Living in a Fantasy

PZ Myers attempts to lay out some talking points to help smooth over the differences between the Gnu Atheists and the Accomodationists.

He writes:

Let me first strike a note of harmony and unity: we’re all atheists. Those of us who are activists for atheism share a common passion for the cause — the reason why we are activists is that we care very deeply about this cause.

Myers acknowledges he is an activist. I often refer to the Gnu leaders as activists and, as you can see, I am just acknowledging their self-professed roles. But remember, an activist has a Cause and that Cause often entails a deep emotional and psychological attachment. In other words, when we are dealing with activists, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind. Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.

But there are differences. Not just in how we operate, but within our motivations — atheists are a diverse lot.

Of course they are diverse. As we have seen here, atheism is ultimately a subjective opinion and reason, along with evidence, are insufficient for generating rational consensus. Never forget that when one set of atheists accuses the other set of being sexual harassers and rapists, and the other set responds by accusing the accusers of being wild-eyed, witch-hunters, both sides claim to champion reason and evidence.

Yet suddenly, when they all start to agree about God not existing, they completely change their ways and become Mr. Spock. Riding on the back of a beautiful unicorn, that is.

Some of us are committed to identifying truths. When we see intellectual laziness and outright lies, we’re appalled.

Thus speaks the one who publicly accuses a famous skeptic of being a rapist with very little evidence.

Before we can be friends, they have to realize that what the religious are saying is completely wrong.

Extremists tend to think their enemies are 100%, “completely wrong.” The religious are, after all, according to Dawkins, nothing more than “faithheads.”

These differences between accommodationists and confrontationists are real. They represent the fact that this isn’t a group of cookie-cutter atheists whose every goal is identical; we share the broader purpose but have different foci and strengths within it.

Exactly what broader purpose do they share? This sounds to me like Myers is wishcasting. What we need is some joint statement from Gnus such as Myers, Dawkins and Coyne, along with some leading accomodationists, that clearly lays out such a “shared broader purpose.” Because I don’t see one.

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21 Responses to Living in a Fantasy

  1. Justin says:

    I don’t get it. Without fail, nearly every conversation with atheists that I’ve had at some point include the following atheist claim – “atheism isn’t a belief system”…

    How can something that is not a belief system be “a cause”… “We’re all atheists,” he says. So what? According to atheists, there is no atheist belief system, nothing more in common than sharing a “lack of a belief” which, according to atheists, entails no further necessary logical outworkings.

  2. TFBW says:

    Exactly what broader purpose do they share? This sounds to me like Myers is wishcasting.

    Sounds to me more like he’s trying to use “accommodationism” as leverage against itself. Take the closing line of that post.

    Working together as atheists does not mean that we subordinate the favored tactics of individuals to follow a single line of attack. The accommodationists must accommodate themselves to diversity.

    Looks like he wants the accomodationists to accommodate confrontationism. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work in practice — possibly by the accommodationists consuming a nice hot cup of STFU.

  3. The Deuce says:

    Let me first strike a note of harmony and unity: we’re all atheists.

    Not sure why that’s supposed to imply “harmony” and “unity” any more than I am in unity with everyone else in the world who also has brown eyes. This sort of claim makes sense within Christianity, since Christianity teaches that all Christians are one family and part of one body and communion, but not for lack of belief in God, which (as Justin points out) Gnus insist has no further logical implications, at least when they’re trying to avoid being associated with the many atrocities of other atheists in recent history. This is just another of their many unacknowledged borrowings from Christian morality that they take for granted.

  4. Atheism says:

    ”In other words, when we are dealing with activists, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind. Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.”

    That’s a pretty stupid statement. The fact that someone rationally evaluates the truth of a proposition is perfectly consistent with passionately trying to convince others of your point of view. For example, the fact that one passionately campaigns against holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers, anti evolution religious nutcases and so on is perfectly consistent with having examined the evidence and concluded that the beliefs of the opposition are false. Indeed, the reason for becoming a passionate opponent of such ideas is often because one has become convinced of their falsity and their pernicious impact on society. Amusingly, your view entails that passionate opponents of new atheism are disqualified from being ‘objective judges of reality’ because they are activists. Which begs the question of why anyone should take you seriously.

