Reflection by Red State Rabble

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Red State Rabble (Pat Hayes) attended the Ken Miller talk at KU last Thursday and has followed the ensuing internet discussion closely. Here in its entirety is an entry from Pat’s blog Red State Rabble in which Pat offers a reflection on the affair. Pat is a thoughtful commentator, and I felt his comments deserved a wider audience (although many people already have Red State Rabble on their list of daily blog reading.)

Uniting Against the Common Enemy For a couple of days now, RSR has been digesting the reaction – some would say the over-reaction – to Ken Miller’s speech at KU last Thursday. We’ve exchanged a couple of e-mails with Miller, which we’ll get to in a moment, but first there’s something I want to get off my chest:

Having read the comments to a number of posts here, at Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, and the KCFS public discussion forum I’ve been playing and replaying a scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” in my head.

In the film, Brian drifts into a plot to sneak into the palace in Caesar’s Square through the underground sewer and kidnap Pontius Pilate’s wife so the Judean People’s Front can issue its demands:

COMMANDO XERXES: What exactly are the demands?

REG: We’re giving Pilate two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Roman Imperialist State, and if he doesn’t agree immediately, we execute her.

Once inside the palace they run into a second commando group made up of officials of the People’s Front of Judea who also plan to kidnap Pilate’s wife and issue demands.

When a fight breaks out between the two groups, the Christ-like Brian chides them all, “Brothers! Brothers! We should be struggling together! … We mustn’t fight each other! Surely we should be united against the common enemy!”

But, no one listens and they are all thrown into the Roman dungeons.

Why?

Well, as Reg told Brian back at the Coliseum when he joined the PFJ, “The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People’s Front.” And, of course, the splitters in the Judean Popular People’s Front.

As an active participant in the antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, Red State Rabble can assure you that Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and the other members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus have created, in the “Life of Brian” a dead-on satire of one of the worst features of an otherwise noble movement to end the war in Vietnam.

In any political movement, such as the movement to defend science education and the separation of church and state, it’s absolutely critical to be able to tell your friends from your enemies. If you can’t do that, you may as well quit fighting, because you can’t do anything.

And, you have to know what you’re fighting for.

RSR is fighting against those authoritarians who would impose their religious views on the rest of us. We don’t believe giving church-goers two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of their religious belief – or else – constitutes a workable strategy.

We’re not interested in philosophical purity, either.

We want to work closely with activists like Ken Miller to defend science education in public schools. Moreover, we respect him for his many contributions to that struggle. In fact, it’s hard to think of many people who’ve done more. We frankly don’t care what his religious views are. It’s his actions that count in our book.

In an e-mail he has given RSR permission to quote from Miller writes:

It is a self-evident fact that some of the most ardent and scientifically eminent defenders of evolution have been people of faith, including the likes of Francisco Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky. All of these people would take issue, as do I, with any thesis that evolution, as a matter of science, rules out God. Does that make us all “creationists” who would throw our colleagues to the wolves? Of course not.

I will continue in the future to make the same points as I did in my Kansas lecture last week, namely, that evolution can be understood in a way that is compatible with religious faith.

For our part, RSR is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of faith who want to defend America’s secular institutions from attacks by the radical right.

As a person with a secular outlook, RSR believes Charles Darwin got it exactly right when he wrote:

I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follow[s] from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science.

Those non-believers who don’t learn this lesson, I believe, run the danger of ceding more political power to the religious right. Although I’m optimistic about our ultimate chances for success, in the end, it all comes down to the strategy we adopt.

If we adopt a strategy that unites us with those who are willing to defend the nation’s secular heritage – whatever their religious or philosophical beliefs – we can create a powerful movement to defeat those who demand an authoritarian form of government.

Those who seek some unattainable purity, who would divide believers from non-believers in this movement, may someday find themselves, like Brian, in a dungeon of their own making.

