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Creationism Museum To Open Next Summer 1570

Posted by kdawson
from the example-of-intelligent-design dept.
Aloriel writes to point out a story in the Guardian (UK) about the opening next year of the first Creationism museum in Kentucky, just over the Ohio border. From the article: "The Creation Museum — motto: 'Prepare to Believe!' — will be the first institution in the world whose contents, with the exception of a few turtles swimming in an artificial pond, are entirely fake. It is dedicated to the proposition that the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct... The museum is costing $25 million and all but $3 million has already been raised from private donations." A lot of that money is going into the animatronic dinosaurs, which are pictured as coexisting with modern humans before the Fall. According to the article, up to 50 million Americans believe this. The museum has a Web presence in the Answersingenesis.org site.
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Creationism Museum To Open Next Summer

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  • NO! Don't link. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:28AM (#16947032)
    Don't link to them. Don't give them the oxygen of publicity, of recognition.

    Young Earth Creationism is fraud, pure and simple. By any sensible test, the world's age is far greater than 6000 years. People never co-existed with dinosaurs. If you would disregard all the evidence, you might as well believe the world was created 5 minutes ago by a spaghetti monster.

  • by javilon (99157) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:36AM (#16947070) Homepage
    Some people understand religion in one way and some people in another, but most of the religious beliefs are in contradiction with science.

    In modern science you not only have evolution, you also have biologically inspired sociology, computational neuroscience and a number of other disciplines that you just cannot understand if you believe in a human soul. The more progress in this areas of study, the more problems you have trying to match this knowledge with religious faith.

    Even the soft religious beliefs like "there must be something different about humans" are being challenged. We are just animals, no soul.

  • by Ardanwen (746930) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:36AM (#16947074)
    Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history
    I always thought it were power-hungry / big-ego bastards that killed, in the name of [insert favorite excuse here]. I'm quite sure that most of these bastards had/have a religion, so while I agree with your point that religion has been used and abused to murder in its name, that does not mean that the opposite of religion (atheism) is the true cause, nor does the above rant gives any argument why and how atheism leads to mass murder.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:37AM (#16947084)
    Hmm. I think you are probably just trolling but...

    Stalinism, Nazism, and Mao's Communism were religions. They were religions centred on the worship of a perfect God-like figure: Stalin, Hitler, Chairman Mao. Why do I think this?

    • Absolute belief in the leader was required for all subjects (like a theocracy)
    • The punishment for thoughtcrime (heresy) involved torture, imprisonment and death (like the Spanish Inquisition).
    • A promised land of plenty (a workers paradise, lebensraum, or heaven) was just around the corner for the people that did what the leader wanted.
    • Any failure to reach this promised land was the fault of the people, not the leader (just as continued suffering in the world is due to our continuing to sin).
    These regimes were not atheistic. They were more like the later days of the Roman Empire, in which the emperor deified himself, or like Egypt, where the pharoah was believed to be a god.

    Religion achieves many good things, but total conviction can be very dangerous. It can drive good people to true evil.

  • by Pecisk (688001) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:39AM (#16947094)
    People will take long ways to create illusion around them that something they believe in actually exists or have existed. Poor people, still linger to last leftovers of "belief".

    Why I tagged this "ohhdear"? I believe in God, however, I don't think it has anything to do with Bible or this physical world. People simply can't believe something that doesn't not exist or at least have some evidence of it. People don't believe in God and Jesus because they want to be good, they want to feel good, just be a part of system of believe. They want to feel safe.

    Jesus said love your enemies and forgive them. We don't. Jesus said don't kill and don't seek revenge (well, not directly, but...). We don't.

    We don't want to believe. Creationism is just a "feeling-good-because-we-are-so-many-so-stupid" way of confirming that we are not wrong. That everything Bible says is true, because priest said so...and if they are wrong, religion and my belief should be wrong too, right? So it simply can't be.

    Human is so weak when it comes down to reality and how we are selective to it.
  • by giorgiofr (887762) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:40AM (#16947108)
    I strongly hope you're joking and have terrible taste. First of all, there's BOUND to be an Inuit Creation museum somewhere, and if I ever find one in my travels I'll definitely visit it. Similarly, Australian Aboriginals' museums can be found down under, I've visited them and have taken tours describing the Dreamtime etc.
    Yet if you were to joke about them you'd be labeled a bigoted fascist or some such utter crap. The main difference between this Creationist Museum and the ones I mentioned is that the religion this one is based on is alive and well, while the other ones are, how to say, fringe? Niche religions?
    Sometimes I wonder why an atheist alwasy has to defend Christianity by attacks of idiots like you. It must be because I like freedom. Including their freedom to build their museum. You know what, you can build yours, too. Though I doubt anyone will find it interesting.
  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:48AM (#16947152)
    Or any large animal... how handy
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:51AM (#16947164)
    (Oh great, here goes that karma I built up. Oh well...)

    Could we please just skip the redundant parts of the conversations that sping up 100% of the time when we have creationism vs. non-creationism discussions? The arcs of conversation are so predictable that you could just rehash them from the /. archive with a Python script, and no one would know the difference.

    Some topics that I now view as complete noise (since we've hashed them over to death 400 times):
    - how stupid Christians are
    - how much /.'ers {loath | fear} {a theocracy | George Bush | anti-abortion activists}.
    - details about why creationists are wrong.

    None of these topics is uninteresting, except for the fact THAT WE HAVE THE SAME CONVERSATIONS EVERY TIME A TOPIC COMES UP PITTING RELIGIOUS VIEWS VS. ATHEISTIC ONES.

    Seriously, I don't even know why we kick these articles around more than once every 5 years. Because clearly they don't stimulate any new thoughts in us /.'ers.
  • by XorNand (517466) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:53AM (#16947178)
    From the article:
    But if you believe in the Bible, why do you need to seek scientific credibility, and why are Creationists so reluctant to put their theories to peer review, I ask?

    "I would give the same answer as [prominent atheist, Richard] Dawkins. He believes there is no God and nothing you could say would convince him otherwise. You are dealing with an origins issue. If you don't have the information, you cannot be sure. Nothing contradicts the Bible's account of the origins."
    Why do theists continually shift the burden of proof back to athiests? If I were to insist that a teapot orbited the Sun (an analogy used by Dawkins), I would have to *prove* this to other people before they'd believe me. Why does religion get a free pass when telling me there's an invisiable man in the sky?
  • by OakLEE (91103) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:55AM (#16947198)
    Ok, so let me get this straight. A bunch of Bible-thumpers raises private money to build a museum to depict scenes out of the Flintstones, and everyone here is bitching about how these people should be shut up. The 1st Amendment separates church and state, but it also protects freedom of speech. These people aren't directly inciting violence or rebellion They're not spouting libelous falsehoods. Let them be.
  • Authority is the root excuse for murder. Religion and commanding officers are all forms of authority. And those who are following it don't consider themselves responsible for their actions since they are only following orders. And those wielding authority don't either, since they're only giving orders and aren't doing anything themselves.

    Summary:religion is a great excuse for not being responsible for your own actions.
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@masklin n . n et> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:58AM (#16947226)
    Failed for the following reasons:
    • Hitler was not an atheist, he paid a lot of lip service to christian faith, considered himself a christian, and drew upon the 2000 years or christian's hatred for jews. And a lot of german officers at the time (most of them, in fact) were christians. Should also be mentioned the good ol' SS belt buckle motto "Gott mit Uns" (God With Us)
    • Stalin's and Zedong's crimes were not caused by atheism, the issue there was the building of a personality cult (not completely unlike religion, very much like religions in fact, since they had absolute belief in the Leader (god), punishment for not believing in the Truth of the Party and thoughtcrimes (heresy), an ultimate land of plenty / worker's paradise / utopia (heaven?), and an utter failure to reach any of the professed goals (still no rapture?)) which secular religions could cause problems with, hence the systematic hunting of secular religions and religious persons. The same things happen in Korth Korea where the leader and his father are semi-deified.
    • medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler

      Have you considered that they didn't have the means to do it? And that low-scale slaughter were widespread at the time? Witch hunts, jews killings, various pogroms, ... were not that rare, and no one cared.

    • it also provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocents

      Unless you're reading the Ancient Testament, that is, since most of it is about slaughtering everyone who doesn't believe in your own god, and sacrificing even your family members (by burning them, none the less) if your God asks you to...

  • by reporter (666905) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:59AM (#16947230) Homepage
    This museum devoted to creationism causes me to recall a bit of insight by Karl Marx. He once said, "Religion ... is the opium of the people." [quotationspage.com]

    The opium that is creationism is some damned powerful stuff.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:00AM (#16947236)
    Basically, for about 4000 years, Man has believed that there are beings greater than Human. In fact, the belief is that these beings created humans and the world and the universe. They, for 4000 years, called these beings god or gods or God.

    In the past couple hundred years, a few uppity atheists like yourself suddenly come along and demand proof of the existence of these beings. The reason the demand for proof is shoved back in your face by theists is that there is a long history of belief in these beings. The proof of historical "that's the way it was"ness.

    If you want to disprove these beings, it's up to you to disprove. You'll never be able to get the theists to roll up their sleeves and get in the mud with you. They can point at Descartes or Aquinas or any number of philosophers who over the millenia have discoursed about these greater beings. Do you have any tangible position to argue from besides smugness?
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:04AM (#16947260)
    This is ridiculous -- and this coming from an Christian and a scientist. There is nothing in the Bible about evolution, either in support of, or against it. The Bible was never meant to be a history/geology/physics/biology textbook, it is a book about faith and the relationship between God and man. These people are wrong not just from the point of view of an atheist but even as far as the Church history is concerned -- i.e. other Christians regard them as "nutty".


    The problem with Fundamentalists is that they interpret the Bible literally. If it is written to forgive 70 times 7, they will probably start counting the number of times they forgive someone and when they reach 490, they'll probably say -- "that's it, the Bible says to stop". Ever since the books of the Bible were written, it was understood (see the writings of early Church fathers -- around II century) that a lot of the stuff was symbolic and typological. In other words the people who wrote the Bible, thousands of years ago, chose which books to include and which to not include, along with their contemporaries who interpreted and wrote about the interpretation of the scriptures, would _never_ agree with a literal interpretation.


    Instead of spending $25 million on the museum, these people could feed and cloth a huge number of children from the developing countries, they could donate it towards AIDS research. To me that would be a more convincing witness to a Christian life than building a museum with animatronic dinosaurs...


    I live in Southern Ohio, I would go out protesting against this museum along with anyone else who wishes to do so.

  • by OakLEE (91103) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:06AM (#16947282)
    Yah, and atheists are such saints:
    Religious Persecution in Soviet Russia [wikipedia.org]
    The Killing Fields of Cambodia [wikipedia.org]

    People can be motivated to kill by just about any ideology, religious or otherwise.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:09AM (#16947310) Homepage Journal
    Oh my god! Except for the whole, ya know, spirituality aspect, you're 100% correct! Shit, I wonder what else you can play this game with..

    Apple sauce, coca-cola and honey are all types of beer. Why do I think this?
    • They're liquids.
    • People enjoy their taste.
    • You can buy them in stores.
    • They often come in glass containers.