    ”Never forget that when one set of atheists accuses the other set of being sexual harassers and rapists, and the other set responds by accusing the accusers of being wild-eyed, witch-hunters, both sides claim to champion reason and evidence.”

    I see. Two parties to a disagreement claim to be rational. Therefore we can’t know who’s right from wrong. For example, there is a disagreement about the treatment of women in skeptical community. Since both sides claim to rational we can’t know whether being a woman in this community is a particularly pleasant experience. LOL!

    ”Exactly what broader purpose do they share?”

    I think that’s pretty much self evident. The piece is addressed to the skeptic movement which is concerned with promoting atheism and secularism. Different people in this movement have different ways of advancing this cause. Myers is saying that there is room for more than one approach to advancing this cause. I don’t see what’s so difficult to understand here.

  5. Jim says:

    “Exactly what broader purpose do they share?”

    Well that’s the thing, I don’t think there is a “broader purpose” exactly. The so-called “accomodationists”, those who are willing to work with religious believers and organizations that are not opposed to teaching evolution, are putting the cause of good science education ahead of any ideological goals. The “confrontationalists”, or Gnus, are on a crusade against religious belief and see opposition to religion as a moral obligation, and don’t seem to care that their rhetoric only serves to polarize science.

  6. Mudz says:

    “For example, the fact that one passionately campaigns against holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers, anti evolution religious nutcases and so on is perfectly consistent with having examined the evidence and concluded that the beliefs of the opposition are false. ”

    Sure, assuming the evidence actually supported the conclusion, and if said group actually existed or even applies in this situation. I am none of those oddly labelled groups, since I believe the Holocaust happened, I believe AIDS exists, and I think the evolutionary narrative is largely false for the perfectly supportable reason that the evidence for it is superficial at best, and I find it clearly inferior to the evidence of God’s design and power. I’m not ‘anti-evolution’ and I’m presumably not insane.

    I don’t even think ‘AIDS-deniers’ exist. Pretty random selection you put together.

    “I see. Two parties to a disagreement claim to be rational. Therefore we can’t know who’s right from wrong. For example, there is a disagreement about the treatment of women in skeptical community. Since both sides claim to rational we can’t know whether being a woman in this community is a particularly pleasant experience. LOL! ”

    It made me smile, at any rate, since I don’t know how you came to your conclusion. Some unique new form of logic, I must suppose.

    What it demonstrates when two parties are in disagreement, who both claim to be rational, means:

    A) At least one of them is wrong while believing they’re rational.
    B) If one of them is right, then the other one is both wrong and irrational.
    C) If neither is right, then they’re both wrong and irrational.
    D) If both of them are right, then they’re both irrational.

    So, one or both groups of atheists that loudly proclaim their own rationality, are therefore irrational, but don’t have the judgment to realise it, or the integrity to admit it.

    All you’re doing is asserting ‘one of them is wrong, so what’s the big deal?’ Not much. It’s just funny to see Rational People demonstrating they’re nothing of the kind. It has entertainment value, which I think is good for our health.

    “I think that’s pretty much self evident. The piece is addressed to the skeptic movement which is concerned with promoting atheism and secularism. Different people in this movement have different ways of advancing this cause. Myers is saying that there is room for more than one approach to advancing this cause. I don’t see what’s so difficult to understand here.”

    I’ll explain.

    Myer’s just worried about atheists having (or continuing) a personal holocaust of their own and making each other look like irrational douchebags. It’s a rational concern.

    He’s not trying to explain ‘there’s more than one approach’, what he’s saying is ‘please guys, not in front of the theists!’

  7. Michael says:

    That’s a pretty stupid statement. The fact that someone rationally evaluates the truth of a proposition is perfectly consistent with passionately trying to convince others of your point of view.