Thanks for those thoughts, Pat

520 Comments

Miller quoted in the opening post:

It is a self-evident fact that some of the most ardent and scientifically eminent defenders of evolution have been people of faith, including the likes of Francisco Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky. All of these people would take issue, as do I, with any thesis that evolution, as a matter of science, rules out God. Does that make us all “creationists” who would throw our colleagues to the wolves? Of course not.

Miller in an open letter posted at Uncommon Descent 9/28/05:

Many of you accused me of “mocking God” for pointing out that remarkable frequency of extinction would make an “intelligent designer” look ridiculous. In fact, it was exactly because I do not mock God that I pointed out how ridiculous this view of an “intelligent designer” would be. It is those who advance the opposite view, in favor of ID, who must actually argue that the “designer” isn’t competent enough to make organisms that would last.

Although Miller is saying evolution doesn’t rule out the existence of a god, he is saying religious claims of a god using special creation are “ridiculous”, right?

I would like the comments on this thread to stay on the topics raised by Pat. This old post by Ken Miller on Uncommon Descent, no matter how worthwhile a discussion it might lead to, is really not on-topic here.

Those non-believers who don’t learn this lesson, I believe, run the danger of ceding more political power to the religious right. Although I’m optimistic about our ultimate chances for success, in the end, it all comes down to the strategy we adopt.

If we adopt a strategy that unites us with those who are willing to defend the nation’s secular heritage — whatever their religious or philosophical beliefs — we can create a powerful movement to defeat those who demand an authoritarian form of government.

Those who seek some unattainable purity, who would divide believers from non-believers in this movement, may someday find themselves, like Brian, in a dungeon of their own making.

Sounds familiar.

;)

People who want creationist taught in schools, no matter who they are, are our enemy, and deserve to be treated as such.

People who DON’T want creationism taught in schools, no matter who they are, are our friend, and deserve to be treated as such.

Fight with our enemies. Not with our friends.

Leave the arguments over ideological purity to the Maoists. They’re much better at it, and it keeps them out of our way.

I have a proposal to test this wonderful unity we’re now all going to have.

I’m also going to sit back and enjoy my new immunity from criticism by anyone else who opposes the teaching of creationism in the schools. Remember, if you disagree with me, it means we’re all going to be thrown into a Roman dungeon.

I like RSR.

I moved some posts to the bathroom wall. Please see Comment #129422 above.

I like RSR, too. It’s one of my regular reads.

I also like kitty cats.

This new positive attitude we’re all going to have is sure going to help us get things done.

PZ Myers wrote:

I have a proposal to test this wonderful unity we’re now all going to have.

So, now we sit back and wait to see what Ken Miller has to say about the pope’s last speech on evolution and secular societies.

PZ, why not put up a James Randi style clock the way he counts the days since sylvia Brown accepted his challenge to put up.

That would be antagonistic. We’re all about cooperation, remember.

I don’t understand the flippant attitude here, and I’d like to point out that the person’s ideas which are the focus of this post are Pat Hayes’, not Ken Miller’s.

There are theists and non-theists in the world. Pat is not saying that everything is going to be hunky-dory between them. He is saying that the political reality is that those who are for mainstream science and for the secular nature of our country - one which makes room for a wide diversity of belief, need to put a higher priority on defending those things than on being divisively concerned about whether people beieve in God or not.

PZ Myers Wrote:

I have a [link blog post] proposal to test this wonderful unity we’re now all going to have.

Those are some wildly out of context quotes you’re tossing around there. Kind of like the ones you based your blog post around after Ken Miller’s speech last week, come to think of it. I can only hope you aren’t planning on making a regular habit of this.

And I am saying that if we are going to accept this diversity of belief, you’re all going to have to get used to the fact that atheists don’t believe in god. The demand for acceptance always seems to go one way.

I am also saying that the only way to work towards that unity is to recognize that there are differences of opinion, and we are free to express them. There is definitely an oppressive current here that is trying to use a demand for unity against a common enemy to suppress dissent; the members of the bland and happy majority are always going to be content to demand that we all just get along and stop complaining. This is not how we progress. This is how we stagnate.

