An amusing development is the three (?) threads about our ads at Democratic Underground. Unfortunately, two have been archived and one is in a donors only section, so I wasn’t able to invite them over here for a nice healthy debate on the definition of pornography, the objectification of women, and maintaining rational and effective marketing. No matter what our individual desires or wishes are concerning the more…primitive… parts of our brain, I feel that in order to achieve our goals as a group, it would behoove us to work with those inclinations rather than against them. Statistics support that theory, and I would even argue that part of our success would fall into that category as well. (Not trying to sound conceited–just saying…) Of course, most of you already know this since it has already been beaten to death on the forums.
The other amusing thing is that Laura Ingraham, who had Brian on her show last year and was absolutely, insanely, mortifyingly rude and dishonest, has a new piece of sh…oops…book out and talks about Brian and us godless heathens for about three pages. (p. 294-6) I don’t think she realizes that she manages to acheive the elusive self-pwn in the transcript of the small parts of the interview during which Brian’s mic wasn’t muted. She says, “I believe love comes from God…” and Brian responds with a much more plausible scenario–that it is a combination of natural selection and societal pressure, essentially–and she goes on to say, “Why do we have Good Samaritans?” (p. 296) Hey Laura, try opening that bible some day! The whole point of that parable was that the only person who stopped to help the man who had been robbed and beaten was not only a heathen, but an enemy of the man that he helped. The moral of the story is that the Samaritan was a good person despite all of that, and that claiming an affiliation with a particular religion does not make you a paragon of virtue. I still stand by the name she was given from that day–which isn’t really suitable for reprint here. (F.S.C. *Lolz*)
I have faith (pun intended) that at some point in his studies, Paul Davies has held a dictionary in his hands, and possibly even opened it. These days, it’s even less cumbersome with the advent of online dictionaries and the added benefit of providing multiple sources from which one can gain a better understanding of a particular word. In order to correct the compilation of fallacies presented in this piece, we need to start at the beginning—definitions.
From the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, “faith” is defined as: complete trust or confidence, strong belief in a religion, or a system of religious belief. From Dictionary.com, it is defined as: confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion; belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.; a system of religious belief; the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.; the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.
Looking at these definitions, one can see that every definition is antithetical to the foundational principles of science. A scientist who tests a hypothesis with “complete trust and confidence” in the outcome is doing a disservice to all of those who adhere to the principles of logical and rational inquiry, and who expect the scientific community to do so as well. Does Mr. Davies really believe that science is “belief not based on proof?” If so, perhaps a refresher course in the scientific method is the solution to that problem. Even the least innocuous definitions include words like “obligation”, “allegiance”, and “fidelity.” An honest rationalist would be made a hypocrite by maintaining any of the above qualities in their quest to discover the nature of reality.
Davies’ assertion that science assumes that nature is “ordered in a rational and intelligible way” is simply not accurate. Most scientists understand that while we can use inductive logic to predict with reasonable certainty that what has occurred with regularity in the past will continue to do so, such as the earth continuing to orbit the sun in 365 twenty-four hour days. Any scientist worth his salt would admit, though, that there is no absolute certainty—just reasonable expectations based on past observations. The fact that we have not seen any major variations in this supposed order is solely because our life spans are just not long enough. All of our anthropological history is not long enough to observe these kinds of massive changes. Davies’ statement that the scientists’ “faith has been justified” betrays his ignorance of the nature of this argument. “Justified faith” isn’t faith. It’s reason. Replace the word “faith” with “hypothesis.” Now we’re talking science.
Satire Kelly and I wrote on the Georgia prayer situation.
Associated Atheist Press
Staff Writer: Bizarro Kelly SapientMon Nov 19, 1:04 PM ET
Atlanta, GA – It’s completely obvious that the damage caused by rainstorms in drought-stricken Georgia was caused by their blatant blasphemous beseeching of Yahweh–another one of those false ancient deities–for rain. Witnesses at Governor Sonny Perdue’s prayer service reported that he seemed completely unaware that if Yahweh did exist, his bible specifically calls those who pray in public hypocrites. (Mat 6:5-9).
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
The Flying Spaghetti Monster was riled up by such blatant disregard for his supreme sovereignty sent rain to assert his power over all of creation. The wrath of FSM poured down upon Atlanta like Holy Marinara from the heavens. Damaging a Baptist church, an ambulance service, and even a city hall building, FSM is tearing down the temples in the high places–All praise His Noodly Appendages. He also completely demolished a home and injured three children.
An FSM spokesperson was quoted as saying… “When we allowed the whole Christianity thing to happen, we never thought it’s followers would turn out to be so completely ignorant of their own religion. I mean… we wrote the book, it’s all there. If they’d just shut their public prayer pie holes the FSM would not have been this mad.”
Kelly responds to Dinesh D’Souza and his “What atheists Kant refute” drivel.
