Persuasion vs Education IV – by Jim

A brief note on missionary tactics:

The missionary is not out to educate. He does not attempt to persuade with reasoned arguments. And he is not interested in an exchange of ideas. He has his viewpoint, and he does not care about yours. Generally speaking, he is not listening to you, while he demands that his own voice be heeded. In this regard, Christian missionaries and atheist missionaries are quite similar.

Both groups of missionaries like to put undue pressure upon their target. The Christian missionary has two main tricks up his sleeve in this regard, guilt and fear. The Christian missionary argues that disbelief in Jesus will place one in eternal torment. It is more reasonable to accept his propositions, however dubious, than to risk eternal punishment. He uses this fear to coerce belief.

Similarly he plays on one’s sense of guilt. Because of your wrongdoing, Jesus had to die, he will tell you. One cannot but be horrified at the idea that a man should die a horrible death on his behalf. If a man should then reject this crucified man, he only seems to compound the wrongs done to him, wrongs that are supposed to be due to one’s guilt. Rejection of Jesus only seems to compound that guilt. This guilt also helps to coerce belief.

The atheist missionary also attempts to coerce assent to his propositions. His tools are a little different. He uses social pressure, rather than fear or guilt. He will attempt to make his target fear appearing foolish and small-minded. He employs words like “oogity boogity” and “poofism” in an attempt to humiliate his target and any opposition. This is not argument. This is bullying. The atheist says, in effect: “You do not want to look stupid, do you?” He is appealing to the target’s ego not his intellect.

Much like the Christian missionary, the atheist missionary will brook no dissent. The atheist missionary knows that he is right and he cannot be questioned or contradicted. He will assert that atheists are the very best people he knows, the most open-minded and the most reasonable. To question one is not to be tolerated. Atheists release studies that show themselves to be the most intelligent people in the world. This too is mere bullying. Who does not wish to be considered intelligent? But if you are not an atheist, you are obviously feeble-minded. (One must wonder if one’s I.Q. automatically jump 30 points when abandoning his religion.) If one should ask if an atheist could have erred on some point, one is accused of stereo-typing atheists.

Missionaries do not give a fair hearing to their opponents; they are convinced of their perfect rectitude. They do not allow argument. The Christian missionary declares all those resistant to their message blind, regardless of the evidences and arguments presented. The atheist missionary is not much different in this regard. He too will insist that you listen to his message. But he will take up a mocking attitude when you point to the flaws in his claims. Just as the Christian missionary calls his target blind, the atheist missionary calls his target biased, ignorant, or a “true believer.” Both the atheist and the Christian missionary sidestep the arguments with personal attacks and often with hostility.

Both missionaries will also consider themselves a greater expert in Torah than the Jew who studies and practices it daily. He is not only an expert in his field but yours as well. When he misrepresents Torah through his ignorance, he will maintain that really he is much more versed than the person who has devoted so much time to it. Address his field, however, and he assumes your ignorance. The Christian will tell the Jew that he just does not understand the NT. The atheist (who claims that science is his purview) will say that anyone who criticizes a scientific conclusion or a dishonest method just does not understand science. Still, he will not grant that the Jew knows Torah better than he does. The Jew is supposed by the missionary to be too blind or stupid to understand his own books, history, or heritage.

One should not allow such distasteful tactics to influence his decisions. If the missionary claims are true, they should demand assent by virtue of reason, not emotional appeals. One need not allow himself to be bullied by guilt, fear, or social pressure. One must carefully analyze arguments and not be moved by the idea that he will be burn in hell or be perceived as intellectually inferior. These manipulations are not the tools of the educator but the bully.

Jim

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180 Responses to Persuasion vs Education IV – by Jim

  1. tildeb says:

    Oxford English Dictionary

    Missionary:

    Noun. A person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.

    Adjective Relating to or characteristic of a missionary or a religious mission.

    There is no such term for atheists who criticize religious privilege and its pernicious effects in the public domain. You’re just making it up.

    You are making up a compound term and creating out of thin air a false equivalency that does not exist in reality. Promoting reason and respect for reality are the fundamental goals of promoting atheism. Neither is the case for promoting religious beliefs. That’s a central difference, so it’s dishonest to pretend both are promoting a different kind of religious belief. That is untrue. It is a falsehood. This understanding matters when you attach the religious sense of the term missionary because obviously non belief is not another kind of belief. They are polar opposites. I’m sorry you’re confused about that difference in both meaning and language comprehension. You need to work on comprehending why antonyms are not synonyms. Basic language skills, Jim.

    You confuse the promotion to be the important shared element in your equivalency and that incorrect emphasis misleads you. What is being promoted in both cases is not religious. That makes your equivalency false. The content determines the difference here and not the promoting itself. All the rest of your post is your beliefs imposed on reality to misrepresent it, misrepresent atheism, and misrepresent the motivation of those who promote it, Not that you seem overly concerned with honesty but one would think there should be divine commandment in the Pentateuch against doing that… oh wait….

    • Jim says:

      Tildeb,

      I would not have you troubled by your calling me dishonest. Obviously, you were quite annoyed by what I wrote, and we sometimes write and say things when our blood is heated that on reflection we might wish we had not written. You may worry that I will have been terribly offended by this unjust charge written in a moment of pique. Do not worry; I am not offended.

      That certain atheists have taken it upon themselves to spread the message of atheism and secularism does not make them religious. On this I agree with you. However, that they have taken it upon themselves to spread this message makes them akin to a missionary. However, I do not mean that they are religious. Nor do I mean that they are sent out by some central organizing body. I mean only that they have made is a mission for themselves to spread their message.

      Dawkins writes on his site: “The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation is to promote scientific literacy and a secular worldview.” Certainly, promoting a secular worldview is not a religious goal. However, to consider the spreading of secularism as a kind of missionary work does not strike me as particularly absurd. Indeed, dictionary.com lists as its second definition of missionary: “2. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.” While its primary defintion relates to the Church, a secondary definition broadens the use of the word. Inasmuch as new atheists take it upon themselves to spread the word, I do not find it particularly absurd to employ the word as I have.

      Nevertheless, even if such usage was incorrect, your objection does not address the substance of my comments. (Nor did your first response.) It appears to me that you are too easily distracted by what you perceive to be an equivalence of atheistic non-belief with theistic belief. This has nothing to do with my comments.

      My comments relate to how the atheist frames his arguments. I do not say that the atheist does not provide any argument. However, he also relies upon social pressure. He does not just let the argument stand. He insults and demeans his opponents. This is not the act of an educator.

      In this, he is much like the Christian missionary, more than would make you comfortable, I am afraid. The Christian (who also sees it as his mission to bring people his message) also provides arguments. But he does not rely solely upon those. He also relies on guilt and fear.

      Arguments must be considered outside of guilt and fear. They must also be considered separately from social pressure. The attempt on the part of some atheists to humiliate their opponents has nothing to do with whether or not their arguments are true. And the two elements should be kept separate in the minds of those they are attempting to convince.

      These issues you have not addressed. It might be worth considering why you have turned instead to focusing on the employment of one word rather than the meat of the issue. It might also be worth considering why you have maligned my character, besides. (What happened to “Be kind”?) But these are not my business; they are yours.

      Jim

  2. Fred says:

    But you are on a mission to promote your beliefs and change the beliefs of others to match your own. That is missionary work by definition, even if Oxford’s uses different specifics and examples. You are not an atheist, but an antitheist, Tildeb. I believe that antitheism is indeed a religion, a faith-based core belief system, albeit a non-theistic one ( and my opinion is just as good as the Oxford dictionary, since word meanings can evolve and include more than the minimum definition). As such, you are not content to just hold a non-belief, but are on a mission to convert others to your “anti” beliefs, just like Dawkins. Regardless of anything you say to the contrary, your posts here are solid proof of that. You ARE a missionary, like it or not. If you don’t like it, then stop proselytizing and be content to live happily with your spiritual ignorance.

    • tildeb says:

      you are on a mission to promote your beliefs.

      Oxford English dictionary: belief

      1. An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof
      1.1 Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion

      There are two very different meanings for the term ‘belief’; you are substituting the first in place of the second. This is an important distinction when one is promoting reason and respect for reality versus promoting neither. My opinion is adduced and has compelling evidence from reality in its favour. The religious belief does not; it is imposed without evidence on reality as if true. Apples and bicycles. The two meanings being used here are not talking about the same thing although the word ‘belief’ is being used as if it were. This, too, is dishonest.

      My mission, so to speak, as a New Atheist is to criticize religious privilege in the public domain and point out its pernicious effects causing real harm to real people in real life. I justify that firmly held opinion because the evidence for it is very compelling. For example, students being taught creationism as if descriptive of reality are being lied to. This causes harm to their base of knowledge in biology. That’s what brought me to this forum. Creationism is not supported by evidence from reality but imposed on it and misrepresented as if true of reality. This led to the discussion of how the epistemology of any faith-based belief is severed from reality (that’s why it’s faith and not knowledge). This led to a discussion about the different kinds of epistemology between my evidence-adduced beliefs and the faith-based beliefs presented in defense of religious claims about reality. I respect any epistemology if it produces knowledge about reality for everyone everywhere all the time. Religious belief obviously fails in this regard (or all religious people would share the same faith) and so it deserves no respect when it comes to claims it makes about reality. Creationism is a claim about reality and it is empty of any knowledge value because it has no evidence adduced from reality to inform it and so it should not be taught to vulnerable students as if it were a reasonable alternative to one that is a knowledge producing machine. It’s not. It is superstitious nonsense incompatible with what reality demonstrates to us is true about it.

      This is not my belief. It simply is the case and I’m the one pointing it out here because I use reason to understand why reality determines evolution to be the case and so I demonstrate respect for reality telling us as much. If reality indicated some kind of POOF!ism – and it has had ample opportunity to indicate exactly this but has failed to do so – then I would respect this explanation having been arbitrated by reality to be the case. It hasn’t. So I don’t.

      This approach to using reason and respect for reality is qualitatively different from that which is used to justify a faith-based belief. When you insist that my beliefs using the second definition are equivalent to those who use the first, then it is you who has made a fundamental comprehension error and then built on that error to inform an opinion that is equivalently in error. That’s how you can say such an absurd statement as I believe that antitheism is indeed a religion, a faith-based core belief system. It’s so wrong it isn’t even wrong. It’s irrational.

      • tildeb Without getting into semantics (is it appropriate to call a promoter of a given world-view a “missionary” or not let me point out something that Jim did not point out in his article. jim was talking about methods of persuasion I want to point out something else. When people use lies to spread their world-view then we (meaning Jewish people) can’t help but be reminded of Christian missionaries. Telling and teaching people that humans and Chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA when this is a lie is doing the same disservice to mankind as Christian missionaries. When the talkorigins website tell its readership that Haeckel’s drawings are no longer being used when they still are they are doing the same disservice as the Christian missionaries. When the arguments against evolution are muzzled and those who voice those arguments are dismissed as idiots regardless of their scientific accomplishments – you know who that reminds me of. When a book that presents a scientific argument against common descent is reviewed by misrepresenting what the book says you can’t blame me for thinking of Christian missionaries. When people like Dawkins explain to their audiences that religion produces social dysfunction when one particular belief system stands apart from the rest – I think of Christian missionaries. when Dawkins educates his people (and I call them “his people” because the faith they have in him borders on the religious) that religious people do not look to reality to establish their beliefs I can’t but help think of Christian missionaries. The one’s who suffer the most from this injustice are the persuaders themselves – they end up getting emotionally tied to the stories they were persuaded to sell I addressed your arguments about creationism in the article entitled “Tug of War” so I will not repeat them here. I will however tell you that I agree with you to a certain degree. religion should not be granted a free pass and when its activities are criminal – such as promoting murder in the case of Islam it should be identified as such. Furthermore, those religionists who have impacted history in a negative way should be called out on it and they should not be allowed to hide behind the cloak of religion to be granted respect and honor when they deserve shame – this warps the moral compass of those who we are responsible to educate

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • tildeb says:

          While you and other creationists remained fixed in your bunker mentality about POOF!ism (which produces zero knowledge, zero applications, zero therapies, zero technologies) and fail in your duty to justify why it should be taught to vulnerable children as if it weren’t religious repackaged to appear as a ‘scientific theory’ (appeal to ignorance), evolutionary theory continues to offer real explanations with practical applications,

          The latest buzz is about this paper and, if it passes scientific review and duplication, hammers home yet another nail in this magical creation nonsense offering all humanity a model for how easily a group of single cells can organize to produce complex systems. No Oogity Boogity required.

          This abject failure to teach students to honestly inquire into reality by using the best methods with proven efficacy available today and substitute in its place a superstitious Iron Age belief in POOF! is just one tiny bit of perniciousness you engage in for purely religious reasons – misinforming students to question and mistrust a basic understanding about science in general and biology in particular, not to speak truth to power and actually inform students of what is the the case but to promote your religious beliefs over and above what reality has to say in the matter.

  3. Concerned Reader says:
  4. shields3 says:

    Atheist missionaries? Call atheists whatever you like but it is easy to see you are indoctrinated beyond simple logic and rationality. Atheists you should understand are not a competing religion and do not recognise that any gods or deities exist. We are the default position; we are not indoctrinated.

    Go back through world history and see how many gods and deities were worshiped well before your God was heard of and check out the similarities between these doctrines and yours with an open mind.

    Your narrow view of reality would likely consider it is not relevant to you as to why these people worshiped gods, but it obviously was because they had no idea why the sun shone or the lightning and thunder came and therefore human superstitions of an almighty power was the best explanation and consequently a god or many gods were created.

    From slavery to animal sacrifice and stoning women to child genital mutilation, condemnation of masturbation and homosexuals etc. are issues that were common of the time and are unbelievably still practiced in some countries today by sick religious fanatical nutters because they believe in a god and scripture that was invented by communities who simply understood the importance of survival and little else.

    If you, including the rest of the indoctrinated and radicalised religious believers could just clear your infested minds you would see why atheists do actually see all religious people as foolish (to use your term) and believe they are a sad bunch of people by virtue of reason who waste much of their lives on their knees bowing and scraping, chanting, kissing rings and feet, spinning prayer wheels, singing in a church or nodding at a wall in prayer to revere a higher power who by all accounts cannot and does not exist.

      • tildeb says:

        Now you’re quoting the New Atheist hater John Gray – who is also an atheist but lover and apologist of religion. His arguments have been dismantled and discredited by many New Atheists as the faitheist mewling garbage it is (for an example of the latest, see here).

        To use such ‘sources’ again demonstrates a firmly entrenched confirmation bias. The term ‘atheist missionary’ is at best a very stupid oxymoron but at the very least a gross misrepresentation of those who criticize religion generally… not to spread atheism equivalent to the door-knocking evangelical missionaries tasked by god to spread the Good News! per se, but to do one’s part to reduce the perniciousness of religious belief by revealing its inherent irrationality accompanied by an unhealthy contempt for reality and our means to understand it.

        • larryb says:

          I did not quote anything. I simply posted a link for anyone that might like to read it and as an example that others have used the term also. I have many more links if you would like.

        • larryb says:

          The title of the article attracted me. Doesn’t sound hateful at all. The fact that he is a is an atheist shows there is disagreement in the ranks and that not all atheist agree with you. Except that he also does not believe in god.
          -“What scares the new atheists
          The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing.-“

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Larry do you blame atheists for being “scared” of religious growth in light of the kind of religion that is growing? Let’s be honest here. There is far more at issue than design V. natural selection. What kind of religion will be utterly strengthened by intelligent design curriculum in schools? What spirituality is primarily associated with the growth of the intelligent design movement? Evangelical protestant Christianity, definitely not Judaism.

            When Tildeb refers to religious privilege and perniciousness of religion, it clearly refers to what we all have an experience of dealing with. Rabbis want to imply “orthodox Judaism is not a pernicious religion,” ok fine, I don’t think we have all the means to make that determination, but regardless the issue of pernicious religion still remains. OTHER RELIGIONS ARE PERNICIOUS, and the rabbis hardly disagree on that. There is a special pleading for Judaism, but Judaism is not the only faith system to benefit from intelligent design. If schools teach intelligent design which religion benefits? Which religious truth benefits? Science has physical evidence of both natural and artificial selection, and theists can’t (and don’t deny that)

          • larryb says:

            CR
            Athiest aren’t afraid of anything, their marching in the streets and putting up billboards, and sueing people to get their way. What the heck are you talking about.

          • tildeb says:

            Oh good grief. That conclusion is remarkably wrong.

            Religious belief in most Western countries is on the decline (just look at the rise in the ‘Nones’). The evidence for this is overwhelming and its greatest decline is indisputably with the younger generation. Most recently, a poll in Iceland revealed that none of those under the age of 25 believed in any form of creationism and also self report one of the highest levels of happiness in the world. Go figure.

            Your comment is an example of how you believe something may be the case because you have religious reasons to hope it is so, presume it’s therefore true, and then start opining on its effects as if it were true. You then search the web to find whatever seems to support your belief. This is faith-based thinking in a nutshell and the neutral reader can see how it takes you ever farther from the path of what is the case – the way reality really is – with no means to rectify your blunder because you simply believe it is not a blunder… unless you are directly challenged to do so by someone willing to correct you. You then presume that person is on a ‘mission’ to replace your belief with another belief rather than replace a false reality with the actual one we share.

            Enter the New Atheist, who has no ‘mission’ whatsoever if religious people didn’t actually believe such nonsense and then acted upon these beliefs under the justification you simply believe it is correct. That’s when perniciousness is pointed out and so the atheist is then vilified as a person of dubious character and questionable motives.

            New Atheism came about for several converging reasons. Harris wrote his book in 2005 calling for the End of Faith in direct response to the religiously inspired justifications used by islamists for 9/11… warning us of the increasing danger of people acting on faith-based thinking in a world with ever increasing availability of technological means to kill vast numbers of people. Dennett came out with Breaking the Spell in 2006 arguing that we need to stop treating religious belief with privileged respect and start studying it to better understand how such beliefs – often incompatible beliefs from the way reality is – are spread and maintained as we would any other pernicious social phenomena. Dawkins came out with The God Delusion a few months later as a critical response to the ongoing and unjustified attacks against evolutionary biology by creationists and as part of his job description as the Chair of the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science – to promote respect for the method of science rather than superstitious beliefs in the public domain. He pointed out that faith-based thinking is equivalent in all ways to delusional thinking and he’s correct. The DSM-V actually makes a privileged exemption for the same symptoms if it for religious beliefs. In 2007, Hitchens came out with god is not Great and explained why secularism is only legal path to maintain the Enlightenment values in law of individual autonomy and equality, an idea long under sustained attack by religionists who wish to make all of us submit to some version of Oogity Boogity! and pretend that this is both reasonable and rational… not to mention moral. This push – especially through historical revisionism – by the religious is in competition with secular rights and freedoms enshrined in most Western liberal secular democracies. Hitchens took great exception to this and wrote extensively on why it is pernicious to all of us.

