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Comment Re:In Soviet Russia... (Score 1) 1027

Oy. Not this again. Look. Theism consists of dogma, rules for behavior, and often enough, a strong and well solidified political agenda, for instance, as with Islam or the Christians that are constantly attempting to fiddle with the sayings on money, messing with the pledge of allegiance, praying in congress before making laws, seeing to it the rest of us can't buy beer on Sunday, etc. They do these things because they think this is the way to "bring" their religion, and its dogma and rules, to the rest of us. Speaking generally, theism is a belief in a god or gods, and it carries, in a very official and intentional manner, a great deal of imposed behavior and canned rules with it.

Definition of ATHEISM
archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

Please don't add more to the definition than what it is. Atheism is a religious concept. The separation of church and state does away with religious interference in secular laws. The separation of all pressure and interest groups still does not occur even in secular societies because things such as financial resources can influence political decisions.

The Soviet state was ATHEIST according to the above definition. It had an ideology which was not followed properly as the Soviet State was not even truly Communist, it resembled a fascist state. In terms of ideologies, Sweden a secular state, can also be considered to be an ideologically run state where it is considered that democracy, socialism and a myriad of feminist laws (among others) dominate government ideology.

As for voting along secular lines, most religious people are more than capable of doing that. Perhaps some people cannot grasp this but it happens and it works. People even in atheist societies would vote according to subjective opinion. For example poorer, less educated people would want more social welfare while the rich would want more tax breaks and those with children would want a larger budget for education and so on. In every society there is a difference of opinion and people are egoistical and will vote according to what is better for than and not think of the good of the state. Remember the Soviet Union was conceptualized this way - it was meant to be an utopia of altruism, people were repeatedly told that Communism was just round the corner but it never came. True Communism would mean that all form of government would be abolished and a workers'/peasants' paradise would follow with each worker donating according to his abilities and receiving according to his needs. This never worked out, partly because without incentive people will give as little as possible and take as much as they can.

Comment Re:Web site tense is wrong (Score 1) 1027

Each of your points is over generalised and quite incorrect. Take the Biblical point, the Catholic Church actually assembled the New Testament hence they should have a say which part is allegorical and which part isn't. Papal Infallibility is restricted to certain matters of faith when the Pope speaks on matters of faith only, a statement which does not contradict neither the Bible nor Church tradition. Galileo was himself quite a rude and nasty fellow who got into a political spat with the Pope and was asked to not teach his theory as the only theory possible, but he could still teach his theory. Condoms are not a panacea for prevention of HIV transmissions alone as they tend to get used less often as relationships progress in time and alternative strategies are researched such as HIV chemo-prophylaxis. Certainly behavior modification is important and what was once taught as 'safe sex' is now referred to as 'safer sex'. In terms of priestly celibacy the sex abuse figures in the Catholic church are actually lower than in the educational system and most abuse involves male on male sex abuse and not male on female. This does not explain why teachers and boy scout instructors who do not have to remain celibate have a higher tendency of abusing their charges than people who don't have significant contact with children. In terms of science, universities developed from Cathedral schools and the Church taught that Genesis was allegorical from its early days.

If I was to generalise the way you have I could say that science is always incorrect because we're always discovering additional details about everything which makes all our previous knowledge not exactly correct hence totally incorrect. This is of course not true.

Comment Re:People like Birgitta Jonsdottir are easy to buy (Score 1) 565

Does ANYONE actually believe the USA can illegally invade another country, kill hundreds of thousands of people and manage to hide it.... yet would just stop at a simple rape allegation?? Uh, no! It has been widely covered that the US government is actively trying to destroy credibility of wikileaks,

I'll quote Stratfor, who are quoting the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

It may seem counterintuitive, but following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the casualties from militancy in the country declined considerably. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Armed Conflict Database, the fatalities due to armed conflict in Afghanistan fell from an estimated 10,000 a year prior to the invasion to 4,000 in 2002 and 1,000 by 2004. Even as the Taliban began to regroup in 2005 and the number of fatalities began to move upward, by 2009 (the last year for which the institute offers data) the total was only 7,140, still well-under the pre-invasion death tolls (though admittedly far greater than at the ebb of the insurgency in 2004).


So yeah, the US invasion actually helped the Afghan people. Fewer people are dying now than before the US invasion.

Secondly, Birgitta Jonsdottir actually appears to want to help the organisation WikiLeaks more than harm it. In seperating any bad PR Assange may attract from this case from Wikileaks, Wikileaks retains more public credibility. Why should any case (real or fabricated) damage Wikileaks itself. It's not Wikileaks which is being investigated but Assange.

Comment Re:But what created the law of gravity? (Score 1) 1328

moral - a quick read of the bible clearly shows that modern christians get their moral values form the same place as athiests: modern liberal secular values that have been explored since the enlightenment and can be simply expressed as do onto others as you would have done to yourself, or do not directly harm other people.

