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Sam's truthdig interview
Posted: 07 April 2006 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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As many of you may know Mr. Harris has a new truth dig interview  

He gives an example of how the religious may be persuaded to abandon irrationality:

I think this is a war of ideas that has to be fought on a hundred fronts at once. There’s not one piece that is going to trump all others.

But I think we should not underestimate the power of embarrassment. The book Freakonomics briefly discusses the way the Ku Klux Klan lost its subscribers, and the example is instructive. A man named Stetson Kennedy, almost single-handedly it seems, eroded the prestige of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s by joining them and then leaking all of their secret passwords and goofy lingo to the people who were writing “The Adventures of Superman” radio show. Week after week, there were episodes of Superman fighting the Klan, and the real Klan’s mumbo jumbo was put out all over the airwaves for people to laugh at. Kids were playing Superman vs. the Klan on their front lawns. The Klan was humiliated by this, and was made to look foolish; and we went from a world in which the Klan was a legitimate organization with tens of millions of members—many of whom were senators, and even one president—to a world in which there are now something like 5,000 Klansmen. It’s basically a defunct organization.

Sam Harris

I would love to see a collection of the ridiculous bible quotes, claims, edicts ect….just to have handy.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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The problem Blackdaug is that Christianity is not a secret society. There are no secret code words and hand shakes. The Bible is open for all to read. So the analogy falls apart.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I’ve thought it would be great to see a campaign to load billboards and such with more ridiculous and nasty quotes from the Bible. Many many people would be very surprised (shocked and repulsed even) to see a lot of what’s in there. In fact a recent rash of Bible quotes chalked on walkways all over UGA and this thread have prompted me to revisit what I call “The Bible Project” with some iconoclastic/skeptical friends. The idea is to respond to the chalked quotes in-kind, only with the kinds of quotes I just mentioned. T’would be quite interesting, I suspect.

Byron

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Posted: 07 April 2006 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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A worthy project, Byron. They don’t need arguments so much as they need to simply revisit what’s really written in that book. I know that in my case I first read it when I was still a blank slate, an easily programmable child. I had no sense yet of what I considered ethical or logical - no ‘sense’ at all, really, I was completely gullible - and could only accept what my trusted elders told me was true.

Reading even 10 or 20 of the worst passages and sick premises, say on the subject of women in my case, and one’s eyes can truly be opened. WIDE. It was rereading it many years later that ultimately brought me to my senses.


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Posted: 07 April 2006 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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The problem Blackdaug is that Christianity is not a secret society. There are no secret code words and hand shakes. The Bible is open for all to read. So the analogy falls apart

.

That is the problem? Not that it advocates the killing of children (as in the first born of egypt) or the destruction of entire cities, or the stoning of adulterers or people who dont observe the sabbath…or just the plain old eternal damnation of everyone who doesnt believe in that book over the other books? Why dont you enlighten me some more about what the problem really is…

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Posted: 07 April 2006 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Listen Blackdaug save your rantings for your fellow travellers. I am not going to join the Bible is evil argument again. If you are going to reject faith by giving the Bible your own interpretation then rejecting your own interpretation, then all the power to you. “The Bible advocates killing children, I am against killing children therefore the Bible is flawed and Christian advocate killing children.” Wow you got us. 

I will enlighten you to your problem. It is shared by many on this site. You have no concept of theology. You reject something you do not even know.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]I will enlighten you to your problem. It is shared by many on this site. You have no concept of theology. You reject something you do not even know.

What about that absolutely horrid treatment of homosexuals by many who consider themselves Christians?

You see, the thing is, that the Christians don’t really know what it means either.  They used to think it meant killing children, then they thought it meant owning slaves.  Now some of them think it is about keeping boys from kissing.  Others think it is about not vaccinating young women against life threatening viruses, so that they are not in danger of thinking of sex as mostly bad, which, come to think of it, means that a lot of Christians still want to kill children.

I know what it is, and I reject it.  I reject it because I know what it is.

-Matt

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Posted: 07 April 2006 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I can only imagine what inanities frankr is posting. “You guys don’t believe in god because you don’t know theology!!!!” But in my case it is because I do know some theology! That coupled with a capacity to ask questions when things don’t quite fit together and I suspect something is wrong with the received wisdom…

In any case, what I really wanted to say is that I am not, in general, for attacking religion head on.  I know Sam thinks that fundamentalism is dangerous and moderates and those who pass on calling a spade a spade are enabling the fundies to carry on their craziness.  But I don’t think anything is gained by translating that into lets shame the believers (if I understood the drift of this conversation).

