5 of 48
5
Letter to an Atheist by Michael Patrick Leahy
Posted: 13 April 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1585
Joined  2006-10-20

Mr. Leahy, you’re making this much more complicated than is necessary by creating new definitions (which I have a feeling you are making up as you go along).  Pairing science and religion does a disservice to both, and their compatibility is tenuous.  Let each do its thing without interference from the other and let the people decide how much of each they believe.  But the more you try to pigeon-hole or pin someone down, the more they resist.  And the more they resist the more you try to corner them, and then the discussion is no longer that and it becomes a battle of will and attrition.

 Signature 

“All extremists should be killed!” - neighbor’s bumper sticker

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2005-04-29

[quote author=“Michael Patrick Leahy”]. . .
Sam’s claim that “half the American population believes the universe is 6,000 years old” is a lie because he knows it is not true, and yet he continues to repeat it. If you continue to repeat something you know is not true, that is a lie.

Now, I will give you this.

If Sam were to acknowledge his error, and publicly correct his lie, I would be willing to withdraw my claim that he is intellectually dishonest. But he is well aware of my challenge on this topic by now, and he remains silent. [boldface emphasis by homunculus]

Michael, how do you know that Harris is aware of your challenge?

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

Sigh.
Take your “false” statement number 15, for example.
(About unwavering religious countries)

Here you try to make the case because it is African tribal religion that dominates most of these countries, they are “less” religious than the United States!!!

Honestly, I have no idea what your rationale behind such a weird claim is.
Do you have any idea how governed, and straight-jacketed, these African societies are by there superstitious, religious thinking?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  135
Joined  2007-04-12

Mr. Leahy:

At the time of this writing I have not yet read your response to my more recent postings.  Perhaps you are judiciously drafting a response now, but if not, I would be interested to read your continuing thoughts on what I’ve thus far written.

On to other matters now:  I have read each of your postings criticizing Mr. Harris’ use of polling data, and your differing characterization as to what that data actually means.  I do admire your tenacity sir, but I believe that horse has been sufficiently beaten, and ask: can we please drag its sorry carcass from the room now?  While your characterization of the data may be entirely correct, and Mr. Harris’ entirely incorrect – I still feel the point you’re making is a minor one, and does not address what I believe was Mr. Harris’ thesis: namely that an alarming percentage of Americans believe in Christian dogma (in whatever form), and regardless of whether they consider themselves to be new- or old-earth creationists, the sheer number of Americans adhering to such irrational beliefs is cause for concern.  Even assuming you are entirely correct in your interpretation, I do not see how this contradicts the underlying thesis.  Indeed, I don’t see how it even addresses that thesis, let alone contradicts it.  I would therefore ask that you expand on these specific arguments, rather than restating your disagreement with Mr. Harris’ use of polling data.  In my view you’ve sufficiently stated your disagreement on that one matter, and it does not require further discussion.  So can we leave that point now, and discuss the broader subject?

I’d like to follow up on a point of discussion I raised earlier, as did Mia, whereby we essentially asked you to explain your reasoning process for deciding which parts of the Bible you agree with, and those you don’t.  I didn’t feel entirely satisfied by your original response to me, and now, in reading your response to Mia it occurs to me why.  You’ve explained that you first look at the book of the Bible from which a passage originates, each book of which having its own historical context.

You do not say this outright, so I will ask it explicitly: does this mean that you evaluate each book of the Bible in light of its historical context?  If so, can you please expand on this form me?  I’m curious to know, for example, if you have a mental hierarchy that you use (consciously or unconsciously) to rank the books of the Bible according to their likely veracity.  For example, you’ve noted that you are especially fond of reading Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Is it fair for me to conclude that you view these three New Testament books to be more valid (or plausible) than other books of the Bible (e.g., in contrast to John, which you’ve said you don’t understand)?  It sounds that way, but in your posting to Mia you leave this open to doubt by stating (with reference to the Book of John), “[t]hat’s not to say I reject it.”  In your words, you simply don’t really dwell on it, or look to it for guidance.  Since you haven’t said so outright, I’ll put this question to you directly: do you, or do you not, reject the book of John?  If you do not reject it, please explain why you find the book of John to be troubling, and why you feel uncomfortable rejecting it.  Is it a matter of politeness (or reluctance to offend some of your co-religionists)?  Is it out of fear of offending John?  Jesus?  God?  Is there some part of the Bible that you believe prohibits you from rejecting one of its books (even one that you have described as troubling)?

The books of the Bible you’ve drawn reference to (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are all New Testament.  Since you haven’t discussed it, I’m curious to know your views on the Old Testament. It is my understanding that Jesus reaffirmed the validity of the Old Testament on more than one occasion.  Is this your understanding as well?  Is the Old Testament literal truth?  Is it metaphorical but not literal truth?  Has the Old Testament been superceded in any way by the New Testament?  If some parts of the Old Testament remain valid to you, which parts are these, and on what basis do they remain valid? 