    That’s a pretty stupid response. Once they have convinced themselves of the Truth, enough so to become an emotional activist trying to convince others, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind.

    Indeed, the reason for becoming a passionate opponent of such ideas is often because one has become convinced of their falsity and their pernicious impact on society.

    Of course. They not only convince themselves they have The Truth, but they are sure the other tribe is Evil. Having convinced themselves of their right thinking and right standing, their minds cloud with all sorts of emotion. What in the world makes you think such activists can be fair and open-minded about their Crusade? Can you point to the open and fair-mindedness behind Dr. Myers’ publically accusing a famous skeptic of rape?

    Amusingly, your view entails that passionate opponents of new atheism are disqualified from being ‘objective judges of reality’ because they are activists.

    That’s another pretty stupid statement. To be an activist, one must belong to a Movement. Having an opinion does not make anyone an activist.

    I see. Two parties to a disagreement claim to be rational. Therefore we can’t know who’s right from wrong.

    Maybe we can’t. Maybe we can reach our own opinion about it. But what is interesting is how reason is incapable of generating consensus among the two parties. And neither party is willing to let science resolve the issue. It looks like all that talk of reason and science is just that…empty talk. We know that Gnu’s love to sell themselves with Reason and Science (part of their propaganda), it’s just that they don’t want to use Reason and Science to bring an end to their atheist wars.

  8. Justin says:

    If all of these atheists are moral relativists, (which they most likely are) then the entire argument itself is irrational. Whether to accommodate the views of others or not is a moral question. The members of each faction are merely dancing to their own DNA, as Dawkins would put it.

    The only real question is “Which group (accommodationalist feminists or non-accommodationalist misogynists) will be more successful at propagating the species?”

    Frankly, given the more selective breeding habits of the accommodationalist feminist atheists, I would think they run the higher risk of extinction as don’t breed at a significant pace and fail to produce the level of book sales and blog hits to secure a suitable mate. The non-accommodationalist misogynists tend to produce more blog hits and book sales, therefore having a better selection of mates, but their breed-with-anything approach really carries a higher risk of introducing impurities into their genetic pool.

    Should be fun to watch.

  9. rubbermallet says:

    basically militiant atheists realize that there are very few women in their passel to sleep with. this is their attempt at propagating the species by extending the olive branch to a group of people that may have some of these ladies that is apparently needed for much propagation.

  10. Atheism says:

    Michael: ”That’s a pretty stupid response. Once they have convinced themselves of the Truth, enough so to become an emotional activist trying to convince others, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind.”

    Lol. Michael, you’re embarrassing yourself. Rationally examining the evidence and concluding that ideas like holocaust denial, evolution denial, global warming denial, denial that HIV causes AIDS etc are completely false is perfectly consistently with being passionately opposed to the people who spread these ideas. Claiming that people who oppose such ideas must be incapable of judging reality objectively is self evidently absurd to anyone who is not retarded, a liar or insane.

    This is also quite consistent with agreeing that some people who are activists are not rational. For example, your view entails that Christian apologists and the activist organizations they serve are not to be taken seriously because they extremely unlikely to be rational. And I quite agree that Christian apologists do not deserve to be taken seriously.

    What disagree is with is your blanket assertion that activists qua activists must be irrational. It is true that being emotionally invested in certain view can distort a person’s thinking (e.g. Christian apologists). But it simply does not follow that in every case where a person passionately believes in something that their thinking must be distorted. Holocaust historians may well be passionately opposed to anti semites but it does not follow that their history books should be ignored because they are incapable of assessing reality objectively. But this all commonsense stuff and it’s silly to have to explain it to you.

    ”That’s another pretty stupid statement. To be an activist, one must belong to a Movement. Having an opinion does not make anyone an activist.”

    *facepalm*

    You’re monumentally dense aren’t you? Here is how the Oxford English Dictionary defines activism:

    ”the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.”

