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To Byron (aka “SkepticX”)
Posted: 10 January 2009 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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“I’m an ideological coward”  -  This is what you said that my lighthearted metaphor in the “Help please” thread meant that I was saying.  You’ve basically said this about me on several occasions, so I want to discuss this with you. I will attempt to be completely serious in this discussion, as I sincerely think that you are wrong.

By participating in this atheist forum and placing my views in print, I think that I have demonstrated that I am anything but an “ideological coward.” I’ve put my meat into the meat grinder, and then observed what kind of hamburger came out the other end. This process, while often painful, has caused me to change my views about a variety of subjects. For example, my exchanges with Andrew and Aaron have significantly altered my viewpoint on homosexuality.  My discussion with M has caused me to adjust my position on abortion.  And my discussions with everyone else have resulted in shifts and refinements in my opinions about a variety of things, including politics, theology and biblical interpretation, and science.  I was a proponent of separation of church and state before I came here, but now I understand more fully the wisdom of that position, which was championed by many early Baptists at the time of the American Revolution.  I’ve moved more toward the center on a variety of issues. I have not come here with the attitude of “my mind is made up - don’t confuse me with the facts.”  If this were my position, I would not have changed my mind about anything. It is possible that I have changed my mind about more things than anyone who is a regular contributor here.

I’ve met people on this forum all over the US, seeking to match a human face with the atheist viewpoint - Sonoma County California, Chicago, New York City, Oklahoma City, Dallas, even Abilene Texas, where I spent a couple hours with the Granddaddy of them all, Mr. Creek.  Overall, I’ve taken this issue very seriously, even though I have acted in a silly or playful manner on some posts, and have allowed myself at times to get upset or offended. As it stands right now, my life experience still leads me to have faith, while the vast majority of people here have a completely different life experience. I’ve laid it out there and let people chew on it, and then examined the carcass.

Bottom line is that we have different experiences. Aaron shared his experience as a gay man, and convinced me that it is not a choice - that’s just how he is. I concluded that most of what I hear in the Christian world about gays and choice is probably wrong.  It would be foolish for me to try to change his mind, as his sexual orientation is not a matter of rationality.  It’s probably the same with you and me regarding faith. It’s just not part of your experience, but it is part of mine, and neither of us are going to change the other.

Reasonable people can disagree and arrive at different conclusions. That does not mean that either is an ideological coward. The puzzle that I am attempting to piece together has a few God pieces in it; yours doesn’t. Our pictures are not going to look the same. That doesn’t mean that we can’t evaluate each other’s work - but the charge of “ideological coward” seems unjustified to me. However, I will listen to your response.  My meat, once again, is in your grinder.

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Posted: 10 January 2009 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 10 January 2009 05:00 PM

“I’m an ideological coward”  -  This is what you said that my lighthearted metaphor in the “Help please” thread meant that I was saying.  You’ve basically said this about me on several occasions, so I want to discuss this with you. I will attempt to be completely serious in this discussion, as I sincerely think that you are wrong.

By participating in this atheist forum and placing my views in print, I think that I have demonstrated that I am anything but an “ideological coward.” I’ve put my meat into the meat grinder, and then observed what kind of hamburger came out the other end. This process, while often painful, has caused me to change my views about a variety of subjects. For example, my exchanges with Andrew and Aaron have significantly altered my viewpoint on homosexuality.  My discussion with M has caused me to adjust my position on abortion.  And my discussions with everyone else have resulted in shifts and refinements in my opinions about a variety of things, including politics, theology and biblical interpretation, and science.  I was a proponent of separation of church and state before I came here, but now I understand more fully the wisdom of that position, which was championed by many early Baptists at the time of the American Revolution.  I’ve moved more toward the center on a variety of issues. I have not come here with the attitude of “my mind is made up - don’t confuse me with the facts.”  If this were my position, I would not have changed my mind about anything. It is possible that I have changed my mind about more things than anyone who is a regular contributor here.

I’d say your analogy is significantly off. The way you cruise through here reminds me of the obstacle course in basic training. When my training unit ran the course we gave most of it a try, but most of us had neither the inclination or energy to actually negotiate every obstacle. The DIs distributed themselves about the course at the more difficult obstacles though, so we couldn’t bullshit through them or by-pass them altogether. The point was to make us face some fear and genuine challenge. You’re like we were running that course, only there aren’t any DIs to force you to actually engage any obstacles. You engage any given obstacle until you decide it’s too difficult or challenging for whatever reason, then you jump down or otherwise by-pass the rest of it, maybe by just running through without negotiating anything but the flat, solid ground you choose to negotiate. Then you turn around and pretend you’ve completed the obstacle, and that’s where I usually start calling you out.

That’s all I have time for right now, but as long as you stay with this obstacle I’ll be more than happy to work through it with you. If you jump down and run off you won’t get credit as if you’d actually completed it, but that’s on you (you’re the only one giving you that credit anyway though). If that’s all you really want to accomplish I guess it’ll be as satisfying as you can make it. I can’t deceive myself so easily though, so I have to actually accomplish something before I can give myself the credit. I think my posture on that is far more the norm here than it is in most cases, which is why you’re not impressing many of us in here. If you spend a lot of time in church groups I’m sure that’s quite a shift, and probably not a very comfortable one.