The history of the development of natural rights or human rights is very interesting. It predates Enlightenment and it follows Roman and Greek Law. The concept of human rights isn't even common outside of the West and seems to have developed closely tied to the Christian Church and Canon Law. Personal God = personal rights.

Brian Tierney:

Comment Re:It's always refreshing (Score 1) 1090

Definition of ATHEISM

a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity


So it's a doctrine that there is no deity. The USSR would be a perfect example of a country where it was doctrine that there was no deity.
That's it. No weaseling out about reason, reason is not part of this definition.

Comment Re:It's always refreshing (Score 1) 1090

Dogmatism is inevitable in any system. It is impossible for everyone to know everything and the reasons behind it all. Ultimately people have to take everything on good faith. You may be an expert in your little field but you have to take it on good faith that everyone else is right (following the most correct method) and create institutions which will act dogmatically to ensure this. For reason to work without faith or dogma, everyone would have to be of infinite intelligence and knowledge.

Comment Re:It's always refreshing (Score 1) 1090

Atheism means absence of belief in supernatural gods. However, it does not preclude any political system. Definitely the founders of socialism such as Karl Marx were atheist by way of reason and sought to get rid of religion because it impeded mankind, they did not intend to create a totalitarian state where a handful of people had power, they intended to create a system were government was not necessary and people gave according to their abilities and received according to their needs. An ultimate utopia based on altruism and reason. In order to get to that stage the undesirables, those who would or could not convert had to be eliminated.

Communism was not the religion of the USSR anymore than respect for the Constitution or Democracy is religion in the USA. In a Communist society there is no government, in the USSR there existed a transitional government - a socialist one. The lack of respect for individual life was key in this society and this extended to the lowest levels as people betrayed their neighbours to the police, low level functionaries arrested people to get ahead and more senior party officials right up to Nikita Khrushchev submitted long lists of people for execution or deportation. At the lowest level they did away with religion and many of the inhibitions religion would have so that the family unit was no longer sacred, marriage was not sacred, Father Lenin (or the state or society) could replace your parents, and so on. The guys at the top in the Politburo did not behave like this however and were no more than a gang.

So please atheists don't distance yourselves from Marx, Engels and Lenin. They were firm atheists by way of reason and they sought to install a form of government based on reason by getting rid of old Russian Orthodox superstitions and force people to play fair, initially with rhetoric and ultimately with the use of force. The fact is that simple people need heroes like Stalin and Kaganovic and numerous other heroes such as athletes and exemplary workers. It was just a method of ensuring fairness and fighting egotism and social inertia to the new ideology which was meant to enlighten all. The end result was to be a new classless society where science, knowledge and art were favoured over superstition, religion and old traditions. People in the USSR were told that things were tough but they did not have to worry because Communism was just around the corner and then everything would be ok. The sad fact is that most people aren't altruistic and don't play fair. There will always be those who are more astute and daring who will assume leadership or start businesses (legal or not, and in the SU all business was illegal anyway) and those who just subsist as slaves to their jobs. Communism tried to change that and to do that its architects thought that they had to be merciless and extreme especially after the fall of the Parisian Communes in the 19th c.

The same can be said of reason based approaches. Scientists will deliver the knowledge but those who implement it will always have to deal with masses of people who just want to subsist as well as people who will always want to cheat the system to favor themselves over others. Mere transfer of information does not help, people work because they are rewarded for it. Humanism is just redressed Marxism.

Comment Re:so... (Score 1) 412

Why troll?

The problem here is that planning a tactical operation designed at killing as many innocent victims as possible is not seeing the right problem through the eyes of the terrorist. The terrorist uses violence usually as a last resort (or at least justifies it this way) and his aims are to kill and maim as many people as possible. If one is teaching class about first aid after a terrorist attack or how to avoid being the victim of one, I guess teaching the class how to prepare for one themselves would add insight to that. The students would then know which situations to avoid - eg. crowded subway in a European city or busy pub in Bali (or any country with active militant factions). However, if the aim is to look at the motivations of the terrorists one should study historym economics, sociology, religion and the current geopolitical profile of nations where terrorism originates. Either one studies the tactics or one studies the strategy. I gather this is more about the strategy than empathy for someone who can't kill as many persons as he likes but empathy for someone who is unable to bring across his grievances in a non-violent way.

In the same way one should not teach kids how to plan the perfect rape, unless one wants to teach women which situations to avoid, instead if one wants to get into the mind of the rapist or abductor (in my example above) one should look at the psychology of the aggressor - this may include his mental state, personal and family history, socio-economic factors, etc.

Comment Re:This teacher should be marked Troll (Score 2, Insightful) 412

Funny thing is, if I was a teacher, that is EXACTLY the type of assignment that I would give to students, because it will help them to THINK: analyze, empathize, question, ...

Empathise with the guys planning to kill as many civilians as possible? They could look at the political reasons behind terrorism but to look at the planning of the tactical operation does not seem to add much but condone on some level the killing of innocent people.