    What a revelation! See how I did that? I just set aside the key features of beer (it's brown, it gets you drunk, etc) and all of a sudden everything is just like beer! Wow!
  • Re:NO! Don't link. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:09AM (#16947312)
    Don't link to them. Don't give them the oxygen of publicity, of recognition.

    This is what they are trying to do to science and evolution theory.

    Instead of trying to censor them, how about widely publicizing them and doing an unbiased (as much as possible hehe) critique of what they are trying to convince people is the world.

    Would you rather be naturally immune to an illness, or live in a plastic bubble protecting yourself from it. It's the age of information. The bubble can't survive, so you should.
  • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alumER ... u minus math_god> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:11AM (#16947340) Homepage

    I don't think that they should be forcibly shut down, nor do other posters seem to me to be taking that position. I hope that they will come to their senses, or that it will fail economically, but I wouldn't dream of censorship.

    Why are we unhappy about it? Because it isn't innocuous as you suggest. Promotions like this are part of a broader effort to convert as many people as possible to fundamentalist Christianity and to get it into the schools where children can be brainwashed with it. Creationism is a bad influence in its own right since it promotes irrationality and an anti-scientific worldview. Furthermore, insofar as Creationism promotes fundamentalist Christianity, which I consider an evil and harmful doctrine, it is all the more undesirable for it to spread.

  • Actually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:13AM (#16947352) Homepage
    I'm surprised that people here are so upset about it.

    Here's a religious group exercising their freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They're building a museum with their own money to build an edifice to their beliefs. So what. The worst that you can say is they're exercising the freedoms that most people admire.

    You may not agree with it, but heck, I don't agree completely with anybody on everything.

    I think perhaps people need to be more tolerant, and that goes both ways.
  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joshetc (955226) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#16947362)
    A lot of that money is going into the animatronic dinosaurs, which are pictured as coexisting with modern humans before the Fall

    Let me start by saying I am an athiest. Now, about this. I have read The Bible several times and do not remember hearing anything about our ancestors playing around with dinosaurs?
  • by arevos (659374) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:15AM (#16947368) Homepage

    Regardless of whether these regimes were truly religions or not, they were all based upon unreasoning belief in a concept or institution, and religion falls into the same category. Indeed, the belief they fostered allowed them to persist; one can't have a regime that encourages rational thought and persecution, otherwise you'd have people poking holes in your arguments when you try to pin the blame on scapegoats, or try to insist that a particular group of people are subhuman.

  • by styryx (952942) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:19AM (#16947390)
    Prepare to believe:

    a) The world is flat

    b) It's 6000 years old

    c) The Pyramids age can be skipped over... It was probably built by dinosaurs!

    FTFA: "and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins"

    See above points a-c and decide whose view is 'fuzzier'.

    Does anyone who's not a Creationist want to come and live with me on Mars? Soon as.

    Also from TFA when questioned about Adam's dong: "some of our donors are scared to death about nudity." Bit hypocritical then. Surely if God intended Adam and Eve to be naked, and shame and modesty are sins... aren't the donors living in sin? Defying God's wish?

    Personally I've never been confident (or dumb) enough to talk for God. Why can they?
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:22AM (#16947404) Homepage Journal
    Of course, you're right, but let's not forget that some people actually hold beliefs so strongly that they believe forcing those beliefs on others is the right thing to do. Ironically, "tolerance of others" happens to be one of those beliefs that is forced on a lot of people :)
  • by OakLEE (91103) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:23AM (#16947414)
    I think the real reason these stories come up so often is because it's just a cheap way for the editors to generate page views. Most people here have an irrationally strong hatred of Creationists, and there's nothing more satisfying then reaffirming one's beliefs on a regular basis, ergo the rehashing arguments. The smug feeling people get here reading this rehash is no different then the smug feeling Creationists get when they tell you that you are wrong for believing evolution and not accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:31AM (#16947462)
    Yes, sure. If someone points out that religion is not the root of all evil, and provides some examples, then you redefine what religion is to include those examples as religion. Very clever.

    I just wonder are you really so blinded that you don't see this fallacy, or being manipulative on purpose?
  • by Ardanwen (746930) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:34AM (#16947496)
    As far as I understand, suicide bombers (palestinian and otherwise) are often recruited from families that are either in debt, and get a way to clear their debt, or are just young men brainwashed enough with religion to actually go out there and explode themselves. Basically, they're manipulated to further the goals of some organization and again with the use of religion. So I wouldn't look at the actual purpetrators, but more at the masterminds behind it to discover what drives these people. My guess still is the good ole horseman of fear, hatred, power and riches.
  • by eraserewind (446891) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:36AM (#16947508)
    Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."
    Only people who believe in gods think that way. Proof, if it were needed, that they are unhinged.
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:40AM (#16947536)
    I'm quite sure that most of these bastards had/have a religion, so while I agree with your point that religion has been used and abused to murder in its name, that does not mean that the opposite of religion (atheism) is the true cause, nor does the above rant gives any argument why and how atheism leads to mass murder.

    Communism in most countries has been militantly atheistic, engaging in harsh suppression of religion and programs for the spread of militant atheism. The Soviets even established an All-Union League of the Godless [soviethistory.org] and museums of atheism in former churches. (North Korea still executes Christians.) At the same time, Communism was responsible for killing about 100,000,000 people [amazon.com] in the last century. There were even incidents of cannibalism in the People's Republic of China [amazon.com] to prove your loyalty to the party, literally eating the rich. The brutality of communism was one that repeated itself from country to country to country. Stalin outdid Hitler in body count, and Mao dwarfed Stalin. As a percentage of his country, Pol Pot outdid Mao. The vile regime of North Korea is still engaged in horror [guardian.co.uk] after horror [timesonline.co.uk] after horror [nysun.com].

    How is that that Communism, allegedly founded on a scientific basis, stressing rationality and scientific though, with principles regarded as altruistic (from each according to his ability to each according to his need), repeatedly produced such carnage and such leaders? Do you think it is possible that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of man at work there?

  • The voice of faith (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kahei (466208) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:47AM (#16947586) Homepage

    most of the religious beliefs are in contradiction with science.

    Until about 40 years ago, most scientists were religious people. For all I know, they still are (I don't go round asking them). Most scientific theories were developed in an environment of religion, and most religious beliefs emerged from cultures that had at least some vague concept of forming theories about natural phenomena and testing them by trial and error. Ever since long before Galileo sat in his Vatican-funded observatory (it's a pity he didn't keep out of politics, though!) and Newton took time out from his theological studies to formulate a few laws of motion, people have had, among various other things, religion and science.

    It's just rational humanists such as you who have trouble with this. And it's fine for you to have trouble with it -- you have a perfect right to believe that religion and science are somehow opposites locked in eternal conflict. But you ought to be aware that it's just your belief, just as some folks belive the End Times are Coming or God Hates Fags.

    computational neuroscience and a number of other disciplines that you just cannot understand if you believe in a human soul

    The fact that you believe it's impossible is part of your faith -- it's not a fact about neuroscience and souls. Otherwise there wouldn't be any religious neuroscientists, which I observe not to be the case.

    Put your faith down and talk about facts -- even Creationists can do that, on a good day, with a favorable wind. The main difference between a creationist and a rational humanist is that the creationist understands that they are running on faith.

  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:47AM (#16947594)
    The American version is "Pie in the Sky":

    The Preacher and the Slave

    Long haired preachers come out every night
    Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right
    But when asked how 'bout something to eat
    They reply in voices so sweet

    CHORUS:
    You will eat, by and by
    In that glorious land in the sky
    Work and pray, live on hay
    You'll get pie in the sky, when you die.

    Chorus:

    Oh the Stravation Army they play
    And they sing and they clap and they pray
    Till they get all your coin on the drum
    Then they tell you when you're on the bum

    Chorus:

    Holy Rollers and jumpers come out,
    They holler, they jump and they shout.
    Give your money to Jesus they say,
    He will cure all diseases today.

    Chorus:

    If you fight hard for children and wife
    Try to get something good in this life
    You're a sinner and bad man, they tell
    When you die you will sure go to hell.

    Chorus:

    Workingmen of all countries, unite,
    Side by side we for freedom will fight;
    When the world and its wealth we have gained
    To the grafters we'll sing this refrain

    FINAL CHORUS:
    You will eat, bye and bye,
    When you've learned how to cook and to fry.
    Chop some wood, 'twill do you good,
    And you'll eat in the sweet bye and bye.

    -Joe Hill

    KFG
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:49AM (#16947598)
    So we're agreed then: people can be cunts, wether or not they're being a cunt in the name of religion?
  • Re:I'd go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knutsi (959723) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:50AM (#16947604)
    Somehow I cannot find this funny. The last 200 years we've come an amazingly long way in understanding the world around us, and that understanding may be the single most precious thing we have! Yet someone says 1/5th of the Americans, from country that gets the most television time in the world, convert to or cling to the old childish illusions. It scares the life out of me. I simply refuse to laugh.
  • Re:NO! Don't link. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QuasiRob (134012) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:50AM (#16947614)
    You can't determine whats true or false by voting on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:59AM (#16947662)
    The biggest problem with all of this is the damn Egyptians, they've got around 6,000 years of continuous history and at no time have we found any hieroglyphics that say

    "Damn it was wet this year, I don't mean a little bit it absolutely pissed down and everybody died"


    Actually they do have hieroglyphics that depict a great flood:

    "Nu, the Egyptian god of the Primeval Sea, is represented on the marble sarcophagus of Seti I as being up to his waist in water with arms upraised to carry the Solar Boat across the Sky. He is said to have held the royal occupants of this boat above the flood waters engulfing their mountainous island home in the West. Nu had been ordered to bring about this very flood by Atum in order to purify the world (Budge, 1960)."[http://www.atlantisquest.com/Hiero.html]

    There's lots of things you can attack historically in the bible, but a great flood is one of the most pervasive legends in almost all cultures.
  • Yes a good one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:03AM (#16947696)
    "Do you have any tangible position to argue from besides smugness?"

    Using logic only, you can't disprove the existence of anything. You can't disprove the existence of blue dragon. You can't disprove the existence of faery and gnome. In other word, saying "we always did it so" is an axiom, and no better than saying "god exists" as an hypothesis to prove that gods exists. But you cannot disprove god exists, because there is nothing you can start up with. You CANNOT disprove an axiom of existence. You can only disprove an axiom of INEXISTANCE. It ain't a question of smugness but a question of logic. The only way ANYTHING could be ever proved is that gods exists with a proof of it, the contrary cannot be proved. And for that there is millenia of philosophical discussion, LONGER than any discussion from aquinas or descartes (which spans hundred of years and not millenia as you supposed : Aquinas : 1200 ish and descartes 1600 ish. Philosophy : waaaay before 0-ish).

    In other word it ain't a question from smugness from atheist which just point out at the philosophical logical discourse to base their logic, it is a question of religious people in general which refuse utterly to put their religion in question. Point. Final.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:11AM (#16947754)
    The US upper middle class has another reason for being religious: Boredom and the search for a meaning of life.

    It's the same reason why they launch zealous attacks against abortion clinics, smoking and a few other overhyped crazes. It gives their meaningless, boring life some kind of sense. If they couldn't do that, they'd prolly play MMORPGs.

