Atheist Beliefs Without Evidence

So I was browsing around the internet the other morning and ran across a story entitled, Woman’s Epic Anti-Trump Twitter Rant Goes Viral:

But one woman was not having any of it.

Danielle Muscato — who describes herself as an atheist, civil rights activist, musician and trans woman — immediately launched into Trump via tweet replies, attacking the president-elect for tweeting about frivolities instead of focusing on the lives of the Americans he now represents.

It turns out Muscato is not just “an atheist,” but also happens to be the spokesman for American Atheists and their billboard campaigns that mock religion.  I must confess that I was surprised to see Muscato’s picture.

I get how this is supposed to be played.  I’m supposed to agree that Muscato is a woman and I am supposed to refer to Muscato as “she” and “her.”  Otherwise, according to the peer pressure and group think, I am eeevil.

But here’s the thing.  Atheists tell us our beliefs are supposed to be rooted in evidence. As Richard Dawkins once wrote, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence”  Dawkins also tells us, “Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence” and “evidence is the only good reason to believe anything.”  He sums up this approach as follows: “Sceptical rational inquiry is always the best approach. […] we can think independently, be truly open-minded. That means asking questions, being open to real corroborated evidence.”  Fellow atheist activist Lawrence Krauss concurs, adding that  “in fact we should be encouraging our children to question everything. It’s part of education.”

Okay, let’s follow the lead of Dawkins and Krauss ask a simple question – What is the evidence for Muscato being a woman?  If anyone has such evidence, please feel free to share.

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48 Responses to Atheist Beliefs Without Evidence

  1. Kevin says:

    Having never been a woman, I have no idea what it “feels like” to be a woman. For that matter, I don’t know that what I “feel like” being a man is the same as what other men “feel like” being men. There’s absolutely no way to know this.

    Men like Danielle, however, claim to be women. Based on…feeling like a woman? Hmm.

    At any rate, the transgender activist operates on two premises: demanding everyone ignore external reality in lieu of internal feelings that contradict the aforementioned external reality (an anorexic person believes they are fat, despite all physical evidence to the contrary, which is why we consider them to have a mental illness), and conflating gender and sex. Gender is masculine and feminine, sex is male and female. While gender can mean all sorts of things depending on the language and culture, sex is a function of biology – in sexually reproducing species, males are the sperm producers and females are the egg producers. So while a man (English word for a human male) can indeed be feminine and a woman can be masculine, a man cannot be a woman. It’s biologically impossible. Nor can a man become a woman.

    I would love to hear what a member of Atheism Plus would say is the difference between someone claiming to feel God and a man claiming to be a woman, and why they will accept feelings over science in one but demand scientific evidence for the other.

  2. itsonlyphotos says:

    Michael, how long are we going to have to wait for you to post about the Rice University study related to working scientists’ opinions of Richard Dawkins? It’s actually pretty facsinating. None of them throw him under the bus as a scientist but more as doing a lousy job as the public face of science. It’s pretty interesting. You should check it out. I bet most of them weren’t even believers, either. They probably don’t care what Dawkins believes about the existence of the Almighty, but the note that he does a piss poor job of representing science and what the scientific endeavor can answer.

  3. Clay says:

    Muscato’s self-identified _gender_-identity is feminine. She sees (experiences) her _self_ as feminine/female instead of masculine/male. If she could transfer her _self_ into a female body, she presumably (probably, anyway) would do so. Is it possible that a ‘self’ can be born-into the wrong genetic sex? Or should this be viewed as a psychological disorder? (Even very young trans-gendered folk oftentimes (perhaps even _typically_) exhibit trans-gender self-identification and behaviors. What should we make of this?)

  4. TFBW says:

    Muscato’s self-identified _gender_-identity is feminine.

    Translation: there’s no evidence that he’s a woman — you just have to take his word for it.

  5. TFBW says:

    Is it possible that a ‘self’ can be born-into the wrong genetic sex?

    You are saying that we are not defined by our genes? That a “self” is something other than our physical makeup? That gender is a transcendent, non-material property? That he/she is like a female soul in a male body?

    We seem to have gone off the materialist script here. I’d expect this kind of talk from a New Ager, not a New Atheist.

  6. Michael says:

    Muscato’s self-identified _gender_-identity is feminine. She sees (experiences) her _self_ as feminine/female instead of masculine/male.

    Yet Dawkins tells us “scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence.” The only evidence we have that Muscato is a woman is his private feelings. And even then, we can’t be certain he is sincere – as an actvist, he could be trying to pad his activist resume.