            These four authors and public speakers are widely considered the founding ‘Four Horsemen’ of New Atheism – atheists not willing to just shut up to get along but to step forward, step up, and publicly criticize religious privilege in the public domain – and none of them do so in any kind of panic. If anything, one can detect a tone of deep anger that such religious privilege has caused so much harm and yet continues to do so with the blessing of so many people who really should wake up and stop acting contrary to the very values that they inherited through constitutional government and a legal system based on individual rights.

            The target audience of New Atheism has always been the younger generation, those who will inherit our messes and have to deal with consequences of our actions. The rise of the internet has demonstrated that it is the right tool to not only reveal why religious belief is pernicious and enables so much ignorance and fear for such poor reasons, but that many young people really do question and are better armed now to reject the superstitious belief sets of their parents. In atheist circles, we know the internet is where religions come to die. And no generation is so well connected to the internet as the younger one. This is a win-win not just for atheists but humanity evolution from childhood championed by religious belief to secular adulthood and personal responsibility.

            Most New Atheists simply don’t care if you believe in whatever. That’s the human condition and we will always have some of us who prefer to remain immature and irresponsible. What all New Atheists do care about and will complain and criticize publicly if you try to privilege those religious beliefs – especially the Iron Age ones – in some way, focusing very much on when such beliefs are imposed on the younger generation. That’s what foundations like Dawkins’ is dedicated to combating and so the funds are directed mainly towards summer camps that operate on purely secular policies, foundations like the Freedom From Religion that will take anyone to court who crosses the Constitutional boundary and acts contrary to the no-religious-test amendment. It should not be be surprising when the need to promote secularism and maintain the crumbling wall of separation between church and state is so overwhelming compared to ever-increasing public subsidies and religiously inspired political attempts to privilege more religion in the public domain. Meeting the need is why Harris and Dawkins (and the Hitchens estate) fund 24 hour security protection for noted anti-islamist writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali… because religious belief is delusional and carries with it never-ending pernicious effects.

            Religious beliefs evolve because enough people demand that it do so. That’s what New Atheists support not to promote atheism but reduce the allegiance to what these Iron Age religions promote to further their own power and influence. And the means to do so is by utilizing reason and respect for reality. No gods are needed.

          • Tildeb I applaud the reaction to the criminal events of 9/11. Not only do we need to decry the acts themselves but we need to examine the thought process that lead to it and we need to examine the social and political institutions that grant such thinking respect. But the scientific way to do it is to first examine various belief systems and the behaviors that they produce and try to figure out – on a basis of statistical studies – which tracks promote respect for human life and which do the opposite. There is no perfect system but some systems do produce very different results than others

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            I’m glad you’re in agreement with Harris that we need to examine the thought process that leads to acting on religious beliefs and agree with Dennett that we need to study how this processes are transmitted and accepted as true. This has been done and widely published. You just don’t like the results because they undermine your special pleading to have your sect held in higher regard than others. But the epistemological fatal flaw is just as embedded in yours as it is in the most extreme and violent version of some other faith. And this you will never accept… not because it isn’t true (it is) but because I think you’ve invested too much confidence to have it seriously reviewed and be open to rejection. Your method remains broken.

            I draw your attention to Taylor’s latest Sunday’s Atheist Sermon (I joke, of course) and include the following suggestion to help you understand why New Atheists speak up and speak out and speak against all faith-based beliefs:

            Thomas Paine said, “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.” He was right. I would, though, rephrase and update his statement: Those who, despite the torrents of evidence flowing forth from biology, physics and the other natural sciences, persist in believing the preposterous postulates of Abrahamic religions stand in urgent need of an intervention consisting of one treatment: forthright free speech from rationalists about their cherished delusions. We and our planet have ever less and less time to spare.

          • tildeb
            Can you show me one scientific study linking ALL religion with the violence perpetrated by some?

    • shields3 I humbly request that you read my article entitled Tug of War where I explain how your view of the origins of religious belief are incorrect. Are you open to hearing an opposing opinion?

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    In fact, rabbi B already readily agreed that “improperly practiced” Judaism can also be pernicious. In light of that, why blame an atheist for complaining about religious privilege and perniciousness?

    • Concerned Reader I did not agree that “improperly practiced” Judaism can lead to pernicious effects – Judaism itself could do that if misused – but on the whole Judaism is a benefit to mankind according to statistical reality

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • Concerned Reader says:

        you agreed that false messianism has been pernicious, I don’t see how what I wrote contradicts you, but ok.

        • Concerned Reader I was just saying that I don’t accept such a category as “improperly practiced Judaism” either it is Judaism or it isn’t and I did acknowledge that Judaism itself can be misused – Christianity misused authentic Jewish idea

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    Also, even proponents of intelligent design admit that it cannot provide new insights into the workings of the world and its processes. For example, we cannot create a vaccine because of predictions made by intelligent design. We can create vaccines based on predictions made by evolutionary biology, genetics, etc. Intelligent design has no explanatory power other than to say a maker made something.

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    Athiest aren’t afraid of anything,

    Yeah they are. They are afraid of things like intelligent design being taught in the classroom, are afraid of ISIL and all forms of religious extremism. There is a lot about religion to be scared of, particularly with how easily it gets abused.

    • Concerned Reader can you explain what is so fearful about intelligent design being taught in classrooms? tildeb’s constant insistence that it is a theory that is not adduced from reality is bunk – the complexity of the world is real and it attests to intelligent design – forget about evolution – there so much complexity in teh non-living world that all needs to coordinate in order that we should get life on this planet – why is it wrong to teach students that this complexity points to a power that is outside of nature? Let me word this question differently – would you agree that it is just as pernicious to overstate the theory of evolution in teaching children as it is to understate it?

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Rabbi, intelligent design does not teach us anything applicable about how the world actually functions, it makes a faith statement about the world, and encourages a set of ethics. We cant learn anything new in terms of applied science about the world with it, Simply speaking, it is theology, not practical science. Nothing is wrong with faith. However, everything is wrong with faith masquerading as applicable science.

        Evolution has taught us about a real mechanism of nature that has given humans practical knowledge about the world that we can use to improve the lives of all people regardless of their ideological beliefs. I cannot cure a disease with an acknowledgement of an intelligent designer. By contrast, We have been able to use evolutionary theory to create new varieties of plants resistant to drought, resistant to blight, etc. We can create and maintain the effectiveness of vaccines. Using evolution’s predictions (based on comparative embryology, comparative genetics, etc. we have been able to track certain genes that can indicate a person’s susceptibility to deformities, etc. In other words, whether there are bits we don’t currently understand about the details of evolution, it is an applied proven science that has demonstrated worth, (much like the laws of gravitation are an applied science that demonstrate their worth to everyone regardless of ideology.) Belief in an intelligent designer can be applied to any religion’s designer claimant, not just to hashem, so it is ideologically driven. Jews will say “the designer is hashem,” the Christians that its Jesus, etc. If we teach something ideological as if it is an applied science we are not being truthful. It is fearful to teach something as science that is not science. Simple.

        • Concerned reader Your last point is true – the argument from intelligent design doesn’t directly lead to Hashem all it does is points us to something beyond nature- but the rest of your arguments are wanting. Intelligent design is a logical and natural argument – it is the default – sometimes logic and intuition is wrong (such as the earth going around the sun) – but that needs to be proven and this hasn’t been done. It doesn’t need new applications to prove that it is true. You need to disprove it. Besides – Intelligent design does make one prediction and that is that nature is useful – and that has proven true in many situations where the scientists were convinced (usually on the basis of darwinism) that they had uncovered another useless piece of nature (i.e. junk DNA, thyroid). No one said that evolution is false (at least I haven’t) nor have I denied its benefits – but the propaganda campaign that stretches its usefulness is simply that – propaganda campaign

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Intelligent design is a logical and natural argument

            Rabbi, the one who makes a claim needs to prove it, not the doubter. You say I.D. is the default, but evolution can account for the diversity of life on this planet without agency. In that sense, it is safe for someone to say, I don’t know, as opposed to claiming the default position.

            you would agree that an argument can be reasonable or rational (given the available information,) and yet still not be true, or still not scientifically explain things that need explaining?

            Remember, the world lived under the assumptions of the Ptolemaic model for a long time, but it wasn’t true. It was a very rational argument, but it was based only on very limited empirical data, and couldn’t account for certain observations. What I was saying was that intelligent design doesn’t give us a model that makes predictions because it is not a model of a natural system. I.D. posits a creator outside of nature, where evolution is dealing with a mechanism that you accept occurs within nature. I.D. should not be taught in a classroom because it is ideological, not scientific theory. I.D. does not say “here is a model of reality that we can make predictions about nature with, and then test those predictions in a lab.” Evolution does this, and passes that test every time we make a vaccine, map a genome, modify a crop, etc. It is perfectly alright to believe the world was created, but it has nothing to do with empirical studies, unless you want to convince someone to lift the excommunication on Spinoza, in which case knowledge of natural processes would be equal to knowledge of hashem.

    • Larry says:

      CR
      Your absolutely correct, I was wrong again. Yep, their also afraid of, snake bites, armed robbery, home fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, falling off cliffs, knife cuts, republicans, free will, arachnophobia, ophidiophobia, astraphobia, claustrophia, mysophobia, carcinophobia, thanatophobia, glossophobia, etc. But I would disagree with you that their afraid of intelligent design being taught anywhere. They would prefer it was outlawed,
      https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/hundreds-of-atheists-sign-petition-against-dawkins/ Oops, here it is, http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2006/12/has-dawkins-totally-jumped-shark.html nope that’s not it. How about this “Dawkins is a vocal opponent of Islam. Despite his opposition to religion/Christianity, Dawkins indicated: “Christianity may actually be our best defence against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world”. Here it is, http://www.conservapedia.com/Public_education
      Public schools in the United States. They have pretty much taken over the govt. education and look how much better things are getting. I guess your right again.

  8. Concerned Reader says:

    would you agree that it is just as pernicious to overstate the theory of evolution in teaching children as it is to understate it?

    The theory of evolution itself is not subject to overstatement, as (like any scientific theory) it is only a description of a well recognized natural mechanism/phenomena. In that sense, evolution is just science that WE HAVE APPLIED IN THE WORLD in order to make great advancements in health and well being for all humanity regardless of ideology. The theory itself is not an ideology, but a documentation of an observed natural phenomena/process of nature. If this theory is combined with a political or ideological bent however, (such as social Darwinism,) then I would say that it has left the field of applied science altogether, and can be misconstrued, and can be bad. (no atheist doubts this.) I have no problem with children learning about their faith, but I don’t want creationism (itself a miracle) being taught as if it were an applicable science. To teach that would diminish both faith systems and science. As I said, belief in evolutionary theory does nothing to harm theism, BUT DOES AND HAS produced real advancements in many fields of knowledge. To teach that creationism is an “alternative to Darwin” is simply wrong because I.D. cannot and hasn’t produced the same knowledge of nature that leads to advancement regardless of ideology.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      tildeb’s constant insistence that it is a theory that is not adduced from reality is bunk

      “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the NATURAL WORLD that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly TESTED and CONFIRMED through OBSERVATION and EXPERIMENTATION.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

      Rabbi, I.D. is a statement about the supernatural (outside of nature) source of reality and its influence on reality, where evolution is a description/measurement of a process that we measure and test within reality, and in that sense I.D. is an inference drawn from reality, where natural selection and evolution are deduced from traceable natural processes. “arrive at (a fact or a conclusion) by reasoning; draw as a logical conclusion.” “trace the course or derivation of”

      • Concerned reader The theory of intelligent design proposes that there is purpose in nature – this is confirmed with 99.999999 of anything that scientists discover in nature

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • Concerned Reader says:

          rabbi, again “purpose” is an ambiguous term relative to one’s culture. Just like intelligent design can be used to posit any given creator concept to any given culture, so too is purpose subject to any number of different definitions by different cultures. Even if design was accepted, it leads people in manifold directions, and in that sense it is not scientific, but ideological.

    • concerned reader Of-course it is subject to overstatement – just making the claim that it aligns perfectly with every science is a gross overstatement

      can you please answer the question?

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    I do not believe that it is pernicious to make statements, teach children, and hypothesize about something we have all observed occurs in reality, and which you agree occurs. Bringing ideology that is so ripe for overstatement into the classroom however is a bad idea. Think about it this way. If I.D. was an accepted theory in scientific terms, the theory would seem to support design and purpose, but would be used by many different faith systems in their societies as “fact” supporting their belief system. In Muslim countries I.D. could be used to teach Jewish children Islamic cultural conceptions of deity in school. In Christian societies, christian notions, etc. If academic credence were given to design arguments, in many countries freedom of religion would die, and where it doesn’t exist, minority faith communities would be in big trouble.

    • Concerned Reader
      After thinking about it – intelligent design is not a theory – it is just an observation. I would like to remind you that it is an observation that holds true outside the purview of evolution – it extends into every aspect of science not only the complexity of life. Not every observation leads directly to truth but they are still observations of the real world. To deemphasize this observation is to teach kids lies as is overstating what evolution has been seen to accomplish and teaching kids lies is never good while teaching them the truth is usually pretty safe.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Rabbi I’m glad you said its not a theory, but its also not a lie to state that we have genetics, vaccines, develop new methods of crop management, and many other very beneficial things because of Evolutionary theory. Evolution is the mechanism that teaches us how to optimize these things. If you want to teach children your faith, by all means. However, one shouldn’t peddle it as a science that has an explanatory power equivalently able to do and explain the things that evolution has taught us about. Religion simply can’t explain those things such that we gain applicable scientific insight into nature. Religion may have ethical standards and ideas, but that is primarily philosophy, not applicable to natural sciences.

        “Not every observation leads directly to truth but they are still observations of the real world.”

        And why is that? Because a religious idea is primarily ideology first that shapes what you see and how you interpret it. Scientific information can and has been used for the benefit of every person regardless of what their beliefs are. That’s not to say atheists can’t do bad things. To rely on that argument however and say “well everybody does it,” is just the bandwagon approach to an argumentum ad populum, I hope you don’t feel the need to do that.

  10. Fred says:

    >>>>>If I.D. was an accepted theory in scientific terms, the theory would seem to support design and purpose, but would be used by many different faith systems in their societies as “fact” supporting their belief system. <<<<

    Ironically, atheism does just that with Darwinism. Not sure why you have a double-standard on this topic, CR.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Besides being a false equivalency Fred, I feel differently about this issue because an atheist (on the aggregate) knows how to accommodate other worldviews with which he/she disagrees. In societies with secular democracies like Norway, Sweden, the U.S. and Israel (where there are very large secular populations,) religion can still exist and flourish. I.D. by contrast because it is theology of a creator can be easily used to prop up one path of religious thinking. You are free to disagree with evolution. You can’t change the fact however that the theory has produced useful results and enhanced our understanding of nature, so it needs to be taught.

  11. Fred says:

    Such as any answer given that will be changed to something else in twenty years. This has already been covered. But regardless, any answer you are given by a theist will be considered a “psuedo-answer”, and any given by an atheist will be considered a “factual ( for now) answer”. It is all about your biases.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Such as any answer given that will be changed to something else in twenty years.

      Fred, that’s not a flaw of science, that’s a crowning achievement of science. To let your ideas be filtered through what you continually learn about reality to be true as opposed to filtering reality through a pre conceived knowledge is awesome.

      Science seems to come up with new explanations all the time only because scientists are learning more by doing more research. As I’ve said, for them, I don’t know is an acceptable answer. The reason theistic answers are not deemed compelling to a scientist is because they are founded on ideology and miracle. As I said to the rabbi, even if you could prove I.D. and posit a purpose to nature, how a given culture interprets that purpose will color the results. Something empirical like gravity, like the statement “water is wet” is not subject to such divergent interpretations.

      • Fred says:

        >>>>>Fred, that’s not a flaw of science, that’s a crowning achievement of science. <<<<

        Yes, that is the canned response. But it does not answer the question in a reliable way. This awesome admission results in what should be a statement of "we think", but is used by antitheists as "IT IS". If you are going to accept that existing scientific theories ( or archaeological ones) are proven wrong continually, and they are, then you should consider being a little less dogmatic in your stand for the theories.

        • tildeb says:

          You seemed to have missed the bit about science as provisional. And the likelihood of an explanation being the case is borne out by applications, therapies, and technologies that work all the time for everyone everywhere. That’s what is known as compelling evidence.

          Now contrast that clear and unequivocal demonstration of confidence extraneous to the beliefs people may have to religious claims made about reality (say, things look designed so there must be a designer)… what you consider statements of what ‘It is’. No applications. No therapies. No technologies from this so-called explanation (which is why I call such religious claims about reality to be nothing more than pseudo-explanations… they don’t really explain anything). You conveniently forget or ignore or dismiss the fact that ideas describing the divine are not shared equivalently by everyone everywhere but many stand incompatible with other claims made by other people using the identical method you do to form your conviction about the divine. There is no means for you to show me how to differentiate which one might be closer to the case than another other… other than simply claiming without ANY evidence that such and such IS the case and then believing this not with a sliding scale of likelihood or probability but with a false sense of certainty.

  12. Fred says:

    And the psuedo-answers regarding supernatural phenomenon, i.e., “low oxygen/brain synapses firing accounting for OOB experiences”, Israel crossing the Reed Sea in 6″ of mud, etc.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Fred, Low oxygen combined with certain drugs (DMT for example or heavy painkillers) can and does account for NDE’s and OOB’s.

      • Fred says:

        No, it doesn’t CR. There are thousands of people, who take no drugs and are not dying, who practice self- induced astral projection as a matter of habit. They are not making it up and it has been tested. What you are referring to are instances where science has imitated the supernatural to a certain degree and came up with a “sort-of” similar phenomenon by manipulating chemicals to the brain to produce hallucinations. Hallucinations are not OOBs and claimed OOBs are not “always” hallucinations. And because *some* claimed OOBs are regarded as hallucinations does not mean they all are. What science has done regarding the imitation of the supernatural is like creating Postom and saying it is coffee because it is brown, hot and nutty tasting.