    Here are some other definitions of ‘activist’:

    ”a person who works to achieve political or social change, especially as a member of an organization with particular aims.” (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)

    ”an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.” (Dictionary.com)

    You see Michael, belonging to an organization or movement is not a necessary condition of being an activist. A person who vigorously campaigns to spread a certain point of view can be said to be an activist. A person who devotes a large chunk of their time running a news site or a blog vigorously attempting to discredit well known movement qualifies as an activist.

    Secondly, you are part of a movement. In the same way that the anti theist blogosphere can be broadly said to constitute a ‘movement’, you are part of an online Christian movement which consists of Christian bloggers and youtubers dedicated to attacking the new atheism. This movement is a subset of the an even broader movement of Christian apologists on the internet. You are an activist whether you like it or not.

    These are obvious points and it’s silly to have to explain them to you. But frankly, you’re probably too stupid to realize that you’re Christian let alone an activist.

    Thirdly, questions of activism are besides the point. It is obvious that being an activist is not a prerequisite for being emotionally invested in a certain point of view. This attachment can distort your ability to think logically. This the main point. Now even if you do not consider yourself an activist you are still emotionally committed to New Atheism being false (which is obvious to any non Christian who reads your constant petty attacks and the unpleasant way you talk about them) and this has a distorting impact on your thinking.

    ”Maybe we can’t. Maybe we can reach our own opinion about it. But what is interesting is how reason is incapable of generating consensus among the two parties. And neither party is willing to let science resolve the issue. It looks like all that talk of reason and science is just that…empty talk. We know that Gnu’s love to sell themselves with Reason and Science (part of their propaganda), it’s just that they don’t want to use Reason and Science to bring an end to their atheist wars.”

    Here’s an idea. If someone points out you hold anti scientific beliefs it does nothing to refute him by bellowing tu quoque. Second, the inability of reason and evidence to generate a consensus does not change the fact that someone is right and someone is wrong (particularly in this case). Third, you have no evidence that they don’t want to apply science to ‘end their atheist wars’. You’ve just picked out a couple of people from a very large movement and you’ve made generalizations on that basis. I for one would want to see a lot of evidence before accusing someone of rape.

    Mudz: ”What it demonstrates when two parties are in disagreement, who both claim to be rational, means:

    A) At least one of them is wrong while believing they’re rational.
    B) If one of them is right, then the other one is both wrong and irrational.
    C) If neither is right, then they’re both wrong and irrational.
    D) If both of them are right, then they’re both irrational.

    So, one or both groups of atheists that loudly proclaim their own rationality, are therefore irrational, but don’t have the judgment to realize it, or the integrity to admit it.”

    Your conclusion doesn’t follow because most atheists claim that they are more rational than religious people with respect to the truth or otherwise of religious claims. They do not usually claim to be more rational in every respect of their lives. And last I checked all atheists agree that religion is false.

    ”If all of these atheists are moral relativists, (which they most likely are) then the entire argument itself is irrational. Whether to accommodate the views of others or not is a moral question. The members of each faction are merely dancing to their own DNA, as Dawkins would put it.”

    LOL. I suppose you think you’re better off eh? Christian morality is horrifying to anyone who thinks about it (as opposed to just parroting William Lane Craig talking points). You worship and love an entity that watches as holocausts and genocides occur even though it could stop them. This creature condemns good people to eternal punishment and torture for thought crime (not believing that someone came back to life 2000 years ago) and grants eternal happiness to child rapists if only they ‘repent’. This thing tells people to carry out mass murder including of women and children (e.g. slaughter of the Canaanites) and suddenly these things become good! And then we have Christian apologists grinning like idiots and smugly insisting that this monstrous vision of life is the standard to which any moral theory should aspire.

  11. TFBW says:

    “… most atheists claim that they are more rational than religious people with respect to the truth or otherwise of religious claims. … And last I checked all atheists agree that religion is false.”

