Questionable Motives

August 26, 2010

How is this terrorist face NOT part of the religion of peace?

Filed under: Canada,Islam,terrorism — tildeb @ 9:03 pm

This is what islam should NOT look like. From the CBC:

Three Ontario men accused of taking part in a domestic terrorist plot and possessing plans and materials to create makeshift bombs had allegedly selected specific targets in Canada, sources told CBC News.

It is not yet known what the alleged targets were, but sources told CBC News that none of them was in the United States.

The RCMP investigation, dubbed Project Samosa, found evidence that one member of the group had been trained to construct electronic and explosive devices.

During their investigation, Therriault said, police seized more than 50 electronic circuit boards they say were designed specifically to remotely detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

He said they also seized a vast quantity of terrorist literature, videos and manuals.

“This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of the National Capital Region and Canada’s national security,” he said.

Unless and until we face up to the fact that islam itself is the root cause of much terrorism in the world today, we will not face reality.

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21 Comments »

  1. Hello, tildeb!

    So let us suppose that we did “face reality”: let’s suppose Islam itself is the root cause of much of the world’s terrorism.
    What are we to do about it?
    Increased discrimination? Forced conversion? Genocide?
    Let’s face reality once more: Islam isn’t going to be uprooted or even halted anytime soon.

    It’s much easier, however, to point out that one’s religion is actually against whatever bad things we want to discourage than it is to convince him to abandon his faith. Also, great dividends would come from educating him roundly so that he can judge what is bad and what is best from a broader viewpoint than just a few verses of scripture or one particular tradition.

    But we cannot succeed in these things if we approach with the view that Islam itself is a problem.
    Islam is not a problem. Assholes and idiots in Islam are the problem. It is the same as may be said of atheism when people point to Joseph Stalin and the thugs who willingly followed his command (who did far worse than Osama bin Laden and his goons). (I hope you do realize, there are people who think such a logical result of an atheistic philosophy, just as you find much modern terrorism a logical result of Islam.)

    I would be sincerely interested though to learn of what your proposed solution would be.

    Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 27, 2010 @ 3:04 am | Reply

    • Hey, MT, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

      This post is juxtaposition to this one… both being Canadian expressions of islam.

      So which is it? Will the real islam please stand up?

      Like most religious people, you assume that religious extremism is not the correct representation of that religious belief set – the accurate reflection of that religion in action – but the unfortunate result of a few bad apples, a few “assholes and idiots,” a few who do not understand the proper or correct or true action of what the religion ‘truly’ is.

      But, you see MT, all religious people are moderates… right up until they act in an way deemed to be excessive. But who decides where that line is and when it is crossed?

      The motivation for that extreme action is rarely if ever selfish. It is usually sacrificial and done in the name of bringing honour and respect, submission and obedience, to this notion called god as defined in the scripture of that religion. Almost always some literal reading of a scripture is used as the justification. And therein lies the truth of the matter: for all the accolades heaped on scripture for revealing god’s ‘moral law’, so too is it the source for god’s extreme moral perversion. But the difference is that believers allot everything ‘good’ to god and everything ‘bad’ to man without any external authority available to differentiate the two… other than human interpretation, that is. And the problem with that is that sometimes the literal reading clearly justifies heinous crimes, which surely has as much legitimacy of being infused with divine authority as some complex human interpretation that turns the literal into some metaphorically benign pablum. There is no way to ‘truly’ differentiate god’s ‘good’ moral law in scripture from god’s so-called ‘bad’ moral law from the same scripture <except by interpretation. What that means in action is that these folk who exercise extremism are as justified in their thinking that their interpretations are correct and inspired by god and that actions based on that interpretation accurately reflect god’s ‘good’ moral law as you are in condemning it for being a ‘bad’ interpretation that is not inspired by god, or that it should be condemned for falling into the ‘bad’ moral law category. There is no means available to unbiasedly decide the qualitative difference.

      That’s a significant and unsolvable problem because, when it comes to religious belief, the method of inquiry that justifies revelation does so by discarding any basis for any legitimate critical review.

      You assume incorrectly that some greater amount of religious education for a broader viewpoint would bring these folk back from the edge of extremism. In other words, you believe that more of the same will produce a different result, although you will quibble that it’s not more of the same if it is deeper and broader. I beg to differ. In psychiatric terms, that belief of expecting a different result by more of the same succinctly defines delusional thinking.

      By facing reality, I mean doing what we have not done, that is, first laying responsibility for religious extremism at the doorstep of the religion itself as a primary causal agent. I mean to lay responsibility at the feet of ALL the supporters in that belief set as accessories. What we continue to do is separate the extremists from the mainstream as if the two had nothing whatsoever to do with each other when in fact we know that without the direct support from moderate religious folk, there would be no ‘extreme’ end of that belief set. In other words extremists don’t just appear; they evolve from the moderate into an extremist. It’s time for the religious to own up to their collusion in the creating and sustaining of religious extremism.

      My solution is for the religious to understand and experience why we should not extend our religiously inspired beliefs into the world. All of us must learn to be responsible for our exercise of religious freedom by keeping it personal. Those who try to extend our religious beliefs into the world are irresponsible citizens who are undermining religious freedom of others and should receive nothing but criticism and condemnation and censure for doing so… not from those outside of the faith necessarily but from those within, from those who share the religious belief set. And if they won;t do it, then the rest of us should. Religion has no rightful place in the public domain. Religion in the public domain is a ongoing divisive and contrary problem toxic to everything it touches including charity and social welfare but especially issues of morality. Religion is a usurper of moral responsibility and a convenient shield behind which anti-human sentiment can first hide and then develop. The more anti-human the religious belief set, the more extremist actions we have.

