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Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 10:34pm On Sep 14, 2008
Learn how the religious have exploited the gullible in America and worldwide in the article appended below. The selling of indulgences by the Catholic church never ended. It has just been redressed and is being passed around again in a different guise. Looks like the church-going public are just too dumb to realise.

Enjoy

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Moral victory: Religious exploitation, and the new American creed


By Dom Stasi
Online Journal Guest Writer
From http://www.onlinejournal.com/TheocracyAlert/html/122304stasi.html

"Our moral perils are not those of conscious malice or the explicit lust for power. They are the perils which can be understood only if we realize the ironic tendency of virtues to turn into vices when too complacently relied upon; and of power to become vexatious if the wisdom which directs it is trusted too confidently."—Reinhold Niebuhr

In the Beginning . . .

December 23, 2004—I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was a young engineer fresh from a successful and heady seven years in the manned lunar expedition program called Project Apollo.

Along with thousands of other American engineers, scientists, pilots, and technicians, people accustomed to working in relative obscurity, we had found ourselves suddenly at the center of the universe. And though Albert Einstein had already proven that everything and anything can rightfully be considered the center of the universe, I'm speaking less prosaically. For a young man in the morning of his career, or an old man at its dusk, and today I can speak with knowledge of both circumstances, Project Apollo was that something we would remember the rest of our days. Physics aside, Apollo simply was for a time the center of the universe of men. Anyone who had the great good fortune and talent to be a part of it, would be changed for the experience, and changed for the better. Such harmless vanity is simply human nature. We are all of us creatures who delight in success however small might be our part in its achievement. Self-esteem is critical to our well being as humans. On Apollo it made us all work harder and with more passion than any work I've known since. Contributing to Project Apollo, and earning the trust and respect of project engineers older and wiser than I, and ultimately that of the astronauts themselves, gave this and so many other young Americans a special kind of self-confidence. Few have had such an opportunity so early in their lives and careers. Fewer still might have accepted it, for failure would have haunted all our days, and with each new moonrise, our nights as well. It's been said that experience doesn't change a person, but make him more of what he already is. Perhaps that is so. Think of the challenges you have faced in your own life. Think of how your responses to them tempered or softened you, contributed to, or somehow affected your social, intellectual, and perhaps, spiritual growth and attitudes. Reflecting upon ones life can be a rewarding or a painful exercise. Yet it is a thing from which we cannot hide. As Socrates observed, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Extreme? Perhaps. But keep these concepts of self top of mind. Remain mindful of self-confidence, self-esteem, and, not incidentally, self-worth as you read on.

Of course, even the best of good things must come to an end. So it was with Apollo. But at its close, when few outside the program really cared about silly-appearing moonwalks anymore, I was one of a relatively small group of Earthlings who had learned the empirical science of orbital mechanics and knew about sending moving pictures home from space. In our seven years of transmitting and receiving them, all of America had seen those pictures. All of the world would see those pictures evolve over time from grainy, hardly discernable monochromatic images to full color, full motion, high-resolution renditions worthy of National Geographic. Yet, in the mid-Seventies, and the end of manned missions to other worlds, those of us still with the civilian sector of the US Space Program were developing more pragmatic concerns about its future and our own. We'd all be looking for work soon. As for me and my own future, the ability to send moving pictures back from space seemed an esoteric skill at best, a skill wholly devoid of commercial value and now, with no new worlds on the trip sheet, it was becoming boring as well. I grew restless.

As things turned out, I was one of the lucky ones. I could stay on at the aerospace plant where we'd built the Lunar Lander. But with the program essentially over, I would have to transfer back to jets, back to reconnaissance flight test where I'd started out, but in 1975, I and just about every other American had had his fill of warplanes. Also, I came to realize that I'd lost my young man's taste for dangerous work. I was a husband and father now, and that was a convenient excuse to rationalize my growing yellow streak. I needed a change. I needed another kind of job, and we were in another stupid recession that the equally stupid TV economists never saw coming, yet dished out advice about to the credulous masses. Some things never change. Some jobs don't need a skill or a record of success to prevail. Unlike the unforgiving field of flight test, TV seemed full of such performance-free jobs. But I was an engineer, not a TV economist. I'd learned about video technology flying Air Force reconnaissance in the Arctic, transferred it to a civilian career. It was the technology that revealed the Russian missiles in Cuba, and kept tabs on the Russian bombers poised like coils to spring from Siberia if things in Cuba went awry. It was that same video technology in civilian dress that had allowed us to see the moon walks. But in its private-sector application, the application known as commercial broadcast television, video was used shamefully. Commercial television it seemed was a medium created by our collective genius only to have it exploit our collective stupidity . . . at least stupidity enough to buy the junk they were continuously peddling from its screens. A career in broadcast television engineering held little allure.

I was offered a job with the State Department's Voice Of America propaganda arm, went through all the loyalty and security checks only to turn it down - twice. I tried teaching college for a time, but found myself too young and selfish to be satisfied by teaching others what I still wanted to be doing myself. But where? Who in the world needed a guy whose skill was sending movies back from space?

The answer came in a completely unexpected phone call.

Home Box Office was something I'd never heard of before that call came in out of the blue. Home Box Office. HBO? What's that? I asked the eager-sounding “head hunter” on the other end of the phone.

Next thing I knew I was sitting in a mahogany clad room high in the Time-Life Building on Rockefeller Center in New York City. This was no airplane factory. Elegant perfect women glided by, sylphlike and intimidating. All the men were dressed in white shirt and tie. I was too, of course. Yet, hidden beneath my jacket, was the only short-sleeved white shirt in the room. How impractical of them, thought I. It's high summer. Why wear long sleeves only to roll them up? Don't these guys get it? I'd found another world, it seemed, right here on Earth.

Otherworldly or not, TV and motion pictures was the world in which I would spend the next 30 years of my engineering career. But first I had to get through this interview, or meeting or whatever it was. Eventually, I was led to a private corner office where I was introduced to yet another of the a long-sleeved executives. His sleeves were not rolled, but terminated in silver cuff links: obviously a big shot. To my amazement the guy wanted to send movies—real Hollywood movies - back from space. Looking beyond his obvious lack of industrial fashion sense, I told him he was nuts. Then I told him why he was nuts. He dismissed my unqualified psychoanalytic opinions, but listened intently to my technical ones. To my surprise, he offered me a job. To my further surprise, I took it. So much for lofty ideals and even loftier opinions. I was in the stupid television business, and in it to stay.

Six months later, our antenna hoisted 22,300 miles above the Earth by a converted Atlas Delta missile, HBO, was sending movies back from space. It was an idea that caught on quickly in the private sector. With a single satellite in space, TV signals—in the case of HBO, movies—could be received at every single inch of the United States mainland. There would be no 1,500 foot towers (which as a pilot I'd always hated), no million watt transmitters, and no 100 mile contour limits of the sort that barricade traditional “terrestrial” broadcast signals. Nothing of the sort would impede our little 5-watt transmitter in the sky. Borne upon a satellite channel whose power was equal to but that of a night-light bulb, one signal from space could blanket the entire continental US and most of populous Canada. It was pure brilliance on the part of those long-sleeved executives—practical physics and military technology now put to private and peaceful use. No mind-numbing commercials, and no numb-minded censors either. I liked it here. This wasn't stupid. This was cool. This was way cool. Funny, isn't it, how we're able to abandon even strongly held opinions when our self interest is better served by forming new ones?

Firmly ensconced in HBO's fledgling engineering department, and with our early successes a matter of technical record, I suddenly found myself being invited to speak at seminars on how to do this TV from space thing. Ironically, I was teaching again, albeit in a different venue. Over the next couple of years I would visit all 50 states. But it was a tutorial for TV execs in the Deep South that would remain an event apart from all the others. Though I was a speaker, I was still new to the entertainment business, so I knew no one in attendance. But my talk had gone well; the college teaching experience was paying off, so there would be no problem finding eager dinner companions among so large an audience.

Descending the podium, I had noticed but a single empty chair in the entire room. Taking it, I found myself at a table of strangely egalitarian folk. They were gentle in manner. They welcomed me expansively. They introduced themselves. To my delight, they spoke less of arcane technology than they did of their fellow man and their responsibilities toward humanity that such technology could help them fulfill. I listened, interested, noting that they all had that sort of deliberate not quite real Dixie accent that I'd learned to recognize in actors when playing Southern characters before the camera. But why here? Their names—remarkable in retrospect, but hardly noteworthy at the time—were Jimmy Swaggart, Paul Crouch, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson, Robert Tilton, and a guy named Billy Batts. I was present, I know now, at American Televangelism's Big Bang, or if you prefer, its Genesis. Big league Fundamentalist Christian TV Evangelism was born at that table that day.

These seemingly gentle folk were fairly voracious in their acceptance of this new way to spread The Word, nationwide. Worldwide! They were there to learn of a new way to propagate their version of the Gospel Of Jesus Christ. They conversed in Biblical quotes, nodding their heads in profound understanding, “Amen, brother,” so on. The experience seems a bit surreal now. It was not. They were there to buy satellite antennas and anything else they would need to fulfill their self-proclaimed mission as Christ's revisionist vicars on Earth. They each seemed to have a little licensed religious TV station of their own somewhere in the US, and if they hooked that signal to the satellite, they would not only be able, but mandated to have that signal carried by another hot, new medium: cable television. That mandate would come from a little known federal communications law known as the Must Carry Rule. It was little known to you and me, perhaps, but well known to the budding televangelists. These seemingly innocent people, and the equally innocent seeming circumstances that brought us together would change the lives of everyone at that table in the decades to come. And that in turn would affect the world in a way none of us could have imagined. Because, and though I had no way of knowing it, America was about to take its first step on a 30-year journey to the Dark Ages. Today we know it only as the 21st Century. When looking back upon it, history will prove less kind.

From this butterfly effect, would grow e-piety's perfect storm. It was the mid-Seventies. Our culture had been reeling from the narcotic excesses of the Sixties and the sexual intemperance of the Seventies. The divorce rate was the highest it's ever been in our nation's history. The entire concept of nuclear family was under siege as never before in America. It seemed as if everything familiar was changing. And while most Americans were blessed with moderate appetites, self-disciplined behaviors, and a measure of common sense, and thus well suited to social change, many others were not. To so many of our repressed and simplistic countrymen and women every new experience in this brave new age, however intuitive, however mundane, seemed an epiphany. So, while most Americans also managed to remain relatively unaffected by the willingly-acquired excesses that characterized the period, many others could not.

America had also just emerged from a decade-long war of unspeakable horror, and dubious purpose. Thanks to a still-relevant news media, a mandatory draft, and casualty rate topping 200,000 (58,000 KIA), Vietnam affected all aware Americans. To avoid the draft, countless young Americans married in haste and conceived unloved children in order to gain deferment. Millions more enrolled and remained in colleges though they would not ordinarily have done so but for the student deferment. (No fewer than 12 deferments were granted to chicken hawks Dick Cheney (5) and John Ashcroft (7) alone!) Since the college deferment required actually going to college and studying something, the experience exposed millions of commonplace minds to the volatile philosophies of extraordinary—and quite often revolutionary—thinkers for the first time in their personal, and America's societal history. One way or another, every American, regardless of family, background, intellect, or social circumstance shared in the war's trauma and was made to look upon, and confront its distasteful significance. Drenched in this cascade of social and moral upheaval, vast numbers of Americans were driven to the edge. Many more went over that edge and found comfort only in denial or in excess, or both. Be it drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, or all of the above, there was a measure of comfort and escape to be found in the sensual distractions of excess, and it was available and beckoning from wherever one turned.

Indulgence would yield a temporary comfort, and when the millions who over-indulged came crashing back to reality, many needed comforting of another kind. They needed reform, and some degree of certainty in what seemed an even-more-uncertain society than that which they had attempted to escape. They needed someone or something to which they could turn for advice, direction, strength, and inspiration. For those who survived the fall physically but not emotionally, there arose a need for some mortal contact, someone who would not consider them failed humans, someone or something to show them the way back. Or, more simply stated, millions and millions and millions of Americans needed a new addiction to wean them from and obviate the mental scars left by their old addictions of war and sex and drugs, and social transgression, and violence, and confusion, and behavior outside the limits of their operant conditioning. Instead of assessing and accepting their memories, so very many Americans needed forgiveness for their actions. Those among the multitudes lacking the resolve to accept and assess and repair their assaulted psyches, those lacking the strength to pick themselves back up (and their numbers were legion) needed something more. They needed an emotional crutch.

What people need, people tend to find. If they don't find it by themselves, there are always those willing to provide it . . . usually for a price. In this case, it appeared literally right before their eyes. Salvation, forgiveness, aggrandizement, self-esteem, courage, moral superiority, all of it was beaming to them right from heaven itself, and onto their television screens. Satellite delivered televangelism was born on that day back in 1975. I watched it hatch. Suddenly it was everywhere. There was never a time in modern history when it was “needed” more. From the flickering boxes in America's living rooms came the siren call to her desperate multitudes. “Hey you out there in TV land, whatever you've done, and to whomever you've done it, no worries. Put down that bottle, throw away that needle, stop punching your wife, whatever. All is forgiven . . . or can be. In fact, you can instantly become superior to those infidels who've not found the light and The Way and have done so much to degrade you for so long. Just listen to me, then send cash, check, or money order to the address on your screen. You'll be the best there is, brothers and sisters, the best there is. Trust Jesus. Trust me. Send a check. Halleluiah!

Given that so very many of “Christian” fundamentalism's contemporary American adherents believe that they have failed in the eyes of those who follow more moderate religious or societal paths, and given the widespread genetic proclivity toward belonging, they also needed something more extreme than rational theology to light their way back from the abyss. They needed to be a part of something so extreme, so strident that it would also provide them the psychological wherewithal to dismiss their moderate fellows' judgments of them. That would require a system of beliefs and strictures so rigorous, so abstemious that it would also serve to obviate or at least trivialize the beliefs and behaviors of their moderate Judeo-Christian counterparts, and those of enlightened liberal practitioners of any religion and religious thought, thus discrediting those they saw as their mortal judges and despicable scholarly elites, their betters. Once again, they needed an escape from reality. They needed a mind fix.

There is but one major creed that has offered such impenitent forgiveness, even aggrandizement for simply having rejected ones past transgressions and accepting its tenets. There is but one creed that associates itself so closely with an Anglo-Protestant American heritage, despite that no such identity ever existed. (Nature abhors a vacuum. The vacuum left by most Americans' ignorance of their own country's relatively brief history, is a vacuum easily filled by myth. Any student of American history knows well that many of the Founders were religious, but none publicly fundamentalist Christian. References to God, not to Jesus, prevail in their writings. The crafters of our Republic were brilliant men. But few would dispute that the three greatest geniuses among them were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Franklin and Jefferson were professed deists, Hamilton a homosexual. From where does the religious Right's claim to their legacy stem? It stems from imagination. Because it simply never was. Religion was a part of the beautiful fabric of early America, not its foundation. The plurality of the US Constitution superceded the singularity of the Mayflower Compact.) There is but one creed that stimulates intolerance while proclaiming inclusiveness based on its very antithesis. And finally, but most critical, there is but one creed that bases its fundamentalism on an absolutely literal interpretation of a Bible it considers absolutely flawless. Yet the Bible passed down through the ages is largely a fabrication. It is laced with revisionist scripture and distortions of convenience that the most serious of religious scholars have found to be at best, only 18 percent historically factual.[1] At best.