Comment Re:Uh nope. You got your war history wrong. (Score 5, Insightful) 496

Wrong! Stalin's plan was originally to invade Europe after Hitler destroyed all opposition in Europe. Hitler was the bad guy, Stalin was meant to be the liberator and liberate the whole of Europe - the way Stalin liberated Poland and tried to liberate Finland in 1939. That was the plan. That plan failed because while the Soviets helped train and establish the Wehrmacht in the 30s and actively aided Hitler in the opening stages of WW2, Stalin had no idea that Hitler would turn on him so quickly. The Soviets were massing huge numbers of troops, steel bombers, heavy tanks - the Soviets had the largest number of heavy tanks in 1939 (KW1 and 2) and the largest number of bombers (TB-3). They also had the world's greatest parachute force at about 1 million trained personnel, jumping from towers became a Soviet pastime in the 30s. The SU had virtually no civilian factories, they were preparing for an all out war. The typical view of defensive war seen in Russia was a war fought on the enemy's land - as depicted by Alexander Nevsky. All these were offensive weapons and tactics. When Hitler attacked these forces were incapable of using defensive tactics, they were not even blowing up bridges because Stalin had been building bridges in the 30s to help move his forces forward. Anyhow the Soviet plan was to let the West bleed itself out on Hitler, then the Soviet Union would liberate the European proletariat after the Western European masters and trade unions were gone, and establish a socialist system in every European country. This would have happened after WW2 had it not been for the fact that the USA got in the way and prevented further Soviet imperialism. The SU was more than capable of going West and taking out the French, British and remnant German forces.

Ideally for the US, the US could have let Stalin have all of Europe. The USA would have easily been able to trade with a socialist Europe and profit from it. The Americans instead risked war with the USSR and put their lives on the line for Germany, France, Britain and the rest of Western Europe. In Poland we wished the Americans would fight for us, but it would not be the case, still the American stance and containment allowed us to free ourselves when Gorbachev saw that he could no longer maintain Eastern Europe and would have to recreate the Soviet Economy on its own.

I must also oppose the moral relativism in this thread. The SU treated its own population and the populations of conquered nations very badly.
Tens of millions of civilians died including successful farmers (Kulaks), intelligentsia, ethnic minorities and anyone else who could oppose the Soviet Regime. One need only look at the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 now recognised as an act of genocide (Holodomor), the massacres of POWs in places like Katyn and deliberate withholding of support by the Soviet Union for the Warsaw Uprinsing against the Nazis which lead to 150-200,000 civilian deaths as Nazi reprisals.

Comment Re:Fair enough I guess (Score 3, Interesting) 196

Something like this is happening in South Africa. Here one of the biggest ISPs released the first uncapped residential product which was originally not shaped very aggressively. They also released a business product which costs almost 4 times as much, this product was on contract and was totally unshaped. Prior to this residential offerings in SA were mostly capped - at limits ranging from 1 to 10 GB/month. The residential product's shaping increased dramatically as more customers came onto this semi affordable plan. Initially very little was shaped but as time went on all one click hosts, all P2P traffic and all newsgroups traffic became so badly shaped to become dial up at speed during business hours and perhaps up to 80% of line speed at 3-4am. Line speed here is 4 Mb/sec. Gamers also started to complain of poor latency. People who used VPN tunnels were in effect unshaping themselves so the ISP decided to terminate the accounts of those who appeared to download too much over VPN. Finally the ISP offered their business package on a month to month basis at the same price to gamers and heavier downloaders but at about 4 times the cost ($270 per month). In SA the customer also has to pay a $57 line rental fee if you're using the fastest line at the moment, 4Mb/s, whether or not the ISP shapes you or not. The ISP initially offered a rather unshaped experience but now offers a very shaped on and in response provides a solution almost 4 times the price which is out of the league of most gamers.

Comment Re:This just in (Score 3, Informative) 1017

I agree. The US helped destroy the USSR as well as Hitler's Germany (and now keeps both Germany and the USSR in check). As someone who grew up in Eastern Europe and who saw Communist regime abuses first hand, I thank the US for that. To add, if it wasn't for America standing up to the USSR then the whole of Europe would be worshiping Marx, Engels and Lenin, not to mention Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Comment Re:Interesting (Score 1) 171

You forgot the anti-war organisations, dissident groups, human rights groups etc. Groups like Amnesty International profit from human rights 'abuses' either real, imaginary or exaggerated. Groups such as Green Peace profit from the environment, etc. Left Wing groups and politicians also profit from the Right's mistakes, as do the Right from Left's. This is a rich habitat of groups profiting of each other - most of these groups would not be able to justify their existence if there was no threat or bogeyman and they'd have no donor or tax cash either. I'm not really sure how most Churches profit from the war though, since one can attend a church for free and most church leaders are opposed to war. Boy Scouts are also not the Soviet Pioneers or Nazi Hitler Jugend so not sure how they profit from war. Hollywood profits from war as they make action films and kitsch dramas about war.

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