How the Atheist Activist Community Works

While the Atheist Activist community sells itself as a group of people who place priority on evidence and critical thinking, the community instead thrives by peddling propaganda and negative stereotypes about religious people.  Activist Hemant Mehta effectively admitted this when offering advice on how to be an atheist activist by encouraging atheist journalists to “Write about problems within the church. Tell stories about people who deal with religious oppression.”  In other words, employ the propagandistic technique of cherry picking, which is not hard to do thanks to the internet’s ability to record every infraction or outrageous claim that occurs around the globe.

Mehta, of course, relies on this technique as fodder for his popular activist atheist blog.  For example, in a recent thread, Mehta posted a blog entry entitled: The Jehovah’s Witnesses Allowed a Sex Offender to Proselytize Door to Door… Then Someone Noticed.

To help atheists understand how this propagandistic cherry picking works, imagine of the atheist activist approach was used against another large group of people – educators. What if I were to create a blog that sought to demonize educators?  Let’s call it, “Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!”  Would it be hard to follow Mehta’s advice and regularly find stories that put teachers in a bad light?  Not at all.  Let’s say, for example, my anti-teacher blog was trying to sell the message that teachers can’t be trusted around children.  One way to sell that message would be to post, on a fairly regular basis, stories about teachers being arrested for sexual misconduct with their students. Thanks to the internet, let me show you how easy it would be.

On August 11th, I could have posted the following:

A substitute teacher in the borough’s public school district has been arrested and charged with having sexual contact with a 16-year-old female student, Acting Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said in a news release Thursday.

and

Twelve people were arrested or cited in Lincoln on July 29 as a part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative aimed at reducing sex trafficking.

They included a Lincoln Public Schools teacher, and a man who taught classes at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a Lincoln attorney, according to the Lincoln Police Department.

 

and

A high school teacher and former school board member in Tennessee are accused of having a sexual relationship with the same 15-year-old student.

Houston County sheriff’s deputies say 43-year-old Richard Tyson and 70-year-old Ernest ‘Tommy’ Beechum were arrested on multiple charges including sexual battery by an authority figure.

The previous day, August 10th, I could have posted about the following:

Lafayette Parish deputies arrested a former Acadiana High algebra teacher Tuesday morning for felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

And on August 9th, I could have posted:

A former Ecker Hill Middle School music teacher who sent hundreds of explicit emails to a student will serve up to 15 years in prison.

Derek Spitzer, 54 and last known to live in Salt Lake City, was sentenced last week to two one- to 15-year prison terms, to be served concurrently, after he pleaded guilty to two second-degree felony counts of enticing a minor.

According to charging documents, Spitzer sent approximately 500 emails, many sexual in nature, to a student at the middle school between October of last year and January. Spitzer’s actions came to light in January, when the student showed the emails to a school counselor.

and

A Malden High School staffer is accused of sexually assaulting a student.

Steven MacDonald, 46, was arraigned Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office said.

MacDonald, a paraprofessional, is charged with multiple counts of rape of a special needs student. He was assigned to help the 16-year-old student in the bathroom, which is where the DA’s Office said the crimes occurred.

For August 8th, I could have posted the following:

A former Davidson College professor is under investigation, accused of using online chats to communicate with underage girls.

According to a search warrant, the investigation into former Davidson College professor Michael Edwin Dorcas began in February 2016 when the state was contacted by investigators in Wisconsin.

A 12-year-old girl from Wisconsin told investigators she had become online friends on a video game with someone she believed to be a 15-year-old boy. She says the two began chatting online via Skype.

“Once the two started web chatting via Skype, the suspect was able to convince the victim to remove articles of clothing in order for the victim to expose her breast for the suspect’s sexual gratification,” the search warrant states. “The suspect requested the victim to remove her panties, however, the victim did not comply.”

and

A former Arundel High math teacher convicted last week of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old student faces similar charges in Baltimore County from an alleged incident that took place 13 years ago.

On and on it goes.  You get the idea.

So if I were to set up an Anti-Teacher blog and posted stories like that daily, while adding in other stories about teachers being bad, while soliciting comments from people who had bad experiences with teachers, would that justify the message that the teaching profession is evil and teachers should not be trusted around children?  I think not.  I think most people would instead think I had this odd obsession with hating on teachers.

Well, the same lesson applies to the activist atheist community.  Yet they are oblivious to the fact that they come across as people with this odd obsession with hating on religious people.

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47 Responses to How the Atheist Activist Community Works

  1. Travis says:

    I agree that you can cherry-pick incidents from any institution to make this institution look bad, and I think this is certainly an issue, but this is not the basis for atheist advocacy. I advocate atheism because I find a lot of harm with religion itself, not just these individuals that get caught in scandals. The widespread education of children who can’t yet think for themselves, the violence, the prejudices, the questionable morality found in religious texts… I’m also a very humanity proponent of existentialism and living life for yourself instead of the man in the sky which I find can help liberate people’s lives. I think most reasonable atheists would agree. I’ve never used those priest scandals as an argument against religion (although there is a separate systemic issue there), and I think you’re right that this isn’t a fair case for atheism. As an atheist, we have tons of reasons to reject religion, and cherry-picking scandals shouldn’t be one of them.

    Thanks for your time! Have a good day.

  2. Travis says:

    humanist*

  3. they’ve done a great job with “Sausage Party” as well, very unfortunately…

  4. Michael says:

    I agree that you can cherry-pick incidents from any institution to make this institution look bad, and I think this is certainly an issue, but this is not the basis for atheist advocacy.

    Yet it is a common tactic in atheist advocacy.

    I advocate atheism because I find a lot of harm with religion itself, not just these individuals that get caught in scandals. The widespread education of children who can’t yet think for themselves, the violence, the prejudices, the questionable morality found in religious texts…

    These are merely negative stereotypes about religious people. With such an attitude, we can see why the cherry-picked negative stories play so well among activist atheists.

    Note also that your atheist advocacy is actually anti-religious advocacy.

  5. Travis says:

    If those things are negative stereotypes, then you agree with me that parents shouldn’t raise their children under their religion? That people shouldn’t take their morals from religious texts?

    I also advocate atheism because an actual evaluation of the evidence does not support the existence of a God. (Burden of proof and all that)

    And yeah you’re right. I’m atheist and anti-religion and I would advocate for both. There’s a strong base for these beliefs that isn’t based in cherry-pickingX

  6. Michael says:

    If those things are negative stereotypes, then you agree with me that parents shouldn’t raise their children under their religion? That people shouldn’t take their morals from religious texts?

    No. Are you one of those atheist activists who think a religious upbringing is abuse and should be illegal?

    I also advocate atheism because an actual evaluation of the evidence does not support the existence of a God. (Burden of proof and all that)

    Yes, I am aware of the atheist opinion and its unfalsifiable nature. So what type of data would count as evidence that supports the existence of God?