    So, now mod me troll and let's go on with the show.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:12AM (#16947762)
    Or rather, as Dawkins points out, simply saying God did it is a way of explaining the world. It's a direct alternative to scientific method. Whether you take the bible literally or not is irrelevant, it's simply a laughable example of the same phenomenon. Why is the atom made up of protons, neutrons and electrons? To a believer the answer "God made it that way" is sufficient. It becomes case closed. With belief it must always at some point come down to "it's gods will".

    If you're a believer, you might as well take the bible literally, it's as good an explanation as any other of the world as we see it.

     
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:13AM (#16947764) Journal
    Frankly, I haven't seen many posts saying they should be shut up.

    What most of us _are_ saying is that:

    1) it's stupid. Sorry, the same first ammendment says I _can_ say I find it bloody stupid. Same as if I read about someone spending that much money on a magic ring of levitation to jump off a cliff with. Or spending that much money on animatronics to "prove" to everyone that Lord Of The Rings is 100% fact. (Sure, you can animate hobbits and orcs all you want, but that doesn't make it a scientiffic proof.) Sure, I'm not going to stop them, but excuse me while I laugh my ass off at the stupidity of it all.

    2. this, and the whole "young earth creationsm" and "intelligent design" bullshit are part of an insidious battle to destroy science as a whole, via a barrage of fallacies, flawed logic, and redefining words. It's not just a "well, I think that god exists" issue, but a battle for mindshare trying to effectively purge the very fundament of the scientific method or reasoning from as many minds as possible. There's a whole scaffold including stuff like "burden of proof", "Occam's razor", etc, that these people systematically try to pervert and destroy. Each and every single notion, word and definition is systematically corrupted, perverted, distorted, and outright presented as the very opposite of what it used to mean.

    If you want an analogy, it's not just like creating a "museum of fascism", for historical reason. What these people do is akin to instead trying to systematically pervert and corrupt the very notions of "democracy", "freedom", "elections", etc- Until the whole edifice is pulled from under you and you find yourself in a fascist dictatorship just because everyone forgot how a democratic country was supposed to work or what the difference is.

    That's essentially what these people are trying to do to science and reason: pervert and corrupt and undermine it all, until you find yourself in an Iran-style fundamentalist theocracy, just because noone knows any better any more. Just because everyone's mind has been warped to think that "evidence" means "what the preacher told me", and "burden of proof" means "well, you can't disprove what the preacher said", and "theory" means "just another unfounded opinion."

    Sure, I'm still not going to shut them up by force, but they do earn my heartfelt disgust and contempt.
  • Literal, or not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:22AM (#16947818) Homepage Journal
    Most Christians would also regard these people as crazy.

    Many do, I'm sure. Those applying the label "Christian" to themselves are a pretty diverse bunch. I couldn't say whether most do. For the record, I don't consider them crazy, although I'm sure they have their fair share of crazy people on board. I could say the same for evolutionists.

    The Bible was not meant to be a science textbook, and it was never meant to be read literally.

    It is true that the Bible is not a science textbook, but it does present itself as a documentary account of many things. Not all of it is figurative, and not all of it is literal. To the best of my knowledge, scholars of the Hebrew language do not consider the text of Genesis chapter one to be poetry, but rather documentary. You can accuse it of being false, but it's unreasonable to say that it was not meant to be read literally.

    Indeed, I consider the "it's not literal" excuse to be a lame cop-out where Genesis chapter one is concerned: it's tantamount to saying "I'll interpret the text any which way I please without even paying lip service to textual analysis". That's the sort of treatment that follows on to denial of a literal virgin birth, and of Jesus being the literal son of God, and being literally raised from the dead -- not on the basis of whether the text appears to be speaking literally, but because they are miraculous. At that level of non-literalism, you just don't have a literal Christ in your Christianity anymore. It's not even clear that there's anything substantial enough to call a "belief" in such a system. What, specifically, is there to believe if none of the Bible is literal? Should we believe that God exists? Literally?

  • by Twylite (234238) <twylite@cryp[ ]o.za ['t.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:25AM (#16947836) Homepage
    Marx meant it as a means to tame an oppressed class "Suffering in this life guarantees you Paradise in the afterlife!".

    No. Marx said that religion is a social defense mechansim, the expression of problems in society, and develops based on the material and economic realities in a given society. Authorities can use religion as a means to console an oppressed class. Marx also said that people should transcend religion and take control of their own destiny.

    We can hardly call the american middle-class "oppressed" in any way.

    If you have surrendered your capacity to take decisions, to think for yourself, and to control your own destiny, then you are oppressed (according to Marx and others). Religion is, by this definition, oppression.

    Actually, come to think of it, I have no idea how come religion (specifically, christianism) is so powerful in such a developped country as the USA...

    Perhaps it has something to do with Spain starting the colonization of the Americas by imposing Catholicism on all natives and immigrants. Or maybe it was the pilgrims, puritans, quakers, and lutherans that followed them, avoiding religious persecution in Europe. Or maybe you should just read about the Eurpoean colonization of the Americas [wikipedia.org] to understand why the USA was founded by a bunch of Christian fundamentalists.

  • Re:Actually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:30AM (#16947876) Journal
    There's plenty worse things you can say - in particular, I say that they are choosing to lie. I think what they are doing is stupid and evil.

    This does not mean that I want the state to limit freedom of religion or freedom of speech - I think that's usually an even greater evil - yet I still consider what they are doing evil. It is pissing in the well of knowledge, destroying value by giving people incorrect beliefs, taking the cost of correcting them or the cost of people making bad decisions based on them.

    And I call it lies because my evaluation is that anybody that actually takes the time to investigate the evidence (instead of trying to make the evidence fit a particular point of view) will, in my evaluation, end up seeing either evolution or God trying to fool us into believing in evolution.

    Eivind.

  • Re:wtf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mkro (644055) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:33AM (#16947910)
    To quote Bill Hicks: And lo, Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus... with a splinter in his paw. And O, the disciples did run a-shrieking: "What a big fucking lizard, Lord!" But Jesus was unafraid, and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus's paw, and the big lizard became his friend. And Jesus sent him to Scotland where he lived in a loch for O, so many years, inviting thousands of American tourists to bring their fat fucking families and their fat dollar bills. And O, Scotland did praise the Lord: "Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord."
  • Faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshsnow (551754) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:36AM (#16947954) Journal
    Why does a person of Faith need scientific proof?
  • by Decaff (42676) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:37AM (#16947958)
    Theism has been around a long time, so it's up to you to dethrone it.

    Hold on there just a minute. You can't generalise. There have been thousands of mutually contradictory types of theism around for a long time, and even 'religions' which aren't even theist (such as some forms of Buddhism). You can't take combine Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and many, many others and try and call them one thing that needs to be 'dethroned' - they try and dethrone each other! All you might be left with is some vague feeling that 'there is something out there'. Is that what you want to defend? If not, what is your 'model' of theism you do want to defend? Monotheism? Polytheism?

    As Dawkins so eloquently puts it, almost all theists are atheists about everyone else's religions. Do you believe in the Norse Gods? Those of Olympus? If you don't, what is stopping you from taking that one step further?
  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:44AM (#16948006) Homepage Journal
    Or rather, as Dawkins points out, simply saying God did it is a way of explaining the world. It's a direct alternative to scientific method.

    This is why you shouldn't take Dawkins so seriously when he talks philosophy: he's an expert zoologist, and a crummy philosopher. Contra Dawkins, saying "God did it" is a direct alternative to saying "it happened all by itself".

    Why is the atom made up of protons, neutrons and electrons? To a believer the answer "God made it that way" is sufficient.

    Anyone who lacks a spirit of scientific inquiry will be satisfied with a metaphysical answer like "God wills it" or "the anthromorphic prinicple makes it inevitable". The scientifically curious will say, "I wonder if I can smash apart those protons, neutrons, and electrons to find even smaller particles and understand how they behave" -- which has very little to do with why protons, neutrons and electrons exist in the first place.

  • by bri2000 (931484) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:46AM (#16948020)
    Because, despite communism's purported scientific basis, it actually, especially in its early years, took on many of the trappings of a religion which elevated the writings of Marx and Engels (and later Lenin) to the status of sacred texts. There were great, impassioned and pointless arguments about how certain writings should be interpreted and the most effective way to bring down a rival became to accuse him or her of some slight deviation from orthodoxy. Delegations were sent to Engels, while he lived, to seek the oracle's advice on Marx's more obscure passages. It was almost as if, while these people rejected god and religion, they still were unable to think for themselves and simply replaced a mystical belief system with a secular one. And it was a secular religion just as inflexible, dogmatic and unscientific as any mystical religion has ever been. The opening chapters of Orlando Figge's "A Peoples' Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution" is very good on this issue and the socio-economic background of those it appealed to

    So, just as Catholics belief that murdering heretics (preferably as painfully as possible) was doing god's work justified the genocide of the Cathars (as just one example), the communists' belief that they were hastening the arrival of post-capitalist society justified their own murderous depredations.

    The point is that unquestioning belief in any set of propositions (whether mystical or secular) leads people (not all of them, but certainly enough, as history has shown us, to be a concern) to do very bad things.

  • by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:58AM (#16948114)
    In the past couple hundred years, a few uppity atheists like yourself suddenly come along and demand proof of the existence of these beings.

          The parent is an obvious troll, but what the hell.

          Yes. Way back when the world was full of "mysteries", when the most someone ever traveled was less than a hundred miles or so, when men had no way to predict what was going to happen when their child was sick, and when the King or whoever the local Lord was could press you into his service to die suddenly on a foreign shore, it made a lot of sense to believe in God. How else could the world be explained rationally? It's God's will that you die here in France, my son. It's also God's will that your child die of tuberculosis. It's all part of the Plan. Be miserable. Suffer. For it is your lot. After you are dead you'll get a reward. Heh, how convenient for the King.

          Now we've explored the entire world, and seen it from space. There are no dragons hiding in dark corners of the map anymore. We've unlocked almost all of the great mysteries of life - to the point of understanding how our world works, and how our bodies work. The youngest child in our world can now wield a power that would have amazed people thousands of years ago - in the flick of a light switch, or with opening a tap to issue hot water. The world has changed.

          And yet people like yourself hang on to the same irrational arguments to try to sway people to "belief" in something abstract. You claim that because people believed these things for so long, they must be true. And you claim to have "personal experiences with God". Then you claim that we have to disprove your imaginary God. I say that it's up to you to disprove the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Oh, you laugh. But you can't disprove it. I say he exists. Lots of people believe in him.

          The tangible position to argue from is that your God is retreating behind our knowledge. Before - he used to live in the sky, behind the thunderstorms. But now that we have mastered the sky, we know he doesn't live in the clouds. He must be in space. But now that we explore space, we know for certain he is not in our solar system. He must be hanging around a nearby star system. Or is he in the sun - shall we go back to sun-god worship? Oh, I know where he is - in your HEAD! Had you been born in China, in all likelyhood you would not believe in this God. Had you been born in Iran, in all likelyhood you would believe in Mohammed and not Jesus. Therefore your faith is related to that chance accident which is your place of birth. Strange, how there can be so many books, about so many gods. And all of them claim to be the one true book.
  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:03AM (#16948172)
    Quite the contrary, the "Starvation Army" provided all of the furniture in the house I grew up in - for free; and we weren't even Christians and not going to be.

    Still have a few pieces of that "junk" furniture, only now it's valuable Mission Oak. My mother has always said that she wishes she took more (the offer was for anything she wanted, just help yourself), only pride prevented her.

