite their differences. Unfortunately, from what I gather from your blog, Makarios, you're of the opinion that we can't do that because you define atheists as the enemies of God. And you're the one accusing others of black and white thinking? Is this really all there is to your faith when it comes to those who don't share it, a self-righteous us vs. them? Convert first, then we'll talk? That attitude just bores me, whether it comes from the dogmatically religious or the dogmatically non-religious.

Eneasz said...

If 80% of the country was Muslim, and was attempting to pass laws based on the Koran, you'd spend a decent amount of time talking about how you don't believe in the Koran too.

O'Reilly is both TV and Radio (or was, I haven't verified the Radio show is still going). He does describe himself as a Christian, and makes sure you don't forget it. He supports favoratism for christians at all levels of government.

His audience is almost entirely politically far right-wing. The vast majority of religious fundamentalists are far right-wing politically, it almost seems to be a requirement. While it's true that you can be politically right-wing without being a religious fundamentalist (and I'm sure there's plenty of examples of that), there is generally a lot of overlap. Especially when O'Reilly panders to them so much.

And, while this is off the point a bit, O'Reilly and FOX were simply used as examples, they are not the full range of religious dishonesty by a long shot. Anywhere you go you can find fundamentalists eagerly discarding the truth whenever it's inconvenient, and the vast majority of the christian population looks the other way. "In God We Trust" was another example given.

--
As well, you seem to be implying that unless someone is perfect in moral character s/he cannot rightly be called a Christian. Yes? No?
--

No, quite the opposite. The only requirement for being a christian is believing that Jesus is the way to salvation. The claim that this makes a person morally stronger/better is a claim that christians make. What is being pointed out is that this claim is false - at least in regards to honesty.

Makarios said...

Steelman
“you're of the opinion that we can't do that because you define atheists as the enemies of God.”

Well, it’s not my definition that you’re an enemy of God. It’s just a fact. But could I be your friend and treat you in a civil manner and help you with this or that? Of course I could and would.

And yes, I have been generalizing in things that I've said earlier but I’ve also admitted to that.
============

“a self-righteous us vs. them?”

I have to admit that when representatives of the atheist faith say it’s time to rid the world of my most cherished beliefs, especially when earlier versions of Dawkins, like Stalin said, "Religion must be out of Russian in five years," and then did away with millions of his "enemies," it’s hard for me to not feel as though I’m being pushed into that type of paradigm.

As far as self-righteous goes, you may need to think about that term just a bit more.

I and other Christians admit that we have no righteousness apart from that received from God because of our relationship with Jesus. You on the other hand (I mean the collective atheist 'you')say that you are good enough as you are. That means that you are the ones who see yourselves as being righteous in and of yourselves.

You may be right that I’m skimming the surface regarding how atheists view their morality. On the other hand, I suspect that if the Study that Alonzo has been referring to had asked, “Are you as good as you need to be?” or “Are you as kind, patient, accepting of others etc. as your moral standard suggests you should be?” the outcome of the study would be exactly reversed. I believe that atheists would score significantly higher than Christians with affirmative answers.


Eneaze
The only requirement for being a christian is believing that Jesus is the way to salvation. The claim that this makes a person morally stronger/better is a claim that christians make. What is being pointed out is that this claim is false - at least in regards to honesty.

If the claim was that being a Christian makes us morally stronger or better or more honest than any given atheist, then I’d say you are absolutely correct. That would be a false statement. But if you are saying that I or any other person who has a healed, forgiven and intimate relationship with Jesus hasn’t changed for the better because of that relationship, well, I couldn’t disagree more.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Steelman

I do not think that your comment that I have 'brought out the broad brushes' is accurate. My thesis is that the evidence does not support the conclusion that 95% of theists value honesty. I explicitly rejected the proposition that all theists are liars or that no theist is interested in honesty - my evidence would not support these conclusions. The conclusions I did defend are well within the evidence provided.

Though there are Christians who speak out against dishonesty, my claim was that they lack the social pull necessary to affect the matters that I brought up in my article. The fact that so few listen to those who object to dishonesty is fully consistent with the claims that I made in my posting.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Makarios

As others have stated, your objections are substantially, "How was that a lie?"

Just to take one case: Focus on the Family says that the survey reports that theists act better (do more good) than theists. The press release says that the survey can draw no conclusions about how people act.