    And yeah you’re right. I’m atheist and anti-religion and I would advocate for both. There’s a strong base for these beliefs that isn’t based in cherry-picking.

    Yes, emotion can indeed be a strong base.

  7. Travis says:

    I mean it shouldn’t be illegal, freedom of religion and all that. But you really should let your child decide these matters for themselves. You can’t just indoctrinate little people who can’t yet speak into a religion and scare them into compliance with “hell.”

    Evidence for God’s existence? He could come show himself or something. And none of that 2000 years ago repeated folk stories miracle worker nonsense. Let’s have someone get it on video or something. That would be cool. Honestly at the least, something observable that is linked to the existence of a god.

    And for your third point, I’m sure you know that I was speaking about the lack of actual evidence as the base for atheism along with other points. But yes, these issues are very important to me.🙂

    Have a good one.

  8. Michael says:

    Have a good one.

    Don’t have time to respond right now, but does that comment mean you are going to run away?

  9. Travis says:

    I’m just trying to show some civility to you as a person. These debates can get heated, and it’s not easy being the atheist sometimes.🙂

    I’ll gladly discuss this as long as you wish!

  10. Michael says:

    Just got a little more time than I thought I had.

    I mean it shouldn’t be illegal, freedom of religion and all that.

    Yet is a religious upbringing child abuse?

    But you really should let your child decide these matters for themselves.

    Most people do. For example, lots of atheists grew up in a religious household.

    You can’t just indoctrinate little people who can’t yet speak into a religion and scare them into compliance with “hell.”

    Now we are back to simple-minded stereotypes. What happens in most cases is that if the parents are religious, they include their children in that part of their lives. It’s called having a close relationship with your son or daughter. You seem to think religious parents should behave as atheists around their children, acting as if their religious beliefs must be shamefully hidden from their children. Acting as if Christianity, for example, isn’t really true and parents shouldn’t act and believe as if it were.

    Evidence for God’s existence? He could come show himself or something. And none of that 2000 years ago repeated folk stories miracle worker nonsense. Let’s have someone get it on video or something. That would be cool. Honestly at the least, something observable that is linked to the existence of a god.

    Show himself or something? What is it that you expect to see with your eyes?

    And for your third point, I’m sure you know that I was speaking about the lack of actual evidence as the base for atheism along with other points. But yes, these issues are very important to me.

    Yes, it’s your personal opinion that there is a “lack of actual evidence” (even though it is still unclear what you would count as evidence). But there is clearly an emotional basis to your advocacy, given you view religion as harmful – humans experience emotions when confronted with harm.

  11. FZM says:

    But you really should let your child decide these matters for themselves.

    I imagine while assuming that the default state for every child is to be atheist and existentialist and educating them as such.

  12. Ryan says:

    Travis: These debates can get heated, and it’s not easy being the atheist sometimes.:)

    Or the christian. You just told me that I can’t raise my children to be christian: You can’t just indoctrinate little people who can’t yet speak into a religion. Please explain how you are not advocating for culturicide: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/culturicide#Noun

    Adults “indoctrinate” children all the time. That is a big part of our job. I don’t let my kids determine on their own whether hitting other children or taking their things is right or wrong. I indoctrinate. My 3-year old is not real big on long discussions of the foundations of ethical theory. I don’t feel any guilt for not letting my children determine their own names. I don’t feel any guilt for giving my children no choice in what their native language would be. They were born into an English/Latin-speaking christian family so that is what they will be. When they are older they will choose what to do with their upbringing: embrace it all or in parts, or reject it. That is called “life”.

    But a question for you: If christians have children, should they leave the children with a babysitter while they go to church, or should the parents stop going to church altogether? When I pray before a meal, should I remove the children? Should I ostracize my own children from the daily life that my wife and I share? It seems to me that christian parents cannot shelter their children from Christianity without giving up Christianity altogether. Which means that you are really advocating the elimination of religion from humanity: culturicide.

  13. Ryan says:

    It seems we have another “gapper”: He could come show himself or something. Lacking in specificity, but the basic framework of gappism is there.

  14. Travis says:

    There have been a few comments, and I’ll try to touch on all of your points here.

    As for Michael’s first point, yes I believe that forcing these beliefs onto a child is very harmful. Some describe it as child abuse, and sure, I’m inclined to agree. A few questions/points have invited me to elaborate on this. I am not encouraging parents to act as atheists around their children. I am not encouraging them to teach atheism and existentialism to their children. I believe that parents should not take their kids to church, should not teach them that these faith systems are the truth, and should not try and inspire religious belief in them. I think religious education is terribly important, something kids everywhere aren’t getting enough of. I think children should be taught about the major world religions in their schools in an unbiased way (not encouraging any of them as correct or even encouraging atheism as correct).

    I should also clarify the difference between systematic promotion of these religions and personal belief. I don’t think public schools or the government should promote any one religion as correct, and I don’t think parents should tell this to their children either. These institutions shouldn’t promote atheism as correct. (You might claim that parents aren’t part of something “systematic” in the same way a government might be, and this is true, but I believe it’s wrong for these parents to force religion onto children on the basis of how impressionable they are. I’ll get into this in a bit.) In a personal discussion, I would point you to texts about atheism, argue against theists, and encourage you to accept atheism for yourself, just as religious figures have the right to do for their own religions. But none of these should be promoted as correct by a government or educational institution.

    Now, none of these belief systems should be promoted on impressionable, young children by a parental guide either. Dawkins theorizes quite an interesting point, that children are encouraged to obey their parents unquestionably at a young age and this has kept our species going at an evolutionary level. He theorizes that religion is a byproduct of this. For those who have commented to downplay the role that most parents play in their children’s faith, I would simply disagree. The vast vast majority of young children who are old enough to speak and identify with a religion choose to identify with that of their parents. I’d hypothesize that there are hardly any devout 6-year-old Christians of a Muslim family or vice versa. Many choose to deviate from this religious path as they grow older (such as myself with Catholicism), but most will stick with the religion of their parents. Religion is a personal matter, and to indoctrinate a child who can’t yet speak, to call a toddler a “Christian child” or a “Muslim child” or any of these labels just isn’t accurate. No child is a Christian. (Anyone who has engaged their infant child in the Christian sacrament of Baptism, for instance, is guilty of this indoctrination of which I speak.) To claim that God is real to the same degree that you tell your kids to wear a helmet when they ride their bicycle isn’t morally right in my opinion, as these two areas are entirely different, but a young child sees the parents as an unquestionable source of truth. Am I making sense?