        • tildeb says:

          And yet the religious experience (sensing god’s presence) can be simulated.

          • Fred says:

            Once again, they only *think* it reproduces the experience. Or, they have found that it creates *something*. I guarantee it does not replicate the presence of God. Its the “scientists brew up Postum and say they have created coffee” fallacy. You should direct as much skepticism toward those you believe as in those you don’t. Then you will be on an intellectually productive track.

          • tildeb says:

            They can only ‘think’ they know whereas you just so happen to know. Those scientists are such fools. And we’re fools to believe them but not you.

  13. Jim says:

    There seems to be some small confusion over my comments. Please allow me to clarify.

    First, my comment does not address the truth or falsity of the atheist claims. I was writing only about the method he uses to impress upon the reader his points. He does not rely merely upon the arguments. He relies upon social pressure. This does not mean that his claims are false. Even if they are true, however, I criticize the manner in which he conveys them and the disparity he displays in dialogue.

    This should not be taken to mean that one has license to disregard his arguments altogether. Though the atheist applies undo pressure upon the reader, this is a separate consideration from whether or not the arguments are true. One will do himself a grave disservice if he reads my comments and takes them to mean that one ought to disregard all that the atheist has to say. I only urge that one separate the actual argument and the emotional pressure exerted upon the reader by the atheist.

    I do not see why my comments should be considered controversial by the atheist. He may protest the term “missionary” but that is to miss the point. The use of the term is not essential to my argument. It is not a proposition from which conclusions are drawn. To clamor so loudly about a word choice and not to address the issue only confuses the issue.

    Regarding the issue, the atheist ought to agree with me. If he should say, as Tildeb has said, that he respects the moral autonomy of others, then he ought to agree that social pressure is not a proper tool of persuasion. Such tactics rob one of his moral autonomy. They interject into his critical thinking process emotions that only cloud the judgment. The atheist, and all of us, ought to be satisfied with having made his argument without exerting social pressure. As fervently as one may wish to attain agreement from another, if it is not achieved through argument but emotional appeal, one has done a disservice to himself and the other.

    Moral autonomy demands assent through reason. It is not achieved through the emotions. One who gives way in an argument because he does not wish to appear foolish has not exercised autonomy. He is moved by forces other than his reason. If the atheist respects the moral autonomy of others, he must restrict himself to the arguments. He must not explain away disagreement or imply that his opponent is mentally inferior. He must be willing to accept that though truth may be on his side, others will not see it.

    Jim

  14. tildeb says:

    I was writing only about the method he uses to impress upon the reader his points. He does not rely merely upon the arguments. He relies upon social pressure.

    So is it ‘social pressure’ to take those who intentionally break the law to court? Is it ‘social pressure’ to ask governments to stop funding religious privilege? Is it ‘social pressure’ to get federal and state governments to stop allowing criminal acts to be carried out against children if done in the name of some religious belief? Is it ‘social pressure’ to argue against granting more than $70 billion dollars in tax exemption for religious reasons? Is it ‘social pressure’ to advocate that science and evidence-adduced notions take precedence in professional considerations over faith-based beliefs? Is it ‘social pressure’ to raise a few billboards and bus advertisements compared to those in numbers done by religious organizations that dwarf these ‘pressures’?

    Any activity to counter the tremendous privilege enjoyed by religious organizations will be deemed by you to be a ‘social pressure’ and therefore a means according to you to undermine respect individual autonomy… while keeping silent in the face of overwhelming social pressure to be a dues paying member of a faith-based community! That’s why atheists apparently should just shut up and go away and not counter this privilege with any public criticism! Heads the religious win, tails the secularists lose. And atheists are for the most part strong secular supporters.

    Your argument about seemingly powerful social pressure inappropriately used by atheists to criticize religious beliefs and the importance they have in society is ludicrous. It is a trivial pressure compared to the captive audiences at weekly religious meetings, trivial in comparison to the scope and financial clout of religious organizations, trivial in tax exemption status, trivial in political considerations, trivial in courts that regularly grant special consideration for religious reasons, and so on. The social pressure to be religious, to support religious privilege throughout every aspect of society including the military, is almost entirely on the religious side of this spectrum. To then pretend that the atheist is being disrespectful to individual autonomy to dare to speak up and speak out if it contains any emotive component whatsoever is a demand that exceeds what’s rational and reasonable because atheists are very angry at exactly this kind of duplicitous standard tailored for atheists but altered completely for theists to go back to business as usual without such flighty and bothersome interference as from a Steven Hawking or a Lawrence Krauss or a Neil deGrasse Tyson. Yes, these are the kinds of unreasonable voices the religious might hear… might read… might see… and all of them using reason of all things – which, as any good theist knows, is such a dubious method as well as one that creates such an unfair ‘social pressure’. Oh, woe is me, the poor theist…

    • tildeb It would seem that you did not read what Jim wrote – he did not speak of shutting you up. He spoke of certain tactics of persuasion that you use to gain followers to your cause. Tildeb, I firmly believe that if a person takes a step in honesty, even it is a wrong step, but if its done honestly, without self-deception, then it is a step in the right direction. I believe that the underlying motives which have you pushing the agenda that you are pushing are honorable and will ultimately benefit mankind. Like I said, a sincere atheist is more Godly than a hypocritical religionist. I will say this however. That for the benefit of your own cause it hurts you to use those tactics. What would you rather have? a million people believing as you do – not because they understand what you stand for but because its the “cool” thing to do? Or would you rather have one person join you as a result of a real search for truth?

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  15. Jim says:

    Tildeb,

    I am surprised that you find it acceptable on moral grounds to distort my argument. I am even more surprised that you would find it a practical course of action when my writing shares the same internet page as your blatant distortions.

    In no way did I call for the silencing of the atheist, you or anyone else. To the contrary, I said that the atheist’s argument should be considered, but separate from the attempts to make one feel stupid. I did not write that you should “shut up and go away.” If you wish to put up billboards, I did not ask you to refrain. I see Christian billboards used as missionary tools all the time. I consider them an annoyance, but I do not deny his right to the privilege. Nor did I attempt to remove your privilege to speak or write, put up billboards or anything else.

    You have conflated two issues:

    1. Combating unfair practices that favor religious people.

    2. Convincing people that there is no God.

    Regarding the first, I do not deny your right to fair treatment. On behalf of that struggle, you must leverage legal means (i.e. changes in unfair laws, etc.). Here the object is not just to convince people that you ought to be treated fairly; it is fair treatment, whether others agree to it or not. On behalf of this struggle (unfair tax advantages and the like) you must, of course, make recourse to the law and its coercive power.

    Of course, it would be nice if that were unnecessary, but in securing the rights of people, we cannot rely solely upon the goodwill of others. For example, if slavery were practiced still in some part of the United States, I would agree that the law should forbid it and the law should be enforced. We will not wait for the assent of the slaveholder.

    But regarding the second issue, coercive power must not be brought to bear. In this instance, the object is only to convince others of an argument. I do not deny your right to do this. I would not have you silenced. However, I draw attention to the means that exceed proper argumentation. When a mind assents to a proposition, it should be unmixed with emotion. A great difference exists between being convinced of an idea and assenting to an idea to appear smart. As long as the argument is mixed with dismissive and insulting language, the argument pushes one toward a false assent, not the acceptance of a proposition as true but an attempt to salvage a wounded ego. Moreover, a mind bullied into belief will always secretly harbor doubts and eventually resentment.

    Again, I have not written that because you employ such methods you should be silenced. Nor have I written that no one should pay you any attention. I have only made a distinction between argument and pressure. The reader should be aware of the difference as he weighs the arguments of atheists and theists alike.

    Jim

    • tildeb says:

      You’re talking out of both side of your mouth here. Sure, I freely admit you did not call for atheists to shut up. What did you do? You labelled this speaking up as equivalent to religious proselytizing with the derogatory description of legitimate and enunciated criticism of religious privilege as ‘missionary atheism’. You consistently couch these criticisms under the umbrella term of ‘atheist beliefs’… as if respect for stating facts is a different but equivalent worldview as the theistic one based on a religious kind of atheist belief. When, as a New Atheist, I take you to task for suggesting this ‘missionary atheism’ is the case when it clearly and honestly is not, when I criticize you for suggesting that speaking up is equivalent to spreading this equivalent missionary goal by unfair ‘social pressure’, you retreat behind the ‘I never said that…’ defense. This is true. You didn’t say anything other the quoted phrases. But what is dishonest is that I am accurately describing your meaning and you’re pretending that because you didn’t say what this meaning is specifically, you are therefore safe from being held accountable for what you meant. This is dishonest. You meant exactly what I accuse you of meaning: making a false equivalency between a religious missionary and an atheist missionary. That’s exactly what you did, what you continue to do, what requires criticism from me and correction from you. Without that, you really are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

      And yes, reality is a bully because it really is the way it is. Recognizing that fact is not another kind of religious belief and pointing it out to those theists who confuse their beliefs with reality is not equivalent to claiming ‘there is no god’.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you are free to believe whatever superstitious nonsense you want to believe. I don’t care. What I do care about is you trying to support the privileging of such superstitious nonsense in the public domain. supporting its imposition on vulnerable children and calling it ‘education’, replacing knowledge-based beliefs with faith-based beliefs and inserting the latter into the domain of the former. This is not claiming there is no god, although I’m sure you’re convinced the antonym is just another kind of synonym. That’s a language problem you have. criticizing those who assume there is a god, that it is real and interventionist and creative and who then act on this unfounded assumption as if it were the case in reality by imposing it on the rest of us in its many disguises, shades, and pernicious effects, requires a response. That you describe this response as a religious kind of ‘missionary atheism’ is a gross misrepresentation of the truth and to then claim that any impetus to the push-back against religious promotion and the perniciousness it produces – as if is accomplished not by good reasons and compelling evidence and reality but by undue ‘social pressure’ – is just more of the same gross misrepresentation. The defense ‘I never said that…’ is simply a diversionary tactic to avoid the legitimate criticism your beliefs deserve and necessary correction you need to make to align your beliefs with reality.

      • Tildeb You claim to be a follower of reality but this comment of yours would testify that you are nothing of the sort. You know nothing about Jim except that he criticized a certain persuasive tactic that you used in your argumentation. You then jump to conclusions about what his motivations are, what he “really” said and meant, and what his position is on the subject of religious privileges in society.

        You are operating with a very narrow prejudicial view of all religious people and calling your narrowmindedness by the name “reality.” It then rings so hollow when you purport to advocate that people base their beliefs on reality.

        Tildeb, I say the following in sincerity. I don’t believe that you are as narrowminded as your words make you out to be. And I also believe that there is some value in the message that you are advocating. You do a disservice to your message when you sound so prejudiced and when you use tactics of persuasion instead of strategies of education.

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  16. Jim says:

    Tildeb,

    I was quite horrified to discover that I had “consistently couch[ed] these criticisms under the umbrella term of ‘atheist beliefs'”. I often type these comments in a hurry, but I do try to put a little thought into the comments. Obviously, mistakes will creep in. I have imprecise language or inelegant phrases as we all do. But I had specifically tried to avoid that specific umbrella term.

    On the one hand, we are speaking in generalizations, and I would think you would grant a little leeway to shorthand. Like you we are all busy. Moreover, you have consistently failed to acknowledge differences between different theisms. Is there any more generic a term than “theism”? On the other hand, I do differentiate between religious belief and atheism. So, I could hardly believe that I so regularly labelled your opinion so unfortunately.

    Happily, it turns out you made this up.

    I’ve posted four comments on this page, including the original post. I read through them and used the find function to see how I so badly mislabelled your comments. Looking for the specific term, “atheist beliefs,” I found that I have not used the phrase one time in any of the four comments. For that much I was relieved.

    But I did not wish to leave any stone unturned. So, I searched for my use of the word “belief”. In the first document, I found that I used the word twice. They both were used in regard to the Christian. When speaking of the atheist missionary, I restricted myself to speaking about his arguments, not his belief.

    Ah, but I did not recall the details of the second comment very well. This must be where I mislabelled “atheist belief”. But, the word is only used once, and then I was writing about the theist. I did use “non-belief” in regard to the atheist, because disbelief seemed to imply a lack of something that ought to be present. It seemed to imply that belief is the default position. I admit that “non-belief” is inelegant, but I was looking for an appropriate term. On a search for “non-belief” to see if I used it in another way, I find the only other usage is yours, describing atheist non-belief. I do not know what more needs to be said about this.

    In my third comment, the word “belief” does not appear. Not once.

    In the fourth comment, there is one use of the word “belief”. This is a problematic usage I admit. I was writing about a “mind bullied into belief”. This is only a mistake due to haste. “Opinion” would have been more in line with my meaning. I am clearly writing about giving assent to a proposition, not through reason but emotional pressure. I am not labelling the atheist position as belief.

    So, then. Those are the facts. They require little interpretation. I have not consistently couched my criticisms under a label of “atheist belief”. In fact, I have almost consistently avoided it.

    I have tried to make clear distinctions. That is hard in these brief and hurried comments, but I try. These distinctions are not me speaking out of both sides of my mouth. They are important to the discussion, or they appear so to me.

    Regarding the term “atheist missionary,” I have already told you that I did not mean to equate non-belief with belief. I am sorry the term offends you. I do not mean offense. However, I find the comparison apt in the ways already described. Use whatever term you prefer. The observation remains the same.

    I await your retraction.

    Jim

    • tildeb says:

      What I called ‘atheist beliefs’ you call ‘atheist claims. But what does the atheist claim? That faith claims are not compelling and then explains why.

      You state The missionary is not out to educate. He does not attempt to persuade with reasoned arguments. And he is not interested in an exchange of ideas. He has his viewpoint, and he does not care about yours. Generally speaking, he is not listening to you, while he demands that his own voice be heeded. In this regard, Christian missionaries and atheist missionaries are quite similar.

      All of this is not the case.

      The atheist has considered the claims of theists and finds them problematic. The atheist explains why. In this sense, education is needed because the method being used by the theist is a broken epistemology and does not produce knowledge as the theist claims.

      The atheist does use reasoned arguments. The atheist is exchanging information in the quest to replace ignorance with knowledge, to get the theist to understand why the epistemology they use for justifications is not reliable, produces inconsistent and incompatible results, possesses no means to inquire into reality and differentiate between the different theological claims. The atheist points out that using such a method is a guaranteed way to fool one’s self… replacing what we can and do know about reality with one’s faith-based beliefs about it. This is not a viewpoint. This is an explanation – a factual demonstration – about epistemology.

      The atheist realizes that until the theist understands why the faith-based epistemology is unsuitable for justifications of actual claims about reality, the faitheist will continue to respect these claims for very poor reasons (and continue to support and promote their effects public policy and practices perniciously).

      The exchange of ideas has taken place. You just don’t like what you’re hearing. That’s why you deflect, defer, wave away, and ignore these solid explanations about why utilizing faith-based beliefs is a lousy practice no matter what form it takes and substitute fallacies to protect your beliefs from these legitimate criticisms. You then spend time and effort making such comments as this post reveals to intentionally mislead, misrepresent, and misunderstand why an atheist might take great exception to the very real social pressure to accept and even respect your foolishness and wants to be heard.

      You say, for example, that I have conflated two issues:

      1. Combating unfair practices that favor religious people.

      2. Convincing people that there is no God.

      You believe this is what I have actually done. You are wrong. The ‘combat’ (note the overtone to violence you imply versus the correct term ‘criticize’) you think I’m undertaking is about unfair practices. This is wrong. My ‘combat’ is against those who assume faith-based beliefs are justified. They are not. When accepted as a METHOD to justify claims made about reality – by respecting faith-based beliefs – the product reliably and predictably and consistently produce AGGREGATE pernicious effects in the public domain. Privileging them in the public domain is very poor public policy. Privileging them is foolish.

      You have yet again mixed up people with ideas. I am criticizing these pernicious ideas that utilize faith-based beliefs and so I criticize those people who not only support them but import them into the public domain for their failure to understand why what they do has such deeply pernicious effect on the foundation of Western liberal secular democracy.

      You sum all of this up by claiming that my position is actually to convince people there is no god. This may be a byproduct of my comments and I’m quite pleased that the younger generation is moving away from such a belief but that is not my goal. That’s why I keep insisting that it is the METHOD of justify bad idea with faith-based belief that is the problem (and why I talk about anti-vaccination, anti-climate change, anti-evolution, and so on) My claim is that it is respecting and accepting the METHOD in whatever guise it appears that is the problem because it produces pernicious AGGREGATE. But you seem incapable of wrapping your head around this and, instead, make up a fictitious commentary that atheists are like religious missionaries and, without saying as much, suggest that their ‘viewpoint’ is just as subjective. This thesis of yours is fully equivalent to the southern product of a north-facing male bovine.

      • Dina says:

        Very nice confirmation of the original post, especially the last two sentences.

      • Dina says:

        Oh, and by the way? Calling your opponent’s argument animal excrement is not a reasoned argument, it’s an emotional rant. As soon as you tack on those kinds of emotional “arguments” you’ve lost the debate. People who are supremely confident in the truth of their position don’t need to resort to nastiness to bolster their position.

        • tildeb says:

          His argument is worthless because he begins with claims that are wrong. I’ve pointed these mistakes out. I’ve even put them in bold and then explained claim by claim why each is wrong. He waves away my explanation and then claims my responses are emotive rather than substantively reasonable because he believes are true and so nothing I can say will alter this belief. Once again, we’re back to the same broken epistemology I’ve criticized: imposing beliefs on reality and then presenting them as if they are adduced from it. This is the basic dishonesty I keep pointing out. Yet these are his premises so the conclusion based on them is equally worthless. That I call them analogous to bullshit doesn’t alter anything except give you something to criticize about my tone, about my word selection. And you will always find something, won’t you because you have no intention of altering your beliefs one iota no matter how much compelling evidence to do so is presented by me or anyone else. That’s why you ignore the bulk of any comment, fail to address the central criticism with anything other than a diversion, and focus on some triviality over which you think you can score a point. Just so you know, that’s why responding to you is waste of time and effort.

          • tildeb What do yo know about Jim’s beliefs and how he came to accept them?

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            I am referring specifically to the faith-based claims he is making in the post. That’s why I quoted them. They are based on him believing they are all true when, in fact, they are not. But rather than accept that these claims are factually wrong, he continues to maintain confidence in his beliefs over reality.

            Enjoy my point about imposing faith-based beliefs on reality in today’s Jesus and Mo.

          • tildeb I must of missed it but I see no faith statements in the original post. And by the way – I asked you two questions I would appreciate if you could answer them.

            One is – Can you refer me to a scientific study (in other words one based on empirical evidence and not atheist propaganda) that links the beliefs of ALL religions to the actions of the violent ones?

            Two is – What would you rather influence a million people to believe as you do as a result of social pressure or influence one person to believe as you do out of an honest search for truth?

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            I have already answered them over and over again.

            The claims Jim makes about the imaginary equivalency between religious and atheist missionaries are fully his own creation unrelated to reality. They are faith-based beliefs he mistakes for factual claims because that is how he came to them… by believing they are true. I have written extensively here about using that METHOD – the METHOD of imposing beliefs ON reality and confusing them with beliefs ABOUT reality – that produce what are called faith-based beliefs. I really wish you’d understand this central criticism before assuming anything else.

            Both of your questions are really quite badly formed. It reminds me of the importance of my undergraduate degree program, namely, learning how to ask the right questions. In fact, one of the greatest difficulties that students faced was learning to justify the questions they had (which has absolutely nothing to do with the answers one is interested in finding). Think about that for a second: can you justify and articulate in a sentence why the question(s) you ask are important? Not the answers, mind you, but the question itself.

            You can probably discover why this element of the program was so difficult for so many students to first grasp and then implement. 90% of the time I spent on all my papers were allocated to finding the right question and, once this was done, the researched and annotated thesis papers flowed effortlessly. I highly recommend everyone reading this try it for themselves; it will yield time well spent and provide each with a means to immediately recognize good critical thinking when encountered.

            As for your first question, no, there is no single study I am aware of. There are excellent reasons for this, not least of which is because isolating the variable – religious belief alone – would be impossible as well as unethical in all likelihood. But there is overwhelming empirical evidence that utilizing the method of faith-based thinking and producing beliefs based on this METHOD in the AGGREGATE – especially in the public domain – causes a terrific amount of perniciousness as well as compelling evidence that not utilizing faith-based beliefs but evidence-adduced beliefs results in increased human well-being in the AGGREGATE. This is not atheist propaganda but freely available information in all kinds of real world data in all kinds of areas of human activity. Listing them all would be a Herculean task.

            As for your second question, this is really quite poor. It’s like asking a person accused of spousal abuse, “When did you stop beating your spouse?” It presumes the premise is true, which is the misrepresented to be an adduced conclusion. (This is exactly how Jim formulated this comment you elevated to a post.) I would prefer everyone granted primary respect to reality and adduced their beliefs from it. That you call this method a ‘belief’ that I somehow own is the very problem I have pointed out time and again. It’s neither a belief, nor is a belief I own; it’s a method freely available to all if they would only utilize it consistently rather than make exceptions. A great deal of human suffering would be reduced. I would prefer people – all people – to use this method and refuse to be seduced into granting any confidence at all to faith-based beliefs. Period. The effects would be astounding on improving human well-being overall.

          • tildeb You have come to this blog to comment and I am quite honored that you chose to post your comments here. Your comments are insightful and intelligent but you haven’t added much information that I didn’t know. You rant about “faith based beliefs” assuming that all religions follow the Christian model of attributing virtue to a blind leap of faith and you close your ears to hearing the possibility that your narrow prejudicial view has no basis in reality. Jim’s comments are on the mark and it is to your own detriment that you attempt to dismiss them.

            You ask me why I asked the questions that I did. Fair question.

            I asked the first question to show you that your assumption about all religions is not based on the scientific method which you claim is your only guide to what you accept as true. And if my assumption was wrong (which it turned out it wasn’t) and you did have a scientific study I would want to learn from it.

            I asked the second question in hope of demonstrating to you that if you are truly interested in advancing the cause of truth you would be more interested in getting people to appreciate truth than you would be in getting people to see things your way. I give a class to young men who are studying to teach Judaism to Jews who are unaffiliated – I teach them that it is more important for them to cultivate in their students an appreciation for truth and honesty than it is for them to cultivate in their students an acceptance of the principles of Judaism.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Judaism is a faith-based belief system. You maintain certain and central tenets that are imposed on and not adduced from reality. That’s not a rant, ypf, that’s me stating an accurate assessment. You cannot demonstrate a line of evidence from this world as it is to your god as a causal factor for it. You have no mechanism to show how the divine cause you believe is the case connects with what you believe is evidence from reality. All you have is faith at this point. And your creationist beliefs are exactly that: a faith-based belief that you then impose on reality as if descriptive of it. You demonstrate this methodology over and over and over, failing each and every time to admit it produces no new knowledge I can use about reality that is dependent on this METHOD. But I can show you those who swear with the same method you use that their tin foil hats are necessary because they really do block the alien control signals. There is no difference in principle between two claims that use the same method. Both are equivalently delusional.

            You keep asserting that I think I’m advancing the cause of ‘truth’. No, I’m not. I’m advancing respect for what we can know about what is the case in reality by advocating against the method of faith and promoting a method that does work. I really don’t understand why you can’t grasp this when I’ve written it so many times in so many ways…. other than it’s rather inconvenient to your beliefs about me and my motivation and my message, that utilizing faith-based methodology and respecting its products produces AGGREGATE pernicious effects. The evidence for this is indisputable. Yet you insist your religious sect and you specific interpretations of scripture deserves a special exemption because it produces no pernicious effects that you recognize. Well, neither does the idea in principle that wearing tin foil hats keeps out the alien control signals. There also is no single scientific study that relates certain pernicious effects like violence to those who receive alien control signals. Just because you don’t recognize the pernicious effects of a religiously sanctioned paternalistic hierarchy that engages in genital mutilation does not mean they are not there, not real, not ongoing. The fact you don’t even recognize it because of your religious indoctrination is indictment enough.

          • Dina says:

            Genital mutilation? Then explain why over 80% of American males are circumcised and the fact that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection by 60% in men. The risks associated with this “genital mutilation” are negligible. Are ear piercings mutilation? Sex change operations? Nose jobs?

          • tildeb says:

            Yes, genital mutilation.

            But of course you miss the point… that it’s a religious practice that has no compelling health reason to undergo and subject the infant to this pain and suffering. It’s a pernicious practice (unless there are good medical reasons for it).

            Now to your diversionary comment.

            To reduce HIV rates? Puleese. That’s not why most of these parents circumcise their little boy. They do it for a host of reasons – some better than others – but one of the worst is because it’s holy to have some rabbi with a mouth full of bacteria (so much for the ‘reduced health risks’ argument) to suck it off and then get paid for this ‘religious ‘ practice. Oh, and the tiny little matter that the baby has no choice (unlike your other examples) and undergoes a lot of pain (the screaming is a clue that maybe, perhaps, the procedure tends to indicate pain). And yes, up to about 3% of the hospital procedures result in complications which are of course statistically trivial… unless it’s you and it’s done for your parent’s religious soothing. And then it’s a 100% complication that is by no stretch of the imagination trivial. Enjoy the link.

          • Dina says:

            A lot of people pierce their babies’ ears within a few weeks of birth, no choice and a lot of pain for the baby. Is that a problem?

            You keep saying “It’s a pernicious practice.” According to dictionary.com, pernicious means:

            1. causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful

            2. deadly; fatal

            Something is not “pernicious” just because you say so; you need to support that statement. So back it up. Please give me some facts and statistics of the harm and/or fatalities caused by this religious practice.

            Leave your own personal opinions and feelings out of it and just give me some cold, hard data. I’m looking for facts like:

            1. A significant percentage of males circumcised for religious reasons resent not having been given an choice.

            2. A significant percentage of males circumcised for religious reasons die as a result of the practice.

            And so on.

            As for your link, why did you cite a non-medical site that quotes an activist, anti-circumcision group?Why not cite an unbiased medical sources such as the following? http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/circumcision

          • Dina says:

            “Just because you don’t recognize the pernicious effects of a religiously sanctioned paternalistic hierarchy that engages in genital mutilation does not mean they are not there, not real, not ongoing.”

            Since you have mentioned several times the “pernicious effects” of our “paternalistic hierarchy,” I would like to see some hard facts and statistics to support that statement. You did cite one, the treatment of women. I challenged you on that and you did not respond. Perhaps you did not see it; it’s here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/tug-of-war-an-open-letter-to-tildeb/#comment-25593

            As long as you can’t cite actual “pernicious effects” of our religion on its adherents, you have no argument.

          • tildeb says:

            By granting respect to any faith-based belief, you empower them all.

            Fortunately for you, you just so happen to have stumbled on the single sect with just the right interpretation (zoom in on the graphic, why don’t you?) that has no direct pernicious effects (having already excused them all wherever they arise – like rabbis funding the legal defense of rabbinical pedophiles and rapists… not because those so charged are innocent but because they are rabbis). Yeah, no pernicious effect from faith-based belief at work. Can’t be. Dina says so. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along and go with the flow and pretend reality is something other than it is to maintain the fiction that your faith-based sect – the really special one – is pernicious-free.

          • Tildeb I already explained that our faith is based on reality – and that we don’t consider blind faith a virtue. I already told you that our worldview produces new knowledge all the time – no community produces as much new books per capita as does the Torah observant community – no community comes near – and the knowledge is measurable in the real world in the sense of crime statistics.

            When speaking of pernicious effects you need to look at the grand total – yes we have criminals – and those who attempt to defend pedophiles qualifies and we have circumcision – but if you look at the grand total – we are very successful and I wouldn’t sacrifice a few murder victims and rape victims for the pain inflicted by circumcision.

            when you speak of the converts gained by your rhetoric – I wonder what you gained? If people were bullied into accepting a worldview they are not better or more truthful people. whatever pernicious effects they were producing before will continue to be produced under a different guise. They don’t have more respect for human life or a deeper commitment to kindness and truth.

            The ambulance societies produced by our community (Torah observant) saved many lives in the real world – our lower percentages of murder and rape saved many people in the real world. What do you have to compare? What statistic from the world of reality could you point to and say that you benefited mankind by spreading your worldview?

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Here’s the problem: you don’t understand that to make a claim about how reality operates means you have a burden. You have to show how the claimed cause links to a claimed effect. You then have to demonstrate how without that cause, there is no effect. So you have three things to worry about: cause, effect and the link between them.

            I claim there is a god of shiny. I claim that reality demonstrates this because, “Oh look… here’s something shiny.” I claim the god of shiny imports shiny to things and this is demonstrable because, “Oh look… here’s another shiny something. Shiny is everywhere, so this is evidence from reality that my god is true. And, by the way, don’t eat tortillas on Tuesday and remove the left earlobe of women in our tribe. This will please God.”

            Notice I have done exactly what you’ve done: I’ve made a claim about a divine cause, used reality to show examples of it, and then made up rules and attributed them to this divine cause. What I haven’t done – and neither have you – is link the three essential ingredients together necessary to justify a claim about reality.

            Let’s try again.

            I claim supernatural power to make it rain by dancing. I dance, it rains. See? Magic. My powers are awesome and worthy of worship. Reality justifies my claim, right?

            Wrong. I have failed in each case to demonstrate how my causal claim links to the effects I use to justify it.

            Failing to do this is fatal to causal claims having any legitimacy, any reasonable merit, any justifiable means to be granted likelihood of being the case. This is the same fatal flaw in your own religious claim. You think the world is evidence for your creator god. That’s justa belief without any factual demonstrable, verifiable, falsifiable means to link the effects to the cusal claim you make. You’re using the rain dancer method.

            So when you say that you have “already explained that our faith is based on reality,” you haven’t. You have failed to link the cause you claim is the case – God – with the effects you claim are evidence for it – the world. Your claim is based not on evidence that links the effects to the claim but on belief that it must be the case. And when you infuse this belief with unjustifiable confidence, you are creating a faith-based and not an evidence-adduced belief.

          • Dina says:

            “Here’s the problem: you don’t understand that to make a claim about how reality operates means you have a burden. You have to show how the claimed cause links to a claimed effect. You then have to demonstrate how without that cause, there is no effect. So you have three things to worry about: cause, effect and the link between them.”

            Very good. Now apply those principles to these statements:

            1. Religion (all religion) is the root cause of much perniciousness.
            2. Faith-based beliefs causes (some) Orthodox Jewish rabbis to help cover up sexual abuse.
            3. Atheists are more moral than theists.

            You have a lot more statements to back up but I don’t remember them all and don’t have the time to comb through your comments. But this is enough to get a started.

          • tildeb says:

            1. Open a newspaper.
            2. Rabbis financially defending rabbis charged with an assortment of sex crimes against children because they are rabbis is a pernicious effect of religious belief. These same people would not financially support another person – say, a Chinese national or an Indian bus driver – similarly charged. It takes allegiance to the shared religion to pry open the pocketbooks.
            3. Well, I think anyone who owns their own morality and feels singularly responsible for its exercise is likely to be more moral than someone who borrows one and is content to submit one’s own morality to be secondary to some other authoritarian agent. Because morality is one of those nebulous terms, we have to try out other more measurable behaviours and see if we can compare and contrast. The trend is quite clear: the lower the religiosity in defined populations, the lower the social dysfunction, the lower the income inequality, the higher the rates of minority inclusion and equality laws, the more peaceful the government in its dealings with that population, the lower the incarceration rates, the higher the educational average, the higher the medium wealth of that population, and so on. The important point here is that religiosity is advertised as if an important aspect of moral behaviour whereas reality tends to side with greater benefits with lower religiosity.It’s a trend. It’s a rather robust correlation but not one I’m trying to sell as if causal. I suspect increased religiosity is a response to and not a cause for poverty and despair and inequality but that’s just my worldly observation.

            Be aware that I don’t consider you one to mandate my writing chores. If I raise a point you think is disputable, then by all means head off into the land of the Googles and try reading scholarly papers to see if we have, in fact, a point of legitimate dispute. If you find compelling evidence in your favour, then by all means show me the error of my ways and I’ll freely admit as much because I’m not here to score points; I’m here to challenge if religious assertions being made here have any knowledge value at all or if they are the assumptions, assertions, and attributions that are actually empty of any knowledge value (and add to the perniciousness of granting faith-based beliefs any respect whatsoever)… and to sometimes steer people towards ideas they may find worthy of pursuit.

          • tildeb One major mistake you are making here is assuming that religion means giving over your moral autonomy to someone or something else. A religious worldview that is rooted in ones own sensitivity to truth, justice and morality is always subject to that sensitivity which resides in our own hearts.

            Since you have no scientific study about human behavior that puts all religious communities on one side and all secular communities on the other so I am just as qualified as anyone else to venture my own theory. I base my theory on what I see within the larger scope of the Orthodox Jewish community. Amongst the larger community there are many subcommunities. In some of the subcommunities the emphasis is on cultivating a love for truth while in others the direction is more on “tow the line” and less on love for truth and the statistics of low crime shift accordingly – don’t get me wrong – all of our subcommunities have much lower crime statistics than do any secular community but within these subcommunities the rates change according to the rate of emphasis on love for truth.

            On this basis I would venture that the violence in religion stems not from religion per se but from the violation of one’s inherent sense of truth. When the human sense of truth is violated human dignity is violated and respect for human life heads downhill. I would take it further – if an atheistic worldview is adopted out of a sincere search for truth – respect of human life will grow. On the other hand if it is accepted on the basis of ridicule and propaganda – then respect for human life won’t come along with it.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            You did not apply those principles to these statements.

            “Open a newspaper” is not an argument.

            The teachers’ union protects its own teachers as well (open a newspaper). It’s a group protecting its own interests. You need to prove that it’s a faith-based belief rather than ego or whatever it is that causes people to do disgusting things. One group happens to be teachers. Another group happens to be (some) rabbis.

            “The trend is quite clear”: again you are making assertions without citing studies and statistics.

            If religiosity is a response to poverty why do you keep raising it as a “pernicious” institution in such a way to imply that it causes social dysfunction? And why do you ignore the exceptions? And why do you rely on only one study?

            You supported your statement that atheists are more moral with your personal opinion. If you can’t support it with hard data then you ought to admit that you don’t have enough information to make your case. Perhaps you would like it to be the case and perhaps it makes sense to you that that would be the case but that is not enough.

            I’m not “mandating” your “writing,” you can respond or not as you please, obviously. You made the accusation, so it’s your burden to prove it according to the principals which you laid out–which you have not done at all. But if you don’t want to, that’s fine with me. If you want to hold everyone else to a standard that you yourself don’t adhere to, fine by me. I’m content to let the matter rest and let the audience decide whose assertions are “rooted in reality.”

            By the way, if you really have no problem checking out the links I posted and admitting your error, then I look forward to your reactions to the links I posted regarding sexual abuse, circumcision, and the history of scientific racism.

          • Dina says:

            Oops, sorry about the italics.

          • Dina says:

            Another point about the rabbi-sexual-abuse thing.

            The Torah and the Talmud make it very clear that sexual offenses are morally abhorrent and a mortal sin. Thus it stands to reason that those who believe in the Torah and nevertheless engage in sexual crimes and/or their cover-up are acting against their beliefs.

            If I think that being thin is beautiful and I aspire to being thin–and let’s even say that I make fun of women who are not super thin–but I myself eat a lot of cake and am pretty fat myself, it would be absurd to say that I eat a lot of cake and a lot of fat because of my belief in thinness. This is a silly analogy and not a perfect one, I know, but it illustrates the point of what you are saying.

          • tildeb I understand quite well that to make a claim about reality gives me a burden. I spent quite a number of pages outlining the evidences I draw from reality to establish my worldview. In my article “Tug of War” I pointed to many pieces of evidence from the real world and not just the argument from intelligent design. Some of the pieces of evidence have held true for a very long time now, and in many different countries and cultures (such as the reaction my wordview generates amongst destroyers of civilization, the behavior of those who adhere to my worldview, the survival of my worldview against all odds). Perhaps one line of evidence doesn’t establish a clear cause and effect but several lines of evidence intersecting over the same spot for 2000 years is quite acceptable for the establishment of cause and effect.

            By the way – On Jan 26 shileds3 wrote a respectful critique of my article and I attempted to respond to the points that were raised.

            Did you read what I wrote in the original article?