    Still, it is my experience that the one thing the average Christian can't abide is a Christian. Just read The Name of the Rose.

    KFG
  • by 14CharUsername (972311) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:06AM (#16948184)

    Religion is the reason why poor people vote for Republicans who cut social programs and give tax cuts to the rich.

    You're right, the analogy is broken. Even Opium addicts aren't as stupid as the "Christian Right".

  • Re:wtf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:12AM (#16948248)
    I have read The Bible several times and do not remember hearing anything about our ancestors playing around with dinosaurs?

    Then you know the bible better than these people. Normal, sane christians are quite aware that dinosaurs had been extinct for millions of years by the time the stories in the bible took place.

    As a christian, I'm disgusted that these people pervert stories from the bible into these kind of Disney/Flintstone fairytales.

  • Re:NO! Don't link. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Krommenaas (726204) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:27AM (#16948424) Homepage
    Who says the bible was never meant to be read literally? That is just a modern opinion to help religion cope with scientific progress. I'm pretty sure the Hebrews took Genesis literally 3000 years ago, and they were in a far better position to judge how it was intended to be read.

    Also, if you're going to claim the early church fathers promoted a non-literal interpretation of Genesis, I would like to see a quote of that. As it is, you seem to be sticking your head in the sand just as much as creationists. They don't want to see the reality of the earth's age, you don't want to see the reality of the bible having been written by people who claimed to understand the world but really hadn't the faintest clue.
  • by StoatBringer (552938) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:30AM (#16948456)
    You are, of course, wrong.
    The problem is this - the ONLY position that atheism maintains is that there is no god (or at least, that there is no reason to believe there is a god). That's it. Atheism makes no positive statements about anything. It does not tell people what to do, believe or think. It is not a political or military viewpoint.

    Let's assume that you are correct, and that atheists killed lots of people. What does this tell us? Nothing. Presumably those murderers also did not believe in unicorns. Therefore, it is just as reasonable to state "People who don't believe in God committed genocide" as "People who don't believe in unicorns committed genocide".

    The problems you are linking to atheism are really more to do with the political systems and leader-cults, not disbelief in a particular supernatural entity.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:34AM (#16948502) Journal

    The Bible was not meant to be a science textbook, and it was never meant to be read literally. A simple reading of the early church fathers (2nd century or perhaps a little later) would reveal this fact.

    I would like to understand why exactly this is. Does the Bible say that it should not be taken literally? Should the whole thing not be taken literally or just parts of it? If the latter, how do you know what parts? And if we are not supposed to take it literally, what are the contents actually supposed to mean (given that interpretation of nor literal material is highly subjective)?

    Forgive me for flying off the handle right away, but it seems to me this is just a technique believers use to shield themselve from inquiry when it is clear that their beliefs are downright outlandish (and they know it). If the Bible is not meant to be taken literally then honestly what could it possibly be good for? (Aside from the reasons we read The Odyssey or similar classics.) You cannot be sure of anything in such a text as it is intended for the audience to make their own decisions. It is like basing beliefs on interpretations of Fight Club or Rocking-Horse Winner. Those stories could mean anything and specifically do not present absolutes, drawing on the reader to make sense of them.

  • by RsG (809189) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:34AM (#16948512)
    blaming an entire religion for a murderous action is silly unless you can point to justification for the action in the foundational religious text/s.
    Actually, when people use religion to justify violence, you can usually count on them to do this themselves. "See, what I did was morally right. It says right here in [insert religious text] to kill all the unbelievers/sinners/whoever."

    Of course, this doesn't get around the fact that usually the religious reasons are a pretext used by those with power to justify actions for their own gain. But therein lies part of the problem; when a leader uses a religion or ideology to motivate people to do wrong for his own gain, is that religion/ideology culpable? If a political figure or a preacher tells his followers to kill in the name of X, does X therefor share some of the blame? Does communism get the blame for what Stalin did, or Christianity the blame for what the Crusaders did? After all, the people doing the actual killing have probably been led to believe that what they're doing is right. The people in power may not be true believers, but you can bet their goons are.

    And that gets you to a second problem. If the religion or ideology is not to be blamed for the evil it can be used to justify, should it therefor get any credit for the good it can cause? Christianity brought us intolerant fundamentalism on the one hand, and numerous charities on the other. If it can't be blamed for the former, can it be given any credit for the latter?

    I'd suggest that one of two positions is possible. Either you can claim that religion is an ideology that can be used for good or evil, but is itself neutral, or that religion is a driving force that can cause people to turn into saints or monsters. Too many people on both sides want to cherry pick their facts to support both ideas when it suits them; fundamentalists would have you believe that when Christians do good, the credit lies with the religion, and when they do evil, the blame lies only with themselves, while people who dislike religion would blame it for all the evil it causes and ignore the good.

    (Side note: I should probably mention that I'm a strongly secular agnostic. I don't dislike religion, but I don't particularly like it either.)
  • by Curien (267780) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:38AM (#16948560)
    Maybe you should study a little economic theory before purporting to evaluate an economist. Marx's seminal work, his theories on the unemployment cycle, remain fundamentally unchalleneged and virtually unchanged to this day.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:47AM (#16948640)
    Anyone who lacks a spirit of scientific inquiry will be satisfied with a metaphysical answer like "God wills it"


    And by definition that includes every believer. A believer by definition thinks that god created everything, there is no alternative to that answer no matter how deep into the nature of the universe you delve at some point, god dun it. By asking the question, why, at all, you're giving intent and assuming right from the start that god exists.

    You're really missing the point of my post (and of Dawkins), perhaps I didn't present it well. Believers state that god did it, they are claiming ownership of both the how and the why. The question of how is in direct opposition to science and the question of why is answered by assumption implicit in the question itself.

       
  • by Secrity (742221) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:48AM (#16948642)
    Religion IS the reason why poor people vote for Republicans against their own self interests. The Republicans do nothing to help the poor and much that hurts the poor. The only reason for poor people to vote for Republicans is that the Republican party has been taken over by the Christian Right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:53AM (#16948702)
    Yes, Einstein, Copernicus, Lemaitre, Newton, and the whole rest of them only THOUGHT they were scientists, but weren't really, unlike you, oh Mr. Enlightened (Atheist!) Scientist.
  • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:55AM (#16948724) Homepage
    The big question on my mind is: If you don't believe in this, why do you care? They're not funding it with taxpayer dollars, they're funding it on donations. If people want to spend their money on something, why is it anyone's business but their own?

    I think people are idiots for paying thousands of dollars for a console on Ebay that they could buy in a store in another month for a couple hundred dollars. However I'm not writing an opinion piece on Slashdot, presenting it as news, and inciting a lot of community anger at a group of people just because I don't agree with their priorities.

    When a public school has a school trip to it, then it's cause for news. Until then this is no bigger news than the construction of a really big church. And anyone who finds themselves being angry at these people (which is the general tone of this entire discussion) for spending their money in this way needs to take a step back and examine where their hate comes from, because such attitudes are bigotry [answers.com], even if (especially if) you don't agree with it.

    Last I checked, freedom of religion was still a constitutional right, and this is no more than exercise of that right. And as a personal disclaimer, I'm a non-creationist Christian (yes, we exist). I think this is exactly as much of a shame as the hype and zealotry over console releases, but it's their money to do with as they will.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:58AM (#16948768) Homepage
    I would say that religion limits you further...with atheism, there is no limit to what you can discover...with religion, you discover as much as what is written in a book. A book which was written by men who thought the world was flat.

    One of my favorite quotes of all time:

    "God must be greater than the greatest of human weaknesses and, indeed, the greatest of human skill. God must even transcend our most remarkable-to emulate nature in its absolute splendor. How can any man or woman sin against such greatness of mind? How can one little carbon unit on Earth-in the backwaters of the Milky Way, the boondocks-betray God, ALMIGHTY? That is impossible. The height of arrogance is the height of control of those who create God in their own image."

  • by xaositects (786749) <xaos@xaositects . c om> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:59AM (#16948786) Homepage
    Just because one has a god, doesn't mean they're good and just because one is good, does not mean they are shackled by a god. If people would just strip the dogma out of their life it leaves them free to do good things for the sake of helping out a neighbor, not because after ignoring all the negative things religion has contributed to the world, one found a grain of goodness in it to inspire them.
  • Hmmm... I've been thinking that one of the bigger reasons for the resurgence of fundamentalism in the U.S. is information overload. For instance, look at the overwhelming (for most folks), increasing complexity of modern life (how many people do you know with a VCR flashing 12:00?). Considering most people's understanding of technology, the cell phone might as well be working through divine magic. They want easy to understand answers to complex questions.

    The backlash against multiculturalism (and the new wealth of viewpoints available through media like cable and the Net) is part of the same syndrome. Fundamentalism, and the simple, literal explanations it offers, gives a sense of absolute cultural surety, which must be very comforting versus the cacophony of ideas from different groups.

    A belief system that offers answers and few questions helps cement your identity and thoughts so that you can concentrate on your job, figuring out the latest gadget, and thinking about who will win "Dancing with the Stars." The Flynn Effect [wikipedia.org] just isn't keeping up with the increasing demands of modern society. We need more complex people for a more complex world.

  • Evolutionist??? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:08AM (#16948926)
    When did the word "evolutionist" enter the lexicon? The word you're looking for is "scientist" or at the very minimum "scientifically literate person". Confidence in the theory of evolution through natural selection is no more a belief than confidence in gravity or the atomic theory of matter.

    Whenever I hear the word evolutionist come out of someone's mouth I cringe because they are usually either a raving fanatic or wholely uneducated on the subject of science.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:12AM (#16949016)
    How is that that Communism, allegedly founded on a scientific basis, stressing rationality and scientific though, with principles regarded as altruistic (from each according to his ability to each according to his need), repeatedly produced such carnage and such leaders?

    Intelligent Design claims to be founded on a scientific basis, stressing rationality and scientific thought as well. That doesn't mean it is.
  • by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:19AM (#16949168)

    That doesn't make any sense. He's too stupid to create something to create something, so he creates the second something directly, proving how dumb he is!

    That isn't so hard to get your head around. Writing very general code that in turn generates more code is generally more difficult than simply doing printf("output"). The first way is more flexible and done correctly means less overall work as after awhile programming resembles delegating work rather than doing every last detail of it yourself. In the same way, a truly omniscient God doesn't have make every last bird, insect, and subatomic particle. Since he is all knowing and all powerful, such a God need only specify the initial conditions and then watch the show. Also, if said God is competent with his omniscience he doesn't have to continually intervene with miracles and the like; the created universe will perform to spec on its own.

    If God is held to be something less than all knowing and all powerful then you have a deity who has to do more of the heavy lifting himself and furthermore has to continually intervene lest his universe suffer a gratuitous existence failure. That avoids a God who knows everything and can do anything yet is somehow fundamentally incompetent; on the other hand such a God is less satisfying for many people so they cleave to the all-powerful-and-particularly-interested-in-you version.

    What I think actually happens is omniscience and omnipotence are qualities that are commonly assigned to deities without thinking through what omniscience and omnipotence naturally give rise to. "Of course my God is all-knowing and all-powerful!!!!" The deists did a decent job of thinking it through but got a religion that isn't very satisfying emotionally......
  • by mabu (178417) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:20AM (#16949194)
    This should be under politics, or perhaps a new category called "superstition".