    I’m glad that this remark is attributable to someone who is sincerely trying to defend the atheists in question. It illustrates so much of what this article is about.

  12. Michael says:

    Lol. Atheism, you’re embarrassing yourself. Your entire complaint is built around this claim: “What disagree is with is your blanket assertion that activists qua activists must be irrational.”

    Of course, I never made such a “blanket assertion” and you are flailing away at ghosts in your head. Here is what I wrote:

    But remember, an activist has a Cause and that Cause often entails a deep emotional and psychological attachment. In other words, when we are dealing with activists, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind. Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.

    Pointing out that activists are unlikely to be open and fair-minded about the issue that makes them so emotional is not making some assertion that all activists must be irrational. The issue is not one of rationality; it is one of closed-mindedness. This is relevant for the Gnu activists because they seek to posture as Objective Judges, demanding “evidence” to change their minds.

    For example, your view entails that Christian apologists and the activist organizations they serve are not to be taken seriously because they extremely unlikely to be rational.

    No, it just means that Christian apologist and activist organizations are unlikely to be open and fair-minded about the issue that makes them so emotional.
    I can acknowledge the problem exists for both sides. Can you?

    Now, while you may be relying on your common sense, propped up by the need to defend your tribe, it doesn’t look like you have a good grasp of human psychology.

    Finally, your desperate attempt to paint me as an activist is actually quite pathetic. None of those dictionary definitions apply to me. I’m not part of any vigorous campaign or movement or organization to bring about political or social change. I’m someone who simply periodically comments on the Gnu atheist movement. I explained myself some time ago:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/year-in-review/

    Thirdly, questions of activism are besides the point.

    So you are trying to change the topic?

    It is obvious that being an activist is not a prerequisite for being emotionally invested in a certain point of view. This attachment can distort your ability to think logically.

    Being an activist is not a prerequisite for being emotionally invested in a certain point of view. However, if you are an activist, it is highly likely you are emotionally invested in a certain point of view. And yes, this attachment can distort your ability to think logically.

    Here’s an idea. If someone points out you hold anti scientific beliefs it does nothing to refute him by bellowing tu quoque.

    Arguing with phantoms again?

    Second, the inability of reason and evidence to generate a consensus does not change the fact that someone is right and someone is wrong (particularly in this case).

    So why not use reason and evidence to generate the consensus?

    Third, you have no evidence that they don’t want to apply science to ‘end their atheist wars’.

    Then why don’t they do it?

    You’ve just picked out a couple of people from a very large movement and you’ve made generalizations on that basis. I for one would want to see a lot of evidence before accusing someone of rape.

    Er, no. Those people thrust themselves to the center of attention and have become “news.” They only happen to be famous leaders in the Gnu movement. You say, “I for one would want to see a lot of evidence before accusing someone of rape.” Many Gnus do not agree with you. Have you hashed this out with them or do you only disagree when they are not around?

  13. Atheism says:

    Michael: said ”Lol. Atheism, you’re embarrassing yourself. Your entire complaint is built around this claim: “What disagree is with is your blanket assertion that activists qua activists must be irrational.”

    Of course, I never made such a “blanket assertion” and you are flailing away at ghosts in your head.”

    Michael also said: ”In other words, when we are dealing with activists, it is highly unlikely that we are dealing with people who can approach the controversial issues with an open and fair mind. –Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.—”

    Stop lying Michael.

    ”Pointing out that activists are unlikely to be open and fair-minded about the issue that makes them so emotional is not making some assertion that all activists must be irrational. The issue is not one of rationality; it is one of closed-mindedness.”

    I’m treating rationality and open mindedness as basically synonymous. A rational person will be sensitive to the evidence. A closed minded person will not be sensitive to evidence that conflicts with his/her beliefs and they may manipulate existing evidence to justify their beliefs.

    ”Finally, your desperate attempt to paint me as an activist is actually quite pathetic. None of those dictionary definitions apply to me.”

