Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Pope Calls For Truthful Dialogue - NOT!

According to the BBC, Pope Benedict XVI has called for an "authentic dialogue" between Christians and Muslims in a speech at Turkey's directorate of religious affairs.He said the exchange must be "based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better".

So, you want to engage in truthful dialogue do you Benedict? Well here's your starter for 10:-

Why is it that in over 2000 years Xtians have never been able to provide any credible proof that this god of yours actually exists apart from as a figment of your collective delusional psychopathology?

Too hard a question? Then try this one:-

And why is it that in over 1300 years Muslims have never been able to provide any credible proof that this god of theirs actually exists apart from as a figment of their collective delusional psychopathology? (And don't bother being clever and telling me that it is one and the same god; I know that, but neither of you have been able to prove its existence!)

Failed again? Unsurprising really, since the real truth of the matter is that everyone who sincerely believes in a supernatural being which you monotheists call god is demonstrably a delusional psychopath, and those others who do not believe but claim that they do in order to manipulate others are undoubtedly sociopaths.

Somehow I don't think that this the kind of truth that you like to hear!

Tough shit, arsehole!

13 comments:

Alan Mackenzie said...

I think the answer is that smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.

With 2000 years plus of development, the fan-fiction of people's favourite characters, God and Jesus, has reached the stage, where religionists have become rather good at persuading others to accept these ideas without evidence. The main thrust of religion is not evidence, but persuasion. These acts of persuasion may indeed be internally rational, just as Wuthering Heights made perfect sense to me. For some reason, God and Jesus are perennial memes; they capture the imagination, and any educated European mind would be impoverished without these stories. But stories they are: Jesus may have existed, but why believe in the resurrection, salvation, or original sin? Can these Christians not see that Adam and Eve's non-existence, ahem, 'symbolic' role actually undermines salvation? The Christian Right don't see it that way; by way of bizarre contrast, they falsely claim that evolution threatens salvation [by any definition, a fabricated concept].

Upon closer examination of any religion, however, one can see that the three monotheistic faiths have as many logical inconsistencies as non-religious philosophies. This clearly points to the idea that religions are simply man-made institutions.

Alan.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Alan, you said:

Quote:"I think the answer is that smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.":Unquote.

At first glance I would agree with that, but on reflection I would then have to ask myself why they choose to believe weird things, and that brings me back to the ineluctable conclusion that it is simply an aspect of their psychopathology.

In short, either they need to believe in these things because of their own inadequacies and failings as well-developed human psyches, or they simply claim to believe these things because it gives them power over others more credulous than themselves. The first type are delusional psychopaths and the second are manipulative sociopaths, and both types are a delimiter to the development of truly enlightened, compassionate and civilised societies.

I also must take issue, in part, with your conclusion:

Quote: "Upon closer examination of any religion, however, one can see that the three monotheistic faiths have as many logical inconsistencies as non-religious philosophies.Upon closer examination of any religion, however, one can see that the three monotheistic faiths have as many logical inconsistencies as non-religious philosophies.":Unquote

Whilst I agree that all religions are man-made, I am not ready to accept that they have "as many logical inconsistencies as non-religious philosophies", since I think that on closer examination you will find that all religions individually have even more logical inconsistencies than any single non-religious philosophy and, furthermore that each individual religion probably more that all other philosophies combined.

Furthermore, religion and theology is, by definition, not involved with the search for truth, unlike philosophy and science - and when I refer to science I do not include that disingenuous liar Professor Andy McIntosh of the entirely mendacious Xtian movement that calls itself 'Truth in Science'.

Nevertheless, please don't take any of this as criticism of your argument per se, as I agree, in general, with what you say. I am simply trying to clarify the issue - or nit-pick, if you will - and I hope that you will continue to comment on my blog.

Cheers.

Alan Mackenzie said...

Quote: "At first glance I would agree with that, but on reflection I would then have to ask myself why they choose to believe weird things, and that brings me back to the ineluctable conclusion that it is simply an aspect of their psychopathology" End of quote.

A friend of mine believes that the reason for why people choose to believe in weird things goes back to childhood indoctrination. As Dawkins pointed out, the human brain is set up to believe parental advice: don't go near the cliff edge, don't go near the river, there are crocodiles. Any child who applied a questioning attitude to that advice would be dead. And so, I think that religious indoctrination piggy-backs upon any previous survival benefits afforded to children through believing what parents tell them.

Perhaps we might feel sorry for these people, given that, as children, avoiding hell replaced the need to avoid natural predators. Any how, I think we have an uphill struggle to convince religious believers otherwise: for a Christian to abandon moral choices they believe are fundamental to their survival, in this life, or 'the next', is almost impossible.

Quote: "Whilst I agree that all religions are man-made, I am not ready to accept that they have "as many logical inconsistencies as non-religious philosophies", since I think that on closer examination you will find that all religions individually have even more logical inconsistencies than any single non-religious philosophy and, furthermore that each individual religion probably more that all other philosophies combined" End of quote.

I think when Christianity began, it had at least an equal number of inconsistencies as it's contemporary non-religious philosophies, but given the hundreds of translations, by hundreds of different authors over the centuries, Christian theology now has far more wrong with it than 2000 years ago. However, the reshaping of Christianity did help it to survive under difficult circumstances, for example, although the bible endorses slavery, other biblical texts enabled black civil rights activists during the 1960s to counter the legacy of slavery left by white supremacists. What happened, is while slave owners used Christianity to indoctrinate slaves into worshiping their master, the very same slaves established their own church upon gaining their freedom. Thank God for giving white supremacists a reason to justify their misdeeds, and thank him also for providing blacks with a new Christian denomination of their won. It is analogous to thanking an arsonist for telephoning the fire brigade!

In general, we might argue that non-religious philosphy have fewer errors, because, 1, no-one claims they come from a fictional divine origin, and 2, they suffer less from what I call 'cultural egg mixing', and the transaction of ideas from culture to culture, or denomination to denomination.

In contrast, I would say that non-religious philosophies have fewer schools of thought, and so there is less of a tendency to mix them up, or reinvent old, bad ideas. I would even like to suggest that part of unpopularity of secular philosophy, is that it is less prone to rehashing, or cultural influences than religious ones, and so there is a limited appeal to non-religion because, in general, people like us have to wait for the arrival of new evidence to update our beliefs. All of this seems like too much hard work for some people; religion thus provides an easy way out, and I would argue, that contradictions enable religions to survive by providing sub-sets of ideas that differing groups utilize for the own benefit.

Of course, I agree that any philosophy that has been simply pulled out of the thin air, or even rehashed from Greek mythology are dubious from the outset. It is odd, however, that many religious people say their world-view is absolute, when in fact, it is simply a reshaping of previous themes.

On a technical level, ignoring any legitimate evidential-based premises that non-religious philosophy might have, secular philosophy is bound to have errors of reasoning and deduction, because credulous humans wrote them. My point is, that, while secular philosophy is error prone, it's proponents are more likely than religious philosophers to correct them, or even junk bad ideas altogether. For example, theistic evolution is simply a rehashing of specific interpretations of biblical texts [see book of Wisdom] that seek to legitimise a supernatural God by hiding him behind naturalistic 'proofs'. Why utilise all these 'symbolic' passages in order to accept evolution, when one, as a Christian, or non-Christian can look at the available evidence for evolution, and decide upon it that way? In other words, when evaluating the world out here, why bother with the bible at all, for it simply gets in the way.

It seems rather uncongenial to me, that Christians should toil over the recommendations of St. Augustine, who said that a literal interpretation of Genesis risks having Christian theology disproved; why bother with what St. Augustine said at all? Why not go straight to the evidence for evolution - which is strong enough to persuade any intellectually honest person.