PZ, I don’t see anything in what either Pat or I have written that wants to “oppress atheists.” If you’ve been reading my comments here or on Pharyngula you will know that I have written that the demonization of atheists is flat out wrong, and I have agreed with you that we have to work at cutting the connection between materialism and the ills of the world.

You write,

And I am saying that if we are going to accept this diversity of belief, you’re all going to have to get used to the fact that atheists don’t believe in god. The demand for acceptance always seems to go one way.

I am also saying that the only way to work towards that unity is to recognize that there are differences of opinion, and we are free to express them.

I agree entirely with that, and I’m virtually certain that Pat does too.

Andrew McClure wrote:

Those are some wildly out of context quotes you’re tossing around there.

Are they? How do you interpret the pope’s speech?

Jack Krebs wrote:

PZ, I don’t see anything in what either Pat or I have written that wants to “oppress atheists.”

How about seeing it in deleted posts – posts not really sent to the Bathroon wall – just gone.

Why is the idea that a God that uses evolution probably not being omniscient something you need to get rid of?

You’ll have to explain further then what Pat’s post is about. What exactly is the proposal? What is the complaint? Because what seems to be driving it is that I have objected to a substantial bit of Ken Miller’s approach to combatting creationism, and in fact think that that part of his strategy is wrong and counterproductive.

Somehow, I don’t think it was a request to Ken Miller to stop blaming atheists for creationist’s opposition to evolution. It sounded more to me like a request to those who disagree with Miller to stop rocking the boat.

PZ Myers Wrote:

There is definitely an oppressive current here that is trying to use a demand for unity against a common enemy to suppress dissent;

I’m sorry, but I quite clearly remember that this cross-blog flamewar originally started with you attempting to declare Ken Miller persona non grata “here”. At least, I don’t know how else to interpret a statement like “Thanks, Dr Ken! I know what side you’re on, now…it’s you and the creationists, best friends 4ever! Did they promise to let you strike the match at the atheist-burning?”.

If you’re going to establish yourself arbiter of who is or isn’t part of the movement against creationism, I find it awfully hard to take seriously claims the next week that the same thing is being done to you.

The pope has the right to be offended by your belief in and advocacy of “secular humanism”; you have the right to be offended by the pope’s belief in and advocacy of “superstition”. But neither of these things are relevant or helpful to the “debate” between science and creationism. They are orthogonal*. You are, intentionally or not, conflating these two things. If you are being “suppressed” over this (though I have a lot of trouble seeing RSR’s ‘I refuse to stop working with the religious’ message here as “oppressive”), you are not being attacked because you disagree with the pope about secular humanism versus the god of the gaps. You are being attacked for the conflation of two separate issues, for being needlessly divisive.

* They are relevant enough to one another that the discussion of the philosophical disgreement between secular humanism vs theistic evolution can be interesting or worthwhile in an evolution vs creation forum, but this philosophical disagreement is still orthogonal to the scientific questions of whether evolution is right and whether creationism belongs in schools.

normdoering Wrote:

Are they? How do you interpret the pope’s speech?

I left a comment along those lines at PZ’s blog.

Those who seek some unattainable purity, who would divide believers from non-believers in this movement, may someday find themselves, like Brian, in a dungeon of their own making.

I don’t see what’s so unobtainable about not believing things without evidence, or not believing things that have lots of contrary evidence, or not believing things that make no sense. Nor do I see why it should be so hard to suggest that it’s not merely Creationism we want kept out of our societal establishments but irrationality and unreason in general.

More to the point, I don’t see how we can accomplish our goal of getting competent and accurate science instruction in schools by allying ourselves with people who flagrantly misrepresent the nature of the scientific method. That’s rather like setting the fox to guard the henhouse. Sure, he’ll keep everyone else from raiding chickens - but our goal isn’t to keep the snakes and weasels away from our poultry. Our goal is to keep the poultry safe.