Thus, proximate attribution to the approximate Word is the rough equivalent of a 21st century airline or ship's captain using 14th century maps, and only 14th century maps, by which to navigate and presuming them to be inviolate.

I'll take the bus.

By exploiting this widespread proclivity to believe, the Bible has become a convenient vehicle through which unscrupulous interpreters can derive a creed, a creed which, if accepted with a zealot's fervor, would forgive anything—absolutely anything—one might have inflicted upon himself or his fellow man, woman, child, beast, vegetable or mineral in the past, and do so sans active or substantive non-monetary penance. It is a creed that is conveniently blind to any dichotomy between intolerance and forgiveness, theocracy and democracy, benevolence and vengeance, faith and political corruption. That is the creed that encourages one to be born again, the Evangelical Creed of Biblical literalism. Or what is alternately called rightist, conservative, Evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity. So ill conceived and distorted is this ostensibly “literal” acceptance of oft revised, translated and interpreted scripture, that serious Biblical scholars now consider it fabrication in the interest of self-servitude and the exploitation of mind-cure. Noted Biblical scholar and psychologist Edmund D. Cohen postulates that, “Cast free from its Biblical moorings, Christianity came to denote anything good or wholesome in American life.”[2] Inventing religions of convenience is characteristic of men, not the province of man.

Nonetheless, and as usual, legions of credulous, disillusioned, disconnected Americans fell victim to fundamentalism's lure. Weather the adherent fancies a turban, a topknot, or a Stetson, religious extremism serves a purpose no different from drugs when it becomes a crutch. Religious extremism has become the simplistic answer for far too many of our countrymen's mortal problems. For its “Christian” adherents, the answers to all life's problems are found between the Bible's covers. There is no need to actually indulge in the human attribute of reasoning. Intellect is fabricated through rote memorization of scripture. But were it all that simple. Unfortunately, as with most other forms of extremism which abdicate thought to dogmatic obedience, fundamentalism is also the source of so very, very many more problems than it ever has solved, or ever will solve.

Recall now, the earlier references to self-esteem, the vacuum it leaves when it is absent or destroyed through self-destructive living, excess, compulsive-obsessive behaviors, inflicted or accepted abuse.

Anyone who would have been addicted to sex, drugs, and anything but rock and roll, was a candidate for addiction to whatever else suited his or her self-depreciated fancy. Anyone who needed forgiveness for the harm he'd done to himself or to others, could find it here. Christianity—but especially this strange, highly selective, but very heady new simplistic form of it—was an addiction about which they could even feel good. They could even feel better than anyone else. They could garner immense self-esteem, however ill placed. That rush was, and is to this day, a first in so many disturbed lives. In fact, lets throw in faith healing of the most desperately ill while we’re at it. What's the harm?

The ensuing decades would see the easily led, easily addicted, easily persuaded, easily frightened, abused, downtrodden, secret-harboring, pain ridden—in short, vulnerable—masses drawn to the flickering images of these fire and brimstone preachers on their cable televisions and they would be converted by the millions, by the tens-of-millions. They would belong. All is forgiven. All is well, or will be shortly. All. Absolutely all. Oh, by the way, don't forget to send the check.

If these words seem harsh, I simply make no effort to disguise my disdain for those who would exploit the vulnerable, nor will I soft-peddle the obvious abuse by so many of a system of government created to, among other things, tolerate and protect religious freedom. The abuse of that trust by so many televangelists, and the further misuse of the public electromagnetic spectrum to exploit the irrational, credulous, impressionable, desperate, and weak who believe them is an especially vile form of TV indecency. But don't look for any scrutiny by our current Federal Communications Commission. Bush stooge and FCC Commissioner, Michael Powell, will be too busy looking for bare breasts to keep the citizenry's pathetic popular mind from realizing that he's destroying public interest protections such as the station ownership cap. That cap remains the only barrier to the continued expansion by the pious parasites of televangelism. Powell is bent on destroying that cap in the special interest of his owners.

False Prophets / Real Profits

Keep in mind that we're speaking of Christianity, albeit an extreme form, but Christianity: a belief in the divinity of Jesus as Christ, as God the Son, and in His teachings and principles upon this mortal coil.

Keep in mind, too, that we're speaking of the Old Testament as well, of the introductory scriptures themselves, the scriptures to which many Evangelicals adhere dogmatically, the fundament, Genesis 2:16–17, the garden, the forbidden fruit. The Bible virtually begins with God's admonitions to man on the virtues of moderation, the perils of excess. It is the first admonition to Adam . . . the first! Yet, somehow, today's Biblical literalism seems to yield to interpretation at such uncomfortable junctures as Genesis. The flesh is, after all, weak. So on, so forth, ad infinitum.

As you read further, please remain mindful that Jesus in his Earthly manifestation owned virtually nothing. Such modesty must have set a poor example to TV evangelists. They own a lot of things. Boy, do they own a lot of things. They want to own a lot more. Michael Powell will soon allow them to do just that.

Need an example of how lucrative is the televangelist business? Several examples? Easy.

Most of you know of a religious TV show called the “700 Club.” It was founded by presidential candidate, gay basher, and TV evangelist extraordinaire Pat Robertson. It got its name from Robertson's admonition to his initial 700 rural viewers to send him a donation of $10 each. That was the estimated cost of operating his fledgling “terrestrial” TV show. Ten years after Pat Robertson made his modest $7,000 request, and with his channel now being carried by satellite, he had 26 million regular viewers across the country. Operating revenues had grown to a staggering $145,517,000 annually in the US alone.[3] Today the “700 Club” is carried in 66 countries. Robertson and his Christian Coalition purport enormous influence in American politics. This lofty pulpit allowed Robertson to predict that Armageddon would arrive in 1982. This prospect would of course leave faithful viewers with no practical need for such things as green bananas, nor incidentally, their retirement savings, but that's just speculation by this jaded writer. When, despite Ronald Reagan's best efforts, the world failed to end, it didn't matter much to Robertson's flock, no one was complaining or seeking a refund, instead they were told to thank Jesus. They did. Later, Robertson actually had his television crews preparing to televise the Second Coming. That was in 1990. Why would Robertson believe that he and he alone knew this? Are the TV crews still on location? Where might that be?

Eventually, his lackluster performance as a prophet led Robertson to abandon prediction in favor of the safer and more politically potent practice of hindsight. For example, he has recently proclaimed credit for George W. Bush's “re” election. However dubious a distinction that might be, Bush believes him, so little else matters. As such we can expect Robertson's influence to increase in these four dismal years ahead as Bush continues distributing our US Treasury's contents to his friends, and promotes his “Faith Based Initiative” program. Initiative indeed.

Robertson is not alone. Fabulous wealth and power would be visited upon many of this new breed of high-tech missionaries, and now it seems they and their fiscally less impressive sycophants are everywhere one turns. There is no admission prerequisite to the salvation club, and no barrier to moral superiority. All one need do is buy it at the two-for-one sale that's always going on. (Call the number on your screen). State it aloud with some reference to Jesus, wave your hand in the air, and back the rapt gestures with cash, check, or money order, and you're on the Heavenly Express. But don't forget that check. God don't save no deadbeats. The tax-free American dollar is still worth plenty in heaven.

Another dinner companion that fateful night was Paul Crouch. Like Robertson and Jesus, Crouch, the televangelist, and story telling founder of Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN), started out with virtually nothing. Using a rented studio in southern California and a set made from his living room furniture and shower curtain, Crouch went on the air from Burbank. He claims that later, in 1975 to be exact, he was visited by God one night. God projected a map of the United States on Paul's ceiling, and told him about satellite technology. God went on to tell Paul Crouch how the satellite (No, not the moon. God forgot to put batteries in that satellite. We're talking modern here.) would allow him to broadcast to all those cities all across America.

Thanks to God's little slide show on Paul Crouch's ceiling, Paul would have no further need of his living room sofa and shower curtain as a set. In fact, today he sits upon a golden throne in a velvet-curtained studio, all of it generously funded by the $126,000,000 in annual donations from his faithful viewers in satellite television land.[4] I often wonder why Paul Crouch came to that seminar at all. Why listen to dopes like me babble on when God Himself had already told Paul about satellite television? Funny how Crouch never mentioned his nocturnal visit from God. It would have been great dinner conversation. Because, except for that smelly guy I always see at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, I've never met anyone who's been visited by God.

Yet another of these people is Robert Tilton. Tilton was flying high with his TV ministries beaming forth from Texas or Oklahoma to America's living rooms, thus pulling in $800,000 per month in donations. But an industrious dumpster-diving reporter would find thousands of prayer requests, intended for the preacher's attention, in that dumpster unopened and unread except to extract the checks and cash enclosed. The story got to ABC-TV and put a temporary crimp in Reverend Tilton's style. He's back on the air again though, and doing just fine.[8] Today's media takes no notice.

There were more. Everyone remembers Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. We all of us endured their spectacular public implosion, so I won't drag it out here. But they, of course, had a TV ministry too. They called it Praise The Lord. Its letters, like those of TBN, were PTL. Remember PTL? It was not long, however, before their intemperately flamboyant lifestyle had the FBI wondering whether PTL stood for Praise The Lord, or Pass The Loot. They found out. When Bakker went to jail, Jerry Falwell took over the ministry. Falwell would shortly be accused of swindling his new flock out of $73 million in a bond scheme.[5] Falwell also claims credit for Bush “re” election. Only history will decide which was the more heinous offense.

Of the seven people at that fateful dinner table, most would be embroiled in scandals. They would stand accused or proven guilty of behavior violating their very admonitions and those of their professed god. One would be indicted for fraud, another convicted, two would be involved in extramarital affairs with prostitutes and another accused of sexual harassment by a same-sex employee.[6] The preacher accused of this laying on of hands would pay that employee nearly half-a-million dollars to keep his silence. Another would enter drug rehab. One I would personally witness attempting to pass a worthless check for $2,000,000 worth of satellite equipment and services. Nice bunch.

Yet they prevail. One multi-millionaire not mentioned previously, is Armenian-born preacher Benny Hinn. Clad in a strange, cassock-emulating Nehru suite, Hinn is a player's player.

An Elmer Gantry style faith healer, to this day Hinn has been unable to show concrete admissible physical evidence of having healed anyone of anything at any time, anywhere. No problem. (Though he has not yet been able to reattach the slugger's ear, Hinn does accept credit for curing Evander Holyfield's heart problems. While most overly muscular athletes simply stop taking steroids to accomplish this, Holyfield credits Benny Hinn with his miraculous recovery.) But to the point, Hinn takes a salary of $500,00 per year for his medical miracle work. That's actually modest by many standards. But there's no malpractice premium, and it's taxable. His ministry, however, takes in $80,000,000 a year in donations. He says the donations go back into the ministry, but Hinn refuses to join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. (Ministers such as Billy Graham are members in good standing, but membership requires revealing one’s finances.) Hinn does not make any apologies. “I don't need gold in Heaven,” Hinn says, “I got to have it now.” Benny Hinn owns several homes, including his multimillion-dollar residence in Dana Point, California. He travels in a $7 million Gulfstream jet between $2,000 a night hotel rooms. He rarely quotes from Genesis 2:16–17. He's apparently getting it now.[7]

In fact, nearly all of them are. These TV preachers prevail and flourish regardless of their obvious transgressions against their own, and their gods' admonitions. And why wouldn't they? All they have to do is go back on the air, shed a few tears, promise to be good, proclaim their love of Jesus, and everyone believes them, starts crying, hugging one another and writing checks again. Like the battered wife who believes the “never again” lies and keeps going back for more, America is a society ever more driven by faith and the dependencies which rationalize it. We're constantly told what a good thing faith is. Yet Webster's defines faith as a belief in something for which there is neither evidence nor proof. What makes that a good thing? Imagine if the Justice Department operated on such a premise. They could jail whomever they wanted to jail, for whatever reason they chose, with neither evidence nor proof of wrongdoing . . . oh, they've already started doing that? Sorry. My mistake.

We are the most religious advanced society on earth today.[9] A recent poll showed that 59 percent of Americans consider God and religion very important in their everyday lives. Compare this to Italy's 23 percent, or to Japan's and France's 12 percent and you start to get the picture. Surprising, isn't it? It doesn't change much between the oceans either. While we might fondly consider ourselves socially and economically more similar to our progressive northern neighbors than we do those to our south, the similarities begin and end with language. Mexicans answered the same question with 57 percent of them saying that religion plays a very important part in their lives. That compares tightly with the 59 percent of Americans, while only 30 percent of Canadians considered this to be so. Thus, with the most moneyed country in the world publicly proclaiming its citizens' faith—or more simply stated, their eagerness to believe things without supporting evidence—it's no wonder the preachers of prey find their way to our shores, while their bank accounts remain offshore. It's no wonder they have become ever wealthier in material things, ever more revered by their faith-filled-flocks. They prevail and have been joined by many others, with doubtless many more yet to come. In Isaiah 1:18, the Bible tells us—and them - exactly why: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

Despite their record of apparent hypocrisy, scandal, and evident deceit, the televangelists prevail, and have become ever more powerful a political force in a no-longer secular US government. The empire of influence—real or perceived—has been built by the TV preachers on the faith, fortunes, and fealty of the credulous, desperate, terrified. That it has been founded upon and in violation of the American Creed is of no concern to them or their history-oblivious flocks. Now, it is welcomed and even nurtured by one of the most irrationally faithful among them. In their poster boy of the moment the fundamentalists have found a man who believes the world is doomed to destruction in our lifetime, so take what you can get, and throw the wrapper in the river. And what's worse, with his return to power, the idiot-king seems bent on fulfilling that false prophecy of doom himself if only to prove it correct. I am speaking of course of extremism's repentant, born again Christian fundamentalist and reformed party animal, deserter, tooter, boozer, stock manipulator, and president, George W. Bush.[10, 11, 12, 13]

It's important to know that Bush recently said, “If you want to understand me, you got to go to Midland Texas.” I did. What I learned there is this. George W. Bush bottomed out in Midland, Texas, in the mid-Eighties. But in doing so, he was by no means alone. Midland, Texas, in the Eighties was filled with failed oilmen. Not even the competent ones could make a go of it then. The town was wracked by suicides and drunkenness as a result of its one and only industry going bust. When one does not have work in Midland, there are few alternatives to idleness. One alternative is drink. The other is Church. Among troubled men the alternatives often proceed one to the other, and in that order. When George W. Bush, despite his background of incalculable privilege, found himself just another drunken and failed oilman in Midland, he had run his string full out. Cocaine had failed him, business had failed him, drink had failed him. He had called himself the Bush family's black sheep. Small wonder. Despite being the fortunate son of the incumbent vice president of the United States, the fortunate heir to a fortune his grandfather, Prescott Bush, had amassed as a banker to such luminaries as Adolph Hitler, despite massive investment from the bin Laden family in his Arbusto oil business, George could not make a go of it.[14, 15] He couldn't find oil in Texas. There was little left for the hapless drunk but God. Midland might have run out of customers, and George might have run out of other people's money, but God was everywhere here, still is despite the town's economic upturn.

