The Reason Rally: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

March 26th, 2012
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I just got back from the Reason Rally, a massive gathering of secularists on the National Mall in Washington DC. The event was intended to show support for separation of church and state and solidarity amongst non-believers. In general, it went quite well, but there were definitely a few things that I was a little put off by.

Some might think it a bad idea to attend something like the Reason Rally when running for political office. After all, atheists are not generally well received, especially in the Republican party. I certainly considered this, but in the end I decided it was worth the risk. I really need to raise money for my campaign badly and the Reason Rally was an opertunity to see a lot of politically active people with similar concerns for the nation. I also saw a number of people I’m acquainted with. I handed out campaign flyers and hopefully this will translate to some contributions.

As for whether it will hurt me with the more conservative members of the party back home, that is certainly a concern. I don’t intend to make a big deal of my attendance of the rally when I’m at more conservative committee meetings, but I certainly won’t deny it if I am asked. I’m not going to lie to win, so the fact that I’m a non-believer is not something I can really hide. As far as I am concerned, it’s really not a valid campaign issue.

The Good:

The rally went quite well overall. Despite rain, over 20,000 people attended. There were many great speakers, each of them offering a slightly different take on the importance of reason and maintaining a secular government. I didn’t entirely agree with every speaker on every point, but most of them I could stand behind. There were also a lot of people of different ages and backgrounds, which is great to see. Some had traveled a long distance to make the rally. Overall, I don’t think there’s any denying it was a huge success.

It was a very enjoyable event in general. The speakers were great, the attendees were generally in very good spirits and it was a lot of fun to walk around and meet people from all over the country and a variety of backgrounds. There wasn’t any bickering over who had the better seat or who might have cut in line to get refreshments or any of the other scuffles common at big public events.

There were some Christian protestors, as one might expect. They kept to the side. There were not many of them, perhaps a dozen. Their presence seemed to be larger than it really was because they all had very big signs proclaiming the need to worship Jesus, obey the bible and so on. They openly asked rally attenders to come over and talk to them and many did. The protestors were quickly surrounded by atheists from the rally, who took them up on their challenge ton debate.

There were no incidents at all. Some of the debates became spirited. On occasion voices were raised. I never heard any unrestrained name-calling, just a few arguments that got slightly loud, perhaps out of frustration. Nobody was threatened and nothing even approaching violence occurred. In most cases, the exchanges were entirely civil.

The Bad:

Atheists are a minority and one that is not generally well received by non-atheists, especially in the United States. One of the biggest arguments made against atheists is that it’s out goal to forcibly take away the religious freedoms of other groups, to destroy their beliefs, burn down their churches and ban them from praying or raising their families as they see fit. Of course, this is not true at all, at least not for most of us. What we want is a secular government. Secularism is not itself anti-religious, but simply religiously neutral. We don’t want the government to endorse religion or directly support it, but we certainly don’t want to stop people from doing it themselves, on their own time and with their own money.

Being a minority whose beliefs are subject to controversy and discrimination, we’re in no position to say that others should be discriminated against or have their beliefs taken away from them. It’s true that many atheists believe the world would be better without religion, but that’s just our personal take on it. I’m sure most would also think the world would be better without Jersey Shore, but that does not mean we want to bomb the coast of New Jersey.

That said, it’s not uncommon for atheists to lampoon religion or point out that it can get ridiculous. We have the right to do this and would prefer to keep it that way, but that’s a lot different than forcing it on people through the government.

Unfortunately, I found that there were times when religious intolerance seemed to rear its ugly head. Many of the signs held up by protestors poked fun at religion, and in general they were in good humor and not overly hostile. There was a guy walking around in a costume of Jesus riding a dinosaur, which was obviously intended to poke fun at Christianity. A few speakers cut pretty hard at organized religion, including PZ Meyers, who stated that we should view religion “with contempt.” In the context of his speech the comment was not overly harsh, but taken out of that context, as I am sure it will be, it can be used to make the whole movement seem as radical and militant as too many already believe it is.

I believe we need to be very cautious in this case. Lets remember, we may think religion is stupid and useless, but we are a minority who is fighting for more respect and acceptance amongst people who already believe we’re trying to oppress them, even if we’re not. We need to avoid giving them more ammo. This rally is supposed to make us seem reasonable and show why secularism has value. Lets not forget the audience is the whole country!

The ugly:

When it comes to showing the world what we DO NOT want to show them and reenforcing the stereotypes we need to get away from, there was one sign that really stood out. As soon as I saw it I thought to myself “Oh no, this is going to be the number one sign in all the headlines and news reports on this.” I was right. It’s absolutely perfect when it comes to summing up the movement in exactly the way we do not want to and in exactly the way our enemies want us to be seen. In fact, when I saw it, I actually thought “Wow, coming to this rally might have been a really bad idea.”

And… I was right. If this was a ploy to get media attention, then it worked great, but it also really did an amazing job at making us seem like the enemy of everyone who is not an atheist.

Yep. There it is. It’s a reference to the fact that many religious individuals find it offensive that some of the mandates of President Obama’s healthcare bill would make religious-affiliated organizations provide coverage to things like contraception to employees, even if they are opposed to it on the grounds of what they believe. People are hyper-sensitive to the idea that their beliefs might be somehow limited by government action, so it’s something that they get very upset about. Others have simply felt Obama is not religious enough.

The message is pretty clear: You think Obama and the others who are more secular in government are bad? Well, I actually do, literally, really want to take your religion away from you, burn down your churches, take your children away from you if you pray with them, forbid any public display of religion etc etc etc. I’m an atheist and this is what atheists are all about.

You can argue that’s not the message of the sign, perhaps that it’s more that she wants a world without religion and will educate people to try to dispel their beliefs or that it’s tongue-in-cheek or a dramatic over statement. It does not matter, because it will be taken as a literal threat and hostile to most religious people. This sign is so clear cut, militant, hostile and to the point, it’s bound to offend even the most liberal and accepting Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and everyone else. It does say “I” but it is going to be used as an example of what atheists are all about.

This kind of thing worries and sickens me. It sets us back in being accepted. It reenforces all the crap we’ve tried to get away from.

That, by the way, is Jen McCreigh who blogs at “Blag Hag.” Now I should state that I’ve disagreed with Jen quite a bit before. I don’t like the way that she seems to find sexism in everything anyone ever says that might happen to involve a woman. I’m not crazy about her constant taking of offense to damn near anyone who disagrees with her and usually labeling them as being a sexist, racist or otherwise bigoted. I’m not sure I like her attitude in general. That said, I’ve generally kept this to myself, because I respect the fact that she has contributed to the secular movement and I don’t want to spark unnecessary infighting by going after unimportant things in her arguments.

