Saturday, October 11, 2008

Respect? Don't hold your breath

Recent commenter the_world_in_my_eyes says, "Agnostics are individuals who say 'Since God has not shown himself, we have no idea about whether he exists or not'."

This is precisely what I mean by bullshit philosophical hair-splitting. Since they have not shown themselves, we have no idea whether or not invisible elves exist who are really running around pushing things towards the ground. Since they have not shown themselves, we have no idea whether or not unicorns, trolls, fairies, witches or wizards exist. Indeed, since we don't know anything with certainty, the_world_in_my_eyes would, to be consistent, have to argue that we have no idea about anything.

This kind of radical philosophical skepticism is fine for college sophomores and second-rate professors of comparative literature at third-rate state colleges, but serious people with work to do have no time or patience for such bullshit. We are not certain, but a lack of certainty is a very long way off from "no idea".

And what does this bullshit hair-splitting have to do with religion? There are millions of people who believe God does "show himself", that He hates faggots, commies, atheists, LIEberals, EVILutionists, scientists, abortionists, sluts, heretics, iconoclasts, niggers, kikes, spics... indeed anyone who doesn't look exactly the same and believe exactly the same set of ludicrous superstitions that one's fuhrer pastor teaches. And God will punish those horrible people with infinite suffering for eternity, and these millions are well and truly pleased that God will do so. And just in case it slips God's mind, they're happy to lend Him a hand.

What kind of ridiculous god doesn't do anything? What kind of scaredey-cat god hides behind my couch? Trying to associate such a bullshit idea to the kind of religion we see every day is as contemptible as trying to defend rape by pointing out that masturbation never hurt anyone.

We don't need a god that wants everyone to be happy; we already know that everyone wants to be happy. We don't need a god to be kind and helpful to other people; we've spent the last 100,000 years evolving our brain, and the last 10,000 years evolving our social ideas, to be kind and helpful to others: everyone wins when we're nice to each other, and everyone loses when we're mean to each other. We don't need God to show us what's right before our eyes. A god who gives nothing, tells nothing, shows nothing, does nothing that we can't do for ourselves is no god at all.

The question is simple: The idea is that a God exists, not some bullshit peekaboo god but a real God, a God with some fucking stones, a God who makes demands on human morality, demands that cannot be justified according to rational, scientific thought, mutual benefit and evolved and socialized human empathy. Do you believe that or not? Maybe it's true. And maybe we really should shoot abortion doctors. Maybe we really should crucify heretics. Maybe slavery really is justified. Maybe we really should keep women in reproductive slavery. Maybe we really should "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Are you really in doubt? Seriously? Honestly? Fine. Call yourself an agnostic.

(By the way, do you think that if such a God exists, He would be satisfied with your agnostic "me dunno" fence-sitting? Dream on. You're either with Him 100% or you're against Him; there's no middle ground.)

When hundreds of millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and no small few Jews, stop oppressing and murdering women, stop murdering gay people, stop denying gay people ordinary civil rights, stop reproductive slavery, stop supporting imperialist wars of aggression, stop electing monsters like George W. Bush... when hundreds of millions of religious people stop acting like complete fucking assholes, then I'll start to consider "respecting" the deists, the "moderate" Christians, the religious humanists.

But until then, the moderates who demand "respect" for religion — who demand "respect" for what is nothing but the irrational and moronically stupid justification for not all but an enormous part of the evil and suffering of the world — will receive nothing but my contempt. You can take your "respect" and shove it up your ass, sideways.

15 comments:

  1. I agree, I hate the respect argument as well. It's just a defense mechanism designed to discourage criticism of theistic ideas.

    "A god who gives nothing, tells nothing, shows nothing, does nothing that we can't do for ourselves is no god at all."

    "The question is simple: The idea is that a God exists, not some bullshit peekaboo god but a real God, a God with some fucking stones, a God who makes demands on human morality,"

    It's interesting that you mention this. I've noticed that for a lot of people, belief in God is a sort of mutual exchange - God provides morality, a worldview, and maybe even the occasional miracle, and the theist provides the worship. Indeed, God is so intertwined with morality it's hard to tell which one of the two is actually being worshiped - God's importance seems secondary compared to the objective set of moral rights and wrongs he's bundled with.

    I suppose that's why Abrahamic believers abhor the Deistic or Pantheistic notions of God, they wouldn't get anything out of the exchange. Like you said, a god that gives us nothing.

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  2. I suppose that's why Abrahamic believers abhor the Deistic or Pantheistic notions of God...

    And yet they're more than happy to trot out de facto deism to deflect criticism from their more... substantial... religious beliefs.

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  3. Now you're fucking talking, holmes!

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  4. That was beautiful, BB.

    Agnosticism construed as some kind of alternative to theism and atheism. Theism and atheism are concerned with belief in the existence of a god or gods: theism is belief in the existence of god/s, and atheism (a-theism) is, strictly-speaking, a lack of theism. Agnosticism is a matter of epistemology: the agnostic lacks knowledge of the existence or non-existence of god/s. We are all, as BB points out, agnostics in this sense, not just about the existence of god/s, but about so many other things as to render the label virtually useless as a means of orienting oneself in the theism/atheism debate.

    Agnosticism is, in other words, a completely different kettle of fish; and to call oneself an agnostic in an endeavour to differentiate oneself from theists and atheists alike makes about as much sense as declaring "My favourite smell is turquoise" or "My favourite fruit is chicken."

    The self-styled principled hedge-better who looks down his nose at us Militant Fundamentalist Atheists and labels himself an "agnostic" merits only one retort:

    "Well, DUH!"

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  5. (That should read: "Agnosticism construed as some kind of alternative to theism and atheism is nonsequitous.")