More later, I expect.

Byron

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Posted: 10 January 2009 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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SkepticX - 10 January 2009 05:45 PM

You engage any given obstacle until you decide it’s too difficult or challenging for whatever reason, then you jump down or otherwise by-pass the rest of it, maybe by just running through without negotiating anything but the flat, solid ground you choose to negotiate. Then you turn around and pretend you’ve completed the obstacle, and that’s where I usually start calling you out.

That’s all I have time for right now, but as long as you stay with this obstacle I’ll be more than happy to work through it with you.

I assume that you have some particular obstacle in mind, but I don’t know what it is. My feeling is that if I don’t come to the same conclusion as you, you will accuse me of running away from the obstacle. That is another way of you saying that you are right about everything, and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. I don’t think I’ve run away from anything - maybe I have a different way of getting over obstacles.  Am I not following the rules?  Anyway, I’m still here, so if you have a particular obstacle that you want to discuss, I’m game. So far, you’ve failed to show me why I am an ideological coward.

[ Edited: 11 January 2009 05:54 AM by Ecurb Noselrub]
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Posted: 11 January 2009 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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mark

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Posted: 11 January 2009 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 10 January 2009 09:48 PM

I assume that you have some particular obstacle in mind, but I don’t know what it is. My feeling is that if I don’t come to the same conclusion as you, you will accuse me of running away from the obstacle. That is another way of you saying that you are right about everything, and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. I don’t think I’ve run away from anything - maybe I have a different way of getting over obstacles.  Am I not following the rules?  Anyway, I’m still here, so if you have a particular obstacle that you want to discuss, I’m game. So far, you’ve failed to show me why I am an ideological coward.

Do you really not understand the simile, Bruce, or did you just want to pout?

You’re following the rules just fine ... right up until you decide it’s too difficult or they aren’t taking you where you want to go.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 11 January 2009 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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SkepticX - 11 January 2009 12:18 PM

Do you really not understand the simile, Bruce, or did you just want to pout?

You’re following the rules just fine ... right up until you decide it’s too difficult or they aren’t taking you where you want to go.

Shit or get off the pot, Byron. Let’s stop with the metaphors and analogies and similes, and show me where I am an ideological coward. I’m calling your bluff.

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Posted: 11 January 2009 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Let me help you out, since you seem to have a problem getting started. Here is what Grandpa Creek said about me elsewhere:

“There’s something of an Aufbau to human “awareness”. You don’t have all of it as a neonate. Everything thereafter helps to build it. Bruce has some filters in place to keep some of that information out. His awareness is primitive, and he labels it “transcendent” to cover up the fact. He has no interest in scientific observation. His interest is clogged by some shit that got in there while his awareness was building itself. His response is idiosyncratic - and the amount of energy he spends rejecting the additional information helps him ignore what a waste the other shit clogging his system has become. He’s just hoping to live out the rest of his life without decompensating. He can still be a productive attorney. Expert witnesses handle the science stuff for him.”

Maybe we can use this as a springboard for further discussion, since you don’t seem to have anything to say.

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Posted: 12 January 2009 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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You demonstrate an utter lack of respect for logic and reason in that you reject it whenever it doesn’t go the way you want it to, and then you expect someone to explain this to your satisfaction, which requires that you follow logic and reasoning you clearly don’t want to follow.

Yeah ... that makes sense. I think I have better and far more likely productive things to do with my time.

Maybe we can talk if you decide to develop into an intellectual adult.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 12 January 2009 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Jefe

Outstanding post and spot on.

Bruce, basically you have not learned skepticism as a virtue and critical thinking skills.

That makes you an ideological coward. You are smart enough to know they are there, but you will not accept them or try and understand them.

To be skeptical is to question and to think. The first thing to be questioned is mythology. Especially that which is thousands of years old.

Doesn’t that just make good common sense?

It continues to amaze me that modern day christians constantly question modern science and intellectualism but they are not allowed to question bronze age mythology.

How do they reconcile that?

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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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McCreason - 12 January 2009 12:46 PM

It continues to amaze me that modern day christians constantly question modern science and intellectualism but they are not allowed to question bronze age mythology.  How do they reconcile that?

I don’t know, since I don’t question modern science and intellectualism, nor do I prevent anyone from questioning bronze age mythology. You’ve just burned a straw man.

[ Edited: 12 January 2009 08:17 AM by Ecurb Noselrub]
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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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SkepticX - 12 January 2009 11:45 AM

You demonstrate an utter lack of respect for logic and reason in that you reject it whenever it doesn’t go the way you want it to, and then you expect someone to explain this to your satisfaction, which requires that you follow logic and reasoning you clearly don’t want to follow.

Yeah ... that makes sense. I think I have better and far more likely productive things to do with my time.

Maybe we can talk if you decide to develop into an intellectual adult.