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            Tilly, I have said many times that the record is not perfect. Of course there are religious criminals. But they aren’t criminals because they are religious. They are criminals because they are human. Do you know the statistics for cover-ups of sexual crimes in public schools? What about the famous cover-up at Penn State? These are not religious institutions. Stop pretending that Orthodox Jews are more violent and dangerous because they are Orthodox Jews. It’s not based in reality.

            http://www.cbsnews.com/news/has-media-ignored-sex-abuse-in-school/
            http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/02/is_sexual_abuse_in_schools_very_common_.html

            The cover-up of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community is a serious problem, don’t get me wrong. I suspect I am angrier about it than you are. But you are employing a double standard against us. Secular liberals and atheists are not less likely to engage in these crimes because they are not religious, as the above links show.

          • Dina says:

            You’re trying to dig up as much dirt as you can on the Orthodox Jewish community. And you will find it. Orthodox Jews are not perfect. But the burden is yours to prove that the dirt that you find is “pernicious effect from faith-based belief ” and not just people being people. You keep ignoring our incredibly low rates of violent crime and drug and alcohol abuse as well as our strong marriages and cohesive family units. Again, not a perfect record–of course these problems exist in our community–but the low rate shows that your claim that religion causes (or, if you prefer, correlates with) social dysfunction does not apply to the Orthodox Jewish community.

          • Dina says:

            You accused me of excusing “direct pernicious effects…wherever they arise – like rabbis funding the legal defense of rabbinical pedophiles and rapists… not because those so charged are innocent but because they are rabbis.”

            That’s an interesting accusation given that I had previously not raised the problem of sexual abuse nor excused it. Find a place where I excused “direct pernicious effects” or explained them away (besides for circumcision). If you can’t you ought to retract your words.

            For the record, I do not excuse rabbis who fund the legal defense of pedophiles. They have blood on their hands. I don’t think a rabbi should be excused just because he is a rabbi, and your claim that I have said something to that effect is simply not true. But I am not holding out for an apology.

            However, see the articles I linked about teachers. Does that bother you, or does it only bother you when rabbis and priests are the criminals?

          • Dina says:

            Oh, and I didn’t understand the graph or see its relevance to our discussion. By the way, I’m not good at reading graphs and numbers. I do better with words.

          • Dina says:

            You have yet to back up your statement about the “pernicious effects” of our oppressive “paternalistic hierarchy” with actual data.

            I’m seeing a pattern here. You make accusations or assertions but don’t back them up. When pressed on the issue, you change the subject. It’s not rooted in reality, to borrow your term, to make assumptions about other cultures without data and statistics.

          • Fred says:

            Interesting, tildeb, that I could have written your post, word for word, about you, your beliefs and your attitude toward my views and my life experience. Understand that to me, your epistemology is just as broken as you believe mine is. You do not realize how big the world is, and that it exists in many facets and dimensions that you will not consider. Your world is tiny, one dimensional and closed minded, gleaned from non-abstract and ever-changing interpretations of fact. When you began posting word definitions from the Oxford dictionary, I thought to myself, “Oh my, now I get it. This guy has chosen to ignore his own soul; to pretend it does not even exist.” If I could post a video that fits the situation I would post the park bench scene from Goodwill Hunting. I do not mean this as a personal insult but as an expression of pity and compassion toward you. I hope you find your soul one day and then you might get a glimpse of what reality really is and what it means. There is a God, tildeb, and it is the God of Abraham. Blessings. 🙂

          • tildeb says:

            This is a silly comment you make here. The epistemology I use is not ‘mine’; it is one that has been demonstrated to work for everyone everywhere all the time, that does reliably and consistently produce knowledge about reality. It allows me to interact with it successfully. It’s the same one you use in every day life in almost every facet of your interactions. You make the exception for you religious beliefs. Don’t put that mistake one me; you own it.

            As for notions about the soul, again you’re using a term that is so nebulous that it is almost meaningless. You may believe we have one but I have no clue what ‘it’ is… it sort of sounds like ‘it’ may be an invisible little man sitting in the brain directing traffic, for all I know. But I understand the need for such an invisible and property-less ‘thing’ because that’s what you need to pretend there’s a real connection between something ineffable ‘out there’ (we’ll call ‘God’ for convenience’s sake) and something nebulous and numinous ‘in here’… like an invisible implant magically inserted by a divine agency or, more problematically, a mysteriously inherited thing-non-thing somewhere in our DNA. In either case, the notion is without any evidence upon which we can build a convincing case that something that is ageless and not susceptible to cellular death is there… but supposedly beyond any means to locate it. It is property-less, you see.

            So let’s investigate this claim, shall we?

            Upon examination, the very notion itself – that we posses some thing that exists independent of our physical make-up – makes no sense as physicist Sean Carroll explains. I reproduce the main text from his talk here:

            “Admittedly, “direct” evidence one way or the other is hard to come by — all we have are a few legends and sketchy claims from unreliable witnesses with near-death experiences, plus a bucketload of wishful thinking. But surely it’s okay to take account of indirect evidence — namely, compatibility of the idea that some form of our individual soul survives death with other things we know about how the world works.

            Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die. If you claim that some form of soul persists beyond death, what particles is that soul made of? What forces are holding it together? How does it interact with ordinary matter?

            Everything we know about quantum field theory (QFT) says that there aren’t any sensible answers to these questions. Of course, everything we know about quantum field theory could be wrong. Also, the Moon could be made of green cheese.

            Among advocates for life after death, nobody even tries to sit down and do the hard work of explaining how the basic physics of atoms and electrons would have to be altered in order for this to be true. If we tried, the fundamental absurdity of the task would quickly become evident. . .

            But let’s say you do that. How is the spirit energy supposed to interact with us? Here is the equation that tells us how electrons behave in the everyday world:

            (math formula)

            [it’s the Dirac equation.] . . . As far as every experiment ever done is concerned, this equation is the correct description of how electrons behave at everyday energies. It’s not a complete description; we haven’t included the weak nuclear force, or couplings to hypothetical particles like the Higgs boson. But that’s okay, since those are only important at high energies and/or short distances, very far from the regime of relevance to the human brain. If you believe in an immaterial soul that interacts with our bodies, you need to believe that this equation is not right, even at everyday energies. There needs to be a new term (at minimum) on the right, representing how the soul interacts with electrons. . .

            . . Nobody ever asks these questions out loud, possibly because of how silly they sound. Once you start asking them, the choice you are faced with becomes clear: either overthrow everything we think we have learned about modern physics, or distrust the stew of religious accounts/unreliable testimony/wishful thinking that makes people believe in the possibility of life after death. It’s not a difficult decision, as scientific theory-choice goes.”

            So this the point that matters: it’s not ME believing in something different but equivalent to what YOU believe is the case; it’s YOU not understanding the difference between the epistemology you use (and that fools you consistently into thinking you know what you’re talking about) and the epistemology I use (allowing reality – in this case expressed by physics – to arbitrate my beliefs about it)

            You could not have written this comment because you don’t understand the fundamental difference between adducing one’s beliefs from reality and imposing one’s beliefs on it. The results are not equivalent insights into reality. You believe they are, and this is your great mistake.

          • tildeb It is you who is out of touch with reality – the human consciousness is not one of those things that science knows alot about – I just did a Google search “what do we know about the brain storing information” and these were three of the articles that turned up on the first page

            http://io9.gizmodo.com/8-things-we-simply-dont-understand-about-the-human-brai-949442979

            http://discovermagazine.com/2007/aug/unsolved-brain-mysteries

            http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/methods/info_processing/

            I am presently reading Lee Smolin’s “What’s Wrong with Physics” and He tells us that before Einstein people also thought that they knew just about everything about physics

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            If by soul you mean consciousness, then we do know it is produced and operated by the brain and is very much physically dependent. We call this feature an emergent property. Consciousness is an umbrella term and the most succinct way I have come across in describing it is by analogy to a flock of starlings doing what we call a mummuration. The flock looks like a ‘thing’ with discrete edges and seems to have some organizing agency that demonstrates complexity. In truth, a mummuration is really nothing more than local units obeying local rules and this is exactly what your brain does to produce ‘consciousness’.

            Be that as it may, you introduce yet another false equivalency if by including a comment about physics you are implying that my reference to Sean Carroll is about an area of expertise that may turn out to be temporary and changeable. This is simply not true when it comes to what he describes as the foundation understanding of how electrons operate in the physical world… which we know very well. Change this understanding, be mystified as to how everything from nuclear power plants to radiotherapy works. I don’t think you want to really go there and claim our current understanding is probably wrong and so it’s a mystery how how our cell phones end up working for everyone everywhere all the time if certain physical conditions are met. More Oogity Boogity perhaps?

          • Dina says:

            Tilly, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It is hard to hear your reasoned arguments (if so they be) when they are couched in condescending rhetoric and laced with insults.

            Ecclesiastes 9:17 is onto something.

            If you really want to change people’s minds, you need to be nice to them.

          • tildeb says:

            Tilly, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

            If I had a quarter for every time someone assured me that this was the case, I would have buckets of them when it comes to challenging creationists. A critical mind unbefuddled by strong confidence in theistic assertions might wonder why I – someone who does seem capable of being much nicer – isn’t. Now that would have been a good question and an important one for understanding why I write the way I do. Of course, you in all likelihood never even thought of that question presumably because you think I must write the way I do yet am unaware of the power of being nice. You presume that this tactic of being nice works to effect that you assume I’m after.

            Again, and not for the last time, you’d be wrong. And that’s okay; none of us know it all. But now you have an opportunity to learn something new.

            Thousands upon thousands of convert stories (for example, the thousands found at Dawkins’ Convert’s Corner alone) demonstrate the power of not being nice, of confronting faith-based belief bluntly and with some rancor, accompanied by strong and compelling contrary and incompatible evidence to those faith-based beliefs adduced from reality. The essential ingredient for effectiveness is the hard and pointed and unyielding criticism strong enough to threaten the calloused certainty in the various faith claims so many people assume is justified within their own religious sect.

            There is no comparable evidence that being nice is as effective. In fact, there is good evidence that being nice changes nothing but is a means to maintain the status quo… without perhaps a bit of nice disagreement in principle being acceptable to all parties.

            The bottom line, Dina, is that being nice doesn’t work (just look at the abject failure of BioLogos under the very nice direction of Francis Collins and very polite and nice writers of various scientific accomplishments in the field of evolutionary biology and theology to convince anyone that evolution and creationism can be mutually compatible). Creationists have no respect for reality if it disagrees with their religious beliefs. That would explain why 64% of the American public admit that they would maintain certain fundamental religious beliefs even if science were to demonstrate them to be – at the very least – incontrovertibly wrong. Think on that astounding admission and then look again at the tactics used by New Atheists like I am. They work.

          • Dina says:

            A bit rich coming from someone who says the Bible ought to have a command to “be kind,” defending his own incivility. Just sayin.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Here is a good example of the pernicious effect of atheism. https://answersingenesis.org/charles-darwin/racism/darwinism-and-the-nazi-race-holocaust/
            Of course it will be denied, don’t forget the premise here. Atheism good, all religions bad.
            One more thing, I do think Tildeb is correct about being nice or not if you accept that they are out to destroy religion. It’s like a war not a debate: http://tdn.com/lifestyles/atheist-writers-declare-war-on-religious-faith/article_4c32384e-98d9-547c-b65a-964400b83931.html

          • tildeb says:

            Again, using Answers in Genesis as a source is like using the National Enquirer as a history book. Regarding the thesis, it has been thoroughly debunked, It’s a lie. For example, Hitler never read or ever indicated he knew anything about the Origin of Species, whereas Churchill did. The resulting policies of eugenics had nothing – nothing! – to do with eugenic policies. That’s UNnatural selection at work, known far and wide as artifical selection. Breeders were around long before Darwin’s seminal work. So equating eugenic policies to the goals of New Atheism today or atheism in general is so stupid it boggles the mind that anyone could be so easily deceived. And this isn’t the first time you’ve used this ‘source’ to malign atheists. Strop doing that. It makes you look like an idiot.

            And no one is pretending that directed criticism at religion will ever be taken by believers to be anything other than a ‘war’ because religions don’t change on their own, don’t adjust to new knowledge and go back and fix their factual mistakes in scripture. And yes, thinking people are getting pretty tired of fundamental religion having a respected place at any adult discussion table about real world issues because they come with nothing new to offer.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Don’t forget his other premise here, in reverse.
            By granting respect to any faith-less belief you empower them all.
            Hitler may have believed in a god, but as they say so does satan. Hitler acted with no faith-trust in God. People who actually trust in God trust in his teaching, will never do the things Hitler did. Those who don’t will do whatever fits the moment and that their conscience will let them. Of course if Hitler had no free will as we have been told by the atheist, then we should forgive him an pray for him and all who helped him. In fact it may have been wrong to use violence against him since he couldn’t help it. An arrest warrant should have been issued name the charge.

          • larryB says:

            tildeb
            Psycoholist will tell you to be careful, you
            will become what you hate. There are thousands
            of other links I could use but Im sure you won’t
            read any of them anyway. All one needs to do
            is search Hitler and the origion of the species.
            On the other hand it would be distracting and keep you busy.
            I’ll think about it it might prove worthwhile.
            Hitler apparently didn’t want to wait for the
            natural selection process, but because he had
            no faith in a god, his conscience let him torture
            and kill millions. Dont forget now- By granting
            respect to any faith-less belief you empower them all.
            Lets see what premises you use in just this post.
            1. Religious sources are a lie (like national enquirer)
            2. You know the mind and reading habits of Hitler.
            3. Churchill read the origion of the species so he must
            be bad to.
            4. Hitler eugenics policies are NOT Darwins fault.
            or so you think.
            5. Breeders do the same thing Darwin taught. hmm
            6. Hitlers eugenics policies have nothing to do with New Athiesm.
            Dont forget granting respect to any faith-less belief you
            empower them all.
            7. Larryb’s an idiot.
            8. Religious people completely misunderstand the critism
            of new athiesm because they cannot learn and are
            obviously stupid.
            9. Athiest, “thinking smart people”, are the only ones who should
            be in charge.

          • tildeb says:

            Okay, LarryB, let;s look at and then respond to your list.

            1. AIG is not a credible source for anything other than Ken Ham’s religious lunacy. AIG, and this Darwin/Hitler meme it sells to the gullible has already been debunked. Hitler was Catholic, for crying out loud, and most Nazis were religious. Religion didn’t cause Hitler to do what he did but played a central role in his frenetic and delusional antisemitism.
            2. There is no evidence Hitler ever read anything by Darwin or understood anything at all about evolution but we do know that Churchill did. Darwin did not advocate for human eugenics but wrote specifically against it. You don’t care about what’s actually the historical case here, do you Larry?; You want to believe that Darwin’s theory somehow motivated Hitler and that’s that for your justification- your belief and the equally ridiculous and factually incorrect religious beliefs of others like Ken Ham who for reasons other than accuracy, you seem to greatly admire. He’s an academic midget and a rather vile human being spouting beliefs that are both prejudicial and deeply biased against real people in real life. His hiring practices are also discriminatory and his project monuments to the gullibility of his consumers.
            3. ? Churchill led the world against Hitler. Where on earth do you come up with this bizarre idea that I think he was ‘bad’?
            4. They’re not. Fact. (“if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.”) Oh, and you might to find out what actually is the historical case nicely summed up here.
            5. Breeders and bloodlines long precede Darwin. You just want to make him magically responsible for Hitler’s eugenic beliefs because you believe he was. Your beliefs are factually wrong… not that that matters to you.
            6. No New Atheist I’ve ever read or heard advocates for eugenics. You’re just making stuff up. And I haven’t forgotten that faith-based beliefs are the root cause for much perniciousness.
            7. Larry is not a good critical thinker. Larry is both credulous and gullible and Larry empowers his beliefs in spite of reality. Larry can fix these thinking problems… if Larry ever chooses to do so.
            8. Religious people empower respect for faith-based beliefs. This empowerment is done for very poor reasons. They can choose to put a stop to it in their own lives and stop enabling it in lives of their dependents. Many religious people have done just this and I applaud them for it. Many religious people believe really stupid things, things that incompatible with how we know reality operates. I fault the broken method they use to empower their faith-based beliefs, namely, putting confidence in faith-based rather than understanding and implementing consistently a method that based the strength of confidence conditionally from likelihood based on from evidence adduced from reality. Religious people can and do learn but I am always disappointed how well these folk tend to separately categorize religious beliefs from other beliefs so that reality isn’t allowed to arbitrate them. Many big brained people do this – not just religious folk – because it’s a human thing to have a belief and then turn to reality and look for whatever seems to supports it. That’s a very typical thinking error that can be better managed.
            9. Those who can separate their religious beliefs from having effect on public policy and good governance on purely secular reasons can be terrific leaders. History is full of them. Religious belief or no religious belief is a really poor determinant for good leadership.

            Did that help you at all, Larry? I sincerely doubt it but one can always hope….

          • Dina says:

            Tilly, you are guilty of what you charge others.

            You cited a biased and non-medical website to support your anti-circumcision views; in other words, in at least this instance you relied on a non-credible source to bolster your views–exactly what you have accused Larry of doing.

            You have accused religion for being the “root cause for much perniciousness” without giving concrete examples. At the same time, you have ignored the perniciousness caused by such non-religious ideas as communism and racism. There are plenty of places to spread the blame.

            You have claimed that studies (plural) show that religion correlates with social dysfunction. But you cited only one study (singular). Consider this point that the study leaves out: The wealthy and educated elite in Latin American countries are less religious than the masses of poor, but their poverty would not disappear if they all became atheists because the economic policies and the corruption of the wealthy and elite ruling class are “the root cause for much perniciousness.”

            The study is seriously flawed also because it fails to take note of religious societies that have a high level of healthy function. Such as Orthodox Jews. And American Mormons.

            If you were not biased and did not want to believe that religion is “the root cause for much perniciousness” you would have noticed these flaws at once.

          • Dina says:

            It seems you either missed or misunderstood Larry’s point about “scientific” racism in the past.

            http://news.psu.edu/story/304151/2014/02/14/research/scientific-racisms-long-history-mandates-caution
            http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-01.htm

            There’s also this:

            http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/02/12/charles-darwin-did-he-help-create-scientific-racism/

            It is fine to argue that scientific racism predated Darwin, and even to argue that Darwin himself did not advocate racism, but if I may speak for Larry, I don’t think he was arguing against that. I think he was saying that Darwin’s work influenced and helped cement scientific racial ideas in the early nineteenth century.

