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Discussion (92)¬

  1. fra says:

    love it!!!!

  2. laxeyman says:

    What’s Jesus’s uswer name on Guardian CIF? Is that you SteveHep?

  3. pete says:

    teach the controversy

  4. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    What kind of vacuous goof
    Propounds that they know the truth?
    Every religion
    Has at least a smidgeon
    That relies on faith, not some absurd proof.

  5. And Pete wins the Internet with “Teach the controversy.” 🙂

  6. IanB says:

    Succinctly sums up the theist v atheist argument. Of all the thousands of religions I believe in none of them, their adherents obviously believe in one more.

  7. Roger says:

    Haha: “Pope Says Gays OK (Women Still Dodgy)”. Author, you are brilliant.

  8. steeve says:

    What if someone actually did find the one true religion. You know, the one that actually is true. And then didn’t tell anybody. If only…

  9. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Excellent again, Author, and the headline is sublime.

    Nassar, what in Carl’s name is an ‘absurd proof’?

  10. LindaR says:

    laxeyman, that is sheer bloody genius! And yes, I love the headline, too.

  11. My favorite absurd proof…

    Sir Bedevere: There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
    Peasant 1: Are there? Oh well, tell us.
    Sir Bedevere: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
    Peasant 1: Burn them.
    Sir Bedevere: And what do you burn, apart from witches?
    Peasant 1: More witches.
    Peasant 2: Wood.
    Sir Bedevere: Good. Now, why do witches burn?
    Peasant 3: …because they’re made of… wood?
    Sir Bedevere: Good. So how do you tell whether she is made of wood?
    Peasant 1: Build a bridge out of her.
    Sir Bedevere: But can you not also build bridges out of stone?
    Peasant 1: Oh yeah.
    Sir Bedevere: Does wood sink in water?
    Peasant 1: No, no, it floats!… It floats! Throw her into the pond!
    Sir Bedevere: No, no. What else floats in water?
    Peasant 1: Bread.
    Peasant 3: Very small rocks.
    Peasant 1: Cider.
    Peasant 2: Gravy.
    Peasant 3: Cherries.
    Peasant 1: Mud.
    Peasant 2: Churches.
    Peasant 3: Lead! Lead!
    King Arthur: A Duck.
    Sir Bedevere: …Exactly. So, logically…
    Peasant 1: If she weighed the same as a duck… she’s made of wood.
    Sir Bedevere: And therefore…
    Peasant 2: …A witch!

  12. Undeluded says:

    Please note the exquisite use of theistic logic – all by Mo. Panel 1 – contradictions between religions denies their right for respect. Panel 2 – two examples of logically contradicting predicates. Panel 3 (this is wonderful) – therefore, there remain two CONTRADICTING choices: respect all religions or truth. As the former has been shown false (panel 2), the typical theistic argument insinuates that only ONE religion can be true – thus also typically side-stepping the issue that the contradiction to “all religions” is “NOT all religions!” Therefore, possibly “NO religion!” You couldn’t expect Jesus to fall into that trap, now – could you? Brilliant, Author!

    @ AoS – I think Nassar is referring to any proof that ends “…therefore, god exists” and the like. Those ARE absurd proofs in my book.

  13. LostJohn says:

    steeve @ August 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm asked:

    “What if someone actually did find the one true religion. You know, the one that actually is true. And then didn’t tell anybody. If only…”

    Truthfully and in all seriousness, I *have*. I have found The One True Truth That Will Set You Free. Unfortunately, I can’t spread it nor turn it into a sort of church-like thing nor print it in a book. Even though it would immediately be seen by anyone reading the book or attending a lecture in the “church-like” places that This Truth *IS* The One True Truth I can’t do it.
    Why not?
    Isn’t it obvious?
    I hand the worlds The Last Revelation, The Final Word Of The Universe, The One Really True Truth That Shall Set Everyone Free and three things happen: the established false religions (that’s all of them) gang up to make me illegal and do something horrible and terminal to me to make me shut the hell up, the book and the church-like sit-down rooms get taken over by chancers, grifters, hucksters and ponces who just want to get rich, laid and fed better than the average bear and in fourteen centuries the rules that were so very clear about *not* harming people get twisted into an obscene nightmare of horrors that involve stoning women for being raped and chopping bits off of miscreants and suspected miscreants and anyone the council of elders takes a dislike to.
    In short, if I spread The One True Final Message (No Relation) I vanish and the revelation is perverted into a hammer to beat down the infidel. Personally, I’m rather fond of not having horrible, terminal things done to me.
    No smart prophet sticks his head up above the parapet.
    Which explains a little about those who have done.
    Stupid beyond belief, incapable of long-term planning or so desperate to get out from under the family business that they’ll try anything, even propheting. I am not that stupid and I got out of the family business by being smart and lazy.
    Propheting is a lousy job. Worse than kinging.
    General gadfly and erratic nuisance is much nicer.