OK, a little ad hominem obviously makes you feel justified in not engaging me in debate. So you dismiss my challenge with a conclusory statement, and once again fail to give me one concrete example of my ideological cowardice.

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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Jefe - 12 January 2009 12:35 PM

It’s quite simple, Bruce.

You allow your preconceptions - built out of past subjective experience - to build walls around your cognition.

Stepping outside of those walls becomes a near impossibility for you - due in part to the compartmentalization in which you consciously engage, and the acceptance of your mythological structures that says stepping outside of those compartments - even as an objective mental exercise - is a crime.

Thus you do not allow yourself to seriously consider those questions or those competing ideas that might have demonstrable value, simply because your chosen mythology doesn’t allow you to treat them with the same seriousness of consideration as you perceive that it (your chosen mythology) demands from you. 

Further, you occasionally make statements that appear to be obvious text-book quality examples of confirmation bias, mere-familiarity, decoupled cognition, transference and motivated reasoning, and belief in belief - all cognitive functions that we (many of us) are familiar with.  When you make a statement in conversation on this forum, you owe it to yourself and your peers to examine it in the light of these common cognitive functions, and to vet it if it is obviously a shallow construct based on your preconceptions.  Otherwise the value in conversation with you is diminished by having to repeatedly force you to re-examine statements based on these artificial constructs.

Now its possible you have a handicap in this regard - being a lawyer.  Court requires the use of similar speech patterns and emotional manipulation to try to sway a jury to your view, and persuade a judge to allow you to continue down a dramatic line of examination. (I know its not all matlock, tom cruise, and jack nicholson, but I’m pretty sure there’s a conscious desire to use these commonly known cognitive functions to try to sway a jury to the desired outcome - both by the defence and the prosecution.)

You have made it abundantly clear what your opinions are, so using the argument “....but that’s my opinion” is both redundant and tiresome if the ground has been (repeatedly) covered in the past, or if the question is of value examination rather than rote statement. And, because you’re dealing mainly with secular thinkers on this forum, biblical passages probably do not provide the strength of support that a religious person may be used to having them provide.

(I remember one poster from a while back spouting scripture after scripture at us, and then when we (collectively) shrugged it off, describing the passages in question as “Some of the most hard-core parts of the bible”.  He was still confused, IIRC, when we didn’t consider the passages with the same weight he expected us to.)

I appreciate your response. But again, I get the feeling that there is a required conclusion that I must reach in any debate, or I will be accused of compartmentalization or some other logical fallacy. In other words, I must agree with you, that the claims of Christianity are not valid, or I am not being reasonable. For you, the possibility that two reasonable people might simply come to different conclusions about this issue is simply not possible or acceptable.

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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Do you question biblical mythology? Resurrection, crucifiction, virgin birth, miracles? Only one God before you right?

If you questioned modern science you would find that there is zero proof of a supernatural world. Nothing exists outside of subatomic particles. Zilch. No evidence.

So how could you still then believe in magic?

You choose faith over science and reason. You require proof or evidence only for science, not faith. That not only is cowardice, it is nonsensical and delusional.

You fear the issues of death and morality without god. Isn’t that cowardice?

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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Bruce, for what it’s worth I still like telling you that what you believe is wrong. smile

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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“McCreason”]Do you question biblical mythology? Resurrection, crucifiction, virgin birth, miracles? Only one God before you right?

First, you have made an assumption that the above things are mythology. Second, what is so mythological about crucifixion? Third, yes, I question the miraculous - I often hear of claims of miracles that I later decide are wrong. But, unlike you, I don’t begin with the assumption that such things cannot happen.

[quote author=“McCreason”]
If you questioned modern science you would find that there is zero proof of a supernatural world. Nothing exists outside of subatomic particles. Zilch. No evidence.

We simply do not know what dimensions lie beyond this one. M Theory posits mulitiverses and other dimensions. Perhaps that accounts for the ancients’ “supernatural world.”  I don’t claim to have any more concrete proof of such a world than the scientists who discuss M Theory.

[quote author=“McCreason”]
So how could you still then believe in magic?

Again, you have made an assumption. The claims of the NT about Jesus could be true, and not be magic. There could be an explanation that we simply don’t know yet. Much of it comes down to an historical analysis of the NT documents. I have simply come to a different conclusion than you about those historical documents.

[quote author=“McCreason”]
You choose faith over science and reason. You require proof or evidence only for science, not faith. That not only is cowardice, it is nonsensical and delusional.

I wasn’t aware that I had to choose one over the other. Science operates in the realm of evidence and leads to knowledge. Faith operates in the realm of revelation. Apples and oranges.

[quote author=“McCreason”]

You fear the issues of death and morality without god. Isn’t that cowardice?

Truthfully, how do you know what I personally fear?

[ Edited: 12 January 2009 12:57 PM by Ecurb Noselrub]
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Posted: 12 January 2009 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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GAD - 12 January 2009 01:28 PM

Bruce, for what it’s worth I still like telling you that what you believe is wrong. smile

I’m sure that it makes you feel good.

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