Skip Hedgepeth, a contemporary in the Midland Men's Community Bible Study group explains Bush's epiphany thus, “Hard times have a way of making people draw closer to God. When we're faced with troubles, we realize we're not in charge of everything. So we start looking for a power greater than ourselves to help us in our troubles.”

While most of us realize we're not in charge of everything at about 3 months of age, it takes others a bit longer. For them, there's God. So, in the fall of 1985, his cocaine and alcohol abuse no longer a viable escape, his Arbusto Energy company now just plain busto, George W. Bush joined the Midland Men's Community Bible Study Group. Here he would be introduced to daily Bible readings and the emotional security found through hugging other men, crying, and dogma. To the surprise of few who knew him, George's addictive personality was about to take control of his ever-smaller brain yet again.[16]

In Evangelical Christianity, George W. Bush found a culture supporting non-judgment and unearned forgiveness of one’s past deeds. This is known as Motivated Belief. Further, Evangelicals quite deliberately separate themselves from moderate Protestants by their belief in the Bible's absolute unerring accuracy as the written word of God. Unless God has continually edited it vicariously, that stands in stark contrast to logical and rational religious belief and learning. It stands in equal contrast to Anglo-American concepts of jurisprudence. It profanes science. But it thrives because it serves a purpose, and that purpose is self-delusion. It has no place in enlightened government or philosophy, yet today it dominates America's. It is the primary reason Bush won or stole this election despite his abysmal performance as president these last four years, and it is the primary reason that he, just like the tainted televangelists who sent their legions of faithful lemmings out to vote for their born-again miscreant, can get away with just about anything in the conditioned minds of his and their followers.

The point of all this is simple. After all, if these American “value voters” cannot find it within themselves to ignore the mountains of evidence and forgive their very leaders of dastardly deeds, and do so unconditionally, how can they expect to be forgiven themselves? Yet there is a sinful dichotomy at play here. They will forgive one another, but condone the vengeance-killing of 100,000 Iraqis without evidence that any of these slaughtered men, women, or children were guilty of anything—anything other than being different, that is. To me, such inconsistent beliefs as forgiveness and vengeance, sanctifying life while taking it indiscriminately, do not pave the way to Heaven. Such beliefs are the road to Hell. Unfortunately we're all on it together and the kooks are driving.

To Bush and his ilk, life, despite its being a gift from God, is trivialized as nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the afterlife. Here you make your mistakes, and here you correct them in order to achieve salvation. The misused concept is emphasized in the New Testament, and called upon often by preachers, “ . . . he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” In the Evangelical interpretation, it's not where you start, it's where you finish after you've finished. This removes the fear of “salvation doubt” if believed with vigor and absolution. To the literalists, the Bible teaches that everyone should be judged only after they've died. Consider how sainthood is ascribed but posthumously. Only thus are mortals afforded full opportunity to repent and be saved. However, inconsistent in this interpretation is how the Religous Right's dogmatic adherents, such as George W. Bush, deny other potential or wayward Christians this chance by their vindictive actions. Bush sent 152 convicts to the death chamber in five years as governor. That's a record. Nearly all called themselves Christians. Were they given the opportunity to “endure unto the end,” and achieve repentance by their actions, or was Bush better suited to determine their temporal end than was God? While the wholesale execution of prisoners is an extreme example, to Bush's mind, it seems once you're born, you're kill fodder for a greater good independent of your past deeds. He spent as little as four minutes deciding who lives and who dies. In this context then, once again, consider the bloodbath that is Iraq. When and where did Jesus Christ teach this stuff to anybody? Simple. He did not. Mortal men of purpose made it up. Mortal men find purpose by acting on those beliefs.

Sigmund Freud writing in his 1927 postulation, The Future Of An Illusion, says of conservative Christians, “Their acceptance of a universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.” Can there be a better explanation of why fear is so liberally used in our theocratic government's message today? Can there be any doubt as to whom they are speaking?

As Americans, as members of what was so recently called the most advanced society in human history, should we not be looking forward? Why then do we reward those who always look backward for guidance, backward to a time and place and a circumstance that never existed but in their fantasies and the imagination of those who foist such false ideas about America's religious heritage upon them? The Evangelists' version of That Old Time Religion is, in reality, a very new concept. But unless we're about to start burning witches again, and offering our daughters into slavery, it's just another bill of goods they've sold themselves . . . sold being the operative word.

As a culture, we will be made to understand the perils of blind faith and of retrospection without reference, perils we've already loosed on a more rational world. It has never been stated more succinctly than wherein Proverbs 29:18 observes how, “Without vision the people perish.” Yet by its very definition, blind faith is without vision. Could there be a more profound misinterpretation of scripture than that manifest by this administration and the fundamentalist sycophants who've not only rewarded its crimes, but assured their continuance? They ask us to have faith while they take the lives of our young in exchange for oil. They ask us to have faith because if we were intelligent or courageous enough to demand evidence we would ask them why they've embarked upon an illegal war with no plan for termination; a daily slaughter of Iraqi innocents within their own homes, a slaughter devoid of honest objectives or reasonable justification; a daily desecration of the most holy of places without concern for mortal suffering or divine retribution; a national security plan that breaks the bank while obviating national security; a financial deficit with no plan for recovery; a Social Security privatization plan with no vehicle for funding it other than robbing an entire generation of retirees and borrowing $2 trillion from foreign nations; a headlong rush to deny the weak among us aid and comfort in violation of Christ's teachings; a national economic model equal to that of the second worst economy in the hemisphere, Argentina; a policy of spend and borrow that will leave our children bankrupt and beholden to the children of other nations; an energy policy leading to fatal global climate change with no plan for counteraction or survival of the human race; a collapse of the U.S. dollar on world markets with no plan for recovery; a spiraling national debt with no ability to repay so much as its interest without selling our country to the Chinese at wholesale; and finally, the deliberate and pointless alienation of the 6.4 billion people who did not vote for George W. Bush but whose lives will be affected by his actions and to whom we will owe trillions of the US dollars our children must repay.

Summary

Satellite television today allows the majority of those billions and billions of foreigners to see America and her government's actions in her people's name. This has never before been so. We've always known that power corrupts. But corrupt leaders have been able to shield themselves from the world's view in past generations. They've often been able to do so long enough to amass great wealth and power at the expense of their peoples before running off. But they cannot do so any longer, not with impunity. America's actions affect the whole world. Today, the entire world is watching us. They're nervous. Their multitudes will not allow their “values” to cloud the truth unfolding before their very eyes on the planet they are willed by God to share with us, the “superpower.” For the moment, we've abdicated our nation to delusional screwballs. Many nations have done this before. They already “get it.” We don't. The world will not follow our lead. They will bankrupt us this time. This time they can.

Conclusion

We've examined but a few of the shortsighted, self-serving and visionless prospects for our America under its current irrational, faith driven “leader.” He recently told us that “God is guiding our nation.” So I guess Bush has delegated even that task to faith.

Call it charm, lunacy, ignorance, stupidity, or just call it what it is, policy, Bush's attributes work wonders with many Americans. As one wag put it, “I like Bush 'cause he's as dumb as me.”

Bush's style appeals to what the TV ministers call their “Value Voters.” So, let the exit polls be damned, the Evangelicals carried the day for their poster boy. If they didn't, they at least gave the Republican crooks who own this president a plausible vehicle to which they might attribute the otherwise inexplicable vote counts in this year's national election. They have changed our country into something its founders never intended it to be, a virtual theocracy, and they did it through abuse of the very system first designed to prevent it.

Though 30 years ago they had no substantive national influence, today, by their own literally incredible estimate, born-again Evangelicals represent 38 percent of voting age Americans. This year they appeared in record numbers casting, according to Barna Research, an estimated 53 percent of the total vote. That's a majority however you cut it. Their votes went overwhelmingly to George W. Bush and his anti-gay, anti-science, anti-pluralist, anti-social, anti-secular, anti-Earth, backward-looking, blind faith agenda.

Evangelicals have been convinced that they were the spoiler in this election. They equate Bush's victory with their infantile ideas about morality. They think they exhibited free will, imposed it upon the Liberal infidels by sending the Bush numbers over the top. In reality all they did was fall for the Republican line the same way they fall for their TV preachers' baloney. They responded as a herd. As always, it'll cost them. That's expected, and it's old news. What's really troubling is this. The TV preachers have shown the manipulators in the Bush administration how easy it was to use the credulous masses, to direct them to ends that most would consider outrageously stupid at the very least. The faithful herd will now be led to the slaughter, double crossed, deserted, and robbed of something they consider valuable, as have so many others the Bush administration has used and discarded during these four graceless years. Perhaps they deserve it. Perhaps we all do. For, after all, haven't the rest of us, those who so fondly consider ourselves enlightened, behaved no better? Have we not silently and passively ignored the empirical evidence of exit polls? [17, 18] It was these very exit polls which caused my source to hear one White House official exclaim, “We're being creamed,” before it miraculously changed in their favor.[19] Have we not ignored the mathematical improbability that nearly every error uncovered accrued to Bush's advantage? The laws of probability demand that multiple random errors trend toward even distribution, but only if they are truly errors. Are we questioning the electronic “news” media's absence from this story? Nope. So, having seen all this before, are we not, therefore, accepting the nearly impossible results of this election on blind faith?

Blind faith is not a plan for any society's future survival; neither is it cognition worthy of the fully developed human mind. Blind faith is just a pretty mask that hides the ugly face of ignorance. Today, America wears that mask, and it does not represent the moral or ethical or religious “values” of its most rational citizens. Neither is it fooling anyone but other Americans.

It is said that of all God's creatures, only humans can deliberately consider any but their immediate future. Humans and humans alone have the power of mind to appreciate the implications of their present actions upon their long-term future and the welfare and survival of their children. Despite these unique gifts of mind, we are told and apparently believe that 59,054,087 Americans voted to continue a dismally failed presidency. Despite that presumably cognitive understanding, despite that ability to anticipate disaster, another estimated 80,000,000 voting age Americans chose to stay home on Election Day altogether. They chose not to vote. One can only ponder upon what kept them away from the polls, and what might be the values they consider important, but not important enough to get them get out of their easy chairs in the interest of saving their lives. There is but one conclusion to be drawn from these disparate behaviors. America has suffered a crisis of intellect. We are become a people no longer adequate to the rigors of sustaining an ethical and equitable democracy.

As Thomas Paine said at America's birth, “A people gets the government it deserves.”

Oh, well. God save America! Her citizens, it seems, are all watching television.

Footnotes

Please have no faith in anything you've read here. Unless and until you check the facts for yourself, that's all they are, some stranger's written words. The following references are provided to start you on that road - or as an aid to sleep, whichever you prefer. (DS)

1/ http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/

2/ The Mind Of The Bible Believer; by Edmund Cohen, Prometheus Books, 2003

3/ http://www.davidicke.net/religiousfrauds/associations/cbn.html

4/ http://www.rickross.com/reference/tbn/tbn21.html

5/ http://home.att.net/~vlaszlo/jerry_falwell_1.htm

6/ http://www.rickross.com/reference/tbn/tbn19.html

7/ http://cnt10.tripod.com/hinn.htm

8/ http://www.peopleunitedforreligiousfreedom.org/second_coming.htm

9/ An Anatomy Of American Nationalism, by Anatol Lieven; Oxford University Press, 2004.

10/ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6555.htm

11/ http://www.progress.org/archive/drc12.htm

12/ http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/bushdui1.html

13/ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5837.htm

14/ http://www.americanfreepress.net/10_07_01/Bush___Bin_Laden_-_George_ W__B/bush___bin_laden_-_george_w__b.html

15/ http://www.rense.com/genera140/bushfamilyfundedhitler.htm

16/ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/view/

17/ http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&a ddress=203x79760

18/ http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/041203/nyf044_1.html

19/ http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/120604Madsen/120604madse n.html

Dom Stasi is Chief Technology Officer for an international media network. A pilot, Air Force veteran, and member of both the Planetary Society, and Center For Inquiry, he is a widely published science and technology writer. A father of two, Mr. Stasi lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 38 years.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 10:43pm On Sep 14, 2008
huxley:

Learn how the religious have exploited the gullible in America and worldwide in the article appended below.

Lol. . . atheistic rationalism is simply not science. That is the first lesson that should be learnt. wink
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by Lady2(f): 11:23pm On Sep 15, 2008
The selling of indulgences by the Catholic church never ended. It has just been redressed and is being passed around again in a different guise. Looks like the church-going public are just too dumb to realise.

I am amazed that not one of the sentences in this write up is about Catholicism, but about Protestanism rather. So why the pointing out of Catholicism. Also what is an indulgence in the Catholic faith, I know you don't know what it is.

You probably stated this just so you can get people to read. I hope it works for you. But if you will please leave Catholicism out of this nuisance, show some respect we don't bother you, don't bother us.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 9:46am On Sep 16, 2008
~Lady~:

I am amazed that not one of the sentences in this write up is about Catholicism, but about Protestanism rather. So why the pointing out of Catholicism. Also what is an indulgence in the Catholic faith, I know you don't know what it is.

You probably stated this just so you can get people to read. I hope it works for you. But if you will please leave Catholicism out of this nuisance, show some respect we don't bother you, don't bother us.

I made reference to the Catholic doctrine of Indulgences (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence) only in so far as it was a means by which the church exploited the masses.

If you have so much respect for the Catholic church, why did they execute so grevous a crime? Why have they abandoned this doctrine? Does that imply that there was something wrong with it?

Many of the evangelical churches are doing exactly the same thing today - with the "selling" of holy artefacts (holy water, shawls, books, oils, etc). Just as the gullible Catholic of yore were exploited, so too are the evangelicans of today.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by Lady2(f): 6:54pm On Sep 16, 2008
I made reference to the Catholic doctrine of Indulgences (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence) only in so far as it was a means by which the church exploited the masses.

If you have so much respect for the Catholic church, why did they execute so grevous a crime? Why have they abandoned this doctrine? Does that imply that there was something wrong with it?

Please refrain from making any references with the Catholic Church when you lack an understanding of it.
As for indulgences, it has not been done away with. What happened was wrong and that was not what indulgences were meant for. Unfortunately instead of people to learn about what it really is, they rely on information from a time when that thing was highjacked.
What happened with the indulgences is teh equivalent of what some Christian ministers do today to the masses, however it doesn't mean that what they do is what Christianity is about. It is only a distortion from those ministers.
Indulgences are graces from God and were never to be sold. The selling of indulgences was wrong and a greedy way for some people in the Church to make money, it was done by some Bishops in one area, and was not known for a while that this was happening. When Martin Luther rang an alarm about it, that's when everyone found out the wrongdoings of those Bishops. However wrong the Bishops were does not mean that indulgence was meant to rip the people of their money. It isn't a money thing, it is a grace thing. It more of a prayer, unfortunately some bad seeds in the Church used it for something else.