  14. RavenBlack says:

    @LostJohn – I think you snuck the one true truth that will set you free into the last sentence of your post. 🙂

  15. hotrats says:

    From a link in Pharyngula ( http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2011/07/god-evidence-believe-world ). Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science) responds to a question on belief in god:

    ‘I think probably the main answer to your question is: I just don’t have any interest either way, but I wouldn’t want to understate how uninterested I am. There still hasn’t been a word invented for people like me, whose main ex­perience when presented with this issue is an overwhelming, mind-blowing, intergalactic sense of having more interesting things to think about. I’m not sure that’s accurately covered by words such as “atheist”, and definitely not by “agnostic”. I just don’t care.’

    Never heard it put better.

  16. Undeluded says:

    @hotrats – I think you won’t get an argument from anyone in this blog regarding the belief in god. The quote is very succinct and IMHO is PERFECTLY covered by the term “atheist!” We really don’t care about the BELIEF in god, just as we don’t care about astrology, alchemy, homeopathy, divination, spoon-bending, reincarnation, etc., (I hope I haven’t trod on any corns). We know they are all fantasies and wishful thinking. It’s just that the belief in god – because of its wide-spread scope and prevalence – seems to be the hardest to debunk.

    What we DO care about is the extremely damaging effects of the propagation of these fantasies. Innocent people are swayed by ‘authority’ (mostly children) and false logic (it works SO easily on the gullible – see the list above) to join the deluded camp. This results in resources being channeled to useless purposes (temples of worship, inane TV shows, dietary restrictions, etc.), sometimes to the cost of the taxpayer, and eventually to laws – and their enforcement – that limit the freedom of the public.

    This needs to be countered. Simply put – because if it isn’t, it will overwhelm all of us to the extent when we will not be ABLE to counter it. And one of the first steps is to rid ourselves of the hypocrisy of Political Correctness (in terms of ‘respecting’ religions). Otherwise, I believe that this Political Correctness will be the downfall of Western civilization as we know it! Then – on to the education system.

    This counter-campaign is under way! Not by demonstrations and violence, but by gradual persuasion, debates, books, cartoon strips – and fora such as this one (these fora are proliferating on the Internet)! Ridicule, irony and sarcasm cannot (and should not) be avoided – these are some of the invaluable tools of the trade, so to speak. But these tools are ALWAYS (and this is the crux of the matter) backed up by evidence, even if indirectly! Where we have no evidence we don’t hesitate to admit we don’t know – but always stress that such an admission NEVER allows the acceptance of any other evidence-less claim! On the contrary, were such other evidence produced, we WOULD change our minds – something the ‘entrenched’ (see previous strip) would never do!

  17. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Undeluded says:
    August 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    @ AoS – I think Nassar is referring to any proof that ends “…therefore, god exists” and the like. Those ARE absurd proofs in my book.

    I’d call them absurdly desperate leaps of logic. Pie in the sky ’bout the guy upon high, to my eye is a lie.

  18. Sam Huff says:

    Roger says:
    August 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm
    Haha: “Pope Says Gays OK (Women Still Dodgy)”. Author, you are brilliant.

    Aha. Letting priests marry means they tend to favor their offspring. And making them celibate means the Church get all kind of perverts.
    Solution, only make priests of gays.

  19. hotrats says:

    I think Ben’s point is that ‘atheist’ is a label that relies for its meaning on a climate of theism, and it strictly applies only to people engaged in a debate that should not need to take place – in an ideal world, nobody would care about such a pseudo-issue.

    But recognising that as a far-off, not to say Utopian state of affairs, you are quite right to bring the focus back to the necessity, in the meantime, of arming ourselves with the facts, exposing religion’s psychological and political dangers, and addressing the destructive impact on its victims.