If Person B says, "I am not saying X", and Person A says, "Person B is saying X", then we have reason to conclude that Person A is lying about what Person B is saying.

Sheldon said...

"The press release says that the survey can draw no conclusions about how people act."

I actually think this is one of the more significant issues. How people actually act. People state they value all kinds of things, but often there is a significant gap between what they profess, and what they do.

I actually think there is significant self-deception at play here.

Take a look at that list of values. One is forgiveness, yet a significant number of evangelical Christians in the U.S. favor the death penalty.

Another observation: I believe makarios is Canadian. I think there is a difference of political culture between our neighbors to the north and the U.S..

makarios said:

"I have to admit that when representatives of the atheist faith say it’s time to rid the world of my most cherished beliefs, especially when earlier versions of Dawkins, like Stalin said, "Religion must be out of Russian in five years," and then did away with millions of his "enemies," it’s hard for me to not feel as though I’m being pushed into that type of paradigm."

I also read your discussion of this topic on your blog makarios. This is a good example cherry picking what you want to see in atheists. First of all, there is no evidence at all that Dawkins actually wants to eliminate religion by coercive means. He simply advocates confronting believers intellectually on their unjustifiable (empirically and rationally) beliefs.

I assure you, many of us atheists will defend your right to believe any nonsense you want to believe. But we will also criticize those beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Alonzo, what do you make of the EXTENSIVE research indicating theists give much more to charity -- BOTH to secular and religious causes?

I don't think we, as atheists (yes, I am one), are in a position to go around constantly bashing either the religious or the conservatives (who also give more) here in the U.S.

As a group, I find atheists to be more about talk and bash rather than do and build.

Individuals, sure. But as a group, it's just silly. They win.

Makarios said...

Alonzo:
“The conclusions I did defend are well within the evidence provided.”

What? Because people haven’t quit listening to Bill O’Reily? Common.
=============
The quotes that you gave was:
“Believers in God are more likely to do good” [than non believers]. AND
“That's not to say that God-believers always translate their values into action.”

Right! Why is that difficult for you to understand?

The first statement is saying that, Believers in God are MORE LIKELY to do good than non believers. It’s not saying that we do good more than non believers ALL THE TIME. We’re just MORE LIKELY to do good than non believers.

The second statement is like the first. It’s saying that we don’t ALWAYS translate our values into action. Many times, if not most of the time we do act on our beliefs, but not ALWAYS.

The second statement is no way in opposition to the first statement and it certainly can’t be construed as being a lie as you say it is. Both statements can be true.

Like I said, when it’s imperative for an atheist to believe that he is a good person in order to maintain his philosophical foundation, that atheist will get fairly defensive when that belief is challenged.

Christians on the other hand can be told that we’re jerks with no damage being done to our belief system. We know that we’re jerks. That’s why we became Christians in the first place.
==============
Sheldon said - “Another observation: I believe makarios is Canadian. I think there is a difference of political culture between our neighbors to the north and the U.S.”

Ya and I need to quit commenting on a political system that is way different than what I experience.
============

You said, “People state they value all kinds of things, but often there is a significant gap between what they profess, and what they do.”

I couldn’t agree more. That’s what I was trying to say in my example of “The person who has the most regrets (in parenting for example) may in fact be the one who has tried the hardest, EVEN while doing the worst job. Yet this same person may VALUE good parenting more than most other people”

On the other hand, even though (Excuse me. Someone is singing God Bless America as Boston takes a break from seriously spanking Colorado. Even baseball is in on the conspiracy to force religion on everyone) two people express a desire to win a race, given equal talent, wouldn’t you expect the one who wants to win the most, win more often than the one who is less desirous of winning? Just so, even though there is always a significant gap between what we profess and what we do, all things being equal, wouldn’t it be MORE LIKELY that someone who values honesty in all circumstances tend to act on that more consistently than someone who believes that the need for honesty is relative to the situation?
=============
You said, “there is no evidence at all that Dawkins actually wants to eliminate religion by coercive means.”

Well, Dawkins doesn’t have the power or influence to bring about that scenario. I know people pretty well Sheldon. After working with many thousands of clients, I’d be willing to bet that Dawkins thoughts would not have to change one bit to carry out such coercion should such power and influence suddenly come his way. It’s not going to happen in my lifetime but . . .