          • shields3 says:

            You must have a source of information about Hitler that the rest of the world does not have and you rubbish a great leader Winston Churchill. Do you really want respect for your beliefs or do you think we atheists are all just stupid?

          • larryB says:

            tildeb
            Alot of guys think that the bigger theit post the more manly or credible they are. Unfortunately I have a job and must go…..Im not ignoring you.

          • larryB says:

            was Hitler influnced bydarwin?
            http://archive.csustan.edu/history/faculty/weikart/
            much good reading here

          • tildeb says:

            was Hitler influnced bydarwin?

            No. He indicates in all his writings that he knew nothing about Darwin, nothing about natural selection.

            Now note the central mechanism by which life changes over time proposed by Darwin: NATURAL. You see, LarryB, this the clue you have missed when it comes to those bound and determined to force the historical Hitler and his eugenics program to somehow be caused by Darwin. Eugenics is all about selection and breeding. This is called ARTIFICIAL selection.

            Do you detect a difference? Let me help: NATURAL and ARTIFICIAL. Do you notice how these terms are not synonyms? In fact, they are antonyms.

            How very militant of me to point this out. Darwin proposed natural selection as the driver of evolutionary change. Hitler implemented artificial selection as a driver to racial purity. These are not the same, LarryB. Support for natural selection does not indicate support for artificial selection.

            Anyone who tries to lay responsibility for supporting eugenics at the feet of Darwin and his evolutionary theory demonstrates a remarkable ignorance about evolution theory, what is is, and how it operates. Anyone. Because the difference is so easy to detect, one has to consider why anyone would be so foolish as to actually believe that Darwin’s theory had anything to do with eugenics? Obviously, the link between Darwin’s idea and Hitler’s brutal practices has to be created because the two ideas are completely different. So, why would anyone try to link the two?

            Welcome to the world of the religious who wish to try to protect criticism from their beliefs in divine POOF!ism not by merit of compelling evidence (there isn’t any) but by trying desperately to vilify the man who came up with and successfully articulated evolutionary theory (along with a nod of influence to Lamarck). And the means to vilify him with one of the worst mass murders in history has to be equally created out of nothing. Enter social Darwinism, a very handy title if a complete misnomer (about changes over time to groups) to those determined to vilify Darwin regardless and in the absence of any historical or scientific validity. That is what you are using, what the author at your link is using, to try to make the incompatible compatible, to make an artificial link between evolutionary theory and mass murder. It’s so transparently ridiculous a link that only the very foolish and the most gullible would ever fall for believing it after critically analyzing the claim.

            That’s why I don;t think you ever critically approached the issue at all but did what so many have done before you… imported your religious creationist beliefs and held them to be the case first. This assumption about a creative event being true has misguided you yet again and basically turned off your brain. You can fix that.

          • LarryB says:

            Tilden
            The pernicious effect was the social Darwinism. Here is some more pernicious effects.
            Remember: By granting respect to any faith-less belief you empower them all.
            http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/website-tracking-californias-gender-insanity/
            The leaders hold positions of power
            http://atheistnexus.org/group/legalizeit/forum/topics/possible-in-california
            The pernicious effects atheism
            http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/state-ordering-girls-locker-rooms-open-to-boys/

          • tildeb says:

            What is the fascination between creationists and bathrooms? Very strange.

            I see you’re dipping into WorldNet Daily. Once you use the Discovery Institute as a source and borrow some bits from the Creation Research Institute, you will have covered all the big creation sites.

            So when I said that you can fix this problem of shutting off your brain (by assuming a creative event caused by a divine interventionist agency is the case and then quoting whatever brainless sources you can find that agrees with your presumption) I think I misspoke. Perhaps you can’t.

          • tildeb says:

            Concerned Reader is is exactly right to call ‘social Darwinism’ a contortion. It’s based on the misconstrued notion of ‘fitness’, a term Darwin meant by successful reproduction to age of sexual maturity and has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘strength’. A tiny creature well suited to its environment and able to thrive reproductively is more ‘fit’ than some large carnivore with very few offspring. The misunderstanding led certain people to supplant ‘fitness’ with this notion of ‘survival’. That’s where we get the misunderstanding of ‘survival of the fittest’ to mean the strong killing the weak. And it is on this misunderstanding that social Darwinism took root and was abused to try to justify terrible ideas like eugenics. And that’s why I quite correctly pointed out the term itself is a misnomer. Darwin had nothing to do with it and his tehory has nothing to do with it. So claiming that social Darwinism is a pernicious effect of evolutionary theory has no merit. It is factually wrong and promotes an intentional misrepresentation of both the man and his world-shaking idea. Darwin wrote that he thought artificial selection to promote the ‘strong’ over the ‘weak’ (he was referring to human races at the time of his writing) was, to use his term an ‘evil’. That stands in conflict with your opinion. To align it with reality, you need to change your opinion.

          • Tildeb I happen to be with you on this one. Whatever Hitler and his people did or didn’t know about Darwin’s theory it was viewed and processed by minds that had been marinating in Christianity for centuries upon centuries – and at that point in history (as well as most points before it) Christianity was plagued by a deep disrespect for human life – because if you disrespect one type of person (Jews) – you disrespect them all because you are saying that humanity is not currency in your system.

            But I do have a question for you. You distinguish between artificial and natural selection. According to your worldview – what is the difference? If teh human brain is just a glob of molecules firing off some chemical reactions – then what is the difference between the product of this glob of meat and any other glob of meat? Why do human actions and thoughts cut another category for you?

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Yes, I think Christianity is accurately described as a death cult even though most people would not agree because they presume messages about ‘love’ overshadow the central and pernicious idea featured in its doctrine, namely about living this life in preparation for a hypothetical next one. Any religious belief that teaches this is a death cult.

            You’ve inflated several ideas here. Evolution is a fact and it’s main mechanism is natural selection. It is natural, meaning that it is unguided and purposeless. It simply operates and, as Hawking wryly commented, is the result of gravity operating over time on matter.

            Attached to this is your question about brains – globs of molecules firing off some chemical reactions – and why any human actions and thoughts matter. This tells me that you’re looking at the question as if divorced from it… like an outsider looking in, so to speak. From this perspective, it’s like asking why a wave of water matters. Well, it doesn’t from this perspective.

            But if you’re in the way of that wave – subject to its effects – and it threatens you or those you love in some way, then it suddenly matters a very great deal. Because you and I are human and subject to effects of other humans, then what they think and do then matters a very great deal.

            Is this ‘cutting another category’?

            Human brains can change its material functioning and we can direct this change through something called learning. We use an emergent property of our big brains called ‘reason’ and this gives us insight into causal effects and linking mechanisms called knowledge and determine consequences. This affects out well-being. We can also place ourselves into the situation of another and experience this altered perspective for our first hand consideration (which seems to have something to do with mirror neurons) giving us insight into future consequences, an ability to predict. The religious use this ability to assign guided and purposeful agency where none actually exists independent of their assignments. That’s why superstition is very common – assigning agency where none exists and accepting unknown magical mechanisms as if true because it allows us to imagine intentions of that wave or god or another critter through our own eyes as if it were actually the case.

            Why does this matter?

            Thought of another way, the person who always thinks the rustling in the tall grass is a threat – perhaps a tiger or some other danger, may be factually incorrect 999 out of 1000 but is still able to reproduce after encountering the one time it is a real threat, whereas the person who correctly attributes the rustling to be the wind 999 times out of 1000 pays the ultimate price when the encounter really is that threat and does not go on to successfully reproduce.

            Now, however, being wrong 999 times out of a 1000 no longer is a virtue when knowledge accumulation and technological advances makes it too costly to other humans. Superstitious beliefs when acted upon have consequences that are in the aggregate pernicious. When thermonuclear weapons are deployed and used to advance theological purposes, we will have arrived at the point where superstitious beliefs will no longer be tolerable. The likelihood of this s hypothetical consequence can be greatly reduced now by the increased use of reason now rather than violence and intolerance later.

          • Tildeb My question about the distinction of human action is not “why does it matter” My question was what is the difference in your book between selection that happens because the mosquito happened to be carrying a virus (one set of chemical reactions falling into place) or if someone’s brain came to a conclusion that this given set of people (handicapped people) is detrimental to the future of their species – why is one selection more “natural” than the other. Perhaps one is more preventable but why is one natural and one artificial? I would think that the fact that human intelligence and decision making is involved in one situation and not the other shouldn’t make a difference to you because the process of human intelligence and decision making to you would only be just another set of chemical reactions. And if people don’t have free will then the decision making process can also be described as the result of gravity over time on matter.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Ypf, you ask My question was what is the difference in your book between selection that happens because the mosquito happened to be carrying a virus (one set of chemical reactions falling into place) or if someone’s brain came to a conclusion that this given set of people (handicapped people) is detrimental to the future of their species – why is one selection more “natural” than the other.

            It’s not my book. It’s knowledge. If you actually want to understand the difference, then learn what ‘natural selection‘ means and what ‘artificial selection‘ means.

          • tildeb says:

            Oh, and I forgot to ask: is this threat of genocide by whatever means to further theological goals for the hypothetical afterlife enhanced or reduced when people believe it is true? Or is the well-being of real people in real life enhanced or reduced when we believe this is it, that this one life in the here and now is actually precious because it is singular and unique?

      • Jim says:

        Tildeb,

        You are right that I should have been more precise in my original comment. This sentence is unclear: “He does not attempt to persuade with reasoned arguments.” It would be more accurate and clearer if I had written: “He does not rely solely on reasoned arguments to persuade.” I mean to draw a distinction between the argument the missionary makes and other tools he uses to persuade.

        The reader should be aware of the differences between an argument and emotional appeals. He should be heed an argument if it is correct, which means he must give it due consideration. But he must not heed the latter at all. It will only interfere with his coming to a correct conclusion. Any attempt, therefore, by the atheist missionary, whatever he be called, to belittle his opponent should be ignored.

        On a separate note, I continue to be amazed at the way you brazenly and openly misrepresent my comments. You take the term “combating” in the least charitable sense possible. You read an implication of an overtone of violence in my comments. This is clearly not my intention, inasmuch as I wrote in support of you on this point. You had asked “So is it ‘social pressure’ to take those who intentionally break the law to court? Is it ‘social pressure’ to ask governments to stop funding religious privilege? Is it ‘social pressure’ to get federal and state governments to stop allowing criminal acts to be carried out against children if done in the name of some religious belief?” And I was affirming that you should combat such injustices through legal means. This does not malign you in anyway. One is tempted to believe that you read what you expect to read not what is written. Either way, you have terribly misrepresented my comments by seizing on one word and taking it out of context.

        Moreover, your questions, quoted in the above paragraph show that I am not wrong to say that you are conflating two issues. I need say nothing more on that, I trust. It speaks for itself.

        Jim

        • tildeb says:

          The reader should be aware that, once again, you are not addressing my criticisms but trying to divert attention away from the.

          You are selecting some component of my tone and/or word selection substituting your commentary about that in place of anything substantive. Your original claims – the premises of your argument about atheist missionaries – are factually wrong and remain so so matter how much commentary you devote to your diversionary take on how I commented.

          • Jim says:

            Tildeb,

            You appeal to the reader to notice that I avoid your criticism and seize upon word selection and tone. I again marvel at your brazenness. This is in a conversation in which you seize upon my word choice “combating” to insinuate an implication in my writing incompatible with the paragraph in which it resides. Your appeal to the reader is so openly shameless, I almost admire the audacity. It takes a certain level of nerve to accuse another of what you have done so openly.

            In fact, your first comment on this page is a complaint about what you maintain to be a dishonest use of the words “atheist missionary”. You ignore the criticism, which does not hinge on those words, and complain about word choice. Meanwhile, the criticism stands, that the atheist missionary uses belittling terms to intimidate others into assent. He does not let the arguments speak for themselves and allow others to agree or disagree. He makes them feel foolish to compel assent.

            Indeed, let the reader take note.

            Jim

  17. Dina says:

    Wow! I just finished reading all the recent comments and I’m bowled over by the irony of the comments unwittingly but perfectly capturing the point of Jim’s post.

    Con, I’ve gotta hand it to you. Alone of all the opposition, you stand out with your respectful attitude and your ability to stick to your argument without emotion, without bullying, without “social pressure.” Kudos to you!

  18. Dina says:

    Big Bang Theory = Poofism? Why not?

    • tildeb says:

      There’s a difference between admitting one does not know – cannot know – anything prior to when time as we know it began and coming up with complete agency of supernatural and unknown mechanisms that supposedly causes everything, an agency we can know something about, apparently. If you can’t figure out the difference between an admission of ignorance and a pseudo-answer, then you are lost cause.

  19. Concerned Reader says:

    I feel I should state outright that Eugenics is not Evolutionary theory. Eugenics is fundamentally the ideology of a hierarchy of being, (itself a notion opposed to scientific data,) that misuses real knowledge of artificial selection to try and posit/recreate some “perfect master race,” an idealized hierarchy of humanity as if such a thing actually existed.

    Nazis drew on long standing traditions of occult ideology, racism, and syncretism that served as lenses through which they cemented a new vision of history to substantiate their racial theories. You see the same thing happen today in white supremacist movements, ISIL, North Korea, etc. Ideology trumps all and stands at the fore, not data.

    The idea that Jesus was a white person, a member of some elite group of racially pure humans that wanted to establish an ideal hierarchical society is a refrain (among many others) that was a factor in Eugenics’ development and ideology. The system of justified racism already had roots in places like the U.S. and south Africa, and science was viewed through people’s already established ideology/theology.

    The Nazis themselves tried to see their roots in the Aryan peoples of India. These theories were mixed with other theories of Atlantis, Lemuria, and other hypothetical idealized “white” societies.

    British Israelite-ism is another manifestation of strange syncretism, the idyllic portrayal of old norse myth, etc. also serve as examples.

    Systems like Jim Crow were propped up as being the “order of things,” all ideas that as a cocktail could lead to fanatical racist ideology. Anders Breivik is another perfect example of someone who had created his idealized version of history and then acted upon it in modern times.

    • Dina says:

      Con, what you say may be true but that still doesn’t discount the fact that while “scientific” racism was around before Darwin, 19th and early 20th century “scientists” and “doctors” relied on his ideas and concepts to promote their brand of racism.

      http://www.britannica.com/topic/social-Darwinism
      http://autocww.colorado.edu/~flc/E64ContentFiles/SociologyAndReform/SocialDarwinism.html

      • Concerned Reader says:

        They didn’t rely upon Darwin, they contorted Darwin’s theory and applied his theory in a field that he never envisioned it would ever be applied. Social Darwinism is not Darwinism strictly speaking, and that’s the whole point. Darwin observed and wrote about a process that occurs in nature. The Nazis got a foothold because of already well established and entrenched discriminatory practices in the U.S. and Europe, not because of scientific theory. Would you blame the actions of Mao Zedong or Pol Pot on an economic theory?

  20. Concerned Reader says:

    Tildeb My question about the distinction of human action is not “why does it matter” My question was what is the difference in your book between selection that happens because the mosquito happened to be carrying a virus (one set of chemical reactions falling into place) or if someone’s brain came to a conclusion that this given set of people (handicapped people) is detrimental to the future of their species

    I know I am not Tildeb rabbi, but may I offer a response? Natural selection is blind to the prejudices and errors produced by an intellect, artificial selection is not, and that is what makes the difference. Artificial selection is the product of human minds and human choices, natural selection is a natural unguided process, a natural mechanism that has no agent at the wheel.

    The question of “free will” was well answered by Christopher Hitchens. Because we are humans with consciousness (that is an emergent property of our brain,) within reality “we have no choice but to have free will.” Tildeb is right in saying that asking these questions as if you are on the outside of the experience looking in is irrelevant, because you also are human and subject to the effects of the “wave” as it were.

    Imagine if you were the powerball inside a powerball machine. You land on a specific number (unbeknownst to you that number was based on an algorithm in a computer and aided by a bit of chance and gravity.) From your perspective as the power ball however, you “chose” that number.

    Put another way. The issue of free will is ultimately a moot point anyway regardless of the side you take because even theism posits that free will was bestowed by G-d, (therefore its not a default natural characteristic of being a human but was a virtual and bestowed characteristic granted to a human.) To an atheist, the issue of “free will” or agency is just another part of a system of natural process. We perceive our will as being “free,” but it is likewise a component of nature.

    • Concerned Reader
      My question is – from a scientific perspective why is it categorically different if a selection happens on the basis of errors and prejudices produced by the intellect or if it happened on the basis of chance or on the basis of the instincts of animals? Why is the intellect of man together with its ability to be prejudiced and make mistakes not considered part and parcel of nature?

      Note – this is not a question about morality (if it is moral or not) The question is simply – why is this (human activity) considered a separate category in the process of selection?

      • tildeb says:

        You are making a bunch of errors here. You are presuming that ‘natural selection’ versus ‘artificial selection’ means ‘natural’ versus ‘unnatural’. You have imported this definition and then substituted it for ‘artificial’ to make a false dichotomy… that artificial selection and those who do this are also part of Nature and so it’s not unnatural and therefore it’s not artificial and so artificial and natural selection must be the same thing.

        No. That’s not correct.

        Natural selection is an unguided mechanism regulated by fitness and one that causes change over time and branching to the genome. That’s demonstrated to be the case by genetics that fully supports the explanation of common ancestry. The genes in your body care not one whit for your beliefs about their history and lineage but are genetically related to today’s carrots and yesterday’s blood worms of the Cambrian era. You have no say in this matter of heritage. That’s what your genes tell us is the case. It is what it is.

        Artificial selection is dependent on guidance, on intentional interference and intervention regulated not by fitness but by the goals, tastes, preferences, prejudices of the selector for certain traits. Genetically modified foods are a good example of this in practice. The genetics shows the intervention. Your genome shows no such intervention by some presumed interfering creator… unless some agency instituted evolution in which case we’re no more specially selected than a carrot. This fact is fatal in either case to any creationist or theistic evolutionary beliefs because reality simply and demonstrably does not support them.

        • Tildeb
          Thanks for your comment – You have given me the understanding that I used the wrong word in my question. The words “natural selection” are very broad and refer to an entire genetic process.

          But you will admit, I assume, that natural selection is what happens when the forces of nature act upon the gene pool of a given species. And I don’t see how you differentiate between the natural force of mosquitos carrying a virus to the case of human intelligence acting upon prejudices and error.