    Taking his point – if I have understood it correctly – I think the best description of his position is ‘naturalist’, from the original meaning of ‘naturalism’, ‘the rejection of the supernatural on first principles’. As that has been relegated to an academic definition, and the word now only connotes an interest in life-sciences fieldwork, sadly it can no longer be used without elucidation.

    my favourite part of this exchange is the (unscripted) long, baffled pause and hesitant delivery of John Cleese’s Peasant 3, as he falls for Sir Bedevere’s Pathetic Fallacy:
    ‘…because… they’re… made of… wood?’

    But for sheer comic genius, the ‘How many Romans?’ sequence in ‘Life of Brian’ remains my candidate for ‘Funniest scene in any movie’ – I invite all miscreants to submit their own candidates for this accolade.

  20. JohnM says:

    @hotrats @undeluded

    I’m sure Ben Goldacre will become intensely interested when he finds himself in a Sharia court facing a capital charge of apostasy. To ignore the warning signs being emitted by Islam in particular (Christianity is under control these days thanks to secularisation) is surely to become deluded oneself.

  21. I’m still waiting for the barmaid to get preggers, sorry, “filled” with the holy spirit.
    Not surprised she’d get “filled”…been a long time, waiting for the second coming…

  22. MarkyWarky says:

    Surely being an atheist is a reaction? I mean, if no-one proposed the existence of gods, we’d be completely uninterested in their existence or not, as Ben Goldacre suggests, and just as I’m not in the least interested in the existence or otherwise of a goblin in the tree outside my house. Technically I’m an agoblininthetreeoutsidemyhouseist because I don’t believe there is one, but because no-one’s proposed that there is, it’s a non issue.

    But people have proposed that gods exist, and there is damage being done as a result, so as someone who recognises the truth (i.e. an atheist), I can’t help but be “interested”.

    I think Ben must be describing where he’d like us to be, not the actual state of affairs currently.

  23. Undeluded says:

    @AoS – “Pie in the sky…” – I wish I’d said that!

    @MW – Spot on!

  24. Dalai Llama says:

    I’ve heard the term ‘apatheist’ used to describe a lack of interest in the question of a deity.

  25. MarkyWarky says:

    @DL, isn’t being an apatheist the same as being an atheist? You have to reject what the theists claim about god’s power, vitriol and interest in us in order to not care, don’t you?

    No-one is apathetic about whether or not a gun pointed at their head is loaded; they either have to believe it is and act accordingly, or decide that it’s not and so not worry. I’d suggest it’s impossible to not care about the question of it’s readiness to fire?

  26. MarkyWarky says:

    So an apatheist would be an atheist who doesn’t care about the effects of religion (“who cares, its makes them happy”), while the rest of us are the shrill and angry ones they complain about!

  27. Slowdjinn says:

    @JohnM – Ben Goldacre is quite safe from being charged with apostasy, as he has never been a Muslim.

  28. Dalai Llama says:

    To my mind, it breaks down as follows:
    Atheism = I don’t believe
    Agnosticism = I don’t know (or I don’t think it’s possible to know)
    Apatheism = I don’t care
    Just as you can have agnostic theism, I imagine you can have apatheist theism, and that it’s actually probably fairly common: ‘When asked about it, I say I believe in God, but on balance I don’t really think about it much’. It’s that sort of nominal, church-at-Christmas-and-Easter, religious-on-the-census approach – fairly common among older generations here in the UK, less so among the young.

    As for shrillness and aggression, the term ‘antitheism’ seems to encapsulate that quite nicely!

    Personally, I quite like the position of ‘ignosticism’, which claims that “the concept of ‘God’ has not been sufficiently well-defined to even build an argument against” – it’s ‘not even wrong’, to borrow a phrase, because its too incoherent. Ignosticism seems to me quite a good defence against the constantly shifting-goalposts of theological discourse.

  29. Undeluded says:

    Uh oh, @DL, I think you may have opened a Pandora’s box here. Personally, I’d like to define atheism (the way I see and ‘practice’ it) as: “whatever it is that religious people believe in, I can do without!” Expansion: “We all should do without!” If challenged, I’ll debate and try to prove my point. (I just prefer to keep things simple – the KISS principle).

    Furthermore, it is my humble opinion that this comic strip brings up atheistic views, as pointed out by Barmaid. Frankly, if Author were to bring in agnostic, ignostic or any other variant form of (dis)belief, I think I’d be quite disappointed. But that shouldn’t prevent US from discussing them, should it?