    As to Ryan’s interesting paragraph about culturicide, I believe that religion is far different from language, and to compare them is a mistake. Language is not a belief system. Language does not encourage children to believe in a supernatural force which can’t be observed in the physical world. You don’t have to become an atheist to raise a child. You just shouldn’t force any child into a belief system such as religion. To claim as a parent that you understand the supernatural, unobservable force that is a “god” and to force your child into a system where they must worship such a force is just wrong in my opinion. If you raise your child in such a way, it’s very likely that they will go through their lives under this same belief system. Of course exceptions exist, but this is typically how it works for a lot of people. (As an atheist, of course, I also believe that some religious beliefs can lead to misinformation about science or a poor set of personal morals, but I won’t get into this, since I’m not arguing with an atheist, so you wouldn’t accept this premise.)

    And finally, some of you seem unsatisfied with what I would consider existence for God. I’m really open to anything observable that proves his existence. What thing sets your “God” apart from the 3000+ that have at some point “existed” as being more likely to exist? Does that satisfy you? If there’s something you think I don’t understand about this, or if I’m still not being clear, please let me know.

    Seriously, I really appreciate you all discussing these topics with me. It helps me inform my own opinions, and I appreciate your respect and your passion for the subject. If anyone wishes to continue discussing these topics, I would love to do so. Hope everyone has had a good weekend. 🙂

  15. Kevin says:

    Travis,

    I will opt out of the evidence topic since that’s a matter of opinion as to what belief an “actual evaluation” will produce.

    As to parents teaching children their religion, if there is something that you strongly suspect is harmful – let’s say from your own reasoning and experience – but it has not been scientifically proven to be so, would you discourage your children from partaking in that thing, or would you allow them to make their own decision about it, even if it has what you believe to be a high risk of harm to them?

    And if you believe it has a high likelihood of being harmful but don’t discourage them from it, how do you feel about your parenting skills?

  16. Tim L says:

    Religion is not a personal matter…. and that’s the point: it’s a matter of the truth of reality.
    You conceive almost of religion as one liking their favorite sport team. Are you similarly against one having their child like the Packers over the Bears?

    Since religion, as held by those who believe in the contents of religion, is a matter of the ‘truth of the matter’ it allows people to debate it…. since you can’t really debate the validity of a preference (wrt things like sport team choice).

    Also, your entire position rests on the use of faculties that have no explanation given a atheistic worldview. You wouldn’t argue why one rock “decided” to roll down a hill while another did not.

  17. Michael says:

    As for Michael’s first point, yes I believe that forcing these beliefs onto a child is very harmful.

    Notice how you frame it – “forcing these beliefs onto a child.” Most parents do not force their beliefs onto their children. They share them as part of sharing their lives with their children.

    Some describe it as child abuse, and sure, I’m inclined to agree.

    Given your embrace of negative stereotypes about religious people, I’m not surprised you agree. But here is the thing. Do you have any scientific evidence that a religious upbringing is child abuse?

    A few questions/points have invited me to elaborate on this. I am not encouraging parents to act as atheists around their children. I am not encouraging them to teach atheism and existentialism to their children. I believe that parents should not take their kids to church, should not teach them that these faith systems are the truth, and should not try and inspire religious belief in them.

    So when it comes to religion, you do want the parents to act like atheists around their children. It’s interesting that you advocate more distance between parents and children, when many childhood problems are caused by too much distance between child and parent.

    I should also clarify the difference between systematic promotion of these religions and personal belief. I don’t think public schools or the government should promote any one religion as correct, and I don’t think parents should tell this to their children either.

    So once again, parents are supposed to be atheistic around their children.

    These institutions shouldn’t promote atheism as correct.

    But the public schools do promote secularism. And if atheism is simply lack of belief in God (so we are told), wouldn’t the schools be atheistic for lacking God belief in the curricula?

    (You might claim that parents aren’t part of something “systematic” in the same way a government might be, and this is true, but I believe it’s wrong for these parents to force religion onto children on the basis of how impressionable they are. I’ll get into this in a bit.)

    “It’s wrong” as in your personal, subjective opinion, right?

    Now, none of these belief systems should be promoted on impressionable, young children by a parental guide either.

    Again, parents are supposed to act as atheists around their children.


    Dawkins theorizes quite an interesting point, that children are encouraged to obey their parents unquestionably at a young age and this has kept our species going at an evolutionary level. He theorizes that religion is a byproduct of this. For those who have commented to downplay the role that most parents play in their children’s faith, I would simply disagree.

    Yet you have offered no reason for anyone to agree with you.

    The vast vast majority of young children who are old enough to speak and identify with a religion choose to identify with that of their parents.

    Close families tend to work that way. Why do you think that is a problem?

    Many choose to deviate from this religious path as they grow older (such as myself with Catholicism)

    Since your parents raised you as a Catholic, does that mean they abused you?

    but most will stick with the religion of their parents. Religion is a personal matter, and to indoctrinate a child who can’t yet speak, to call a toddler a “Christian child” or a “Muslim child” or any of these labels just isn’t accurate.

    “Religion is a personal matter?” Again, you keep assuming people must agree with your atheistic perspective without offering the slightest reason why they should agree with your atheistic perspective.

    And finally, some of you seem unsatisfied with what I would consider existence for God. I’m really open to anything observable that proves his existence.

    So you say. But for some odd reason, you will not specify what this “observable” is supposed to look like. I’d say you are Hiding the Goalposts. Why is that?

  18. Travis says:

    “Most parents do not force their beliefs onto their children. They share them as part of sharing their lives with their children.”

    This is just a matter of what words you want to use. If you asked a “blank slate” toddler if they would like to go sit through a church service, I’m inclined to bet that they would decline in most cases. I’d consider this forcing. This is my own personal experience, of course, but I would certainly say that I was forced to partake in religion, and I’d say it’s the case for many others. I could share whatever hobby I want with my child (were I to have one), but if I required them to partake, I would call that forcing. I understand that a lot of parents who are into religion feel they are compelled to bring up their child in their own religion, so this is why they do it. But really we’re just arguing over a euphemism.

    “Given your embrace of negative stereotypes about religious people, I’m not surprised you agree. But here is the thing. Do you have any scientific evidence that a religious upbringing is child abuse?”

    I’m not sure what stereotypes you’re talking about. I suppose you think I’m portraying the typical religious person as this evil zealot who forces religion down their child’s throat? If so, I don’t think it’s malicious. I really believe that people think they are doing what’s best for their child. I just think it’s wrong. As far as scientific evidence, there have been studies on the subject that show harmful effects in religious children. Here’s an interesting one: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-28537149 I think you’re misunderstanding my point, however. What I’m really referring to by child abuse is not intentional “psychological damage” in a conventional sense. It’s the promotion of a belief system without evidence as fact when children haven’t been given the opportunity to decide this important matter themselves. It’s robbing them of one of the most important decisions of their lives.

    “So once again, parents are supposed to be atheistic around their children.”

