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Comment Re:And yet... (Score 1) 2987

Ok everyone, pay attention. Here is a fine example of one kind of tactic: Reduce this day's work to a statistic and compare it to other numbers that make it look insignificant by comparison. Yes, choose things that are ridiculous (like box cutters) or that we can't do much about (like lightning or shark attacks). Break other violent statistics into smaller buckets so they look less significant and wholly unrelated to the violence at hand. Finally, fail to mention other statistics altogether. This is how you abuse statistics to support your position. It's a great for that, I guess.

Actually, unlike the cold, irrational psychopathy of those who resort to such tactics (and of those who shoot kids), most of us aren't heartless bastards.

Today, someone has left a scar on America that is unrivaled by any ever inflicted by a fool and his box cutter. This was the work of violence and hatred directed toward the innocent and defenseless and should be counted as such. People are bereaved and some of them have lost their children, friends, and relatives in a senseless massacre. At this moment, and tomorrow, and through the Holidays, and for the rest of newly saddened and darkened lives, uncounted living individuals will now suffer in ways you and I will likely never comprehend. Our statistics simply don't account for those things, and it is a mistake of the highest stupidity or most deplorable callousness to even attempt to make such trivial arguments.

Whatever one's feelings are about this very alienable right to own and carry guns, on a day such as this one it does us credit that we wish to have never invented such things.

Comment Re:Understanding vs. Valuing (Score 1) 1142

I think you misunderstand. I do not claim that values arise from any "religiously constructed ethics frame." I understand your use of the word, "religiously," to correspond with theism. Your own arbitrary definition of the good, and your claim of "relative and interchangeable ethics," is exactly what I mean. The subjectivity of good and evil signifies that all value judgments belong in a class of make-believe and imaginary things that are not universal nor provable; the same sort of things that Mr. Dawkins, paradoxically, thinks are bad.

My point is that the quality of being religious does not necessarily entail theism. What it certainly entails is a dogmatic faith in made-up stuff, such as the insistence that something is good or bad. Mr. Dawkins might prove that religion is irrational, but then he famously marches about telling us that the world would be better off without it. He's preaching his values and envisioning a world predicated upon them. That's what religious people do.

Comment Understanding vs. Valuing (Score 1) 1142

Dear Mr. Dawkins,

It seems to me that your epistemology of reason and empiricism is very good at teaching us how to understand objective reality but not how to value anything. Whenever a person makes a value claim, i.e. that something is good or bad, that person is essentially engaging in something akin to religion. I am unaware of any empirical tests for good and bad. Eric Hoffer reminded us that, though ours is a godless world, it is anything but irreligious; everywhere the True Believer is on the march... shaping the world in his own image. I believe your own efforts to shape an ideal society devoid of so-called "religion" are based in value judgments. Tell me, how are you different from those whom you criticize?

Comment Re:The Holy Shareholders (Score 1) 157

The worst cubicle job in the world is better than 12 hour days following a donkey around a field.

An entirely subjective opinion that justifies itself in a gross misrepresentation of the work entailed.

Technical innovation is important, but it isn't very valuable without means to turn it into mass-produced goods. That means large-scale production, not little factories scattered little independent entities. Without large-scale industry, the computer you're using right now, which has more computing power than existed on the entire planet 40 years ago, would simply not exist. And not because nobody knew how to build it, but because nobody could afford to.

Maybe so. I wonder how the tech landscape would begin to change if people started looking increasingly to small businesses and family trades for their employment. I have a suspicion that the large-scale industry, which is already in the hands of an increasing few, would still survive. I bet the sinecure management positions we invent for ourselves in these wealthy areas could disappear and the industry would end up adapting pretty well.

Comment Re:The Holy Shareholders (Score 1) 157

Surely many people did better than mere subsistence farming before the age of the mass-production economy.

Besides, we've learned some things since then. What are the possibilities? Are there ways to express technical innovation through local economies? How could local economies cooperate? Could independent coterminous spheres of consumption and production integrate to replace a global economy?

Anyway, there might be a mass movement somewhere in all of that, but I suppose it's something people would do because they wanted to try it. Maybe they would get sick of being cogs in a machine or something, and figure that even subsistence farming is less boring than whatever cubicle they presently pass their days in. :)

Comment Re:No it isn't (Score 1) 728

Well, I believe that rape is wrong, but I wouldn't consider it a particularly religious position in my case. However, other people who also believe that rape is wrong are certainly very religious about it. Though our beliefs are essentially the same, there is a different quality to them which has nothing to do with the particular content (authority or argument) of the belief. Making a claim that is merely non-disprovable does not, by itself, make the claim "religious" in nature. When beliefs also shape one's worldview and provide something fundamental upon which a way of life is predicated then there is a religious component to such a belief.

Simply being an atheist does not immediately make one "religious" in this sense. Being a vocal and very committed atheist, on the other hand, provides a basically religious facet to the atheism. In this sense, modern atheism is increasingly religious in nature as it seeks to expand its sphere of influence through zealous adherents.

Comment Re:No it isn't (Score 1) 728

Look, I don't really disagree with you. There is no institutional Atheism, only perceptions that begin to invite historiographical labels as the phenomenon is studied. Stereotypes and the like. Don't mistake me: I'm not claiming that atheism is some kind of formal Religion. There is a difference between religion/religious and A Religion. I'm talking at the essence of religion: the conviction, devotion, and certainty of belief. That quality of belief is "religion." By definition. Add content and structure to it, plus a social or political dimension, and you have A Religion.

Because atheists belong to no formal Religion does not make them irreligious. The irreligious are the gentle skeptics who have little or nothing to say on the matter. They don't take sides. Maybe there are plenty of atheists in that category. Honestly, there are probably plenty of baptized Christians in that category.

But I'm talking about atheists who believe that there is no God and that this knowledge matters to the world. These people get involved. Their consciences are moved, and they seek to shape the world in their own image--an image predicated by the certainty that there is (most likely!) no God. The whole point is that they believe that something matters. And, as in the case of God, there has never been nor will there ever be evidence that anything matters at all. This is the pure subjectivity in which the atheist participates, making him in every way equal (except in the matter of content) to the "religious" that he criticizes.

Comment Re:No it isn't (Score 1) 728

In summary, suck it, jerk!

LOL! Are you serious? A creed followed by an insult! Let all now behold: The cool, the reasonable, the very irreligious atheist!

I rest my case.

Comment Re:No it isn't (Score 1) 728

Got another one? Sure, Eric Hoffer's perfectly valid observation that you glibly ignored. Atheists wrongly point to "religion" in order to excuse their own very similar quality of thinking: whatever process (e.g. "reason") they employ to arrive at a conclusion leaves them with utter certainty in their views. Hence the True Believer. The essence of religion, the devotion and certainty, is common to the theistic and atheistic alike. The atheists AND theists both want to believe that the object and content of the belief is all that matters (orthodoxy!). Not one bit. It is the quality of the belief and nothing more that make many atheists among the most religious people to walk the earth today. I use the term generally, and am perfectly justified as I am not nearly the first to do so.

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