I think part of the problem, is what I call the 'residue fallacy' of liberal Christianity. Why accept salvation, if the exposure of Genesis as fiction undermines original sin, and the salvation of humanity from this state of inherited despair? How can people ignore the near certainty that Adam and Eve never existed to commit 'original sin'? If Christians should wish to dump 95% of their philosophy that might be nonsense, why believe that the 5% remainder might be useful? The problem I have with Christianity, is that people attempt to filter out 'the useful' from the 'non-useful', and simply do not realise that what they need is an entirely new world-view.

I see inconsistencies in the writings of people like Richard Dawkins, and things secular humanists say, but, the most important aspect of any truth-seeking person, is that we are willing and able to dump everything, if it is exposed as wrong. I am sure that I, myself, am error prone; but the same principle applies: if I am wrong, I have to re-evaluate everything I believe in, and not cling on to my 'pet 5%' of beliefs that might I might deem emotionally comforting to have.

So, when atheists and secular humanists debate, one does not have to view any criticism as an insult against 'what I stand for'. We are grateful for critique, because as humans, we have biases that need to be ironed out, or dumped altogether.

I think if we are going to appeal to a broader cultural set of people, atheists and secular humanists might have to consider a more popular set of ideas. This might risk a bit of egg-mixing, or a certain permissible level of contradiction owing to local interpretation, but any culturally successful philosophy should expect this to happen. Being wrong gives atheists something to do, since being right all the time, or believing that one is right, is really a rather boring way to live. How do we know when we are right?

As Oliver Cromwell one said:

"Think it possible that you may be mistaken".

Alan Mackenzie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Merchant of Menace said...

Alan, you concluded, "I think if we are going to appeal to a broader cultural set of people, atheists and secular humanists might have to consider a more popular set of ideas."

Frankly, I don't think that I want to appeal to a broader set of people, but then I'm a misanthrope, as well as an anti-theist and misoclere, LOL!

The Merchant of Menace said...

I am also intrigued that Blogger says that a post has been removed by the author, but since I have removed no posts - and am the only person, allegedly, with persmission to edit comment, I wonder what's going on here?

Alan Mackenzie said...

It was me - I own up!

Blogger does allow those posting comments to remove them, and I removed mine because it didn't really make sense, and I felt that it would have confused people. I was in a rush to reach my work destination, and didn't have the time to make an informed comment, so I got rid of it when I arrived home.

Sorry about the confusion: if you're a blogger member, and signed in, you can remove posts.

Alan.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Thank you for the confession, Alan, and for teaching an old dog new tricks!

As for your claim that you removed it because you didn't have time to make an informed comment, forgive me if I do not quite believe you.

If that sounds offensive, it is not meant to be. I simply meant to imply that I have never found any of your comments (on my blog or elsewhere) less than worthy of serious consideration, and I doubt that the one you removed was any less so.

Alan Mackenzie said...

The comment was about making what I call 'straw man proposals'. This is not the same as misrepresenting someone's position, and pretending one has refuted it, but deliberately proposing an argument with problems, and then asking people to improve it. Given enough time and effort, it should become an 'iron man proposal'. Businesses do this all the time.

In the past, others have accused me [I think falsely] of sophistry, and I was afraid that someone, not necessarily you, would get the wrong impression.

I find putting forth 'straw man proposals' is useful, if people see the benefits of them. I find that I learn a great deal from others pointing out flaws in my arguments, and suggesting improvements: something religious believers can learn from! It's just that I didn't make that clear, in the deleted comment.

Alan.

Alan Mackenzie said...

You might want to watch this 'creation vs. evolution' video, courtesy of that awe-inspiring, pseudo-Christian organisation, Adam and Eve It.

http://www.samchapman.talktalk.net/AnEindex.htm

Once again, the thought terminating clich├ęs of 'God has made it plain to them', and the lies of Piltdown forgeries are used to 'refute' evolution.

I notice that creationists love to waffle on about the fossil record, as if fossils were the only evidence for evolution: if there were no fossils, then the evidence for evolution would still be overwhelming. For example, molecular evidence.