    Parents don’t have to teach their kids that disbelief in a God is correct. Just let them alone to decide it for themselves. I think I’ve been pretty clear about this. I apologize that this whole child-raising thing has become our main discussion point, as it’s not my area of expertise in religious studies so I’m sorry if I’m not the most articulate on the matter, but it’s a point I stand by. You seem to portray my stance as a world in which parents have to resort to atheism or teach atheism in order to raise a child, but this really isn’t the case. I’d even say encourage your child to look into religions (once they’ve matured enough to understand the subject) and make a decision about what kind of belief system they want to adopt. I suppose I should also say that I’m speaking with religious-oriented people who believe it’s important for their religion to bring up their child in said religion, so it’s harder to come around on such an issue. This is sort of what Tim was speaking about. If I was certain that God existed and wanted me to do X things based on evidence, I would undoubtedly raise my child in such a way, so I understand where you’re coming from. But no one can be certain of that because religion is a matter of faith, not fact. Let children decide for themselves. If your religion holds up under examination, what have you to fear?

    “But the public schools do promote secularism. And if atheism is simply lack of belief in God (so we are told), wouldn’t the schools be atheistic for lacking God belief in the curricula?”

    I think the schools do a mostly fine job of leaving religion as a personal matter for the student to decide on their own. It’s just something they don’t talk about, because it’s not the place of the public school to tell you any religion is true or not true. Public schools don’t teach a “God Isn’t Real” class and they don’t teach a “God Is Real” class. We should, however, teach students important scientific theories such as evolution and climate change because they are important and have scientific consensus, even if they go against some religious text. And I think we should have more Religious Studies classes that explore the tenets of all major world religions and encourage debates and critical thinking on the matter, but it’s not the place of the public school to present an opinion as truth. The public school doesn’t promote atheism. It leaves room for the students to also believe in a God. Promoting atheism would mean the school rejects God. That’s the difference.

    ” ‘It’s wrong’ as in your personal, subjective opinion, right? ”

    Of course. There is no absolute set of morals. This is my subjective opinion that I am trying to convince you of. It’s why we debate these things.🙂

    “Yet you have offered no reason for anyone to agree with you.”

    I believe I used the rest of that paragraph about child-raising to do so. I was simply outlining an interesting theory about childhood obedience and religious attachment from an evolutionary standpoint. Not sure what you’re getting at here.

    “Close families tend to work that way. Why do you think that is a problem?”

    I was refuting the notion that parents don’t force their child into a religion.

    “Since your parents raised you as a Catholic, does that mean they abused you?”

    Ha, I guess so. They’re good people though.🙂 This whole “abuse” thing isn’t intentional, of course, on the part of the parents. People think they’re doing the right thing. It’s a greater issue with how religion sustains itself at large. Most religious people are very kind.

    ” ‘Religion is a personal matter?’ Again, you keep assuming people must agree with your atheistic perspective without offering the slightest reason why they should agree with your atheistic perspective.”

    I could get into a bunch of reasons why there is almost certainly no God, if you really wanted to dive into that. Burden of proof arguments, imperfect design, fate of the unlearned… All that good stuff. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’d be glad to dive in. It starts with you having to prove that your God exists.

    “So you say. But for some odd reason, you will not specify what this “observable” is supposed to look like. I’d say you are Hiding the Goalposts. Why is that?”

    I really don’t know what you guys are going on about with this bit. I could give you some examples? 1. He comes down from the sky with flashing lights and tells us that he’s real and all the stuff in the Bible is true. 2. He strikes down all the sinners with lightning bolts and proclaims Gospel verses through a megaphone. 3. He performs some observable miracle and links it to Christianity (or whatever religion is right) somehow. Seriously though, anything that I can point to. We’ve all got cameras in our pockets. Let’s get some evidence rolling. None of this “I feel it” shenanigans, because every other religion throughout history has “felt it.” I’m not trying to hide any goalposts. If you want to tell me what evidence you take as truth for the existence of God, I would gladly look into it. I’ve looked into the historical validity of religious texts or other supernatural phenomena, and I’m not convinced. Everyone has had a smartphone in their pocket for the last 10 years, and we don’t have any miracles on record? If God wanted me to know he was real and worship me, he just has to tell me. When I was a kid, I was told I could talk to him and he would answer my prayers. I really tried. Nothing happened.

    Thanks again, appreciate your response and I wish you respect as always. I’m sorry I don’t know how to italicize comments, still kind of new to WordPress. I’ll look into it for next time🙂

  19. TFBW says:

    Travis said:

    He comes down from the sky with flashing lights and tells us that he’s real and all the stuff in the Bible is true.

    Would it be fair to summarise this as you wanting signs and wonders performed on a large, public scale?

  20. SteveK says:

    “Of course. There is no absolute set of morals.”

    So if each family thinks it’s morally good to “force” religion on their child then it’s good for them to do that. Your argument just imploded.

  21. Michael says:

    This is just a matter of what words you want to use.

    It’s a matter of what words you want to use. Given the manner in which you cling to negative stereotypes about religious people, it’s understandable you subjectively prefer to use the word “force.”

    If you asked a “blank slate” toddler if they would like to go sit through a church service, I’m inclined to bet that they would decline in most cases. I’d consider this forcing.

    First of all, if sitting through a church service means the toddler can stay with mommy and daddy, they will say yes. Second, most toddlers don’t sit through church services. They attend little bible school sessions where they play games and make crafts with other toddlers.

    Including your child as part of your life is not “forcing.” I myself would think it more harmful to push a child away from your life.

    I understand that a lot of parents who are into religion feel they are compelled to bring up their child in their own religion, so this is why they do it. But really we’re just arguing over a euphemism.

    You are once again arguing against stereotypes. Religious parents don’t raise their children in their religious tradition because they are “compelled” to do so. They do so because they want to do so. They want to share with their children and want to be close with their children. If someone truly believes God exists and Christianity is true, of course they will want to pass on this perceived wisdom.

    Just curious. Do you have certain political or social views/values you plan on passing to your children?

    I’m not sure what stereotypes you’re talking about. I suppose you think I’m portraying the typical religious person as this evil zealot who forces religion down their child’s throat? If so, I don’t think it’s malicious. I really believe that people think they are doing what’s best for their child. I just think it’s wrong.

    So what? That you personally think it is wrong tells us only something about yourself. You may as well tell us what foods you don’t think kids should eat. Or tell us what movies they should not watch. You are, of course, entitled to your personal views and can raise your own children however you want. But if you seek to impose your values on others, then you will need more that your own personal feelings about what is “wrong.”

    As far as scientific evidence, there have been studies on the subject that show harmful effects in religious children. Here’s an interesting one: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-28537149

    Oh, please. That’s ridiculous. If you are going to throw around terms like “abuse,” then you should consult the scientific literature on abuse. Child abuse has physical effects on the child’s brain, such that adults who were abused as children are more likely to suffer from a variety of health issues brought about by those effects – kind of like PTSD. Such adults are more likely to suffer from anxiety and/or depression issues, have GI problems, and other autoimmune disorders. Also, there is abundant evidence that indicates religiosity in children is positively correlated with well-being. For example:

    Religiousness is positively associated with prosocial values and behavior, and negatively related to suicide ideation and attempts, substance abuse, premature sexual involvement, and delinquency. It is unrelated to self-esteem. These results are found to be robust after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics.

    I think you’re misunderstanding my point, however. What I’m really referring to by child abuse is not intentional “psychological damage” in a conventional sense.

    Then drop the term “abuse.” Attempting to portray a religious upbringing as abuse is a propagandistic ploy that mocks the victims of true child abuse.

    It’s the promotion of a belief system without evidence as fact when children haven’t been given the opportunity to decide this important matter themselves.

    Just who gets to decide if a belief system is without evidence? Closed-minded atheists?

    It’s robbing them of one of the most important decisions of their lives.

    The most important thing that happens in childhood is bonding. The child needs to be nurtured and loved by their parents. Your desire to impose more distance between child and parent by demanding that parents actively exclude their children from significant portions of their life sounds like advocacy for child neglect.

    Parents don’t have to teach their kids that disbelief in a God is correct.

    A distinction without a difference. What you advocate is that parents act like atheists – to parent as if there is no God and Christianity is not true.

    Just let them alone to decide it for themselves.

    It’s not an issue of deciding. It’s an issue of whether parents and children shold be distant from each other.

    You seem to portray my stance as a world in which parents have to resort to atheism or teach atheism in order to raise a child, but this really isn’t the case.

    Pay attention. All of your “advice” is about having parents behave as if atheism was true. Yes, you are not telling parents to teach atheism. You are expecting them to behave as if atheism was true.

    I’d even say encourage your child to look into religions (once they’ve matured enough to understand the subject) and make a decision about what kind of belief system they want to adopt.

    Sounds like a parent with a passing interest in their child.

    I suppose I should also say that I’m speaking with religious-oriented people who believe it’s important for their religion to bring up their child in said religion, so it’s harder to come around on such an issue. This is sort of what Tim was speaking about. If I was certain that God existed and wanted me to do X things based on evidence, I would undoubtedly raise my child in such a way, so I understand where you’re coming from. But no one can be certain of that because religion is a matter of faith, not fact.

    There is a lot of room between “faith” and “fact.”

    Let children decide for themselves. If your religion holds up under examination, what have you to fear?

    They already do. You keep laboring under this faulty notion that children are little robots who are being programmed and that the programming cannot be changed. But Dawkins himself tells us he became an atheist as a child. You really need to give children more credit than you do. You yourself should know better as someone who was raised a Catholic and is now a zealous atheist advocate.

    Look, as I said, the issue is not “deciding for themselves,” because that is a given. That will happen. They will indeed decide for themselves. The issue is whether a parent should be close or distant from their child. You advocate putting up some type of wall between parent and child and I find that to be wrong. Too many children suffer because there is too much distance between parent and child.

    Of course. There is no absolute set of morals. This is my subjective opinion that I am trying to convince you of. It’s why we debate these things.

    You have failed to convince me. All I see is an atheist advocate who, borrowing from Dawkins, expects parents everywhere to raise their children as if atheism were true all because the advocate has an anti-religious agenda.

    I was refuting the notion that parents don’t force their child into a religion.

    But you didn’t. You said, ” The vast vast majority of young children who are old enough to speak and identify with a religion choose to identify with that of their parents.” That doesn’t support your contention that force was involved given the simple fact that such child/parent similarities can come about without force.

    Ha, I guess so. They’re good people though.

    But you’ll never report them as having abused you. Why? Because the whole “abuse” charge is just pseudoscientific, propagandistic rhetoric.

    I could get into a bunch of reasons why there is almost certainly no God, if you really wanted to dive into that. Burden of proof arguments, imperfect design, fate of the unlearned… All that good stuff. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’d be glad to dive in. It starts with you having to prove that your God exists.

    If you are going to argue “there is no evidence for God,” the burden of proof is yours. For you would be making that claim that we live in a reality where nothing counts as evidence for God.

    Look, I know you want to start with having me prove that God exists. That way, you can sit back and play judge and jury and posture as if the existence of evidence depends on Travis acknowledging the evidence. Of course, some good ol’ hyperskepticism coupled with your Hide the Goalposts approach must make that entertaining for you.

    I really don’t know what you guys are going on about with this bit.

    If you claim there is no evidence for God, yet have no idea what such evidence would look like, then your claim about evidence is meaningless.

    I could give you some examples? 1. He comes down from the sky with flashing lights and tells us that he’s real and all the stuff in the Bible is true. 2. He strikes down all the sinners with lightning bolts and proclaims Gospel verses through a megaphone. 3. He performs some observable miracle and links it to Christianity (or whatever religion is right) somehow.

    But an alien intelligence, with vastly superior technology, could do all that. The alien would be a natural cause. So why would you prefer the supernatural explanation to the natural explanation?

  22. TFBW says:

    Travis said:

    These debates can get heated, and it’s not easy being the atheist sometimes.

    When your opening gambit is, “the religious upbringing that you are giving your children is basically child abuse,” or words to that effect, any resultant defensiveness or hostility should come as absolutely no surprise, really.

  23. Michael says:

    When your opening gambit is, “the religious upbringing that you are giving your children is basically child abuse,” or words to that effect, any resultant defensiveness or hostility should come as absolutely no surprise, really.

    It’s worse than that. Travis is actually advocating that children be harmed.

  24. FZM says:

    A distinction without a difference. What you advocate is that parents act like atheists – to parent as if there is no God and Christianity is not true.

    It strikes me that it is much broader than that as well; Christians parents need to act as if Christianity and any other religion is not true and God doesn’t exist, Muslim parents as if Islam and any other religion was not true and God doesn’t exist, Hindu parents as if Hinduism and any other religion was not true and Dharma, God and the gods don’t exist, Buddhists as if Buddhism and any other religion was not true and no God, gods or celestial Buddhas etc. exist… and so on for every kind of religion there is.

  25. Travis says:

    Look, I don’t think we’re going to sway each other on this child raising thing. You speak in a manner as if it’s about closeness when I’m speaking to a matter of influence and choice, and I think we simply disagree on the basis of how much long-term influence parents have over their children’s religious beliefs. I call it forcing, but you’re refuting this by making it about family bonding. If I worshipped Joe Pesci, I wouldn’t expect my kid to worship Joe Pesci. They can worship whomever they want. That’s really what this comes down to, and I think we’re going in circles now. I believe you think I’m using a straw man of religious people with how they treat their child, and as I said, it’s not intentional. It’s more of a systemic issue.

    As to this issue about relative morals and “what I think is wrong,” of course there is no absolute set of morals. Humans decide what is right and wrong so I’m making an argument, whether or not you agree with it. None of what I’m saying is “right” is objectively true because this is impossible. Neither is what you are saying.