I would prefer to see an aggressive program of education in how the natural world works.  That includes us humans.  Evolution is a key concept that is so poorly understood by the majority of people, including the former pope,  that it gives them outs and ways to rationalize away from the hard, intellectually honest questions that should be asked when the parts don’t really work together. Remember, even Stephen Gould had to proclaim an artificial wall between the “... two non-overlapping Magesteria” to protect his need for belief in god while allowing a perfectly naturalistic explanation for how man evolved (he never did explain how that other magisterium influences this magisterium as far as I know!)

Unfortunately, I also strongly feel that by the time someone is an adult, if they haven’t started asking those questions on their own, like frankr and Champ, they are never going to do so, and will fight to the bitter end if challenged.  Thats why I still think its a waste of time to continue engaging them (for the umpteenth time!).

But the young! Especially the traditional college age students.  I have seen with my own eyes what happens when you present the real story in factual, straightforward ways—and back it up with evidence.  Even fundie-leaning kids will take pause and consider.  You can see the wheels turning.  And the questions they ask let you know that they are thinking about it.  How many of us on this board started wondering if we were getting the straight scoop on beliefs when we were that age?  But the key is never attack their entering beliefs.  That just makes them defensive.

Thats where I put my money (efforts).  I’d like to believe it is having a net positive effect.  Recently one of my students who had been proudly proclaiming his disbelief in evolution completed one of my animat robot projects.  Seeing the robot behave as if it had a will of its own started him thinking.  The other day, he asked me if I thought that human-like robots would ever be built and if so, would they have souls!  I answered that I thought certain aspects of human-level consciousness might be achieved one day, but it would still be in the silicon, and nothing ethereal was needed.  He didn’t protest.  We’ll see.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“veracitatus”]
Unfortunately, I also strongly feel that by the time someone is an adult, if they haven’t started asking those questions on their own, like frankr and Champ, they are never going to do so…

I don’t fit your generalization, sadly. I was into my thirties before the dawn gradually started breaking, and in fact think that it was the increased perspective of getting beyond the chaos of my 20’s that finally made serious inquiry possible. It happens when it happens, and saying that it should have happened earlier may be correct, but either way… real glad it finally did.


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Posted: 07 April 2006 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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varacitatus
You’re peeking. It’s ok.  My argument is not you don’t know theology. My argument is you don’t know God. Your rejection of God comes from your rejection of bad theology. I am willing to bet the theology “you know” and rejected is paper thin. I’m also wiling to bet it was an emotional not a scientific decision. You don’t have to answer I understand. Don’t want the brights to know that you’re peeking.

I remember them college professors when I was 18 they seemed to know it all. Then I grew up. Do you go down to the local pub and have a couple with the undergrads to show them how cool you can be?

Please post when you get that conscious computer. I don’t want Searle’s Chinese box. I want consciousness.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”][quote author=“veracitatus”]
Unfortunately, I also strongly feel that by the time someone is an adult, if they haven’t started asking those questions on their own, like frankr and Champ, they are never going to do so…

I don’t fit your generalization, sadly. I was into my thirties before the dawn gradually started breaking, and in fact think that it was the increased perspective of getting beyond the chaos of my 20’s that finally made serious inquiry possible. It happens when it happens, and saying that it should have happened earlier may be correct, but either way… real glad it finally did.


_

You are right, of course.  It is a generalization and as with all things about humans we can never say this is true for everyone.  I guess I should say I play the odds.  The probability that someone in their adult years will start to question is lower.  But these are only points on a distribution.  Your case may vary!  I still hold out hope that my siblings (every one of them) come to their senses and we can actually talk about something besides the weather. Come to think of it, even that was off the table because they didn’t “believe” in global warming.  And that god-fearing, honest, xtian GWB said so.  Don’t get me started.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]varacitatus………… My argument is not you don’t know theology. My argument is you don’t know God. Your rejection of God comes from your rejection of bad theology.

Yeah, and he probably does not know Zeus because of bad Greek mythology.

............Oh, and he no doubt rejects astrology because of bad star charts and alchemy because of bad periodic tables.

frankr, your underlying premise is that “good” theology is a valid intellectual discipline and has any relevance whatsoever……..how can the study of the non-existent and/or invalid be of any value?

The reason that V and the rest of us reject God is for lack of objective and verifiable evidence for his/her existence………not bad theology.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 06:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Mia, I think that in addition to advancing age, another ingredient is helpful for a person to fully realize what’s actually going on in the world: spare time to pause and look about. For me, it took 18 months of wading though state regulation bureacracy while I started a business. The process provided me with more spare time than I’d ever had in my life, by far—to realize what the hell’s going on around here.