Now please understand this about Christianity, just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not mean that they are, and because someone is a Christian does not mean that they are perfect. No human being is perfect.
To go around and pointing finger is wrong on your part, because you know very well that you have done many wrong things in your life, and you are being hypocritical.

If you really want to learn about Christianity then approach it from the view of learning and not the view of condemnation. For example when I learned about evolution I did not appraoch it from the view of it is wrong, wrong, wrong, and neither does the Church. The Church does not view creationism as a fact, and I believe a lot of Christians and non christians are not aware of that.
If you want to address the issue of the Bible, please keep it in mind that the Bible was not written as a literal book or a history book to record facts and all that, it is meant to send a message. I don't think there were enough resources to start writing down, the framework of each individual that walked the earth, and which animal that walked the earth, these people were not scientists or historians or fact finding and keeping people. These were nomads, and we know that they exist today, just take a look at the fulani people in Nigeria. if you're also going to read the Bible you have to know that the Bible was written in different languages in different times, and it is written to a particular people, the way the communicated at those times are different from the way that we communicate today, and the meanings of words have evolved after centuries, so when reading it you don't read the word and use the meaning of today, but you use the meaning of back then. This is why it is good to know the history of these books, and the contexts it was written in and the people it was written to, and it is mostly of symbolism.

So please don't use your own explanations to understand the Bible. Don't look for a factual book, because it is not. You wil not find a list of all the people who were on earth at that time. You will only get those that are relevant to the message. So there is no census of the people that walked the earth. Also for the Noah story, I don't know if it covered the whole earth, no one really knows that, but for those who are still searching my response is don't judge in a human way what is done in a divine mystery. If you want you can accept it if not don't accept it, but please let us all rest in peace. No one is stopping your from doing your research.
But the story was written for a particular people in a particular time, don't look at it from the view of today.
As for whether there is a God, there have been too many miracles that have happened even in our age for there to be disbelieve that a Supreme Being exists. I particularly remember the miracle of the sun where a lot of atheists became believers. It took place in Fatima, Portugal. It's too much information for me to type here, so if you want to know more about it, then do research on it.

Approaching people as if they're evil will get you no where, and in case you don't know, you catch more flies with honey. Attacking people's beliefs and disrespecting them is no way to get them to understand you and your view. It also wouldn't hurt for you to take a step back and try to see the other person's view.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by PastorAIO: 11:15am On Sep 17, 2008
~Lady~:


Approaching people as if they're evil will get you no where, and in case you don't know, you catch more flies with honey. Attacking people's beliefs and disrespecting them is no way to get them to understand you and your view. It also wouldn't hurt for you to take a step back and try to see the other person's view.


This simply won't happen. Isn't it obvious where this guy is coming from? He is not interested in seeking the Truth. He is embittered, he has been damaged in some way or the other and he is just expressing his hurt. Victims will always express themselves by Lashing out at whatever and whoever, even if you're just being nice to him. Have you ever tried to reach out to a dog that has been brutally abused? Right, it'll bite your hand off, even if you were just consoling it. It is the same with humans. Most bullies are actually victims themselves.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by Lady2(f): 11:49pm On Sep 17, 2008
This simply won't happen. Isn't it obvious where this guy is coming from? He is not interested in seeking the Truth. He is embittered, he has been damaged in some way or the other and he is just expressing his hurt. Victims will always express themselves by Lashing out at whatever and whoever, even if you're just being nice to him. Have you ever tried to reach out to a dog that has been brutally abused? Right, it'll bite your hand off, even if you were just consoling it. It is the same with humans. Most bullies are actually victims themselves.

I know. But they are human, and I am sure deep down somewhere is a boy with a heart. All humans have a heart, and I truly believe so. Just because someone bullies me does not mean I have to bully them back.
We are all created with a great capacity to love even if we want to supress it. It always creeps up on us. Whether Huxley wants to face it, he has a heart and he too can love.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 8:50am On Sep 18, 2008
~Lady~:

Approaching people as if they're evil will get you no where, and in case you don't know, you catch more flies with honey. Attacking people's beliefs and disrespecting them is no way to get them to understand you and your view. It also wouldn't hurt for you to take a step back and try to see the other person's view.

It is a shame you failed to recognise the difference in my approach. I attack and make fun of idiotic beliefs and superstitions, but I very rarely attack people. I have respect for people but NOT for beliefs, which do not deserve any protection.

Imagine if the Christians had respected the Igbo practice of abandoning twin children in the bush. Would they still be children dying as a direct result of this idiotic belief.

BTW, you Christians are not averse to attacking other people's beliefs too. You not only attack within yourselves, you also attack other theists as well.

Why don't you show respect for other people's belief and STOP evangelising, leaving people in their cherished and protected beliefs? It that not hypocritical of you to go out and try to convert people.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 12:02pm On Sep 18, 2008
Hi again @huxley,

Having taken a short break to let the thread progress, I should at this point like to point out something which predictably is the default attitude of atheistic rationalism:

huxley:

I attack and make fun of idiotic beliefs and superstitions, but I very rarely attack people. I have respect for people but NOT for beliefs, which do not deserve any protection.

Take a good look within your own heart. This zeal with which you project such a warped idea is admirable, especially because up until now you really are not demonstrating a rational thought process in your submissions. Beliefs are connected to people - regardless of whether they are theists or atheists. I hope you are quite aware that atheists also "believe" idiotic sentiments about themselves and their worldview - if otherwise, it would not hurt to do some broadening of mind search in that arena. Whenever the question is broached as to what people believe, atheists are quick to say that they "do not believe" anything, or rather that they "lack belief" (whether in God or paranormal phenomena). On further scrutiny, it turns out that they hold their own beliefs as well, and it is a wonder that these same set of people are quick to accuse others of "blind faith" when they themselves have beliefs that they cannot prove!

The difference intelligent people make is this: they do not necessarily seek to attack people for their beliefs. Beliefs make worldviews, and there's hardly a person on the face of the earth today who is not identified with a particular worldview. This connection is so very thick that to attack one is to attack the people themselves. You may disagree, but just as we know that atheism (a worldview) is connected to atheists (the people), so we kknow that anything said in disfavour of atheism is bound to stir the reaction of atheists.

One may not have the same convictions as other people; but to seek to deliberately attack their worldview and to glory in that adventure is quite idiotic in itself. It confirms that atheists themselves are actually disturbed about their own cherished beliefs, and that is why they have no peace of conscience until they have sought to undermine what they cannot disprove. Often, some untaught and unschooled rationalists hide under the cover of "belief in science" as if theists themselves are not scientists. This is why you guys evade the real questions of the day and seek to misrepresent issues, blur the lines, and when you cannot get the cheap applause you seek, the default thing to do is "attack" people's beliefs.

It would be unwise for me to descend to the same level, although that is not a difficult thing to do. To do so is to become as irrational as your strain of thought suggests - and perhaps by prognostication, one may expect the usual overheated reaction that has become second nature to atheistic rationalists. I won't go there; but what I'll always try to do is reason out issues as sanely as the facts present themselves. Theories are not facts, remember? So, good luck in your adventures, if that indeed is what you would still be engaged in - many people are beginning to distinguish the difference for themselves (which incidentally is one other reason why atheistic rationalism is feeling itself under some pressure).

huxley:

Imagine if the Christians had respected the Igbo practice of abandoning twin children in the bush. Would they still be children dying as a direct result of this idiotic belief.

Abandoning children - is that what you're suggesting is the better atheistic thing to do in such circumstances? Or are you so tuned out of the normal that we have to beg for calm explanation at what you're driving at? I don't really get you in that quote above, I beg that you please expatiate so we don't misread you.

huxley:

Why don't you show respect for other people's belief and STOP evangelising, leaving people in their cherished and protected beliefs? It that not hypocritical of you to go out and try to convert people.

You could do with your own advice about your own "belief", you know. If you showed some respect and stop misrepresenting your own persuasions, maybe you would come off better than you have attempted all along.

Cheers.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 1:26pm On Sep 18, 2008
pilgrim.1:

Hi again @huxley,

Having taken a short break to let the thread progress, I should at this point like to point out something which predictably is the default attitude of atheistic rationalism:


Welcome back and nice to read from you again. Am looking forward to some insightful criticism of atheism rationalism.

pilgrim.1:

Take a good look within your own heart. This zeal with which you project such a warped idea is admirable, especially because up until now you really are not demonstrating a rational thought process in your submissions. Beliefs are connected to people - regardless of whether they are theists or atheists[b]. I hope you are quite aware that atheists also "believe" idiotic sentiments about themselves and their worldview - if otherwise, it would not hurt to do some broadening of mind search in that arena. [/b] Whenever the question is broached as to what people believe, atheists are quick to say that they "do not believe" anything, or rather that they "lack belief" (whether in God or paranormal phenomena). On further scrutiny, it turns out that they hold their own beliefs as well, and it is a wonder that these same set of people are quick to accuse others of "blind faith" when they themselves have beliefs that they cannot prove!

You are absolutely correct. To be an atheist does not necessarily mean that one is rational. The are many atheists are there who "belief" in things like the existence of ghosts, medium, psychic phenomenon, etc.

To repeat, atheism is a simply lack of belief in god(s). It says nothing about how that lack of belief originated. This lead me to the notion of the philosophical atheism. This describes an atheism derived from the examination of all the notions of gods available and rejecting them as totally nonsensical. It is with this latter group that I belong.

Supposing I were to propose the existence of a god called Sussicorn (I think you are an atheist with respect to Sussicorn). Why would you disbelieve the existence of Sussicorn. I reject your god for exactly the same reason that you reject Sussicorn. Tell me, why are you NOT a Moslem or a Sussicornian?


pilgrim.1:

The difference intelligent people make is this: they do not necessarily seek to attack people for their beliefs. Beliefs make worldviews, and there's hardly a person on the face of the earth today who is not identified with a particular worldview. This connection is so very thick that to attack one is to attack the people themselves. You may disagree, but just as we know that atheism (a worldview) is connected to atheists (the people), so we kknow that anything said in disfavour of atheism is bound to stir the reaction of atheists.

One may not have the same convictions as other people; but to seek to deliberately attack their worldview and to glory in that adventure is quite idiotic in itself. It confirms that atheists themselves are actually disturbed about their own cherished beliefs, and that is why they have no peace of conscience until they have sought to undermine what they cannot disprove. Often, some untaught and unschooled rationalists hide under the cover of "belief in science" as if theists themselves are not scientists. This is why you guys evade the real questions of the day and seek to misrepresent issues, blur the lines, and when you cannot get the cheap applause you seek, the default thing to do is "attack" people's beliefs.


We, as a civilisation, are here today because progress means the seeking out and weeding out of bad and errant worldviews. Why have the worldviews tolerant of slavery, witchhunts, inquisitions, crusades, human sacrifices etc, etc, not with us today? Could it be because they were sought out, attacked and eliminated?

Today, for instance, the Catholic church is promoting the worldview that use of condoms is sinful. Do you think that this view is worthy of respect?

Worldview, opinions, beliefs are NOT deserving of respect and protection. Every view should be subject to critical examination and if found wanting should be heavily attacked. Of course, people themselve should not be attacked.

In fact, your notion of respecting worldview would naturally lead to the death of democratic governments. Imagine, if the ruling parties worldview were never subjected to critical examination. Is that the sort of society you would like to live in?

pilgrim.1:

Abandoning children - is that what you're suggesting is the better atheistic thing to do in such circumstances? Or are you so tuned out of the normal that we have to beg for calm explanation at what you're driving at? I don't really get you in that quote above, I beg that you please expatiate so we don't misread you.

You could do with your own advice about your own "belief", you know. If you showed some respect and stop misrepresenting your own persuasions, maybe you would come off better than you have attempted all along.

Abandoning children: Is that what I suggested. This is typical of your misrepresentation. You are the one claiming that worldviews should be respected and protected, correct?

OK, if worldviews ought to be respected and protected, then by your reasoning, twin-abandonment ought to be respected and protected. Why is the fault in my reasoning here?

BTW, why did you forebares abondon their native worldviews and adopt the Christian one? Are you supposing that the Christian missionaries NEVER attacked and criticised the native African worldviews the encountered on the continent.

My dear, it really helps to be logical and consistent in your thinking. I have challenged you guys to should me ONE single instance of a fault in my logic (that is not to say I am infallible), but alas, you have not been. I really look forward to such faulty logic being found as it is by identifying such do we make progress.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by PastorAIO: 2:22pm On Sep 18, 2008
huxley:



Worldview, opinions, beliefs are NOT deserving of respect and protection. Every view should be subject to critical examination and if found wanting should be heavily attacked. Of course, people themselve should not be attacked.


Please Huxley, what will be your criteria by which you will subject worldviews to critical examination? What should a worldview have in order to pass the test and what would it lack in order to be attacked.

Don't say that it's got to be provable because that would consign pretty much everything (including your Theory of Evolution) to the dustbin. Perhaps the argument just has to be compelling enough but what are the criteria by which we consider one argument compelling and another not?
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 2:35pm On Sep 18, 2008
Hi huxley,

It was refreshing to take a breather as the thread progressed. I may not always have as much time, though; but will chip in highlights between times. So here goes:

huxley:

You are absolutely correct. To be an atheist does not necessarily mean that one is rational.

I find that a reasonable admission on your part - and you surprised me because you're one of the few rationalists I've actually discussed with who calmly admit the veracity of this fact. You indeed surprised me; but what more could I say than that it tessellates with what I have often tried to state consistently: that most rationalists of atheistic leanings are not rational (please observe I said 'most', not 'all'). However, I would have to sadly admit that the same applies to quite a lot of theists in the general sense.

huxley:

The are many atheists are there who "belief" in things like the existence of ghosts, medium, psychic phenomenon, etc.

This is where I do not necessarily agree with you. Like I said, I have actually held extensive discussions with many who describe themselves as atheists but who actually are not such. Maybe sometime soon, I would take a moment to post a clinical analysis about this fact; but for all practical purposes, atheism simply is the denial of the supernatural - whether God (or gods), spirits, ghosts, paranormal phenomena, or metaphysical reality. For anyone to claim the title of "atheist" and still believe in the supernatural is a case neatly tucked away as bordering on anonym.

huxley:

To repeat, atheism is a simply lack of belief in god(s). It says nothing about how that lack of belief originated. This lead me to the notion of the philosophical atheism. This describes an atheism derived from the examination of all the notions of gods available and rejecting them as totally nonsensical. It is with this latter group that I belong.

I understand you, huxley; and like I said, it is not in my place to disparage you for what you believe. You believe that you belong to a group of guys who entitle themselves as "philosophical atheists", don't you? That's admirable. However, their inferences are both wrong and mismatched. I shall show you why that is so, in due course.

huxley:

Supposing I were to propose the existence of a god called Sussicorn (I think you are an atheist with respect to Sussicorn). Why would you disbelieve the existence of Sussicorn. I reject your god for exactly the same reason that you reject Sussicorn. Tell me, why are you NOT a Moslem or a Sussicornian?