      These extremist plots for action condemn islam as a major breeding ground for terrorists and its high time we granted to those who support the religion being extended into the public domain our rightful place of being in collusion for making our religion a welcoming safe house for the promotion of religious terrorists. Muslims themselves must show that they can evolve the practice of their religion into the modern world by first accepting the supremacy of human rights, freedoms, and dignity of personhood over and above some willing allegiance to the brutality of an iron age moral law. And if muslims can’t do it themselves, then that responsibility falls to the rest of us to remove it from the public domain.

      You do know that Stalin was a priest, eh? You know that no totalitarian state is dedicated to respect reason above all else, to give primary allegiance to human rights and freedoms and the dignity of personhood. Totalitarian states in no way represent atheists and non belief, but the old canard is kept alive and kicking by the religious as if it were a legitimate example of what the alternative to god-soaked policies and programs must necessarily look like in action. It’s merely a scare tactic. There is no link between atheism and totalitarianism, whereas there is a direct link between a religious belief set and action deemed extreme undertaken in its name.

      Comment by tildeb — August 27, 2010 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

      • “But who decides where that line is and when it is crossed?”
        I would say God, but it seems you recognize pretty well when the line is crossed also, so maybe it’s you who decides. What difference does it make who the judge of record is as long as the verdict is correct?

        “The motivation for that extreme action is rarely if ever selfish.”
        While it certainly pretends not to be, it actually often is. Why do you think the instant pass to paradise plus more virgin woman than I’ve ever seen gathered in one place is so heavily advertised? Can’t you see that bin Laden is no more an altruist than Adolph Hitler?

        “…believers allot everything ‘good’ to god and everything ‘bad’ to man without any external authority available to differentiate the two… other than human interpretation, that is.”
        If you have any external authority for differentiating good and evil, then such authority is available to religious people as well. (Many of us call it “God”. {I happen to believe in the Last Day, on which stands Divine Logos, looking back, in judgment of the world.})

        “…sometimes the literal reading clearly justifies heinous crimes…”
        Do you mean the literal meaning of one verse, or the literal meaning in context? I think that in context such conclusions cease to be so clear.

        “…these folk who exercise extremism are as justified…”
        Justified by whom? Who is doing the justification? Perhaps if you were the judge, it would be so, but human societies have judged otherwise, and ultimately He who truly justifies must be more than Man.

        “There is no means available to unbiasedly decide the qualitative difference.”
        Sure there is. I’ve been noticing that you consistently have difficulty recognizing any objective difference between right and wrong, good and bad…

        “…the method of inquiry that justifies revelation does so by discarding any basis for any legitimate critical review.”
        That’s not true. Certain things (such as God’s properties) are beyond being testable. All else should be scrutinized in order to discern the truth therein. Prophetic spirits need to be tested to determine if the spirit is from God. It would be foolish just to assume it without confirming evidence.

        “You assume incorrectly that some greater amount of religious education for a broader viewpoint would bring these folk back from the edge of extremism.”
        You have misunderstood me. I said, “educating him roundly”. I doubt you disagree that wide-spread broad-based education does much to foster open-mindedness, civility, cross-cultural cooperation, and progress, simply because it would be “more of the same” teaching as teaching people to build bombs.

        “Muslims themselves must show that they can evolve the practice of their religion into the modern world by first accepting the supremacy of human rights, freedoms, and dignity of personhood over and above some willing allegiance to the brutality of an iron age moral law.”
        I think we can agree on that point.

        “You do know that Stalin was a priest, eh?”
        Stalin received a scholarship to go to seminary—one of the few ways that a poor boy could receive a decent education in his time and place—where he proceeded to rebel against the religious establishment, eventually getting himself expelled after he missed final exams. So he never did become a priest. He adopted the Marxist view that religion was the opiate of the masses. Under his authority, atheism was not only officially endorsed, but specifically taught to schoolchildren, whilst believers were persecuted terribly: if he would have been a priest under his own rule, he would not likely live to the end of his reign. (Of course, you speak in your last sentence as though extreme actions have never been undertaken to promote atheism….) The situation changed somewhat during WWII, which was having a devastating affect on Soviet morale—the masses were in need of a prescription for an opiate.

        If Islam is the root cause of the problem of Islamic terrorism, atheism is root cause of the problem of atheistic communism. I know all too well the sort of spirit it invokes among people.
        And I don’t think there was a single totalitarian ruler in modern history who thought he would be held accountable before God.

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 28, 2010 @ 1:36 am

  2. “I would say God..”

    Like Zues for example – which god are you referring to? Is this a god that you can prove exists – that we can enquire to find out which is the right answer – here right now on earth, if not then what earthly value is there in absolving responsibility from the human to the supernatural?

    Can you provide me with evidence of ‘Gods Properties’ – as you mentioned them in your post, I am interested to know what testable evidence you have for the existence of these properties?

    The point is that all religious people think they are doing gods ‘good work’ whether they are feeding the poor, or blowing up planes – it is just that the latter is more humane decent thing to do that can be judged by real human emotions here on earth, and the former cannot be judged (except by an invisible god that no one has ever seen, or heard, and has no evidence to support that it exists).