    For anyone interested, here is some good general information on religion [whichreligion.com] and some specific info on religious skepticism including videos by Sam Harris, George Carlin and some informative stuff on Mormonism and a great video on why Atheists care about religion [whichreligion.com].

    The bottom line is that people can believe what they want to believe. But when you start affecting public policy and public education, there needs to be an open dialogue on whether or not this is a good thing, and this involves examining religion's role in society and its validity as well. The problem is, as Sam Harris puts it, even the liberal and moderate theists are part of the extremist problem because they are part of the lobby which is against ANY discussion of the legitimacy and accuracy of religion. When the moderates won't even allow skepticism to be legitimized, they are almost as bad as the extremists.

    This has nothing to do with science. Science by its nature requires that its theories always be open to scrutiny and change. Religion is the opposite of that. As long as religion is a personal thing, it need not be made into an issue, but when fundy extremists start spouting total bullshit, and start lobbying for their superstition to be promoted as legitimate knowledge, responsible, sane people have an obligation to expose this delusion.
  • by dsanfte (443781) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:23AM (#16949268) Journal
    Are you still here?

    Agnostics and Atheists dismiss gods, not faith. Most (I would argue nearly all) still have faith in mankind, and that is what their moral foundation rests on.

    Once again, the boogeyman gets drawn out of the closet, "Atheists have no Gods therefore they have no Morals!", which is untrue, or else they'd all be out in the street killing people for fun.

    If you do not understand how a person can have morals and not believe in a god or gods, the problem is not with them, my friend, it is with you.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:29AM (#16949358)
    The only thing worse than a christian fundamentalist is an atheist fundamentalist. Why the hell do you people want to convert everyone?


    Because they get in my way. They bring up religion and then expect me to be tolerant of them. I'm tired of people spouting off religious bollocks at me and keeping silent. I don't go around converting people to atheism but if they bring up the subject I'm going to make sure they know that they believe in a fairy tale.

     
  • The only thing worse than a christian fundamentalist is an atheist fundamentalist.

    As an atheist - I more or less agree with this. I have a problem with fundamentalists of any stripe.

    Why the hell do you people want to convert everyone?

    And then you go and say something like that. "You people"? I understand if your passions is inflamed - but don't do that.

    With every belief system, there's a bell curve of evangelisation. Some are content to live according to their system, others to "live as an example". Some answer when asked, some preach, some confront, and some harass.

    That's true of every group - so there's no sense in getting your knickers in a twist over atheists, unless you've got a particular axe to grind. But then the issue is with you, and not them.

    Jesus said we should be kind to one another and forgive and not judge. If theis message makes someone a better person, couldn't you say that person was saved by Jesus?

    Is it wrong to appreciate life in all its forms? Is it wrong to think that life is something special in the Universe? "God loves you" is just another way of saying that.

    On these statements - you and I can agree, and using religion as a metaphor for appreciating nature and trying to live in harmony with your fellow man...hey - I'm all for that.

    Unfortunately, there are as many on "your side" that would disagree with us as on "my side". So that leaves us in a pickle.

    I used to be an atheist. But the problem with atheism is that it limits you. Science can answer the "How?" questions but not the "Why?" questions. Why are we here? Big bang, evolution, yada yada yada. That tells us how, but not why.

    With respect, that's not a limit of atheism. That's a limit of science, and to a certain extent, that betrays a limit of your own imagination.

    To start with, you should realise this equation ( atheism == scientific belief ) is not true. Science deals with how, not why - that's not a flaw, that's just what it is. Personally, I think we'd be better off if religion stuck to the why, and stopped trying to decide the how - but that's for another day.

    Atheism doesn't "limit" you any more than it frees you - again, same as religion...

    Someone who lives in fear of an invisible man, and attempts to abide by a codified rule set lest they face an eternity of torture and punishment is not free.

    Someone who marvels at the fact that we are the only known piece of the universe that is aware of itself, and trying to figure itself out - who sees the universe as a conscious entity, through us - is not limited.

    I present that contrast, not to attempt to characterise your beliefs, but to point out that it is we who limit ourselves or free ourselves. Religion can be a way to do either, depending on how it is used, but it is not the only option.

    Atheism is not fundamentally flawed because it tells us no one will supply a "why" for us. It is not limiting because it requires the individual to set their own purpose, and chart their own beliefs. There is beauty. There is mystery. There is inspiration.

    I'm sorry you could not find it. I genuinely hope that you have found it in Christianity. Either way - I don't think you serve yourself or us by relating your experience as anything more than your experience.

    Judge not.

    Cheers.

  • Atheism is a religion and it has its own dogma, you know.
    Yes, just as miserliness is charity, abstention is addiction, and pacifism is aggression. In other words, only in the minds of the mentally unsound.

    Science can answer the "How?" questions but not the "Why?" questions. Why are we here? Big bang, evolution, yada yada yada. That tells us how, but not why.
    So we have to make shit up instead? Then build on that shit, with more shit that has nothing to with the original shit we made up. Then modify and ammend that shit to make people believe in that shit to the extent that they live in terror of demons and hack off parts their childrens genitals?

    Eventually what we get is a pile of shit so collossal that people begin to build bigger peaks on top of it then fight each other over the height of peaks and the consistency of the shit that makes them up. Some people will try to change the shit or move it about, or add more shit. Then others begin to fling the shit around at one another and anyone who happens by. Still more try to pull or shove innocent people into the shit. Children are saturated with the stink from birth so when people tell them in later life, "You shouldn't put up with all this shit.", they won't understand in the slightest what is being said to them.

    I say no. I say the rest of us shouln't have to put up with all this shit. How about we make all these nutjob activities illegal? Frankly I don't see why the rest of us should have to suffer the effects of religion when we don't tolerate the effects of illegal substances? Freedom of religion. Where our freedom from religion?
  • by larkost (79011) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:33AM (#16949446)
    While others have already brought up that the poster was only talking about a small part of Marx's work, your point is also invalid because you seem to be assuming that the Soviet Union caried thourgh on his ideas. But in fact they sort of missed the whole point.

    Marx said that Capitalism would run its course and come to a point where it was no longer workable. That so much of the wealth would be concentrated in a small group while the rest of the masses (the workers, or proletariat in his parlayence) would become more and more poor and oppressed. He then postulated that a revolution would then occur and the workers unite forming a workers paradise.

    What the Soviet Union had was Marxist Leninism, because Lenin came along and said "why wait, we can have that paradise in our lifetimes", and started a revolution that he declared to be the revolution that Marx had envisioned. The big problem with this is that Russia at the time was not especially Capitalist (it was still a Monarchy), and Capitalism in the West was far from running its course (I think that it still is, but is starting to show a few cracks).

    Of course, there are a few things that people at that point could not have known: the power of the media to keep people who would be otherwise discontent in check, the enormous productivity increases that have happened (suddenly it is much harder to starve... in comparison), and the push towards a service economy (servants for hire). All of these things set back Marx's ideas quite a bit.
  • by TheWizardOfCheese (256968) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:36AM (#16949494)
    Great post! But I think you might have gone farther in illustrating the depth of Jewish scholarly tradition in analysing and debating scripture. Much of what Christians think of as "the bible" is drawn from this tradition; the bible is like an onion, containing commentary on the earliest parts, commentary on the commentary, etc. A fascinating and very readable survey of this tradition (in English) is James Kugel's The Bible As It Was [slashdot.org].

    A common thread in this sort of commentary is drawn from the perfection of God and his works; there can be nothing wrong or accidental in the bible, which therefore repays the most careful study. In extreme form this idea can lead people to look for coded messages, but generally it amounts to inference from close reading. An example from the very begining of the bible has to do with light and darkness. God created light and separated it from darkness on the first day of creation, but he didn't get around to creating the sun, moon and stars until the fourth day. So there must have been some other light involved. What was the nature of this light? Is it still around, or was it dispensed with after the fourth day? In this simple fragment there is food for endless thought and debate.

    You can begin to see that fundamentalist Christians who claim to be reading the bible literally do no such thing - they are heavily editing the bible to pick and choose the "literal" bits that suit them. For example, a literal reading of Genesis states that the world has a roof - the vault of heaven that separates the waters above from the waters below. This view has gone out of fashion but it was commonplace in medieval Christendom. The medieval cathedral wasn't just a big church - it was a model of the cosmos, with the high roof of the building representing the high roof of the world, the lights fixed in the roof like the stars fixed in the world's roof. All this made perfect sense to the medieval mind. It explained why the sky is blue; where rain came from (leaky roof); and how God flooded the world when he decided to start over (really big leak.)

    So along with the dinosaurs, this Creationist museum really ought to have a display showing an Apollo rocket bonking its nose cone on the roof of the world.
  • by Mark Maughan (763986) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:38AM (#16949538)
    In that respect he is much like Jesus.

    Nice guy, rotten followers.
  • The fact that the government of the United States was not established by Christians or on Christian principles does not detract from the fact that the original settlers of the lands now forming the United States were Christians coming from denominations that class as "fundamentalist", nor that the population of the United States - as a direct result of its original settlers - is primarily (80%) Christian.

    Perhaps I should have said "settled" or "colonized" rather than "founded", or maybe "the lands that would become known as the United States". Not all of us measure our national history by the formation of the current system of government.

  • by MHDK (894720) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:46AM (#16949688)
    The real error these Creationists and Religious people in general have is that they think there are particular issues that cannot be resolved and therefore the only solution is to have "faith" in one of the answers. This is an error that leads to compartmentalisation - believing in a set of things on incompatible grounds to everything else you believe in.


    Compartmentalisation can be verified easily. Take an issue, for instance, "Does God exist?" then once you have answered the question, check: "Under what circumstances do I believe that something exists?" (You need to be specific.) You might answer: "everything that has a characteristic or property that cannot be witnessed by any living person does not exist" And that would be consistent with atheism, as almost all the properties of "God" cannot be witnessed or verified (e.g. omnipotence, his will, his form, etc) Such an answer is also consistent with the scientific method, but not with "faith".

    Stupid answers might be:

    "Everything that Fred tells me exists, I believe exist as well"

    "Everything that is real, exists" (begs the question)

    "Everything that has evidence that exists, does exists" (begs the question)

    Basically, any reason you have for rejecting the existence of unicorns and living trees made of chocolate would also have to apply to God, so you must reject his existence in order to be consistent.

    HTH

  • by festers (106163) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:49AM (#16949770) Journal
    Well, the funny thing about the Bible is that it's not technically a single book, but rather, 66 individual books. So just like I could pick up Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and know that it's poetry and not to be taken "literally", I could read the book of Psalms or Revelations or Song of Solomon and know the same thing. So lumping everything together and claiming "you have to take it literally to get anything out of it" is just plain intellectually lazy.
  • Re:Actually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:52AM (#16949834)
    "Here's a religious group exercising their freedom of religion and freedom of speech."

    And? Everyone here is exercising their freedom of speech... you've essentially said nothing.

    "I think perhaps people need to be more tolerant, and that goes both ways."

    So in other words we should not exercise our freedom of speech because it's just so cool that these nutjobs get to exercise their freedom of speech? Brilliant insight!