In reality, you are proposing the existence of "Sussicorn" but not actually believing in it yourself. That does not make me an atheist, not at all. However, if you were actually to believe in Sussicorn as a god, my rejection of your religious belief does not make me an atheist - not at all. It only makes me a non-Sussicornian who believes in another God instead of Sussicorn. Not believing in your own "god" whom you called 'Sussicorn' does not make me any less a theist - I simply believe in a different God as revealed in the Biblical faith. But for all practical purposes, both the Sussicornian and the Christian are not atheists but theists!Do you see the difference? cheesy

That is why I would like to show you that philosophical atheism doesn't handle philosophy quite correctly.

huxley:

We, as a civilisation, are here today because progress means the seeking out and weeding out of bad and errant worldviews.

I'm persuaded or inclined to believe that philosophical atheism falls under that category - judging by your wrong inference of making a Christian an "atheist" to Sussicorn. To mismatch people that way is quite bad, erratic, and does not even qualify as a worldview. Would it then be correct to say that you give good moral grounds to weed out philosophical atheism as well?

huxley:

Why have the worldviews tolerant of slavery, witchhunts, inquisitions, crusades, human sacrifices etc, etc, not with us today? Could it be because they were sought out, attacked and eliminated?

Atheism (philosphical or not) has nothing to do with the end of slavery, for one. Please don't let people like Dawkins deceive you with wild claims, if that's where you're tending to. He is one of those whose very irrational rants are now held as redundant among many atheists themselves; and I don't think you should be holding this cheap glory every single time a discussion is broached.

huxley:

Today, for instance, the Catholic church is promoting the worldview that use of condoms is sinful. Do you think that this view is worthy of respect?

Coindidentally, I have debated Catholic doctrines on this forum (which is not the same thing as putting down any Catholic believer). However, even my own local Church has issues that I cannot always digest - and that is a humbling thought, because it makes me the wiser to realize that such issues are not for public angst. Let me explain, if I may:

One should not berate Catholics on just anything they fancy. Many people immaturely condemn and berate the catholic Church before they even understand what is being said. This is unhealthy. In my understanding, the events leading to the stance on condom was predicated on cases of promiscuity; and the Church had to take a defining stand on such issues. Now to answer your question - do I think that is sinful or not, and worthy of respect? I think it does us well to respect the catholic tradition for taking that stance for the reasons it gave. If atheism says that is wrong and not worthy of respect, then atheism should proffer a better solution to the moral issue of promiscuity. Can we see you do that? Talk is cheap, and it would not be grand to disparage people for their convictions when we have nothing better to offer in the event.

But what about "respecting" the atheistic worldview? Again, it is not my place to disparage anyone for their views. I believe that we can dialogue without disrespecting anyone or their belief. To take the stance of deliberately disrespecting people's beliefs is both unwise and fatally unintellectual. The same could be said of me if I went out to disparage you on your belief in philosophical atheism.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 2:35pm On Sep 18, 2008
huxley:

Worldview, opinions, beliefs are NOT deserving of respect and protection.

To make such a claim is to invite critical disrespect upon philosophical atheism - because it is also a worldview. Is that what you are persuading us to believe?

huxley:

Every view should be subject to critical examination and if found wanting should be heavily attacked.

But your philosophical atheism is already found wanting! However, it is not in my place to come so low as to "greatly attack" your persuasions. Rather, I think a better way is to seek an enabling environment for dialogue and true reason - these are the issues and elements that make for sound intelligent exercises. Ridiculing people's belief is the first violation of philosophy - did you check it out?

huxley:

Of course, people themselve should not be attacked.

This is a soft-pedal from the stance of attacking their beliefs. To say something in disfavour of atheism is to stir the comfort zone of atheists themselves. Fact.

huxley:

In fact, your notion of respecting worldview would naturally lead to the death of democratic governments.

Quite to the contrary, it would promote a healthy dialogue for reason.

huxley:

Imagine, if the ruling parties worldview were never subjected to critical examination. Is that the sort of society you would like to live in?

One can critically examine the political views, policies, and persuasions of those in government without deliberately attacking anybody.

huxley:

Abandoning children: Is that what I suggested. This is typical of your misrepresentation.

I asked for clarification simply because that is what your wording suggested. That is why I asked for the alternative action an atheist would have taken.

huxley:

You are the one claiming that worldviews should be respected and protected, correct?

Correct. Do you have a problem with that?

huxley:

OK, if worldviews ought to be respected and protected, then by your reasoning, twin-abandonment ought to be respected and protected. Why is the fault in my reasoning here?

The fault in your reasoning is that you enjoy the end of such practices of as abandoning twin children in the bush, while at the same time calling for a dissrespect to those underlying principles that brought an end to such practices.

huxley:

BTW, why did you forebares abondon their native worldviews and adopt the Christian one?

I don't know and may not speak for them. I may speak for myself and still answer the question, though: I left my former faith and became a Christian when I could no longer hold the false allegations my former religion had made against the Biblical faiths.

huxley:

Are you supposing that the Christian missionaries NEVER attacked and criticised the native African worldviews the encountered on the continent.

I'm not that gullibly, huxley. Your logic is not really catching on here. I didn't claim some Christian missionaries never did that; but what I do claim is that it was wrong of them to have done so. They acted contrary to the stipulations of the Bible; and such disobedience and abberation do not define the Christian faith.

huxley:

My dear, it really helps to be logical and consistent in your thinking.

I believe I have maintain that consistency throughout. The logic? Lol. . . huxley, you have very much to learn.

huxley:

I have challenged you guys to should me ONE single instance of a fault in my logic (that is not to say I am infallible), but alas, you have not been.

Don't praise yourself so much, huxley. I've already faulted your logic in the theory and fact issue, until you asked me to drop it! Again, I ave faulted your presumption to make atheists out of Christian theists. What is your question again? cheesy

huxley:

I really look forward to such faulty logic being found as it is by identifying such do we make progress.

Ya. Please scroll up and see why you haven't impressed me with philosophical atheism.

Best wishes. cheesy
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by skyone(m): 2:51pm On Sep 18, 2008
@poster

the more you look, the less you see
concentrate on your faith and believe and let God do the Judgement.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 2:54pm On Sep 18, 2008
Well, so many times they would interprete such as a 'retreat into unintellectual silence'. As the wise preacher said: there's a time for everything - a time to speak, and a time to refrain from speaking. Where issues invite a discussion, we may speak; if otherwise, we should just let them be.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 10:57pm On Sep 18, 2008
pilgrim.1:

Hi huxley,

It was refreshing to take a breather as the thread progressed. I may not always have as much time, though; but will chip in highlights between times. So here goes:

I find that a reasonable admission on your part - and you surprised me because you're one of the few rationalists I've actually discussed with who calmly admit the veracity of this fact. You indeed surprised me; but what more could I say than that it tessellates with what I have often tried to state consistently: that most rationalists of atheistic leanings are not rational (please observe I said 'most', not 'all'). However, I would have to sadly admit that the same applies to quite a lot of theists in the general sense.


If you really knew what atheism and philosophical atheism was, you would not have been that  surprised. 

I have to keep saying this - atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s) (or to use the stronger definition, which BTW is a more recent formulation, the denial of the existence of god(s).

It says nothing about how such lack of belief was derive. For instance, an infant has no appreciably notion of god(s).  Therefore, an infant is an atheism (more precisely, a natural atheist).  Let me give you a definition from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism);


Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as synonymous with any form of nontheism, including the simple absence of belief in deities.

Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere; and some religions, such as Jainism and Buddhism, do not require belief in a personal god.

The term atheism originated as a pejorative epithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion. With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and has been increasingly used as a self-description by atheists.


Why don't you take the definition that atheist themselve have defined for themselves.  Atheism says nothing about ones other philosophy of live or ones worldview, except that which ever worldview or philosophy they chose, this would be devoid of god(s) or deities.

Atheism has a very long history. I really wish you could read this page on wikipedia, but alas, I suspect you will NOT.

Why don't you learn about atheistic religions like Jainism and some forms of Buddhism to see that atheism does not necessarily translate into rationalism.

Having rejected religions, most philosophical atheism would natural (given their tendency of higher learning) search for worldviews on which to anchor their metaphysics.  Thus there are atheists who describe themselves as;

Metaphysical Naturalist,
Naturalist,
Humanists, etc, etc.


There really is not a great deal of differences between these positions. On the political front, a lot of American atheists would describe themselves as libertarians.   I own personal position is this;

Atheist -> Philosophical Atheist -> Metaphysical naturalist
On politics, I verge toward Libertarianism

Many atheists, especially the philosophical ones, would describe themselves in a similar fashion.

This is where I do not necessarily agree with you. Like I said, I have actually held extensive discussions with many who describe themselves as atheists but who actually are not such. Maybe sometime soon, I would take a moment to post a clinical analysis about this fact; but for all practical purposes, atheism simply is the denial of the supernatural - whether God (or gods), spirits, ghosts, paranormal phenomena, or metaphysical reality. For anyone to claim the title of "atheist" and still believe in the supernatural is a case neatly tucked away as bordering on anonym.

Like I said, there are many atheist who are also irrationalists.  Atheism is not guarantee for rationalism.  However, a philosophical atheism, is by necessity an rationalist and also hold the scientific enterprise as the most reliable source of knowledge about the nature of reality. While such atheists are unlikely to accept the existence of the supernatural, they would at the same time subjects any such claims to the scrutiny of scientific rationalism and if no conclusive results can be obtained, reject such claims or suspend judgement.

I understand you, huxley; and like I said, it is not in my place to disparage you for what you believe. You believe that you belong to a group of guys who entitle themselves as "philosophical atheists", don't you? That's admirable. However, their inferences are both wrong and mismatched. I shall show you why that is so, in due course.

You may criticise, if you want.  In fact, I do encourage you to scrutinise the atheistic arguments as best you can.  All forms for intellectual scrutiny is a healthy thing.  Why don't you give it your best shot?

Let me give you a flavour of the philosophical atheist arguments.  I cannot elaborate on any of them for lack of time and space.

1)    Ontological arguments
2)    Cosmological arguments
3)    Teleologocal arguments
4)    Arguments to/from miracles
5)    Arguments from the nature of god and morality
8-)   Argument from religious experience
9)    Arguments from scale
10)  The problem of evil
11)  Arguments from non-belief
12)  Arguments from naturalism, evolution and rationality.

To do any form of justice to your attack of philosophical atheism, you really have to familiarise yourself with some or all of these atheist arguments.  Otherwise, you would be attacking a strawman of your own creation.

You can start by checking out the following source:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/aeanb.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/logical.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evidential.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/meaningless.html

In reality, you are proposing the existence of "Sussicorn" but not actually believing in it yourself. That does not make me an atheist, not at all. However, if you were actually to believe in Sussicorn as a god, my rejection of your religious belief does not make me an atheist - not at all. It only makes me a non-Sussicornian who believes in another God instead of Sussicorn. Not believing in your own "god" whom you called 'Sussicorn' does not make me any less a theist - I simply believe in a different God as revealed in the Biblical faith. But for all practical purposes, both the Sussicornian and the Christian are not atheists but theists!Do you see the difference? cheesy

I said you are an atheist with respect to Sussicorn, because, presumably, you do not believe in the existence of Sussicorn. You are a non-Sussicornian (Asussicornian), just as I am a non-theist (atheist).

Presumably, you are also an afairyiest, an azeusist, an amithrasist, an athorist, asangoist, etc, etc.  Just as I am ayahwehist (or ajehovahist).  Why are you an amithrasist?  If you understand why you are amithrasist, you will understand why I am ayahwehist.

That is why I would like to show you that philosophical atheism doesn't handle philosophy quite correctly.
How did you arrive at this assessment. Have you seen any defense of philosophical atheism?  Why don't you take a look at the work of the following philosopher - Michael Martin, Theodore Drange, Nicholas Everitt, Walter Kaufmann, David Eller, George H Smith,  J L Mackie, etc.  These are some of the most foremost philosophers on this subject.  Just search for these names on google or Amazon and read reviews of their work.

Atheism (philosphical or not) has nothing to do with the end of slavery, for one. Please don't let people like Dawkins deceive you with wild claims, if that's where you're tending to. He is one of those whose very irrational rants are now held as redundant among many atheists themselves; and I don't think you should be holding this cheap glory every single time a discussion is broached.

Who said atheism was responsible for the end of slavery? Did I say this?  Are you trying to misrepresent me? (Remember the commandment - thou shalt not bear false witness.)

I was simply saying that if worldviews are to be respected and protected, as you propose, then it necessarily follows that we should also respect worldviews tolerant of slavery, child-abuse, genital mutilation, apatheid,  infant abandonment?   Was there anywhere I attributed the end of slavery to atheism? PLEASE, show me where I said this, or implied this.

If worldviews are to be respected and not scrutinised and criticised, how would societies have advanced.  How would you forebares have abandoned their worldviews and adopted an alien worldview from the Middle East?  If Jesus had not examined and criticised the extant worldview at the time, what would be your religion today?

Coindidentally, I have debated Catholic doctrines on this forum (which is not the same thing as putting down any Catholic believer). However, even my own local Church has issues that I cannot always digest - and that is a humbling thought, because it makes me the wiser to realize that such issues are not for public angst. Let me explain, if I may:

One should not berate Catholics on just anything they fancy. Many people immaturely condemn and berate the catholic Church before they even understand what is being said. This is unhealthy. In my understanding, the events leading to the stance on condom was predicated on cases of promiscuity; and the Church had to take a defining stand on such issues. Now to answer your question - do I think that is sinful or not, and worthy of respect? I think it does us well to respect the catholic tradition for taking that stance for the reasons it gave. If atheism says that is wrong and not worthy of respect, then atheism should proffer a better solution to the moral issue of promiscuity. Can we see you do that? Talk is cheap, and it would not be grand to disparage people for their convictions when we have nothing better to offer in the event.

The Catholic problem with condom use is NOT about promiscuity.  Absolutely WRONG.  You need to inform yourself on that subject.  It is about the prevention of conception. 

Atheism don't NOT make any arguments for promiscuity, conception, sexuality, etc, etc.  Get that in your HEAD.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 12:02am On Sep 19, 2008
Hi huxley,

huxley:

If you really knew what atheism and philosophical atheism was, you would not have been that surprised.

I have carefully examined both concepts before replying - and even your latest reply still adds nothing to further convince me that you have a good grasp of the distinction, if any at all.

huxley:

I have to keep saying this - atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s) (or to use the stronger definition, which BTW is a more recent formulation, the denial of the existence of god(s).

The two concepts are not the same, and I would have hoped that you knew the difference. A lack of belief is not the same thing as the denial of the existence of God. They are worlds apart, my dear huxley.

huxley:

It says nothing about how such lack of belief was derive. For instance, an infant has no appreciably notion of god(s). Therefore, an infant is an atheism (more precisely, a natural atheist).

An infant is not an atheism athiest, and atheists who are well reasoned will tell you that!

huxley:

Let me give you a definition from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism);


Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as synonymous with any form of nontheism, including the simple absence of belief in deities.