    I suppose this debate also stems in whether religion is faith or fact. Now the scenarios I presented which are “proof” could not simply be the work of aliens, because I made sure to link them to the tenets of Christianity. All I’m asking is to observe the supernatural. I want to see something supernatural that can let me know God is real and is the same God of X religion. You seem to be hesitant to present your evidence because you think I’m not going to buy it, and this is likely true. But I think you’re aware that the burden of proof is on the person positing something. It’s not on someone to disprove something, or else anything goes. I’m sure you’ve heard the following scenario…

    I have an invisible dragon who watches over my blog posts. You can’t see or touch him. The burden of proof is on you to show that there is no evidence for him. If you can’t, I’ll see you at invisible dragon church on Sunday. You see what I mean? I have to convince you that the dragon is real. And this dragon is an extraordinary claim, so I’m going to need some observable evidence. I can’t just say that I “feel him” or anything like that.

    I understand this is a heated discussion, and I appreciate your respect and thoughtful responses as always. Thanks🙂

  26. Travis says:

    It doesn’t have to be huge and public, but something observable by others. Something that isn’t just random associations like those water stains. Something physical I can point to that compels me to believe in X religion

  27. Travis says:

    I know I’m not accomplishing much here in the comments section of a WordPress post, but I am arguing against another set of morals. I am not arguing that anyone does what they please. An important part of how we develop common morals is that we collectively decide on them. I know I’m probably not doing a great job of convincing you of anything, but it’s about convincing, not absolute truths. Ideally, in my belief, the set of morals that most people accept is changed. Does that make sense?

  28. Travis says:

    I understand that this subject is personal and can stir emotions. I’m just trying to show some respect to you guys and present my position. If it’s going to get too emotional, or if you genuinely believe that I want to harm children, I’m not sure the point of this. I think you understand my position.

  29. darrenl says:

    (long-time fan of the site…thank you Mike.)

    He doesn’t understand guys, and by that, I mean he doesn’t yet have the philosophical hardware to move deeper into the conversation.

    Being Catholic myself, it would be a non-starter to do what he is saying in any sense. Heck, being a practitioner of any of the Abrahamic faiths in the way Travis describes would essentially make them nothing more than book clubs…and that’s how he sees them. He’s projecting in a big way here.

    Put it this way..and this is shocking that Travis doesn’t connect the dots. I’ll give him some inside baseball that he really has no right too…but I’m a good mood today. Catholicism comes from 1st Century Judaism. Can you imagine Travis going to a 1st century Jew and saying “Hey…just don’t teach your kid your religion. It’s abusive”. After they stop laughing, they’d ask him to leave with pity in their voices at which point the dancing would continue as if he wasn’t there. The Abrahamic faiths are communal at their core(…i.e., there is no “me” or “I” in the Our Father prayer…). Abrahamic faiths reject the “every cat for himself” framework that Atheism is so proud of. He wants community gone….or for it to be restricted in such a way that it isn’t community at all.

    What Travis does not like is the communal nature of the Abrahamic faiths. Full stop. This is the issue.

    Another point. Travis asserting that children should “decide for themselves on religion” just shows how un-seriously he takes religion in general…and it is another point of projection. You can’t reason with a person like this because his issue is emotional. Would he say that about a child and healthcare? “Oh..just let the kid decide if he wants to go to the dentist”. Would he say that about a child and education in general? “Oh…just let the child decide if he wants to go to school or do his homework today”. No…he wouldn’t. Why? Because no parent who takes healthcare or education seriously would ever leave decisions like that to the child. He doesn’t take religion seriously, therefore everyone should not. Not only that, it should be socially unacceptable to take religion seriously.

    This is my advice for Travis:
    1. Stop projecting. It does not help you.
    2. Your atheism does not make you look smart. Just the opposite.
    3. You need to read more…because you’re embarrassing yourself.
    4. I and others take our religion seriously. You seem to think we care that you don’t.
    5. You seem to be under the impression that you’re dealing with unread people of faith. Let me assure you this is not the case. Most here are (correct me if I’m wrong Mike) Thomistically inclined. You…are not tall enough for this ride.

  30. Kevin says:

    “All I’m asking is to observe the supernatural.”

    How do you know the difference between supernatural occurrences and naural phenomena which aren’t understood?

    “If I worshipped Joe Pesci, I wouldn’t expect my kid to worship Joe Pesci”

    If it all boils down to you having the opinion that religion is false and that false beliefs should not be taught to children, that’s fine. But we are talking about parents who do not think they are false beliefs, but instead that they are the most important aspect of this life. Why would good parents not teach their children what they believe is the most important thing in life?

  31. Dhay says:

    Travis > When I was a kid, I was told I could talk to him and he would answer my prayers. I really tried. Nothing happened.

    I’ve looked at this from several angles, and words fail me on all of them.

    *

    Let me help you a little with the more useful effects in WordPress: snuggle tightly (no spaces) around the code to start an effect, and tightly (no spaces) around the code to stop the effect.

    Code for Italics: em
    Code for bold: strong

    Code for indented italic paragraph: blockquote

  32. Dhay says:

    That didn’t come out properly: to start an effect, put a less-than symbol (shift-comma) immediately before the code; immediately after, put a more-than symbol (shift-full stop).

    To stop an effect, put a less-than symbol and a forward slash (shift-comma and a /) immediately before the code; immediately after, put a more-than symbol (shift-full stop). Again, no spaces anywhere.

  33. SteveK says:

    …but it’s about convincing, not absolute truths.
    This is where you depart from everyone else on this blog. For us, it’s about truth – absolute truth.

    Does that make sense?
    No, it doesn’t. Not at all.

  34. SteveK says:

    If you can’t, I’ll see you at invisible dragon church on Sunday. You see what I mean?
    I can only see that you are clueless enough to think this analogy is relevant.

  35. Darren Love says:

    “but it’s about convincing, not absolute truths.”

    The answer is no. We are not going to stop teaching our kids the faith that has been handed down to us for the last 2000 years just because you don’t happen to like it when we do. If you don’t like that answer, then get into law and make it illegal for us to teach our kids. Even then, the answer will still be “no”.

    “Ideally, in my belief, the set of morals that most people accept is changed.”

    We don’t care about your belief. Like you have said, this is a subjective truth you hold and has objectively nothing to do with us.

  36. FZM says:

    I have an invisible dragon who watches over my blog posts. You can’t see or touch him. The burden of proof is on you to show that there is no evidence for him. If you can’t, I’ll see you at invisible dragon church on Sunday. You see what I mean? I have to convince you that the dragon is real. And this dragon is an extraordinary claim, so I’m going to need some observable evidence. I can’t just say that I “feel him” or anything like that.

    On the other hand, if someone says ‘no evidence exists to prove that the invisible dragon is real’ the burden of proof moves to them to justify their statement.

    And if someone says to the person making claims about their dragon ‘the burden of proof is on you to convince me that the dragon is real…’ but is simultaneously thinking ‘…however nothing can ever convince me that this dragon is real’, the person making claims about their dragon has no reasonable burden of proof to convince a ‘sceptic’ with such a mind set of its existence.