    This blog is part of a group of Christian blogs which aim to systematically attack a popular atheist movement and the only thing that link of yours shows is that you would also like to deconvert anyone you know who becomes an atheist. Claiming that you’re just ‘offering opinions’ is just ridiculous. It’s about as credible a rightwing news site dedicated to discrediting Democrats saying that they’re not activists at all-they’re just giving opinions!

    ”Arguing with phantoms again?”

    Since your favorite tactic appears to be selecting cases an atheist did not apply the scientific method in a particular aspect of his/her life, I assumed you were attempting to defend your religion against accusations of irrationality by saying ‘look! they do it too’. If that wasn’t your goal then I retract my statement. Your posts are not instances of the tu quoque fallacy. They reflect the fact that you are a very small and petty man.

    ”Er, no. Those people thrust themselves to the center of attention and have become “news.””

    Well that’s settled then. As long as you were talking specifically about individuals who you know for a fact made rash judgements and not making a generalization about the skeptic movement as a whole (which was far from clear in your posts) then we have nothing to discuss.

  14. Michael says:

    Stop lying Michael.

    I’m not lying, as everyone can see for themselves. I understand you want to take that last sentence and quote-mine it, lifting it out of its context. But it is clearly part of something we call “a paragraph,” meaning it is connected to the other sentences. I’m merely stating that activists, who have an agenda, cannot also pose as objective judges of reality when it comes to the issues of controversy that connect to their agenda. I’m not sure why this is hard for you to understand.

    I’m treating rationality and open mindedness as basically synonymous.

    I see. So by this metric, you concede that I am more rational than Dawkins and Coyne:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/dawkins-7-point-scale/

    Look, there are many different ways to define “rational,” so your rabbit trail of accusations is obfuscating things. Instead of putting words in my mouth, try to deal with the ones that come from my mouth.

    A rational person will be sensitive to the evidence. A closed minded person will not be sensitive to evidence that conflicts with his/her beliefs and they may manipulate existing evidence to justify their beliefs.

    Which helps explain why activists have such difficulty in being open minded. To be “sensitive to the evidence” means the willingness to undercut or undermine The Cause.

    This blog is part of a group of Christian blogs which aim to systematically attack a popular atheist movement and the only thing that link of yours shows is that you would also like to deconvert anyone you know who becomes an atheist.

    LOL. I am not part of any group. This is one of millions of free wordpress blogs, not something like FtBs.

    Claiming that you’re just ‘offering opinions’ is just ridiculous.

    You are entitled to your subjective opinion. But apparently, you cannot see the difference between a) someone who is part of a movement, gives public speeches, receives money from his/her activism, and coordinates with other members of the movement and b) some guy who periodically comments on it using a free wordpress blog. In your mind, we’re ALL activists. So there.

    Since your favorite tactic appears to be selecting cases an atheist did not apply the scientific method in a particular aspect of his/her life, I assumed you were attempting to defend your religion against accusations of irrationality by saying ‘look! they do it too’.

    I’m just pointing out the double standards of the Gnu community. If they don’t practice what they preach, why are we supposed to practice what they preach? Is it just because Gnus are special?

    If that wasn’t your goal then I retract my statement. Your posts are not instances of the tu quoque fallacy. They reflect the fact that you are a very small and petty man.

    LOL. Standard Gnu tactics. You can’t refute my points, but don’t want to admit I am right. So as always, you resort to the personal attack. I’m a small and petty man because I note that a) activists are unlikely to be open and fair-minded about their favorite issue and b) the Gnus don’t use reason and evidence to resolve their intense infighting.

    Well that’s settled then. As long as you were talking specifically about individuals who you know for a fact made rash judgements and not making a generalization about the skeptic movement as a whole (which was far from clear in your posts) then we have nothing to discuss.

    It looks more than a “rash judgment” to me, as Myers and Shermer have a lengthy history of bitter fights. As for the movement, Myers and his allies are indeed making claims about the skeptic community and have been doing it ever since Elevatorgate. Myers and Shermer is not two lonely voices out there. They each have hordes of followers shouting at each other.

    Look, as a Gnu, I realize you are psychologically and emotionally invested in the perception that the “skeptic community” is some paragon of reason and evidence. But the empirical data from the world are there for all to see – fingerpointing, namecalling, bullying, conspiracy theories, and now…lawyers. It’s no mystery why you want to lash out at me. Look, if my comments so annoy you, just stop reading.

  15. Atheism says:

    The statements: ”Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.”

    and

    ”I’m merely stating that activists, who have an agenda, –cannot –also pose as objective judges of reality when it comes to the issues of controversy that connect to their agenda.”

    basically say the same thing. And what they say is patently false as anyone who is not remarkably stupid can see. The correct thing to say would be:

    ”The fact that someone rationally evaluates the truth of a proposition is perfectly consistent with passionately trying to convince others of your point of view.”

    For example:

    ”Rationally examining the evidence and concluding that ideas like holocaust denial, evolution denial, global warming denial, denial that HIV causes AIDS etc are completely false is perfectly consistently with being passionately opposed to the people who spread these ideas.”

    HOWEVER:

    ”This is also quite consistent with agreeing that some people who are activists are not rational. It is true that being emotionally invested in certain view can distort a person’s thinking…But it simply does not follow that in every case where a person passionately believes in something that their thinking must be distorted.”

    ”LOL. I am not part of any group. This is one of millions of free wordpress blogs, not something like FtBs.”

    Christian runs a blog attacking atheist group which aims to bring about social change and also attacks Christianity. Wants to educate people about the wrongness and badness of this group. Yep that’s activism. If you did by standing on a street corner holding a sign and screaming or handing out thousands of leaflets to people you’d be an activist. You’re basically doing the same thing except on the internet.

    ”I’m just pointing out the double standards of the Gnu community. If they don’t practice what they preach, why are we supposed to practice what they preach?”

    Ah, I see. In other words: ‘They make mistakes so it’s OK for me to make mistakes. Why can’t I make mistakes too?!’. I now reassert my point about your posts being instances of the tu quoque fallacy.

    ”Look, as a Gnu, I realize you are psychologically and emotionally invested in the perception that the “skeptic community” is some paragon of reason and evidence.”

    Not really. My understanding is that skeptics believe that they have the evidence on their side when it comes to the truth of religion. As for everything else, I wasn’t aware that most people in this movement regard themselves as Spock. They don’t believe they are more rational than everyone else in every aspect of life. Those who do believe that (and I have never met any) are just wrong. However, I do think that individuals who spend their lives gleefully writing posts to the effect of ‘OMG! JEEBUS! Teh atheists aren’t rationally or morally perfect Beings!! JEEBUS! OMG!’ as if this was some kind of groundbreaking and devastating discovery are petty people.

  16. Justin says:

    At least “Atheism” doesn’t waste time stuffing his own straw men. If I had a nickel for every version of “Atheism’s” latest characature….

  17. Michael says:

    The statements: ”Activists are disqualified from being objective judges of reality.”
    and
    ”I’m merely stating that activists, who have an agenda, –cannot –also pose as objective judges of reality when it comes to the issues of controversy that connect to their agenda.”
    basically say the same thing.

    No, the latter statements puts the first one in context.

    And what they say is patently false as anyone who is not remarkably stupid can see.

    It’s patently false to activists who want to posture as if they remain open to the evidence. Anyone who has ever dealt with activists knows that I am right.

    ”Rationally examining the evidence and concluding that ideas like holocaust denial, evolution denial, global warming denial, denial that HIV causes AIDS etc are completely false is perfectly consistently with being passionately opposed to the people who spread these ideas.”

    You are confused. Yes, we can determine that ideas like holocaust denial and evolution denial are false because of the work of scientists and historians, not activists. The issue here is the activists. I’m simply pointing out some rather basic human psychology – once someone becomes an activists about issue X, they become emotionally, socially, and psychologically invested with their views of X, leading to a form of closed-mindedness that makes it and highly unlikely that they can examine X with an open and fair mind. Do you understand how emotion clouds the thinking?