You anticipated me with Wikipedia; and well to note that an infant can neither "affirm" nor "reject" theistic convictions. Even if one were to assume a "simple absence" of belief in deities, it still does not describe infants as qualified under that title of atheists - because you'd be properly be looking at agnostics, a word which incidentally was coined by Thomas Huxley who could not properly identify himself as an atheist. It is vital that these issues are clearly defined, because blurring the lines is why many people continue to assume that some rationalistic arguments are anything but rational.

huxley:

Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere; and some religions, such as Jainism and Buddhism, do not require belief in a personal god.

I'm sorry to observe, huxley, that the lines are yet being blurred here. Jainism should not be compared to atheism at any stretch for the simple reason that the same Jainism (जैन धर्म) is an ancient religion of India. Atheism on the other hand is passionately steeped against all forms of religious expressions.

huxley:

The term atheism originated as a pejorative epithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion. With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and has been increasingly used as a self-description by atheists

Well, I'm just as glad that this is reposted for us to read: and Zino Ben had intended for my attention that the term was derived by theists. I adre say that Wikipedia got this one wrong; and I would simply ask that he looks carefully at the subscript of that article confirming that atheists use this term as self-descriptive.

huxley:

Why don't you take the definition that atheist themselve have defined for themselves.

For the simple reason that they are always shifting the goal post and never been consistent with their definitions! Often is the case that they constantly revise their terminologies on this subject so that the obfuscation leaves one wondering why they make one feel that they have no clue what they are trying to hold out for themselves.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 12:03am On Sep 19, 2008
@huxley,

huxley:

Atheism says nothing about ones other philosophy of live or ones worldview, except that which ever worldview or philosophy they chose, this would be devoid of god(s) or deities.

Atheism actually is concerned about the philosophies and worldviews of other people.

huxley:

Atheism has a very long history. I really wish you could read this page on wikipedia, but alas, I suspect you will NOT.

Don't be so assuming - I have read that article and more. The difference I make is that I don't read with my brains under my mat! When I read a so-called scholarly write-up, I'm careful to think for myself as I read along rather than first check my brains at the door and just swallow whatever the writer of acclaim says. I'll give you an example:

Richard Dawkins is the propfessor of public understanding of science at Oxford University, yes? Yes. When I read such a scholar, I'm careful to read carefully what he states. His academic title does not define for me what makes sense - I should rather be able to reason along or else reject what he states in some issues: and so I agree with so many atheists who have rejected most of his atheistic rants as redundant and quite embarrassing to the atheists themselves. In due course, I shall share a few of these with you, if you haven't read him yet. Please don't bluff this, because i won't waste the time to call you to account on that.

huxley:

Why don't you learn about atheistic religions like Jainism and some forms of Buddhism to see that atheism does not necessarily translate into rationalism.

I already stated that Jainism is not atheism by any stretch. What has atheism got to do with an ancient religion of India or any other place for that matter?

huxley:

Having rejected religions, most philosophical atheism would natural (given their tendency of higher learning) search for worldviews on which to anchor their metaphysics. Thus there are atheists who describe themselves as;

Metaphysical Naturalist,
Naturalist,
Humanists, etc, etc.

I'm grateful for the distinction. Yet, even at that, you have not yet defined what atheism itself actually is.

huxley:

There really is not a great deal of differences between these positions. On the political front, a lot of American atheists would describe themselves as libertarians. I own personal position is this;

Atheist -> Philosophical Atheist -> Metaphysical naturalist
On politics, I verge toward Libertarianism

For all of that, atheism is at the root of the "-isms" you share with others, yes or no? Given that, is it not correct to say that it is not simply a lack of belief that you've been passionately endeavoruing to postulate, but rather an active denial of theistic core values?

huxley:

Many atheists, especially the philosophical ones, would describe themselves in a similar fashion.

I don't hold it against them - just as well, their description does not quite score the mark.

huxley:

Like I said, there are many atheist who are also irrationalists.

No, "irrational", not "irrationalists" - a world of difference between the two.

huxley:

Atheism is not guarantee for rationalism. However, a philosophical atheism, is by necessity an rationalist and also hold the scientific enterprise as the most reliable source of knowledge about the nature of reality.

What then is the difference betwen rationalism and atheism as you have expressed above? Don't you see the further tediousness of blurring the lines? I don't mean to be dogged about what you're sharing with me; but dear huxley, I would like to follow your offer to reason with me as well ask that you be clear to persuade us of the rational behind your worldview.

huxley:

While such atheists are unlikely to accept the existence of the supernatural, they would at the same time subjects any such claims to the scrutiny of scientific rationalism and if no conclusive results can be obtained, reject such claims or suspend judgement.

Please, huxley, I'm on person that is not inclined to subscribe to tis idea of "scientific rationalism". The concept is an anomer, as rationalism being a worldview is not to be confused for "science". It is as much to say that someone is hooting for "scientific theism" or "scientific believism" - a crass and most abject ideology I would ever come across. I ahve often stated that atheism is not science; and neither should we be swayed by the idea that "rationalism" could be cosmetically dressed up with the adjective of "science".

Science is not an end in itself - it is a tool of investigating our observable world - and even at that, it has its limitations in investigating all forms of realities. There are anormalies in the reality of our existence that scientific models cannot explicate - such as in the example of the paranormal and supernatural. For people to hold the idea that just because they cannot understand a particular event would necessitate its rejection or denial, does not mean that such thinkers are wise at all.

huxley:

You may criticise, if you want. In fact, I do encourage you to scrutinise the atheistic arguments as best you can. All forms for intellectual scrutiny is a healthy thing. Why don't you give it your best shot?

it is not my aim to "attack" or "criticise" - as I have always stated that it is not the goal of reason to do such. However, what you have presented is not even up to scratch as a challenge for my "best short".

huxley:

Let me give you a flavour of the philosophical atheist arguments. I cannot elaborate on any of them for lack of time and space.

1) Ontological arguments
2) Cosmological arguments
3) Teleologocal arguments
4) Arguments to/from miracles
5) Arguments from the nature of god and morality
cool Argument from religious experience
9) Arguments from scale
10) The problem of evil
11) Arguments from non-belief
12) Arguments from naturalism, evolution and rationality.

Interesting. . . and maybe some day we may take them piecemeal and enjoy the feast. For now, I just want to ask you what scientific models you would employ to critically and clinically analyse morality?
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 12:05am On Sep 19, 2008
@huxley,

huxley:

To do any form of justice to your attack of philosophical atheism, you really have to familiarise yourself with some or all of these atheist arguments. Otherwise, you would be attacking a strawman of your own creation.

Lol. . . Repeat after me, huxley: "the goal of reasoning is not to attack". Again? "the goal of reasoning is not to attack." And again. . .

You get my drift? I have not sought to attack your worldviews - I have only asked for the rational behind your motive for an adventure of slurring the convictions of other people and glorying in that adventure. My approach in doing so was to enter into dialogue with you, ask salient and relevant questions, define our terms broadly and reject any blurring and obfuscation of lines, as well as see why such efforts of seeking to attack other people's convictions are quite in violation of the said rational process!! And for me to have any good grounding, I should indeed be familiar with the terms - no less philosophy, talk less of "philosophical atheism". I do not see anything philosophic in the idea to people's beliefs have to be attacked before you can find a raison d'etre for your own worldview! That sort of attitude is neither rational nor intelligent. undecided

huxley:

You can start by checking out the following source:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/aeanb.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/logical.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evidential.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/meaningless.html

I am familiar with most of the articles on the infidels' websites - I used them heavily against Christianity while I was a Muslimah. . .until I realized that most of the things I was holding from such websites are simply dishonest manging of the Biblical faiths. What is new there?

huxley:

I said you are an atheist with respect to Sussicorn, because, presumably, you do not believe in the existence of Sussicorn. Or you are a non-Sussicornian (Asussicornian), just as I am a non-theist (atheist).

If Sussicorn is projected as a "god", then you would not be dealing with the question of atheism. The idea of making atheists out of theists is a contradiction of your own position - because you're force-fitting a bad logic to obfuscate issues even more.

huxley:

Presumably, you are also an afairyiest, an azeusist, an amithrasist, an athorist, asangoist, etc, etc. Just as I am ayahwehist (or ajehovahist). Why are you an amithrasist? If you understand why you are amithrasist, you will understand why I am ayahwehist.

All these are desperate reactions to force-fit a wrong logic to your arguments. I would have hoped for your sake that it would have worked. Sorry, it didn't.

huxley:

How did you arrive at this assessment. Have you seen any defense of philosophical atheism?

So far, your presentation has not convinced me otherwise.

huxley:

Why don't you take a look at the work of the following philosopher - Michael Martin, Theodore Drange, Nicholas Everitt, Walter Kaufmann, David Eller, George H Smith, J L Mackie, etc. These are some of the most foremost philosophers on this subject. Just search for these names on google or Amazon and read reviews of their work.

I'm familiar with some of those names; not familiar with others. yet, those whom I have read are not as brilliant in defending their positions, dear huxley. Even if I were to believe that you've actually read those guys instead of just mentioning them, you would have come away doing a better job thinking for yourself than trying to present their shadowy ideologies as if they hold good rationale.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 12:06am On Sep 19, 2008
@huxley,

huxley:

Who said atheism was responsible for the end of slavery? Did I say this?

No, you did not say that. If you read me, I applied your logic to what you are failing to understand, so there's no need for your overreaction there. Please read it again.

huxley:

Are you trying to misrepresent me? (Remember the commandment - thou shalt not bear false witness.)

Where have I misrepresented you or accused you of saying what you did not say?

huxley:

I was simply saying that if worldviews are to be respected and protected, as you propose, then it necessarily follows that should we also respect worldviews tolerant of slavery, child-abuse, genital mutilation, apatheid,  infant abandonment?   Was there anywhere I attributed the end of slavery to atheism? PLEASE, show me where I said this, or implied this.

You missed the whole gist by a mile. Go back and read carefully what I said and not assume that I accused you of what you didn't say.

huxley:

If worldviews are to be respected and not scrutinised and criticised, how would societies have advanced.

Scrutinizing worldviews is not the same thing as glorying in "attacking" worldviews. I hope you know the difference?

huxley:

How would you forebares have abandoned their worldviews and adopted an alien worldview from the Middle East?  If Jesus had not examined and criticised the extant worldview at the time, what would be your religion today?

As a Christian, do I represent the ideology of "attacking" people's worldviews as a remedy for the deficiencies in what you fail to grasp? Critical thought is not the same as "attacking" people's views. The first is reason worked out into finer pieces; the later is fatally unintellectual.

huxley:

The Catholic problem with condom use is NOT about promiscuity.  Absolutely WRONG.

Thank you - I said "events leading up to". Please read the backdrop - it didn't happen in an instant.

huxley:

You need to inform yourself on that subject.  It is about the prevention of conception.

The prevention of conception came later, not precede the events that mooted a call for the "bull" on that issue. Where are we missing it, huxley? I am willing to be educated on this - by any reasonable Catholic who can set us straight thereto.

huxley:

Atheism don't NOT make any arguments for promiscuity, conception, sexuality, etc, etc.  Get that in your HEAD.

Do I take it then that you guys always make noise and have no solution to the same issues you deplore? Is that a rational answer to a simple question I offered?

Thanks again for your attempt, huxley. I still await a seasoned presentation of your version of philosophical atheism.

Cheers. wink
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 12:56am On Sep 19, 2008
Well Pilgrim,

Thanks for responding promptly. I guess you are still about to read and respond to this but I shall not be able to respond right back as I shall rush off to bed as I have got work tomorrow. I shall pose a few issues nontheless;

Firstly, your method of discussion is rather strange, to say the least. You keep making glibe accusation of illogic, bad reason or assertion etc, yet you fail to show how my reasoning is illogical or bad, or support your assertions. I would be interest in seeing how my reasoning is bad; Here are some examples of what I mean;


Atheism actually is concerned about the philosophies and worldviews of other people.

You missed the whole gist by a mile. Go back and read carefully what I said and not assume that I accused you of what you didn't say.

I am familiar with most of the articles on the infidels' websites - I used them heavily against Christianity while I was a Muslimah. . .until I realized that most of the things I was holding from such websites are simply dishonest manging of the Biblical faiths. What is new there?

Would be interested to see you thing are dishonest about this site? I challenge you to show me. Alas, you won't.

If Sussicorn is projected as a "god", then you would not be dealing with the question of atheism. The idea of making atheists out of theists is a contradiction of your own position - because you're force-fitting a bad logic to obfuscate issues even more.

Where is the bad logic?

So far, your presentation has not convinced me otherwise.



I'm familiar with some of those names; not familiar with others. yet, those whom I have read are not as brilliant in defending their positions, dear huxley. Even if I were to believe that you've actually read those guys instead of just mentioning them, you would have come away doing a better job thinking for yourself than trying to present their shadowy ideologies as if they hold good rationale.

Which of these authors have you read and can you tell me the main tenet of their idea. Mind you I have got all their books on my desk right now (except Drange). Can you give me a gist of what you read in the books you read. Did you purchase these books or borrow them from a library?

I'm grateful for the distinction. Yet, even at that, you have not yet defined what atheism itself actually is.

What the hell is this. I define atheism and went so far as to give links to many sites. Did you miss all of that.


OK, my question to you is the following;

What in your view is atheism?


Will pick from your definition of atheism tomorrow, as the classical standard definitions appears to make no headway with you. Lets look at your definition of atheism.

BTW, why would you as a Muslim read the infidel website (http://www.infidels.org)? Just curious
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 1:24am On Sep 19, 2008
@huxley,

First, let me commend your calmer response this time around. I have enjoyed a good day discussing with you, and you're one of those few who convince me that not all rationalists are irrational when one gets to know and settle down to speak with them.

That said, let me clear the air for you:

huxley:

Firstly, your method of discussion is rather strange, to say the least. You keep making glibe accusation of illogic, bad reason or assertion etc, yet you fail to show how my reasoning is illogical or bad, or support your assertions. I would be interest in seeing how my reasoning is bad

I apologise, for it was not my intention that you should feel that way. I still maintain that I'm a disciple of my own advice - that the goal of reasoning should never be to attack anyone or put them on edge. However, I admit that my method of discussion is rather strange - and it is not the first time that a rationalist would tell me that. Here is how I approach issues of this nature:

First, I prepare myself to not misrepresent anyone or anything in my posts, even if they do not seem to agree with me. But for me to be able to hold a consistent position, I should be prepared well enough - by reading wide, knowing the gist of the various arguments for the subject I hope to enter into, and be able to critique even my own persuasions. Strange that I should critique my own thoughts. . . but that is what it is.

Second, to enable us maintain a focus of the real question being broached, I ask simple questions without demanding that my discussant must necessarily answer them - people should not feel compelled to answer my questions if they do not want to do so, and I should not disparage them for it. At the end of the day, I should be prepared to share well articulated references with them that will help them rethink issues through as carefully as could be managed so that they may gain some insight into what they might otherwise have been mistaken for so long up to the time I entered the discussion with them. That is why I refrain from seeking to disparage people or "attack" them, no matter how grotesque their ideology may appear to me.