  30. Undeluded says:

    At the end of the first paragraph above, I added the sentence “Remove tongue from cheek” between a ‘smaller than’ character “”. I’m using these characters here, too. I wonder why the sentence didn’t print…

  31. Undeluded says:

    Obviously these characters mess up the text. Memo to self – avoid!

  32. two cents' worth says:

    I don’t know about bringing children up to “respect all religions,” but I think it’s a good idea to bring them up knowing about religions. They need to know how to get along with people who are religious, just like they need to know the general forms of etiquette (“please,” “thank you,” etc.), and they need to know these things for the same reason–so that they never insult or offend anyone *unintentionally.*

    I also think that it’s a good idea to explain to children the old rule that, when having a conversation, it is often best to avoid the topics of religion, sex, and politics. As Undeluded discussed in the previous thread, it’s “a total waste of time and effort” to debate about the existence of god(s) with entrenched religionistas. Or, as an old saying goes, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

  33. I’m very dodgy. I make a point of it.

  34. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I like to use the catch-all term ‘realist’ (as opposed to ‘rationalist’ simply because some people are able to rationalise pretty much anything – if only to themselves), in as much as if all the evidence points to something being true – especially where it would take a major shift in our understanding of physics to falsify it – I’m prepeared to accept it as true; ask me to take something on flimsy evidence and I’ll be dubious pending further research; ask me to to take it on faith or trust, to go with my ‘gut feeling’ or – and here’s one I really don’t like – to suspend belief and I’ll just laugh and walk away.
    But then I would, being an Aquarius 😉

    Hotrats, some of the funniest parts of films for me are the unintentionally funny bits; Tom Cruise’s Irish accent in Home and Away; Sean Connery’s Irish cop with broad Scottish accent in The Untouchables; Sean Connnery’s Russian Submarine Commander with broad Scottish Accent in The Hunt For Red October; Keanu Reeves trying to do any facial expression except ‘vacant’, or attempting any tone of voice other than ‘bored stoner’ in every one of his films; a 60-odd year old boxer winning the World title in Rocky MCXXVII (or wherever the franchise is up to, etc. etc..
    When it comes to intentionally funny films, pretty much every scene in Lloyd Bridges spoof Mafia is a gem. Even if you don’t know the films it’s parodying, it’s still one of those films you have to watch several times just to get the jokes you miss through laughing. I can’t decide which scene is funniest, but I’ve narrowed it down to: the young Anthony getting his breath back on arriving on Ellis Island – after swimming behind the ship all the way from Sicily (doesn’t sound funny I know, but it has to be seen); the “Run Florist, run” scene; the taser scene in the casino; and the scene parodying <The Godfather's Sonny Corleone’s legendary penis.
    Then there’s the bulldog firing a steel bolt from its penis in Little Nicky, and from the same film Nicky teaching demons to eat ‘Popeye’s Chicken and cuddle rabbits.
    John Belushi pleading with Carrie Fisher in the storm drain in The Blues Brothers.
    On reflection though, I have to agree that you have to go a long way to better the Pythons.

  35. HaggisForBrains says:

    Undeluded – I think the < and > characters don’t show up because they are used as HTML tags for bold, etc. There is a workaround which I hope will work here.

  36. HaggisForBrains says:

    Undeluded – OK, it worked! for <, type the following five characters without spaces: & # 6 0 ; . For >, type & # 6 2 ; . Don’t forget the semi-colon as the last character. To save hassle, I keep a list of these tricks in a notepad on my desktop, so I can just copy & paste them when needed.

  37. MarkyWarky says:

    @ two cents, while I agree with the desire not to insult people unnecessarily, and know full well that debates with believers feel like banging your head against a brick wall, I’m of the opinion that in many cases involving religion, insult IS necessary.

    If we avoid discussion of religion, how will anyone ever know it’s OK not to believe in sky fairies?

    In this country at least (the UK), there is an alarmingly banal acceptance that religion and faith are good things, and it does real harm. You might think that seeing the extremes of fundamentalism reported on our news would turn people away from religion, but I think it reinforces it – “I’m glad my belief isn’t like that”.

    We’re surrounded by it here. The BBC’s “Thought for the Day” is always religious, suggesting that religious thought is somehow superior to secular thought, and that “spirituality” is real. Bishops, Mullas and Rabi’s are always wheeled in when there’s any moral debate going on. Laws are drawn up which give exceptions to people with imaginary friends. Etc etc etc.