That said, this sign has done such a perfect job of illustrating everything we are not and don’t want the world to think of us, I’m just going to come out and say it…

JEN, YOU ARE A F***ING IDIOT

It should not surprise you at all that journalists have made us look bad and like fundamentalists looking to oppress others. You gave them the most perfect photo op I can imagine for that. Sure, there were others who expressed pretty hardcore intolerance, and they hurt the cause too, but none of them managed to do it in a way that was so concise and perfect for a press photo to illustrate the point.

One of the important messages of the reason rally is that it should be okay to be openly atheists and not have to defend yourself as being a good person or assure your theistic friends that you don’t hate them or want to forcibly oppress their beliefs. Many of us would like to have it be something that is not seen with hostility or something we have to worry about being totally open about. Those who so publicly flaunt their desire to destroy religion don’t help get us there.

(and yes, I’d think that even if you were a male.)


This entry was posted on Monday, March 26th, 2012 at 9:32 am and is filed under Culture, Misc, personal, Politics, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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53 Responses to “The Reason Rally: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”

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  1. 1
    I'mnotreallyhere Says:

    From some of the Catholics I know I’ve seen some genuine interpretation of atheism as amoralism – that a lack of belief in God equates to having zero moral compass and therefore no inclination at all for generosity, loyalty, basically any virtue not directly linked to self-preservation.

    It’s bonkers.


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  2. 2
    Anon Says:

    You really should read up on Overton Window.

    In short having extremists in your movement actually helps the moderates look moderate.


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  3. 3
    BMS Says:

            Anon said:

    In short having extremists in your movement actually helps the moderates look moderate.

    One shouldn’t forget, however, that this strategic advantage works only if the “moderates” actively, publicly, and consistently censure the “extremists” and their actions for being inappropriate — as Steve has done in his blog here.

    If the moderates don’t speak out, then everyone confuses the moderates with the extremists, and the extremists will get the most attention.


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  4. 4
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Anon said:

    You really should read up on Overton Window.

    In short having extremists in your movement actually helps the moderates look moderate.

    I’m not sure the movement has reached the point where the diversity of opinions is publicized enough to actually make that a factor.


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  5. 5
    DV82XL Says:

    I’m afraid I have to fall on the side of the zealots in this case. Deism in general is not neutral and with few exceptions, does not take a live-and-let-live approach. In fact the broad ecumenism that has emerged in the last few decades among Christians is very novel, and it wasn’t too long ago that the various sects were at each other’s throats. I remember well the talk of liberal the U.S. was getting because a Roman Catholic (Kennedy) had been elected president, and how several members of my family weren’t speaking with one another because someone had married outside the church. Now religious leaders that once wouldn’t have been caught dead in the same room with one another are meeting in groups and issuing joint communiqués.

    They will not leave atheism alone – they cannot – and things will get messy as they continue to try and use the political process to enforce their view of morality on the rest of us. Unfortunately there is no middle ground here, rather there is a bright and sharp line and those that try and prevaricate in an attempt to avoid angering one side or the other may find themselves the enemy of both.


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  6. 6
    Sigivald Says:

    In the context of his speech the comment was not overly harsh, but taken out of that context, as I am sure it will be, it can be used to make the whole movement seem as radical and militant as too many already believe it is.

    Far too many of my Activist Atheist friends seem to think that the entire point of being an atheist is to say how stupid religion is and how stupid religious people are, pretty much all the time. IE, that the point of “atheism” is not a positive belief in the absence of a deity (and all that follows from that in both directions), but to hate religion*.

    I think the problem might be as you (our host) suggest, obliquely, in your reply to Anon – there are so few “atheists” as a movement** that far from being so big that it needs extremists to strengthen the middle, that nearly all there are are extremists, and people attracted to it.

    (* Bracketing the occasional hilarity of some of them then going for “spiritual” things as un-evidenced as a deity, as if it’s different because it’s not organized or traditional religion.

    ** I’m a lifelong atheist, but I’ll be – pun intended – damned if I’m going to join a “movement” of these chuckle****s. I’d rather become a Catholic.

    And I’m only half kidding about that.)


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  7. 7
    MrNiceguy Says:

    As an strong Christian, I’ll just say I wish more atheists were like you. I am a big proponent of limited government, and I feel that a limited government is inherently secular; simply put, any government big enough to involve itself in religious affairs is too d*mn big.

    Best of luck in your congressional race.


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  8. 8
    outcast Says:

    Unfortunately all major organized religions have a long history, going back thousands of years, of trying to force people into seeing things their way, usually by using The State to enforce their ideologies. One example of this is school prayer. Another, much more egragious (and recent) example was the “Zombie Mo” case.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/pennsylvania-judge-musim-zombie-muhammad_n_1304764.html

    Appearently it’s now ok to physically attack people who don’t agree with you. Where’s my cudgel?


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  9. 9
    outcast Says:

    Oh, and here’s a better link providing analysis of the case by a law professor: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/02/24/pennsylvania-judge-throws-out-charge-for-harassing-atheist-while-calling-the-victim-a-doofus/


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  10. 10
    Blubba Says:

    Maybe its just me but I tend to decouple the topic of rational, critical thinking and the concept of theism/atheism. While you can perhaps draw rough correlations between the level of a person’s critical thinking skills and their proclivity to embrace atheism, the idea of a “Reason Rally” turning into an event about atheism strikes me the same as billing an event as a “Peace Rally” where environmentalism dominates the topic of discussion.


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  11. 11
    Q Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I’m afraid I have to fall on the side of the zealots in this case. Deism in general is not neutral and with few exceptions, does not take a live-and-let-live approach. In fact the broad ecumenism that has emerged in the last few decades among Christians is very novel, and it wasn’t too long ago that the various sects were at each other’s throats. I remember well the talk of liberal the U.S. was getting because a Roman Catholic (Kennedy) had been elected president, and how several members of my family weren’t speaking with one another because someone had married outside the church. Now religious leaders that once wouldn’t have been caught dead in the same room with one another are meeting in groups and issuing joint communiqués.

    They will not leave atheism alone – they cannot – and things will get messy as they continue to try and use the political process to enforce their view of morality on the rest of us. Unfortunately there is no middle ground here, rather there is a bright and sharp line and those that try and prevaricate in an attempt to avoid angering one side or the other may find themselves the enemy of both.

    I’m not sure it’s possible or advisable to try to get rid of religion through force or government policy. For one thing, in the United States it’s been generally viewed as constitutionally protected. That being that the government can’t just make a religious practice illegal for the sake of eliminating that religion or in any way try to go after it or call it wrong.

    Would you even want to try? Every attempt to enforce an atheistic society by the government has failed. The Soviet Union started off with that policy, but quickly gave it up because it was the one thing people would not take. Lenin tried to make atheism the way of the nation, but people continued to practice religion and eventually they had to tolerate it and allow it to be practiced. The Russian Orthodox Church survived 75 years of the Soviet Union trying to reduce its influence. The Chinese also tried, and they drove some Buddhists, Muslim and Christian groups underground, but they also relented and started to tolerate most religion. Cuba never even tried to stamp out the Catholic Church.