  7. FZM says:

    As Richard Dawkins once wrote, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence” Dawkins also tells us, “Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence” and “evidence is the only good reason to believe anything.” He sums up this approach as follows: “Sceptical rational inquiry is always the best approach. […] we can think independently, be truly open-minded. That means asking questions, being open to real corroborated evidence.”

    I think Dawkins has probably never gone into much depth about what the term ‘evidence’ can mean or refer to (a bit like ‘science’, as discussed on another thread), so, if need be, he could identify personal feelings or intuitions as sufficient evidence for justifying a claim.

    It’s a bit off topic but unless Dawkins is ready to make a move like that, given the views he expresses above I don’t know how he justifies all the moral and value judgements he always seems to be putting forward.

  8. Paul A says:

    I am wondering, what is the thesis of this blog? It seems to be something along the lines of: atheists are immoral, especially liberal-minded atheists; they are hypocrites; they wallow in darkness and need to make the journey from the shadow to the light. Feel free to correct me.

  9. TFBW says:

    Hey, Paul A, I see you read the title. Maybe next you could read the “about” page.

  10. Paul A says:

    Oh yes I had read the “about” page, which is actually what prompted me to ask the question. It doesn’t answer what the underlying thesis is. It seems to be pretty clear, though I’d like to hear it directly.

    Regarding the topic at hand, I was very touched by the NPR Fresh Air interview yesterday from a trans girl. Their streaming player doesn’t seem to be currently working, so here is a direct download link (sorry for the mess): https://play.podtrac.com/npr-381444908/npr.mc.tritondigital.com/NPR_381444908/media/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/381444908/504471372/npr_504471372.mp3?orgId=1&d=2908&p=381444908&story=504471372&t=podcast&e=504471372&siteplayer=true&dl=1

    Please listen to it — please — if you are at all inclined to take seriously the kind of perspective that the OP has here. Perhaps it is just a reflection of how liberal and conservative minds work. As I liberal I place empathy, compassion, kindness, and generosity above hard line ideological stances. I believe Jesus was a liberal. I dare you to listen to this girl — yes, I said girl — and not be moved by her story. Haranguing her about “show me the evidence that you are a girl” is silly and, frankly, malicious and mean-spirited. Not “eevil”, just unempathetic, uncompassionate, unkind, and ungenerous. I don’t see how the same wouldn’t apply to any other trans person, including the subject mentioned in this post.

  11. Clay says:

    Michael: You’re right up to a point. While Muscato’s claims could be lies, the question would be how credible is such a supposition? One thing to check would be to see whether Muscato has been consistent throughout much or most of her life with gender-dysphoria issues. When dealing with subjective reportage, that is (for the technological nonce and foreseeable future, anyway) about the only way we can try to (empirically, or trans-subjectively) corroborate it. But, yeah, all this might turn out to be merely a stunt. A reasonably good bit of corroborative evidence, however, would be if Muscato were to undergo ‘transition’ via hormone-injections, surgery, etc. Such a process would be _prima facie_ evidence that the gender-dysphoria is real.

  12. Kevin says:

    Paul,

    The link was way too long for me to be able to listen to any time soon, but I’ve read what I assume are similar personal accounts of transgender people. So I base this on what they have said, and not the person in your link. That said, some questions for you.

    People typically say “girl” when referring to a young human female. A female is the member of a sexually reproducing species that (if healthy and old enough) produces eggs that can be fertilized by a sperm. Based on that, by what standard is this person a girl?

    If someone believes something that is demonstrably false, do you believe it is empathetic, compassionate, kind, and generous to support them in this belief? Or is it empathetic, compassionate, kind, and generous to base treatment/therapy on reality?

    Do you believe your characterization of conservatives is charitable, kind, or generous?

    I’m fully aware that many of these people are suffering from some sort of developmental disorder, to where their brain and their body may not fully align for some reason, but to redefine biological reality of a sexually reproducing species based upon a disorder…would that be compassionate and generous, or foolish?

    Given the rather obvious differences between men and women, the burden of proof is on the liberal to demonstrate that someone with a male physiology is in fact a female, which is the minimum requirement to merit the “girl” label. Otherwise, what is the functional difference between calling us mean-spirited for not calling someone by their “preferred pronoun”, and calling us mean-spirited for insisting to a color-blind person that the color red exists?

  13. Paul A says:

    If you want to skip the introduction, the interview starts at 03:11 and ends at 29:20. It’s not the whole show. In your arguments you’re simply assuming gender is the same as sex. The homework assignment now consists of three parts: learn the difference between gender and sex, and why there is a consensus among professionals that this distinction exists; listen to the interview; open your heart to compassion and understanding, treating others the way you would wish to be treated.

  14. TFBW says:

    Paul A said:

    Haranguing her about “show me the evidence that you are a girl” is silly and, frankly, malicious and mean-spirited.