If you’re going to establish yourself arbiter of who is or isn’t part of the movement against creationism, I find it awfully hard to take seriously claims the next week that the same thing is being done to you.

I expressed my opinion – rather unambiguously, don’t you think? What I object to here is the sanctimonious pussyfooting, the pretense of just trying to get along and be fair to everyone, when it’s really a veiled request to silence critics of a prominent defender of evolution.

Why not say it plainly? Ask the atheists to sit down and shut up about their disbelief, because it annoys the Christians. That’s what this is actually about.

though I have a lot of trouble seeing RSR’s ‘I refuse to stop working with the religious’ message here as “oppressive”

Funny…I don’t recall saying that I refuse to work with the religious. Why was that complaint even made? Is someone refusing to work with them?

I also reject the notion that this issue is orthogonal to the creation-evolution debate. It is central to that argument – creationists are not creationists because those annoying militant atheists drive them to it, as Miller asserts; they are creationists because their religious beliefs are the ideological basis of their disagreement, and if you bound and gagged every single atheist, agnostic, and deist in the country, they’d still be pushing the same 19th century fallacies. The fact that so many of the front-men of the evolution wars are made prominent because they refuse to address the root cause of the conflict, because of the fearful accommodationists who are afraid that an honest and consistent naturalistic philosophy would antagonize those people with irrational superstitions, is exactly why we need more people shouting out their disagreement with these failed policies.

Anti-creationist movement? That’s odd, I’m part of the pro-science movement. I oppose creationism as part of my larger goal of supporting science. Why should I sabotage that goal by allying with people who oppose it, just to accomplish that minor subgoal?

If opposing creationism is so all-fired vital to the theistic evolutionists, let them learn to live with the people who oppose their theism.

After all, if the Judean People’s Front hated the other Fronts more than the Romans, the reasonable thing to do would have been to ally themselves with the Romans against the other groups. Setting aside their differences in order to take down the Romans would’ve been against their goals, and that would be madness. Methinks someone should have reconsidered their metaphor.

PZ Wrote:

Ask the atheists to sit down and shut up about their disbelief, because it annoys the Christians. That’s what this is actually about.

PZ the martyr?

When it comes down to atheists or Christians, both are wrong to conflate science and their own metaphysics.

Jack Krebs wrote:

I would like the comments on this thread to stay on the topics raised by Pat. This old post by Ken Miller on Uncommon Descent, no matter how worthwhile a discussion it might lead to, is really not on-topic here.

I disagree. Pat and others seem to have been mislead by Miller into thinking there is some kind of unity needed between theists and atheists who already accept the fact of evolution and the theories that explain it. The old post demonstrates that the unity needed is between theists with conflicting religious beliefs. Creationists themselves are the ones claiming evolution rules out God, and the theist Miller calling their cherished special creation belief “ridiculous” is at least as insulting to them as anything Dawkins can come up with. The attempts to pin the blame for anti-theistic interpretations of evolution on atheists is pathetic and I can’t believe people like Pat Hayes are falling for it.

PvM wrote:

When it comes down to atheists or Christians, both are wrong to conflate science and their own metaphysics.

What metaphysics?

I think PZ is arguing ontology and epistemology which do touch on the scientific issues involved in evolution.

But I’m not saying he’s right either. If he did indeed rely on an unreliable source for the pope’s words, then maybe the pope was expressing something similar to what Steven Weinberg wrote in his book, I think it was; “Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature,” that “the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless.

That remark has been quoted more than anything he’s ever said, and it’s usually quote mined by the religious. He meant there is no sign of a grand plan in which humans play a starring role. The universe is an impersonal world governed by mathematical laws that are not particularly concerned with human beings, in which human beings appear as a chance phenomenon, not the goal toward which the universe itself is directed.

For some people that picture is antithetical to the view of nature and the world that their religion had given them.