    I think in the UK at least, the argument about whether or not there’s a god is less important than whether or not faith is a good thing, and at present secularism is losing that one, IMHO, so we do need to speak up, even if that does mean upsetting a few people.

    @DL, I don’t think the “religious-on-the-census” approach indicates any belief what-so-ever. My business partner is quite insistent that he should ALWAYS declare himself a christian, yet I know for a fact that he doesn’t believe in god any more than I do. Instead it’s a declaration of culture. It’s his way of saying “I’m a white Anglo Saxon native of England, not one of those dirty foreign Muslims we’re too ready to allow in. I want decisions made based on MY tradition, not theirs”.

    OK I’ll concede that there’s a group of believers, mostly older people, but not exclusively, who just accept god and the church as part of there life, without ever thinking about what it is they believe in. But, challenge one of them, and they’ll be pretty vehement that god exists. They are not apathetic about it.

    By the way, I also don’t think “I don’t/can’t know” is exclusive to agnostics. I know that to be true too. I’d have to concede that I can’t possibly know that there isn’t some form of god. What I do know beyond any doubt is that it’s nothing like the god described by the various religions, because there is massive evidence against all of those. To that extent I strongly disagree with Philip Pullman in the article Hotrats linked to above, when he says “There could logically be no evidence that he doesn’t exist”. There can be no evidence that “a god” doesn’t exist, but there can be, and is, evidence to prove that the one the christians describe, with his all powerful and loving nature, is simply not there.

  38. MarkyWarky says:

    “their”, not “there”. Grrrr, I hate it when people do that !

  39. Undeluded says:

    Thanks, HFB!

    @MW – I really like your lucidity, and your views dovetail with mine pretty closely. However, I do not believe that insult is necessary in ANY exchange of ideas. It’s like using swear words – more a reflection on yourself than on your adversary. Insults are MEANT to offend. They are MEANT to anger the other side. The only ‘excuse’ (never a reason) I might accept for insulting anyone (you cannot insult a ‘thing’) is to “get your own back” after being insulted by her. Even then, your riposte better carry much more weight than what you received – enough to end the argument (it’s no longer a debate) – probably unresolved and with hard feelings. Otherwise, it’s just very ugly, uncivilized mud-slinging. Looking back, you’ll probably feel a bit silly for being somewhat childish. Of course, you’d never INITIATE an insult, would you?

    True, some people just won’t get a rational argument. Just let go of them. There will be those who claim vile lies about you, your race, your morals, your sexual preferences and, for all I know, your football team. Do you really need to counter them with insults? Isn’t that degrading yourself to their level? Rather, if you MUST respond (and think carefully about responding at all), then in your own sweet time, publish a scathing article full of facts, sarcasm and ridicule (based on evidence, of course) – this will get others to gladly join your side of the argument, instead of reluctantly (if at all).

  40. Hobbes says:

    floridakitesurfer, that is my favorite as well :D. Same sort of argument George Smith wrote in “The Case Against God,” but your excerpt from Python is much better in that it is a total hoot, yet still representative of the logic of true believers.

  41. MarkyWarky says:

    @Undeluded, I think you might have missed my point about insults, possibly because I’m not as lucid as you think I am!

    I agree, intentional insult is never a good thing. However, saying things that need to be said, that people then take offence at, IS sometimes necessary.

    For example, I believe my sister in law is deluded. There’s no way to explain to her how I perceive her beliefs, which is necessary because she’s limiting her daughter’s opportunities by passing those things on, without letting her know that I think she is. I said it very nicely, and in it’s correct context, yet she took huge offence at it.

    I get why she found it offensive, but how do I say to her that she believes in stuff that is plainly not true, based on experiences that only happened inside her head, without implying that she’s deluded, that being the very definition of delusion?

    So no, deliberate insults for their own sake, never, but telling truths that some people take offence at, yes, of course.

  42. MarkyWarky says:

    A further example; she finds this cartoon highly offensive, yet it’s communicating truths. And it’s not just that she thinks it trivialises something she holds dear, though that’s part of it, it’s the points made that she thinks are intended as direct insult.

    Unfortunately when you’re dealing with people who have taking offence as a key defence mechanism, because they have no valid defences, there’s very little you can do other than keep quiet, which I don’t think is a reasonable option.

  43. Undeluded says:

    @MW – I see what you mean now. But I’m afraid you are skirting the issue. You claim that it’s not your fault if others think you insulted them when all you did was say the truth. That, I agree with wholeheartedly. Only, in my book these are not insults – and I don’t know why you would care to call them as such. You did not MEAN to offend or cause anger! Therefore, you did not insult.