    Generally if you have an invisible dragon which watches over your blog posts, and that is all it does, that’s okay. But why would anyone want to go to church to worship it or really be concerned about whether you can prove it exists or not? It’s existence seems irrelevant to anyone but you and your blog posts.

    Finally when you write about ‘observable evidence’ what is it that you mean? Can observations of your own feelings count as observable evidence? Or is the meaning intended to be more ’empirical evidence’, i.e. evidence deriving from sense experience?

    So, ‘I’m going to need some observable evidence’ would mean something like:

    Empirical evidence is required to prove that some claim accurately reflects reality.

    But then, what empirical evidence would there be to prove that the claim ’empirical evidence is required to prove that some claim accurately reflects reality’ is an accurate reflection of reality?

  37. TFBW says:

    Travis:

    Now the scenarios I presented which are “proof” could not simply be the work of aliens, because I made sure to link them to the tenets of Christianity.

    If you understood the tenets of Christianity, you’d understand that the kind of people who demanded miracles from Jesus were exactly the kind of people who didn’t get them. Maybe that actually suits you, if what you’re aiming for is not relationship with God so much as plausible deniability, although I think you’d only succeed in kidding yourself if that’s the case. Also, if you understood the tenets of Christianity, you’d know that there are warnings of a future in which signs and wonders are performed by impostors with intent to deceive [e.g. Matthew 24:24], so I think your attempt at linkage is simplistic.

    Whatever the case, if signs and wonders are what it will take to persuade you, then nobody here can help. This isn’t a forum in which miracles are performed. If we could perform miracles, we would have talked sense into Stardusty Psyche by now. You’ll have to look elsewhere.

    As for the whole casting aspersions on other people’s child-rearing techniques thing, if there really is no absolute morality of it, as you say, then perhaps you should just mind your own friggin’ business, hmm? Seriously — stop presuming that your tastes in that sort of thing are so excellent that the rest of the world really should follow your lead. Who do you think you are? If you claimed that it were a matter of actual, objective morality, then I could at least think of you as well-intentioned but mistaken, but if you think that morality is a matter of taste, then you’re just being a culturally imperialist dick, trying to impose your tastes on people who don’t want them, no?

  38. pluviolover says:

    I love this part, “…you’re just being a culturally imperialist dick…”– Not gunna jump into the fray.

  39. Ryan says:

    Travis, if my children enjoy going to church and other church functions and have friends there, should I tell them they can no longer go to church with the family? That seems abusive, doesn’t it? If my children enjoy singing hymns together as a family, should I tell them they can’t sing with us anymore? If my children enjoy when we say a prayer together before they go to sleep, should I tell them I will not be praying with them anymore? When my 8-year old daughter asks important questions about death (because it has touched our family in some way), should I tell her that death is good and natural and human life has no special value, no more value than a dog’s life (the conclusions of atheism), even though I believe that is false and that death is evil and unnatural and human life has incalculable value?

    It seems that you want christians to either (a) stop being christians or (b) give up their children to atheists. What you are suggesting is actually frightening in a dystopian-future kind of way. Cultures (religion being a huge part of any culture) are passed from parents to children. You want to stop the 2000-year transmission of christian culture. I know that many Jews would consider your position “you can’t teach your children your religion and traditions” as anti-semitism. You are advocating the destruction of community, family, culture, and tradition. Furthermore, your “Joe Pesci” example is indicative of your puerile understanding of the subject. That example was what is called a straw man in logic. Hundreds of people didn’t suffer the loss of everything proclaiming the resurrection of Joe Pesci from the dead and forever alter the course of history with the most influential non-violent societal revolution in the history of the world. If that happened, your comparison would not be an indication that you lack critical thinking skills.

  40. Michael says:

    Look, I don’t think we’re going to sway each other on this child raising thing.

    Indeed. Why in the world would you think I would be swayed by your extreme, fringe views that are simply expressions of your anti-religious sentiments?

    You speak in a manner as if it’s about closeness when I’m speaking to a matter of influence and choice,

    Yes, I think it important that children and parents develop a close relationship. People who have had dysfunctional relationships with their parents typically pay for it over the rest of their lives. Your concern about children being able to formulate their own metaphysical views without any influence from their parents is a trivial, fringe concern that exists only among the New Atheists. What’s more, your position is one that advocates children and families be harmed. Look, I don’t think anyone believes you are truly concerned about any children. It’s just another expression of your culture war against religion.

    and I think we simply disagree on the basis of how much long-term influence parents have over their children’s religious beliefs.

    Yes, you are the atheist, who was raised as a Catholic, trying to convince us that children are programmed for the rest of their lives by their parents. You are a walking refutation of your own position.

    I call it forcing, but you’re refuting this by making it about family bonding.

    You call it “forcing” because it fits into your mental world of negative stereotypes about religious people. The term also has some useful propagandistic effects that assist your culture war-mongering.

    If I worshipped Joe Pesci, I wouldn’t expect my kid to worship Joe Pesci. They can worship whomever they want. That’s really what this comes down to, and I think we’re going in circles now.

    LOL. I say you are making this up. Let’s say your 11-year old daughter wants to become a member of the Westboro Baptist church. You expect us to believe, that as her father, you would let her do her own thing?

    I believe you think I’m using a straw man of religious people with how they treat their child,

    You are.

    and as I said, it’s not intentional. It’s more of a systemic issue.

    Is that how you rationalize your reliance on straw men?

    As to this issue about relative morals and “what I think is wrong,” of course there is no absolute set of morals. Humans decide what is right and wrong so I’m making an argument, whether or not you agree with it. None of what I’m saying is “right” is objectively true because this is impossible. Neither is what you are saying.

    But no one is claiming you have to raise your children as if Christianity is true. You are the one insisting Christians raise their children as if atheism was true. If you seek to impose your morality on others, it doesn’t help your position to discover you agree that your own morality is simply a matter of subjective taste. Why do you think anyone will alter their behavior because of your own idiosyncratic sentiments?

    Look, here’s the solution – worry about your own kids and raise them the best that you can. Don’t be a busybody, poking your nose into other people’s houses and insisting that your ideas of parenting be implemented by all.

    I suppose this debate also stems in whether religion is faith or fact. Now the scenarios I presented which are “proof” could not simply be the work of aliens, because I made sure to link them to the tenets of Christianity.

    You think that is relevant? Perhaps the aliens decided to mimic the Christian God after first studying humanity. Why? Maybe it’s a mentally ill alien who seeks adoration and worship from other beings. Maybe it’s a trickster alien who is having some fun. Maybe it is a scientist alien who is conducting an experiment on the social behavior of other sentient beings.

    Look, even Dawkins would not be convinced by your “evidence”:

    Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?

    Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

    All I’m asking is to observe the supernatural.