    I don’t think it can be done with anything short of killing most of the believers. You just can’t make it go away by legislating it. You only piss people off that way.


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  12. 12
    Cranky Mechanic Says:

    I find reason and atheism inextricably linked, in my case it was learning critical thinking that divorced me from my (relatively mild) religious background. I don’t hate religion per se, but I consider it unreasonable. Way too many of various religions’ adherents don’t behave rationally on subjects that are important, such as our mutual governance and would force other people to behave as they think that they should, by force of law. I don’t care what someone does in the privacy of their home, they can worship whomever they want, they can build (as long as they pay for it) any building they want to worship in, it’s no skin off of my nose. However, I do consider it an aberration of the mind.
    As far as getting rid of religion, it’s just not going to happen, all we can do is educate those that we can and try and reduce their influence. Forcing an atheist society, as Q noted, won’t work. It’ll just put them on the defensive and you’ll get nowhere with them.
    Many of the “new atheists” as they seem to call themselves inextricably link reason and atheism, which I think is what you observed at the Reason Rally. I wouldn’t call them militant (I”ve never met a really militant atheist), but some take the idea of fighting non-reason pretty seriously (PZ Myers comes to mind), especially when it comes to Education, Science, Intelligent Design, Medical subjects and others.


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  13. 13
    DV82XL Says:

            Q said:

    I’m not sure it’s possible or advisable to try to get rid of religion through force or government policy.

    I think you are missing my point, (or more likely, I didn’t make it clear.) I am not suggesting that religion be banned by legal fiat, but I do suggest that there is a need to fight attempts by deists to use the political process to pass laws that advance their religious agendas. In particular those attempts in many North American jurisdictions to legislate the teaching of creation myths as an alternative to a scientific explanation; defund family planning and sex education along with thinly-veiled attempts to make abortions difficult or impossible to obtain.

    I agree that a direct attack on religion is nether practical or likely to be effective, however organized religion still enjoys several advantages under law, like very preferred taxation, among other privileges, and I see no reason why these should not be identified and removed. As well we should not tolerate the special access some religious leaders have to political leaders, admittedly more of an issue outside the U.S. than in, but an issue nevertheless.

    The fact remains there are still established religions in many nations and even in those countries in which church and state are separated by law, the decoupling is not yet complete, and these are areas where we can be active in forcing change.


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  14. 14
    Anon Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I’m afraid I have to fall on the side of the zealots in this case. Deism in general is not neutral and with few exceptions, does not take a live-and-let-live approach.

    Deism? You sure you’ve got your terminology right?

    Yes I know that the US uses a justification called ceremonial deism for violating the constitution but it doesn’t seem that anyone really believes it (certainly not those who were so upset at having god removed from the pledge of allegiance as to send death threats, not something that would happen if “under god” were meaningless).

            Sigivald said:

    I think the problem might be as you (our host) suggest, obliquely, in your reply to Anon – there are so few “atheists” as a movement** that far from being so big that it needs extremists to strengthen the middle, that nearly all there are are extremists, and people attracted to it.

    There are probably more atheists in the US than followers of fundamentalist religion (if there isn’t there wouldn’t be all that much difference, and many states would still have more atheists than fundamentalists), only problem is that such numbers aren’t giving proportionate political power.

            Sigivald said:

    (* Bracketing the occasional hilarity of some of them then going for “spiritual” things as un-evidenced as a deity, as if it’s different because it’s not organized or traditional religion.

    Well it is different (but then, so are Christianity and Islam) and probably not as harmful as traditional religions.

    The evidence on what does end up replacing religion does appear to indicate that spiritual but not religious is a big part of it (about half who abandon religion end up at it, the other half as atheists) so we’d probably end up having to live with a lot of them anyway at least for a time (and it’d probably still be a significant improvement over what came before).

            Blubba said:

    Maybe its just me but I tend to decouple the topic of rational, critical thinking and the concept of theism/atheism. While you can perhaps draw rough correlations between the level of a person’s critical thinking skills and their proclivity to embrace atheism, the idea of a “Reason Rally” turning into an event about atheism strikes me the same as billing an event as a “Peace Rally” where environmentalism dominates the topic of discussion.

    Of course peace and environmentalism don’t really have all that much to do with each other, while atheism is pretty much a necessary condition to be reasonable (at least in a world where there’s no evidence of a god, yes I am describing our one here).

            Q said:

    I’m not sure it’s possible or advisable to try to get rid of religion through force or government policy.

    There are also rather big questions of legitimacy if the issue is forced (though you could argue that Christianity, Islam, etc deserve it, but even then most of the followers don’t deserve what you’d have to do to them).

            Q said:

    Would you even want to try? Every attempt to enforce an atheistic society by the government has failed.

    I wouldn’t say that, the formerly communist countries do tend to be less religious than you’d expect based on their standard of living so it does seem to have at least somewhat worked (though not as well as just going to the highest standard of living possible without even bothering to suppress religion, some of the least religious countries on the planet have a state church).

    Besides, it took Christians hundreds of years to actually stamp out Paganism when they first started off in Europe and in many other places the old religions are still practised along with Christianity.

            Q said:

    The Soviet Union started off with that policy, but quickly gave it up because it was the one thing people would not take. Lenin tried to make atheism the way of the nation, but people continued to practice religion and eventually they had to tolerate it and allow it to be practiced.

    Though to have a government position (or even in many cases just a good job) you couldn’t be religious, keep that up long enough and you would eventually find religion disappearing (never mind that communism is itself a quasi-religion, much more like Christianity than adherents of either belief would like to admit).

            Q said:

    The Russian Orthodox Church survived 75 years of the Soviet Union trying to reduce its influence.

    Would it have survived 150 years? 300 years? Even then the Russian Orthodox Church wasn’t very persecuted by Soviet standards (being KGB controlled and all that).

            Q said:

    The Chinese also tried, and they drove some Buddhists, Muslim and Christian groups underground, but they also relented and started to tolerate most religion. Cuba never even tried to stamp out the Catholic Church.

    Of course they tolerate religions that they have some control over and continue to persecute those that don’t answer to them (persecution in communist countries tends to depend more on politics, religions closely associated with an ethnic group or run by someone not under party control tend to be the ones that really get it).

            Q said:

    I don’t think it can be done with anything short of killing most of the believers.

    If you want it done right this minute then yes, you would pretty much have to kill everyone who isn’t an atheist, but if you’re patient…

    Of course it turns out that if you just work to improve the standard of living in a society that religion will disappear on its own (over many generations).

    See http://www.ipri.pt/eventos/pdf/Paper_Norris%20and%20Inglehart.pdf for more details.


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  15. 15
    BMS Says:

            Anon said:

    Of course it turns out that if you just work to improve the standard of living in a society that religion will disappear on its own (over many generations).

    If you’re referring to traditional “church-going” religion, then you are mostly correct. Attendance in much of society will decrease — only to be replaced with New Age mumbo-jumbo, Asian mysticism, nature-worshiping environmentalism, and other forms of non-traditional spirituality.

    Many (I’d say nearly all) people have an inherent psychological need to believe in something and to be part of something that they feel is larger than themselves. Traditional religion fills this need very well, and when it is removed, surrogates like the ones I mentioned above rapidly move in to fill the void.

    Even hard-core atheists are motivated by this need, which they satisfy with their own form of evangelism.


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  16. 16
    Anon Says:

            BMS said:

    If you’re referring to traditional “church-going” religion, then you are mostly correct. Attendance in much of society will decrease — only to be replaced with New Age mumbo-jumbo, Asian mysticism, nature-worshiping environmentalism, and other forms of non-traditional spirituality.

    Yes, a significant amount of what replaces religion is of that form, but is probably still somewhat of an improvement (then again, communism might have looked like an improvement 100 years ago).

            BMS said:

    Many (I’d say nearly all) people have an inherent psychological need to believe in something and to be part of something that they feel is larger than themselves. Traditional religion fills this need very well, and when it is removed, surrogates like the ones I mentioned above rapidly move in to fill the void.

    Hard to say, it’s also possible that it is religion which creates the need (or at least a big part of it).

    Though of course it isn’t so much religion itself that is the problem but religious ways of thinking, religion losing its cultural influence could help us a lot in reducing legitimacy of a lot of other pseudosciences.

    People do seem to be less irrational today when compared to past ages, even though it takes its time we as a species probably are becoming more skeptical.


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  17. 17
    Sigivald Says:

    Blubba said: Maybe its just me but I tend to decouple the topic of rational, critical thinking and the concept of theism/atheism.

    Amen.

    I’ve seen (and been dispirited by) any number of angry Atheists who asserted that being an Atheist meant they were rational… while being barely rational at all in general.

    I’ve seen exceedingly rational Catholics and almost completely irrational atheists – and I’m not sure I’d even tolerate the conclusion that rationality is even linked to the deism/theism/atheism split.

    (Perhaps it’s also that, as a philosophy major, I don’t use “rational” to mean “pure materialist”, so much as “internally consistent and not in definite conflict with observed reality”.

    And no, the example Catholics don’t actually believe anything in definite conflict with observation; they just have assumptions and explanations that are either entirely outside of observation [and thus orthogonal to it] or are compatible with it but not the simplest or most parsimonious.

    I think they’re wrong, but I don’t think they’re mad.)


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  18. 18
    SteveK9 Says:

    Didn’t know you were running for office. I’m sure you have your reasons, but it’s hard not to wonder if you are in the wrong political party.


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  19. 19
    Bob Wilson Says:

    SteveK9 said: it’s hard not to wonder if you are in the wrong political party.

    As a Republican, I agree. The comments on this thread are crazy. You people really are Keepers of Odd Knowledge (KOOKS).

    My understanding is that Mr. Packard is running as a Republican because the Democrat side has a popular candidate already.

    On the miniscule chance that Mr. Packard should gain the nomination, I will make it my business to provide a link to this thread and to Mr. Packard’s website to his opponent. I have also made an MHT archive of this page so I can re-create it if he destroys the evidence.

    Q said: I don’t think it can be done with anything short of killing most of the believers. You just can’t make it go away by legislating it. You only piss people off that way.

    That is priceless. And then you wonder why you “rational atheists” are deservedly a far-fringe minority. God, I hope so.


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  20. 20
    outcast Says:

    @Bob Wilson:

    I think Barry Goldwater said it best when he commented that the Republican party had been taken over by “a bunch of kooks”, referring of course to the evangelicals.

    @Everyone else:

    I think Mr. Wilson’s remark shows one thing: We can never reason with religious fanatics.


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  21. 21
    drbuzz0 Says:

            SteveK9 said:

    Didn’t know you were running for office. I’m sure you have your reasons, but it’s hard not to wonder if you are in the wrong political party.

            Bob Wilson said:

    SteveK9 said: it’s hard not to wonder if you are in the wrong political party.

    As a Republican, I agree. The comments on this thread are crazy. You people really are Keepers of Odd Knowledge (KOOKS).

    My understanding is that Mr. Packard is running as a Republican because the Democrat side has a popular candidate already.

    No, that’s not entirely true. I am a fiscal conservative and I take as much issue with Democratic party policies as Republican, perhaps more. I’m very much a fan of the Barry Goldwater movement and I don’t consider myself to be cutout to be a democrat. I consider myself to be far more Republican than Democrat, although I am more independent than anything else.

            SteveK9 said:

    On the miniscule chance that Mr. Packard should gain the nomination,

    Do some research. I’m not exactly competing with a very strong opponent for the primary.

    I have every expectation that I’ll win the nomination.

            SteveK9 said:

    I will make it my business to provide a link to this thread and to Mr. Packard’s website to his opponent. I have also made an MHT archive of this page so I can re-create it if he destroys the evidence.

    Be my guest. I’m not hiding anything.

    I stand for a government that is religiously neutral, secular and represents all beliefs without favoring one over the other. That’s exactly how our founders intended it to be. I will represent the interests of believers and non-believers without prejudice and I have every intention to defend religious freedom and separation of church and state.


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  22. 22
    Bob Wilson Says:

    outcast wrote: Barry Goldwater said it best when he commented that the Republican party had been taken over by “a bunch of kooks”, referring of course to the evangelicals.

    Unfortunately, Goldwater became soft(er) in the head in his later years. Even when younger, he was on the fringe. The only reason he ever gained any traction in the Republican Party was because of “the speech” by Ronald Reagan. Reagan, a man of faith, was actually describing conservative principles and Goldwater basically said: “What that guy said, that’s what I mean.” Goldwater’s disastrous campaign in 1964 ushered in the one-party government in Johnson’s term that lead to our defeat in the Vietnam war, which was eminently winnable except for Johnson’s bungling, and to Medicare, which is now bankrupting this country.

    outcast wrote: We can never reason with religious fanatics.
    That’s right. But you and Q have the answer: kill us all.


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  23. 23
    Q Says:

            Bob Wilson said:

    outcast wrote: We can never reason with religious fanatics.
    That’s right. But you and Q have the answer: kill us all.

    Idiot. I was making the point that we SHOULD NOT outlaw religion and SHOULD NOT try to stamp it out by force.

    Try reading what I actually said. My point was that, amongst other things, you can’t do it by force because nothing short of killing people would actually stop religion and OBVIOUSLY that would be unacceptable. Really? Is that what you see?

    I said, we should not try to legislate religion away or ban it. Because it is wrong and it could not be done anyway.


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  24. 24
    outcast Says:

    “Unfortunately, Goldwater became soft(er) in the head in his later years. Even when younger, he was on the fringe. The only reason he ever gained any traction in the Republican Party was because of “the speech” by Ronald Reagan. Reagan, a man of faith, was actually describing conservative principles and Goldwater basically said: “What that guy said, that’s what I mean.” Goldwater’s disastrous campaign in 1964 ushered in the one-party government in Johnson’s term that lead to our defeat in the Vietnam war, which was eminently winnable except for Johnson’s bungling, and to Medicare, which is now bankrupting this country. “

    Goldwater was a libertarian, while he did go a bit far in some aspects one key thing he believed it: Keeping government from dictating religious ideologies.

    “That’s right. But you and Q have the answer: kill us all.”

    Don’t be silly. Here’s what we will do, we’ll stop you from subverting government to push your theocratic agendas and we’ll spread the word that it is possible to think.

    Actually I find your remark rather humerous, in light of that upcoming Armageddon thing you people rave about, we won’t take any of your lives, you will do it for us. Your doomsday prophecy is self-fulfilling, we stand back and idely watch you and other fanatics from other faiths slaughter eachother in a bloodbath of your own making. And then? The meek, us, will then inherit the Earth. See you then.


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  25. 25
    outcast Says:

    Oh and I almost forgot to mention one other thing, Packard 2012!


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  26. 26
    Blubba Says:

            Anon said:

    Of course peace and environmentalism don’t really have all that much to do with each other, while atheism is pretty much a necessary condition to be reasonable (at least in a world where there’s no evidence of a god, yes I am describing our one here).

    Says who? Nobody is a Spock. Nobody has undergone Kolinahr. When I lost my faith it didn’t cause my IQ to go up 20 points or raise my grades in college. The study of critical thinking is not considered heretical in any religion I am aware of. In fact, there is a substantial Christian home schooling movement that centers around the ancient Greek “classical” trivium of logic, rhetoric and grammar.


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  27. 27
    Anon Says:

            Sigivald said:

    I’ve seen (and been dispirited by) any number of angry Atheists who asserted that being an Atheist meant they were rational… while being barely rational at all in general.

    Necessary condition doesn’t mean sufficient.

            Sigivald said:

    (Perhaps it’s also that, as a philosophy major, I don’t use “rational” to mean “pure materialist”, so much as “internally consistent and not in definite conflict with observed reality”.

    And no, the example Catholics don’t actually believe anything in definite conflict with observation; they just have assumptions and explanations that are either entirely outside of observation [and thus orthogonal to it] or are compatible with it but not the simplest or most parsimonious.

    I think they’re wrong, but I don’t think they’re mad.)

    Do you even know what Catholics believe?

            Bob Wilson said:

    As a Republican, I agree. The comments on this thread are crazy. You people really are Keepers of Odd Knowledge (KOOKS).

    My understanding is that Mr. Packard is running as a Republican because the Democrat side has a popular candidate already.

    On the miniscule chance that Mr. Packard should gain the nomination, I will make it my business to provide a link to this thread and to Mr. Packard’s website to his opponent. I have also made an MHT archive of this page so I can re-create it if he destroys the evidence.

    With people like you running the Republican party it’s almost a certainty Obama will get back in, it’s almost as if you’re trying to annoy the rest of the population.

            Bob Wilson said:

    That is priceless. And then you wonder why you “rational atheists” are deservedly a far-fringe minority. God, I hope so.

    You do of course realise that atheism is growing at a much greater rate than fundamentalist religion? Not to mention that fundamentalist religion isn’t something the rest of the population really wants.

            Bob Wilson said:

    Goldwater’s disastrous campaign in 1964 ushered in the one-party government in Johnson’s term that lead to our defeat in the Vietnam war, which was eminently winnable except for Johnson’s bungling, and to Medicare, which is now bankrupting this country.

    So one of those then? If you had been running the US you probably would’ve started World War III over it (but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a right wing authoritarian).


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  28. 28
    Anon Says:

            Blubba said:

    Says who? Nobody is a Spock. Nobody has undergone Kolinahr. When I lost my faith it didn’t cause my IQ to go up 20 points or raise my grades in college.

    No, but it did mean you had one less irrational belief (actually probably a whole bunch less of them, given just how many beliefs are a part of the average religion).

            Blubba said:

    The study of critical thinking is not considered heretical in any religion I am aware of.

    If that were true no one would have burned at the stake for critical thinking.

            Blubba said:

    In fact, there is a substantial Christian home schooling movement that centers around the ancient Greek “classical” trivium of logic, rhetoric and grammar.

    While completely ignoring science, not exactly a paragon of reason there.


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  29. 29
    drbuzz0 Says:

    It’s definitely true that being an atheist does not make you inherently reasonable or pro-reason. Certainly having a government that is clamping down on religion is not something that I’d ever consider “reasonable.”

    The government must govern all peoples of a society of all beliefs. Some are non-believers, some are very Orthodox Jews, some are very liberal Jews, some are traditional Catholics, some are liberal Catholics, some are non-practicing Catholics, some are Greek Orthodox, some are Baptists and very public Protestants and others are more private, personally conservative Protestants. Some are Hindus, Muslims and other beliefs of all variety of conviction and personal decisions.

    I don’t think it is the government’s businesses what your religion is nor how you practice it. The government should be neutral and tolerate anything people care to do privately or with their own time and money, as long as it is not otherwise harmful to others.

    As far as something like prayer in schools, the government should absolutely not force it or require it or sanction it. It’s not their place. They should not use public funds to support it. It’s not proper because some don’t believe and because some who do believe might not feel comfortable praying publicly. Some people prefer to pray on their own because they think it is private or it makes the act more meaningful. Some prefer not to pray at all. Some don’t believe in a higher power. All these are acceptable and therefore government sanctioned prayer is wrong.

    Conversely, if students wish to pray on their own in a non-disruptive manner, they should be allowed to. IF they want to gather during lunch period for a group prayer session, they can do that too. As long as it’s not openly disruptive to others, it should be allowed. They can speak of religion between each-other and such. I don’t even mind if they have a school prayer club or something, as long as they don’t get administrative support or funding for it.

    This is not only for the protection of non-believers but for those who might believe but do not subscribe to the exact message of the State. It is certainly not anti-religion, it is simply religiously neutral.

    I don’t think the government’s job extends to beliefs or morality. Government is there to provide infrastructure upkeep, to maintain national security, to provide enforcement of markets and trade, a stable monetary system etc etc. These are basic administrative duties that do not touch on religion. It’s not the governments place to do so.

    Whether a representative is religious or not is not something that should come into play in their election. Their job is to represent their constituents, to pass legislation that is fair and governs effectively. Because the government is not a religious organization, their own beliefs are not at issue on the job.

    To be honest, I have a hard time understanding why any reasonable religious person would find such an arrangement offensive. It absolutely preserves their freedom and insures there’s no conflict of interest or favoritism of one sect over another.


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  30. 30
    DV82XL Says:

            Blubba said:

    The study of critical thinking is not considered heretical in any religion I am aware of. In fact, there is a substantial Christian home schooling movement that centers around the ancient Greek “classical” trivium of logic, rhetoric and grammar.

    No the study of logic, rhetoric and grammar are not considered heretical in any religion and there are large bodies of work like Christian Apologetics, the Western Hermetic Tradition, the various forms of Talmudic and rabbinic scholarship, and so on. However, while in most cases structurally sound, they are based on questionable axiomatic foundations and therein lies the problem.

    It just doesn’t matter how technically strong the argument is, if it is founded on nonsense it yields nonsense, and this is what renders religious arguments worthless. There is no objective truth in religion because there is no foundation. When religious people argue, they’re arguing about opinion, and they can argue forever. But when rationalists argue, it’s over facts, and sooner or later, the facts prevail. One theory will win out because it is true, and the others will be forgotten. And the rationalists will then move on to the next question, to expand our knowledge even more. The religious faced with a failed argument fall back and attempt to adjust the preconditions and never admit to being wrong.


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  31. 31
    Blubba Says:

            Anon said:

    No, but it did mean you had one less irrational belief (actually probably a whole bunch less of them, given just how many beliefs are a part of the average religion).

    Everyone has irrational thoughts and beliefs. I find the tactic some atheists have of thinking they are being productive by attacking other people’s faith a prime example.

            Anon said:

    If that were true no one would have burned at the stake for critical thinking.

    No one that I am aware of has ever been burned at the stake for critical thinking. They were burned for heresy, contrary thinking. Whether critical thought went into formulating that contrary thinking was irrelevant to the ones doing the burning. But if you want to go down that road, was intentionally infecting people with syphilis rational on the part of the scientists who did it? Nobody is perfect in meeting the ideals they have set for themselves.

            Anon said:

    While completely ignoring science, not exactly a paragon of reason there.

    Actually, the ancient Greeks viewed logic, rhetoric and grammar to be the foundations on which to build an education in the sciences. Seems reasonable to me. That thinking is carried forward into modern Christian classical education. Not all religions have a big hard spot with biology, for example. The Catholic Church’s position has itself “evolved” regarding Darwin’s theories. The Methodists, for example, have no problem with evolution.

    You obviously made no attempt to research the Classical Education movement before making your statement and your ignorance of religions is evidenced by your insistence on painting them with a broad brush. I find both errors on your part to be…irrational.


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  32. 32
    David C D Says:

    Agreed that religion does not belong in government and vice versa. They are two different worlds and government should simply do the basics of keeping us safe and the roads paved. I wish to choose my church and be able to leave it. I wish to have my beliefs dictated only by myself and if I believe in nothing or in God is not the business of Congress.

    I would have apprehension about voting for someone who was anti-religion to the point where they would use their powers to try to make it harder to be a religious person or practice freely, which I do not believe this author, drbuzz0 advocates.

    If you are going to say that being a person of faith means you are not reasonable or logical, I will call you on that. Have not some of the greatest minds of logic been religious people? For centuries, the great scholars, thinkers, writers, historians and scientists were largely friars and monks. Newton was a man of great faith and he may have been the greatest genius of logic and reason. He made some simple observations of the world and deduced all the laws of classical physics. Voltaire, Pascal, Copernicus, Kepler all men of faith. They are the same men you would probably consider the greatest champions of science and logic.


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  33. 33
    DV82XL Says:

            David C D said:

    Have not some of the greatest minds of logic been religious people?

    They were products of their time it is true, however please note that the only parts of their works that have stood the test of time, and that are in fact the reason they are remembered are their purely secular ones. Even among Christians, Newton’s religious works are not considered to be of value. AS for Voltaire, if he was a man of faith it was by outward conformance only. No one that could have said the following could be a Christian in his heart.

    “You will notice that in all disputes between Christians since the birth of the Church, Rome has always favored the doctrine which most completely subjugated the human mind and annihilated reason.”

    “All good Christians glory in the folly of the Cross. Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.”

    “When he that speaks, and he to whom he speaks, neither of them understand what is meant, that is metaphysics.”

    and my favorite:

    “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.”

    Nor do I think that the others on your list were as devout as you imagine them.


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  34. 34
    Anon Says:

            Blubba said:

    No one that I am aware of has ever been burned at the stake for critical thinking.

    Not even those who arrived at views contrary to what the church taught through critical thinking?

            Blubba said:

    They were burned for heresy, contrary thinking. Whether critical thought went into formulating that contrary thinking was irrelevant to the ones doing the burning.

    Any religion which can claim to have anything to do with promotion of critical thinking would not ever burn someone for heresy (or even have such a concept).

            David C D said:

    For centuries, the great scholars, thinkers, writers, historians and scientists were largely friars and monks.

    Might have something to do with those who weren’t being illiterate.

            David C D said:

    Newton was a man of great faith and he may have been the greatest genius of logic and reason.

    He wasted a lot of effort on theology, had he instead spent that time on science he might have discovered quite a bit more.

            David C D said:

    He made some simple observations of the world and deduced all the laws of classical physics. Voltaire, Pascal, Copernicus, Kepler all men of faith.

    They are the same men you would probably consider the greatest champions of science and logic.

    Interesting how you haven’t listed anyone alive today in your list (those who claim that great scientists were religious tend to use lists of scientists from a long time ago when we knew much less than we do today and when society was much less tolerant of not being religious). Can you even name one person alive today who would equal them who is a Christian?

    Voltaire also was almost certainly not a Christian.


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  35. 35
    BMS Says:

            Anon said:

    He wasted a lot of effort on theology, had he instead spent that time on science he might have discovered quite a bit more.

    Geez … you’d think that laying the foundations for classical mechanics, calculus, optics, etc., would be enough for one lifetime. I guess there’s no pleasing some people. ;-)


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  36. 36
    DV82XL Says:

    It is interesting to note that it’s the intellectuals in organized religion that have often done the most to undermine it. The study and development of theology has always been the main architect of internal schisms in just about every faith. Metaphysical theology has mostly been a lay pursuit, the clergy more interested in dogmatic theology, nevertheless it would seem that the application of critical thinking has been more disruptive to religion than advantageous.


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  37. 37
    Shafe Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    No, that’s not entirely true. I am a fiscal conservative and I take as much issue with Democratic party policies as Republican, perhaps more. I’m very much a fan of the Barry Goldwater movement and I don’t consider myself to be cutout to be a democrat. I consider myself to be far more Republican than Democrat, although I am more independent than anything else.

    Sounds like you and I align politically quite well. I would do fine with the label of Republican if their platform and policies actually reflected the banner they wave as defenders of liberty and limited government. But instead they spend their efforts micromanaging our morals and belief systems. I would be happier with the Libertarians if they weren’t so overwhelmingly focused on legalizing pot to the exclusion of more substantive issues. But at every turn the Democrats give me reason to distrust and reject them. The insane expansion of government powers (although Bush 2 set the bar pretty high there), the race to disarm the populace, and their mob mentality is frightening.

    It’s too bad there’s not a relevant party that could be counted on to advance the causes of limited government and personal freedom, but based on what you’ve written here, I’d vote for you regardless of party affiliation.

            drbuzz0 said:

    I don’t think the government’s job extends to beliefs or morality. Government is there to provide infrastructure upkeep, to maintain national security, to provide enforcement of markets and trade, a stable monetary system etc etc.

    And what a miserable job they have done. Damned Keynesians. Too many temptations distracting them from their proper, constitutional roles.

            drbuzz0 said:

    To be honest, I have a hard time understanding why any reasonable religious person would find such an arrangement offensive. It absolutely preserves their freedom and insures there’s no conflict of interest or favoritism of one sect over another.

    I don’t find it offensive. I find it imperative. Today, the flavor of gov’t religion is mainline protestantism, tomorrow it could be the likes of Westboro Baptist Church, after that…?


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  38. 38
    David C D Says:

    Maybe Voltair was a bad example, but I had read that he accepted God even while rejecting most of the politics of the earthly church, which is something people can be confused about. Many things the church has taught were not right because it was ruled by men and men are corruptible. Corruption is what lead to the Protestant Reformation and to other conflicts within believers.

    You still can’t deny that if you look at history, reason and science have been the domain of many people of faith. The great centers of learning we have today were mainly established by clergy and churches and the whole tradition of western education largely came from Christianity. Ministers were often teachers and professors and were the most learned. You can’t deny that for hundreds of years, monks, priests, friars and ministers were the predominant scholars. If you go back and look at Europe, the centers of learning and knowledge were monasteries. They preserved knowledge through the dark ages in their libraries. Men of faith tirelessly copied the books by hand.

    The churches commissioned the first printing by the press and it was the churches that also commissioned the first mechanical clocks and displayed them publicly to change how we understand and manage time. Churches spread information and news to the people and created the first system of long distance news distribution to the public. Churches innovated in how we build because the first structures to have buttresses and beams to take the load off of walls were churches. Churches invented new kinds of metal forming to produce their giant bells and to make the pipes for organs. The foundries were built to make church bells. Then there is artwork of course.

    Look at any old records. There are records that are of great value to science today of weather and of natural events observed and of family history and genealogy. You will find they were all kept by the churches and written mostly by monks.

    Face the fact that men of faith have driven science for centuries.


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  39. 39
    Anon Says:

            David C D said:

    Maybe Voltair was a bad example, but I had read that he accepted God even while rejecting most of the politics of the earthly church, which is something people can be confused about.

    He lived in a time when saying there was no god wasn’t a very good idea, not to mention that people back then didn’t know as much as we do.

            David C D said:

    You still can’t deny that if you look at history, reason and science have been the domain of many people of faith.

    Yeah, that’s because back then if you weren’t a person of faith you got killed. These days the scientific community is majority atheist.

            David C D said:

    You can’t deny that for hundreds of years, monks, priests, friars and ministers were the predominant scholars.

    Because everyone else was starving, they aren’t now.

            David C D said:

    If you go back and look at Europe, the centers of learning and knowledge were monasteries. They preserved knowledge through the dark ages in their libraries. Men of faith tirelessly copied the books by hand.

    Actually it was Islamic civilisation which preserved knowledge and expanded it.

            David C D said:

    The churches commissioned the first printing by the press and it was the churches that also commissioned the first mechanical clocks and displayed them publicly to change how we understand and manage time. Churches spread information and news to the people and created the first system of long distance news distribution to the public. Churches innovated in how we build because the first structures to have buttresses and beams to take the load off of walls were churches. Churches invented new kinds of metal forming to produce their giant bells and to make the pipes for organs. The foundries were built to make church bells. Then there is artwork of course.

    Oh yes, a few pretty pictures can justify the atrocities religion has caused.<sarcasm>

            David C D said:

    Face the fact that men of faith have driven science for centuries.

    Why are you telling to face a fact that we already accept? Is it because you can’t accept that men of faith no longer drive science? Is it because you can’t accept that the only reason religious scientists are among the greatest was because in the past anyone who wasn’t religious would be killed?


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  40. 40
    DV82XL Says:

            David C D said:

    Face the fact that men of faith have driven science for centuries.

    OK. Then show us one example of their work that is still relevant today that is grounded in their faith. That’s the bottom line. Of course you will not be able to because it was only their secular efforts that have stood the test of time.

    While you are right that the cloister and the church run schools were the only harbors for intellectualism in those times, they were also highly conservative institutions and there are more examples of what we would consider scientific thought being censured than encouraged within them.


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  41. 41
    David CD Says:

    “Actually it was Islamic civilisation which preserved knowledge and expanded it.”

    They may have too, and they were also people of faith, even if a different one. You can’t ignore the contributions of Christianity either. For hundreds of years you would have been hard pressed to find a library that was not associated with a monastery or an abbey or a seminary.

    “OK. Then show us one example of their work that is still relevant today that is grounded in their faith. “

    Copernicus observed the movement of planets and astronomy because he wanted to better understand the heavens and the workings of nature to be closer to God.

    Religion created the only truly accurate calender. All calenders had a flaw which caused the seasons to drift over the course of centuries because it assumes a leap day is inserted every four years, when this is slightly too often and pushes the day of the year off from the time the earth traverses the sun. It was the pope who ordered this be corrected by assembling astronomers and mathematicians to determine a better calender. This is the calender we still use today and is superior to all those that came before.


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  42. 42
    DV82XL Says:

            David CD said:

    Copernicus observed the movement of planets and astronomy because he wanted to better understand the heavens and the workings of nature to be closer to God.

    That is questionable, and certainly unprovable. Most natural philosophers at the time dedicated their work to God as consequence of their positions in the Church. We do know however that he delayed publishing his heliocentric theories for years because of fears over religious objections. Indeed the whole notion of a moving Earth was considered heretical as it invalidated certain biblical passages.

    At any rate you are reaching at best to assert that the works of Copernicus were both scientifically valid and religious in nature.

            David CD said:

    Religion created the only truly accurate calender.

    Which is largely a contribution to civil, rather than scientific advancement. Nevertheless even if we allow that this was a valid example, it hardly is one of profound importance. We might also note that contemporary attempts at modernizing the calendar have been actively blocked by religious interests. See: The World Calendar-Religious objections These groups managed to block a vote on the matter at the U.N.

    Basically your thesis that religion has contributed to the development of scientific knowledge rests on the works of those who’s contributions were subject to rejection and their supporters to outright persecution by the very institutions you claim were facilitating them. This is pure revisionism and laughably simplistic at best.


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  43. 43
    Anon Says:

            David CD said:

    [on Islamic civilisation]They may have too, and they were also people of faith, even if a different one.

    The Islamic golden age was actually a time when the Islamic world was relatively secular (at least compared to the Christian world at the time). It ended when they became more religious (and I doubt if religion had all that much to do with their golden age except for ending it).

            David CD said:

    For hundreds of years you would have been hard pressed to find a library that was not associated with a monastery or an abbey or a seminary.

    Yeah, well there was the Great Library of Alexandra which wasn’t associated with a monastery or abbey or seminary. Oh wait, Christians burnt it down.

            David CD said:

    Copernicus observed the movement of planets and astronomy because he wanted to better understand the heavens and the workings of nature to be closer to God.

    Questionable, even then the theory of Copernicus was actually more complicated than Ptolemy and so under current standards would actually not be preferred (of course Kepler did eventually come up with something simpler).

            David CD said:

    Religion created the only truly accurate calender. All calenders had a flaw which caused the seasons to drift over the course of centuries because it assumes a leap day is inserted every four years, when this is slightly too often and pushes the day of the year off from the time the earth traverses the sun.

    While the Gregorian calender also has a flaw, namely that it uses the wrong value for a year.

    The correct value for the year if you want the seasons not to drift is the mean tropical year but the idiots who created that used the time between northern hemisphere vernal equinoxes instead.

    Not to mention the 7 day week screw up, at the very least there should be intercalinary dates.


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  44. 44
    George Carty Says:

            David CD said:

    “Actually it was Islamic civilisation which preserved knowledge and expanded it.”

    It actually created the scientific method as we know it (with its triad of logic, experimentation and citation). By contrast, the ancient Greeks believed that experimentation was unnecessary, as all knowledge could be logically derived from first principles.

            Anon said:

    The Islamic golden age was actually a time when the Islamic world was relatively secular (at least compared to the Christian world at the time). It ended when they became more religious (and I doubt if religion had all that much to do with their golden age except for ending it).

    I don’t know about “relatively secular” (it was still for the most part governed by religious law). It was though of course less intolerant than Christendom.

    I’d say its decline was more a consequence of the cataclysmic destruction wrought by the Mongols — I’m surprised that Muslims don’t view the Mongols as the epitome of absolute evil, just as Westerners view the Nazis! Perhaps it’s because Westerners — being more secular — need a secular ersatz-Satan in a way that Muslims don’t. Another factor may have been its late adoption of printing, because designing a set of movable type that can do justice to Arabic script is a formidable technical challenge.


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  45. 45
    Anon Says:

            George Carty said:

    It actually created the scientific method as we know it (with its triad of logic, experimentation and citation). By contrast, the ancient Greeks believed that experimentation was unnecessary, as all knowledge could be logically derived from first principles.

    Of course there were refinements done in Europe once the knowledge was transferred as Europe ended its dark age.

    Though the belief that experimentation was unnecessary of the Greeks was a big screw up.

            George Carty said:

    I don’t know about “relatively secular” (it was still for the most part governed by religious law). It was though of course less intolerant than Christendom.

    More because it was possible for people to have something of a nominal religiosity.

            George Carty said:

    I’d say its decline was more a consequence of the cataclysmic destruction wrought by the Mongols -

    Possibly, though there was a move towards fundamentalism.

            George Carty said:

    I’m surprised that Muslims don’t view the Mongols as the epitome of absolute evil, just as Westerners view the Nazis! Perhaps it’s because Westerners — being more secular — need a secular ersatz-Satan in a way that Muslims don’t.

    Will we still view the Nazis the same way in a couple of hundred years?

            George Carty said:

    Another factor may have been its late adoption of printing, because designing a set of movable type that can do justice to Arabic script is a formidable technical challenge.

    Even today computers often have trouble dealing with Arabic (Unicode even includes Allah precomposed because a lot of rendering systems just can’t make it from components properly).


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  46. 46
    BMS Says:

            Anon said:

    Yeah, well there was the Great Library of Alexandra which wasn’t associated with a monastery or abbey or seminary. Oh wait, Christians burnt it down.

    Actually, it was pagan Romans who destroyed the Great Library, but hey, who am I to let history get in the way of a universal condemnation of all things Christian?

    By the way, part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was housed in a religious temple called the Serapeum. The disassociation with religious institutions is not as complete as you would like to claim.


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  47. 47
    DV82XL Says:

            BMS said:

    Actually, it was pagan Romans who destroyed the Great Library, but hey, who am I to let history get in the way of a universal condemnation of all things Christian?

    By the way, part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was housed in a religious temple called the Serapeum. The disassociation with religious institutions is not as complete as you would like to claim.

    The Roman destruction was as a consequence of war, thus incidental. It was an an edict of the Emperor Theodosius I (a Christian) in 391 that had pagan temple destroyed and it is thought much of the collection that been housed therein. We can add to this the Library of Antioch burnt by Emperor Jovian, (Christian) Imperial Library of Constantinople, burnt by the knights of the Fourth Crusade, and the Madrassah Library by troops of Cardinal Cisneros.


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  48. 48
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    The Roman destruction was as a consequence of war, thus incidental.

    Incidental, perhaps, but it happened nevertheless. My point is that it wasn’t a bunch of Christians that did the destruction.

    It was an an edict of the Emperor Theodosius I (a Christian) in 391 that had pagan temple destroyed and it is thought much of the collection that been housed therein.

    Historians speculate about how much of the “collection” was left by 391 AD to be destroyed. The first stories of fire and destruction occur during the time of Julius Caesar, about 80 years before the first person could call himself a “Christian.” Most of the contents of the library were lost as a result of the actions of Emperor Aurelian, who was certainly not a Christian, since he reigned about three decades before Constantine I, the first Christian Emperor of Rome.

    Your zeal for rationality does not justify bad history.


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  49. 49
    DV82XL Says:

            BMS said:

    Your zeal for rationality does not justify bad history.

    Your zeal in defending Christianity does not justify ignoring the other examples I wrote. Nevertheless any claim that religion in general or Christianity in particular facilitated the development of science or rational thinking in any way is ludicrous in the face of the broad historic record. This shows many more cases where knowledge was suppressed in the face of facts when it did not conform to dogma. This by the way was just as true of Islam even at the height of its intellectual period


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  50. 50
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Your zeal in defending Christianity …

    I’m just defending history using the best scholarship that we have available to understand it.

    I’m not ignoring anything. I simply commented about a mistake made by another person commenting here. Please, don’t be so bull-headed as to deny that.


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