    Once PZ has acknowledged he is an atheist activist, we have no reason to believe he can objectively and fairly assess arguments about God’s existence. His mind is made up. It’s closed. He knows he is right and his only mission is to spread his right thinking. He is an activist, not a truth seeker. He approaches the topic of religion just as he approaches the those who reject his feminism. Battle mode.

    Now, you may want to believe that prior to becoming an atheist activist, PZ rationally evaluated theism and found it wanting. But that would only be wishful thinking on your part, for there is no evidence that Myers ever engaged in such open-minded, rational inquiry.

    Christian runs a blog attacking atheist group which aims to bring about social change and also attacks Christianity. Wants to educate people about the wrongness and badness of this group. Yep that’s activism.

    Are you still trying to convince yourself of this? Speaking one’s opinions in the public arena is called “communication.” It might even be called “education.” It does not become activism until it is coupled with a movement or campaign. Remember your own dictionary definitions:

    ”the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

    ”a person who works to achieve political or social change, especially as a member of an organization with particular aims.” (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)

    ”an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.” (Dictionary.com)

    Ah, I see. In other words: ‘They make mistakes so it’s OK for me to make mistakes. Why can’t I make mistakes too?!’. I now reassert my point about your posts being instances of the tu quoque fallacy.

    You didn’t answer my question – “If they don’t practice what they preach, why are we supposed to practice what they preach?” It’s rather obvious all that talk about relying on reason and evidence is just propaganda. It’s “public image” stuff and you are upset with me because I dare to be concerned about truth in advertising.

    Not really. My understanding is that skeptics believe that they have the evidence on their side when it comes to the truth of religion. As for everything else, I wasn’t aware that most people in this movement regard themselves as Spock. They don’t believe they are more rational than everyone else in every aspect of life.

    I see. It’s only when it comes to the topic of Evil Religion do the skeptics tap into their magically superior powers of reason and evidence. When it comes to any other topic, they are either too lazy to use those powers or their powers fail them. How odd. How convenient. Reality-other-than-religion seems to be their kryptonite. Yeah, right. It’s more likely that all that talk about being committed to reason and evidence is just that – talk. Talk to convince themselves. Talk to sell themselves. All talk, no walk. And it’s petty to notice the con, right? 😉

  18. stcordova says:

    “”Rationally examining the evidence and concluding that ideas like holocaust denial, evolution denial, global warming denial, denial that HIV causes AIDS etc are completely false is perfectly consistently with being passionately opposed to the people who spread these ideas.”

    One may rationally examine evidence and still make the wrong conclusion and be wrongly passionately opposed to the people with right conclusions. Two examples in science:

    Cause of ulcers and existence of quasi crystals. Dan Schectman discovered quasi crystals, was the only one in the world to claim their existence at first. He was passionately opposed by rational scientists like Linus Pauling examining evidence until it became obvious Schectman was right and he won the Nobel Prize. Similar story with the cause of ulcers. People who passionately oppose ideas cannot be fully objective. It doesn’t mean they are wrong about what they believe, but they cannot be objective.

    Now, the lack of objectivity becomes apparent when they can be demonstrated to be wrong, and that lack of objectivity becomes an explanation as to why they hold to indefensible ideas. For example, Sam Harris in particular looks like a bigoted whiner opposing the nomination of Francis Collins. You want to talk about petty, how about PZ Myers calling Nobel Laureate inventor of the laser Charles Townes a fraud because Townes is a Christian. PZ is clown compared to Townes.

  19. rubbermallet says:

    lol’s at people parroting William Lane Craig

    parrots dawkins/myers/harris

  20. Michael says:

    “Atheism” never replied.

  21. Centurion13 says:

    @Michael: not at all surprised. It was either stalk away indignantly or descend further into insults. He/she hadn’t a leg to stand on and at some level, they Gnu it.

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