For what it’s worth, I said in my blog that there is nothing, certainly not atheist propaganda, nor even the threat of death that could convince me or other believers that Jesus isn’t alive and real etc. etc. etc. So, Dawkins and his followers either have to give up on their goal to rid North America of religious influence, or Dawkins or someone in the future needs to step it up a few notches to attempt a run toward that goal.

History has shown however that putting pressure on Christianity does nothing but making it squirt out over an even bigger area with more intensity and even greater fervor.

The best thing you can do is just leave Jesus alone and work for more tolerance. I’m serious about that last statement. I think it’s ridiculous that Americans wouldn’t elect an atheist President. You guys can screw up a nation just a well as the next guy.

Nevertheless, thanks for the support to believe what I want. I return the sentiment.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

makarios

I show you a heap of sand.

You take a grain from that heap and say, "This grain alone does not make a heap."

My answer, sensibly, would be, "No, it does not. And I did not say it did. Please refer back to the original heap. That heap of sand makes a heap."

Makarios said...

Ah, yes, but to an atheist whose foundation is full of cracks, that one grain feels like a heap doesn't it?

Eneasz said...

/boggle

Either you COMPLETELY missed the point, or you're intentionally trolling.

Steelman said...

Alonzo said: "Though there are Christians who speak out against dishonesty, my claim was that they lack the social pull necessary to affect the matters that I brought up in my article. The fact that so few listen to those who object to dishonesty is fully consistent with the claims that I made in my posting."

I wonder if it's simply that more Christians are unwilling to speak out against the dishonesty of their religious peers, or that the mass media underreports their objections (not exciting enough for cable news in the U.S.)? Some other factor(s)?

Makarios said: "Well, it’s not my definition that you’re an enemy of God. It’s just a fact."

And there are plenty of Muslims who are convinced of that same "fact" in regard to you. And, if you're protestant rather than catholic, the pope would agree with them for the same general reasons (i.e., worshiping the right God the wrong way). This type of faith-based, dogmatic divisiveness is one of the things that can close the gap between a metaphysical mistake and a moral mistake. An attitude that demonizes the other (in this case literally!) is bound to lead to unethical behavior toward that other (eg., unfair discrimination in job opportunities, legislation to impose sectarian faith-based beliefs on the general public).

"But could I be your friend and treat you in a civil manner and help you with this or that? Of course I could and would."

I'm not sure how that could ever be a positive relationship based on mutual respect. I would think an "enemy of God" is not to be negotiated with or trusted. How could you possibly be friends, in any sense of the word, with a person who you believe fits that description? As I stated earlier, I'm interested in people of all faiths, or none, working together for the social good. So I'm trying to understand how that would work with someone who holds your beliefs.

You called Stalin an earlier version of Dawkins. Stalin was the opposite of Dawkins in a number of ways, including being anti-science (see Lysenkoism). BTW, I don't agree with every word that comes forth from the mouth of Dawkins, especially when it comes to matters of social policy. While I appreciate Dawkins' aim of "consciousness raising" when it comes to problems caused by dogmatic religion, this secular humanist is more interested in the promotion of science and reason than an assault on faith. Unless, of course, the religion in question promotes flying aircraft into office buildings, or declaring "just war" on other countries because God said it's all for the best.

"I have to admit that when representatives of the atheist faith..."

No faith here when it comes to god(s), for or against. I'm an atheist because of my agnosticism. I don’t know if there are really any gods out there or not, so I don't just go ahead and believe in them anyway. And, as implied above, Dawkins (or Dennett or Harris or Hitchens, for that matter) don't necessarily "represent" other atheists; there's no hierarchy or authority available that appointed or elected them to such a position.

"You may be right that I’m skimming the surface regarding how atheists view their morality."

I'm glad you said that. I'd urge you to look beyond your religious prejudices (I think anyone who automatically believes I'm an enemy of all that's good, without knowing anything about me beyond a single thing I don’t believe, is definitely prejudiced). If you do, I think you'll see that atheists are not some evil, monolithic group, and that we are not related to dead totalitarian dictators any more than you are to dead Spanish Inquisitors. I think you'll see that many of us hold the same values as yourself (including humility about whether or not we're "good enough") even if you believe we're mistaken about where those values come from.

Anonymous said...

All theists are liars. They believe in something that isn't real. So by definition they are not promoting truth. And hence are all liars. The lot of them.