    Has the gender-confused person in question ever harped on about “show me the evidence that there’s a god” or similar? If not, then yes, to do so would probably be quite gratuitous and mean-spirited. Luckily, nobody here is doing that, so save your indignant empathy-rage for such an occasion. This isn’t about gender-confused people in general, it’s about a certain spokesperson for American Atheists.

  15. RegualLlegna says:

    Paul A says:”… treating others the way you would wish to be treated.”

    As if a gay gnu atheist will please the feelings of aome religious people, now you want that others act as charitative christians after this guys (gnu atheists) equalized religious people to terrorists. But i am not a christian i am deist, i don’t forgive people that don’t even tried to have honor.

    Very common gnu point: “there is no difference between a christians and muslims with terrorists.”

    Those people say that if the christians and muslim were true to they religion they should be murder people for God/Allah. Those gnu atheist don’t have word or honor to ask christians and muslim later to be good for their own convenience.

    Specially the American Athesis:
    http://www.wnd.com/2012/08/atheists-claim-ground-zero-cross-sickens-them/

    That claim that the Ground Zero cross, which consists of two intersecting steel beams that survived the Twin Towers collapse on 9/11, coause diseases: . “Named plaintiffs have suffered …. dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack.”

    Chistians and muslims are not the only people that are theists. And i say that: “This guy (Danielle Muscato) suffer a mental disorder and a lack of seft aceptation, he is simply a man that wish he was born women, his claim is about his desire and emotions and nothing more.”

    The right activist, as ever, will claim duties and responsabilities for OTHERS ONLY never the people that will have the right (usually their).

  16. TFBW says:

    Clay said:

    A reasonably good bit of corroborative evidence, however, would be if Muscato were to undergo ‘transition’ via hormone-injections, surgery, etc. Such a process would be _prima facie_ evidence that the gender-dysphoria is real.

    The question which was actually asked was, “what is the evidence for Muscato being a woman?” If we were to obtain the kind of evidence you’ve suggested, then we’d have evidence that Muscato is a man with a credibly-genuine case of gender dysphoria, but a man with gender dysphoria is not a woman. Your efforts do not seem to be generating progress towards the required goal.

  17. Clay says:

    TFBW: Genetically, Muscato is male. If ‘woman’ refers to genetic-sexual identity (which is, of course, a not-unreasonable semantic rule), then, no, Muscato is not, and (until if/when, technologically, we can change an individual’s genetic constitution why still retaining their personhood) will remain genetically male and therefore a ‘man’.

    Muscato’s self-identified GENDER-identity, however, would seem to be ‘woman’. (‘Man’ and ‘woman’ can function as either gender-tags or genetic-sexual tags. And, o’ course, with cis-gendered folk, typically coincide. But not so with trans-gender(ed) folk.

    So: “What is the evidence that Muscato is a [genetic-sexual] woman?” None. And there can be none. But “What is the evidence that Muscato is a [gender-self-identity] woman?” Muscato’s self-declaration (reportage) to that effect, plus whatever corroborating evidence might also show-up, such as I mentioned before.

  18. Kevin says:

    Paul,

    In my experience, it isn’t the conservatives confusing gender and sex. It is entirely possible to have feminine men or masculine women, and no one denies this. The issue is asking us to say “she” to describe a male.

    I downloaded the link, will listen to it later this evening.

  19. Kevin says:

    Clay,

    Is that evidence of the same type that Muscato would accept from a Christian, i.e. personal testimony? Or would Muscato demand scientific proof of God, but rely on personal testimony to claim the mantle of womanhood? That is the premise here – the burden of proof placed on Christians is very frequently far higher than for any other belief an atheist activist might have.

  20. TFBW says:

    @Clay — so basically your proposed evidence works if I also agree that “woman” means “person of either sex who self-identifies as feminine.” Do I also get to define words to suit my wants, or is this privilege available to you but not to me? Alternatively, can I dismiss your argument as tendentious nonsense?

  21. GRA says:

    @ Clay: So behind all that gender theory talk it’s “I think/feel therefore I am.” If not now then until technology & medicine makes me into the person I want to become or truly am. This is considered the “new normal.” This is all protected under “personhood.”

  22. Clay says:

    TFBW — My, my, aren’t you the gratuitously both condescending and (definitely) tendentious one. While we don’t have enough space here to get into the metaphysics of persons (selves) and personal identity, suffice it to say that transgendered folk experience themselves (their self(s)) as having been born into the wrong (i.e., opposite) somatic/genetic sex/gender. If you’re familiar with the original Star Trek series, the last episode, “Turnabout Intruder”, and/or the 1991 Ellen Barkin film, “Switch” provide(s) a pragmatic rendering of a similar idea. Metaphysically, transgender(ed) human beings experience their selves/personality(s) as having been born into the wrong genetic/somatic-sex. Now, if your own preferred metaphysics can’t handle that, fine. I was/am merely trying to articulate a position. And, yeah, self-reportage (plus supplemental corroborative evidence such as I mentioned) is all 3rd-parties have to go on.

    As for whether what I’ve tried to articulate “works” for you, only you can determine that. But what I’ve said is a perfectly intelligible & coherent position. If you don’t agree with it (or ‘buy’ it), then I’d be interested (mildly, anyway) to know why. But at least I’ve clarified (I hope) was was either a misunderstanding (of what I said) on your part OR a deliberate strawman-ing of what I said. A transgender human being claims that their self, their personality and, as Lynne Rudder Baker champions it, first-person-perspective, (as well as their more-or-less (as they experience it) innate psychological dispositions) is that of the gender/sex opposite the one of their own genetic/somatic sex. You either comprehend this or you don’t. If you do comprehend it, but metaphysically think it is somehow wrong or mistaken or unintelligible and/or incoherent (or whatever), fine. Give us an argument to that effect in support o’ such a position.

    So it seems not-unreasonable (to me) for me to dismiss your latest comment as itself obtuse as well as gratuitously both condescending and tendentious. So congrats on the (dubious) honor of having hit all three o’ those notes, hoss. An impressive, if nonetheless also pathetic, achievement. Ciao.

  23. Clay says:

    GRA — No social-constructivist gender-theory. See my response to TFBW, above. Transgender folk simply experience themselves, oftentimes from a very early age, as, in effect, having been born into the wrong (opposite) genetic-sex body. It’s fairly straightforward. And if their otherwise more-or-less perfectly high-functioning, then it seems to many people problematic to deem (characterize) their situation as itself a psychological disorder.

    Here’s a philosophical thought-experiment. Suppose we perfect the tech to transfer a self/personality from one body to another. This would, among other things, allow for a transgender(ed) person to be(come) cis-gendered, i.e., ‘inhabit’ the (new) physical sex/body that ‘fits’ or ‘matches’ their gender self-experience/perception. (Alternatively, as a route to more-or-less the same result: Imagine tech such that one is put into a kind of suspended-animation (or at least deep hibernation) while one’s ‘own’ body is physically-genetically transformed from one sex to the (more-)desired sex.)

    Would such a transfer (or transformation) be wrong, and/or itself a manifestation of a ‘disorder’, to be itself not only DIS-allowed, but the ‘disorder’ itself to be ruthlessly ‘treated’, with Clockwork-Orange-esque severity, if need be? Or would this instead be properly seen as a perfectly reasonable, appropriate solution _to_ the transgendered person’s situation?

    What would (or should) a Christian (and/or theist generally) have against viewing such a tech-provided option as the latter instead of the former? (Today’s ‘transitioning’ tech is simply a precursor to that envisioned here. And, yeah, I’m, broadly-speaking, a functionalist of sorts, and so this sort o’ tech doesn’t strike me at all as physically impossible, much less (quasi-)a priori metaphysically impossible. But if you hold a different position, by all means, please, edify us all…)

  24. TFBW says:

    @Clay: I understand your concept of “woman”. I simply reject it, and see no reason why I should be obliged to accept it. I understand the difference between a woman and a man who identifies as female. I do not accept that I should offer both of these the label “woman” — in fact I consider it an abuse of language and weirdly denigrating of women (the female sex) in general.

    Beyond that, your metaphysical justification for your position (replete with first-person subjectivity) seems to be wildly incompatible with New Atheism, so your position isn’t relevant to this post. Go in peace.

  25. itsonlyphotos says:

    Michael, I feel like an even bigger idiot. But, in my excuse, my wife was in labor on Nov. 1, so I wasn’t checking in. Thanks.

  26. Michael says:

    Paul: Oh yes I had read the “about” page, which is actually what prompted me to ask the question. It doesn’t answer what the underlying thesis is. It seems to be pretty clear, though I’d like to hear it directly.

    It doesn’t sound to me like you read it, as I answered your question:

    So this is not an anti-atheism blog nor is it a Christian apologetics blog. This is a blog that keeps a critical eye on the New Atheist movement and focuses on the narrative the New Atheists are trying to spread and entrench…..So my main reason for posting is to help myself and others to better understand the New Atheist movement and its narrative.