What is your opinion of Leviticus?  Does it constitute (in whole or in part) God’s moral law?  If Leviticus represented God’s moral law, has it been superceded in any way?  Which parts remain valid, and which do not?  How does one make this determination?  If all of Leviticus has been superceded, where is God’s law now to be found (with specificity)?

Related to the above sequence of questions, can you expand on the specific (and by this I mean in as much detail as possible) reasoning process you use to decide which books of the Bible are more valid than others?  It sounds to me like you don’t do this at all.  Rather, it sounds like you choose to focus on those books that you find applicable or meaningful today, and you don’t really dwell on those books you find less applicable or meaningful.  That is, it sounds like you adopt as true the books you like, and ignore those you do not.  Is your process more reasoned than this?  If so, please explain.

Please think about this question before replying:  are there any books (or chapters or verses) of the Bible that you personally find morally objectionable or otherwise reprehensible?  If so, how do you deal with the books (chapters or verses) of the Bible that you strike you as morally objectionable or reprehensible?  If there are any such areas, will you go so far as to say you reject them?  If you do not reject them, how do you reconcile them with the other edicts in the Bible with which you agree?

Related to the above, is there any part of the Bible (large or small) that you judge unlikely to be true?  If so, do you reject these portions?  If you do not reject these portions – again, how do you reconcile them with the elements you do believe true? 

Do you believe that it is permissible for a good Christian (please apply your own definition to this term) to affirmatively reject any portion of the Bible?  If you do so believe, what do you base this belief on?  Do you draw this conclusion from any textual interpretation of the Bible?  If not, do you draw this conclusion from your own experience, knowledge of history, and perhaps common sense?  If a good Christian (however you choose to define that term) cannot permissibly reject any element of the Bible, large or small, how exactly do you reconcile those portions of the Bible with which you agree, versus those with which you disagree?

As you may guess by my line of questions, I am not satisfied that I understand precisely how you evaluate and judge the veracity of the Bible.  Is the book true in your mind or not?  Do you view it more as series of parables that are useful for guiding human behavior?  Or is it the story of how the universe and man were created, as well as the book of law governing human moral behavior?  Do you view it in metaphorical terms?  Or does it describe real events, real creation, real laws of morality?

Please help me understand.  I look forward to your response.

Spence

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  154
Joined  2007-04-11

arildno from Norway disagreed with my characterization of False Statement #15 from Letter to a Christian Nation.

Here’s the statement, here’s my characterization.


Sam Harris said:

“Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of the United Nation’s human development index are unwaveringly religious.” (Page 44 of Letter to a Christian Nation)

I say:

Harris’ source for this is an article that references the United Nations 2005 Human Development Report. Here are the 50 countries at the bottom of the list of 175 countries the United Nations rates (note – the report conveniently does not rate North Korea, which would arguably fit into this list, but is clearly – as an atheistic Communist country – not “unwaveringly” religious).

Solomon Islands, Nepal,Papua New Guinea, Congo, Sudan.Timor-Leste,Madagascar , Cameroon , Uganda, Swaziland , Togo, Cambodia, Myanmar, Botswana, Comoros, Laos, Pakistan, Bhutanm Ghana, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Lesotho, Yemen, Zimbabwe Kenya, Mauritania , Haiti, Gambia, Senegal, Eritrea,Rwanda,Nigeria,Guinea, Angola,Tanzania, U. Rep. of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia, Malawi, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Burundi , Ethiopia, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina, Faso, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Niger

Notice anything about these countries ?

That’s right , 39 of the 50 are in Africa, the least developed continent on earth.

If you check the historical data you will find that in 1900, almost every one of these countries had virtually no participation in the world’s major religions. Tribal religions of one form or another dominated.

Looking at the most recent data for each of these countries, and comparing to a standard of religious participation in the United States, where approximately 80 per cent of us self-identify as either Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, you see quite quickly that most of these nations have between a 40 per cent and 80 per cent self identification with one of these religions. Togo, for instance, still has about 70 per cent of the population described as African Tribal.

All 50 of these nations “unwaveringly religious”?

More religious than Western Europe, perhaps, and with both Christian and Muslim faith apparently growing in many of the countries in question, but the majority are less religious than the United States.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  308
Joined  2006-10-18

What I noticed was that Mr. Leahy was just parsing out the different unscientific theologies in order to get each of the representative groups to their lowest possible percentage.

[quote author=“Leahy Homepage”]
In 2004, Sociologists Otis Dudley Duncan of UC Santa Barbara and Claudia Geist of Indiana State University undertook a research project to learn more about creationists.Here’s what they concluded:

Hence we estimate that only one third of adult Americans are creationists in the strict sense of “evolution denial” whereas the Gallup question yields an estimate of 46% who implicitly rely solely on Genesis.