That’s only one sense of meaning. What people forget is that there is another sense of meaning that Weinberg talks about next, a more personal, human meaning. It doesn’t mean there’s no point to life. Weinberg also wrote that:

if there is no point in the universe that we discover by the methods of science, there is a point that we can give the universe by the way we live, by loving each other, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art. And that – in a way, although we are not the stars in a cosmic drama, is the only drama we’re starring in is one that we are making up as we go along, it is not entirely ignoble that faced with this unloving, impersonal universe we make a little island of warmth and love and science and art for ourselves. That’s not an entirely despicable role for us to play.

PZ’s words about working the religious tend to conflict with his history of attacking any theistic evolutionist who he thinks has betrayed science. I thought the Collins incident would be a hard lesson in jumping to conclusions without available information, perhaps recalling the Mims inicident on the IDist side. I guess I was wrong, because now we have PZ shooting off even harsher premature posts about how Miller is in league with the anti-evolutionists. That, to me, does not say anything about a spirit of cooperation in advocating science, it instead gives the impression that Professor Myers is more interested in attacking theists and being hostile towards religious people, regardless of their stance on science, to the point of outrageous conflations and wild accusations. In short, this sort of thing gives the appearance of knee-jerk reactionism and prejudice, and of promoting a more extreme form of Scientism rather than a general acceptance of the sciences by the public. The fact that this kind of thing has happened not once, but TWICE, with prominent theistic evolutionists who have been outspoken against the anti-evolution movement and have made efforts to break down the religious opposition to science is very disheartening. This sort of behavior also giving more credence to the false impression proferred by IDists that all this Evolution stuff is about staunch Metaphysical rather than methodological naturalism. It looks to the reader that Dr. Myers is saying that the first, rather than the later, is what is at stake in these Evolution arguments, not simply a popular rejection of religious objections to established facts and scientific methodology.

I wronte:

I think it was; “Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature,” that “the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless.

Nope, just checked – according to Paul Davie it was the Weinberg book called: “The First Three Minutes.”

PZ Myers Wrote:

though I have a lot of trouble seeing RSR’s ‘I refuse to stop working with the religious’ message here as “oppressive”

Funny…I don’t recall saying that I refuse to work with the religious. Why was that complaint even made? Is someone refusing to work with them?

We have here a post by RSR which I would summarize as “I refuse to stop working with the religious”. You reply to that post, in part, with “There is definitely an oppressive current here that is trying to use a demand for unity against a common enemy to suppress dissent; the members of the bland and happy majority are always going to be content to demand that we all just get along and stop complaining. This is not how we progress. This is how we stagnate.” You do not specify exactly from whom or where this “oppressive current” flows. How do you expect this to be taken by the reader?

If you do not feel that RSR’s post qualifies as among whatever it was you were referring to which is “oppresive” or “the way we stagnate” or “suppress[ing]” dissent, or feel some parts do qualify and some parts don’t, feel free to clarify.

Caledonian Wrote:

Anti-creationist movement? That’s odd, I’m part of the pro-science movement.

My choice of the phrase “anti-creationist movement”, which I assume you are responding to, was solely intended to avoid unnecessary generalization, since I was referring in that sentence specifically to a comment in which Ken Miller had been labelled a creationist.

Caledonian Wrote:

I oppose creationism as part of my larger goal of supporting science. Why should I sabotage that goal by allying with people who oppose it, just to accomplish that minor subgoal?

My viewpoint would be that, as someone whose viewpoint is fundamentally pro-science, my position is harmed by anyone who intertwines science with religious viewpoints. This could extend to, among other things, someone insisting that science must make accomodations for religion (for a random example, barring discussion of random mutation being “directionless” just because some people’s religion insist on life being purposeful), as well as someone insisting that acceptance of evolution requires the acceptance or rejection of certain religious (religious, not factual) propositions. When science’s separation from religion is threatened, the societal position of science (which is important not for ideological reasons, but because it is useful) is degraded.

I think nearly everyone here would agree that it is unacceptable to require certain views on religion in order for someone to “support evolution” or “support science”. The problem as I see it is that different people here disagree as to whether or not certain situations (Ken Miller, as perceived by some people, issuing attacks on materialist humanists? PZ Myers, as perceived by some people, issuing attacks on Ken Miller? RSR, as perceived by some people, issuing attacks on people who attack Ken Miller?) constitute excluding someone from “the Panda’s Thumb camp” based on a view about religion.

My viewpoint would be that, as someone whose viewpoint is fundamentally pro-science, my position is harmed by anyone who intertwines science with religious viewpoints.

It’s funny how that principle gets distorted in its operation into “my position is harmed by anyone who intertwines science with anti-religious viewpoints.” Where were all these principled objections when Miller throws the blame for creationism on atheist, and intertwines his science with his Catholicism? This is my objection: the complaints only go one way. If I hadn’t shouted out, everyone would be saying Miller’s talk was wonderful, and there wouldn’t be the slightest expression of protest anywhere that he had mixed up his Catholicism with his evolution.

Of course, perhaps what you are saying is that your position has been harmed by Miller, too, and then, boy, will my face be red as I apologize to you for failing to understand that you were agreeing with me.

I admire PZ Myers for his bravery and honesty, and for not hiding behind any pseudonyms to advance his views. However, I can’t help but feel that he is helping create an ever deepening divide between the religious and science. Or rather I should say, justifying the disdain of religious people for any kind of science they find “problematic.”

While his quest is noble, I beg PZ and those who agree with his approach take a quick look at this link:

http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2003/05/[…]hey_are.html

That’s an interesting link…maybe a bit rich with platitudes, but OK. I don’t think it says to me what it says to you, though.

Hold onto your vision. It’s the source of your energy and passion. And just for now, let go of asking people to meet you where you are. Right now, they can’t see what you see. They hear you asking them cross a treacherous chasm into a murky, uncertain future. They hear you asking a great deal.

Instead, meet people where they are. Hear and acknowledge the confusion and risks and losses that fill their field of vision. Accept that their fears are real for them. Let them know that you will take the journey with them, supporting them in the ups and downs of Chaos.

Exactly right. I can understand that many people find atheism scary, which is why I don’t ask them to become atheists, or demand that you have to be an atheist to support evolution, or even that you have to be an atheist to be a good scientist. I am not asking much at all.

However, if I’m to help people in this journey the quote talks about, they have to see the destination. I think what we’re struggling with is a lot of people who believe the answer is to deny the existence of that journey at all, and who insist that the way to peace is through mollification–they want to maintain the status quo. In case you hadn’t noticed, that isn’t working out real well for science.

And I am saying that if we are going to accept this diversity of belief, you’re all going to have to get used to the fact that atheists don’t believe in god.

So what. Neither do I. That isn’t the point.

my brain goes off on a tangent involving the grunge rockers, the Meat Puppets

“Some things will never change”.

;)

45% of Americans accept the idea of Special Creation. Sad, in my view, but that’s not a majority

You might also want to mention to Norm that at least 2/3rds of the people in the US who accept evolution and reject ID/creationism, are theists.

Norm tends to forget that.

Of course, Norm doesn’t CARE if they accept evolution or not. Norm doesn’t CARE if their religion affects their science or not. To Norm, a theist is a theist is a theist is a theist, and all theists are the enemy.

Heck, I’m not even a theist, and Norm considers *me* the enemy because I don’t agree with Norm’s demonization of theists. And if you’re not with Norm, you’re against him. That, after all, has always been the battle cry of ideological extremists.

Right, Norm?

There’s that fundie absolutist mindset again

You noticed that too, huh.

Norm is more fundie than the fundies are.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Give them that power, and *then* watch what happens.

Well, there are a few European countries with a lot of atheists – what have they done?

http://www.adherents.com/largecom/c[…]atheist.html

Sweden has about 85% non-believers in God, Denmark about 80%, Norway 72%. Oh, my Gawd! What horrible results! Sweden and Norway didn’t even get rid of their state churches! What horrible repression of religion! In Denmark Theo van Gogh was killed by a radical Muslim and look what happened to the poor Muslims in that country!