          Furthermore, the little I know about the history of science tells me that the concept of genes carrying information was unknown to Darwin and to most people in the time when Hitler was developing his evil ideology. To distinguish between proponents of social Darwinism and proponents of the general theory of evolution in the early 20th century on the basis of the distinction as to whether the factors under discussion affect the DNA is a historical anachronism.

          • tildeb says:

            I have only a rudimentary understanding of evolution but I do recognize it’s tremendous explanatory power and faintly grasp the far-reaching effects this explanation has had.

            It is my understanding that evolution occurs on a genetic level that increases or decreases the fitness of the species. When one talks about evolution and natural selection, one is talking about the interaction between the species and its environment that increases or decreases the allele frequency of those genes so affected by the interaction measured by increased or decreased fitness… meaning greater or lesser reproductive success of offspring who inherit these genes that then reach their own sexual maturity. Evolution properly understood is about change and the mechanism Darwin recognized was this ongoing and unguided selection process by reproductive success. Those genes that aided success were the ones inherited in ever greater numbers of those offspring who successfully reproduced.

            I point this out because it’s not necessary for Dariwn to understand the genetic component of his explanation because he knew enough about inheriting traits to understand that offspring inherited those very traits that helped their parents to successfully reproduce.

            And he correctly identified this as an ongoing process over time – not only forward into the future but especially backwards into the past. This understanding helped explain why people found the bones and fossils of fantastical critters no longer in existence: those critters, he assumed correctly, failed to modify enough traits to survive in a changing environment and have offspring that successfully reproduced these ‘fit’ traits. This also explained why different species thrived while others faded over time and he carefully noted the link between something as simply as a bird’s beak to the availability of different sources of protein to aid fitness.

            These are the famous Galapagos finches, each island having a species of finch whose beak was suited for the particular nuts found on that island. How did each type of finch develop the right kind of beak for the right kind of nut? Why didn’t the offspring of finches on one island produce beaks appropriate to the food supply on another?

            Inheritance arbitrated by the environment alone.

            Finches with maladapted beaks on each island didn’t successfully reproduce compared to those finches that did have the ‘right’ kind of beak, who had access to greater food supplies rich in protein. The allele frequency of the finches with unsuitable beaks continued to decline over time while the allele frequency for beaks able to break into the nuts increased. On each island this was the case. And the finches of the Galapagos were obviously related but quite different in many ways to the finches found in nearby Ecuador. The finches of Ecuador were similar but had significant differences to their relatives in Chile. The birds from Chile were so different to the finches of the Galapagos that when put together they could not mate successfully. Darwin – like everyone else, new that different species couldn’t (usually) reproduce with ‘strong and numerous offspring’ so this wasn’t news. What was remarkable was Darwin’s insight into the graduated changes between related species that, through common ancestry, could be explained by inherited traits interacting with local environments. This branching idea explained how different species could arise unaided by any other agency. Given enough time, this process could explain how all of life came to be as we find it.

            All of this was quite theoretical up until the time of genetics (the great synthesis) that could now explain and demonstrate in genetic detail how related every species in the world is to every other. All that have been studied demonstrate common ancestry to related species by genetic branching using inheritance and, working backwards, demonstrate how species both arise and fail through deep time.

            So when you say But you will admit, I assume, that natural selection is what happens when the forces of nature act upon the gene pool of a given species. And I don’t see how you differentiate between the natural force of mosquitos carrying a virus to the case of human intelligence acting upon prejudices and error i have to wonder how this connects to evolution other than demonstrate a strange notion that Nature itself is a guiding force presumably endowed with intention and acting on some greater purpose.

            It’s not. It’s entirely indifferent. It operates wholly by the properties of matter interacting with other matter fueled by indifferent energy. And that process alone produces astounding biological complexity, consciousness, and predictive intelligence. No god is required. No intervention or creative event is found. To paraphrase Leplace quip to Napoleon, there is no need for that hypothesis. Evolution suffices.

          • Tildeb
            I was not, with these arguments trying to argue for the existence of a deity. I was trying to understand your worldview. The ability to reproduce is measured by how the species interacts with the environment around it. A bird that has a beak that can negotiate the nutshells of the available nuts has a greater ability to reproduce than a bird that has a different beak – thus determining its positive place on the evolutionary scheme. A moth that is better camouflaged to escape detection by the local predators has a greater ability to survive. Why does it not follow that a man that has the ability to better negotiate with the human predators (motivated by racial prejudice or some other evil notion) has a greater ability to survive? Why do you treat the challenges to the survival of a given species produced by man any different than you treat the challenges that are not produced by man – after all – aren’t they all are the effects of gravity acting upon matter over time?

          • tildeb says:

            Evolution is not about survival! It’s about fitness of genes. You seem to be really hung up on trying to make this square peg about strength/survival somehow fit into the evolutionary hole. It’s a contortion, as Concerned Reader pointed out long ago.

            You ask again Why do you treat the challenges to the survival of a given species produced by man any different than you treat the challenges that are not produced by man – after all – aren’t they all are the effects of gravity acting upon matter over time?

            So I’ll answer the same: because I’m a human and therefore much more concerned with human actions that affect me in particular and humanity in general than I am about comparing birth rates of various species of mollusks.

        • Tildeb
          Furthermore – In Darwin’s own book (The Descent of Man) he conflates social forces and natural forces acting upon the “weak” and the “strong”

          • tildeb says:

            I asked for the reference because of his style of writing is very important to put quotes in context in order to understand his position. Giving me a wiki reference doesn’t help. What I need is the page reference so that I can read the section and figure out what he means.

            Also, remember that he’s writing in the middle of the 19th century when English racism was institutionalized. Few if any Jewish scholars in science, for example. Someone commenting at the time might very well put this absence down to an ‘inferior’ racial tendency but, as we both know, this doesn’t make it true. Darwin’s idea explaining change to life over time by means of natural selection does not comport to support for eugenics.

          • Tildeb
            I never claimed that Darwin supported eugenics in this article it says that Darwin believed that one shouldn’t kill the socially inept but that the social fact of a lesser probability of marriage will do the work
            In any case – all I know about this book is the wiki article that I linked. But in this article it seems that in the overall scheme of evolution he doesn’t differentiate between factors of selection imposed by human behavior as opposed to other factors such as a lack of food – in other words your distinction between artificial and natural factors doesn’t seem to be recognized by Darwin – but again – I accept your argument that I never read the book and I would need to read it in the context of its times so I cannot pass judgment – but it seems to be something worth looking into

  21. Concerned Reader says:

    http://www.northwestern.edu/onebook/the-reluctant-mr-darwin/essays/darwin-morality.html

    Rabbi, here is an article for your consideration. Darwin himself, and most of the early supporters of his theory rejected social Darwinism as having anything to do with the theory. People attempted to apply Darwinian theory to ethics, but that attempt is not Darwinism. Darwin posited “common descent.” Racism is absurd if you take natural selection seriously because it posits that all life is connected despite variation.

  22. Fred says:

    >>>>>Racism is absurd if you take natural selection seriously because it posits that all life is connected despite variation.<<<<<

    Spin city!

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Maybe you should explain yourself Fred rather than just make an obscure comment? Racism long predates Darwin, that’s fact, not spin. Eugenics is a contortion of Darwin’s theory which describe a process in nature. That’s fact, not spin. Common descent means COMMON descent. Racism posits humans who are more or less “fit” to hold certain roles, to do certain tasks, etc. because of an ideological spin. So, please try to add something constructive to the discussion with actual words.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        “race” a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group.
        each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.

        First, any member of every “race” (as if there were such a thing) can give organs to humans of any other “race.”

        second, human plus human always makes a human.

        Third, every human bleeds red blood when cut.

        Notice that the definition of that anachronistic term “race” brings culture as a factor in determining the divisions between people. Culture is a human phenomenon, a human construct, not a natural mechanism. Just because a person has more or less melanin in their skin is meaningless. Nazis had preconceived ideological and cultural stereotypes that they applied to Jews (and other groups of people.) They looked at Darwin and applied their notions in order to create an ideology Darwin did not envision. That is far away from spin Fred.

        • Dina says:

          “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes . . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

          The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

          Now, that’s not a very nice thing to say!

          • Fred says:

            Not only is it not nice, it completely refutes Tildeb’s and CR’s allegations.

          • tildeb says:

            Oh, Fred, take a breath and stop trying to score points; instead, use this opportunity to learn something important: your beliefs can be wrong.

            I know… shocking.

            Once you admit this and accept it’s truth – even regarding your religious beliefs – only then can you start to actually learn from these kinds of comment exchanges. And learning to think a little more critically would go a long way to reducing your satisfying state of ignorance and improving your mind rather than keeping it so tightly shut. A mind is a terrible thing to waste Closing it does just that.

          • tildeb says:

            Dine, Dina, Dina.

            I am surprised that (well, to be honest, I’m not surprised that a creationist would fall for this claptrap but I am disappointed a writer would) you didn’t check the source before rushing into quoting something after I explicitly pointed out Darwin’s writing style makes one read the quote in context of the multi-paragraph passage before jumping to any conclusions about his intentional meaning. If you did that, you’d correctly find:

            “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

            But that quote is in a context you’ve simply ignored. Let’s read the paragraph, shall we?

            The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Hermann Schaaffhausen|Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.[8]

            As Wikiquote points out,

            This is a common creationist quote mine.[14] When Darwin referred to “race” he meant “varieties,” not human races.[15] (For example, in Chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species, Darwin writes “the several races, for instance, of the cabbage”.) However, apart from the plain meaning of the words, in the passage “there is nothing in Darwin’s words to support (and much in his life to contradict) any claim that Darwin wanted the “lower” or “savage races” to be exterminated. He was merely noting what appeared to him to be factual, based in no small part on the evidence of a European binge of imperialism and colonial conquest during his lifetime.” [16]

          • Dina says:

            Tilly, Tilly, Tilly,

            The context doesn’t make it better. Whichever way you slice it, it is racist to say that blacks and Australians are closer to apes than Caucasians.

          • tildeb says:

            Dina, you actually made me laugh out loud with your comment, although I have no doubt you’d be offended to have your ignorance considered so entertaining in you misunderstanding of what Darwin was saying.

            If it helps – and I doubt it will – Darwin is talking about losing the links over time to finding common human ancestry from different human variants, which he calls ‘races’. His presumption (not having the handy-dandy tools of genetics) was that Caucasians are furthest removed from indigenous populations. His assumption was wrong but his point about losing intermediaries (due to a host of issues) to trace lineage was valid. The reference to apes is a reference to our common ancestor regardless of which variant we may be (which ‘race’ we are) and not meant as some kind of racial slur you seem determined to maintain and attribute to Darwin with this quote-mining.

            Thanks to genetics, we have a much better understanding today of human history back to common ancestry since the hominid branching off from other great ape species. This trail wasn’t lost, as Darwin feared, but discovered in a way that is indisputably accurate… thanks to the evolution of biological knowledge derived from Darwin’s theory in the form of genetics! And it seems to be the case that distance from Africa (through population migration) is the determining factor (Africa was predicted by Darwin to be the place where hominid transitional fossils should be most plentifully found). The same findings have been borne out through studying linguistic transitions (distance from Africa).

            A relatively good explanation for the historical distance between today’s human variants can be found at Wiki but I’ll reprint the gist here (with emphasis added by me):

            “A 1994 study by Cavalli-Sforza and colleagues evaluated genetic distances among 42 native populations based on 120 blood polymorphisms. The populations were grouped into nine clusters: African (sub-Saharan), Caucasoid (European), Caucasoid (extra-European), northern Mongoloid (excluding Arctic populations), northeast Asian Arctic, southern Mongoloid (mainland and insular Southeast Asia), Pacific islander, New Guinean and Australian, and American (Amerindian). Although the clusters demonstrate varying degrees of homogeneity, the nine-cluster model represents a majority (80 out of 120) of single-trait trees and is useful in demonstrating the historic phylogenetic relationship among these populations.[2]

            The greatest genetic distance between two continents is between Africa and Oceania, at 0.2470. Based on physical appearance this is counterintuitive, since indigenous Australians and New Guineans resemble Africans (with dark skin and curly hair). This measure of genetic distance reflects the isolation of Australia and New Guinea since the end of the last glacial maximum, when the continent was isolated from mainland Asia due to rising sea levels. The next-largest genetic distance is between Africa and the Americas, at 0.2260. This is expected, since the longest geographic distance by land is between Africa and South America. The shortest genetic distance, 0.0155, is between European and extra-European Caucasoids. Africa is the most genetically divergent continent, with all other groups more related to each other than to sub-Saharan Africans. This is expected, according to the single-origin hypothesis. Europe has a general genetic variation about three times less than that of other continents; the genetic contribution of Asia and Africa to Europe is thought to be two-thirds and one-third, respectively.”

          • Dina says:

            Not being a science person, I don’t understand most of what you write, so you can laugh and take further delight in my ignorance. I’m not offended. I’m sorry for your needing to come here to puff yourself up to feel good about yourself. But be that as it may, I don’t think I misunderstood Darwin. Plenty of pro-Darwin people agree that he accepted the typical racist views of his day. You can Google it.

            I now understand why Rabbi B. said you view Darwin as your great and holy prophet.

            No more time for this conversation with my deadline looming. Toodle-loo!

          • tildeb says:

            I laugh because your ignorance (based on a significant lack of reading comprehension if you didn’t just snip the quote from some creationist outfit) is entirely self-imposed and this leads you once again into presenting yourself as foolish. That is deeply amusing to me for its irony (considering that you say you’re a writer of repute). Ignorance is okay – as long as one tries to correct it when it matters. And in this comment thread about eugenics and Darwin, it matters. I don’t think this notion of correcting your ignorance has ever occurred to you inside your religious bubble world where you think that to attribute to Darwin later eugenics is somehow necessary to reveal evolution as an idea that has some pernicious influence. Well… as pernicious as gravity, let’s say. It’s a silly notion and creationists have to do this kind of stuff as if it will successfully cover up their own knowledge inadequacies while smearing science and those who utilize these methods of honest inquiry. Hence, the need to throw in this absurd idea of Darwin as a ‘great and holy prophet’… but attribute it to the good Rabbi. That description – no matter who phrases it – is really quite pathetic. You could, instead, just say something along the lines of , “Gosh, I didn’t know that. Thanks for clarifying it for me.” I suspect the sky wouldn’t fall just because you recognized that a belief you held was, in fact, in error and now stands corrected.

          • Tildeb, Dina and Concerned Reader I find your discussion a bit confusing. It seems that you are having a discussion about Charles Darwin’s moral standing. I don’t see how this discussion is relevant. Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that he was an evil person. Who cares? If his theory (evolution) is true then it is true no matter how evil he was and if his theory is false then it is false no matter how moral he was. The theory should be judged on its own merits and not on the merits of the character of the person who thought of it.

            Perhaps you are discussing the history of the theory. If this theory brought people to commit evil then perhaps the theory should be abandoned? I propose that this is an incorrect way to judge theories. If the theory is true then it is true. Perhaps we should hide the truth from people because this particular truth encourages people to do evil? I would propose that not. How deep a violation of human dignity any given theory can be it is still a deeper violation of human dignity to tell people that falsehood is truth. And when human dignity is violated the results are never pretty.

            If the discussion was about a philosophical notion, I would understand where you are coming from. An abstract philosophical notion is difficult to prove true or false. So we can look at the moral ramifications of the notion in history and discuss if it brought good to mankind or evil but when we are discussing science, I do not see how the behavior of those who accepted a theory can determine the truth of the theory.

            Please enlighten.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            For me, two things, Rabbi B.:

            One, it’s interesting to explore how much of Darwin’s racist ideology influenced social Darwinism although he decried the idea of eugenics and was passionately anti-slavery (and good for him). I don’t have an axe to grind here. It’s just interesting history to me and I don’t care either way. This discussion is not really important to me and I’m perfectly happy to let it rest.

            Two, it’s fascinating to see how Darwin’s chassidim refuse to acknowledge unsavory aspects of his character. It tells me a lot about the atheist’s emotional perspective. And I do think that is important.

            Other than that, I fully agree that one’s personal life is mostly irrelevant to his accomplishments. George Washington was a slave owner yet still one of the greatest–if not the greatest–president of this country. Richard Wagner was a vicious anti-Semite whose work was revered by the Nazis and yet he composed brilliant music that soars to the skies. Rudy Giuliani has a messed-up personal life yet he pulled New York out of a terrible crime slump. And so on and so forth.

            Having said all that, I think this is tangential and we should get on with the business of uncovering the truth. To that end, it would be helpful if Tilly would end his silence on the substantive issues I have challenged him about.

          • Dina I too find it perplexing that atheists spend so much time and emotional energy defending Darwin’s character.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            The commentary evolved out of misunderstanding what the theory of evolution is. You introduced several ideas that demonstrated significant confusion, which I explained, namely,

            “You are presuming that ‘natural selection’ versus ‘artificial selection’ means ‘natural’ versus ‘unnatural’. You have imported this definition and then substituted it for ‘artificial’ to make a false dichotomy… that artificial selection and those who do this are also part of Nature and so it’s not unnatural and therefore it’s not artificial and so artificial and natural selection must be the same thing.”

            You have since rephrased your misunderstanding to be asked as

            “Why does it not follow that a man that has the ability to better negotiate with the human predators (motivated by racial prejudice or some other evil notion) has a greater ability to survive? Why do you treat the challenges to the survival of a given species produced by man any different than you treat the challenges that are not produced by man – after all – aren’t they all are the effects of gravity acting upon matter over time?

            I then explained why evolution is about survival but about fitness.

            LarryB then intervened and, relying on the thoroughly discredited Answers in Genesis as a source, stated, “Here is a good example of the pernicious effect of atheism” that linked to a opinion piece by a befuddled creationist who claimed the Nazi holocaust and the eugenics that fueled it was a direct result from Darwin’s theory. And he still thinks this is true. This is so wrong it isn’t even wrong but understandable when the subject of social Darwinism and survival of the fittest presumed to be about strong versus weak is substituted for the theory of evolution. From such gross misunderstanding is belief in creationism dependent.

            Dina then jumped on the bandwagon and continued to suggest that Darwin and his theory was racist because his own writing backed this up and condemned his character. Not to be diverted by what is the case, and abused quotes returned to the context in which they were to be found, she then went on to uphold her belief that atheists hold Darwin to be holy and his theory to be scripture, or some such nonsense she attributes to you but with which she agrees.