    On the other hand, if you KNOW that someone is offended by what you say, read or subscribe to, and you know her/them to be as obstinate and close minded as our religiously entrenched are, what possible benefit could encroaching on those ‘offensive’ topics evoke? Wouldn’t you be putting yourself more and more in the (totally unjustified) position of the bad guy, the ‘unfeeling, inconsiderate and INSULTING’ bastard that you probably are not? Far better to distance yourself from such encounters, IMHO.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    <blockquote<MarkyWarky says:
    August 16, 2013 at 9:25 am
    @ two cents, while I agree with the desire not to insult people unnecessarily, and know full well that debates with believers feel like banging your head against a brick wall, I’m of the opinion that in many cases involving religion, insult IS necessary.


    Undeluded says:
    August 16, 2013 at 11:34 am
    @MW –[…….] However, I do not believe that insult is necessary in ANY exchange of ideas.

    Because so many of the religious are so sensitive over their mythology that they see any criticism or questioning of their deity or beliefs of choice, no matter how minor those criticisms may be, as insulting, then for an atheist to debate with a believer the giving of offence is not so much neccessary as pretty much unavoidable.
    Which leaves us in the position Marky outlines above (which I didn’t see until I’d composed most of this post, by which time it seemed a waste to just delete it 😉 ), namely the only way to avoid giving offence is to not engage with them at all, but to end our criticism by staying silent would be seen as tacit approval of their nonsense, and that is indeed not an option, particularly when their claims to be offended are clearly false, and just a way of trying to silence our criticism.
    So I say Fuck ‘Em! If they’re going to take offence where none is meant anyway, we’d might as well give them something worth crying about.

  45. MarkyWarky says:

    @Undeluded, if I debate with a non-believing politician, trying to convince him that the religious should not have a get out of jail free card regarding discrimination, the religious WILL find that offensive; they WILL be insulted.

    If I put forward my reasons for not believing in gods, directed at the undecided, again a large number of the religious will be insulted.

    Tough shit.

    IMHO, of course 🙂

    I think your distinction between taking offence and being insulting is a false one. It is perfectly possible to be insulted by someone who didn’t intend it. You might or might not be right to do so, but it’s got nothing to do with the speaker’s intent.

  46. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    MarkyWarky says:
    [….]It is perfectly possible to be insulted by someone who didn’t intend it.[……….]

    You’re right of course, Marky, and it’s just as possible to pretend or falsely claim offence if it’s the only way to silence the opposition.
    But here’s the hypocrisy of it all; tell a Christian that you believe his god to be a figment of the imagination and he will in all likelihood take (or claim) offence. Tell that same Christian that you thing Allah is a figment of the Muslim imagination and he will in all likelihood agree. That is why us atheists are quite possibly the most agreeable people on the planet; we agree with Islam’s opinion on the veracity of non-Islamic religion; we agree with Christianity’s opinion on the veracity of non-Christian religion; it’s in the details of their own religions where our and their opinions differ because they simply cannot see the paradox in several religions worshipping several different gods – but each one is by its very definition the one true god.

  47. Undeluded says:

    I should probably blame myself for not being clear enough. Let’s try again.

    @AoS – “… for an atheist to debate with a believer the giving of offence is not so much necessary as pretty much unavoidable.” (I wanted to put this and the following quotes in Italics, but I don’t know how). Very likely, indeed. They are easily offended by anything they choose to interpret as offensive. Yet you meant no offense a priori. Solution – stay away from them. Talk with those who don’t get offended or who can explain their offense in rational terms.

    “…but to end our criticism by staying silent would be seen as tacit approval of their nonsense” – great big logical fallacy here. Does everything you do not respond to mean you approve of it? Non-response could be a sign of maturity (with squabbling kids it usually is). An intelligent (as opposed to insulting) response is a sign of RESPONSIBLE maturity!

    “… If they’re going to take offence where none is meant anyway, we’d might as well give them something worth crying about.” Ha ha ha! What a rallying war cry!

    @MW – “…If I put forward my reasons for not believing in gods, directed at the undecided, again a large number of the religious will be insulted. Tough shit.” Couldn’t agree more!