Creationists need to admit, by their own theological standards, that they've sinned against scientists, whose works they misrepresent, with blatant contradictions, and quotes out of context.

I don't think it's really about evolution, but a fear of science in general, and lashing out at authority. Look how the video narrator blames scientific advances for turning churches into night clubs, or Buddhist temples. Well, atheists and agnostics have looked at the evidence, and decided that the burden is on religious believers, not us. They, not us, have failed to make a persuasive case, and so there is no reason to believe them.

And they wonder why people don't take them seriously? Why the default position of God vs. the evidence, as if the burden is on the rest of us to refute their claims? How pretentious. To my mind, the bible has no more truth value than The Lord of the Rings, or any other piece of fiction.

Alan.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Alan,

Your technique of 'straw man proposals' seems to have something in common with Socrates' method of inquiry. It worked for him, so I see no good reason why it shouldn't work for you.

Regarding creationists, or fundamental believers of any stripe, you are correct when you say that it is not really about evolution, but then I don't think that your other suggesttions such as that it is a fear of science and a lashing out at authority are correct either.

I suggest that the facts are more prosaic than that. Genuine believers are neurologically/psychologically damaged and easy prey to those who would take advantage of their genuine disabilities; disingenuous ones are the manipulators who profess to believe this incredulous nonsense simply in order to exploit the mentally defective ones who do genuinely believe. And despite the research by Michael Persinger and others, I suggest that the number of 'genuine believers' comprises the minority.

In conclusion, all those who are not 'damaged goods' are de facto liars, but that begs the question, "Why?"

I suggest that the 'usual suspects' are in play; desire for power, self-esteem, advancement, wealth, sex, etc., - in short, all the unattractive aspects of human-nature, which is probably why they have to disguise them with a more acceptable wrapper to hide their true nature.

To paraphrase Georges Rey, "The next honest believer in religion you meet will be the first!"

Alan Mackenzie said...

Who do you think the psychopaths are?

Any names, if you dare?

I think people with anti-social personality disorder [distinct from psychopathy] affects more people than one thinks - and not all of them in prison for violent crimes either. It's not something talked about in 'polite journalism', but there must be a host of APD/Psychopathics in the church, politics, and the law.

How would you class the Intelligent Design crowd - Dembski, Behe, and Johnson? I wouldn't say they were stupid per se, odd perhaps, but skilled at their peculiar art of convincing the gullible.

Alan.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Whilst it is possible to study criminology without being a criminal, it is impossible to be a theologian without having near complete disregard for the truth since it commences with the a priori claim that god exists.

Dembski et al are simply liars of the first water; what purpose a man's academic credentials if he does not have the intellectual integrity to acknowledge the truth when it does not meet with his cherished opinions.

People like him, and that mendacious charlatan Andy McIntosh of the laughingly called 'Truth in Science' organisation start off their spurious claims for ID with the premiss that certain complex things, e.g. DNA, are in and off themselves 'information' or 'language', and then claim that since all information and language must have been created by a pre-existing intelligence, the existence of this information or language 'proves' ID.

However, their argument is completely spurious, since it ignores at least two critical facts:-

1. They have produced absolutely no evidence that the information or language which they claim is embodied in these complex objects is the product of an intelligent force.

2. If their claim were to be substantiatable that language can exist only if it has been created by an intelligent force, they must firstly explain what they believe this intelligent force to be,
and why they consider it to be the 'first cause'.

In short, their arguments, though superficially clever are simply pure sophistry and totally unsubstantiatable attempts to 'prove' that the imaginery god which they need to believe in exists.

So why are they such monstrous liars?

That, unfortunately, is something we shall never know unless it were possible to submit them to intensive psychotherapy and to make the results public.

One thing is ineluctable, however. It is their own desperate psychopathological needs which drive them to abuse the rest of us with their pernicious lies and disingenuous arguments.

Frankly, to paraphrase George Bush Senior's comments about atheists, "Believers should be stripped of their citizenship and denied the right to vote!"

To which I'd add: And incarcerated in institutions for the insane!