The question of the nature of reality is one that likely will never go away. There will always be those who support the belief that this mysterious “something” exists, and there will be those on the opposing side. We must work with the tools available to us, and those just happen to be limited to our five innate senses and the knowledge that we have gained through science and reason.
In Dinesh D’Souza’s recent piece for Christian Science Monitor, “What Atheists Kan’t Refute”, he asks why we should believe that “reality” is all there is, but the question should be, “Why should we believe otherwise?” Empirical evidence is the basis and foundation for all human advancements. All technological, scientific, and medical discoveries have been made using these faculties. Nobody would dare to base a monumental decision on anything other than evidence in their daily lives, yet they are expected to do so with regards to this one matter—one that, according to D’Souza’s religion, would be the most important decision anybody could ever make.
One of the most frequently held misconceptions that continues to be used in defense of Christianity is that atheism is a new concept. They argue that the lax moral ethos of society has created a brand-new generation of god-bashers. While it may seem that atheism is having a resurgence of sorts, it is in no way a new phenomenon. Ironically, he not only uses this argument, but then gives demonstrable proof of its falsity.
Convincing the general public that atheism is a new wave of immorality spawned by a materialistic culture is a powerful piece of propaganda. The use of Enlightenment era Kantian argumentation as the backbone of his piece shows that the battle between believers and rationalists has been raging for centuries at least and makes his previous statement seem strangely out of place. (Obviously, he wouldn’t want to mention that this has been happening since the inception of Christianity.)
His self-contradictory statements here are but the beginning of a disturbingly convoluted argument. He states, “The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know: reality itself.” What definition of “reality” is he using here? How exactly does one go about attaining knowledge of something that isn’t real? The debate between the “Rationalists” and the “Idealists” was much more complex than D’Souza’s practically dishonest representation of it.
He presents conclusions from Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” as if they were definitive. Any amateur student of philosophy surely understands that one person’s ideas, even if that one person is Immanuel Kant, are not necessarily axiomatic. Kant argued in support of his belief that the five senses were insufficient tools with which to ascertain truth in regards to metaphysical claims. While this is a philosophically valid concept, it is not scientifically valid.
Kant’s philosophical ideology separates the world into the phenomenal and the noumenal. The noumenal world is essentially an agnostic one, but D’Souza would lead the reader to believe otherwise. He can’t even contemplate the notion that just as we atheists cannot perceive the noumenal realm, neither can he. We don’t have knowledge of every possibility in the universe; nevertheless, all major religions claim to have the corner on special knowledge of this supposedly unknowable world. It gets even more oxymoronic when D’Souza claims that one cannot equate experience and reality, but belongs to a religion that is based on having a “personal relationship” with Jesus. He even goes as far as admitting that it will be easier for religious people to understand this because they know that “[t]he spiritual reality constitutes the only permanent reality there is.” I wonder how he knows this since he cannot trust his senses to accurately reflect the nature of reality and has no access to this “spiritual reality”.
D’Souza’s entire piece is a collection of conundrums designed to confuse the reader and shift the burden of proof onto the non-believers. Kant says there is no reason to not believe in that which you cannot know; D’Souza wants you to believe that lack of knowledge provides sufficient reason to believe. He accuses atheists of “foolishly [presuming]” that reason is the proper method for ascertaining knowledge, and then claims to have knowledge of a “reality” about which it is impossible to know anything. I have two words for this kind of absurdity: utter drivel. “Reality isn’t all that there is, but the spiritual reality is the real reality.” “Experience and sensory input isn’t valid as a method to acquire knowledge of reality, but Jesus is real because I feel him in my heart and you can’t prove he’s not there.” The title should have been “What I Can’t Prove but You Should Believe.”
by: Kelly O’Connor
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This piece is part of a year long series (ends Oct 31, 2008) that Kelly of the Rational Response Squad will be writing to address theist talking heads in the media. Kelly is a Psychology major, co-host of the RRS Radio show, and has been featured on ABC debating Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. All articles may be reprinted in any major media publication or any blog. All articles will be submitted by Kelly or an assistant to the major media outlet that initially published the story as well as to the author of the original piece(when possible). Reprints are encouraged in blogs and must link to source. Reprints in media will be thanked in our book, so please alert us if you repost any story. Media outlets may shorten articles if necessary without removing context. Upon completion, a book and documentary will be made about the year (ending Oct. 31, 2008) and our plight to have dishonest argumentation countered with rational and factual answers in the press. If you would like Kelly to address any major media story from a theist talking head, please post a link to the article in her blog. We welcome messages from leading atheists asking us to refute stories attacking them and their views. At the end of the year the writings will be given some bulk, some supporting citations, and edits from a publisher to be compiled in a book. The book will include a documentary DVD shot from Sapient’s vantage point as he works alongside Kelly, asking her questions about the project as it moves along.