That said, let me now give you a simply answer to the main gist of what we have been trying to deal with - the meaning of atheism.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 1:35am On Sep 19, 2008
@huxley,

In view of the questions I have asked in other threads, I here present my persuasions about them from the point of having carefully examined them. I'm sure that Zino Ben would benefit from this as well, since he has asked me to share what the definition and etymology of atheism actually is.

Again, I want to thank you for inviting a discussion about what we believe atheism to be, from a practical and intellectual perspective. What this means is that public opinions that blur the lines and make for shallow reading will not be much of our concerns here; but what follow is a seeking to know the real gist of what this subject entails so that we shed ourselves of the misconceptions that people often banter around.

What are the observable references to the atheistic worldview?

First, it would make more sense to define what is meant by atheism itself. There are many conflicting definitions that many atheists hold about the term; but for all practical purposes of this discussion, I would be leaving the reductionist idea that "atheism simply means the lack of belief in any god". My reason for throwing out that idea is simple: there are a lot of people who do not believe in God, but that in itself does not make them atheists. What qualifies as atheism is the commitment to the denial of the existence of God and the supernatural. However one looks at it, two things often stand out: "denial" and "existence" - these are the very core elements in the atheistic belief system, because the core values of atheism rest properly on the denial of the existence of God.

It is inaccurate to assume that 'not believeing in God' equates to "atheism". The latter is much more than a 'lack of belief' in God - it involves an active commitment to non-belief in God or gods, paranormal and supernatural phenomena, and spiritual values of any sort. It is in this regard that the argument stating that "Everyone is born an atheist" is quite redundant and gravely uninformed. Many people hold that idea because they took David Eller's word for it, who in 2004 in his book Natural Atheism, p. 12 stated that: "All humans are born Atheists".

On the contrary, a better and more rigorous way of looking at it would be as Doug Jessef succinctly stated in 1998 - that someone who simply lacks theistic belief does not count as an atheist; his quote --

[list][list]"Someone who simply lacks theistic belief, a small child who has never been taught about God, or someone who simply rejects God as an act of rebellion does not count as an atheist"[/list][/list]

Please note that this is a critical definition of atheism - given by an atheist himself. It means therefore, that the idea to make atheists out of babies is not shared by knowledgeable atheists around the world. Further, the rationalistic assumption that "everyone is born an atheist" simply does not hold any substance at all. This is one example of how people can make a grave mistake (as David Eller did), and many people would just take their word for it!
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 2:28am On Sep 19, 2008
Please note that in order to appeal to your good sense of judgement, I have hiterto quoted atheists themselves (David Eller and Doug Jessef) in defining above what atheism actually is, and those who are properly called atheists. These are not my subjective views, but they are what atheists themselves would have us carefully consider.

Now, the next question, as Zino had asked earlier in the other thread (and one which you, huxley, have often made reference to) is this question:

"Then who conjured the name athiests?"

So many people again make the mistake of assuming that this term "atheist" (or even "atheism"wink was devised by Christian theists to use against non-believers. On the contrary, those terms have a rich and interesting etymology, and as we shall see, the term was first used by a philospher who was not a Christian. I'll proffer the reference for you to see for yourself:

(1) Please see this reference on the various etymology of Atheism addressing this issue online. Some of the entries simply define the word, but a few others give us some background understanding of how it was derived; let me quote one such:

[list][list]In early Ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (from privative a- + theos "god"wink meant "without gods" or "lack of belief in gods". The word acquired an additional meaning in the 5th century BC, expressing a total lack of relations with the gods; that is, "denying the gods, godless, ungodly", with more active connotations than asebēs, "impious". Modern translations of classical texts sometimes translate atheos as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was also atheotēs: "atheism". Cicero transliterated atheos into Latin. The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other.[/list][/list]

Please note that even before Cicero, the terms and the derivatives were in use among those in early Ancient Greek period. Cicero was a philospher who lived before the Christian era (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC), and you could imagine that as far back as that time, this man had translated the word into Latin. This is why I pointed out to Zino to carefully check his references and see that it was not Christian theists who first derived this term.

But it gets even more interesting, though. The terms in their early usage in Greek were only derived from Greek roots, but they were not Greek words - their meanings quite different from what many of us have wondered about:

[list][list]A.B. Drachmann (1922) notes:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Atheism and atheist are words formed from Greek roots and with Greek derivative endings. Nevertheless they are not Greek; their formation is not consonant with Greek usage. In Greek they said atheos and atheotes; to these the English words ungodly and ungodliness correspond rather closely. In exactly the same way as ungodly, atheos was used as an expression of severe censure and moral condemnation; this use is an old one, and the oldest that can be traced. Not till later do we find it employed to denote a certain philosophical creed. (p.5) [/list][/list]

The article following that quote says that: "In English, the term atheism is the result of the adoption of the French athéisme in about 1587." Please visit that link and see for yourself. I just to call Zino's attention to clarify this issue so we don't keep making this same mistake of accusing people wrongly. Like I said, I often like to make articulated references to whatever I state, so that no one assumes that I have nothing as evidence for what I argue.

Since it is said that their English usage derived from 16th century French usage, it may also be of interest to check this other website on Etymology to get the feel of what the definition of atheism entailed: "1571, from Fr. athéiste (16c.), from Gk. atheos "to deny the gods, godless," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see Thea). A slightly earlier form is represented by atheonism (c.1534) which is perhaps from It. atheo "atheist.""

It is from the above that I feel persuaded that people speaking about atheism as simply the "lack of belief" in God are making a reductionist claim. As we see above, its English usage traces from 16th century French and meant nothing less than to "deny the gods". Just how serious is this as compared to the idea of a "lack of belief"? For that answer, I need to take you again to another atheist website: "Evil Bible.com".

EvilBible.com has a few things on their website in defining Atheism. I should simply let them speak for themselves by quoting them directly:


[list][list] On the Definition of the Words Atheism and Atheist
(Page 2 - Stupid Arguments)

Some of people who want to redefine the words "atheism" and "atheist" to mean "a lack of belief in the existence of gods" have used some incredibly stupid arguments to support their position. I will list some of these arguments and examine them in detail.

Stupid Argument #1: The etymology of the word "atheism" means "a lack of belief".

A commonly repeated error is that the word "atheism" was derived from the prefix "a-", meaning "without", and the word "theism", meaning a belief in God. Therefore they claim that "atheism" means "without a belief in God". This is incorrect because the etymology of the word "atheism" derives from the Greek word "atheos" meaning "godless". The "-ism" suffix, which can be roughly mean "belief", was added later. The etymology of the word means "godless belief" not "without a belief in gods".

Stupid Argument #2: Most Dictionaries Define "Atheism" as a "Lack of Belief".

I see this lie quite often on the internet. The truth of the matter is that no reputable dictionary has a "lack of belief" definition. See page 3 for more on this subject.


Stupid Argument #3: Most Dictionary Definitions of "Atheism" are Wrong Because They are Written by Biased Christians.

This absurd claim is totally unsupported by any facts, much like the gigantic government conspiracy to cover-up UFO landings.


Stupid Argument #4: Only Atheists get to Define What the Word "Atheist" Means.

This argument is absurd for two reasons. First of all, words are defined by common usage, not by the people who fit that definition. For example the word "handicapped" is defined by common usage not just by handicapped people.

Secondly, a "lack of belief" definition for the word "atheist" would include so many agnostics, babies, infants, and the undecided that the self-identified atheists would be a very small minority. Babies and infants would make up a majority of the "lack of belief" atheists and I haven't heard of any of them who could express a coherent definition.

source: http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_2.htm#1
[/list][/list]


Dear huxley (and Zino et al)

So far, in other to keep a balanced view and appeal to your unbiased sense of rationality, you would notice that these are frank statements and admissions from atheists themselves. From David Eller, to Doug Jessef, now to Evil Bible.com, I have tried to articulate issues in disgestible forms and make my point. And the point is simply: so many people are making very serious blunders by redefining and ever changing their definitions of atheism. When called upon to carefully examine their misconceptions, they fly off the pan and accuse Christians of having devised such terms to suit themselves. How serious a damage is done to the cause of rationalistic thinking where issues like these are missed.

I do hope that you would begin to understand that I'm always being fair and consistent and it's not in my place to disparage anyone or "attack" their views. I believe that rational discourses are easy to hold, without insults, and so that misconceptions are no longer held.

Cheers gentlemen. wink
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 2:50am On Sep 19, 2008
huxley:

BTW, why would you as a Muslim read the infidel website (http://www.infidels.org)? Just curious

Well, I was just being plain stupid in those days. undecided It seemed such a "good" spot at the time to ferret vicious attacks from those sites against Christians and the Bible. . . until I became the wiser and gave up such adventures.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by ZinoBen: 3:17am On Sep 19, 2008
@pilgrim

Actually i didnt want to get into any argument between you and huxley but since you brough me into this atheism orgy fest, then i am compelled to respond:

Now, the next question, as Zino had asked earlier in the other thread (and one which you, huxley, have often made reference to) is this question:

                           "Then who conjured the name athiests?"

So many people again make the mistake of assuming that this term "atheist" (or even "atheism"wink was devised by Christian theists to use against non-believers. On the contrary, those terms have a rich and interesting etymology, and as we shall see, the term was first used by a philospher who was not a Christian. I'll proffer the reference for you to see for yourself:

(1) Please see this reference on the various etymology of Atheism addressing this issue online. Some of the entries simply define the word, but a few others give us some background understanding of how it was derived; let me quote one such:


In early Ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (from privative a- + theos "god"wink meant "without gods" or "lack of belief in gods". The word acquired an additional meaning in the 5th century BC, expressing a total lack of relations with the gods; that is, "denying the gods, godless, ungodly", with more active connotations than asebēs, "impious". Modern translations of classical texts sometimes translate atheos as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was also atheotēs: "atheism". Cicero transliterated atheos into Latin. The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other.

Please note that even before Cicero, the terms and the derivatives were in use among those in early Ancient Greek period. Cicero was a philospher who lived before the Christian era (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC), and you could imagine that as far back as that time, this man had translated the word into Latin. This is why I pointed out to Zino to carefully check his references and see that it was not Christian theists who first derived this term.

But it gets even more interesting, though. The terms in their early usage in Greek were only derived from Greek roots, but they were not Greek words - their meanings quite different from what many of us have wondered about:



The question was who conjured the name athiests and you just continue to run in a zig zag manner without actually stating a name. You use phrases like "ancient greek", which ancient greek are you talking about? That person should have a name or something or clan that could be traced. You just dont assume things written by someone without any veritable evidence to back it up.

At least a lot of pre ancient greeks or greeks in the bible had names and christians flaunt these ancient places and names to buttress their claims. Such arguments like this should be totally rejected because it offers no hope of evidence but just a bland allusion to a group termed ancient greek.

To make this argument even more absurd, it is meant to mean that the first set of "athiests" where in or around the vicinity of ancient greek at that time. Well that also presupposes that nobody in the roman empire then or the egyptians where unbelieving athiests. They must all then had believed in the existence of god or gods as the case may be except the all intelligent greeks. Does such an argument still make sense anymore?

But if i ask any child today where the name christian came from and who the first christians were, in a jiffy that answer will be produced. So please stop alluding and get your facts correct.

Secondly, there was no reason to bring cicero into this because it doesnt buttress any of your points except being a translator of a word to  latin. It still doesnt answer the question of who conjured the name atheist!

Finally your allusion to drachmann's defination of atheism is subject to his own opinion and not all athiest will agree with  him, like wise your other definations from evil bible.com. When ppl state their own opinions it is subject to criticism and suspicion. How do you know that one independent onlooker at this debate wont pick out a defination by pilgrim on nairaland and place it in another forum and claim it is a word of authority because pilgrim is a highly respected member of nairaland so therefor her definations and opinions are law and authoritative.

If i was in such a forum like that, i would roundly denounce such an argument and state it is just your opinion and nothing more.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 8:04am On Sep 19, 2008
Hi Zino,

Zino Ben:

The question was who conjured the name athiests and you just continue to run in a zig zag manner without actually stating a name. You use phrases like "ancient greek", which ancient greek are you talking about? That person should have a name or something or clan that could be traced.

I think you are making a fundamental mistake in assuming I was going to name a particular person. "Ancient Greek"  is not the name of a person; nor is it synonymous with Christianity. I merely offered the available historical pointers to show that many atheists have continued to make this unsubstantiated allegation that the words "atheist" and "atheism" were devised by Christian theists against non-believers - and such an idea is totally wrong, because it is not supported by available evidence.

This was your direct assertion from the other thread:

Zino Ben:

1. Athiesm is a word conjured by you theists.

. . . and my direct answer was: "Sorry, atheism was not a word conjured by theists - and atheists themselves will tell you that!"

In this thread, I then proceeded to give you and huxley the etymology of that word, and clearly demonstrated why you were wrong. This idea that theists were the ones who devised the word has been erratically bantered for much too long - and as you can see from the atheist EviBible.com answers, it is quite an absurd claim that is "totally unsupported by any facts" (Stupid Argument #3).

My point was to simply show you that your assertion has no factual basis - and even reasoned atheists themselves will openly tell you that!

Zino Ben:

Secondly, there was no reason to bring cicero into this because it doesnt buttress any of your points except being a translator of a word to  latin. It still doesnt answer the question of who conjured the name atheist!

I mentioned Cicero to show that he lived before the Christian era and translated a word well known in his time into latin. You made a clear assertion that Christian theists are the ones who devised such a word, but you categorically failed to name the particular Christian theist who did so!

Zino Ben:

Finally your allusion to drachmann's defination of atheism is subject to his own opinion and not all athiest will agree with  him, like wise your other definations from evil bible.com.

That may be so, and I can understand why such answers may not be quite suited to you especially when you have held erroneous definitions and made unsubstantiated assertions alleging that the word was devised by Christians. The point in Drachman's was to show that people who are able to reason simply and know the facts on ground will state it as simply and not assume to redefine a word to suit and placate the general public This is precisely what the EviBible.com discusses under the "Stupid Argument #4".

Zino Ben:

When people state their own opinions it is subject to criticism and suspicion. How do you know that one independent onlooker at this debate wont pick out a defination by pilgrim on nairaland and place it in another forum and claim it is a word of authority because pilgrim is a highly respected member of nairaland so therefor her definations and opinions are law and authoritative.

Of course, I have often stated that even my own opinions are constantly critiqued by me! I have always tried to come back and admit my own shortcomings (as recently in the Sounds from Hell thread). The point is for someone to check what is being said by anyone, reason out why such persuasions are held, understand the raison d'etre for such persuasions, as well as critique it in an intelligent manner. To simply reject something without proffering an alternative and well articulated discussion instead does not amount to critical evaluation of a stated opinion.

Zino Ben:

If i was in such a forum like that, i would roundly denounce such an argument and state it is just your opinion and nothing more.

I can be thankful that I did not quote myself - I quoted several atheists themselves who are well reasoned on the subject.