    A central part of that narrative was summarized in this blog entry – we’re supposed to “question” everything” and ” “evidence is the only good reason to believe anything.” So, as I noted, ” let’s follow the lead of Dawkins and Krauss.” Part of questioning everything is questioning when Muscato is a woman. And since “evidence is the only good reason to believe anything,” I asked “What is the evidence for Muscato being a woman?”

    Your response was to take my Dawkins/science-inspired question and attack it as “silly , malicious and mean-spirited.” You then attack me as being “unempathetic, uncompassionate, unkind, and ungenerous.” Such responses clearly indicate you think the statements of Dawkins and Krauss are bullshit. So why don’t you just say so? Did you think I would not notice this by being distracted with your holier-than-thou preening?

  27. Michael says:

    Clay: You’re right up to a point. While Muscato’s claims could be lies, the question would be how credible is such a supposition?

    He’s an activist. Activists typically justify their means with the end. Activism, after all, is incompatible with intellectual honesty. Also noteworthy is that Muscato immediately set up a Patreon account to cash in on the new publicity he received because of his tweets.

    One thing to check would be to see whether Muscato has been consistent throughout much or most of her life with gender-dysphoria issues. When dealing with subjective reportage, that is (for the technological nonce and foreseeable future, anyway) about the only way we can try to (empirically, or trans-subjectively) corroborate it. But, yeah, all this might turn out to be merely a stunt. A reasonably good bit of corroborative evidence, however, would be if Muscato were to undergo ‘transition’ via hormone-injections, surgery, etc. Such a process would be _prima facie_ evidence that the gender-dysphoria is real.

    It’s been two years since he announced he was a woman on Mehta’s blog. Is he on the 20-year transition plan?

    Look, even if he is sincere, that just brings us back to my blog entry – What is the evidence that Muscato is a woman?

    You replied to TFBW: “Genetically, Muscato is male.” It’s not just genetics. It’s anatomy and physiology (all the way down to the shape of the hip bones). So the better word is “objectively.” That is, objectively, Muscato is a male.

    But then you add, “Muscato’s self-identified GENDER-identity, however, would seem to be ‘woman’. ” Self-identified. As in subjective.
    So objectively, Muscato is male, but subjectively, he believes he is female.

    That’s fine with me. He is free to believe whatever he wants. But the issue is that I am expected to agree he is female. I am supposed to refer to him as her and acknowledge that Muscato is a woman. Otherwise, I’m evil and motivated by “hard line ideological stances.” Yet I keep going back to Dawkins’ point – “Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence”.

    Now, I have read through the comments section and the only thing I see people proposing as evidence is Muscato’s “private feelings.” Do you have anything more that his private feelings to offer as evidence?

  28. Michael says:

    Michael, I feel like an even bigger idiot. But, in my excuse, my wife was in labor on Nov. 1, so I wasn’t checking in. Thanks.

    You’re excused. lol

  29. Clay says:

    So do I take you correctly, Michael, to hold that it is metaphysically impossible for a self to be of one gender, yet trapped (instantiated) in the body the opposite physical sex? For that is what transgender people claim (in effect, anyway). And your comments — so far, anyway — seem to me to fail to even appreciate this, much less address it.

  30. Dhay says:

    I note that a LGBT person’s enemy may well be another LGBT person. Here’s a recent Guardian article entitled “No Asians, no black people. Why do gay people tolerate blatant racism?”, which sums up with:

    Being oppressed yourself does not mean you are incapable of oppressing others: far from it. LGBT people have had to struggle against bigotry and oppression for generations. It is tragic that they inflict and ignore injustice in their own ranks.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/24/no-asians-no-blacks-gay-people-racism

  31. Michael says:

    Clay: So do I take you correctly, Michael, to hold that it is metaphysically impossible for a self to be of one gender, yet trapped (instantiated) in the body the opposite physical sex? For that is what transgender people claim (in effect, anyway). And your comments — so far, anyway — seem to me to fail to even appreciate this, much less address it.

    No, I don’t hold to any such ideas about metaphysical impossibility. I am simply applying the ground rules laid out by Dawkins, Krauss, and the New Atheists. Of course, the New Atheists, being motivated by anti-religious bigotry and hate, mean for those rules to be oh so selectively applied only against religious people. Since I lack such bigotry, and value critical thinking, I am trying to apply the ground rules across the board. I’m assuming that posturing is rooted in principle and sincerity. So far, it’s looking like my assumptions are wrong.

    So do I take you correctly in holding to the position that the only evidence Muscato is a woman is Muscato’s private feelings, along with the fact that there are others who express the same private feelings?

    BTW, if you get the chance, you should take a look at my next blog entry:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/where-would-atheist-activists-be-without-their-double-standards/

  32. Michael says:

    Paul: listen to the interview; open your heart to compassion and understanding, treating others the way you would wish to be treated.