Does this ring true with your experience? Just curious.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]

I will enlighten you to your problem. It is shared by many on this site. You have no concept of theology. You reject something you do not even know.


Actually, we do, and that’s why we’re here.

Discovering Sam’s masterpiece only recently, I’m new to this forum.  Given the brilliance of the book, it’s hardly surprising to find rather brilliant minds here.

What is surprising is the sheer number of God fearers on this message board.  I have zero compunction to visit a Christian website not only because of the stunted intellectual development of participants who populate such sites, but more importantly, I don’t have any doubts or questions about my own secular worldview.  For me to spend a nanosecond on a Christian website would be a complete and utter waste of time.  Likewise, people on this site more than likely have viewpoints that generally align with Sam’s, or are…….. searching.  I suspect that deep down, perhaps even at an unconscious level, the bible thumpers on this site are aware of the absurdity of their worldview.  In spite of the bluster, they should be pitied, and while frustrating to do, our help.  Why else would they be here?  They are truly lost souls.

The above points might have been made before.  If so, sorry.  Again, I’m new to the forum.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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V… it would seem a good idea to place all premises—whether religious, political, scientific, whatever—under the microscope periodically, throughout one’s life. We’re spoon-fed our ongoing opinions by the media and the politicians just as surely as we’re spoon-fed God myths. I wonder if most people who undergo a religious overhaul are more or less likely to take a harder look at their political premises, too? It was true in my case, but maybe that’s partly because the two issues felt so interlocked in relation to recent world events…


[quote author=“homunculus”]Mia, I think that in addition to advancing age, another ingredient is helpful for a person to fully realize what’s actually going on in the world: spare time to pause and look about.

Does this ring true with your experience? Just curious.

Sure does, homunculous. Like many, it was probably a combo of time spent reflecting on this dissonance, and the intensity of the life/world events within which I was considering those big questions. Most people have plenty of life turmoil, but not enough time to really reflect… which is why I sometimes think of atheism itself as a luxury.

I get to wondering why those who actually work  in the field of theology don’t more often come to unpleasant conclusions… but I think I just answered my own question - the meal ticket! With the church paying their way, why rock the boat over the small matter of whether or not they actually believe what they’re getting paid to believe, not to mention make others  believe wink?

 

[quote author=“FaixaPreta”]
I suspect that deep down, perhaps even at an unconscious level, the bible thumpers on this site are aware of the absurdity of their worldview. In spite of the bluster, they should be pitied, and while frustrating to do, our help. Why else would they be here? They are truly lost souls.

The above points might have been made before. If so, sorry. Again, I’m new to the forum.

 

A warm welcome wink. And I tend to agree. They’re here out of deep inner turmoil, hoping perhaps that vigorous debate will help them dispense with their doubts. Like you, I couldn’t imagine garnering a drop of pleasure or stimulation from posting at a Christian board. It would make no sense… unless I was secretly pining to be back among them.

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Posted: 08 April 2006 01:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]-
A warm welcome wink. And I tend to agree. They’re here out of deep inner turmoil, hoping perhaps that vigorous debate will help them dispense with their doubts. Like you, I couldn’t imagine garnering a drop of pleasure or stimulation from posting at a Christian board. It would make no sense… unless I was secretly pining to be back among them.

_


Mia
When you are at Bible.org reading reviews are you there seeking stimulation or pining to be back among us?

[quote author=“Mia”]-

An interesting quote from another review posted on bible.org:


( source )

Finally, regarding 1 John 5:7-8, virtually no modern translation of the Bible includes the “Trinitarian formula,” since scholars for centuries have recognized it as added later. Only a few very late manuscripts have the verses. One wonders why this passage is even discussed in Ehrman’s book. The only reason seems to be to fuel doubts. The passage made its way into our Bibles through political pressure, appearing for the first time in 1522, even though scholars then and now knew that it is not authentic. The early church did not know of this text, yet the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 affirmed explicitly the Trinity! How could they do this without the benefit of a text that didn’t get into the Greek NT for another millennium? Chalcedon’s statement was not written in a vacuum: the early church put into a theological formulation what they saw in the NT.

Someone clarify this, please…  Is this reviewer saying the Trinity concept has long been known to be bogus, yet is somehow still respected, simply because this council of men in AD 451 decided it seemed a good interpretation of murky passages?


_

Just curious

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