    Yet Dawkins says, ” a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything.”

    It is interesting that you atheists cannot agree on what would constitute evidence for God.

    I want to see something supernatural that can let me know God is real and is the same God of X religion.

    You are not making any sense. By supernatural, do you mean something that cannot be explained by natural causes?

    You seem to be hesitant to present your evidence because you think I’m not going to buy it, and this is likely true.

    It’s not hesitancy. It’s the realization that your views of “evidence” are rather shallow meaning that any such discussion will ultimately be a waste of precious time. Look, to have such a discussion we would first need to lay the ground work: a) establish that you can consider such questions with an open mind; b) make sure you understand the subjective dimension to evidence; and c) clarify what you would count as evidence for God and why you would count that. All we have accomplished so far is your need for some type of supernatural demonstration. I’m trying to understand how it is that you would detect the supernatural as supernatural (see above question).

    But I think you’re aware that the burden of proof is on the person positing something.

    If you posit that we leave in a reality where nothing counts as evidence for God, and therefore, a) I am delusional and b) I need to raise my children as if atheism was true, yes, you have the burden of proof. It’s cowardly to insist otherwise.

    It’s not on someone to disprove something, or else anything goes. I’m sure you’ve heard the following scenario…

    I have an invisible dragon who watches over my blog posts. You can’t see or touch him. The burden of proof is on you to show that there is no evidence for him. If you can’t, I’ll see you at invisible dragon church on Sunday. You see what I mean?

    Er, I don’t expect you to believe in God and I don’t insist you attend any church. It’s your life, your choices, your fate. You are the one expecting me to believe there is no evidence for God and that I should raise my children as if atheism was true.

    If it’s going to get too emotional, or if you genuinely believe that I want to harm children, I’m not sure the point of this.

    Not too emotional on my end, so don’t worry. And I don’t think you want to harm children. But the parenting guidelines you insist others follow would likely be harmful.

  41. darrenl says:

    “I have an invisible dragon who watches over my blog posts. You can’t see or touch him. The burden of proof is on you to show that there is no evidence for him. If you can’t, I’ll see you at invisible dragon church on Sunday. You see what I mean?”

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You don’t know Christian theology, or Jewish theology. You’re just making up stuff as you go, informed by whatever atheist echo-chamber you’ve attached yourself to.

    Here’s your homework. Find me one Doctor of the Church who ever gave to God the same nature or kind as something of this world (..real or imaginary..) like a dragon. Here’s a list to help you out:

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Doctor_of_the_Church

    Now…a word of warning. These men and woman were prolific writers, so this might take you some time. I imagine you won’t lift a finger and educate yourself on this matter because you’re inherently lazy. How do I know this? Because only the lazy would assume that what they read from atheists like Dawkins affords them insights into anything Theological or Philosophical.

    Here’s a switch…and I know this makes too much sense, but hear me out: instead of getting theological queues from a scientist (..who hasn’t practiced his craft for over 20 years…) how about actually consulting a theologian for theological issues who knows what he/she is talking about.

  42. FZM says:

    TFBW,

    As for the whole casting aspersions on other people’s child-rearing techniques thing, if there really is no absolute morality of it, as you say, then perhaps you should just mind your own friggin’ business, hmm?

    I was also thinking that it is pretty weird to make an argument about religion and the upbringing of children that is mainly grounded in moral and value judgements and then assert that there is no objective basis to morality and value judgements, and presumably little basis for rational argument concerning them.

    It’s maybe even stranger in the light of the idea that feelings can’t provide a justification for truth claims or claims about what is real and observable evidence is needed. (Presuming this means empirical evidence and that ‘observable evidence’ doesn’t include the feelings or thoughts an individual may experience as a result of what they observe empirically).

  43. Dhay says:

    > While the Atheist Activist community sells itself as a group of people who place priority on evidence and critical thinking, the community instead thrives by peddling propaganda and negative stereotypes about religious people.

    Not always, I see: here’s Atheist Activist Richard Carrier’s account of his own apparently very happy religious upbringing:

    My experiences with religion as a child were all good. …

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=oFdMzq56qyEC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=“Sense+and+goodness+without+god”+”my+experiences+with+religion+as+a+child+were+all+good”

    Evidently Carrier is not someone who thought his parents were abusive. Or thinks that now.

    Carrier was brought up Christian, but did this force Christianity upon him as an adult ? No: if you read from the bottom paragraph on P.11, you find several pages of Carrier gushing over the non-Christian religion he subsequently adopted as a young man, namely Taoism; of which he wrote:

    The proof that this was the one true religion was manyfold, and seemingly irrefutable …

    … I had powerful mystical visions, which only confirmed further that I was on the right track. …

    … Profound insights about the world would strike me whenever in such a state, leading far more readily and powerfully to an understanding of myself and the world than studying or reasoning ever did. …

    Did Carrier place priority on [objective] evidence and critical thinking? Looks like mystical insights took priority.

  44. stcordova says:

    “I want to see something supernatural that can let me know God is real and is the same God of X religion. ”

    Would you like to see God appear every time you call on him? Something like a God-on-demand for human wishes and experiments? Such a God if he cooperated in this way to human whims wouldn’t be much of a God.

  45. Michael says:

    For the record, Travis decided just to stop posting.

  46. Ryan says:

    For the record, Travis decided just to stop posting.

    It seems that he never actually thought deeply about the implications of his viewpoint. Our questions about how Christian parents could shelter their children from Christianity without abandoning it themselves seemed to be things he had never thought about before. This is the type of thing that is alarming with many activists: the failure to think through their ideas and the implications of them. Anyone that says parents should not teach religion to their children is advocating the destruction of a culture and tradition, there is just no way around it. What I’ve found is helpful in discussions like that is to point out that Christianity can be thought of as a sub-culture in America (or wherever), just as Atheism can be. This turns it into a Pepsi vs Coke debate and forces the atheist to make absolute moral claims against Christianity. Most atheists are hesitant to claim that teaching “God exists” or “the Bible is true” amounts to child abuse because it’s a ridiculous position. At that point their position crumbles into mere opinion and they become the imperialist trying to impose their cultural values on others.

  47. Dhay says:

    > Did Carrier place priority on [objective] evidence and critical thinking? Looks like mystical insights took priority. [Four responses above.]

    And then there’s Jerry Coyne, who in “that moment” while listening to the Sgt Pepper album — he knows which album was playing “that moment”, but not which track, which I cannot see him omitting to name if he could, “that moment” and the album being so very, very important to him and so dear to his heart he keeps coming back to re-tell the story (even in his FvF Preface) — while Coyne was listening to the album, “it dawned on him at that moment that there was no God, and he wasn’t going anywhere when he died.”

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/jerry-coynes-multiple-definitions-of-faith/#comment-8728

    Did Coyne place priority on [objective] evidence and critical thinking? Looks like, er, mystical insights took priority.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2006-10-10

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