    Take a moment to read my next blog entry:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/where-would-atheist-activists-be-without-their-double-standards/

    Does Muscato treat others the way he wishes to be treated? Keep in mind that I have no mission in life to get Muscato to realize his self-perception is false. I’m not the one claiming he is delusional and self-deceived, a person whose mind has been poisoned. Yet you judge me. Doesn’t sound very empathetic, compassionate, kind, or generous of you.

  33. pennywit says:

    I don’t know anything about Muscato’s personal situation, but I steer clear of ridiculing or questioning folks on their gender identity. Everything I’ve read about gender dysphoria suggests that it’s a living hell for people dealing with it. If transitioning genders brings a person into a better place psychologically, who am I to question it?

    In a more general sense, a person’s gender identity is really none of my business.

  34. Paul A says:

    I found a youtube version of the interview — no need to download/skip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2_wHpsEZ6g

    Now, again, please listen to it. You need to listen to the person that you are disrespecting. I hope you will come from the shadow to the light. I am serious. Open your heart, see this person as a deserving to be treated the way you would wish to be treated. You would not want someone treating you with contempt and disrespect because of who you are, and neither should you do so to others. This person identifies as the gender of female. Gender often, but not always, corresponds to biological sex. For some people they happen to be different.

    The evidence of gender is exactly what a person says is his or her gender. That is how gender is identified. We address a person the way he or she wishes to be addressed out of respect. We respect that person because we are kind and compassionate. We are kind and compassionate to others because that is how we would wish to be treated. This is what Jesus taught. If you won’t listen to me then please listen to him.

  35. TFBW says:

    @pennywit

    If transitioning genders brings a person into a better place psychologically, who am I to question it?

    Thing is, Muscato doesn’t feel the same way about religion. He has one rule for him and his gender identity, another rule for everyone else and their religious identity, and that strikes me as grossly unfair.

  36. FZM says:

    Thing is, Muscato doesn’t feel the same way about religion. He has one rule for him and his gender identity, another rule for everyone else and their religious identity, and that strikes me as grossly unfair.

    As far as I can see this was the main point of Michael’s O/P, I think it’s even clearer if read together with the next post ‘Where would atheist activists be without their double standards?’.

    I don’t think the thread is really about transgender people and issues as such, unless the transgender people and their supporters in question also hold strong New Atheist style opinions about religious belief. Religious belief brings psychological and emotional benefits to many believers, there are likely some who have some kind of psychological need to believe, but if you insist on refusing to take account of this because there is a lack of empirical or hard scientific evidence to prove the truth of those religious beliefs (even more, insist that because of this perceived lack the beliefs are poisonous and need to be actively combatted) at the same time as having a strong commitment to transgenderism, it looks inconsistent.

  37. Ilíon says:

    You can’t argue with intellectually dishonest persons.

  38. FZM says:

    Dhay,

    I note that a LGBT person’s enemy may well be another LGBT person. Here’s a recent Guardian article entitled “No Asians, no black people”.

    That’s quite an interesting article. It started me thinking; some assumed moral principles seem to be very important to the article’s general message, most people would probably agree with them to one extent or another. But, if they were examined critically, with a high level of scepticism, how far would it prove possible to convince doubters of the truth of them?

  39. One of the ways that we can test the reasonableness and legitimacy of an argument, as well as the consistency and sincerity of the argument’s presenter, is by seeing how well a parallel argument holds up to scrutiny, as well as by seeing the response to the parallel argument by the first argument’s presenter. So, with this point in mind, now consider a parallel argument to Paul’s “argument” above.

    PARALLEL ARGUMENT (with the key being the second bold paragraph):

    Now, again, please listen to it. You need to listen to the person that you are disrespecting. I hope you will come from the shadow to the light. I am serious. Open your heart, see this person as a deserving to be treated the way you would wish to be treated. You would not want someone treating you with contempt and disrespect because of who you are, and neither should you do so to others.

    This person identifies as the race/ethnicity of black/African even though they are biologically white/European. Racial identity often, but not always, corresponds to biological skin color and genetic ancestry. For some people they happen to be different. The evidence of racial identity is exactly what a person says is his or her racial identity. That is how racial identity is identified.

    Now, few people would be willing to accept the above “reasoning”, and yet it is hard to determine a serious difference between the two arguments, at least on an ‘in-principle’ level.

    Or, for an even more extreme but parallel example:

    This person identifies as the species of cat even though they are biologically human. Species identity often, but not always, corresponds to biological species’ markers. For some animals they happen to be different. The evidence of species identity is exactly what an animal says is his or her species identity. That is how species identity is identified.

    Now the above argument is absurd, and yet that fact is precisely a warning that we should be relooking at the original argument itself, not embracing this type of argument.

    Anyway, to bring this back to the OP, my point here is that the New Atheists and others like them, are hyper-selective in how they use their reasoning principles even when it comes to the very progressive ideas that they espouse.

    Regards.
    http://www.reconquistainitiative.com

  40. Michael says:

    Paul: The evidence of gender is exactly what a person says is his or her gender.

    It turns out the evidence is subjective. So we need to take the next step and reassess Dawkins’ claims.

    “Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence” and “evidence is the only good reason to believe anything.”

    “Sceptical rational inquiry is always the best approach….That means asking questions, being open to real corroborated evidence.”

    You (and Clay and pennywit) are reacting in knee-jerk fashion, assuming transgenders are on trial. Y’all seem completely oblivious to the fact that it’s not transgenders on trial here, it’s the core position of the New Atheist movement.

  41. Paul A says:

    Michael–have you listed to the interview? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2_wHpsEZ6g) Doing so is essential to understanding what I am saying. You need to listen to this human being. You need to have your sense of humanity elicited. I know it’s in there. You claim that transgenders are not on trial, but what you are saying is plainly anti-trans. If you have any sense of humanity, you would not reject what the girl says about her own identity; you would respect what she says about herself; you would respect her claim about who she is; you would not harass her about “where is the evidence” of her own gender identity. That would be cruel. You should be ashamed for even suggesting such an attack, and it doesn’t matter what trans person you are attacking. And not only is it cruel and inhumane–it’s ignorant. Please learn more about the subject before continuing down this terrible path, and don’t double down on the mistakes you’ve made here. Learn from them and move on.

  42. TFBW says:

    @Paul A: assume for the sake of argument that we are all deeply moved by your appeal to compassion and humanity and have come to agree with you in every possible detail about the transgender issues. How does that affect the conclusions in relation to the New Atheism issues? These are summarised in the last two paragraphs of the original post. In particular, is the kind of evidence Dawkins demands incompatible with accepting the gender claims of a transgender person?

  43. Michael says:

    Michael–have you listed to the interview?

    Yes.

    Doing so is essential to understanding what I am saying.

    I understand what you are saying. I anticipated it in the blog posting:

    I get how this is supposed to be played. I’m supposed to agree that Muscato is a woman and I am supposed to refer to Muscato as “she” and “her.” Otherwise, according to the peer pressure and group think, I am eeevil.

    Your replies are splendid demonstrations of this point. With each subsequent reply, you try harder to portray me as evil. First, I was “unempathetic, uncompassionate, unkind, and ungenerous.” Now I am “inhumane,” “cruel,” and out of touch with my humanity. I’d say were about 2-3 replies away from you comparing me to Hitler.

    I find it fascinating that you attack me in this way given you don’t know me nor do you know my positions on these matters. In fact, I’m not making any argument against transgenders here. Pay attention. All I have done is exactly as I said I would do – follow the lead of Dawkins and Krauss. Dawkins and Krauss tell us to question everything.

    So I did.

    They tell us our beliefs must be grounded in publicly checkable evidence.

    So I checked.

    When I did as Dawkins/Krauss advocate we do, and ask if there was any evidence that Muscato is a woman, you replied, “Haranguing her about “show me the evidence that you are a girl” is silly and, frankly, malicious and mean-spirited.” You now add, “you would not harass her about “where is the evidence” of her own gender identity. That would be cruel. You should be ashamed for even suggesting such an attack, and it doesn’t matter what trans person you are attacking. And not only is it cruel and inhumane–it’s ignorant.”

    Isn’t it interesting that when I merely adopt the approach of Dawkins and the New Atheists in a context that is has nothing to do with religion, it is suddenly viewed as silly, malicious, mean-spirited, harassment, cruel, shameful, ignorant, and inhumane? Hmmmm.

    You seem oblivious to the simple fact that the only reason you are lashing out at me is because I am applying the “Sceptical rational inquiry” sold by Dawkins as “always the best approach.” You think you are attacking me. But what you are really doing is attacking the approach advocated by the New Atheists and thus demonstrating the incompatibility of the New Atheist approach and transgenderism.

    Your approach contradicts the New Atheist approach by insisting there are questions that should not be asked. It contradicts the New Atheist approach by insisting that private feelings and personal testimony are indeed legitimate forms of evidence, sufficient enough to elicit strong belief. It completely ignores the New Atheist demand for “publicly checkable” and ” real corroborated” evidence. Put simply, your approach is at the opposite end of the spectrum, coming off as some post-modern expression of fideism. It’s actually quite fascinating. The New Atheists will attack me as being delusional for not conforming to their hardcore scientism, yet you attack me as being inhumane for not conforming to your extreme fideism. And what makes it all the more juicy if your 100% reluctance to address the incompatibility.