    It's a simple fact that these people are idiots. Now go and shout it from the rooftops!
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@masklin n . n et> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:11AM (#16950210)

    one thing that Evolution teaches is that men are just evolved creatures with no purpose.

    Well no, evolution doesn't "teach" anything, evolution is a fact. The current theories of evolution, on the other hand, pretty much tell us this yes.

    There is no higher morality

    Yes and no. Many "moral requirements" vary from country to country, or person to person, yet some obvious stuff stays: killing people of the insider group without any reason for example (while killing people outside your "group" is not absolute at all), which can be inferred as coming from evolution: humans are social animals, they come from close-knit groups (tribes and the likes) which meant that killing fellow members of the tribe/group was a huge hit on their survival chance. Evolution would therefore have favored groups of people who didn't kill each other (not giving a fuck about killing people outside the families/camps/tribes/groups), hence the reason why it's pretty much universally considered immoral to kill close relatives, family members or people who're close to you in general, while most humans don't give a damn about people from an other country being slaughtered.

    There therefore are some kinds of "moral absolute" coming straight from our evolutionary past.

    The only check is what others would force upon me

    It's funny how religious people always derive that humans can't grow up their own morals, their own personal morality, and that they must always have someone with a huge stick imposing arbitrary morals on them.

    If anything, this mostly shows that religious nutjobs are nuts, and would like nothing more than to kill and maim everyone.

    I find it bizarre that you religious guys find youself "quite sane" when your only desire is to kill, rape and eat fellow humans. Your guys truly are sickos.

    I myself am a human, and an atheist, I have no "absolute morals" but I do have my own set of moral rules mostly derived from "don't do unto others what you don't want other to do unto you", and some other pretty logical "rules of thumb".

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:17AM (#16950308)
    I live in Southern Ohio, I would go out protesting against this museum along with anyone else who wishes to do so.


    Nah, let them have their silly museum. If you want to do something to mess with them, buy some land across the street and open a museum to the Giant Spaghetti Monster [venganza.org]. In it, mimic every single display in the the other museum, but with a Spaghetti theme. I bet you get more visitors.
  • by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:26AM (#16950436)
    Then it's easy to believe.

    People will walk through the museum. See dinosaurs playing with humans, and since it looks so gosh darn natural believe it without a doubt. Just like everyone in my class believes that wave mechanics can be used to describe very small simple harmonic oscillators. I'm not saying that it doesn't. But we sure as hell (heh) haven't been given enough empirical evidence to form opinions on the validity of the model. What we did have was a professor who seemed to know what he was talking about, with a pretty movie of a probability distribution function sweeping back and forth and some ancient book written by a dead guy (textbook) that agreed with everything he said.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:37AM (#16950680)
    Marx also lived in a time when capitalism meant something quite a bit harsher than what we have today (even in the US). In some ways he was right -- pure capitalism turns out to be pretty nasty so pretty much every decent sized economy in the world has some non-capitalistic features.
  • by EllisDees (268037) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#16950796)
    >What's going on in this gray matter in my cranium is controlled by the laws of physics and chemistry and biology. I don't really think,

    Your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Everything going on in your head could be entirely chemical and biological, and can still be considered thought. There is no violation of physical laws going on when you think.

    >If naturalism is true, there's no such thing as rationality, there's just whatever people end up thinking and doing.

    Once again, an unfounded logical leap. What is your evidence that rationality is anything more than 'whatever people end up thinking and doing'?

    >However, the Christian God calls men to be consistent and rational.

    No, he does not. The very premise of the religion, that man is born in sin because of the acts of the original man and woman, is illogical. If Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil before they ate of the tree, they had no idea it was evil to disobey god. "When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." If you don't know that an act is evil, how can you (and all your children for all eternity) justifiably be punished for it?

    Your religion is no more rational than any other. Get used to it.
  • by hullabalucination (886901) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:51AM (#16950908) Journal

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    "What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea."

    * * * * *

    The preceding poster is a wholly owned subsidiary of the the Mitsubishi Corporation and his post may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the consent of Major League Baseball.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:05PM (#16951150) Homepage
    You need to get yourself a dictionary. Atheism is not a doctrine on how to treat your fellow man. Whether an atheist kills or not is about as important as whether a pants-wearer kills someone. If I kill a person while wearing pants, would you say that pantsism is the reason for the murders?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:06PM (#16951174)
    Some Christians do that, but so do some atheists, some Muslims, some of everything. You're not fighting religion, you're fighting belligerence.
  • so close... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@g m a i l . com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:07PM (#16951188)
    And yet so far. Your explanation seems reasonable, but is a bit off. God is not capricious.

    There is a distinct difference between discerning whether something is good or evil, and understanding that a boundary has been set and should not be crossed.

    My 20 month old son does not discern that touching a hot stove will burn him, but he does comprehend that he must not touch the stove. Adam and Eve knew what God said, and that breaking the rule was BAD. In fact, God told them, if you break this rule, you will die.

    Eating the fruit allowed them to understand the basis for discernment of good and evil. Before that, they clearly understood that there was a rule, and that violation of that rule made them subject to punishment.

    The root problem is that they (like us) want to do what THEY want rather than obey God. When they chose to disobey God, the consequence was separation from Him, and ultimately, death - for themselves and for their offspring.

    Respectfully,
    Anomaly
  • by bdonalds (989355) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:11PM (#16951260) Homepage
    christianity plays a considerable part in US politics.


    Bingo!

    This is a fact that seems to escape most Americans, when it should be scaring them shitless! Why is there not much being made of the fact that 7 (or 8?) states amended their state constitutions to make same-sex marriage illegal? AMENDED THEIR STATE CONSTITUTIONS!!

    This legislation based on religion needs to be stopped! We are headed for a theocracy, and it frightens me. Save the United States of Jesusistan!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:22PM (#16951462)
    As an atheist I wouldn't say anything. Its only the religious nuts who have a problem with sperm donors and/or same-sex parents.

    You've missed the point. The poster (not sure if that's you) argued that if there's a pregnancy, there was sex. I would argue that that's not true, whether or not you believe in God. By that argument, all surrogate mothers and sperm donors all had sex with the other party, and the product of all such fertilizations, as well as test tube babies, are "bastard whelps", in the poster's words. I think that's ridiculous. If you argee that that's ridiculous, then you affirm that a pregnancy does not necessarily suggest sex.
  • by pcb (125862) <peter...c...bradley@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:30PM (#16951696) Homepage
    The word 'atheist' is completely pointless to begin with and should be rejected as useless jargon. How many words describe what you do not believe? How about:

    Aquinist: A person who does not believe in unicorns.
    Adentite: A person who does not believe in the tooth fairy.

    PCB

  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@NoSPam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:34PM (#16951770) Homepage Journal
    7 states amended their state constitutions to ensure their already existing laws against same-sex marriage could not be struck down by state courts as being unconstitutional IN THE LAST ELECTION. That brings the total number of states to have done so to the number 27. Only 1 state (Arizona) that has had the amendment on the ballot has voted against it. On the bright side, that was also in the 2006 election, so maybe it suggests a very slow change towards rationality.
  • by Darby (84953) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:39PM (#16951864)

    How is that that Communism, allegedly founded on a scientific basis, stressing rationality and scientific though, with principles regarded as altruistic (from each according to his ability to each according to his need), repeatedly produced such carnage and such leaders?


    Because it wasn't really founded on that basis. It was founded on a *religious* belief in Communism.
    Just because you replace worship of a god with worship of the state doesn't make it any less of a religion.

  • by slagell (959298) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:42PM (#16951914) Homepage
    I don't think anyone is denying that these people have the freedom to practice their religion or believe what they want. But we have the freedom to express and criticize what we feel is silly, stupid, or even mildly dangerous delusions. For some reason people tend to feel that religion is the one topic that is beyond criticism. You can deride someone's politics, but you have to respect their cherished religious beliefs. No you don't. You only have to respect their right to hold them and practice them so far as it doesn't infringe upon other more basic rights (e.g., so murder in the name of religious belief is unacceptable).

    My point is that people have a right to believe and practice their religion, and they have a right to express themselves verbal (I can't just beat people senseless because I don't agree with them), but there is no right not to be offended. Not only would such a right be completely incompatible with freedom of speech, it is completely unpractical to enforce. I, as the speaker, do not have complete control over whether I offend my listeners. Many important things that must be said will offend some either intentionally or unintentionally. This has as much to do with the listener as the speaker. And someone can always claim offense if they don't like what they hear, and such a right would quickly translate into a right not to hear anything you don't want to hear. Such a right would be nearly the opposite of freedom of expression, giving anybody the ability to silence anyone. No, a right not to be offended would quickly lead to a very silent world.

    So one might say, "who cares what these people believe and profess; just let them live in their deluded world." I think that is the wrong way to look at this. While they have the right to believe this young Earth creationist crap, their evangelism of such beliefs has a real impact. Science and the pursuit of knowledge is endangered whenever we have pseudoscience that fools people or we replace science with dogmatism that we mislabel as science. Education of our youth is what is endangered here. I don't care if a particular person does not value science and chooses to live by faith while completely forsaking reason. Not everyone is even interested in science, and there is more to life than this one topic. What angers me, and what must be stopped is people being intellectually dishonest about science and twisting it. It degrades and pollutes science. Be honest. Say that science and literal interpretation of the biblical creation story don't match but that you believe the creation story by faith, which triumphs reason for you. I know Christians who do this. At least it is intellectually honest. But don't tell me black is white and hot is cold. Don't accept science everywhere else but be the biggest skeptic in the world only where it challenges your faith. These are the people that readily accept everything else in science, accept the play up the "it's just a theory line" only for evolution (or geology, cosmology, physics and nearly every other discipline if they are young Earth creationists instead of just "intelligent design adherents").

    So in conclusion, there is no right not to offend, and this is a serious issue with real consequences. We should not be silent or complacent on this issue.
  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:44PM (#16951960) Homepage Journal

    In deference to the moderators, your post is informative, but it doesn't quite address my point. I'm specifically referring to "the old Hebrew creation myth", as you call it. Is it intended to be poetry, or documentary? That's the key question, and the one that's not answered in your post. Even if there is, as you say, another account that contradicts it in some detail, that doesn't make either or both of them non-literal. If they are both literal and they contradict each other, then at least one of them is false, but "true" and "false" are concepts that can only be applied to factual statements, not poetry. In fact, to say that one contradicts the other is only appropriate if they are both literal!

    At the risk of being patronising, let me explain the difference. Consider three statements: "the sky is blue", "the sky is black", and "the sky is angry". The first two can easily be understood as literal claims: the sky does have a property of colour. The third one is poetic imagery: it uses the technique known as personification. The first two statements seem to contradict each other, but that doesn't make either of them non-literal. They might not contradict each other: they might describe the daytime sky and nighttime sky respectively. Also, they might be using the word "sky" in two different senses: the sky can be literally black with stormclouds, which is also the sense we get from "the sky is angry", however this "sky" is a different substance to the blue sky of the first statement. Finally, it's possible that the second statement was not intended to be literal, but one would need to see it in context for an informed view.

    Having said that, I hope my concern is clear. My understanding is that Hebrew scholars consider the first creation account to be written in a documentary style rather than a poetry style, and thus understand it as literal. There are additional questions as to whether the second account is literal or non-literal, and if it's literal whether it contradicts the first account in any of its specific claims, but these are side-issues for now. If we can agree that the first account is written in documentary style, meaning that it purports to be a description of events to which the labels "true" and "false" can appropriately be applied, then we've discounted the OP's claim that the Bible "was never meant to be read literally." We've made no progress towards deciding whether it's true or false, but at least we've decided that it contains claims which can be so classified, and which form appropriate subjects of belief or denial.

    Analysis can be tedious, can't it? So much explanation over such a (supposedly) simple matter!

  • by bcattwoo (737354) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:45PM (#16952002)
    That anyone modded that shit insightful just goes to show how cool it is to bash religion, especially christianity, on slashdot.
  • by Darby (84953) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:48PM (#16952066)
    but for me an atheist has always been someone who believes there is no god (a religious belief), and an agnostic is someone who merely doesn't believe there is a god, but allows it as a possibility.

    Well, quite simply, you're wrong.

    I am an atheist as everybody in the world started out.
    Many people arbitrarliy choose some particular fantasy to start believing in, most often becasue their parents threatened them with eternal torture if they didn't.

    There is not one single scrap of evidence for any gods or any religions, therefore, there is not one reason to buy into that silly crap.

    This doesn't mean that there is no possible way that there ever could be a god, but it does mean that it's pretty stupid to believe that some ignorant desert nomads magically got it right.

    if you want to use the word "atheist" to mean "agnostic" what word do you use to describe people who believe there is no god?

    First this isn't using "atheist to mean "agnostic". Second, there is pretty much nobody who "believes" there is no god. For that to be a reasonable position, you would already have to assume that there is some valid basis for believing there is one which is putting the cart before the horse.

    Heck, you could come up with all the wild delusional fantasies you want, but the fact that I don't drop all reason in order to magically start believing in them doesn't make my skepticism about your totally unsupported fantasies into a "belief".

    Your entire argument skips the most important fact which is that atheism is the default position of every person who has ever lived.

  • by Zaphod2016 (971897) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:00PM (#16952290) Homepage
    I am sure that we will continue to debate the motives and views of our founding fathers for the next 200 years. Were they Christians? Did they hump slaves? Did they smoke pot? These questions have been battled for years, and arguments on both sides have gathered mountains of evidence.

    Some fun quotes from the Founding Fathers:

    "The business of a man and his God shall remain the business of a man and his God". - Thomas Jefferson

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

    "All men having power ought to be mistrusted." - James Madison

    In my opinion, Christian or not, these men understood the reality of agnosticism (free thinking), enjoyed a sense of humor, and valued individual freedoms far more than the dogmas of specific churches.

    Part of me gets angry when parents teach creationism. Sometimes, I think such behavior qualifies as child abuse. But then I remember that freedom means the freedom to make mistakes; be it teaching creationism, or be it mocking creationism for a scientific view.

    Our founding fathers did not pledge alliegence to a flag, nor were they forced through 12 years of State-controlled formal education. All the same, they sound like bright fellows to me. I think the lesson in this is that we must (as painful as it can be) allow ALL ideas free access to the "marketplace of ideas". We must retain faith, in ourselves and in each other, that sooner or later the cream will rise to the top, and a consensus of truth discovered.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:06PM (#16952420)

    No, he does not. The very premise of the religion, that man is born in sin because of the acts of the original man and woman, is illogical. If Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil before they ate of the tree, they had no idea it was evil to disobey god. "When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." If you don't know that an act is evil, how can you (and all your children for all eternity) justifiably be punished for it?


    Wrong.

    Re-read it. God told them they can eat of any tree in the garden, but NOT to eat of the tree in the center, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God went on to say that the day they eat of that, they will surely die. So they were told not to eat of that tree. Satan came in and told them a lie, and they had a choice: Believe God or believe Satan. The word for "die" in hebrew suggests not a physical death, but a spiritual one. So man was created in three parts: body, soul (that part of you that thinks and reasons), and spirit. Once spiritual death occured, man became two parts: body and soul. That is why the Bible says man is "spiritually dead" and why the "natural man" does not understand the things of the spirit. It is non-sense to him, which explains your post. :-)

    It's also why Jesus says you must be "born again." Not of water (the fluid from a mother's womb), but born "in the spirit."

    If you were told there are higher levels of conscienceness, like VGER in ST, people would suck that up in a heartbeat. But as soon as you introduce a higher level being being the creator of all things as the God of the Bible, people get defensive. Why?
    It's just some people expressing their first amendment privs, right?

    I know many will say that there are Christians who are oppressive and opinionated, and this is true sometimes, for both Christians and non-Christians. But atheism and Christianity are at opposite ends: To advocate one is to oppose the other.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:12PM (#16952570) Journal
    Morality and faith are not arbitrary to an athiest. They are arrived at through logical thought and rational deduction. Faith and morals are arbitrary to a deist because one's choice of God and religion is arbitrary, and even when one has chosen, one can choose which precepts to follow and which to reject. God says not to eat shellfish, but you know that part is just ancient tribal belief. God says not to kill innocents, but you know those guys are evil sinners so grab a stone!

    Moral athiests have arrived at their morals through thought and introspection. There are good, solid, selfish reasons not to light children on fire, we don't need some arbitrary and unverifiable book of rules to know that. The fact is, either morals and rules come from outside the universe and there is no way of verifying their correctness because they are outside all possible experience, or they come from inside the universe and can be deduced from experiences had inside the universe.

    If there is no God, then people who believe in God are not only more delusional than those of us who know that God's existence or lacjk thereof simply doesn't matter, they are less likely to arrive at correct action in any given situation. By correct action I mean the action that will most efficiently bring about the greatest satisfaction among the greatest number. Admitedly, it is an arbitrary definition, but you will find that it is one many can agree with and from a pragmatic standpoint, that is what counts.

    Because "believers" have subjugated their ability to think for themselves to religious dogma, they will be unable to act flexibly and creatively in situations that cause cognitive dissonance within their religious framework. People who have arrived at their morality through logic and introspection can adapt and be good people in any situation.
  • Actually the "yuo people" was addressed to all the fundamentalists, not to all the atheists.

    Ah. Fair enough

    I would argue Atheism is just another religion.

    And you have. To the extent that we might define "religion" to be a philosophical belief system about the nature of god - I would agree. It is a fact, though, that the vast majority of religions share general characteristics that you will not find in atheism. It all depends on how broadly you want to define the word "religion."

    I just chose not to limit myself to any one belief system. I just pick and choose whatever seems right from whatever religion I'm exposed to. Jesus, Buddha, Socrates, Mohammed all hove some very insightful knowledge of the universe. Why limit yourself to one?

    An approach I can support wholeheartedly.

    It's interesting that you would immediately assume that someone who is contrary to your beliefs is Christian.

    You can rightly say that I got carried away with an assumption - do not then make the mistake of doing the same.

    I assumed you were a Christian because you cited Jesus and his teachings. You referred to the (generally understood) Judeo-Christian notion of 'God loving you'. You did not directly refer to characteristic figures or teachings from any other religion.

    If I drew an incorrect conclusion from what I was presented - then I retract it, and I apologize for any offense. Allow me to note, though, that it was a (flawed) conclusion based on your text, not my prejudice.

    I'm reminded of a quote from dune I saw in someone's sig: "What do you despise? By this are you truly known."

    It's from Frank Herbert, if you're interested.

    I think this is a trap that many atheists fall into. They simply define themselves as simply being against christianity (and by extension all religions).

    Well, first of all - it is not at all a natural extension to say that to be against Christianity is to be against all religions.

    Your main point, though, which I would interpret to be that atheism is better understood by what it is not, rather than what it is, is well taken from this corner. A point I reflected on after writing my post above, in fact.

    However you are again, IMHO, continuing to take characteristics and attitudes that would well apply across the board, and projecting them simply on atheists. It is true that for many atheists, it is nothing more than a rejection of religion, or perhaps the rejection of a specific faith - but the same is true of non-atheists. Many of them also have a simplistic view, and one that is only relative to their own particular faith.

    I have heard many christians discuss atheism solely from the perspective about what it is about Christianity we reject. This was further emphasized the first time I spoke with a muslim about my atheism - and he immediately put atheism into a context of Atheism vs. Islam.

    So this narrow view of a philosophical system - the fact that one may limit themselves by only its simplest tenants is (I would argue) a human characteristic - and not an imagination-deficit that atheists have a monopoly on.

    So when an atheist asks "Why are we here?" he has to reject any answer that might resemble something from religion. This is what is so limiting about atheism.

    Again, I don't agree that you can take it that far. We must reject anything 'that might resemble something from religion'? I have beliefs that religious friends have described as "deeply spiritual." As I said before, there is room for beauty, imagination, and inspiration in atheism.

    Atheism implicitly rejects the notion that we are given our purpose from some external entity, this is true. Religions, by and large, also implicitly reject the idea that we might actually choose to answer that question for ourselves.

    They're both limiting - not because there's something wrong with them but because to b

  • by Goaway (82658) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:19PM (#16952748) Homepage
    So Christianity is valid because there's an old book about it?

    There are older books about other religions, you know. Are those more valid than Christianity?
  • by BiggyP (466507) <philh@OOOtheopencd.org minus threevowels> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:39PM (#16953162) Homepage Journal
    But at the same time there are plenty of Atheists, Muslism, etc. who put a lot of work into feeding and clothing the poor and what's more , in the case of atheism, there is no religious incentive, these are humanitarian acts.
  • Lots to cover (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@g m a i l . com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:53PM (#16953470)
    The story of adam and eve is, in my opinion, allegory that is often taken WAAAAAAY to literally. This is obvious to many devout christians I'm friends with, but seems not to be to many millions of others in this country.
    Here's the fallacy of that concept. Jesus himself talked about Adam and Eve as if they were real, not allegory. And in one of the key treatises on Christian theology, Paul portrayed Christ as the "second Adam." If the first Adam was allegorical, there would have been no need for a second Adam.

    prevents many of the affluent from doing their share to help those less fortunate
    Why should the affluent help anyone? If Christianity is an outdated mind-virus, why should any individual do anything to help anyone besides themselves?

    is it *really* possible for god not to have known what adam and eve would do?
    Nope. It's not. But that does not change the fact that Adam had a choice to make, and he made it. He "chose.....poorly." God is not responsible for Adam's choice even though He must have known the outcome before the beginning. Adam is responsible.

    could jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?
    The question is nonsense. Could God make 4=6? Can God smell the color nine? Nonsense. Tripe. But you may ask nonsense if you like. Don't expect a sensible answer, though.

    Do you kick him out of the house and stop talking to him?
    Well, if my kid was self-destructive, I might kick him out of the house and set up boundaries about what constituted a healthy relationship with him. FWIW - God did not stop talking to Adam. Adam still had some relationship with God - it was simply fundamentally different from the previous relationship. Adam had hope of fully restored relationship with God on the basis of God's mercy.

    I'm personally not capable of belief in that which is directly contradicted by reason
    I'm intrigued by this statement. First, not capable, or unwilling to submit to that kind of truth (if it exists.) Secondly, can you give an example of Christian teaching which exemplifies this?

    Respectfully,
    Anomaly
  • Flood, not Fall (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:57PM (#16953554)
    I daresay they must be portraying dinosaurs and humans together before the Flood, not the Fall. There were only ever two humans before the Fall.