    There is nothing rounded about traditional faith based religious education – there may be some benefit in teaching everyone that religions are a load of made up nonsense with no basis in fact, and drawing parallels between these superstitions and the other unproven superstitious nonsenses that have plagued humanity throughout history; but other than that, religion should not be taught to children or privileged with the association with the authority of education, such teaching is tantamount to child abuse and totally unethical – teach your child to think independently and make their own mind up about what is true and what is not.

    You are also muddled regarding Stalin… Stalin above all else thought he was right, he followed a political ideology, rather than a religious ideology – atheism isn’t an ideology it is a statement of non-belief. Stalin’s crimes were done in the name of his political ideology and not in the name of atheism, he just happened to be an atheist. If Stalin was religious, sure he probably wouldn’t have done his best to rid the country of religion, and instead he would have used religion to further empower himself politically. However, Starlin saw the church as an obstacle to his political ambition, and like many totalitarian’s he didn’t want people to worship god, he wanted people to worship him.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 28, 2010 @ 4:38 am | Reply

    • Hello, misunderstoodranter,

      “Like Zues for example – which god are you referring to?”
      While I personally don’t happen to believe in Zeus, that would be fine too. I myself used the capitalized word God, a proper noun already referring to a specific god—the god that in my theological understanding is the only one that is really so.

      “Is this a god that you can prove exists…?”
      Certainly. In fact, I could prove that many gods to exist; for example, I believe most people are satisfied with the available evidence that money exists, and I would argue that in some people’s worldview money is elevated to a status befitting the notion of a god. But we’re talking about *the* god — God. From what angle shall we even begin the approach to this awesome Being? This is where things usually grind to a halt with atheists—I can be preparing to devote much time and effort to providing as thorough and all-encompassing an approach as I’m able, and it’s really no different to them from the most simple and narrow-minded of ways of understanding God’s existence: they just don’t really care to engage with it, in my experience. And that is quite frustrating of my desire to engage as well. Anyway, such proof will ultimately hinge upon our common definitions and accepted set of axioms, and I suspect that mine may differ from yours. For, you see, first, before giving thought to the notion of God’s “existence”, we must have resolved in some manner this question: what is “God”?

      “Can you provide me with evidence of ‘Gods Properties’ – as you mentioned them in your post, I am interested to know what testable evidence you have for the existence of these properties?”
      It appears you weren’t reading what I was writing: “Certain things (such as God’s properties) are beyond being testable.” Now, I could explain their realization, but as you apparently don’t believe in God, its sort of a mute point.

      Now let me get this straight: Are you really saying that blowing up planes is a more humane, decent thing to do than feeding the poor, evidently because many people would rejoice, and others would lose their ability to feel the pain that is life in this world, while the act of feeding the poor has no way of being judged by anyone other than some god?

      “an invisible god that no one has ever seen, or heard, and has no evidence to support that it exists”
      It is true that no one has seen God; but this does not mean there is no evidence for one; and if you would be but still, perhaps just might hear Him.

      “There is nothing rounded about traditional faith based religious education….”
      Again, you weren’t reading what I was writing. I was in fact correcting the misunderstanding that I was referring to religious education. Nowhere did I say anything about the education being faith-based. But now that you mention it, I went to a secular school and can tell you that *my* education was faith-based: I wouldn’t have the time to test and independently verify even half the things I was taught. I was expected to trust the authority by which the teachings were given. As I’ve told tildeb before (on another blog, where I first became acquainted with him), “I’m not one to believe things without good reason,” so traditional education and I don’t get along very well at all!
      Anyway, it was logically invalid to conclude from educating Muslims Islamic education.

      “…religion should not be taught to children or privileged with the association with the authority of education, such teaching is tantamount to child abuse and totally unethical – teach your child to think independently and make their own mind up about what is true and what is not.”
      I’m sorry, but we have a moral obligation to teach the next generation two things: truth and love. Sadly, it is an obligation being shirked by all too many these days.
      I believe you know not of what you speak in saying we should teach them to think independently. I know full well how far thinking independently rather than accepting the things you are told will get you in school, and in life one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned—and it was surely a hard one—is the value of thinking in harmony with others. If you meant true, full independent thinking, there’s not a whole lot they could think about, indeed, without the paradigms and data passed along from others.
      Of course religion should be taught to children. Otherwise many grow up to be “spiritual” but not religious, which means basically they think they have a direct line to God (or the spirits or whatever), which is not a particularly good thing. Religion is a cultural phenomenon, providing a template for relating spiritually that syncs with the surrounding culture (insofar as it is spiritually homogenous). It should be taught along with the rest of our culturally-acquired learning, like mannerisms, etiquette, language in all of its peculiarities, etc. I suppose it’s unethical, according to your line of reasoning, to teach children how to tie a tie as well—that ridiculous, ignorant, stifling, outdated piece of cultural practice.