    You are also suffering from a massive credibility problem in that you turn a blind eye to the things Muscato has said about people who self-identify as religious. Muscato became an activist in order to get religious people to realize their identity entails false hope. He shows contempt and disrespect by insisting religious people are delusional and self-deceived. He postures in a cruel and inhumane way by likening religious people to poison and viruses.

    And you say nothing. Not. a. word.

    Even though I am not some anti-transgender activist on a mission to get transgender people to realize they are self-deceived, and I don’t write about transgenderism being a dangerous poison or virus, you lash out at me.

    You are clearly not standing on principle here.

  44. Kevin says:

    I’m not sure Paul cares one way or another about New Atheists. I missed it if he ever defended them.

  45. TFBW says:

    Paul hasn’t done much of anything except browbeat us in the name of humanity, liberality, decency, and Jesus to stop being malicious, mean-spirited, uncompassionate, unkind, ungenerous, contemptuous, disrespectful, cruel, and inhumane towards transgender people. Having said that, none of Michael’s comments that I can see rely on Paul having any particular attitude towards New Atheism. Indeed, Michael observes that Paul “is at the opposite end of the spectrum” in some respects. The kind of epistemic standards promoted by New Atheism are wildly incompatible with Paul’s ideology of transgenderism, but that incompatibility is not an inconsistency on his part unless he happens to be a closet New Atheist.

    If there’s an accusation of inconsistency targeted at Paul, it’s because he’s so prone to hysterical outbursts of empathetic hyperbole when someone dares suggest that the gender-claims of a transgender person might be questionable, whereas he’s completely unmoved by Muscato’s scathing attacks on religion and people who profess a religion. Such harsh words elicit no pleas to “think of these people as people”, or to “do unto others”, or any of the other things he reflexively regurgitates when his sacred cow of transgenderism is touched. As such, he’s not standing on general principles of humanism, even though he uses the terminology liberally. He said, “as a liberal I place empathy, compassion, kindness, and generosity above hard line ideological stances,” but I think it would be truer to say that he reserves all those things for use in support of the ideology of transgenderism.

  46. Rob Woodside says:

    Late to the party, but this interview is quite compelling:

    http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Tim-Keller-vs-Jeremy-Rodell-Do-humans-make-sense-without-God

    It’s a good conversation between Tim Keller and an atheist Jeremey Rodell (British Humanist Association)

    The surprising thing is that, towards the end (1h 8m-1:11), when Keller shows the fallacy of Rodell’s argument:
    “I think you should base what you believe on evidence” – Rodell
    “…that is a worldview, you can’t prove that because there’s no way to say that there’s evidence for that statement” – Keller

    Rodell responds with, “That’s where philosophy doesn’t help us live our lives.” My response was similar to Keller’s, a disbelieving “wow” (ironic, right? ;P)

    I guess the unexamined life is worth living (to go against Socrates), at least to this British atheist/humanist

  47. Dhay says:

    Rob Woodside > “I think you should base what you believe on evidence” – atheist Jeremey Rodell (British Humanist Association)

    There appears to be a clash of opinions in the atheist/New Atheist camp. New Atheist Peter Boghossian has recently explicitly called for the abandonment of teaching you should base what you believe on evidence …

    Peter Boghossian: I think the whole way we’ve taught critical thinking is wrong from day one. We’ve taught, “Formulate your beliefs on the basis of evidence.”

    … and has substituted teaching “If A, then B, unless C. C is the defeater.” This obviously needs clarification of how to actually put it into practice, and in Boghossian’s ‘Goldfinch’ worked example he clarifies that the critical thinking student should be trying to identify (at least?) three of C — lets call them C1, C2, C3, … Cn — and that all three are possibilities: not probabilities, certainly not probabilities based upon evidence (hasn’t he just ruled that out as an adequate method for formulating any C?), but unevidenced mere possibilities.

    And Boghossian says that these three or so mere possibilities are defeaters. Let’s see, the exampled conclusion B that it’s probably a goldfinch, based on evidence A that the bird seen is yellow, goldfinches are yellow and there’s lots of goldfinches in this area (which follows the medical axiom: “When hearing hooves, think first of horses, not of zebras”) — that probable conclusion based upon the available evidence is defeated, no less, by any unevidenced mere possibility; such might be, “It might be a Martian visitor in disguise.”

    Have fun, guys.

    https://areomagazine.com/2016/12/08/peter-boghossian-on-critical-thinking-the-atheos-app-and-the-post-modern-influence-on-universities/

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