Sam either refers to half the population or 46% of the population believing in the literal word genesis in order maintain a belief about the creation/evolution of man. Whether or not people who agree with this statement also believes one day is a few billion years and God created man 10,000 years ago, or you believe that the earth was literally created in 6 days. No one in this line up is trying to be consistent with the scientific consensus with what we know about geological and biological evolution.

I think if you’re story doesn’t line up with what scientists already know about evolution, and you want to convince the rest of the world that evolution is inadequate or attempt to fuse God into science as if it was some kind of credible gesture, you are going to be lumped into that 46% (or about half) of the country about whom Sam talks.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

Evidently you don’t regard African religion as religion.

It certainly is, and these religions are neither more or less silly than the three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Furthermore, your claims that the Bible cannot be said to endorse slavery is just ridiculous.
The acceptance of slavery runs throughout the entire Bible and has far more Biblical support than has, say, Biblical condemnation of homosexual behaviour.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  308
Joined  2006-10-18

Are all of the 20 factual errors explained within the first page? Every time I click on a factual error it brings me to the same page. Is this a mix up? Or is this one (alleged) factual error wrong in 20 different ways?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  154
Joined  2007-04-11

Arildno,

I challenge you.

Show me a passage that shows the Bible ENDORSES slavery.

There are plenty of passages, especially in the Old Testament, with comments on slavery, and some with specific guidelines of conduct for masters and slaves who find themselves in a master-slave relationship.

But no passage ENDORSES slavery.

Prove me wrong.

You can’t do it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  154
Joined  2007-04-11

Snapshot:

Go to http://www.lettertonanatheist.com/twentyerrors.html

You will see all 20 False Statements listed on this page.

If you click on False Statements 1 through False Statement 4, you will be directed to the article “Sam Harris’ Big Lie”. This article addresses all of Sam’s first 4 false statements.

Click on any False Statement from 5 to 20 and you will be directed to a page that shows why Sam’s statement is false.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  154
Joined  2007-04-11

The previous post link was incorrect.

Go here:

http://www.lettertoanatheist.com/twentyerrors.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

The first four statements Mr. Leahy objects to are all concerned with Harr’s Gallup source on the percentage of people believing that God created man more or less as today within the last 10.000 years.

I have said it previously in the thread, and say it again that it cannot be considered a lie by Harris to have lumped together a whole bunch of irrationals and used Bishop Ussher’s thoughts as exemplary for all of these.
This might be seen as sloppiness by Harris, but certainly not a lie since it involves no deliberate misleading.
The differences between these groups are IRRELEVANT, they are ALL carrying fundamentally unjustifiable ideas about the origin of mankind or the world.

Mr. Leahy’s comment that this “big lie” is part of Harris’ “campaign” to represent most Christians as idiots is just pointless.
A person would be as much or as little an idiot to believe that the world is 4.5 billions years old, whereas man is only 10.000 years old than Bishop Ussher was.

Quite recently, a very interesting research was done by a German scientist at Max Planck’s that showed quite conclusively that mankind began to wear clothes about 70.000 years ago (about the time of the big emigration from Africa).
He came to this conclusion in the following manner:
Man lost his pelt a few hundred years ago. This meant that the common louse became confined to his hair scalp.

However, when man began to wear clothes, another opportunity arose for the louse:
A variant of it, the body louse, developed, that could cling to the clothes and suck blood for the body.

Both louse species exist today. The scientist gathered lice from all over the world and by DNA analysis showed that these two species split apart about 70.000 years ago.

Now, if the wearing of clothes is not a sign of modern man, I don’t know what is..

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

[quote author=“Michael Patrick Leahy”]Arildno,

I challenge you.

Show me a passage that shows the Bible ENDORSES slavery.

There are plenty of passages, especially in the Old Testament, with comments on slavery, and some with specific guidelines of conduct for masters and slaves who find themselves in a master-slave relationship.

But no passage ENDORSES slavery.

Prove me wrong.
You can’t do it.

Indeed. Every single one of them regards slavery as morally UNPROBLEMATIC and given. That IS endorsement.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  154
Joined  2007-04-11

Arildno,

Again you demonstrate that you are able to make unsubstantiated statements of your opinion, but cannot back anything up with facts.

You failed the challenge as I knew you would.

You couldn’t produce the passage.

I’ll give you a second chance.

Show me the passage that shows the Bible ENDORSES slavery.

You still can’t do it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2007 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

I’m not in the habit of having a Bible on me.
It is not relevant, since you are quite simply WRONG.


To regard slavery as a common, morally perfectly unproblematic social institution such as the Bible does, is to ENDORSE it.

Profile
 
 
   
5 of 48
5
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed