Secretly Minnesotan

American Conservative magazine has a lengthy and interesting history of Michele Bachmann and the rise of evangelical Christians in the Midwest in the last 40 years. The main driver of change is the battle over abortion:

Go across the Midwest, state by state, and you find the “moderate” wing of the party has shrunk to insignificance. No Republican could get signatures on a ballot petition, let alone win a primary, as a supporter of abortion rights. That wasn’t true just over a decade ago. And the nearly forgotten Ford-Dole ticket of two famed Midwestern Republicans in 1976 wouldn’t elicit much support from GOP voters in the region today.

Bachmann’s strategy will be to unite the Tea Party/Paulists with the social conservatives, which will be a neat trick considering that Paul himself is running. But, after reading the piece, I’ll buy the premise that she’s the only big name candidate in the Republican race who social conservatives will take seriously. She’s got a long, solid history of anti-abortion advocacy, and a far more serious political background than her doppelganger Palin. And, for all the “Hoot-Smalley” idiocy, she’s also a lawyer, which means that she was at least able to stick around long enough to finish law school.

If she does announce, I hope Democrats put some money into her district to encourage her constituents to throw her out because she’s not paying attention to her district. MN-6 is a R+7 district, so it’s no cakewalk for a Democrat, but she had a fairly tight race in 2008 after her first set of stupid public commentary. It would be a hell of a public service to knock her out of Congress.

222 replies
  1. 1
    Ann B. Nonymous says:

    As I understand it, Bachmann received her law degree from Oral Roberts University, whose accreditation is a shaky thing, in their law school’s final year.

  2. 2
    esme says:

    I live in Bachmann’s district and the letters to the editor in my local paper are full of complaints about her showing up on national tv but not having any public appearances in the area. The DFL would have to pick a good candidate, but I think she is beatable. The DFL candidate (Elwyn Tinklenberg) might have won in 2008, except for the presence of a third party candidate.

  3. 3
    Clark says:

    Hey, I and TAC have been cited in the comments of this post for insufficient purity. You aren’t helping.

  4. 4
    jonas says:

    I think Bachmann has to have Pawlenty and Romney worried. She’s charismatic (if a bit dim), attractive and has the kind of right-wing/social conservative cred they could only dream of. She’s Rick Santorum in a wig…and come to think of it, has anyone ever seen them together in the same room?

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    What is extraordinary is when you go back and realize that the religious didn’t get worked up about the Roe v Wade decision at the time.

    It was deliberately planned and perpetrated as a political wedge issue with a religious hook.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    But evangelicals like the Bachmanns quickly became disillusioned with Carter’s liberal positions on social questions when they conflicted with conservative evangelical teachings—especially over abortion.

    It’s funny how I never hear about them getting “disillusioned” with the other party’s positions on things like war, welfare, the environment, or pretty much anything other than abortion and gay marriage.

    Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about so-called “Carter conservatives,” and how upset they were about abortion and Teh Ghey. The counter-theory is that the religious right was formed after Carter revoked the tax-exempt status of all-white “Christian” academies in the Deep South, and as a reaction to that. And considering the white power roots of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, I’m at least as inclined to believe that theory.

  7. 7
    RosiesDad says:

    Ya, Michele is a graduate of Oral Roberts U School of Law which failed and had its library packed up and shipped to Pat Robertson U. But she did do an advanced degree in tax law at William and Mary which is kind of impressive. (Eric Cantor was one of her classmates.)
    That said, the woman is an idiot. Between Hoot Smalley and her Lexington and Concord gaffe in NH, the best you can say about Michele is that she is a Sarah Palin with more impressive academic credentials. Also, too, she hasn’t left her office mid-term to host a reality show.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ann B. Nonymous: Her law degree is from ORU, but the law school is affiliated now with Regent University.

  9. 9
    WereBear says:

    @Chris: That’s because soooooooooo much of religious conservatism is astro-turfed by cynical con artists.

    There’s no rube like the religious conservatism rube; they will believe ANYTHING.

  10. 10

    @WereBear:

    also interesting, all the rabble about midwestern “reagan democrats”, which, when that term was still in vogue, didn’t mention anything like the evangelicals, or say explicitly that their litmus test was abortion.

  11. 11
    EconWatcher says:

    @Chris:

    “the white power roots of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson”

    I will take a back seat to no man in my loathing of Falwell and Robertson, but what do you mean by “white power roots”? No snark; I’d like to know.

  12. 12
    chopper says:

    If she does announce, I hope Democrats put some money into her district to encourage her constituents to throw her out because she’s not paying attention to her district

    if she does announce, i’m sure obama’s campaign is going to leave her the hell alone. bachmann winning the GOP nod would be a dream come true.

    you can see how obama has already been working to pick the current front runners off one by one. i guess his idea is to whittle the GOP line down to a handful of teabagging crazies and win by a landslide.

  13. 13
    Brian R. says:

    Please run someone against her. I’ll sure as he’ll donate.

  14. 14
    eldorado says:

    voting good for the tullycraft reference

  15. 15
    Bruuuuce says:

    If she got kicked out, it’d be an interesting wager whether she got her wingnut welfare from a think tank or from Faux Noise. If the latter, could she really appear there more than she does now?

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    @chopper: i guess his idea is to whittle the GOP line down to a handful of teabagging crazies and win by a landslide.

    Fine by me!

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    @EconWatcher:

    Oh, just remembering a couple of quotes from the two titans of the religious right. Jerry Falwell, back in the 1950s, said that “integration will destroy our race eventually” and that “the true Negro does not want integration.” Pat Robertson, in the 1980s, spoke up on apartheid by saying that “just ‘one man one vote,’ unrestricted democracy, would not be wise.”

    And then you’ve the so-called “Christian academies” that were slow to adapt to desegregation: Bob Jones university didn’t allow interracial dating until the year 2000.

  18. 18
    alwhite says:

    Actually she has had close calls in each of her Congress races, which means even some percentage of the wingnuts recognizer her as a loon.

    She once claimed, as a State Rep, that she was attacked in the restroom by gay activists. The problem was the people who were in there with her didn’t see or hear anything. She tried to change her story to a verbal assault but even that was debunked. There are pictures of her hiding in the bushes, crouching down & peering through the leaves, to spy on a gay rights rally at the Capitol.

    Yeah, she would be some fun to run against.

  19. 19
    RosiesDad says:

    @chopper:

    if she does announce, i’m sure obama’s campaign is going to leave her the hell alone.

    if she does announce, obama 2012 should send money to her campaign to help her win the nomination. for the comedic value if nothing else.

  20. 20
    Joey Giraud says:

    She’s got to be vulnerable. My Born-again Republican small-business-owning cousin in district 6 should be a Bachmann supporter, but he can’t stand her, for all the right reasons ( she’s a nut, doesn’t do her job, etc.. )

    I really think that someday we’re going to find out that our elections have been getting digital nudges in the R direction all this decade.

  21. 21
    Butch says:

    Even articles that generally support her can’t seem to mention any actual legislative accomplishments?

  22. 22
    John Emerson says:

    Bachmann’s William & Mary degree has been questioned: http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....Law-Degree

    Tarryl Clark looked like a strong candidate, but she only got about 41% of the vote. Bachmann got something like 53%, and the third party got 6% as I remember.

    The third party is centrist and a descendant of Jesse Ventura’s part. They seem to be a bunch of clowns, because the never come close to winning, and since they get a big chunk of the moderate vote, the democrats and republicans would be stupid to nominate a moderate.

    Bachmann may be invulnerable. It just seems like a district full of crazy people. A mixture of (mostly) exurbs, some small towns, a tiny bit of agriculture, and a chunk of St. Cloud.

    Redistricting will be done by Republicans, it looks like, so no hope there.

  23. 23
    beergoggles says:

    Slightly OT, but urgent. If you live in Minnesota, please consider taking a few minutes to contact ur rep to ask them to vote down the anti-gay marriage law. The reps that need to hear from you are the following:

    Albert Lea – Rep. Rich Murray (27A) 651-296-8216
    Apple Valley – Rep. Patti Fritz (26B) 651-296-8237
    Blaine – Rep. Tim Sanders (51A) 651-296-4226
    Champlin – Rep. Denise Dittrich (47A) 651-296-5513
    Eden Prarie – Rep. Jenifer Loon (42B) 651-296-7449
    Hastings – Rep. Denny McNamara (57B) 651-296-3135
    Mankato – Rep. Rod Hamilton (22B) 651-296-5373
    Mound – Rep. Steve Smith (33A) 651-296-9188
    Saint Cloud – Rep. King Banaian (15B) 651-296-6612
    Woodbury – Rep. Andrea Kieffer (56B) 651-296-1147
    The Iron Range – Rep. David Dill (06A) 651-296-2190

  24. 24
    dmsilev says:

    Speaking of morons running for President, apparently Hannity asked Palin about her plans. Her response:

    “Still assessing the field because I know it is still going to change the line-up. People are going to come and go before that legal deadline is imposed on us to have to make the decision. So, I’m still not ready to make an announcement. Still seriously considering it, and praying about it. And talking about it with family. Because of course it is a monumental leap for a family to put themselves out there again in the limelight and be ready for the scrutiny that ensues in a campaign. So, still talking about it, and assessing yes. The field, looking for others who are ready to go rogue and fight against the machine on both sides of the aisle in order to get the economy back on the right track and do the things that the private sector needs done to implement some solutions to all the problems that America is facing right now. I want to make sure that we have a candidate out there with Tea Party principles, understanding that we are taxed enough already. Our job creators cannot afford to be taxed anymore. And we’ll do the right things that so many Tea Party patriots have already been articulating and cheering on and looking for candidates to embrace.”

    I think someone needs to feed the hamster running on the little wheel inside Palin’s head. Either that, or reboot the Markov chain generator.

  25. 25
    drkrick says:

    @WereBear:

    What is extraordinary is when you go back and realize that the religious didn’t get worked up about the Roe v Wade decision at the time.

    It was deliberately planned and perpetrated as a political wedge issue with a religious hook.

    They were really pissed off about the Carter Administration decision to lift tax exemption for their segregation academies religious schools. Since that was an embarrassing argument to make out loud (see Lee Atwater), abortion became the publicly stated issue.

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @Butch:

    Even articles that generally support her can’t seem to mention any actual legislative accomplishments?

    I don’t think that’s really relevant – how many of Ronald Reagan’s legislative accomplishments can conservative voters name? And yet they worship the ground he walks on. An “accomplishment” means sticking it to the Dems and their uppity constituencies. The rest doesn’t matter to them.

    I am quite interested in Joey’s statement that even his born-again Republican cousin can’t stand her, though.

  27. 27
    icedfire says:

    @John Emerson: Redistricting will be done by the courts, not the Republicans.

    We still have a Democratic governor, albeit by 9000 votes.

    The proposal the State Repubs have put together is a laughable and terribly disguised attempt to game out four red districts. One example: combining Iron Range miners with far northern MN Native Americans to excise some blue voters from Cravaaaaaack’s (seriously, how many A’s does he have in his name?) district. They are trying to ensure there’s never another Oberstar representing the state.

    Her district ends a few blocks away from my house…I dearly hope that, because her district is still growing so much, it shifts farther north instead of taking me away from Ellison.

  28. 28
    Steve M. says:

    I’ll buy the premise that she’s the only big name candidate in the Republican race who social conservatives will take seriously.

    Minority opinion here, but I think Santorum’s Catholicism is less of an impediment than a lot of lefties think. A lot of Protestant Bible-thumpers love right-wing Catholics these days — Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Bobby Jindal, Robert Bork — hell, even Sam Brownback is a Catholic now, and he just got elected governor of Kansas. Kansas! Gingrich is Catholic, and he was well respected by wingnuts pre-Paul Ryan dis. I think Santorum has a serious chance in Iowa.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @drkrick:

    Here’s an article quoting Paul Weyrich (a hardcore Catholic conservative and pro-life activist) on the creation of the religious right (http://maxblumenthal.com/2008/.....l-weyrich/):

    Seeking to capitalize on mounting evangelical discontent, Weyrich took a series of trips down South to meet with Falwell and other evangelical leaders. Weyrich hoped to produce a well-funded evangelical lobbying outfit that could lend grassroots muscle to the top-heavy Republican Party and effectively mobilize the vanquished forces of massive resistance into a new political bloc. In discussions with Falwell, Weyrich cited various social ills that necessitated evangelical involvement in politics, particularly abortion, school prayer and the rise of feminism. His pleas initially fell on deaf ears.

    I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” Weyrich recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. “What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.

    Huh.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @John Emerson: The fact that William and Mary does not currently offer an LLM in Tax Law does not mean that they did not offer one in 1988.

    The Law School lists her as an notable alumna. I will take their word over that of a random GOS diary.

  31. 31
    Nemesis says:

    Bachmann has moderated her insanity of late.

    She screeches far less and speaks in more of a monotone. She is desperately trying to put an acceptable face on barbaric bagger politics.

    She will run. She will garner a great deal of attention and I believe her new found uncrazy facade will melt away during the dog days of her candidacy, revealing her for what she is: another ultra conservative idealogue who is a clear danger to this country and our way of life.

  32. 32
    Nemesis says:

    @dmsilev: Paylin sez this?:
    “Still assessing the field because I know it is still going to change the line-up.

    Gawd what a fool she is.

  33. 33
    joeyess says:

    the rise of evangelical Christians in the Midwest in the last 40 years. The main driver of change is the battle over abortion…….

    I can attest to this personally. I grew up in Northern Iowa, about 60 miles from Bachamann’s district. My father was a public sector (district school) janitor. I’ll say that again; a janitor. He was a New Deal Democrat – as were most of his Great Depression era generation – that is, until Roe. He voted for Jimmy Carter because Carter had expressed his xtianity openly in the ’76 election. That was the last Democrat my father voted for, and he voted in every election. He was your prototypical one-issue voter. If you didn’t oppose Roe or oppose abortion in all cases, you were a non-starter as a candidate. He voted against his own economic interests for 32 years precisely because he wanted to end the “holocaust of abortion”. It didn’t matter if the candidate was a raging hypocrite or an Ayn Rand fan, a corporate whore or a union buster. If that candidate mentioned overturning Roe, that candidate got my Dad’s vote. I could never convince him that they would ever make abortion illegal. Even when the GOP had the White House, the House and the Senate from 2002-2006, they never put it up for a vote (and they could have rammed that thru with their simple little catch-phrase; “up or down vote”) because they knew it was a vote getter and a cash cow. He would listen to none of the nuanced politics of it all. Abortion was the keys to the kingdom for him. Sad story but a true one. And that is what the GOP base has devolved into….. my Dad in the form of a religious hive-mind.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    @Steve M.:

    I agree that anti-Catholicism just isn’t what it used to be. (In many ways, hasn’t been since William F. Buckley became the godfather of modern conservatism).

    Still, it’s there. The first time I heard Mike Huckabee’s name, back in 2007, it was in the context of primary politics: apparently, supporters of his campaign were discreetly but effectively circulating anti-Catholic tracts around in order to undercut and discredit Sam Brownback, who was his main competitor for the religious vote. I’d say it worked. It’s not a major prejudice and it’s hardly a big concern for Catholics in most contexts, but it can still play a role especially in Bible belt elections.

  35. 35
    Valdivia says:

    @RosiesDad:

    if Cantor was there it could never really be that impressive…

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Jimmy Carter’s problem, as always, was actually following the doctrines of Jesus.

    This alienated the fundigelical types, who are, first and foremost, Mammon worshippers.

    Actual Christians are in a distinct minority in this country, as opposed to “Christians”.

  37. 37
    joeyess says:

    @Chris: However, Catholics don’t vote strictly conservative, nor do they vote with Roe on the brain. That is the singular province of evangelicals. Catholics have strayed from the likes of Bill Donohue and I think have turned a liberal corner of sorts. A large portion of them are looking towards economic justice and keeping with the beatitudes. Also, too, they aren’t as prevalent in the great white north as Lutherans.

  38. 38
    DZ says:

    @Joeyess:

    As it stands, Roe v. Wade cannot be overturned by a vote in Congress. Overturning would require a constitutiona amendment (not a chance) or a new ruling by the SCOTUS

  39. 39
    geg6 says:

    @Steve M.:

    I think Santorum has a serious chance in Iowa.

    IMHO, this would be an even better outcome than having Bachmann as the nominee. For one thing, it would turn PA from purple to blue in a matter of seconds. No one, and I literally mean no one, in PA likes Santorum, that frothy mix of…well, we all know what that frothy mix is. The guy lost to the most vanilla of all candidates to ever run for Senate in this state. By 18 fucking points. 18 points and he was the incumbent.

    Oh, man. Gimme Santorum 2012! Obama would win in a cakewalk. Sadly, I do not think the FSM loves me this much.

  40. 40
    gex says:

    @WereBear: With the added benefit of getting tax preferential treatment. I’ve often thought that is an additional draw for cons and charlatans. And as you said, their targets are easy cons. It seems like believing things on faith (i.e. because you want to) doesn’t really help with the critical thinking skills.

  41. 41
    Montysano says:

    As far as her intelligence, Bachmann is somewhat of a cipher. Much more ominous IMHO is her icy, glassy-eyed true believer demeanor. She seems like someone who would waterboard her grandma if the math demanded it.

  42. 42
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Is Regent University that much better? Really?

  43. 43
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Actual Christians are in a distinct minority in this country, as opposed to “Christians”.

    Yep. There’s people for whom it’s a system of values, and people for whom it’s simply a group identity to cling to under the “it makes us righteous” label.

    (Probably also the reason why the religious right does so badly in politics, btw – they’ve run their own candidates in Republican primaries twice in 1988 and 2008, and in both cases the guy ended up third).

  44. 44
    joeyess says:

    @DZ: Yes, but they still could have voted for a federal law that would have put in place such draconian restrictions and barriers preventing access to abortion services that would have rendered Roe nearly impotent and states would have had to comply while fighting them in the courts.

    Furthermore, I believe that the stacking of the courts at the federal district level by GOP Presidents in 20 of the last 30 years would have made it particularly difficult to get any kind of stay or relief while the federal law would have had to go into effect. It would have been the end of conservatism as we know it because it would have been a massive overreach, but they could have pulled it off.

    Yes, you’re right, Roe could not be legislated away, but it could have been rendered moot by legislative barriers (see South Dakota) that would have clogged up the federal courts for years if not decades. But they didn’t.

    My point is that the issue of abortion is merely a shiny object to distract the rubes while the heist continues.

  45. 45
    gex says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Nope. Not putting up with No True Scotsman arguments. Otherwise there are actually NO Christians in America because there will always be someone who disagrees on what being a Christian means.

    I lose respect for Christians who want to write off their fellow believers as not being one of them. You may disagree on scripture, but you don’t get to decide whether or not they are Christian.

  46. 46
    joeyess says:

    @gex:

    You may disagree on scripture, but you don’t get to decide whether or not they are Christian.

    Can I decide if they’re all deluded?

  47. 47
    gex says:

    @DZ: But they didn’t make a move on the amendment process… Which is a thing that would have to go through Congress… So I guess I’m not sure what your point is.

  48. 48
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    I guess if you think human life begins at conception, then there’s no difference between a fetus, and an infant and abortion becomes infanticide. Sounds like your father experienced the same outrage that we’d all experience if, say, Republican judges made it okay for parents to kill their kids who were under the age of 18- and Republicans supported that.

    I mean, if you guaranteed someone a $1000 a month raise if they didn’t care that you were killing a couple hundred babies a month, they’d be a monster if they took you up on that, right? To the Christian conservatives voting Republican on the abortion issue, that’s what they feel like they’re doing- hurting their economic interests for the greater good of little murdered babies.

    You just can’t argue with it. You can argue privacy rights, you can argue that giving citizenship rights to fetuses makes no sense and guarantees that every woman who might’ve gotten pregnant in America’s child is now an “anchor baby.” You can argue practical realities like reduced crime rates or womens’ health and welfare, or that abortion rates went down under Clinton. They don’t care. To them it’s legalized baby murder. Life begins when the sperm and the egg meet up, and even stem cell research and in vitro fertilization are murder if they involve killing some of those fertilized eggs.

    I’m thinking the more effective argument would be that the Republicans won’t stop it either, because it’s the goose that lays the golden eggs for them in terms of votes. And that even when they’ve had the power, they haven’t stopped it. But I doubt that’ll convince anyone either. Once you’ve embraced the premise that this is baby-murder, then some hope of stopping it is better than no hope at all. I guess.

  49. 49
    Yutsano says:

    @gex: The point that they didn’t do a damn thing about it when they had the chance is a pretty damn big tell to me. But then again I’m paying attention.

  50. 50

    @gex:

    I lose respect for Christians who want to write off their fellow believers as not being one of them. You may disagree on scripture, but you don’t get to decide whether or not they are Christian.

    Then you’ve got a lot of people to not respect, since the entire history of Christianity is filled with No True Scotsmanism, all the way back to at least the Creeds, and arguably back to the epistles.

  51. 51

    @Asshole: This. You cannot argue people out of core beliefs.

  52. 52
    VOR says:

    Bachmann fits the trifecta of the religious conservatives. Anti-gay: her husband’s psychiatric practice focuses on “converting” gays back to heterosexuality. She proposed a MN constitutional amendment barring recognition of same-sex marriage. Home schooling: She rose to public attention as part of a group opposed to Minnesota state education standards and pro-home schooling. Mega-church approved: She has frequently claimed God has called her to run for office. There was a minor controversy regarding an appearance at a megachurch in Minnesota during a previous election.

    The reason nobody talks about her legislative accomplishments is that there are almost no legislative accomplishments. I think her total in Congress is co-sponsor of one bill (Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act – H.R. 4008) which made it into law. In the Minnesota Legislature: zero, IIRC.

  53. 53
    geg6 says:

    @joeyess:

    Word.

    But then, I’m an atheist. And the one thing Marx got completely right is the purpose of religion: “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes.”

  54. 54
    gex says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Well there have been a lot of battles over it. But I’m not sure that EVERY CHRISTIAN alive during those battles called the other ones not real Christians. I wait until those words are uttered by an individual first, then lose respect for them.

    ETA: I have plenty of religious friends who can express disagreement with the religious right who don’t resort to claiming they aren’t real Christians. FWIW.

  55. 55

    I do admit that I’d have a lot more respect for evangelical fundamentalist social conservatives if they spent half as much time fighting for the rights and well-being of people who are currently not on womb-related life-support as they do on abortion and their sodom and gomorrah issues.

    ETA: I get where you’re coming from re: the No True Scotsman issue, btw, and agree that trying to find a litmus test for a true Christian is a fool’s errand. I guess we’ll all find out this weekend, won’t we? :)

    ETA 2: Any time someone says “God told me to do X,” I immediately cross them off the list of people I will trust with public office. But that’s just me.

  56. 56
    slag says:

    @Clark: It’s ok. Just go back and throw up some invective about how the woman and the black man are keepin you down, and you’ll be right as rain again. These people have really, really short memories.

  57. 57
    gex says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Go back and read the Weyrich article. The evangelicals couldn’t be bothered with politics before the abortion and gay issues. They were drawn into relevancy by desegregation. Why would they care now?

  58. 58
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: That’s because they have you still believing it’s about saving the poor innocent bebehs. It’s not. It’s shaming the sluts who dared to go out and enjoy a sex act without consulting a male beforehand. The bebeh saving is just sleight of hand to use on the rubes.

    @gex: This. Also. Modern feminism was another culture shock after the Civil Rights Act that the male power structure couldn’t cope with. A lot of the 70’s was cultural shock therapy.

  59. 59
    Ash Can says:

    @joeyess: There’s been a liberal strain in Catholicism for quite some time; it’s not a very recent phenomenon. It may be rooted in practical matters at least as much as theological ones, but it’s there — its support of workers’ and immigrants’ rights, for example. In fact, given the Catholicism of such early 60s leaders as Pope John XXIII, Fulton Sheen, and JFK, it seems more like Donohue and his ilk have emerged as aberrations, rather than liberal Catholicism branching away from him.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PurpleGirl: It is right wing and nutty, but it is a fully accredited law school with some very good programs. Its moot court program, for example, is exceptionally good. One should be careful about dismissing a law school or its graduates simply because it is outside the T14 schools.

  61. 61
    geg6 says:

    And before the religious BJers jump in to say that Marx or I don’t understand or value religion, let’s see the whole quote so we can all understand that Marx (and I) get why people cling to their religious beliefs.

    Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

    I think that is a very empathetic description of how religion works in human society. And I agree with it and, like Marx, wish better for my fellow humans than that.

  62. 62
    Stillwater says:

    Bachmann’s strategy will be to unite the Tea Party/Paulists with the social conservatives,

    Well sure. And she’ll do it, too, since the thing that unites conservatives is a hatred of liberals. But look at it this way: friggin ‘I suspend my campaign’ McCain got 47% of the vote. So you can write that in as the new baseline: 47%. On top of that she’s got street cred, starbursty-ness, and a purity halo. Is that enough to get 4% more of the voters?

  63. 63
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    To the Christian conservatives voting Republican on the abortion issue, that’s what they feel like they’re doing- hurting their economic interests for the greater good of little murdered babies.

    It was never that nuanced with my dad. In fact, I don’t think it ever occurred to him until I pointed out that particular fact.

    I’m thinking the more effective argument would be that the Republicans won’t stop it either, because it’s the goose that lays the golden eggs for them in terms of votes. And that even when they’ve had the power, they haven’t stopped it. [ ] Once you’ve embraced the premise that this is baby-murder, then some hope of stopping it is better than no hope at all. I guess.

    Yep. That was my dad….. I loved him, but he drove me crazy with this disconnect.

  64. 64

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes, because John Woo is still tenured at Berkeley.

  65. 65
    Bulworth says:

    I think someone needs to feed the hamster running on the little wheel inside Palin’s head.

    WIN!

  66. 66
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Ugh. I’m about to do accountancy work there. You had to remind me of that little factoid huh? :)

  67. 67
    piratedan says:

    over at the GOS, Bill Pendergast has been following her “career” to catalog her various and sundry gaffes, outrages and random idiocy. She’s a “true believer” according to what he’s been able to find and as such, is a willing conduit for their policies and as a cash cow for other candidates. I find her to be truly scary, watching her speak in public, she has a zealot’s eyes. I have no doubt that she would push the button in the name of holy jeebus.

  68. 68
    joeyess says:

    @Ash Can: I’d agree with that. Donohue is an aberration……. a dangerous one that threatens to poison a large liberal community. While an atheist, forgive me if I don’t sing the praises of any church, let alone the Catholic sect, but for purely political purposes I would gladly lock arms with them and march for social justice if they would do so with me as an open atheist.

  69. 69
    jprfrog says:

    I am with Nietzsche on this one: “The last true Christian died on the cross.”

  70. 70
    Asshole says:

    FWIW, there are atheists opposed to abortion, too. I’ve met some. They think that life begins at conception for scientific/medical reasons, and that this life is the only shot you’ve got so it’s not fair to deprive people of it.

    If you think recognizable life begins at conception and that even in its earliest and most (for lack of a better word) parasitic stages that life’s value trumps any other interest, you wouldn’t really need to be a Christian or even religious at all to find abortion abhorrent.

  71. 71
    joeyess says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Then you’ve got a lot of people to not respect, since the entire history of Christianity is filled with No True Scotsmanism, all the way back to at least the Creeds, and arguably back to the epistles.

    Phew… for a second there, my dyslexia got the best of me and I thought you were invoking Scott Stamp.

  72. 72
    geg6 says:

    @joeyess:

    I’m with you there. As a recovering Catholic, it’s really mostly the hierarchy I have a beef with. Most lay Catholics that I know (and I know a LOT) are pretty reliably liberal and of the live and let live persuasion. Sorta the diametric opposite of the fundagelicals.

  73. 73
    geg6 says:

    @Asshole:

    This may be true (though I’ve never met such a creature). But I’d be willing to bet that even pro-life atheists aren’t out there doing anything to stop those of us who are pro-choice. And even if they are, they are such a small number that they aren’t even relevant to the conversation.

  74. 74
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    FWIW, there are atheists opposed to abortion, too. I’ve met some. They think that life begins at conception for scientific/medical reasons, and that this life is the only shot you’ve got so it’s not fair to deprive people of it.

    Who and where are these atheists so I can proudly and loudly point and laugh at their irrationality?

  75. 75
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Okay. Thanks for the answer and the information.

  76. 76
    drkrick says:

    Actual Christians are in a distinct minority in this country, as opposed to “Christians”.

    I like to differentiate between “Followers of Jesus” and “Christians.” The former is a much smaller group with a great deal of overlap with the latter.

    And yes, the history of Christianity has been one of “No True Scotsman” arguments all the back to Paul’s disagreements with Peter and James within a few years of the departure of Jesus.

    Really, it’s true of almost every monotheistic religion: Samaritans: Jews or not?; Shia: Muslims or not?; Mormons: Christians or not? Or the special Islamic version: Christians: Monotheists or not?

  77. 77
    joeyess says:

    @geg6:

    This may be true (though I’ve never met such a creature). But I’d be willing to bet that even pro-life atheists aren’t out there doing anything to stop those of us who are pro-choice. And even if they are, they are such a small number that they aren’t even relevant to the conversation.

    Not to mention they aren’t even relevant as atheists.

  78. 78
    Ash Can says:

    @joeyess: And any Catholics or other believers who were truly serious about righteous causes wouldn’t care if there allies were believers or not, or what kind. (That’s always been what gasses me the most about the anti-abortion movement — if they were really serious about preventing abortions, they’d address the reasons women get abortions in the first place, viz., poverty, workplace discrimination, inadequate contraception, inadequate sex education, etc., rather than just badgering politicians and shaming women seeking abortions.)

  79. 79
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Definitely agree with this post. that’s why I love to quote Jesus to them. They secretly think he’s a commie wussie, but they can’t say or acknowledge that.

    These ‘christians’ generally try to change the subject or move into the Old Testament (chock full of smiting, dontchaknow).

    Edit: I used the bad p-word & I iz in moderation.

  80. 80
    joeyess says:

    @Ash Can:

    if they were really serious about preventing abortions, they’d address the reasons women get abortions in the first place, viz., poverty, workplace discrimination, inadequate contraception, inadequate sex education, etc.,

    But that would entail admitting that people have sex. Can’t have that, dontcha know, you betcha!

  81. 81
    Asshole says:

    @geg6:

    Well, atheists themselves are a small minority. So we’re talking about a small minority of small minority.

    It’s like gay Republicans. I know that they exist, I’ve met several of them. They baffle me even more, because they align with a political movement that in its purest and most undistilled form wants to de facto exterminate them.

  82. 82
    Paul in KY says:

    @joeyess: Catholics as a whole were a Hell of alot more liberal 30 years ago. Back then, they generally voted Democratic.

    John Paul II came in and screwed over John XXIII and Paul VI. He did a good job of exising the Vatican II liberalism from the Catholics, IMO.

  83. 83
    Paul in KY says:

    @gex: He’s saying they don’t really believe it. By their actions you can see they don’t really believe it.

  84. 84
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Not to mention they aren’t even relevant as atheists.

    Ah, now the “No True Scotsman” argument applies to atheists, too. What about Randians, are they relevant as atheists? Marxists? (Marxists have their own sub-strains, of course: Trotskyites, Stalinists, etc. I have a friend on Facebook who goes so far as to say that anyone who thinks Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians is full of shit.)

  85. 85
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I thought they still generally voted Democratic, by and large. Divided by state and region and so forth, of course. But don’t the (somewhat slim) majority still vote Democratic? Or am I just imagining that? Haven’t gone and checked yet.

  86. 86
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ash Can: Starting with John Paul II there was a concerted effort (emanating from him) to roll back Vatican II and do away with as many of the reforms of John XXIII and Paul VI as they could.

    Pope Palpatine was part of it too.

  87. 87
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    Well, atheists themselves are a small minority.

    Nonsense. The numbers at that link are inexact as most people who describe themselves as having “no religion” refrain from coming out and saying they’re atheists because of the social stigma attached to such a claim. But 15% of Americans claiming no religion is a huge block of people. It’s a larger majority than African Americans, larger than Asian American, larger even than Mormons, Jews and Muslims Americans combined.

  88. 88
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: The ones in KY (lots of them in Northern KY) vote Republican (for the most part). They are mostly single-issue voters (abortion).

    They take their marching orders from their Bishops (who have all been vetted from the time of John Paul II). I’m generalizing here, as a liberal Catholic is pretty damn liberal (from my observations).

  89. 89
    aretino says:

    @Stillwater: McCain actually got just 45.6%, but what’s 1.4% among friends?

  90. 90
    Ash Can says:

    @joeyess:
    @Paul in KY:

    On both counts, I agree, and it drives me nuts.

  91. 91
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    What about Randians, are they relevant as atheists?

    Paul Ryan is an atheist?

    Wow. Ya learn something new every day.

    I only say that they aren’t relevant because anyone that thinks life begins at conception, isn’t being rational. And being rational is part and parcel of atheism.

    How does one shop for clothes for a blastocyst?

  92. 92
    gex says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I find it to be similar to the right’s Real Americans bs. Calling extreme Christians not Christian is like them calling us not-real Americans. That’s all.

    @Paul in KY: I can tell no such thing. And neither can you. They read the Bible and come away with a different interpretation than you. You claim they are wrong and you are right. How do we tell? I guess we just go off of your definition, right?

  93. 93
    aretino says:

    @Nemesis:

    She will run. She will garner a great deal of attention and I believe her new found uncrazy facade will melt away during the dog days of her candidacy, revealing her for what she is: another ultra conservative idealogue who is a clear danger to this country and our way of life.

    So you’re saying she’s a lock for the nomination, then?

  94. 94
    gex says:

    @Asshole: Sigh. Atheism doesn’t exist as a cohort. Their only unifying belief is that there isn’t a god. There are no other rules or beliefs that unite atheists.

    Although I don’t know what the person you are responding to means. Atheists that are pro-life are still atheists.

    @Asshole: What I’ve experience here in MN is that they vote GOP nationally and Democratic locally.

  95. 95
    Sharl says:

    There is a small contingent of atheist anti-choicers. AFAICT, they are of a libertarianish flavor. Nat Hentoff is one (used to be – maybe still is – a columnist at the Village Voice). A couple other relevant discussions from a quickie Google search are here and here.

  96. 96
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole: Allow me one other point: Atheists are far more “pro-life” than any fungelical I’ve ever met when you take into account that we believe that human life is precious from the time they are born until the time they expire.

  97. 97
    ruemara says:

    @Asshole:

    Except for one little thing. The bible totally says it’s ok to kill a kid for being disrespectful to their parents. Heck, Elijah got mocked for being bald by children, so God sent some bears to eat them. And this is presented as a good thing. “Happy is he who dashes thy little ones against the rocks!”

  98. 98
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Nonsense. The numbers at that link are inexact as most people who describe themselves as having “no religion” refrain from coming out and saying they’re atheists because of the social stigma attached to such a claim. But 15% of Americans claiming no religion is a huge block of people. It’s a larger majority than African Americans, larger than Asian American, larger even than Mormons, Jews and Muslims Americans combined

    15% claim no religion. That could mean anything between having an organized religion and being an atheist. Deists, pantheists, agnostics, people who don’t care enough to think about it… Sorry to quibble, but I doubt 15% of Americans are atheists and I don’t think that number backs it up.

    In any event, 15% would still be a small minority. Not as small as, say, the number who worship the Greek pantheon. But pretty small. When you’re outnumbered about 9 to 1 (and really, I think counting 2/3 of the irreligious as atheists is pretty generous), you’re a small minority. That number could grow, that number could shrink. Maybe 10 years from now 100% of Americans will be atheists and we’ll look back on this conversation and laugh. But for now, it’s small minority.

  99. 99
    Paul in KY says:

    @gex: There are fundamental things Jesus says in the New Testament. I’m not going to list them here, but they involve taking care of the poor, being friendly to your neighbors (even when they are not friendly to you) and not braying about how righteous you are. Even in their bibles (New Revised Whacko Edition) those precepts are there in black & white.

    IMO, if you thumb your nose at these basic precepts, you are not a Christian as Jesus conceptualized it.

    Edit: These are concepts that are plainly written. Not too flowery or written so convelutedly so that one couldn’t really tell what was being said or could make up alternate explanations (IMO).

  100. 100
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Yeah. Depends on the state, I think. Most of the ones in Vermont were pretty liberal, but there were many, many uberconservative exceptions. Still, as a group they voted Democratic.

  101. 101
    Paul in KY says:

    @ruemara: That’s in the Old Testament. A Christian is supposed to believe that the New Testament trumps anything in the Old Testament.

  102. 102
    aretino says:

    I’m looking forward to a discussion her Lutheran congregation’s “the Pope is the Antichrist” doctrine. Of course, it can wait until after she wins the nomination.

  103. 103
    wonkie says:

    Usually when I hear people sayig they are opposed to abortio because life begis at cxoceptio I just ask if they are opposed to abortion if the baby is cocieved by rape or incest. They start wafflig. So I say you are actually pro choice because you think the mother should have a chioce uder some circumstances. Then I ask about risk to the mother’s life, risk to the basby because the mother is too y0oug or too old, etc. It turns ouut that very few people, eve those who say life begis are coceptios, area ctually ati-abortion all the time.

    It serves the intersts of coservatives to treat it as a ewithr or issue. Mosty peiple, eve “pro-life” people want choice and want access to birthcontrol.

    Anyway I have successfully turned one issue voters into multiple issue voters this way. It all depeds o how ego ivest the person is i the self image of more-pro-life-tha-thou.

  104. 104
    joeyess says:

    @gex: what I mean is that atheism requires rational thought. The idea that life begins at conception is antithetical to being rational. We all know, or we should know, that life doesn’t begin at conception. Conception is merely a clump of cells that doesn’t define human life as we know it to be nor does it imply the sanctity of a first-class citizen.

    Here’s a thought experiment that I often employ: You’re in a burning building. You have only seconds to get out. In a room is a terrified 2 year old child and a freezer with a human embryo. You can only save one of the two. What’s it gonna be?

  105. 105
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Paul Ryan is an atheist?

    Beats me. Don’t know him personally. His public persona isn’t, but that author he likes so much- Ayn Rand- she was pretty staunchly atheistic.

    Wow. Ya learn something new every day.

    Yep. For example, you just learned that Objectivism is as anti-religious as Marxism is, apparently.

    I only say that they aren’t relevant because anyone that thinks life begins at conception, isn’t being rational.

    One of them was a med student. He said that medically speaking there was no other way to view it. He was pretty adamant about it, actually.

    And being rational is part and parcel of atheism.

    Really? You really think so? How about someone like my friend Tim, whose atheism began the day his baby died and who’s spent every day since screaming and yelling that there can’t be a God because his baby died? Is he purely rational there, do you think? I don’t. I feel incredibly sorry for him, but I think it would be quite a stretch to pretend that his atheism was a rational phenomenon.

    How does one shop for clothes for a blastocyst?

    So clothes-shopping is the definition of life, now? If we buy a suit for a corpse, does the corpse still get to vote?

    Come on, now. These people may be many things, but you can’t say that every single one of them is irrational to the point of stupidity. They have a view about the beginning of life that differs from ours. Condescendingly pretending they’re all idiots isn’t going to get you anywhere.

  106. 106
    Chris says:

    @Asshole:

    I thought they still generally voted Democratic, by and large. Divided by state and region and so forth, of course. But don’t the (somewhat slim) majority still vote Democratic? Or am I just imagining that? Haven’t gone and checked yet.

    I saw the numbers recently: the Catholic vote has been the same as the general popular vote in virtually every election for the last thirty years (to the point that they voted Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004). It’s by a fairly small margin, but still.

    And nah, in my experience, Catholics don’t take orders from their bishops. The conservatives ones are conservative and the liberal ones are liberal, and they tend to stay that way no matter who argues against them. Pretty much like anyone else.

  107. 107
    rickstersherpa says:

    I found this quote from a commenter on the American Conservative article interesting. At least since the beginning of the Great Recession and the consequential bailout, I think something else has been driving our white, social conservative, blue collar/pink collar evangelicals. This was from Ray, singing the praises of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman.

    “Months ago I told my friends that Sarah will not run, rather she is acting as a “Rabitt” and having the media dogs chase after her. My opinion is the media template of all conservatives being either dumb/stupid (used on Palin/Bush) or evil geniuses (Karl Rove) can only go so far. The fact is, Sarah Palin has done so much to change and broaden the landscape of the republican party and she should be thanked forever for it. She may not “reach the promised land” of the Presidency, but I don’t think she wants it. I think she would rather replace Oprah than Obama.

    Regarding the nutcase comments about Michelle. Here is the fact – America looks at Reid, Pelosi, Biden, etc. as all being true nutjobs. America had been sold down the path of Obama bringing change to the nutjob city known as Washington. We now know he is just a tool of special interests that control our country. He is a tool of Wall Street, Unions, and Big Business – but this is the Chicago Way of crony capitalism. Who loses today is the hard working Americans who are not members in the special classes: unions and big business – and hard working I mean small to medium size business owners who have to work their asses off to stay afloat and watch Obama doll out special deals for his Union and Corporate fatcat buddies. Can you believe GE paid no taxes this year!!!!!!

    The Internet and Social Technology have made Americans more knowledgeable than ever before and you may be shocked who may be running this country in the next decade…

    Bring it on Michelle, Sarah, and Tea Party!!!!!!”

    I wanted to ask this guy who he meant by “America” and which of us he considered un-American. And of course, Michelle and Sarah are much bigger tools of the corporate fat cats than the President (although I am afraid he is a tool on this issue, see today’s “The Big Picture” at http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2.....%e2%80%9d/). But Ray’s fury, and the particular tribe that he feels identified with, that information just does not register. So he makes up a story where they are working class heroes. And in someways Bachman is heroic as she has tried to live up to her ideals. They are not my ideals, and like most ideologues and fanatics, I find her terrifying. But we indulge our own tribalness a lot with the contempt for her and her voters. If we are so smart and right, then it must be due to laziness and self-satisfaction that these folks have been beating our heads quite regularly at elections these last 30 years.

  108. 108
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole: Fair enough. And I hope you’re right about 10 years from now. Although, I do believe that a large number of that 15% are closeted atheists. I’d split the difference with you. How about 9%? That’s 30 million people. Even if it’s 5% it’s still a large group.

  109. 109
    Asshole says:

    @gex:

    That’s why I was taking umbrage with the idea that “No True Scotsman” arguments apply to atheists. Seems like some atheists think they do. Maybe you’re not a real atheist if you’re not a rational atheist. So everyone who decided there’s no God because their uber-Catholic aunt/uncle/father/mother/priest was a douchebag who couldn’t possibly be right about anything, and never did any further reading into the matter to arrive at a rational conclusion of atheism, isn’t a real atheist. How many of the 5%/10%/15%/whatever % of Americans who call themselves atheists have done the prerequisite readings into Hume, Nietzsche, Marx, etc. that would somehow enable them to pass this litmus test of rationalism before they can truly be atheists?

  110. 110
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Allow me one other point: Atheists are far more “pro-life” than any fungelical I’ve ever met when you take into account that we believe that human life is precious from the time they are born until the time they expire.

    Since I’m neither an atheist nor a fungelical, I’ll let you enjoy that little squabble with them yourself. All I’m pointing out is that from their point of view, a fertilized egg is the same thing as a baby, and you’re a heartless monster for supporting the legalized mass murder of countless millions of babies. They might agree with you about every other issue- Hell, they might even agree that if you had to choose, then saving a fully-formed, born human baby from a burning building was more important than saving a petri dish full of blastocysts, for practical reasons of survivability. But they’re proceeding from a different axiom than you are about when “human life” in the meaningful sense begins, and even some atheists would agree with them on that one. That’s all I’m saying. I’m pro-choice. I’m not taking their side, just pointing out that you can hold it and not be a total fucking moron who doesn’t know anything about medical science.

  111. 111
    ruemara says:

    @Paul in KY:

    the new testament where Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven? The one with Ananias & Sapphira trying to cheat the commie living new christians in acts? The one where Jesus loved to give out that sweet sweet free healthcare?

  112. 112
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Fair enough. And I hope you’re right about 10 years from now.

    Then we’d just find something else to be bigoted about. Rational atheists versus irrational. Objectivists versus Marxists. Something. Humans are factionalists by nature. They also enjoy violence. Taking organized religion out of the equation wouldn’t change human nature one iota.

    Although, I do believe that a large number of that 15% are closeted atheists. I’d split the difference with you. How about 9%? That’s 30 million people. Even if it’s 5% it’s still a large group.

    Not so large, when scattered over a nation of well over 300 million, and not voting in a cohesive group. (Randian/Libertarian atheists would probably vote straight-ticket Republican or Libertarian, for example.)

  113. 113
    geg6 says:

    @Asshole:

    His public persona isn’t, but that author he likes so much- Ayn Rand- she was pretty staunchly atheistic.

    From what I have read and heard from him, he’s a pretty staunch Catholic. Figures.

    How about someone like my friend Tim, whose atheism began the day his baby died and who’s spent every day since screaming and yelling that there can’t be a God because his baby died?

    This guy is no atheist. He’s punishing “god” because he lost his baby. But he’s no atheist. He may say he is, but he isn’t.

    And I really do not believe that pro-life is any sort of a rational stance. It’s either reading shit into the Bible that never was there or it’s slut shaming. Either way, it’s not rational in any way. Your doctor friend, just because he’s a doctor, is not evidence of rationality. Just look into how many doctors are Randians.

  114. 114
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole: As to your friend Tim, I’m sorry for his loss. His atheism sounds a lot like a stage of grief. Med Students can be wingnuts too. As to the blastocyst and shopping for clothes? Maybe I should have added a “snark” so you would recognize the joke I was making.

    Lastly, I will condescend to anyone that whispers to imaginary beings. I will show no deference to their delusions. I'm not trying to get anywhere with them. They're never going to be a part of any solution. They will always be part of the problem. Especially the virulent strain of eschatological christianity. I shudder at the thought of those people anywhere near the levers of power in a country that is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

    We've given deference to the faithful for over 4000 years to guide the ship of state the world wide. They have failed miserably. We're too technologically advanced to allow people who suffer from the neurological disorder of wishing for the end of the world to actually run the world.

  115. 115

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal:

    “Reagan Democrats” were former Democratic voters who switched to the Republican Party because the Democrats only cared about teh blacks & teh feminists.

    Reagan did not lead the anti-abortion thing, he absorbed it.

    Most of what I read about the Carter/Reagan era fails to mention the anti-ERA movement headed by Schlafly. Also too court-ordered desegregation in northern industrial cities.

    These were the flaming issues before the Iran hostage thing exploded.

  116. 116
    joeyess says:

    @geg6: thank you for the assist.

  117. 117
    OzoneR says:

    @Asshole:

    I thought they still generally voted Democratic, by and large.

    Catholics are a swing vote. Bush won them in 2004, then Obama won them in 2008. Democrats won them in 2006, Republicans by a fairly large margin in 2010.

  118. 118
    Asshole says:

    @geg6:

    This guy is no atheist. He’s punishing “god” because he lost his baby. But he’s no atheist. He may say he is, but he isn’t

    I’ve been friends with the guy for over 20 years. But rest assured that if I said this to his face, it would precipitate physical violence. (FWIW, I agree with you that he’s probably not an atheist on some level. Being anti-God is not the same thing as believing there’s no God at all.)

    And I really do not believe that pro-life is any sort of a rational stance. It’s either reading shit into the Bible that never was there or it’s slut shaming. Either way, it’s not rational in any way. Your doctor friend, just because he’s a doctor, is not evidence of rationality. Just look into how many doctors are Randians.

    But are the Randians atheists, or aren’t they?

  119. 119
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    Taking organized religion out of the equation wouldn’t change human nature one iota.

    Oh, really?

    I could also post images of religious genocide from Bosnia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, the entirety of the last 1000 years of Christendom if you like.

    Stop, now. Really. Just stop.

  120. 120
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    But are the Randians atheists, or aren’t they?

    No. They’re merely and exactly what John Kenneth Galbraith described.

  121. 121
    Paul in KY says:

    @Chris: I’m saying they have received conservative preaching & epistles from the Bishop for the last 30 years & (at least here in KY) it has taken a reliable Democratic voting block & flipped it to Republican.

  122. 122
    Paul in KY says:

    @rickstersherpa: What political party would be pleased by corporate entities paying no income tax?

  123. 123
    Paul in KY says:

    @ruemara: That one!

  124. 124
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    As to your friend Tim, I’m sorry for his loss. His atheism sounds a lot like a stage of grief.

    Yeah, but it’s also been going on for several years now. He’s had another child in the interim. He just never got over it, I guess.

    Med Students can be wingnuts too.

    This particular one wasn’t a wingnut, though. On every other issue, he agreed with me. On this issue, he said that there was no medical debate- human life begins at conception. He understood that for legal reasons it might not be useful to treat embryos and fetuses as citizens, but he still thought of it as infanticide. Just, somewhat justifiable infanticide, I guess. (I’m extrapolating that, so I could be wrong. We had several arguments about it but he never used that phrase.)

    As to the blastocyst and shopping for clothes? Maybe I should have added a “snark” so you would recognize the joke I was making.

    Sorry. Hard to tell around here, sometimes.

    Lastly, I will condescend to anyone that whispers to imaginary beings.

    Assuming, axiomatically, that God is imaginary. I have yet to hear a viable alternative to the Prime Mover argument of Aristotle, myself, so for purely logical reasons I think there’s a God of some kind. I can’t understand what, other than a metaphysical causal force of some kind, could have caused the Universe. But that’s probably a discussion for another day.

    I will show no deference to their delusions.

    Okay, you don’t like people who have religious views. Fair enough. What about atheists who think life begins at conception and think it’s unethical to terminate a potential life before it’s been born and had a chance to live?

    I’m not trying to get anywhere with them. They’re never going to be a part of any solution. They will always be part of the problem.

    This mentality is precisely why the Republicans have done so well since Nixon. The failure to engage the perceived enemy and to attempt to understand where they’re coming from- the failure to make them understand that they can keep their views about the problems while agreeing with you, for a myriad of possible reasons, on the solutions- is why the Republicans have shifted this country so far to the right that it’s unrecognizable.

    You may think that your father’s views about religion were idiotic, for example… But people like him were the backbone of the New Deal coalition that pulled this country out of the Gilded Age. Now, thanks largely to religious and cultural wedge issues, they’re voting to bring this country back into one. Your condescension comes at a very high price.

    BTW, in your professional medical opinion, when does life begin? I need to know so that the next time a doctor tells me that it begins at conception from a medical perspective, I can contradict them. They’ll undoubtedly give me a bunch of shit about how brain/heart/spine development indicate that the fetus is indistinguishable from a newborn at week x or is viable ex utero at week y, but if you can come up with some kind of valid medical reason why they’re all wrong, please share it with me. (The point is still that people can, in good faith, disagree with you about abstract matters of medical science in which the evidence can be interpreted any number of ways, without themselves being completely irrational idiots.)

    Especially the virulent strain of eschatological christianity. I shudder at the thought of those people anywhere near the levers of power in a country that is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

    Well, in fairness, while I very much agree with you about keeping nutjobs away from real political power, I have to point out that we did survive 8 years of Bush somehow. And he was certainly one of these nutters, or at least pretended to be. So I think America can survive the election of yet another Christian President without it automatically spelling the end of the human species. (Depending on the specific Christian we’re talking about, of course.)

    We’ve given deference to the faithful for over 4000 years to guide the ship of state the world wide. They have failed miserably.

    Really? I didn’t realize atheists had the power to take over the nation. What’s your plan, an armed insurrection against religious people?

    We’re too technologically advanced to allow people who suffer from the neurological disorder of wishing for the end of the world to actually run the world.

    I think only a very tiny subset of religious people want the end of the world. That Jesus guy in their Bible warned them not to try to predict when it would end either, so the vast majority of thinking Christians could easily use their religious texts to disagree with said people. Atheists also include a subset of extinctionist nihilists (maybe they’re just clinically depressed and suicidal types, but they’re certainly out there- Jared Loughner strikes me as a good example), but you’re obviously not too worried about one of them gaining control of the levers of power. This shows that you recognize that atheists are still a relatively powerless minority, for all their numerical millions.

  125. 125
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    I could also post images of religious genocide from Bosnia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, the entirety of the last 1000 years of Christendom if you like.

    And I could post pictures of Soviet gulags and Chinese mass murders, and it would prove my point.

    S

    top, now. Really. Just stop.

    Humans were violent before they had organized religion. Humans will be violent after organized religion, if that day ever comes.

    Sorry if that hurts your feelings or seems irrational. It’s merely an observation based upon archaeological and anthropological evidence, combined with a cursory reading of world history. Also, anecdotal knowledge of how people who lack belief in religion don’t automatically evolve into morally superior beings.

  126. 126
    Stillwater says:

    a href=”#comment-2593895″>geg6: And I really do not believe that pro-life is any sort of a rational stance.

    That’s a pretty high bar for rationality. It seems to me there’s nothing irrational about believing that morally considerable human life begins at conception. I (personally) don’t attribute any distinctly human moral properties to a blastocyst, but I can certainly understand someone who does.

  127. 127
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: The harsh thing to say to him would be ‘what makes you or your deceased child so special?’ Little kids (most all of them loved & all worthy of love) die every fucking day. ‘What makes you so special that God decided to personally terminate your child as some kind of vengance upon you?’

    As you noted, I would not say this when physically present with him.

    Obviously, there is no logic to the grief process when your beloved child dies. Mr. Darwin was never the same after a daughter died at age 10.

  128. 128
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    You seem to have adopted strange new definitions of words.

    As I’m understanding you:

    Atheist = rational

    Non atheist = irrational

    Knowledge of how millions of self-described atheists have acted seems to contradict these definitions. Additionally, I’m not sure I can accept a definition of rationality that doesn’t include people like Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas in it. You can redefine the terms all you want, but if it’s not a “No True Scotsman” type argument, I don’t know what is. “No True Atheist is Irrational.” “No Non-Atheist is Rational.” I’m not saying you mean it this way, but to a non-initiate it can sound almost as potentially eliminationist as the most deeply fundamentalist rhetoric.

  129. 129
    redshirt says:

    I’m as big an Atheist as you get, and I’m personally against abortion – I’m very “pro-life”. BUT! I note the word “personal” – I believe abortion should be, as it’s said, “safe, legal, and rare”. I begrudge no one for getting one.

    And as for pro-life: I am a vegetarian for that reason; I am strongly against capital punishment in all cases; I’d like to see an end to all wars, murder, violence, etc.

    And yet! Hardcore atheist.

    I see nothing inconsistent at all in these positions, but I’m sure many others would.

  130. 130
    Barry says:

    “Bachmann’s strategy will be to unite the Tea Party/Paulists with the social conservatives, which will be a neat trick considering that Paul himself is running. ”

    Every poll I’ve seen shows that the Tea Party *is* the social conservative wing. The whole fiscal stuff is just due to (a) when the Democrats got in charge, the right-wingers didn’t like the spending and (b) the astroturf managers had money issues as their primary goal, and so the Tea Party was largely steered that way.

  131. 131
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: Why can I not claim that they are condescending to me when they claim that some religious point that isn’t hardly even mentioned in the bible (except to say that if you cause a woman to abort in 7th month or later, you owe some form of compensation) trumps every real world issue/concern?

  132. 132
    Asshole says:

    @Stillwater:

    Exactly. I think it’s empirically debatable when “human life” begins. The fact that some might conclude it begins at birth doesn’t mean that other people are automatically irrational for concluding on the basis of their medical or scientific knowledge that it begins at conception. And if they conclude that it begins at conception, then leaving aside all legal niceties, it becomes an act of murder to abort a fetus.

    You might disagree, and so might I. But that’s the inevitable corollary that would almost HAVE to be drawn from concluding that human life begins at conception.

  133. 133
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: There was a religion involved there too: The religion of Marxism-Leninism/Stalinism

  134. 134
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    The harsh thing to say to him would be ‘what makes you or your deceased child so special?’ Little kids (most all of them loved & all worthy of love) die every fucking day. ‘What makes you so special that God decided to personally terminate your child as some kind of vengance upon you?’

    He’d say there is no God. But his reasons wouldn’t be rational. He’d say that his dead kid mattered because it was his dead kid- the same as you’d say if someone killed your whole family and then asked what you were so upset about.

    As you noted, I would not say this when physically present with him.

    He’s a great guy, actually. But he’s also crazy and has a proven propensity for physical violence when provoked. I can’t imagine anything more provocative than telling him that his dead kid doesn’t matter. That’s fundamentally nihilistic, come to think of it.

    Obviously, there is no logic to the grief process when your beloved child dies. Mr. Darwin was never the same after a daughter died at age 10.

    So who can say how purely rational his agnosticism was, really? (Perhaps his grief also inspired him to plagiarize many of his best ideas from Alfred Russell Wallace, too, for all I know.)

  135. 135
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Why can I not claim that they are condescending to me when they claim that some religious point that isn’t hardly even mentioned in the bible (except to say that if you cause a woman to abort in 7th month or later, you owe some form of compensation) trumps every real world issue/concern?

    The fact that other people are condescending doesn’t justify condescension in return. This is the realm of rationalism, not a childhood playground.

  136. 136
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I’m saying his poor dead kid matters no more than the other poor dead kids. His grief is no more special than the grief endured by all the other parents/loved ones of the deceased children.

    He has to stop being a narcisist. Thinking that an allmighty being takes time to plot your demise. IMO, same thing as someone claiming God helped them win a game or a lottery or whatever.

  137. 137
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    There was a religion involved there too: The religion of Marxism-Leninism/Stalinism.

    Ah, I see. So atheism WOULD change human nature if it were tried, and the times when it WAS tried and didn’t change human nature were just examples of “No True Scotsman” pseudo-atheism.

    No offense, but this sounds like Libertarians eagerly awaiting the day when your ideas can just be tried in their most perfectest form, and then everything will be sunshine and roses and humans will stop fighting forever- and those times when Libertarian ideas have been tried and failed, it’s because they weren’t really Libertarian.

    It’s nice when your wholly-theoretical idea’s never been tried, and you can draw imaginary lines that distinguish your theory from the times when it HAS been tried and failed miserably. I’ve known my share of Marxists who claim that Stalin wasn’t a real Marxist. They’ll still say they’re staunch atheists, though.

  138. 138
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: Mr. Darwin had sat on his theses for approx 20 years. It was only when he realized that Mr. Wallace had reached the same conclusions did he publish his work.

  139. 139
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I’m saying his poor dead kid matters no more than the other poor dead kids. His grief is no more special than the grief endured by all the other parents/loved ones of the deceased children.

    That’s nihilism. Either grief matters, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, then nothing matters and we might as well all lie down and wait to die.

    He has to stop being a narcisist. Thinking that an allmighty being takes time to plot your demise. IMO, same thing as someone claiming God helped them win a game or a lottery or whatever.

    God, he’d be LIVID if he knew you were saying this about him. To his way of thinking, he’s a rational atheist. He’s had years to read up on atheism, and he could use the same arguments you use. But underneath it all, there’s the grief at losing his kid. He wouldn’t make that his first line of argument for atheism. His first line would sound as rational as anything you read around here. It’s only because I’ve known him and watched the process that I can say for sure this is how it worked.

  140. 140
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I can see where I am being and can be condescending to them and to some of their ‘excentric’ views. However, none of them will admit to any form of condescending behavior towards me & those who share my viewpoints.

    Who is really being childish here?

  141. 141
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: The no religion thing can’t be done. ‘Religion’ can’t be put back in the bottle like a genie. We are stuck with religion in one form or another, it appears.

    I guess talking about an atheist utopia is basically academic.

  142. 142
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: Stalin was not a real Marxist. He was a monarchist, wrapped in dialetical materialism (ha, ha).

  143. 143
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I don’t think there is any inherent meaning to life. You are here, try & enjoy it & leave it with a clean consience.

    Does that make me a nihilist?

  144. 144
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Ah. That wasn’t how I’d read that it went down. But wasn’t “survival of fittest” a phrase first coined by Wallace?

  145. 145
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    “He started it!” Nope, that doesn’t sound childish at all. Not at all.

  146. 146
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    The no religion thing can’t be done. ‘Religion’ can’t be put back in the bottle like a genie. We are stuck with religion in one form or another, it appears.

    I guess talking about an atheist utopia is basically academic

    I doubt australopithecines and the other pre-humans were totally peaceful toward one another. That’s my point. Even chimpanzees- who have no religious leanings I’m aware of- have been observed going to war with one another for territory.

    Life is harsh. Religion, per se, doesn’t change that one way or another.

  147. 147
    Nick says:

    The abortion is murder/life begins at conception meme… <1% of even "pro-life" women believe this. Look at two prominent examples (Sarah & Bristol Palin). They both describe how they deliberated for days/(weeks?) and "chose life". If abortion was murder, no need to debate, deliberate, and choose not to commit murder!

  148. 148
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Stalin was not a real Marxist. He was a monarchist, wrapped in dialetical materialism (ha, ha).

    Lenin and Trotsky were eliminationist butchers, too, it just doesn’t get as much press attention because they weren’t around as long…

    Oh, I see what you did, there! hahaha

  149. 149
    Kane says:

    If Bachmann does announce, it is important that everyone understands that she proposed eliminating Veteran benefits. If you think her support to dismantle Medicare is unpopular, wait until voters hear that she wanted to take benefits away from the troops.

  150. 150
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I don’t think there is any inherent meaning to life. You are here, try & enjoy it & leave it with a clean consience.

    So, what about people who lose their children and never get over it? Are they somehow defective people for having moral thoughts about this?

    Does that make me a nihilist?

    For what it’s worth, wikipedia would say so.

  151. 151
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: It might have been. Mr. Wallace is a giant in his own right. To me, the Theory of Evolution is grand enough for two authors :-)

  152. 152
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    I’m not saying you mean it this way, but to a non-initiate it can sound almost as potentially eliminationist as the most deeply fundamentalist rhetoric.

    Oh bullshit. Who said anything about eliminating the religious? Nice fucking strawman. Here, let me knock the stuffing out of that for you. I don’t think the eschatological religionists (folks who bop their baloney at the idea of the end of the world and being raptured up to be a Christ-bride or reign in heaven with God The Fatheror whatever the fuck else they’re delusions include) should be allowed to make any policy at all. They should be marginalized and disavowed as dangerous to the human condition.

    Also, it’s good to see that my argument is sinking in. However, I would amend your take on my thesis: Atheist=Rational. Religious=Irrational. Christian/Muslim Fundamentalists=Bug-Fucking-Tussle-Crazy.

    As for this line of tripe:

    This mentality is precisely why the Republicans have done so well since Nixon. The failure to engage the perceived enemy and to attempt to understand where they’re coming from- the failure to make them understand that they can keep their views about the problems while agreeing with you, for a myriad of possible reasons, on the solutions- is why the Republicans have shifted this country so far to the right that it’s unrecognizable.

    Dream on, sleepy dreamer. This is pure tribalism. These people come from a long line of ideological neurotics that hold the opinion that if you don’t believe in everything they hold dear, if you refuse to accede to their world-view, you’re the enemy. You’re the problem. You’re a usurper if you hold power, an insurgent if you oppose them when they hold power and you’re a force of evil in the world. Their world-view is non-negotiable. They deserve nothing but scorn and ridicule. Let them whine about their perceived persecution while never persecuting them at all.

    In other words: Fuck ’em.

    That is my view. Are we clear?

  153. 153
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I was saying that I can admit to some condescension (can’t seem to spell that right) when arguing with them. They don’t see any on their point of view (when I think you would agree there is some).

    Again, who is being childish here?

  154. 154
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: If anyone has said that no religion would mean no venal killing of other people, then that person would be a fool, IMO.

    I haven’t said that & I don’t remember anyone else in this thread saying that.

    Are you constructing a straw man here?

  155. 155
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kane: I hope Pres. Obama would keep that one until she’s the nominee.

  156. 156
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Fair enough. I just feel bad that Darwin gets ALL the credit.

  157. 157
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: Thanks for the link. I would say I’m a semi-nihilist.

    As for the poor grieving father, I say grieve, it is the normal thing to do. However, don’t elevate your grief into something that tries to supercede the grief felt by all other parents who have lost children. Their grief is every bit as real/valid as his.

    Don’t think the cosmos revolves around you & your deceased child. Which is what it seems this person has done.

  158. 158
    joeyess says:

    @Paul in KY:

    @Asshole: If anyone has said that no religion would mean no venal killing of other people, then that person would be a fool, IMO.
    I haven’t said that & I don’t remember anyone else in this thread saying that.
    Are you constructing a straw man here?

    In a word: Yep.

  159. 159
    Chris says:

    @joeyess:

    Ah…

    Taking organized religion out of the equation wouldn’t change human nature one iota.

    Oh, really?

    I could also post images of religious genocide from Bosnia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, the entirety of the last 1000 years of Christendom if you like.

    Stop, now. Really. Just stop.

    What exactly were you trying to imply when you posted the 9/11 images and then mentioned Bosnia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and the entirety of the last 1000 years of Christendom, in response to someone telling you that removing religion from the equation wouldn’t change human nature?

    I’m just asking because to me and apparently to El Asshole, it sounded very much like you were saying or at least implying that the absence of religion could have somehow prevented these things. The laundry list of communist regimes doing similar things would appear to contradict that.

  160. 160
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Oh bullshit. Who said anything about eliminating the religious?

    No one, not even me. I said it was a “No True Scotsman” argument, and that it could be construed as eliminationist rhetoric. Especially when it comes from someone saying stuff like this:

    I will condescend to anyone that whispers to imaginary beings. I will show no deference to their delusions. I’m not trying to get anywhere with them. They’re never going to be a part of any solution. They will always be part of the problem.

    “People who disagree with me are a problem. They cannot be reasoned with, and are delusional and dangerous.” Nope, that doesn’t sound eliminationist at all.

    Nice fucking strawman. Here, let me knock the stuffing out of that for you.

    Thank you.

    I don’t think the eschatological religionists (folks who bop their baloney at the idea of the end of the world and being raptured up to be a Christ-bride or reign in heaven with God The Fatheror whatever the fuck else they’re delusions include) should be allowed to make any policy at all. They should be marginalized and disavowed as dangerous to the human condition.

    Agreed.

    Also, it’s good to see that my argument is sinking in.

    Not really. Just making sure I understand it. I still disagree with a decision to hijack words like “rational” so that they only apply to people who agree with you, but I want to make sure I understand that’s actually what you were doing before I accuse you of doing it.

    However, I would amend your take on my thesis: Atheist=Rational. Religious=Irrational. Christian/Muslim Fundamentalists=Bug-Fucking-Tussle-Crazy.

    Perhaps could can explain how Deists are irrational, then. How was the Universe caused, without a causeless causer of some sort? If only atheists are rational, then why have I yet to hear a rational atheist explanation for how the Universe came to exist? They all sound like they rely on miracles to me- “nothing exists, then magically the nothingness farted and energy happened.” That’s an atheist miracle.

    I still think people can rationally conclude that life begins at conception. I can’t see any medical basis for disproving that, although I can certainly think of medical reasons to disagree. (And my doctor friend was incensed when I told him so.)

    Dream on, sleepy dreamer. This is pure tribalism.

    Where’d all that talk of rationalism go? Suddenly, we’re back to painting our faces and dancing around the skulls of our enemies mounted on sticks.

    These people come from a long line of ideological neurotics that hold the opinion that if you don’t believe in everything they hold dear, if you refuse to accede to their world-view, you’re the enemy. You’re the problem. You’re a usurper if you hold power, an insurgent if you oppose them when they hold power and you’re a force of evil in the world. Their world-view is non-negotiable. They deserve nothing but scorn and ridicule. Let them whine about their perceived persecution while never persecuting them at all.

    These people used to be Democrats until Nixon skillfully used people like you to drive them out of the party. I think if you’d quit the yammering on social issues and telling them they’re blithering imbeciles for thinking fetuses count as human life or for having a hope in life after death, we could maybe convince them that the economic ones mattered more and bring them back into the fold.

    In other words: Fuck ‘em.

    I’ve shared these thoughts from time to time, I’ll admit. Then I thought about the ramifications of a civil war- really thought about them. I decided that it was better to stop thinking like this, stop talking like his, stop lying awake at night hating people who aren’t so much evil as they are deluded. They’re working schmos like me. They have mouths to feed. They can be made to understand that abortion is an immutable facet of American life, and that the Republican Party is not going to undo it. It’s impossible to convince them of that when other liberals are constantly harping about how their religious views are total nonsense, though. I thought tolerance was a liberal virtue. If I wanted to deal with a bunch of tribal xenophobes, I could join the other side. I don’t think I should sacrifice my ideological soul just to match the other side in divisive nastiness. The polarization has only helped the Nixons, in the long run.

    That is my view. Are we clear?

    Yes. You’re an anti-religious bigot who refuses to accept that people could disagree with you- even on something empirical, like the medical definition of when human life begins, and EVEN IF they’re disagreeing with you for purely non-religious reasons- and retain their rational faculties. That’s very clear. Thank you.

  161. 161
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Yes, yes. Fuck that grieving father I’ve been friends with for over 20 years because he’s acting like a human! Fuck him!

  162. 162
    Paul in KY says:

    @joeyess: Gotcha!

    Edit: Right on! As I see this post was from joeyess. Note to self: Read name before responding.

  163. 163
    joeyess says:

    @Chris:911, Bosnia, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, the entirety of the last 1000 years of Christendom were all religiously inspired violence.

    I’ll put up 2000 years of violence in the service of religion against the record of the last century’s commie regime inspired violence any day of the week.

    I love this. Every time someone rightly points out the violence committed in the name of some random phantasm, someone else pulls Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and any other perceived atheist they can think of in comparison.

    Admittedly, Mao was an avowed atheist, however that wasn’t the reason for his genocidal ways. He was, in his mind, ridding his nation of thousands of years of monarchy, feudalism, tribalism and militarism. His revolution succeeded spectacularly. China is still a communist nation that has learned how to practice a brutal form of capitalism while maintaing the authoritarianism of the state. Stalin? Not so much. He used religion when it was convenient to rally the people of the USSR in the fight against Hitler’s aggression. I doubt an avowed, open and loud atheist worth their principles would stoop to such hypocrisy. Stalin’s violence was in service of “the revolution” and his own egomaniacal personality.

    Hitler was a Catholic. Of this there is no doubt. He was also a fucking nut.

    Pol Pot? I’ve never read anything that validates the claim that he was an atheist. Again, his violence was in service to “the revolution” and used toward the consolidation of his own venal desire for power.

    No one is saying that the world would be perfect without religion. It sure would be one hell of a lot more quiet. We can be good without gods and myths. In fact, we can be better than we are now if we were all to accept the premise that we have one life to live and our children to leave it to. Better than we found it.

    Superstition only clouds our judgement.

  164. 164
    eemom says:

    the wrong people call themselves “Asshole” around here.

  165. 165
    Catsy says:

    @joeyess:

    Who and where are these atheists so I can proudly and loudly point and laugh at their irrationality?

    This.

    The only empirically provable thing that begins at conception is cell division. Anyone asserting that this barely differentiated, microscopic mass of cells is a person is not making a rational argument. At best it is a philosophical question, at worst it is as much an article of faith as anything in the Bible.

    Any atheist who claims to believe this is nothing of the sort–they are simply another kind of religionist making unprovable assertions based on faith and belief. That’s not a “No True Scotsman” argument, it goes to the very definition of what an atheist is.

  166. 166
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: You can do all manner of great, good, bad & horrible things and still be ‘acting like a human’.

    From what you had said, I pegged him as a narcicist who thinks his grief supercedes all other grief. A person who thinks the universe/God has it in for him & his kid.

    If he’d look around, he’d see there are alot of other people in the same boat & dealing with the same feelings of loss. I would think that finding that commonality might somehow ease his debilitating grief. His poor daughter wouldn’t want him to spend the rest of his life moaning & wailing & gnashing his teeth over the sad turn of events that resulted in her early death.

    I think it’s a shame you’ve twisted my words around. I want the man to start living again. His kid would want him to, I’m sure of that.

  167. 167
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    “Evidence against my position be damned! My axioms are still valid!” This is the position of any truly rational person. Also, massaging history with crap like this:

    Hitler was a Catholic. Of this there is no doubt. He was also a fucking nut.

    Hitler was certainly BAPTIZED a Catholic. Is there any evidence whatsoever that once he hit adulthood (or, Hell, even puberty) he set foot in a Catholic Church for purposes of religious observance?

    I think an argument can be made that in his adult life, Hitler was a pagan. I think an argument can also be made that in his adult life, he was a nihilist whose “religion,” as such, was the mystical tribal identity of Germany. (This would put him firmly into that 15% whose numbers you were bragging about in the context of American demographics, BTW. No religion; not strictly an atheist; absolutely batshit insane.)

    Someone who tries to pretend Hitler was a practicing Catholic in his adult life richly deserves to have to apologize for Mao, Stalin, and Jared Loughner. They also deserve to have their assertion that the only people who are truly rational are the ones who agree with them called into question.

  168. 168
    Asshole says:

    @Catsy:

    The only empirically provable thing that begins at conception is cell division. Anyone asserting that this barely differentiated, microscopic mass of cells is a person is not making a rational argument. At best it is a philosophical question, at worst it is as much an article of faith as anything in the Bible.

    It’s always a philosophical question. In the purely biological sense, though, they’re correct- life begins in some form at conception. I could say their views are more internally consistent than my own, in fact.

    Any atheist who claims to believe this is nothing of the sort—they are simply another kind of religionist making unprovable assertions based on faith and belief. That’s not a “No True Scotsman” argument, it goes to the very definition of what an atheist is.

    Yeah, just like a fundamentalist who says that Catholics aren’t really Christians. No True Atheist can possibly have any sort of philosophical basis for thinking life begins at conception, so those atheists who do are all phonies.

  169. 169
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    Yes. You’re an anti-religious bigot

    If that means that I will never countenance the delusional, then color me a bigot.

    You poor, poor persecuted believer. How will you ever survive the ravenous hordes of non-believers coming to kill you in your bed?

    Go on, wallow in the muck of your self-perceived persecution, while I go out in my front yard, tee up a golf ball, take out my 7 iron and hit it north, south, east and west and have a ball land in the random parking lot of one of your completely persecuted, not to mention tax exempt, worship huts.

  170. 170
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    You can do all manner of great, good, bad & horrible things and still be ‘acting like a human’.

    I guess if life’s meaningless, it’s all one and the same, right? It’s all narcissism, too.

    From what you had said, I pegged him as a narcicist who thinks his grief supercedes all other grief. A person who thinks the universe/God has it in for him & his kid.

    I doubt he’d see it that way. But sometimes it’s easier for an outsider to observe what a person is going through than for the person themselves. Rest assured, if you or I said this to him in person we’d be lucky to escape with a severe beating. I’m several inches taller than him, but I’ve seen him in fights and I have no desire to have a homicidally enraged human tiger at my throat.

    If he’d look around, he’d see there are alot of other people in the same boat & dealing with the same feelings of loss. I would think that finding that commonality might somehow ease his debilitating grief. His poor daughter wouldn’t want him to spend the rest of his life moaning & wailing & gnashing his teeth over the sad turn of events that resulted in her early death.

    His daughter was a barely-sentient cluster of atoms, same as him and you. So who cares, right? It’s all narcissism and pointlessness, and in a million years it won’t matter. In fact, at this very moment it doesn’t matter. We should all go out and blow our brains out, or not. It’s all one and the same, since life is pointless.

    I think it’s a shame you’ve twisted my words around. I want the man to start living again. His kid would want him to, I’m sure of that.

    If he started living again, I think he’d probably become religious. I very much doubt he’d ever be capable of an atheism that wasn’t intertwined with existential rage. Then again, his brother’s an atheist too and he didn’t lose any kids, so who knows?

  171. 171
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole

    : I think an argument can be made that in his adult life, Hitler was a pagan. I think an argument can also be made that in his adult life, he was a nihilist whose “religion,” as such, was the mystical tribal identity of Germany. (This would put him firmly into that 15% whose numbers you were bragging about in the context of American demographics, BTW. No religion; not strictly an atheist; absolutely batshit insane.)

    I was bragging that atheists were nationalists? When?

    This is great. Every time I get into a discussion about atheism/theism, the theist always seems to be the first to employ Godwin’s Law.

    Perfect.

    And now I’m closing in on being a Nazi.

    Man. And to think this morning I was just a guy getting up early to paint his house.

    This is why I hate rainy days.

  172. 172
    Asshole says:

    Why exactly would anyone want to turn to a belief system which called them narcissists for being upset that their child was born with its organs on the outside of her body and died after less than a day, again? I’m sorry, I’m just not sure I can see the allure. I’d show Tim this thread and ask him about it, but I’m pretty sure he’d bash my head in. So, I won’t.

  173. 173
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    I was bragging that atheists were nationalists? When?

    Nowhere. I think you need to develop reading comprehension skills. I said that Hitler’s religion was nationalism, in response to your assertion that he was “undeniably” Catholic. In your little poll, he’d be in the 15% who listed no religion as a belief.

    This is great. Every time I get into a discussion about atheism/theism, the theist always seems to be the first to employ Godwin’s Law.

    You were the one who brought him into the discussion and made him a scapegoat for Catholics. That was historically dishonest of you, and you don’t deserve the right to play the victim after you brought Hitler into the discussion.

    And now I’m closing in on being a Nazi.

    Try to go back through the last couple posts, and piece through the number of logical leaps you’ve had to go through in order to arrive at this little cult of victimhood you’ve established in your head. You’re the most rational person in this thread, so it should be relatively easy for you.

    Man. And to think this morning I was just a guy getting up early to paint his house.

    You’re not very good at this whole “constructing a linear argument” thing, are you?

  174. 174
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    If that means that I will never countenance the delusional, then color me a bigot.

    No True Atheist would be anything other than a bigot, right?

    You poor, poor persecuted believer. How will you ever survive the ravenous hordes of non-believers coming to kill you in your bed?

    Well, I’d start by once again asking you to refute the Prime Mover argument. You’re clearly a rational person, so that should be very easy for you. It’s a simple logical argument, that Aristotle came up with 350 years before Christ.

    Go on, wallow in the muck of your self-perceived persecution, while I go out in my front yard, tee up a golf ball, take out my 7 iron and hit it north, south, east and west and have a ball land in the random parking lot of one of your completely persecuted, not to mention tax exempt, worship huts.

    Please explain to me how the number of conclusions you’ve jumped to about my beliefs and my lifestyle are rational. Then, please tell me again about why the only people who are truly “rational” are the ones who not only agree with you about there being no God, but also agree with you about medical questions like whether a fertilized egg counts as a human or not.

  175. 175
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I do not know if Hitler was a practicing Catholic during his adult lfe. I think Catholic Germans thought he was.

    Hitler seems to be a megalomaniac who thought he had God-like powers. He also tried to foster psuedo-pagan ‘rites’ at various Nazi gatherings/propaganda opportunities.

    No doubt he was raised Catholic in a fanatical Catholic part of Austria.

  176. 176
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole:

    His daughter was a barely-sentient cluster of atoms, same as him and you. So who cares, right? It’s all narcissism and pointlessness, and in a million years it won’t matter. In fact, at this very moment it doesn’t matter. We should all go out and blow our brains out, or not. It’s all one and the same, since life is pointless.

    Fatuous, vacuous, drivel.

    If your life is so meaningless and without merit absent the possibility of an afterlife and a higher being, you are the very definition of what my mother used say:

    “some people are so heavenly bound they’re no earthly good.”

  177. 177
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I don’t give a flying fuck about atheism or theism or the flying spagetti monster as it applies to my comments on loss & your friend’s grieving.

    I guess if you can’t respond logically then start throwing crap. Bye.

  178. 178
    ericblair says:

    @Asshole:

    Perhaps could can explain how Deists are irrational, then. How was the Universe caused, without a causeless causer of some sort? If only atheists are rational, then why have I yet to hear a rational atheist explanation for how the Universe came to exist?

    Then what caused God? Either you’re saying that causality is universal and absolute, in which case God needs a cause and you’re stuck in an endless recursive loop with God and Meta-Gods; or it isn’t and God doesn’t need a cause, but for some reason the Universe does.

    If causality is a property of the Universe, then causality of the Universe itself is meaningless, just like asking what happened before the beginning of the Universe. Both are like asking what’s north of the North Pole. You’ve got to think long and hard about whether you’re actually asking a meaningful question, and I don’t think you are.

    I don’t think atheists are necessarily rational, but irrational ones tend to be actually anticlerical or anti-theist and not atheist, especially if they “hate” God. It’s hard to hate something you don’t think exists, like hating pink invisible unicorns.

  179. 179
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: Show me where I ever said he had no right to being upset or grieving, asshole?

    I said all these poor people are grieving. They all have a right to grief. That is normal. What is not ‘normal’ (to me) is to start elevating your grief to a place where it is more important and more valid than other people’s grief. That is what a narcicist does. It is analagous to someone thinking God is helping them in some earthly manner. ‘God is helping me win the lottery, but he didn’t help you oh person who just had their house flattened by a tornado’. Your friends is: ‘God smote my child down to punish me/humble me/insert-reason-here. Not your poor child, that was just a happenstance, but meeeeeeeeeeee allmighty God has it in for’.

  180. 180
    joeyess says:

    Please explain to me how the number of conclusions you’ve jumped to about my beliefs and my lifestyle are rational.

    I’m not making assumptions. You’re making assertions that lead me to believe you’re irrational about many things.

    Such as:

    His daughter was a barely-sentient cluster of atoms, same as him and you. So who cares, right? It’s all narcissism and pointlessness, and in a million years it won’t matter. In fact, at this very moment it doesn’t matter. We should all go out and blow our brains out, or not. It’s all one and the same, since life is pointless.

    that’s about as irrational a statement as I’ve ever read.

  181. 181
    joeyess says:

    @ericblair:

    I don’t think atheists are necessarily rational, but irrational ones tend to be actually anticlerical or anti-theist and not atheist, especially if they “hate” God. It’s hard to hate something you don’t think exists, like hating pink invisible unicorns.

    I don’t think I’m being inconsistent at all. I agree with you that atheists like myself are anti-theist and anticlerical. I am certainly that. I detest the god-botherers. I also agree that hating “god” is irrational. It’s impossible for me to hate “god” since I don’t believe the being exists.

    Cheers.

  182. 182
    ericblair says:

    @Asshole:

    Well, I’d start by once again asking you to refute the Prime Mover argument. You’re clearly a rational person, so that should be very easy for you. It’s a simple logical argument, that Aristotle came up with 350 years before Christ.

    I’m bored today, so here goes: the Prime Mover argument fails on several levels, due to a lot of advances in logic and mathematics since Plato.

    First of all, look at the integers. Each integer has an integer before it. Does that mean there is a First Integer? Nope.

    Second, the idea that causality is absolute and universal isn’t exactly an undisputed argument. Look at quantum theory these days.

    Third, even if you posit that everything in the Universe has to have a cause, concluding that the Universe itself has to have a cause is a category error. Everyone on the soccer team has a mother; that doesn’t mean that the soccer team has a mother.

  183. 183
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I do not know if Hitler was a practicing Catholic during his adult lfe. I think Catholic Germans thought he was.

    I doubt they gave it much thought. The Nazis set up the pro-Nazi Church, and Germans who didn’t like it and protested a bit too much ended up dead. Plenty of Catholic priests died in Nazi concentration camps.

    Hitler seems to be a megalomaniac who thought he had God-like powers. He also tried to foster psuedo-pagan ‘rites’ at various Nazi gatherings/propaganda opportunities.

    Yep, that sounds about right. Quasi-Pagan, more or less.

    No doubt he was raised Catholic in a fanatical Catholic part of Austria.

    Yeah, but that’s not too meaningful. Lots of people are raised Catholic and reject it as adults

  184. 184
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    Fatuous, vacuous, drivel

    Yes, I know. Nihilism.

    You’re not very good at following a conversation, are you?

  185. 185
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I don’t give a flying fuck about atheism or theism or the flying spagetti monster as it applies to my comments on loss & your friend’s grieving.

    No. You just said he’s a narcissist for grieving. That’s very helpful. Very helpful indeed.

    I guess if you can’t respond logically then start throwing crap. Bye.

    Yes, and there’s nothing more logical than the human grieving process, is there?

  186. 186
    Asshole says:

    @ericblair:

    Then what caused God? Either you’re saying that causality is universal and absolute, in which case God needs a cause and you’re stuck in an endless recursive loop with God and Meta-Gods; or it isn’t and God doesn’t need a cause, but for some reason the Universe does.

    God is a causeless causer. Your question makes no sense. It’s like a person pointing out that light comes from a light-bulb, and then being asked what lights the light-bulb. It doesn’t work. God is clearly of a nature in which empirical concepts of causation do not apply. That’s not very helpful in defining God, but it’s a damn sight better than the endless recursive loop that atheist arguments leave us with. When they’re not relying on quantum farts, that is.

    If causality is a property of the Universe, then causality of the Universe itself is meaningless, just like asking what happened before the beginning of the Universe.

    No it’s not. I still want to know where it came from.

    Both are like asking what’s north of the North Pole.

    Only if you’re presupposing an endless recursive loop. Which makes no sense in dealing with space-time.

    You’ve got to think long and hard about whether you’re actually asking a meaningful question, and I don’t think you are.

    Gee, thanks, I’ve only been thinking about it my entire life, same as dozens of philosophers before me. I guess we’re all stupid because we refuse to proceed from an endless loop of recursive ad infinitum bullshit as our axiom. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I don’t think atheists are necessarily rational, but irrational ones tend to be actually anticlerical or anti-theist and not atheist, especially if they “hate” God. It’s hard to hate something you don’t think exists, like hating pink invisible unicorns.

    I think atheists are no more or less rational than anyone else. Just because the ideas change doesn’t mean the people change. Take an irrational Christian and make him an atheist, and he’ll be an irrational atheist. Ideas are like mental clothing, and we can change them without changing the person underneath them at all.

  187. 187
    ericblair says:

    @joeyess:

    I don’t think I’m being inconsistent at all. I agree with you that atheists like myself are anti-theist and anticlerical. I am certainly that. I detest the god-botherers.

    Yes, and thinking it through further these are almost independent. You can be an atheist and “pro”-clerical; how many people love the Church as an institution and don’t really, actually believe there’s a God? I’m thinking a lot. You can certainly be a believer and anti-clerical; there’s a whole history of that. And especially in the religions Of The Book, you can certainly be a believer and anti-theist: it’s just you’re anti-every-other-type-of-theist.

  188. 188
    gex says:

    The bottom line is that atheists don’t have a unifying belief system, so their actions reflect on their individual beliefs. The same cannot be said of the religious who have a specific set of values and dogma that are shared. For whatever that’s worth. It’s unfair to most Christians that some Christians in their sect act outrageously. But they are voluntarily associating with them. The power we see from the churches in anti-gay politicking is power delegated to the clergy by the laity. These guys get their money and power from somewhere, and to that extent it is a reflection on a sects entire membership.

  189. 189
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Show me where I ever said he had no right to being upset or grieving, asshole?

    You have no right to tell anyone much about anything, since you’re a nihilist by your own admission.

    I said all these poor people are grieving. They all have a right to grief. That is normal. What is not ‘normal’ (to me) is to start elevating your grief to a place where it is more important and more valid than other people’s grief. That is what a narcicist does. It is analagous to someone thinking God is helping them in some earthly manner. ‘God is helping me win the lottery, but he didn’t help you oh person who just had their house flattened by a tornado’. Your friends is: ‘God smote my child down to punish me/humble me/insert-reason-here. Not your poor child, that was just a happenstance, but meeeeeeeeeeee allmighty God has it in for’.

    In other words, the thing that every single person who feels real human anguish goes through. Except you. You must have something the rest of us don’t have, something that makes us human. Or, you lack it. Either way, I’m quite sure I don’t want to be the one to go up to someone in grief- whatever their belief system- and call them a narcissist. That’s something a sociopath would do.

  190. 190
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    I’m not making assumptions. You’re making assertions that lead me to believe you’re irrational about many things.

    Ah, things like my religious beliefs and whether or not I go to a church. You’re a deductive genius, you are.

    that’s about as irrational a statement as I’ve ever read.

    It was also made as a devil’s advocate argument, with sarcasm. I was mocking nihilism, you moron.

    Interesting, though, that from that you inferred a million and one (incorrect) things about my life from that one (misread) statement. Is this something rational people engage in?

  191. 191
    ericblair says:

    @Asshole:

    No it’s not. I still want to know where it came from.

    It doesn’t have to “come from” anywhere (where is the “anywhere” it could come from, anyway?), this is completely begging the question in the technical, philosophical sense, and if you can’t get beyond that there’s no point to continuing this discussion.

  192. 192
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: I walked right into that last one (your last nugget). It is a good line, due to me using the ‘l-word’. My bad.

  193. 193
    Paul in KY says:

    @Asshole: They are. IMO, anyone who thinks a supreme being takes any measure of interest or focus in their daily life/struggle is a narcicist.

    I think your screen name is quite apt, BTW.

  194. 194
    Catsy says:

    @Asshole:

    It’s always a philosophical question. In the purely biological sense, though, they’re correct- life begins in some form at conception. I could say their views are more internally consistent than my own, in fact.

    It is correct to say that “life” begins at conception in much the same way that it’s correct to say that “life” begins on the bathroom doorknob if I forget to wash my hands. Living cells are multiplying. That’s nifty. It’s also irrelevant to the question of personhood, which is what this is really about.

    The word “life” is in scare quotes because anti-abortion activists and their useful idiots have spent decades redefining that word as a shorthand for “personhood”. This purposefully confuses the issue. Plenty of things are alive that are not a person.

    It is convenient for anti-abortionists to encourage this confusion because the scope of things that qualify as “life” is infinitely broader than the scope of things that qualify as a human being, a person. It lets them get away with rhetorical sleights of hand like the one you’re falling for here, where you concede the technical validity of their “life begins at conception” argument solely because they’ve used the word “life” where they really ought to be saying something closer to “personhood”.

    Yeah, just like a fundamentalist who says that Catholics aren’t really Christians. No True Atheist can possibly have any sort of philosophical basis for thinking life begins at conception, so those atheists who do are all phonies.

    [sarcasm self-test complete]

    Pro tip: you’ll have a lot more success at this if you stick to writing your own arguments rather than trying (and failing) to paraphrase the arguments of others for them when they’ve already provided their own.

    I said that at best it’s a philosophical argument. That’s being charitable.

    In truth, it is no less an article of faith than anything in the Bible–indeed, it’s considerably moreso than parts of the Bible which at least have an element of historicity to them. There is no empirical basis for the belief that personhood begins at conception. None. Zero. Nothing even remotely close. It doesn’t even clear moving goalposts like the presence of a circulatory system or recognizable body parts used by anti-abortionists to hide their religious arguments behind a veneer of science.

    An atheist who falls for this claptrap may not believe in God, but they are merely indulging in another flavor of mysticism that assumes the existence of something unprovable. Words mean things. I can claim I’m a vegetarian til I’m blue in the face, but if I still eat bacon for breakfast then it’s not a No True Scotsman argument to point out that I’m a shitty vegetarian.

  195. 195
    Asshole says:

    @ericblair:

    I’m bored today, so here goes: the Prime Mover argument fails on several levels, due to a lot of advances in logic and mathematics since Plato.

    Mathematics is theoretical. Logical inferences about empiricism do not fall under that category.

    First of all, look at the integers. Each integer has an integer before it. Does that mean there is a First Integer? Nope.

    Numbers can go all the way to infinity. The past can’t.

    Second, the idea that causality is absolute and universal isn’t exactly an undisputed argument. Look at quantum theory these days.

    I have. Seen nothing to make me question the idea other than the hypothetical existence of tachyons that travel backwards in time. And even then, something would have to cause the tachyons to exist in the first place before this space-time moebius strip began.

    Third, even if you posit that everything in the Universe has to have a cause, concluding that the Universe itself has to have a cause is a category error. Everyone on the soccer team has a mother; that doesn’t mean that the soccer team has a mother.

    Sure, if you can think of something that doesn’t have a cause, then this analogy makes perfect sense to me. But you seem to be proceeding from the axiom that the Universe doesn’t need one. That makes no sense whatsoever.

    I’ll close with David Hart.

    …[T]he New Atheists’ favorite argument turns out to be just a version of the old argument from infinite regress: If you try to explain the existence of the universe by asserting God created it, you have solved nothing because then you are obliged to say where God came from, and so on ad infinitum, one turtle after another, all the way down. This is a line of attack with a long pedigree, admittedly. John Stuart Mill learned it at his father’s knee. Bertrand Russell thought it more than sufficient to put paid to the whole God issue once and for all. Dennett thinks it as unanswerable today as when Hume first advanced it—although, as a professed admirer of Hume, he might have noticed that Hume quite explicitly treats it as a formidable objection only to the God of Deism, not to the God of “traditional metaphysics.” In truth, though, there could hardly be a weaker argument. To use a feeble analogy, it is rather like asserting that it is inadequate to say that light is the cause of illumination because one is then obliged to say what it is that illuminates the light, and so on ad infinitum.

    The most venerable metaphysical claims about God do not simply shift priority from one kind of thing (say, a teacup or the universe) to another thing that just happens to be much bigger and come much earlier (some discrete, very large gentleman who preexists teacups and universes alike). These claims start, rather, from the fairly elementary observation that nothing contingent, composite, finite, temporal, complex, and mutable can account for its own existence, and that even an infinite series of such things can never be the source or ground of its own being, but must depend on some source of actuality beyond itself. Thus, abstracting from the universal conditions of contingency, one very well may (and perhaps must) conclude that all things are sustained in being by an absolute plenitude of actuality, whose very essence is being as such: not a “supreme being,” not another thing within or alongside the universe, but the infinite act of being itself, the one eternal and transcendent source of all existence and knowledge, in which all finite being participates.

    It is immaterial whether one is wholly convinced by such reasoning. Even its most ardent proponents would have to acknowledge that it is an almost entirely negative deduction, obedient only to something like Sherlock Holmes’ maxim that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” It certainly says nearly nothing about who or what God is.

    But such reasoning is also certainly not subject to the objection from infinite regress. It is not logically requisite for anyone, on observing that contingent reality must depend on absolute reality, to say then what the absolute depends on or, on asserting the participation of finite beings in infinite being, further to explain what it is that makes being to be. Other arguments are called for, as Hume knew. And only a complete failure to grasp the most basic philosophical terms of the conversation could prompt this strange inversion of logic, by which the argument from infinite regress—traditionally and correctly regarded as the most powerful objection to pure materialism—is now treated as an irrefutable argument against belief in God.

  196. 196
    Asshole says:

    @gex:

    The bottom line is that atheists don’t have a unifying belief system, so their actions reflect on their individual beliefs. The same cannot be said of the religious who have a specific set of values and dogma that are shared. For whatever that’s worth. It’s unfair to most Christians that some Christians in their sect act outrageously. But they are voluntarily associating with them. The power we see from the churches in anti-gay politicking is power delegated to the clergy by the laity. These guys get their money and power from somewhere, and to that extent it is a reflection on a sects entire membership.

    I’m sure most Christians would be deeply heartened to hear that they’re a single unified “sect.” That would solve millenia of internicine squabbles. But how much control does the average Catholic have over the beliefs and actions of a Presbyterian, or vice versa?

  197. 197
    Asshole says:

    @ericblair:

    It doesn’t have to “come from” anywhere (where is the “anywhere” it could come from, anyway?), this is completely begging the question in the technical, philosophical sense, and if you can’t get beyond that there’s no point to continuing this discussion.

    You’re right. It has to have a cause. Physics doesn’t work otherwise, neither does empirical observation. If an atheist miracle could cause the Universe to exist, or if it can defy physics and logic and empiricism by existing eternally and total self-containment like a globe spinning in nothingness forever, then empiricism itself is a complete joke. There’s really not much more to discuss there.

  198. 198
    Asshole says:

    @Paul in KY:

    They are. IMO, anyone who thinks a supreme being takes any measure of interest or focus in their daily life/struggle is a narcicist.

    I just think that if you had the courage of your convictions, you’d treat one action as being as good as another. So posting on this blog and walking off a cliff would be one and the same, because all life is pointless travesty and has no meaning whatsoever beyond shallow narcissism.

    I think your screen name is quite apt, BTW.

    Coming from a degenerate sociopath like you, that’s a compliment.

  199. 199
    ericblair says:

    @Asshole:

    These claims start, rather, from the fairly elementary observation that nothing contingent, composite, finite, temporal, complex, and mutable can account for its own existence, and that even an infinite series of such things can never be the source or ground of its own being, but must depend on some source of actuality beyond itself.

    And this is where this argument starts begging the question, like I said. Sure, if you assume that everything has to have a cause and the cause has to be beyond itself, you can argue yourself to a God pretty quickly. The term “fairly elementary observation” is almost comic academic handwaving used where things aren’t elementary or observed at all.

  200. 200
    Asshole says:

    @Catsy:

    It is correct to say that “life” begins at conception in much the same way that it’s correct to say that “life” begins on the bathroom doorknob if I forget to wash my hands. Living cells are multiplying. That’s nifty. It’s also irrelevant to the question of personhood, which is what this is really about.

    Agreed. It’s quite irrelevant from the standpoint of legal personhood. However, it’s more relevant from a medical/philosophical standpoint, and unless we’re arguing that each of us dies and is reborn every instant, that had to start somewhere.

    The word “life” is in scare quotes because anti-abortion activists and their useful idiots have spent decades redefining that word as a shorthand for “personhood”. This purposefully confuses the issue. Plenty of things are alive that are not a person.

    I don’t think they care. I think to them, all human life is equal. The egg that was fertilized twenty minutes ago has every bit as much of a right to go on existing as a 40-year-old man, and killing one is morally equal to killing another.

    It’s silly, but it is internally consistent. It’s also hard to refute the premise. I’ve tried.

    It is convenient for anti-abortionists to encourage this confusion because the scope of things that qualify as “life” is infinitely broader than the scope of things that qualify as a human being, a person. It lets them get away with rhetorical sleights of hand like the one you’re falling for here, where you concede the technical validity of their “life begins at conception” argument solely because they’ve used the word “life” where they really ought to be saying something closer to “personhood”.

    Okay, so where do we begin personhood? Traditionally, at birth, when the rights of citizenship attach. From a legal perspective, I think that’s the only viable model. But people who think that fertilized eggs are babies are not going to care about legal niceties, and would in fact view laws as a hindrance to the great moral considerations surrounding perceived infancitide.

    Pro tip: you’ll have a lot more success at this if you stick to writing your own arguments rather than trying (and failing) to paraphrase the arguments of others for them when they’ve already provided their own.

    Your argument didn’t work. It arbitrarily excluded atheists simply because they were irrational. None of us are fully rational. I don’t even know what “rationality” means in this context. Human beings are intrinsically capable of irrationality. Look at that Vulcan joeyess. A couple pinpricks of disagreement, and he/she/it has already descended to name-calling and assumption-leaping on a blog. If a purely rational being like that is capable of these logical failings, who among us is purely rational?

    In truth, it is no less an article of faith than anything in the Bible—indeed, it’s considerably moreso than parts of the Bible which at least have an element of historicity to them. There is no empirical basis for the belief that personhood begins at conception. None. Zero. Nothing even remotely close. It doesn’t even clear moving goalposts like the presence of a circulatory system or recognizable body parts used by anti-abortionists to hide their religious arguments behind a veneer of science.

    I don’t know. My friend said that it was the clear moment when human life began. He wasn’t a religious person. In fact, he wasn’t even raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I think he was a lapsed Sikh or something.

    An atheist who falls for this claptrap may not believe in God, but they are merely indulging in another flavor of mysticism that assumes the existence of something unprovable.

    What’s unproveable about it? An egg and a sperm meet up. Either we say that’s a human, or we don’t. We can argue about life and personhood, but those are philosophical arguments that rationality, per se, doesn’t seem to affect. It’s a disagreement, but there’s nothing to prove or disprove, is there?

    I don’t know. Maybe if I asked them if they think a chicken is the same thing as an egg. But the fact is, a lot of people would probably say that, yes, an egg is a chicken, it’s just one that hasn’t hatched yet.

    Words mean things. I can claim I’m a vegetarian til I’m blue in the face, but if I still eat bacon for breakfast then it’s not a No True Scotsman argument to point out that I’m a shitty vegetarian.

    You’re using the word Atheist to mean some sort of purist sub-set. To non-Atheists, it’s a distinction without a difference. Sort of like a non-Muslim saying that all Muslims are the same; when the Muslims start talking about Sunni v. Shia v. etc., it starts sounding like a No True Scotsman argument.

  201. 201
    Asshole says:

    @ericblair:

    And this is where this argument starts begging the question, like I said. Sure, if you assume that everything has to have a cause and the cause has to be beyond itself, you can argue yourself to a God pretty quickly. The term “fairly elementary observation” is almost comic academic handwaving used where things aren’t elementary or observed at all.

    Your alternative axioms- that things come from nothing, and/or regress infinitely- is either an atheist miracle, or an infinite-regression loop that makes empirical observation a laughable joke. So come up with a reasonable refutation, or concede that you can’t.

  202. 202
    ericblair says:

    @Asshole:

    Your alternative axioms- that things come from nothing, and/or regress infinitely- is either an atheist miracle, or an infinite-regression loop that makes empirical observation a laughable joke.

    Your assumption that “things can’t come from nothing (except for God)” is a pretty strong assumption, and you’re assuming your own conclusions because of it. It’s hard to have an “atheist miracle” where the laws of physics you’re supposedly violating don’t apply.

  203. 203
    Catsy says:

    @Asshole:

    What’s unproveable about it? An egg and a sperm meet up. Either we say that’s a human, or we don’t.

    But that’s not what I said. Nobody disputes that an egg and a sperm meet up, and begin a months-long process of cell division that generates living tissue. That is provable.

    It is also provable that this collection of cells, at this point, is human. So is a human corpse, or a brain dead patient being kept alive by aggressive life support. The corpse is not a person. The human vegetable is still a living person, but one who–absent clear end of life directives–does not have the right or capacity to make decisions about whether their body lives or dies.

    What is unprovable is whether or not a microscopic collection of cells with no body, nervous system, brain, feelings, motivations, personality, self-awareness, or sentience of its own contains personhood. In order to assert this, you have to assert that “personhood” is a thing that exists apart from the body, independently from all of the above. You are, in other words, asserting the existence of a soul. You may not be thinking of it in those terms, and it’s not required that you be thinking of it in the same sense that Christians use the word–but that is the fundamental concept that you are asserting exists, despite the fact that its existence is impossible to prove.

    An atheist of this stripe may not believe in “God”, but they believe in a faith-based concept that almost universally presupposes the existence of some kind of higher power. I’m not saying that someone who believes this isn’t an atheist, or can’t call themselves one. I’m saying–quite defensibly–that they are a shitty atheist.

  204. 204
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Asshole: I’m not sure why “things can’t come from nothing, ergo God Did It,” is any less of a laughable joke. All it does is define “God” as the solution to the otherwise insoluble riddle.

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Um… God! WINNING! That’s not very convincing.

  205. 205
    joeyess says:

    @Asshole: So, your entire argument in favor of religious belief you’ve been playing the devil’s advocate?

    This has all been an elaborate ruse? A reasoned argument for reason?

    I guess this makes you the No True Scotsman of satire.

    Well, color me something.

    This has gone ’round enough.

  206. 206
    joeyess says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Um… God! WINNING! That’s not very convincing.

    ayup. How’d da moon get derr? How’d da moon get derr? huh? how’d da moon get derr?

  207. 207
    Bill says:

    @Asshole

    The honest answer to the question of how the universe came to exist is “we dont know.” It’s that simple. Moreover, we may never know. But it is an extraordinary leap from “I don’t know” to “god did it,” and not one that is supported by eny evidence I have seen.

    I don’t understand why people generally – and religious believers in particular – are so damn uncomfortable with simply saying we don’t know.

    Your assumption that everything must have a cause is weak. We don’t know that to be true, and the answer may be as simple as “the universe has always existed.” It’s unclear to me why you would be willing to assume god has always existed (as is apparently the case from your statement that he/she need have no cause), but you’re unwilling to ascribe that same quality to the universe.

    But even assuming the universe must have a cause, there is as much evidence for the proposition that it was god as that that it just sprang into existence. I do know that science is much more likely to actually answer this question than religion is though. Science has a pretty good track record on answering previously unanswered questions. (And BTW, the watch maker god doesn’t come close to validating any particular religion, although I don’t think that was the point of this debate.)

    As to the definition of atheist – it’s someone who doesn’t believe in god. That simple. There are no “true atheists” just as there are no “true christians.” Your friend who disowned god because of the death of a child is as much an atheist as I am even though we arrived at the same conclusions for different reasons.

  208. 208
    gex says:

    @Bill: Bingo! “I don’t know” or “I don’t yet know” is a sufficient answer for me. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that and attributes existence to God hasn’t answered anything. It’s made worse when they decide God’s will is unfathomable, so now they’ve said “I don’t know, God does”.

  209. 209
    Stillwater says:

    @Asshole:

    Mathematics is theoretical. Logical inferences about empiricism do not fall under that category.

    Empiricism is theoretical; mathematics is abstract. Empiricism deals with the contingent; mathematics deals with the necessary. But logical inferences from known facts and understood concepts are equally justified in both cases.

    Numbers can go all the way to infinity. The past can’t.

    There is no a priori justification for the claim that the past can’t go to infinity. There is no a posteriori justification for the claim that the past doesn’t go to infinity.

    Sure, if you can think of something that doesn’t have a cause, then this analogy makes perfect sense to me. But you seem to be proceeding from the axiom that the Universe doesn’t need one. That makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stipulating that the universe was necessarily caused begs the question against (eg) the steady state theorist. But also – and you’re smart enough to know this – the prime mover view of the universe begs all the important questions: eg, how did that necessarily existing being come to exist?

  210. 210
    Ija says:

    @Asshole:

    It’s silly, but it is internally consistent. It’s also hard to refute the premise. I’ve tried.

    You’ve touted yourself as a supremely logical person in your arguments with various posters here, so if you can’t refute the internal logic of the pro-life position, why aren’t you pro-life yourself? Or are you just pretending to be pro-choice and pretending that all these arguments are from other people for whatever reason? I’m not being snarky, I’m really, really curious. You obviously believe in the intellectual and moral superiority of the pro-life position, and think that the pro-choice position is indefensible intellectually and morally (regardless of any good argument other people have tried to present to you), so why are you pro-choice?

  211. 211
    Asshole says:

    @ericblair:

    Your assumption that “things can’t come from nothing (except for God)” is a pretty strong assumption, and you’re assuming your own conclusions because of it. It’s hard to have an “atheist miracle” where the laws of physics you’re supposedly violating don’t apply.

    So you axiomatically suppose that causation didn’t need to happen at some point in time- that things just spontaneously occur, like a quantum fart in oblivion, or an atheist miracle- then ridicule other people for rejecting your ridiculous axiom. How nice for you.

  212. 212
    Asshole says:

    @Catsy:

    An interesting argument. But at some point, we all ascribe personhood to people. (If that’s the word we’re using for the atheist equivalent of a soul, so be it.) Otherwise, a five-day-old baby is no different than a blastocyst. We’re all ascribing something soul-like to this organism called a human being- even the most militant atheist wouldn’t say that an adult is nothing but a cluster of cells, at least not in the sense of meriting this ineffable status of personhood. And yet, the adult is nothing different from the fertilized egg. It’s more cells, and they’re more specialized and differentiated, and it’s no longer dwelling inside of the body of another cell-cluster (woman); but why does that merit it any special distinction as anything other than a large cluster of highly-specialized cells? Aren’t we all drawing a line somewhere and saying that this is a person, that is not?

    I don’t have a dog in this particular fight amongst atheists, but since all atheists seem to basically be using a surrogate for soul (personhood), why is it ridiculous for some atheists to think it begins pre-birth as opposed to after-birth?

  213. 213
    Asshole says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’m not sure why “things can’t come from nothing, erfgo God Did It,” is any less of a laughable joke. All it does is deine “God” as the solution to the otherwise insoluble riddle.

    I’m not sure you understand much of anything. But I’ll try to explain this again, in shorter sentences.

    Things are caused by other things. Every effect has a cause. That can’t go backwards forever. Something had to start it. Something that wasn’t caused itself, or it wouldn’t be the starting point. That thing is God.

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Um… God! WINNING! That’s not very convincing.

    It doesn’t have to convince you. It’s convinced countless thousands of philosophers and theologians and atheists since 350 BC or so, but it doesn’t have to convince you. What it does have to do is refute the idea that only atheists can be rational. It’s nothing if not rational. I’m not posting it here to convert you. I couldn’t give a fuck what you believe. What annoys me about this blog in general is that it’s run by, and infested with, militant atheists who think that the only rational people are other militant atheists. It’s like an uber-Fundy blog where all the commenters told non-Fundies that they were going to Hell and that they’d pray for their sinful, Hellbound souls. This blog is the smug atheist answer to a smug Fundamentalist blog. I’ve presented a reasonable point of view for why I think that God exists. If your only response is to act like a 7th grader and ridicule the idea itself by distorting it and deliberately misunderstanding it, there’s not much more to be said to you about it.

  214. 214
    Asshole says:

    @joeyess:

    You have a very limited understanding of what non-atheists are like. It’s possible for someone NOT to be an atheist without also being a Bible-thumping church-goer.

    Here’s something for you to ponder: that 15% you were bragging about earlier? I’m probably in it, too. And I’d be marching against you every step of the way if you tried to start some kind of anti-religious crusade, because first of all I think they’re closer to being right than you are; secondly, I think you’re a delusional shithead; thirdly, I think you’d get a lot of people killed if you tried anything as stupidly violent as your eliminationist rhetoric implies. (You may not be smart enough to know that that’s what it sounds like, but when you say things like your enemies are nothing but a dangerous problem that can’t be reasoned with, you’ve gone several steps down a very dark road.)

  215. 215
    Asshole says:

    @Bill:

    The honest answer to the question of how the universe came to exist is “we dont know.” It’s that simple. Moreover, we may never know. But it is an extraordinary leap from “I don’t know” to “god did it,” and not one that is supported by eny evidence I have seen.

    We know it was caused by something. Things don’t just pop up by magic.

    I don’t understand why people generally – and religious believers in particular – are so damn uncomfortable with simply saying we don’t know.

    Because we do know, because logic and a basic understanding of how causality works tells us. And if you think we DON’T know, then how come atheists are so sure that it ISN’T a God- to the extent of telling people who think it is that they’re a bunch of fucking morons?

    Your assumption that everything must have a cause is weak. We don’t know that to be true, and the answer may be as simple as “the universe has always existed.”

    That’s patently absurd. Things don’t regress forever. That CANNOT happen. You might as well tell me that the laws of physics could stop at any second and we’ll all go flying off into space. It’s about as rational.

    It’s unclear to me why you would be willing to assume god has always existed (as is apparently the case from your statement that he/she need have no cause), but you’re unwilling to ascribe that same quality to the universe.

    God exists outside of the Universe, and is not bound by the laws of the Universe. Time is a property of the Universe. It’s very simple, really, if you were willing to think about it. Clearly, you’re not.

    But even assuming the universe must have a cause, there is as much evidence for the proposition that it was god as that that it just sprang into existence.

    That’s just stupidity. It really is. “There’s no God, there are no miracles, except for this one time when a miracle happened. But other than that, nothing.” The belief that Jesus rose from the grave is markedly less ridiculous than the belief in an atheist miracle. At least Christians have a God to explain their miracles.

    I do know that science is much more likely to actually answer this question than religion is though. Science has a pretty good track record on answering previously unanswered questions.

    Ah, put your faith in science even as you reject the basic premise that observation works.

    (And BTW, the watch maker god doesn’t come close to validating any particular religion, although I don’t think that was the point of this debate.)

    Yes, I know that. The David Hart quote I put up earlier even said as much. What the Hell does that have to do with anything?

    As to the definition of atheist – it’s someone who doesn’t believe in god. That simple. There are no “true atheists” just as there are no “true christians.” Your friend who disowned god because of the death of a child is as much an atheist as I am even though we arrived at the same conclusions for different reasons.

    On this, I think we agree (not sure in my friend’s case in particular, but in general). But most of the atheists here would say you’re an idiot for asserting that, because only people who agree with them on when the cluster of cells we call a human becomes a human in some non-spiritual sense of the word are “true” atheists.

  216. 216
    Asshole says:

    @gex:

    Bingo! “I don’t know” or “I don’t yet know” is a sufficient answer for me. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that and attributes existence to God hasn’t answered anything. It’s made worse when they decide God’s will is unfathomable, so now they’ve said “I don’t know, God does”.

    Why is that “worse”? Why would it be worse for my friend had he decided that his daughter was in Heaven with Christ and all the angels than if he’d decided that she died because there’s no God and life is a joke, and then he proceeded to spend the next several years drinking and snorting coke and shooting heroin (which I found out he’s started doing, the other day)? Why would it be worse if he’d spent those years in a church, instead of on a street in Philly buying drugs, cursing his existence?

  217. 217
    Asshole says:

    @Stillwater:

    There is no a priori justification for the claim that the past can’t go to infinity. There is no a posteriori justification for the claim that the past doesn’t go to infinity.

    Turtles all the way down, eh?

    “Some hold that, owing to the necessity of knowing the primary premises, there is no scientific knowledge. Others think there is, but that all truths are demonstrable. Neither doctrine is either true or a necessary deduction from the premises. The first school, assuming that there is no way of knowing other than by demonstration, maintain that an infinite regress is involved, on the ground that if behind the prior stands no primary, we could not know the posterior through the prior (wherein they are right, for one cannot traverse an infinite series): if on the other hand – they say – the series terminates and there are primary premises, yet these are unknowable because incapable of demonstration, which according to them is the only form of knowledge. And since thus one cannot know the primary premises, knowledge of the conclusions which follow from them is not pure scientific knowledge nor properly knowing at all, but rests on the mere supposition that the premises are true. The other party agree with them as regards knowing, holding that it is only possible by demonstration, but they see no difficulty in holding that all truths are demonstrated, on the ground that demonstration may be circular and reciprocal.

    “Our own doctrine is that not all knowledge is demonstrative: on the contrary, knowledge of the immediate premises is independent of demonstration. (The necessity of this is obvious; for since we must know the prior premises from which the demonstration is drawn, and since the regress must end in immediate truths, those truths must be indemonstrable.) Such, then, is our doctrine, and in addition we maintain that besides scientific knowledge there is its original source which enables us to recognize the definitions.”

    -Aristotle, Posterior Analytics (Book I, Part 3)

    A causal loop cannot exist, and a causal chain cannot be infinite. If it could be, then it would be its own cause, like a man becoming his own father. It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Stipulating that the universe was necessarily caused begs the question against (eg) the steady state theorist. But also – and you’re smart enough to know this – the prime mover view of the universe begs all the important questions: eg, how did that necessarily existing being come to exist?

    That necessarily existing being came into existence by means we can’t know or understand. Assuming it “came into” existence at all, and wasn’t eternal as a being (or force, or whatever) that exists out of space-time. Space-time applies within the Universe; that doesn’t mean space-time applies outside of it.

    The only thing I’m confident to say about God is that I think there is one. I’m not trying to make any converts here, but I’m also sick of people saying that the only rational position is the atheist one. Clearly, that’s not the case.

  218. 218
    Asshole says:

    @Ija:

    You’ve touted yourself as a supremely logical person in your arguments with various posters here,

    Have I? Where? If I did, that was a poor choice of words. I’m a human; ergo, irrational, same as everyone here. Some of us aren’t self-aware enough to admit it, but none of us are fully rational or logical.

    so if you can’t refute the internal logic of the pro-life position, why aren’t you pro-life yourself?

    Long story. I accept their philosophical arguments without embracing them. I think they raise more legal and ethical conundra than they solve. I think they’re a nightmare for the legal profession- my profession. And I think the right to bodily autonomy is implicit in the Bill of Rights- specifically, in penumbral emanations from the First, Third, and Fourth Amendments- to say nothing of the Tenth.

    But to someone whose religious views are a bit stronger than mine, those arguments are probably not sufficient. That’s fine. I can understand and respect their views, even if they can’t understand or respect mine.

    Or are you just pretending to be pro-choice and pretending that all these arguments are from other people for whatever reason? I’m not being snarky, I’m really, really curious.

    No, I’m pro-choice. But I can understand the pro-life position. To be honest with you, I hadn’t given it much thought until I read a comment from a pro-life Democrat in some random thread on salon.com several years ago. It didn’t convince me, but it did show me that it was possible to agree with what I think on every issue except this one, and yet for this issue to be so overwhelmingly important that it trumps every other issue.

    Another thing that struck me was reading the book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” The head of the pro-life movement in Kansas is, apparently, some guy that Thomas Frank interviewed in his shitty little house. Frank said he was expecting an upper-middle-class lawyer or something; this guy was blue collar at best, and worked the overnight shift at a bottling plant or something. (If memory serves; I could be wrong but if I am someone can go back and read the book and correct me, it’s in there. I know I have the gist of it right, anyway.) And yet he was the most active and important rallier and organizer of the “pro-life” movement in Kansas. I can’t hate a man who works the grave shift at a bottling plant for a dollar or two above minimum wage and then devotes his free time to a political cause. I just can’t hate him. I can’t condescend to him, I can’t sneer at him. I respect that man. A lot. I respect these people, even though I disagree with them. They believe these things very, very fervently. Their beliefs may be wrong, but it’s important to remember that their grandparents were just as adamant and they were on my side of the issue. It made me think more of their beliefs, reading about them. I don’t share them, but I don’t think they’re stupid just because they do.

    And that’s a personal ramble, but you asked so there it is.

    You obviously believe in the intellectual and moral superiority of the pro-life position, and think that the pro-choice position is indefensible intellectually and morally (regardless of any good argument other people have tried to present to you), so why are you pro-choice?

    See above. Our position is a hodge-podge; it’s also the constitutionally correct one. And my personal “religious” (for lack of a better word; philosophical, maybe?) belief is that “life”/the soul/”personhood” begins at birth. Or, maybe at some point in the third trimester where the fetus is indistinguishable from an infant; what the medieval Catholics called the quickening, and what the Court in Roe v. Wade said was the defensible line at which the State could start taking an interest in a woman’s womb. My position is a muddle; I respect people who not only have beliefs, but stand up for them. It doesn’t mean I share those beliefs, but I respect people who stand up for what they believe in.

  219. 219
    Bill says:

    “We know it was caused by something.”

    Just saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true. We don’t know it was caused by something. Asserting the existence of the super natural in support of an event you assume must have happened doesn’t mean the event happened and doesn’t support the existence of the super natural.

    “And if you think we DON’T know, then how come atheists are so sure that it ISN’T a God- to the extent of telling people who think it is that they’re a bunch of fucking morons?”

    Because we observe the world, and how it operates and see no evidence for the existence of god. But I think you are conflating two issues. The “god” that most atheists say doesn’t exist is the personal – “I care about what happens to humans on a day to day basis” god – there simply is no observable evidence for that entity.

    The watch maker god you propose is but one of many explanations for the beigining of the universe (again an unsupported assumption you’ve made), but doesn’t come close to the personal jesus/allah etc… Given what we know about the existence of gods today, I find the god explanation unlikely on universe creation questions, but I’m willing to admit the possibility. (Albeit a very low one.) I’m also willing to admit the possibility that there is a wookie standing behind me right now who always stays out of my line of sight – well you get the idea.

    “God exists outside of the Universe, and is not bound by the laws of the Universe. Time is a property of the Universe. It’s very simple, really, if you were willing to think about it. Clearly, you’re not.”

    Please provide evidence for this being that exists outside of the universe? Some tangible proof beyond your hand waving and say so.

    Also, while your at it, please prove that time as we observe it today has always existed.

    “Ah, put your faith in science even as you reject the basic premise that observation works.”

    Science doesn’t require faith. Did you go to high school?

    I don’t think observation means what you think it means. Positing an untestable hypothesis based on made up criteria is called bullshitting, not observation.

    “There’s no God, there are no miracles, except for this one time when a miracle happened. But other than that, nothing.”

    What the hell is your definition of miracle?

    BTW – My position is not that the universe sprang in to existence, but that we don’t know. But that explanation is as likely as god.

  220. 220
    Asshole says:

    @Bill:

    Just saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true. We don’t know it was caused by something.

    Everything is caused by something. That’s as basic an observation as it gets. Your contrary position is about as sensible as saying that 2 + 2 = 47 million.

    Asserting the existence of the super natural in support of an event you assume must have happened doesn’t mean the event happened and doesn’t support the existence of the super natural.

    Assuming cause and effect are real, my position is the one that makes sense. The other suppositions do not, unless you proceed from an axiom that causeless causation is possible. It isn’t.

    Because we observe the world, and how it operates and see no evidence for the existence of god.

    Because you’d rather believe something that makes no sense- that causation can come from nothing- than accept possible evidence of God. You’re bending over backwards to refute the same empirical methods you claim to follow.

    But I think you are conflating two issues. The “god” that most atheists say doesn’t exist is the personal – “I care about what happens to humans on a day to day basis” god – there simply is no observable evidence for that entity.

    I’m not arguing for that God, but I’m told I’m a fucking idiot anyway for believing in any sort of God. The God you’re talking about – the God most atheists, in my experience, are rebelling against out of prolonged angst at traumatic life events that they’ve conflated with Bible-thumping older relatives who mistreated them or with similar angst at similar life occurrences- has nothing to do with this discussion. Bringing it up is as irrelevant as it would be if I mentioned Stalinism in a discussion about cosmology.

    The watch maker god you propose is but one of many explanations for the beigining of the universe (again an unsupported assumption you’ve made), but doesn’t come close to the personal jesus/allah etc…

    It’s also the only one that makes sense and doesn’t rely on atheist magic or infinite turtles.

    Given what we know about the existence of gods today, I find the god explanation unlikely on universe creation questions, but I’m willing to admit the possibility. (Albeit a very low one.) I’m also willing to admit the possibility that there is a wookie standing behind me right now who always stays out of my line of sight – well you get the idea.

    If you’re only talking to me to make yourself feel intellectually superior by mocking thousands of years of philosophical thought by conflating Aristotelean ideas with jokes about Wookies and your own obvious disgust with irrelevant Judeo-Christian concepts, this discussion is pointless. You have nothing to teach, you’re unwilling to learn, and you’re wasting both of our time.

    I’m asking for a halfway decent refutation of the Prime Mover argument. I get you babbling about Wookies and Yahweh and telling me that causation is bullshit because you said it’s bullshit. Thanks. That’s very fucking helpful.

    Please provide evidence for this being that exists outside of the universe? Some tangible proof beyond your hand waving and say so.

    If you’re axiomatically opposed to an argument that relies on causation, I can’t prove anything to you. You’re unwilling to listen to the same basic concepts of reason that any living creature with an observational power exceeding that of a houseplant would employ- and Hell, even houseplants can figure out that light causes them to be healthier so they should grow towards it, so an argument could be made that even houseplants rely on this concept that you think of as total horseshit.

    In any event, you’ve already demonstrated that you think I’m an idiot because I’m relying on Aristotle’s arguments about causation. So you’re smarter than me, smarter than Aristotle, smarter than Thomas Aquinas. You must be the smartest motherfucker who ever lived. You should be off publishing papers instead of arguing about it on some blog with some deluded philosophy undergraduate degree-holder like me. Why don’t you run off and do that?

    Also, while your at it, please prove that time as we observe it today has always existed.

    Linear time has always existed since the Universe began. Otherwise, words like “began” have no meaning, and you’re left in an infinite self-causing loop that makes no sense whatsoever and defies every principle of observation.

    Science doesn’t require faith. Did you go to high school?

    You have faith that your senses work. Or, you don’t. Clearly, you don’t, since you think observation doesn’t work and that observing cause and effect is total bullshit. So it’s fair to say that you don’t have faith in empiricism at all.

    BTW, I got all the way through college and law school. How about you? Are you still in the 8th grade? You fucking argue like it, you pathetic shit-slinging little child.

    I don’t think observation means what you think it means. Positing an untestable hypothesis based on made up criteria is called bullshitting, not observation.

    The criteria are the basis of all observation of which humans are capable. To deny them is to deny the validity of empirical observation. Talking to you is less informative than talking to a garden vegetable.

    What the hell is your definition of miracle?

    For purposes of this non-discussion with an intellectual pustule-sophist like you, it’s sufficient to think of it as an event whose occurrence defies rational comprehension and the laws of physics.

    BTW – My position is not that the universe sprang in to existence, but that we don’t know. But that explanation is as likely as god.

    I care less about your position than I’d care about a house-cat’s. A house-cat would be a more useful conversationalist, and a more respectful one, too. I’ll frame my last argument in the same effective manner in which you framed most of yours: Go fuck yourself, shithead.

  221. 221
    Stillwater says:

    @Asshole:

    A causal loop cannot exist, and a causal chain cannot be infinite. If it could be, then it would be its own cause, like a man becoming his own father. It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    1) You make it sound like the idea is incoherent. Here, imagine this: for any event e’ there is an antecedent event e which caused it. There you go, no more incoherence. This chain goes on backwards to infinity. 2) Why think that an infinte regression of events into the past entails that an event is its own cause? That seems incoherent to me, like you’re not understanding the concepts correctly. 3) And as for a man becoming his own father, and the incoherence of that suggestion: isn’t that precisely what you accept when you terminate the causal chain in a prime mover? A self-caused causer? Father of his ownself? Now that’s crazy!

    Look, I get that your a theist, but introducing God into the mix doesn’t answer any of the question, or criticisms, that you’ve lobbed at atheists. And there are, in point of fact, many more unanswerable questions produced by hypothesizing this strange alien creature who is self-creating, all-powerful, eternal, and all that stuff, than there are in admitting that we can’t scientifically explain the existence of the universe.

    At the end of the day, being a theist isn’t irrational in and of itself. But if you know the relevant concepts, and are familiar with science and some basic logic, then retaining theism becomes increasingly more difficult. And at some point, blunt stipulation – which you’ve done in this thread – takes the place of reasoned argument. And blunt stipulation as a response to a valid criticism is irrational.

  222. 222
    Pie-Lover says:

    I think that blunt stipulation that there IS no God is the best the atheists in this thread have had to offer. That and a bunch of meaningless name-calling and smug confidence that infinite regression is possible because they say it is. Turtles all the way down, indeed.

    I’ll happily stipulate that infinite regression is irrational and impossible. If someone thinks that’s irrational of me, then the burden is on them to explain why. Nothing any atheist in this thread has stated does anything even approaching a halfway-decent job of explaining how they can plausibly stipulate that infinite regression is a possibility. The conclusion that there is a causeless causer is less irrational than their contrary propositions.

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