      What is muddled about my observations regarding Stalin? Did I say he followed any sort of religious ideology? Yet a consequence of his political ideology was indeed to oppose religion, except when it could be used to his political advantage. The fact that I mention this should make it clear that I understand that his motivating ideology is first and foremost political; I also understand that his politic was that of selfish arrogance, having referred to him as an asshole and denying that such people are motivated by any altruistic concerns.
      By the way, bin Laden and similar individuals (including certain Christians) also have motivations that are actually primarily political (hence he targets the Western World and the United States {whose policies are in fact what so upset bin Laden & supporters}, and not Christianity or atheism {in fact, Islamic terrorists kill more Muslims than everyone else combined}); they too manipulate religion as a tool to accomplish the desired ends (just as they often manipulate just about any source of information in an “apologetic” fashion—fortunately, unlike in the case of Stalin, they do not happen to control the only sources of information themselves).

      Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 29, 2010 @ 2:22 am | Reply

      • Oops….
        Make that “… it’s sort of a moot point.”

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 29, 2010 @ 2:59 am

      • MT, you continue to confuse the notion that believing in any kind of authority is the exactly the same state of belief as having faith in the existence in a supernatural agency. Come on. Just because I grant authority to someone who has a great deal of knowledge about, say, orthopedics when he or she examines and produces a diagnosis of my knee problems does not mean I am therefore exercising the same kind of belief in authority that justifies the pronouncements about the supernatural by the local witch doctor. I think you are confusing the two quite on purpose.

        Comment by tildeb — August 29, 2010 @ 9:38 am

      • @tildeb
        I’m not confusing the two. I happen only to have one sort of faith—the kind that is without superstition—which frustrates you as you would like religion to be superstitious, though I would like it not to be, which I believe would be better for the world.
        I wasn’t speaking even of supernatural agency but human authorities. What grounds do you have hold that a Doctor of Theology has not the same sort of authority as a Doctor of Science? People largely have rejected witch doctors because it’s become evident enough to most that they’re not as effective as modern medical doctors and often seem to have a few screws loose. (Nonetheless, there are many who put faith in its reincarnation under pseudoscientific garb: homeopathy, essentially magical herbal remedies, and so on.) If you are appealing to the local common wisdom about where to go to get the right info about something—which truly does determine its effective authority—more people in my locale would hearken the authority of one who proclaims special creation than that of the evolutionary biologist.

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 29, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

      • MT, the word ‘faith’ is different in meaning than the word ‘believe’. The word ‘believe’ can be used as a substitute for thinking something is true based on other factors than simply the desire to believe. On the one hand you can ‘believe’ your car keys are on the counter (that’s where you would usually leave them), which is subject to verification (go look) and change if necessary (they are not there so they must be somewhere else). ‘Faith’, on the other hand, has a different meaning entirely; you have ‘faith’ that the car keys are on the counter means that you have invested in them being there without any need for evidence or verification. Faith is not subject to change but is either invested appropriately or not. If the keys are not there, it’s not your ‘faith’ that changes in the way a belief changes but a recognition that the faith itself was simply mislaid. Faith – the willingness to believe something is true without requiring evidence – is itself impervious to change.

        Another way to think of the difference is that belief is about something – that the something determines if the belief is true – whereas with faith is invested in something – that the something itself is separate from the faith invested in it.

        Faith in the religious sense means investing in a religious belief set. Whether or not the belief set itself meets the requirement for verification has nothing to do with faith that is invested in it. The most that will happen is that the belief set – if too contrary to enough evidence for the person to be able to safely ignore – will be discarded in favour of some other religious faith investment. But it takes so very little to justify the original faith investment, to exempt the belief set from legitimate criticism by changing the rules through special pleading. God, for example, is active and involved in the world but is exempt from study because he is beyond the world. God, for example, has many properties and characteristics and a nature we can know but is exempt from study because his properties, characteristics, and nature are unknowable. This special exemption is used all the time (the two most popular being the ‘Something-from-nothing’ argument and the First-Cause without infinite regress argument.)

        I know that people who study theology and base their advice on that interpretation alone cannot offer us any evidence subject to the testing of methodological naturalism. Every single time some claim of this kind by a theological expert is made about god and his involvement in the world, the claim is neutral (something else is as likely an explanation), factually wrong (according to specific testable scriptural claims), or it is unknowable (god is love).

        This is not the case with those trained in methodological naturalism who gather knowledge based not on faith but a preponderance of evidence that links a knowable causal mechanism with specific effects. The doctor of medicine prescribes and diagnoses not on faith but on best practices.

        The difference between the two approaches is not different kinds of similar beliefs as you suggest but different epistemologies altogether. The theologian’s epistemology is contrary and oppositional to the scientist’s; the former is based untestable and often unknowable metaphysics whereas the later is based on testable and repeatable and falsifiable practical knowledge.

        To drive the difference home: think to yourself what evidence (not merely a supernatural event) you could gather (you can know) that will disprove your faith in your favoured belief set. You cannot because your faith is already immune to falsification.

        Now compare that to the myriad of ways we can disprove if some specific bit of scientific knowledge is wrong. For example, finding the fossilized remains of a rabbit in some pre-Cambrian rock formation will throw evolution into chaos!

        And that’s all any creationist has to do to show contrary evidence to the theory of evolution (hasn’t happened yet in ANY avenue of scientific inquiry about evolution for more than a hundred and fifty years!) Clinging to some special creationism or any of its many theological aliases is an expression of faith and one that is maintained in direct opposition to the fruits of the science of biology we use successfully in every other area of our lives to great affect.

        Comment by tildeb — August 29, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

      • @tildeb

        I’m sorry, but I don’t see what your point is in this exactly.

        Yes, I understand that faith is different from belief.

        “God, for example, is active and involved in the world but is exempt from study because he is beyond the world.”
        I don’t believe He is exempt from study. Indeed, I believe that He came into the world.

        “Every single time some claim of this kind by a theological expert is made about god and his involvement in the world, the claim is neutral (something else is as likely an explanation), factually wrong (according to specific testable scriptural claims), or it is unknowable (god is love).”
        That’s not true at all: many claims regarding gods’ involvement in the world or consequences of the definitions given various gods can be determined as factually correct.

        “This is not the case with those trained in methodological naturalism who gather knowledge based not on faith but a preponderance of evidence that links a knowable causal mechanism with specific effects.”
        No, they invest efforts in gathering data based upon faith in the utility of that data for showing something of interest.
        As soon as evidence is acted upon, faith has been placed in that evidence, which may in fact be faulty.
        Also, the introduction of a mechanism of causation seems always bit of a leap of faith.

        “The doctor of medicine prescribes and diagnoses not on faith but on best practices.”
        The doctor does not personally have experience with the whole of everything touching upon his or her practice. He/she puts faith in the factual accuracy of certain publications and other authorities.

        I did not suggest “different kinds of similar beliefs”. We were discussing the issue of authority; we were discussing the issue of faith. It seems it’s you now confusing belief and faith.

        “For example, finding the fossilized remains of a rabbit in some pre-Cambrian rock formation will throw evolution into chaos!”
        First, you asked for “not merely a supernatural event”, but this example would appear, having no known natural explanation, to be supernatural; so I would hope that you would allow me to the same or similar as the sort of evidence that could be gathered to disprove my faith.
        Yet it is incorrect that such evidence would disprove anything. While the contrary evidence remains so singular, the goal would always be to somehow fit it into the existing model: perhaps some sort of geological phenomenon had opened up a pit that buried the rabbit in sediments not from its own era; perhaps this was a hoax (of which there have been several regarding the fossil record); perhaps there’s an error in the method used to associate a Precambrian dating with this particular rock segment; etc.
        If there were however evidence sufficient to disprove scientific knowledge in regards to evolution, it would be sufficient for my current understanding of God as well to be thrown into chaos as well.
        But I believe you are right that such faith is actually unfalsifiable, for I believe that the evidence that would be needed to falsify it is not to be found in nature.

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 30, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  3. Lots of words MT but alias no substance worthy of response – you have not answered my original questions clearly in a way that can be understood in a sensible manner. This has no value in any enquiry which has the object of seeking the truth.

    So here is the question parsed and rephrased again so that it is easy to answer:
    1) What are the properties of god?
    2) What are the tests that can be used to prove that these are properties of god and nothing else?
    3) If they are not testable, why are you sure that they are of god and not of nature?

    Like many religious people you have filled in the gaps in your understanding with a delusion called ‘god’ when really what you mean is ‘nature’; if you are asking me to believe in nature, then I am already converted because I am part of nature and there is evidence of nature all around us, but this is not evidence of a specific ‘god’.

    If you are asking me to believe in belief, then yes I believe that people believe things. But this is not the same as believing that what people believe is true.

    Atheism is a statement of non-belief in all knowing powerful being (a creator) which was responsible for, and took the conscious act of creating everything. I am an atheist because there is no evidence of a ‘god’; but I am aware that there is evidence of is nature and natural processes.

    Atheism, does not define a moral framework, it is not a belief or a religion it is a statement of non-belief in a ‘god’ – so your diatribe about it being communist and related to Stalin is utterly irrelevant – and an unbelievably stupid connexion to make.

    Therefore I would say from your previous post that you are very muddled about three things:
    1) What you believe and the reasons why you believe what you believe.
    2) What atheism is, and what it is not.
    3) The origin of human morals – which you appear to put down to god (oddly).

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 29, 2010 @ 4:10 am | Reply

    • 1) What are the properties of god?
      Like Zeus for example—which god are you referring to? For, you see, this depends very strongly on what you believe in.
      2) What are the tests that can be used to prove that these are properties of god and nothing else?
      Why should a god’s properties not be shared with other things as well? In fact, if they weren’t, how would we be able to conceive of them? For each of my own properties that you might speak of, for example, such as my being male, there are other beings that have such a property as well, and that is how you have some idea of what it means though you haven’t ever seen me.
      3) If they are not testable, why are you sure that they are of god and not of nature?
      Because the nature of the world, which we can see, we can observe not to fit the super-nature of a god. That is, though properties of a god may not be testable (again, that could depend on what sort of god(s) you believe in), properties of nature are, and so we can confirm that they are not those of our god—unless our god *is* nature. (Mine is not—that’s not to say that He does not act through nature however, or that our nature and that of the world are not reflective of His.)

      There is nothing irrelevant or stupid about the connection between Stalin and atheism. It is relevant as I was answering the claim that Stalin was a priest and the implication that he might have been a serious believer, and it is not stupid unless you consider statistical inference, a major component of the scientific method as practiced today, to be stupid. If you can accept the support behind the theory of evolution or the medical data that’s helping us live longer and healthier than ever before in history, you should recognize that the correlation between being a dictator and having an irreligious worldview is significant indeed.
      Now, the fact that atheism does not define a moral framework is indeed the problem. Something else must be issued in place of it then, and if this then is held to be the highest law by which a man is bound, this too becomes religious in essence. But as there is only one proper source for such a law, ideology founded upon anything else is maladapted.

      Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 29, 2010 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  4. The questions I have asked you are not about my beliefs, they are about yours. You have explained to me that you believe in god. I am asking you why you believe in god – what is your evidence for god’s existence – as you seemed very confident that you could prove it to me… so go ahead, prove it.

    For example I believe in the theory of gravity because I am not floating around in space – therefore some force which is recognised by most educated people as ‘gravity’ must exist, and if I do further research I can find others who can explain it further in a demonstrable way by using tests that are repeatable and falsifiable.

    “That is, though properties of a god may not be testable…”

    Adding words into your sentences such as “may” does not make a belief true – you do understand that right? – so if I said “That is, though properties of a unicorn may not be testable…” does not mean that unicorns exist, if I made a claim that they did exist, you would expect me to provide something more convincing than some hoof prints in the mud, that happen to look just like horse shoes – right?

    “Because the nature of the world, which we can see, we can observe not to fit the super-nature of a god.”

    How do you know if you can’t observe it? Can you observe a unicorn? If you cannot do unicorns automatically exist?
    “you should recognize that the correlation between being a dictator and having an irreligious worldview is significant indeed.”
    I don’t recognize a correlation between atheism and being a dictator because there isn’t one. In effect what you are saying is that “Since Stalin and Hitler both had moustaches they were dictators as a result.” You do understand the difference between being associated with something and being motivated by something – right? The issue isn’t that these dictators had non-belief it is that fascism and communism are like religious beliefs.

    “Now, the fact that atheism does not define a moral framework is indeed the problem.”

    No it isn’t, atheism is a non-belief in god, not a non-belief in morals. Morals don’t come from a belief in god, if they did people would be murdering people for shopping on a Sunday, as well as for disrespecting Muhammad. Religious people cherry pick the morals from religion that they agree with – which happen to be the basic morals that their close social peers also believe in. Don’t forget that the people that blow themselves up in the name of religion think they have the moral high-ground, they planned it, said prayers, spoke to their ‘spiritual advisors’ read their holy book etc etc – they think they are doing the moral right thing in the name of their god.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/) has more morals than anything that has come out of any religious text – it is broadly secular (it has to be because it is international).

    “Something else must be issued in place of it then.”

    Why? Morals are good for humankind, are you saying that you have to have the threat of burning in hell, or being punished by god or prison before you will do good? I don’t – I do good and kind things because I want to without the fear of god or punishment – isn’t that the right and moral thing to do, to be good because you want to be good, rather than being good because you have been told to be good?

    As for Islam, being the cause of violence, there is a correlation. Not only that but this correlation can be contrasted further, the monks of Tibet have suffered far more persecution from China than any Muslim has from the west – but you don’t see Tibetan monks throwing themselves at crowds of people to blow themselves up….

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 29, 2010 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  5. Hello again, misunderstoodranter!

    “The questions I have asked you are not about my beliefs, they are about yours.”
    And the answers I have been giving you reflect none other than my own understanding of the truth.
    Anyway, what reason would you have to ask if the questions are of no relevance to your own beliefs?

    “I am asking you why you believe in god – what is your evidence for god’s existence….”
    No, you were asking about gods’ properties!!
    And why do you care to know the properties of a god you have no reason to believe in? You direct this inquisition at *my* beliefs, but I have said that I entertain beliefs only for good reason; you’re mere asking me that I pick an choose some is not good enough reason to. So it seems you are upset because you expect a statement of beliefs to include some sort of untestable, or else falsifiable, claims. Yet I approach firstly from negative theology and build the bridge to cataphatic theology only as appropriate. And it’s not, when you ask general questions about any old god. If you want to know about whom I have been calling God (whom you ought to specify then by name like this—and in fact I acknowledge many names for Him—but whom you manifestly do not really care to know about, wishing only to spar with me), I have experience with several modes of relating to Him, but you’ve refused to specify which mode you believe worth discussing: I could speak of several related Christian ideas, more distantly related Muslim and Jewish ideas, and would enjoy discussing any others as well. I know what I know and believe what I believe, and the terminology I use to express it doesn’t change its essence. Right now, though, I’m sticking to no more than general English language (of my native variety).

    “I believe in the theory of gravity because I am not floating around in space…”
    That’s also a great example for why I believe in God.

    “Adding words into your sentences such as ‘may’ does not make a belief true – you do understand that right? – so if I said ‘That is, though properties of a unicorn may not be testable…’ does not mean that unicorns exist.”
    Who said that it did? You really have not been reading what I’ve been writing. And of course it’s possible to say that you’ve seen a unicorn if by that you meant a horse in funny pointed headgear being paraded around as such; it still comes down to a matter of definition, and that is exactly why I used “may”, as is clear from the following parenthetical comment.

    “How do you know if you can’t observe it? Can you observe a unicorn? If you cannot do unicorns automatically exist?”
    What in the world in this supposed to mean? Why are you questioning the obvious? And of what relevance is this to what we were discussing in the sentence that you somehow connect this to?
    No, as far as I’m aware, there is no planet in the universe even one unicorn exists. Nevertheless, we can still name properties of a unicorn, even though we’d never be able to test them, simply because they are determined by how a unicorn is defined. You see, it’s an entirely different question.

    “I don’t recognize a correlation between atheism and being a dictator because there isn’t one.”
    Then you abdicate your right to be considered a rational being.

    “In effect what you are saying is that ‘Since Stalin and Hitler both had moustaches they were dictators as a result.'”
    No! Correlation does not imply causation.

    “You do understand the difference between being associated with something and being motivated by something – right?”
    The only thing I said about their motivations is that they were political and self-interested. You really need to start paying more attention to what I’m actually saying.

    “No it isn’t, atheism is a non-belief in god, not a non-belief in morals.”
    I never said that it’s a non-belief in morals; I repeated exactly your own claim (“Atheism, does not define a moral framework, it is not a belief or a religion it is a statement of non-belief in a ‘god'”)!

    “The issue isn’t that these dictators had non-belief it is that fascism and communism are like religious beliefs.”
    Like religious beliefs, able to be instituted only when prior religious beliefs are persecuted.

    “Why? Morals are good for humankind, are you saying that you have to have the threat of burning in hell, or being punished by god or prison before you will do good?”
    No, I’m saying, like you did, that communist or fascist ethics can fill that role.
    Speaking of consequence from on high, your abdication of rational thought, your disinterest in paying attention to what is actually being said, and your plain annoyance are not doing you any good, misunderstoodranter.

    “[I]sn’t that the right and moral thing to do, to be good because you want to be good…?”
    No, it is to do good because you understand what good is.

    “[T]he monks of Tibet have suffered far more persecution from China than any Muslim has from the west – but you don’t see Tibetan monks throwing themselves at crowds of people to blow themselves up.”
    I know; they have a wonderful religion, don’t they? But it doesn’t spread like the wildfire that is Islam. Who is saying all religions are the equivalent? Some have advantages in one area, while others have advantages in other areas. And frankly I’m not really big on religious practice at all.
    And guess what sort of ethics motivates this Chinese persecution of religion….

    Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 30, 2010 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  6. “And the answers I have been giving you reflect none other than my own understanding of the truth.”

    You have not answered my questions; you have used obfuscation to avoid answering them, and then accused me of not reading your answers properly – which is getting a little tedious.

    “Anyway, what reason would you have to ask if the questions are of no relevance to your own beliefs?”

    I didn’t say they had no relevance, it is you that is making the tall claim about knowing that there is a god, and stating that you can prove it – this is your chance, prove it to me. I asked the question – if you don’t want to answer it – just say so, rather than writing reams of conflicting arguments and interpretations of interpretations.

    “You direct this inquisition at *my* beliefs, but I have said that I entertain beliefs only for good reason; you’re mere asking me that I pick an choose some is not good enough reason to.”

    No – I am asking for the evidence that you claim to have that proves that god exists. Since you have not being able to do this, I am beginning to conclude that you cannot support your claim that you can prove that god exists (which is reasonable), or you are choosing not to share your spiritual wisdom with me – which seems awfully mean, for someone of a religious disposition. (this is the part where you say “I have already proven it to you but you don’t accept my answer”) —– [yawn].

    “No, as far as I’m aware, there is no planet in the universe even one unicorn exists. Nevertheless, we can still name properties of a unicorn, even though we’d never be able to test them, simply because they are determined by how a unicorn is defined. You see, it’s an entirely different question.”

    [Yes – describing the properties of something imaginary, does not prove that it is true – bravo!] I am aware that there is a hypothesis for god. But you claim that you have evidence that proves that god exists, which means you have a ‘theory of god’ that you can support with evidence. I have a hypothesis that ‘unicorns’ do exist, but I have no evidence to support it, therefore my unicorn hypothesis cannot develop into a theory, as a consequence it stays as a hypothesis (unproven). So I put to you that your ‘theory of god’ is nothing more than a hypothesis, in which case it is as unproven as my theory of unicorns.

    “Like religious beliefs, able to be instituted only when prior religious beliefs are persecuted.”
    Yes, I would agree with that, communism does not like competing ideologies, and will destroy them if it feels threatened by them; but then so will capitalism, and so will a religion. Atheism is not an ideology, it is a statement of non-belief in god, it does not persecute religion. Atheists question the authority that religion claims to have.

    “No, it is to do good because you understand what good is.”

    Indeed it is to know what good is, but religion does not teach this exclusively, if it did people would not kill themselves in the name of their religion. It is important to understand that the religions of the world took human morals (which most people have regardless of whether they are religious or not), and rebranded them as god given morals. In addition, to this most of the main religions of the world interlaced their own morals into their religious texts, such as gay marriage, blasphemy, working on Sunday, eating certain foods etc etc .

    When god says “do not kill your brothers” people agree, when god says “kill those who shop on Sundays” people tend not to agree or make excuses up regarding the interpretation of text. So I think it is pretty reasonable to assume that god’s word according to most religions is not really god’s word. You only have to look at the world as it really is, to understand that if god did exist he doesn’t really have very high morals at all. If god did exist in the form that most religions claim, we would not have parasites, plague etc. What possible reason would god have for creating malaria for example?

    Like all religious people, you twist the interpretation of things to fit your own beliefs and understanding of what is true – this is not honest. Fine if you have real hard evidence that god exists, then great – get on with it and spread the news, but you had better make sure it is solid fact or you will find that some people will not believe you and accuse you of lying. After all would you believe me if I said I had seen a *real* breathing unicorn in the literal sense? Or would you want some hard evidence. If I persisted in my belief, and started to claim that my unicorn gave me rights above others then what would you think?

    Now back to the original question (rephrased):
    You claim to know that god exists, by identifying many of gods properties – can I ask you what those properties are, and why you think that they prove that god exists?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 30, 2010 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

    • “[I]t is you that is making the tall claim about knowing that there is a god, and stating that you can prove it – this is your chance, prove it to me.”
      I’ve already said this, but it’s worth repeating:
      I could prove many gods to exist; for example, I believe most people are satisfied with the available evidence that money exists, and I would argue that in some people’s worldview money is elevated to a status befitting the notion of a god. Yet you demonstrate yet again that atheists generally don’t really wish to engage the issue of gods’ existence in a serious intellectual manner. Such proof relies upon common definitions and the postulates accepted, and mine may differ from yours. For before giving thought to the notion of a god’s “existence”, we must first have resolved the question of what the “god” is.

      “No – I am asking for the evidence that you claim to have that proves that god exists.”
      As I said, which version do you want to prove? Could you please define what you’re ranting about for once?

      “Since you have not being able to do this…”
      What? You are not satisfied with the evidence for the existence of money?

      “What possible reason would god have for creating malaria for example?”
      While that depends on what sort of god do you think created malaria, and I’m really in no position to read anyone else’s motives, how about, for the reason, love?

      “You claim to know that god exists, by identifying many of gods properties…”
      I’ve made no such claim! Where do you get that idea? It is this sort of thing that does give the impression that you’re not willing to read the answers right. Didn’t I say that the question of properties and the question of existence are two entirely separate issues?
      We know a god exists when we know what that god is and can confirm that as something with objective reality.

      “…can I ask you what those properties are, and why you think that they prove that god exists?”
      Again, I do not think that properties prove existence. Stop putting words in my mouth.
      Now, which set of properties would you like to discuss, and why should we even spend the time to discuss them presently?
      As I’ve said: I’m comfortable with several modes of relating to the divine, but you still refuse to specify which you have an interest in discussing, and your mere insistence that I pick and choose among properties to ascribe to a god is not good enough reason for me to do so.

      Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 30, 2010 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

      • We know a god exists when we know what that god is and can confirm that as something with objective reality.

        This, in a nutshell, reveals the depth of your confusion about what constitutes evidence.

        Here’s my evidence for unicorns using exactly the same thinking you exhibit: We know unicorns exist when we know what that magical creature is, which happens to be laughter – a property I arbitrarily assign to unicorns. When we hear laughter in the world we confirm that as something with objective reality, hence unicorns exist.

        MUR is asking how you can possibly deduce properties from something for which you have no ‘objective’ evidence that it exists, namely, god. Oh, you attribute all kinds of arbitrarily selected ‘objective’ things (for lack of a better inclusive word) as if the ‘thing’s’ existence proved that to which you have arbitrarily attributed certain properties, but it’s a closed logic loop unassailable from any demands of evidence. Your belief and attribution prove to yourself that what you belief is more than just a belief and that what you attribute to that belief is more than your selected attribution. But at the end of the day you’ve still got exactly nothing but belief and attribution and no way to falsify them. If you cannot know when they are wrong, you cannot know they are right.

        Money is not a god simply because some people ‘worship’ it. Firstly, nobody ‘worships’ money in the same sense your use to ‘worship’ god. Secondly, nobody is making claims that money loves you, that money created the universe, that money knows when a sparrow falls, that money cares about your personal woes. There are plenty of independently verifiable avenues of mutually supportive evidence that various kinds of money exist and that they share the notion that each possesses a mutually agreed upon monetary value that is assigned to it based on a variety of changing factors. It’s not supernatural, does not exist outside of the universe, does not have personified properties subject to whimsical human emotions capable of independent action. This is a false analogy, MT, intentionally set to divert attention from your claims about god rather than answer them in a meaningful and appropriate way.

        Comment by tildeb — August 30, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

      • “We know unicorns exist when we know what that magical creature is, which happens to be laughter – a property I arbitrarily assign to unicorns.”

        Ah… it is the depth of *your* confusion that is revealed: You cannot do that, because *properties do not prove existence*! It is quite different saying that unicorns are beings with the property of laughter from saying that unicorns *are* laughter.

        About money, what do you mean? In what way do I worship a god any differently? If you refuse to define it, I’ll define it as I will. Now, I hate to break it to you, but not all gods are loving, tildeb, and not all gods are universal creators either; neither is it true all gods exist outside the universe or posses knowledge, however you happen to define it. As for its supernatural state, money is not natural—indeed it isn’t even definable in terms of a specific material form—it exists above nature. It is indeed been subject to personification, and it is certainly subject to whimsical human emotions.

        “This is a false analogy, MT, intentionally set to divert attention from your claims about god rather than answer them in a meaningful and appropriate way.”
        It’s not an anology.
        And It is however my claim.
        And the ones who seek to answer my claims are you.
        And my own answers are appropriately meaningful.

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 30, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

      • Muddying a shallow pond does not make it deep, MT.

        Comment by tildeb — August 31, 2010 @ 12:26 am

      • So why do you insist on clogging up the filter?

        Comment by Matthew Tweedell — August 31, 2010 @ 12:39 am

  7. Perhaps the clogging up of the filter is a property – of the filter god?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 31, 2010 @ 1:14 am | Reply


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