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  6. There was a time, over a year ago, when I became very interested in the difference between atheism and agnosticism and ignosticism and all those other labels. But I eventually came to the conclusion that it was all pointless. It wasn't just agnostics who were splitting hairs, the atheists were doing it too. And not just philosophical hair-splitting, semantical hair-splitting as well. Some atheists think that agnostics are actually atheists; some agnostics think that atheists are actually agnostics. What difference does it make?

    I far prefer "atheist" because I've found that "agnostic" makes you look like a contrarian who makes useless points about epistemology.

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  7. I far prefer "atheist" because I've found that "agnostic" makes you look like a contrarian who makes useless points about epistemology.

    Well said. We talk sensibly about prosaic things we know, and we know we know, without worrying about whether some elaborate alternative Rube Goldberg fantasy might be a plausible alternative. Why change everything when it comes to gods?

    If you really are on the fence, sure, call yourself an agnostic. Everyone has to make up their own mind. But I get irritated when those who haven't made a decision condemn those of us who have, as if making any kind of decision were itself evil.

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  8. Well unlike the invisible elves, God is very much a part of the lives of billions of people. Sure we can write a million books on why God does not exist and religion is evil, but what good does that do? Do you seriously think that Richard Dawkins or Chris Hitchens or any other atheist can convince people to abandon their beliefs?

    If you think agnostics do not argue for fear of insulting religious people, think again. We just realised long ago that argument with religious people is like talking to a wall; you just cannot get through. And I never said you were evil, I just do not like the way you protray agnostics as people who try and cuddle with religious folk. Atheism can sometimes portray things in black and white which can be a bit annoying. Would an atheist have an open mind regarding telepathy? Would an atheist have an open mind about telekinesis? No, because an atheist thinks hey, these things are not there so fuck them! In your great haste to identify yourself with atheism, you can sometimes get carried away with so many others and dismiss anything that has not yet been proven as scientific.

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  9. the_world_in_my_eyes: Sure we can write a million books on why God does not exist and religion is evil, but what good does that do? Do you seriously think that Richard Dawkins or Chris Hitchens or any other atheist can convince people to abandon their beliefs?

    One or two people can't change the world overnight, therefore why try to change it at all, eh? The point is for as many people as possible to promote the truth for as long as it takes to get it to stick.

    If you think agnostics do not argue for fear of insulting religious people, think again.

    I never made any blanket statements about agnostics, and I especially never made any blanket statements about agnostics' motivation. I say very directly that no one has an obligation to take an advocacy position in the religious debate.

    Atheism can sometimes portray things in black and white which can be a bit annoying.

    I don't know precisely what you mean here.

    Atheists can be just about anything. So what? If you have a specific criticism, it would be helpful to have more details about what you're criticizing. But the following comment suggests you're talking about typical atheists.

    If you mean that atheists are typically just as absolutely certain as theists, I think you're wrong.

    If you mean that atheists are typically decisive, why should decisiveness annoy you?

    Would an atheist have an open mind regarding telepathy? Would an atheist have an open mind about telekinesis? No, because an atheist thinks hey, these things are not there so fuck them!

    This is simply false. Typical atheists, skeptical atheists, do have an open mind about telepathy, etc.: we are willing to subject claims to empirical testing, and believe or disbelieve according to the results.

    We are typically persuaded that telepathy doesn't exist because all the tests to date have failed miserably.

    In your great haste to identify yourself with atheism...

    Fuck you, asshole. How the hell do you know with what haste or deliberation I've identified with atheism. You don't know. Making assertions of truth that you know you don't know to be true is a lie, and I fucking hate liars.

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  10. I am reminded of a quote by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Again with respect to people who smoke: "'Trying to quit'? There are two people: those who smoke, and those who don't. People who are 'trying to quit' are just assholes who can't commit."

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  11. We can test how much of an agnostic a person really is. We place 10 identical flames in front of him/her and ask him/her to test if EACH of the flames will burn his/her hand. The real agnostic will try each flame because there is not way to tell FOR SURE if each flame will burn his hand.

    There is a story about Pyrrho a great antic skeptic that was so skeptic that friends walked all day with him because he was skeptic about everything and tested if a flame would burn his hand or if he would drown in a lake. But he wasn't that skeptic; one day he was running in Athens chasing a cook for not making a good meal for his friends. No matter how skeptics we pretend to be we have to draw a line. It amazes me why agnostics (those that claim they haven't chose a "belief side") try so hard not to draw a line when the most acceptable god would be a deistic one. It's like: "I disagree with 6 billion people (religious) and I could agree with a few millions (deists) but I prefer to say "I don't know", cause nobody knows"

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  12. the_world_in_my_eyes said: "In your great haste to identify yourself with atheism, you can sometimes get carried away with so many others and dismiss anything that has not yet been proven as scientific."

    It's a tad odd to see a view of the world which is grounded in real, tangible, supportable things derided as closed-minded compared to the unabashed dogmatism of our theistic peers.

    Very well, what "not yet proven" idea are you secretly advocating? Show me the evidence and I'll consider it. But don't expect ideas grounded exclusively in the realms of wishful thinking and emotional appeals to make it very far. I have an open mind, but not so open that my brains spill out.

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  13. Thank you, thank you very much.

    Why is this so difficult for some to understand? I don't respect ANY goofy ideas that lack tangible evidence. Just because billions of people buy the same delusion doesn't give it any more credibility.

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  14. well my friend, dawkins is known for being philosophically weak and his arguments are shallow and self refuting, determinism and memes are both self defeating and self refuting for example, but if we took dawkins seriously, then we can say that their shallow arguments are a meme that they caught from richard dawkins when thumbing through his shallow book "the god delusion"


    being obsessed with a GOD you do not believe in.. is a mind disorder

    JESUS loves you with mind disorder and all!!!

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