Regards.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 8:56am On Sep 19, 2008
Pilgrim.1,  thanks for your response which was a much greater improvement to your earlier post on account of you supplying reference, etc, to support your position.  Great.

I am rushing off to work now and shall respond in details myself when I get back.  I shall also be quoting from some famous atheist of the past and present about how they view themselves and their definition for atheism.  These are;

Baron D'Holback,
Bradlaugh
George Smith
Michael Martin
Nicholas Everett
J L Mackie

etc, etc

So I shall need access to their published words, which I can only access from home.  In the meantime, if you can check these names out, that would help advance the discussion further.


It is worth noting that in classical times, the Christians were called atheists by the Romans

But the whole multitude, marvelling at the nobility of mind displayed by the devout and godly race of Christians, cried out, "Away with the Atheists!"
-- The Martyrdom of Polycarp 3.2

Christians were atheoi, "no-godders," and thus were considered a serious political and religious threat.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by huxley(m): 10:52pm On Sep 19, 2008
I shall start by presenting text from some well know books about atheism. Firstly, lets see George Smith, in Why Atheism

George Smith defends the longest-standing known definition of atheism, called negative atheism (or weak atheism). This definition has a long pedigree. Positive atheism (the denial of the existence of God) is not a positions often defended by atheists. Read Smith below to get a sense of the definition;

Derived from the Greek word atheos (meaning "godless, not believing in the existence of gods"wink, an atheist is "is one who does not believe in the existence of a deity". Atheism, or the absence of theistic belief, is therefore a perspective, not a philosophy. Although there can be atheistic philosophies that are based solely on naturalistic principles, there cannot be a "philosophy of atheism" per se, because a negative position can never serve as a satisfactory foundation for a philosophical system.

Since an atheist is a person who does not believe in any god or number of gods, how we define atheist will depend on how we define god. Some theists have been called atheist for disbelieving in the god (gods) of the orthodox majority. Early Christians, for example, were frequently accused of atheism by their pagan critics. "We are called atheists", wrote Justin Martyr in the second century, "and we confess that we are atheists so far as the pagan gods are concerned, but not with respect to themost true God . . . " Hence, if Christians qualify as atheist owing to their disbelief in the pagan gods, then everyone is an atheist of some sort, since those who believe in the god (or gods) of one religion will necessarily disbelieve in the god (or gods) of other religions. (From Why Atheism, pages 18 - 19)

Nineteenth-century atheists repeatedly attacked the short and easy refutation by exposing its faulty definition of atheism (known as positive atheism, since it positively affirms the non-existence of god). Consider the British atheist G. W. Foote, editor of the Freethinker and the author on many books and articles on atheism. Foote's atheism was scarcely of the timid variety; convicted of blasphemy and sent to prison, his case provoked the young John Staurt Mill to write a passionate defence of religious freedom. Yet Foote repeated insisted that atheism is properly defined as the absence (or lack) of theistic belief, and not the denial of God's existence. In a typical exchange, Foote challenged a critic "to refer me to one atheist who denies the existence of God". The atheist is a person who is without a belief in a god; "that is all the A before Theist really means".

This was also the view of Charles Bradlaugh, the most influential atehist in Victorian England. In The Freethinkers Textbook (1876), after noting that the meaning of atheism has been continously misrepresented, Bradlaugh went on to say "Atheism is without God. It does not assert no God".

No historian has yet undertaken a thorough investigation of this negative definition, so we don't know when it came into common use, but we see traces of it as early as the 17th century. For exampl John Locke, in Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), cited travel accounts that reported "whole nations" of atheists, "amongst whom there was to be found no notion of a God, no religion". The negative definition also appears in the first comprehensive defense of atheism, Baron d'Holbach's The System of Nature (1770). "All children are atheists", according to d'Holbach, because they have no idea of God.

Unlike most of their modern counterparts, some previous Christians were fairminded enough to read what atheists had actually said before attacking their position. Once such person was Robert Flint, a highly respected scholar who wrote extensively on theology, history and economics. Flint clearly understood that atheism, as defended for many decades by prominent atheists, is negative rather than positive in character. In Agnosticism (1903), Flint pointed out that the atheist "is not necessarily a man who says, There is no God". On the contrary, this "positive or dogmatic atheism, so far as being the only kind of atheism, is the rarest of all kinds. . ." The atheist is simply a person "who does notbelieve that there is a God", and this absence of belief may stem from nothing more than "want of knowledge that there is a God." Flient concludes: "The word atheist is a thoroughly honest unambiguous term. It means one who does not believe in God, and it means neither more nor less".

The same point had been made decades earlier by another Christian theologian, Richard Watson, who was well known for his attacks on Thomas Paine and other freethinkers. In a Biblical and Theological Dictionary (1831), Watson maintained that atheism literally means "without God": An atheist, "in the strict and proper sence of the word, is one who does not believe in the existence of god, or who owns no being superior to nature."

Twentieth-century freethinkers have continued to defend the negative definition. In A Rationalist Enclyclopedia (1950) Joseph McCabe, a former Jesuit priest who became prominent atheist, defined atheism as "the absence of theistic belief". And Chapman Cohen, president of Britain's National Secular Society and author of many books on atheism, wrote "If one believes in a god, one is a theist. If one does not belief in a god, then one is an A-theist - he is without that belief. The distinction between atheism and theism is entirely,exclusively, that of whether one has or has not a belief in God". (Why Atheism, Pages 23 - 24)



==========================================================================

Of course, humans would not be humans if we did not make improvement on what we already have working well. Thus some philosopher have actually started make and defending positive atheism. On such is Michael Martin, who has written a number of books on the subject. For my money, his best book on the subject is "Atheism - A Philosophical Justification"

In this work Martin defends both weak (negative atheism) and strong (positive) atheism. I shall be posting on his work in due course when I had had the time to digest better the arguments.

==========================================================================

Other atheist scholars defend atheism from a probabilistic stance, basically say that after examining all the arguments, the chances of such a god as the Abrahamic god is extremely unlikely. Richard Dawkins and Nicholas Everett fall into this class.

===========================================================================

In a pragmatic sense, what does all of this mean. Well for all intends and purposes, a weak atheist, a strong atheist, a probabilistic atheist and an agnostics share the same outlook of life. They live their lives practically without reverence to a god of deity. The subtly technical differences in their philosophical positions does not express itself into differences in their worldviews and their approach to life, as far as deities are concerned. And ultimately, this is what matters, whether one spends their valuable time and effort worshiping a being about whom they have no knowledge, or whether one spends one time and effort on more human and earthly related activities.




One of George Smiths seminal books, "The case Againgst God" is given in the link below;

http://www.federacionatea.org/documentos/thecaseagainstgod.pdf
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 9:36am On Sep 20, 2008
Hi again huxley,

Good to read from you. I was waiting until you had pointed me to a few cogent resources before I replied. So here:

huxley:

It is worth noting that in classical times, the Christians were called atheists by the Romans

But the whole multitude, marvelling at the nobility of mind displayed by the devout and godly race of Christians, cried out, "Away with the Atheists!"
-- The Martyrdom of Polycarp 3.2

I already pointed out from the online resource that "The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other" (etymology of Atheism).

huxley:

Christians were atheoi, "no-godders," and thus were considered a serious political and religious threat.[/color]

It is left to you to show us how Christians who believed in God suddenly became "no godders" in terms of atheism.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 10:20am On Sep 20, 2008
Now, on to the other matters you posted:

huxley:

I shall start by presenting text from some well know books about atheism. Firstly, lets see George Smith, in Why Atheism

George Smith defends the longest-standing known definition of atheism, called negative atheism (or weak atheism). This definition has a long pedigree. Positive atheism (the denial of the existence of God) is not a positions often defended by atheists.

While I may not concern myself with the adjectives appended to atheism itself (such as 'positive atheism', 'negative atheism' or even 'weak atheism'), my one focus has been what the term "atheism" connotes. Just like the term theism simply being the expression of belief in the existence of God or gods, there are several qualifiers to distinguish between various types of theism. My present concerns however are about atheism, and not the adjectives appended thereto; and this is why people like George Smith is of very little consequences at the moment. Recall that I already stated:
pilgrim.1:

Again, I want to thank you for inviting a discussion about what we believe atheism to be, from a practical and intellectual perspective. What this means is that public opinions that blur the lines and make for shallow reading will not be much of our concerns here; but what follow is a seeking to know the real gist of what this subject entails so that we shed ourselves of the misconceptions that people often banter around.


Yet, I shall patiently examine what you posted.

huxley:

Read Smith below to get a sense of the definition;

Derived from the Greek word atheos (meaning "godless, not believing in the existence of gods"wink, an atheist is "is one who does not believe in the existence of a deity". Atheism, or the absence of theistic belief, is therefore a perspective, not a philosophy. Although there can be atheistic philosophies that are based solely on naturalistic principles, there cannot be a "philosophy of atheism" per se, because a negative position can never serve as a satisfactory foundation for a philosophical system.

Let me first slice through G. Smith's take on the subject before going on to make other remarks on his arguements. According to what you posted, four things stand out:

(1) Smith reiterates my point that the very core of atheism is the denial of the existence of God - nothing less or short of that. Many people of atheistic leanings today like to lean towards the reductionist idea of viewing atheism as merely "a lack of belief" in the existence of God or gods; but as we have seen, that would include a whole lot of people who do not identify themselves as atheists - such as was the case with Thomas Huxley who rather coined the term "agnostic" instead of standing up to be counted as an atheist. The underlying element in atheism proper is the denial of the existence of God, and this is clearly indicated in Smith's quote above.

(2) If Smith makes the case against the idea of a "philosophy of atheism", it well goes to demonstrate my second point already - that there is no such thing as "philosophical atheism". I can agree with him on that, not because I wished that he buttresses my point, but rather because many atheists of popular standing have again and again rejected such a concept as philosophical atheism and its derivatives. If such is the case (as surely as it is), then I put it to you, dear huxley, that your inclination to see yourself as one, simply does not arise. Your statement that you were led to "the notion of the philosophical atheism", to which you concluded: "It is with this latter group that I belong", only now is dismissed even by atheists like George Smith.

(3) "A Perspective" - this is how Smith views atheism, and that already again tells us that atheism is a worldview. . . the very thing that I already pointed out to you. As such, it only reinforces my rejoinders that the point should not be taken for granted that atheists themselves are the ones who define it as a movement with codified sets of principles, creeds, and ideologies. These are not all in consensus, as many atheists are free to define the term narrowly for themselves without creeds, principles or ideoligies. However, Smith is one of those very few atheists who admit to the fact that atheism is regarded as a "Perspective" (in the same context as a movement, a system, a Weltanschauung, or worldview). You may disagree with that; but you'll see my point later on as the thread progresses.

(4) I think many people miss the classic point that Smith has made in this quote: "a negative position can never serve as a satisfactory foundation for a philosophical system". This thought is true in many respects, and that is why I have always intoned that "attacking" one's convictions simply because we do not agree with them will never produce a satisfactory foundation for whatever worldviews we hold. I know this truth firsthand while still a muslimah and was visiting skeptic and infidel websites to ferret quotes for "attacking" the Christian faith. Did I gain any satisfactory basis for my own convictions back then? Not in one bit. After my conversion to Christianity, I still value the timeless truth that negativism (either in theism or atheism) does not satisfy the realities of our world.
Re: Moral Victory: Religious Exploitation, And The New American Creed by pilgrim1(f): 11:11am On Sep 20, 2008
Continuing on Smith:

huxley:

Since an atheist is a person who does not believe in any god or number of gods, how we define atheist will depend on how we define god. Some theists have been called atheist for disbelieving in the god (gods) of the orthodox majority. Early Christians, for example, were frequently accused of atheism by their pagan critics. "We are called atheists", wrote Justin Martyr in the second century, "and we confess that we are atheists so far as the pagan gods are concerned, but not with respect to themost true God . . . "

Predictably. I had hoped that there was another reason why people would want to justify the reason for addressing Christians as atheistic. But it didn't come as a surprise to me that Justin Martyr happens to be one of the reasons for that idea. However, Justin martyr is absouletly wrong - as wrong as anyone would be suggesting such a term from the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Christians are still nonetheless as theistic as ever, and whatever ideas have been expressed by men who confused terminologies, it still does not pass the average intelligent discourse of understanding what they mean.

The etymology of the words "atheism" or "atheist" does not suggest that Christians are in any stretch to be viewed as atheists. The term may have been bantered across the fence in debates between early Christians and pagans (as already noted); but even before the emergence of Christianity, we should remember that: "In Greek they said atheos and atheotes; to these the English words ungodly and ungodliness correspond rather closely" (remember?). So, how pagans would have argued that Christians are by definition "ungodly" or glory in lifestyles of "ungodliness" is now up to the philosophical atheist to distinguish for us.

huxley:

Hence, if Christians qualify as atheist owing to their disbelief in the pagan gods, then everyone is an atheist of some sort, since those who believe in the god (or gods) of one religion will necessarily disbelieve in the god (or gods) of other religions. (From Why Atheism, pages 18 - 19)

Christians do not qualify as atheists - not even in the way Smith tries to dribble in this idea. Atheism is the denial of the existence of God, gods, the supernatural and paranormal phenomena. I have taken the time to show how even this very definition is what is concretely held by atheists today (minus the adjectives of "positive, negative or weak" atheists). As such, Christians have never denied the existence of God, gods or the supernatural, and one only needs read the Bible even in a cursory manner, and the fact is clear.

To even underscore the point, let me quote a direct verse from the Bible for those who might not have seen this point clearly:

[list][list][li]'For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"'-- [1 Cor. 8:5][/li][/list][/list]

What does this mean? Christians believe that indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"; however, what distinguishes the Christian theist is the fact that his commitment and devotion is reserved for only one God:

[list][list][li]But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.'-- [1 Cor. 8:6][/li][/list][/list]

These are statements which people like George Smith ought to have carefully understood and applied before taking the very faulty position of trying to make atheists out of Christian theists. Indeed, pagans may have used such terms against Christians, but we know that an accusation is not a scholarly statement of fact. The fact is that Christian theists are not to be confused for any idea of atheists.

However, having critiqued George Smith's faulty definition, I do appreciate the fact that you didn't leave it just at the quote, but went on to evaluate the substance of his persuasion by contrasting them with other views expressed by atheists themselves:

huxley:

Nineteenth-century atheists repeatedly attacked the short and easy refutation by exposing its faulty definition of atheism (known as positive atheism, since it positively affirms the non-existence of god). Consider the British atheist G. W. Foote, editor of the Freethinker and the author on many books and articles on atheism. Foote's atheism was scarcely of the timid variety; convicted of blasphemy and sent to prison, his case provoked the young John Staurt Mill to write a passionate defence of religious freedom. Yet Foote repeated insisted that atheism is properly defined as the absence (or lack) of theistic belief, and not the denial of God's existence.

This scenario shows us just how one may be too polarized with his own narrow and reductionistic views to even allow reason to help him. Poor G. W. Foote, he should have known far better if he had the courage to be honest with himself, at least.

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