    Of course, the bible does not mention Noah failing to save any creatures in his ark, and one would think that God would tell him to build a bigger one, or two, if the dinosaurs had been around needing saving. But then again for centuries the "this mystical beast no longer exists cause it never made it to the ark but it was real once I tell ya!" excuse has been in vogue.

    And of course, people stupid enough to make a museum of creationism as though biblical authoritarianism is a sound basis for scientific inquiry probably might be dumb enough to portray an eden with many people in it and the dinosaurs. Ah well.
  • by Moofie (22272) <lee@ringofsaturn. c o m> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:17PM (#16954012) Homepage
    Those are no more Christians than the guys with bomb belts are Muslims.
  • by Darby (84953) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:27PM (#16954272)

    Their thesis is "there is no god", and have developed a whole line of reasonings to "prove" this thesis. The Antithesis is "There is a god", and I have rarely seen any atheist spend the amount of time on this consideration.


    What a bunch of crap.

    There isn't an atheist thesis.
    There is a religious one "There is a God".

    The reasonable response to which is "Prove it".
    At this point the theists point completely falls to shreds and they generally start babbling about needing faith or threwatening to burn you alive or something since there is not one single shred of evidence for any of their religious beliefs.

    You fall into the all too common trap of assuming that there is some arbitrary default weight to the religious belief which there isn't.

    "Consider the alternative"?!? Seriously, "the alternative" is shoved in your face everywhere in this country.
    Thinking it's silly to believe in far out delusions without a single shred of evidence is just simple basic common sense.

    But I am one of those wackos, who believes the Scriptures, namely because none of the claims found in it have been falsified.

    The thing about that makes you a "wacko" is the fact that there are plenty of proven falsehoods in the bible and you chose to ignore them if you ever actually did any investigation at all.

    If that were really your reason, then you would equally believe in the invisible pink unicorn and the flying spaghetti monster as neither of those have been proven false either.

    Heck, if you were telling the truth about your reasons for faith, then you would believe just as much in every single wacky insane nutjob theory that hasn't been explicitly disproven and probably some that have since the exact same argument works for anything.

     
  • by Mark Maughan (763986) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:50PM (#16954724)
    It is completely incredible to me that you could charge every believer as lacking of a spirit of scientific inquiry. Science would be absolutely impossible without the sort of metaphysical presuppositions that Christianity holds to. I challenge any atheistic/agnostic scientist to justify their use of empiricism without using circular reasoning. This they will not be able to do and in the end will be making a metaphysical commitment to empiricism.

    Science works.
  • by Dan Slotman (974474) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:57PM (#16954900)
    Atheists do not believe in God. Usually this is because they view the existence of God/god/gods/a higher power as tremendously unlikely based on quantifiable physical evidence validated by the scientific method. Similarly, a humanistic approach to morality also relies on quantifiable physical evidence. Humanistic morality is usually a combination of rules that amount to the negative form of Christianity's Golden Rule: Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do to you. (Understanding that the spirit of the rule is important. For example, a masochist can't arbitrarily cause pain just because they like to experience it.) Humanistic morality relies on following the general laws of societal morality--the laws that have kept humanity around.

    As such, if society deems it wrong to light children on fire, then it is wrong for a humanist to light children on fire. Those who do not follow society's mores are misfits and rightly considered disfunctional. Contrary to your claim, this standard is not arbitrary, but many Americans don't like it because of our cultures emphasis on individuality. They don't like the idea that they don't get to choose what is right and wrong for themselves. There are variations that give more power to the individual, but from a philosophic standpoint, these variations are more prone to logical attack and personal abuse.

    The weakness of this system is that society's values can be hijacked (and example are strewn throughout this thread). An element of pragmatism, intelligence, and personal responsibility is necessary for a practicing humanist.

    Interestingly, both religious and nonreligious people behave in largely the same way as is evidenced by the fact that the United States has a single society rather than two parallel societies. Faith forms subcultures, but not new societies. Religious people can readily interact with irreligious.

    To validate this point, observe that atheists aren't running rapant in the streets, causing mayhem and chaos everywhere. Most people do whatever they want to do, regardless of religious belief and we seem to be trundling along just fine. Is it nature or nuture?
  • by PopeJM (956574) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:26PM (#16955428)
    religion and faith are not the same thing. If you accept any premise such as axioms in math or scientific data, you have to believe that it has some truth to it. As you said, you don't just believe that Napoleon is that guy on the street.
     
    You seem to have some kind of hatred going against religion which is based on a few people you don't like and so you make broad generalizations. Faith is required in science to believe that what you are seeing is real. That's simplifying it but that is the basic. If you read my post then you would see I said that it could not be proved that God is exists. Certitude is the fusion of faith and reason which leads you to a belief system. Yours is that "Jeebus and religion suck, LOL!" Certainly people have right to believe that religion has been misleading and controlling. Why is that? because of what man has done to religion. The bible doesn't say anything about clergy or needing to believe that christ was resurrected.
     
    You also seem to have ignored the part where I said that miracles are for those who were present. The reality of the resurrection is a spiritual one, whether jesus existed exactly as people think he did, i.e., unmarried, married, actually crucified, not even killed etc. what matters is the spiritual reality. People get pissed off at religion when they have to accept a premise that is absurd or unnecessary. Religion is not an exclusive club of control it is humanity unified(hopefully.) As G.K. Chesterton said: "Christianity has never succeeded because it has never been tried." People who hate Christianity and who are Fundamentalists both have one thing in common, they think in black and white. It's either religion is evil or it's completely and literally right.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:07PM (#16956200)
    The tone of your post indicates there's probably little point in further discussion. Some points you might want to consider though:

    1) many consitutions, particularly in the past, didn't really discuss rights at all. The Canadian constitution didn't until the Bill of Rights was added. The US constitution still does not specifically discuss rights, only limits the power of the government.

    2) Consider carefully how many inalienable, God given rights you have without a government or similar social system. No laws, rules, authority. Just you and that panther over there. Which inalienable (ie cannot be taken away) rights do you have again?
  • by arminw (717974) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:20PM (#16956438)
    ....Just you and that panther over there......

    I have been given the ultimate weapon against that Panther. That weapon is a brain with which I can devise weapons that will keep any number of Panthers at bay. No government is needed to keep me safe from a Panther, but it is needed to keep me safe from other humans and to keep them safe from me. If people observed the golden rule, governments would only be needed to allow us all to agree upon which side of the road to drive on.
  • by kocsonya (141716) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @05:41PM (#16957670)
    > I don't go around converting people to atheism but if they bring up the subject I'm going
    > to make sure they know that they believe in a fairy tale.

    Actually, if you accept Popper's definition of scientific questions, you can not tell them that they believe in a fairytale. You can not envision an experiment which would falsify their premise of the existence of God, neither can they come up with one to falsify your statement of God's non-existence.

    That question is scientifically undecidable, thus can not even be the subject of scientific debate.
    It is pure belief on both sides. If you think about it, you can not disprove a statement like "the world was created just a picosecond ago, with space, time and all particles suddenly popping up from nothingness in their present (quantum) state and all of our memories have been created so that we think that we (and the Universe) have been around for ages". Your argument against such a statement is that why on Earth (or Heaven, rather) would a god do such a thing, trying to fool us? The believers would argue that you can't comprehend the reasons behind God's actions so you shall not ask that question; the agnostics would point out that since it is undecidable, Occam's razor tells them to assume that there's no God until positive evidence pops up and the atheists just discard the whole thing as complete rubbish. However, all of them do it based on their personal beliefs, not solid logic or scientific arguments.

    When creationists come around with easily falsifiable pseudo-science, by all means whack them on the head. When people come around and do nasty things "in the name of God", ditto. But you can not attack them for their believing in a god, for you have no way of telling that they're wrong.
  • Re:so close... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Silik (30759) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:30PM (#16958308)
    Cassandra knew the future, and tried to use this knowledge, but wasn't believed. Knowledge, for her, was a curse; had she not known, nothing would have changed for the rest of the world, but she personally would have had a happier, more pleasant life.

    Claiming that God is malignant because He desired to prevent us from having the pain and suffering that comes with knowing good and evil seems to be a bit..extreme. Claiming that breaking from God allowed self-sufficiency and rational though needs support. Rationality does not require morality. And none of us is truly self-sufficient. As a people, we're still no more self-sufficient than Adam was, we just have to work harder to keep up our standard of living.
  • by Hubristically Yours (1028294) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:46PM (#16960792)
    ...the current level of complexity could not have developed in a set of incremental changes.
    I disagree with this (frequently held) belief. If you and I were hunter-gatherers from the Stone Age and we walked through a time portal into a modern concert hall, where a pianist was playing Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto, we would no doubt be incapable of believing that all of what we were seeing and hearing was developed over the last ten thousand years or so by "incremental changes."

    A piano is a fiendishly complex instrument, with thousands of precisely crafted parts. The frame is under literally tons of force, while the keys are made of a material (plastic) whose composition and manufacture would utterly bewilder a Stone Age man.

    The art of piano playing is no less complex, requiring many physically unintuitive motions and (to a cave man) superhuman coordination. The truly vast nature of the systems underlying the harmony, rhythms and composition of the music itself and the process by which the music is transcribed by the composer onto the printed page and ultimately read and enacted by the performer is equally staggering.

    We might say to each other, "Surely beings from another world came and gifted man with this instrument and the ability to play the music we hear upon it! For, no man could have possessed the knowledge to craft such a thing, and even were the instrument a divine gift, to devise this system of music and develop the adroitness to play it would surely be far beyond him!" It would appear, essentially, to be a chicken and the egg problem.

    But, as we know, the piano did indeed come into being via incremental changes from earlier keyboard instruments, themselves preceded by a legacy of stringed instruments. Piano playing is a tradition incrementally developed over hundreds of years, passed on from teacher to student. Western musical theory and composition is a discipline with a similar pattern of development. But, it only seems to reside in the realm of possibility since we are aware of the intermediate steps, recorded for us by scholars and historians.

    This example is regarding something with a development history of hundreds of years (perhaps a few thousand for Western Music as a whole), but imagine how quickly our ability to comprehend the development of complex systems disappears when we begin to discuss things on a time scale one million times as great. Furthermore, it is much easier for us to understand something like how the diatonic scale system arose, than it is to fathom the origins of the Golgi Apparatus and its ilk.

  • Atheism and religion are flip sides of the same coin.
    No, they are not. They are exact opposites. Atheism is not a religion, and never will be. The argument that it is was created by religious people who literally cannot imagine how someone can exist without belief.

    Essentially this argument is a form of projection [wikipedia.org], where a religious individual views an atheism as a "religion", and then proceeds to impart many negative aspects of religion, which they will not consciously admit to themselves, onto atheism.

    Religions are altogether invalid as logical arguments. Even in their best case scenario, with n distict religions in the world, at least n-1 of them have been completely fabricated out of nothing. They contain no divine revelations or truths. Any honest individual, when confronted with the argument, must admit that all religions are essentially baseless within their own framework. They call upon divine entities, but these entities are simply fabrications of human thought.

    Atheists are simply stating the truth. Gods and godesses are fabrications of the human mind. They exist only as considerations in the minds of those considering them. That is the truth, but it is one which most people will never admit to themselves, and will bitterly reject in any way possible those who try to convince them of it.

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