            So the defense of Darwin’s theory and character are as a response to unwarranted and ignorant criticisms usually spread by those determined not to find out what is the case but in the never ending quest to reformat reality into something that better comports with incompatible faith-based claims. When encountering bald-faced lies, intentional misrepresentations, glaring quote mining, and challenged by what is the case, when after giving compelling evidence contrary to these purposeful malicious beliefs, it is typical for the creationists to then pretend wonderment at why atheists care, why they “spend so much time and emotional energy defending Darwin’s character.”

            Oh yes, truly perplexing.

            Presumably, atheists should be more like sheep, more like flocks of sheep in need of creationist shepherding, obedient and submissive followers who just go along with whatever creationist statements are made rather than defend what is the case with facts and knowledge and understanding. That atheists would even care about what’s true is really very, very perplexing.

  23. Concerned Reader says:

    “Now when naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous small details of habits, tastes, and dispositions between two or more domestic races, or between nearly-allied natural forms, they use this fact as an argument that they are descended from a common progenitor who was thus endowed; and consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man.” (Descent, 179)

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Not being a science person, I don’t understand most of what you write, so you can laugh and take further delight in my ignorance.

      Dina, All Tildeb is saying is that Darwin uses the word “race” to signify variety among peoples and lifestyle (in a way perfectly consistent with the language of his time period,) not to use the term in a racist way as you are reading it.

      Darwin believes in common ancestry. He is discussing the differences between varieties of peoples, and noting that these differences are superficial and do not denote a separate species. When he uses terms like “savage races,” he is using a period term for more tribal societies, and noting that this type of lifestyle will one day be subverted by what he considers a more modern form of lifestyle. You have to remember that Darwin was a product of British colonialism, and that this language comes through in his writings, but itself has nothing to do with the merit of his theory.

      Today in genetics we can examine people’s Alleles (Alleles are like a cook book listing all the all ingredients and the amounts of ingredients that make you uniquely who you are, they account for hereditary mutation and variation like a fingerprint or ID card.)

      Genes may tell us generally that Subject X is a dessert. An allele however is specific and will say subject X is actually an apple Pie.

      When a paternity test is done for example, you examine the alleles, like a fingerprint. When you see the same values shared in an allelle, one set of values found in the father that matches the child, and one set in the mother that matches the child, the child is related to both.

      The worldwide gene pool is similar, ( is like a huge huge cookbook) that has a directory with 9 subheadings denoting the different regions of the world. Africa is where we find the most evidence of relatedness, and of transitional forms (different Varieties) at the same time.

      As you move out of Africa, the similarities (while still there in the cookbook) start to become less apparent, and each region starts to have distinct features because of their environment, but not in their genes. When we look at Alleles worldwide, we can tell (based on the ingredients, and polymorphisms, a fancy term for blood types) that humans started out in Africa and moved outward becoming differentiated because of their environment. In short, because of genetics, we know we are all related, but the varieties are important to our health as a species. Its as if all humans were apple pies, but there are several varieties of apple pie, all with distinctive flair based on locale.

      • tildeb says:

        What a marvelous analogy. I now have a much better understanding of why allele frequencies are mentioned so often.

        Again, my understanding is rudimentary and perhaps this is why I find the field of evolutionary biology always so fascinating and rewarding. Thanks for that, CR.

        • Dina says:

          Tilly and Connie,

          I really, really don’t have time for this but I can never resist the temptation. This is not me being stupid. I read the same idea in a major mainstream paper. I don’t remember which, but something like The Guardian or The Independent in the UK. Like I said, pro-Darwin writers agree that Darwin held racist views typical for his time period. You can find articles by such authors online.

          For the record, I do not write books of philosophy or science or anything like that. I write cookbooks, for cryin out loud (funny that Con should use cookbooks as his analogy; by the way I didn’t have time to read the whole comment). I was lucky enough that one of them made it to the New York Times Bestseller list. I did not tell you this to boast about my writing credentials but to show you that Orthodox women are not repressed and denied opportunities. You yourself have not yet admitted your error in this regard. In fact, you also did not admit that you also used biased sources when it suits your purpose (as in the case of the circumcision issue you raised). You also did not concede that it’s not faith-based beliefs that cause some corrupt rabbis to defend pedophiles (and that in fact they are acting against their faith).

          Everyone else should admit what you think are their errors, but being Tilly means never having to say you’re sorry.

          Okay, nuff for now.

  24. Concerned Reader says:

    I do not understand the rhetoric behind calling Darwin a prophet, or comparing him to hassidim? Atheists don’t believe in gods, ghosts, or prophets. Rabbi, the theory of evolution does stand on its own merit as has been demonstrated. Darwin’s moral status is brought up because readers here are bringing it up! Do you not see that? Eugenics is social Darwinism, a contorted ideology that uses Darwin to bolster preconceived racist ideologies.

    Darwin’s family had strong ties to abolitionist tendencies, (so they clearly saw value in other human beings.) The notion that Darwin was racist because of his time period is slanderous, and is also beneath this blog.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Two, it’s fascinating to see how Darwin’s chassidim refuse to acknowledge unsavory aspects of his character.

      Unsavory aspects? You mean how often he “got around?” Yeah, he had a lot of relations with many people, no dispute there. Ben Franklin and Jefferson also got around. That has nothing to do with the theory of evolution or its merits. I am opposed to anyone conflating evolution and racism because the comparison has no factual basis beyond the fact that Darwin lived in a century where racism was prominent.

      Consider something if you will. The U.S. had an ingrained racism in its laws and government policies towards many people (even bigotry towards white people, good luck being Irish, Scottish, or Australian back then) despite having a document state as clear as day that human beings are “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” You can make an amazing idea of none effect if you make that choice.

      • tildeb says:

        Just as a heads up, I think a very strong case can be made that the meaning of “all men are created equal’ section used by Jefferson in the list of grievances to the English Crown (the Declaration) was in relation to primogeniture law, which Jefferson quite rightly criticized as a major cause of inequity in governance (governing with the permission and support of family heads rather than the consent of the governed) and a source the instability and unjustified empowerment of the few over the many. That understanding changes the quality of the long held criticism of hypocrisy by a slave owner writing about equality rights for all men.

      • Dina says:

        Connie, I didn’t even know that, and guess what? I don’t care! I don’t even care if he was a racist or not because his immorality or racism–such as it was–doesn’t discredit his work. My point is, why are you guys so defensive about his possible moral defects? Why the touchiness?

        By the way, many abolitionists still believed blacks were inferior to whites, so arguing that he couldn’t possibly be a racist because he was an abolitionist is worthless. (It’s not unusual. There are people like Roald Dahl who was an openly unapologetic anti-Semite yet he opposed exterminating the Jews.)

        • Concerned Reader says:

          We are “touchy” not because you point out Darwin’s flaws, but because you are trying to paint Darwin as some kind of atheist prophet and a racist, which as far as evidence goes is a complete false mis-characterization of the man.

          You use this rhetoric to (possibly inadvertently) cast disparagement on people like Tildeb who have criticisms of faith positions. You are right that his morals don’t hinder his science, so why are you guys bringing up racism at all?

          • Dina says:

            Connie, I’m not trying to make him out to be a racist. I’m just pointing it out. It’s not a mischaracterization. You will not get anywhere by pretending to know my motives or what is driving me. I told you that I don’t care if he was a racist or not. It’s just interesting to me to see how you guys go all ballistic when it’s pointed out.

            It doesn’t matter to me, that’s why I think I have credibility on this issue. If I wanted him to be a racist, then you would have a leg to stand on. I would be perfectly content for him to have been a big believer in color-blindness.

            At any rate, this is really tangential to the main issues we’re discussing, don’t you think?

          • tildeb says:

            Dina, you say, It doesn’t matter to me, that’s why I think I have credibility on this issue.

            Let me fix this for you.

            If by ‘it’ you mean what’s actually the case, then you have no credibility on this or any other issue. When you start respecting what is the case – and a good start is to try harder to recognize when you move outside of it – then and only then will you begin to grasp why it’s actually respectful for others to bother to take you to task. This will help you to understand that vilifying others and maligning their character for the sake of maintaining your beliefs (demonstrated to be not the case) is hardly respectful of others but an indication of your contempt for anyone who does care.

            This point is not secondary to the issue at hand but central to it. Evolution is as true as anything we can bet our lives on. Creationism as described in the Pentateuch is patently false… no matter how figuratively one tries to paint it. Persuading another to respect what’s true (meaning to grant with the highest possible confidence without arriving at certainty) only occurs in response to false certainties and is not an equivalent belief. Without this critical understanding then one will never appreciate the difference between education – the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life – and persuasion – advocating a particular belief or ideology. Respecting reality’s arbitration of claims made about it is not a belief, is not an ideology. Believing it is is a category mistake.

            What the creationist tries to do is misrepresent the chief rivals to the faith-based belief in order to try to persuade the uncritical to make room for the unbelievable, which is a belief, which is an ideology. When the rival is actually what is the case disregarded for faith-based credulity, then reasoned positions cannot persuade or educate because reality has already been rejected by the creationist. The atheist doesn’t try to persuade; the atheist tries to educate why respecting reality matters by producing knowledge that works for everyone everywhere all the time. Religious belief in comparison doesn’t. That’s why the creationist belief in all its guises first requires acceptance of the god of the gaps argument and then begins the rounds of mulberry bush where reality is kept at bay by hook or by crook. And it is these hooks and crooks that are being challenged here… including the misunderstanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution and what it means to creationist beliefs. Evolution is fatal – and can be demonstrated in reality – to this particular ideology. The only way to avoid recognizing this fact is to disregard knowledge, ignore reality, and pretend that the issue at hand is actually quite trivial.

          • Dina says:

            That’s not true, Tilly, I do not need Darwin to be a racist in order to maintain my beliefs. The rest of what you wrote is a recap of your old argument that atheism is reality and religion is fantasy and bears no relevance to the topic at hand.

  25. Concerned Reader says:

    Connie, I’m not trying to make him out to be a racist. I’m just pointing it out.

    That’s an oxymoron Dina, saying “‘I’m not trying to point out that he’s racist, just pointing out he is racist.” Based on what facts and evidence? Based on his historical context and the time period he lived in? Guilt by association? I only have a problem because you are implying something to be true which is demonstrably not true. If you care about truth so much, why do you have to assassinate someone’s character? You keep saying, “I don’t care if he was racist,” but you and Fred brought up a racism charge in the first place by trying to conflate Darwinism and social Darwinism as if such were a true comparison, so you must “care.” I’m getting bothered because you are relying on incorrect information, I’m backing up what I’ve said with evidence and a working knowledge of the subject, and then you are saying with hand waving, “well, maybe that’s true, I’m not a scientist…but…” If you don’t know, just say “I don’t know.” You asking “why so upset” would be like me asking you “why don’t you like missionaries?” I’m upset because you are bashing a man’s character while admitting you haven’t done your full homework studying the man, science, or his works. Sloppy work, no offense meant.

    You are relying on wiki articles, newspapers, Ken Ham’s creation institute, etc. Try this. Read Darwin’s actual book, or a descent biography of him. We had this same kind of discussion once regarding Rambam’s writings Dina. If you haven’t actually read the books, you are absolutely still entitled to an opinion, but don’t just draw conclusions (as if they are true) based on wiki and quote mining. You are guaranteed to only get a partial picture that way. No disrespect or anger is intended in my statements here, just a tiny bit of frustration when there is a constant exhortation to follow truth, but then very little critical homework being done in pursuit of it.

    • Dina says:

      Connie, it’s equally frustrating listening to you lecture to me about truth while lying to me at the same time. Lying is a strong word, so maybe you’re just being careless with the truth?

      Did you know that when you quote someone and put quotation marks around the quote, then that means you are quoting the person’s exact words? This is one of the first rules you should have learned when writing your papers for your Comparative Religion courses. Well, let’s take a look at what you did. First you quoted me correctly, without quotation marks, like this:

      Connie, I’m not trying to make him out to be a racist. I’m just pointing it out.

      Then you misquoted me with quotation marks and had the audacity to call my statement an oxymoron, like this:

      “‘I’m not trying to point out that he’s racist, just pointing out he is racist.”

      That’s a lie. It’s also quite unbelievable. Can you not see the difference between the two statements?

      I await your retraction.

      The second lie was this: “You are relying on wiki articles, newspapers, Ken Ham’s creation institute, etc.”

      I never read anything by Ken Ham and therefore never quoted him, and I’m pretty sure that on this thread I didn’t quote a single wiki article–but I don’t want to go back and check so I won’t say for sure.

      I await your retraction on this lie as well.

      This is beside the fact that you’ve been making up motives and attributing them to me. If you really cared about the truth you would be a lot more careful to write only the truth.

      For this, I await your apology.

      I also did not bring up the racism charge, I only jumped on the bandwagon when I saw Tilly’s and your reaction. I thought that was very interesting.

      You are right, though, about one thing. I have relied on other articles rather than read Darwin’s books themselves. I have zero interest in this type of science, mostly because I don’t understand it, so I do rely on others’ dumbed-down interpretations. (I hate having to admit it, but you know, that’s just me being honest :).) That’s very different than my telling you, a Comparative Religion major, to read, for example, Maimonides in context before drawing conclusions.

      I think there is a very good case to be made that Darwin held racist views–for sure by today’s standards. I don’t understand why you have a problem with that. This is not character assassination and it does not discredit his work just like Roald Dahl’s anti-Semitic views don’t discredit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and all his other delightful children’s books and just like some abolitionists’ racist views don’t discredit their noble efforts on behalf of slaves.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/did-charles-darwin-believe-in-racial-inequality-1519874.html

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina, when you said, “Connie, I’m not trying to make him out to be a racist. I’m just pointing it out.” What exactly are you pointing out about Darwin? RACISM! “I think there is a very good case to be made that Darwin held racist views–for sure by today’s standards.”

        Consider those two quotes and then consider my paraphrase that yes, I admit I possibly shouldn’t have put in quotes, although I felt linguistic ambiguity in the context of a blog post allowed the use of quotes in this instance to be safe, let me explain:

        “‘I’m not trying to point out that he’s racist, just pointing out he is racist.”

        (this was an accurate paraphrase in line with your general statements and Fred’s bandwagon, which I could not reproduce in a thoroughly unique manner using my own words, so I put quotation marks just to be safe. Although linguistically speaking I could have said Dina strongly implied he is racist without actually saying he was racist. The sentiment was implicit however, but I will apologize nontheless.)

        “Paraphrase” means rewrite entirely in your own words and style, using none of the words, sequence of thoughts, sentence or paragraph arrangement, or other features of the original. That is something that could not be done in this instance, so I placed quotes. I apologize. Blogs are often not held to formal rules of writing, or haven’t you noticed?

        “If you use any phrases that are in the original quote, place them in quotation marks. Add a citation—even if a paraphrase is in your own words, it is still someone else’s idea.”

        You accuse me of lying, when your intention was clearly to jump on Fred’s bandwagon! You are saying above “Darwin held racist views by modern standards.” 1. We are not talking about modern standards, we were talking about evolution, (and according to Fred’s bandwagon which you jumped on,) to the question of whether Darwin was racist, and whether evolution promotes racism.

        You clearly believe he held racist views based on the quotes above, so do not accuse me of misrepresenting, when you just said he held such views. If he held racist views, what does that make him? Someone influenced deeply by racism. Your quotes carry an implicit charge of racism whether you directly stated it or not.

        Also, by being on Fred’s bandwagon, you support (albeit possibly indirectly) the think tank known as the creation institute which is the sole primary source of the information Fred (and you by extension) are indirectly drawing on (when you do some digging in the sources that you have cited, ie the sources behind your sources.) The information Fred and yourself have provided can be traced to this think tank known through one of its chief spokesmen, ken Ham who definitely subscribes to the idea that Darwin and Darwinism are and support racism.

        I do not mean to impute motives to you, but perhaps I will just state that you should be careful of jumping on bandwagons when you don’t have the time to dig into the actual source material.

  26. Concerned reader says:

    This whole discussion got me thinking this morning.

    Knowledge is thicker than blood, land, or nation.

    I was thinking this morning about how in all world religions we always have something that we like to view as the bedrock of faith. Something that is the most unshakable of foundations.

    For the Christians, Jesus’ ressurection is the “sure thing,” along with the fact that we have seen replication in Jewish history some would be redeemers who have fit in a Jesus type mold so, seemingly is this granting credence to their ideas?) See: Starting Points Article

    In traditional Judaism, the Kuzari argument ends up being a big pillar I have heard. But, I got to thinking. The Kuzari only really has any impact if you are coming from within the Jewish fold.

    Only to a member of the Jewish people can a rabbi say with deep impact “our people stood on Sinai and heard the sound of words.” To a gentile, (who may want to examine the big questions through a historical/critical lens, this argument may not be the most convincing.) So, what is a non Jew to do? On what does the Torah say one should rely on as a discerning person?

    Deuteronomy 4:5-6 says
    “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

    The Torah here tells us that nations will see the wisdom of the teachings, (not necessarily the wisdom of a people themselves, because Torah is often a book of self criticism,) but they will say “I think they are onto something,” based on the values and methods of Torah.

    The Torah is not asking a non Jew to have faith in the unique Jewish experience or claim, its not asking them to have faith in the people, or individuals, (messiahs or otherwise) (as the book of Jonah tells us, the people can be gravely mistaken, and the book of Judges tells us sages can be mistaken too.)

    Torah is being honest in telling us to discern what is good from the teachings, and to cleave to that, not miracles, not individuals. That is a fully unique accomplishment in the scriptures of any nation, and in the dictates of any world religion.

    • Concerned Reader You are one hundred percent correct in that the Torah supplies no argument for anyone outside of the fold – the only argument the Torah does supply is that someone in the fold can reassure themselves that the covenant still stands – in other words the Torah is not talking to someone who doubts the existence of the covenant to begin with.

      As it relates to observing the Torah – the Torah is also not talking about “proving” anything. the Torah is encouraging faithful observance and pointing out that one of the side benefits is that the nations will be impressed. This would imply that less than faithful observance will not lead to the same result.

      I would venture to say that according to the Torah’s standards even the most Orthodox community is lacking in faithful observance but still and all I would expect that the social stability of our communities, the kindness and respect for human life and the significantly lower statistics for violent crime should make a dent

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • LarryB says:

      DA
      “This guy” is not a missionary. I would suggest you ask “this guy” except he does not take comments. Maybe he only likes to talk but not listen.

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