Horrible! Shocking! Horrible!

Steviepinhead (#132603) Wrote:

Hmm. […] On with the show!

Hey, don’t encourage them! ;)

Henry

I find it just as revealing to look at the posts that Norm does NOT respond to, as the ones he DOES respond to. …

Sweden has about 85% non-believers in God, Denmark about 80%, Norway 72%.

And unlike you, none of them have made it their mission in life to stamp out religion. In fact, Norm, I am not aware that any of those vast majorities makes any effort at all whatsoever to stamp out the rest. There’s a lesson in there somewhere for you, Norm.

But gee, Norm, what countries HAVE made it their mission in life (officially as government policy, no less) to stamp out religion . … … ? Can you name a few for us . … ?

Comment # 132585

normdoering Wrote:

Comment #132585 Posted by normdoering on September 22, 2006 01:18 PM (e) Wayne Francis wrote:

So do you like going up to a stranger that is Polish and telling polish jokes to them?

Wow! What a context shift. Raging Bee is no stranger, he’s been chasing after my comments with logic so twisted Stephen Colbert could use it. You’re the one who walked into it. Popper’s Ghost was right about you.

Why is it a context shift? Why is making fun of someone’s god ok but making fun of someone’s ancestry not? Do you personally know the theists that you’ve made negative statements about their god? How is telling “Meet People Where They Are” that her relationship with her god any different then walking up to a Polish man on the street and telling bad polish jokes? Why should that Polish man get upset any more then a theist would get upset about you degrading their personal spiritual beliefs? I’ll take it from your reaction that you wouldn’t approve of any of the “humorous” situations I suggested.

So it is not ok to joke about your partner and kids who you care about. It is not ok to joke about someone’s nationality. It is not ok to joke about someone’s dead relative. BUT it IS ok to joke about someone’s spiritual beliefs?

Funny you should have picked the nationality one to focus on. For out of all of them “national pride” is the least tangible of all the conditions I put forth. Is it logical to be patriotic? I can say I’ve very patriotic. It’s the reason I joined the USMC when I was younger. It is my patriotism that made me proud to be an American and a U.S. Marine. It is my patriotism that makes me ashamed of the butchery the current administration is doing to the US Constitution.

Yet how is my patriotism really any different then someone else’s spirituality. My patriotism is my personal relationship with the history of America. I’m not proud of all the history but there are ideals there that I hold on to. I could get those ideals from other sources but my choice is to ground them in patriotism. Much like many religious people ground their ideals from their spiritual beliefs.

The only thing different between making a joke about someone’s god and someone’s nationality, at least if they are Polish, is that you don’t like the concept of “God” but have no problem with the concept of being “Polish”.

Posted by normdoering on September 22, 2006 07:41 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Give them that power, and *then* watch what happens.

Well, there are a few European countries with a lot of atheists — what have they done?

http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.ht

Sweden has about 85% non-believers in God, Denmark about 80%, Norway 72%. Oh, my Gawd! What horrible results! Sweden and Norway didn’t even get rid of their state churches! What horrible repression of religion! In Denmark Theo van Gogh was killed by a radical Muslim and look what happened to the poor Muslims in that country!

Horrible! Shocking! Horrible!

It isn’t what people personally believe that generally causes problems. Disaster comes when people decide everyone else should believe the same (as they do) and take action to make it so.

It isn’t what people personally believe that generally causes problems. Disaster comes when people decide everyone else should believe the same (as they do) and take action to make it so.

Such as when weak-minded people decide that the only acceptable attitude is a “tolerance” that involves acceptance of any new claim or idea as long as it doesn’t produce unpleasant emotional responses, then try to impose that attitude on others through social feedback?

Is *that* the kind of situation you’re describing?

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on September 13, 2006 7:33 PM.

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