    “I think your distinction between taking offence and being insulting is a false one.” Therein lies the flaw! I am not talking about TAKING offense but about GIVING offense! Giving offense and insulting are one and the same – no distinction! Both are intentional. But when I say what I say (rational arguments with evidence), I don’t give a rodent’s posterior for how it is interpreted by a follower of a faith. If she cares to vent her offense at me, she is quickly vetted as a religionista – and my only regret is that I couldn’t have weeded her out earlier. My arguments are ALWAYS non-offensive and directed at the undecided. In fact, this is one of the major criteria for identifying these borderliners. In the previous thread, in answer to a query, I stipulated that those who get emotional and angry are tagged as entrenched and lost causes. You can add to that group those who get offended, and cannot rationally explain to me why it’s MY fault that they are!

    BTW – try telling a believer that YOU are offended by their irrational claims. Something like “You are insulting my intelligence (by claiming that ‘a creator needs no creator of its own,’ or any other claim)!” That well-worn cliche works beautifully here – it’s probably an argument stopper right there!

    @AoS again – Your Christian/Muslim comparison is 100% true, and totally useless when aimed at a devout believer. However, it might just sway one of the undecided. The very fact that there is a multiplicity of religions is a glaring, RATIONAL premise that all but one (at least) MUST be false! We’ve got to work on debunking that ONE.

    Folks, doesn’t that brick wall you’re bashing your head against hurt? You admit it’s useless. Why go into all that bother?

  48. MarkyWarky says:

    @ Undeluded, to put something in italics, type <i>Something</i>

    “I am not talking about TAKING offense but about GIVING offence!”, no, but I am! And it doesn’t matter anyway; sometimes to make a valid point and speak the truth, you have to say something that you know will give offence or be taken that way. Should we not speak the truth in this situations?

    You’re confusing this issue with the issue of whether or not debate has any use when your opponent is so entrenched. There are many situations in which you might debate even an entrenched person, as well as many where you’d still give him offence even if you were trying to avoid discussion with him directly.

    re “Solution – stay away from them. Talk with those who don’t get offended or who can explain their offense in rational terms.”, no, that’s no good. Just because something is difficult, is not a reason not to do it. It’s important that these idiots (no offence intended!!) are challenged, even if they themselves will never change. Without challenge, they can’t be kept in check, and others can’t learn that they are fools.

  49. MarkyWarky says:

    re “An intelligent (as opposed to insulting) response is a sign of RESPONSIBLE maturity!”, “there is no god as you describe him because the real world does not look or behave as it would if he were there” is both mature and intelligent, yet is extremely insulting to some people.

  50. hotrats says:

    2 cents worth:
    “I also think that it’s a good idea to explain to children the old rule that, when having a conversation, it is often best to avoid the topics of religion, sex, and politics.”

    I think it would be much better to teach children that this ‘old rule’ is a formula for self-perpetuating religious, sexual and political prejudice and ignorance. It is through interaction and debate, not squeamish avoidance, that we learn about diversity of opinion and the choices available to us. If not in conversation, when can these vital matters be discussed?

  51. hotrats says:

    Substituting ‘b’ for ‘i’ in MW’s advice above will give bold type – so much better than capital letters, which are conventionally used to indicate shouting, rather than simple emphasis.

  52. DocAtheist says:

    @Pete, excellent! “Teach the controversy” between religions, to show, as Author’s cartoon does, that they, each and altogether, prove religion wrong, really needs to go viral!

  53. DocAtheist says:

    @Author, didn’t the little check box below the comment box used to say, “I am not a spammer, I swear”? The “I swear” is gone. How about, “I am not a spammer, I affirm on a stack of peer-reviewed scientific journals”?

  54. Undeluded says:

    Thanks, MW and hotrats, for the syntax lesson. I shall make use of my new-found knowledge forthwith. Hope I don’t make too many goofs.

    @MW – I must be doing something wrong. Here is another attempt to get my bottom line across.

    …You’re confusing this issue with the issue of whether or not debate has any use when your opponent is so entrenched. I thought I had made it perfectly clear: I never have a religion-based debate with anyone entrenched. Waste of time, brick wall, etc. No confusion whatever, coupled with no mental anguish. They are in the category of ‘unreachable,’ not unlike inmates of an insane asylum or a blind Chinaman who speaks only Mandarin. If I need to reach them I shall need a go-between, a translator for the latter and a psychiatrist for the former. I figure that the borderline undecided could be those go-betweens to the theists – and that’s where I wage my battles; where they are (I hope) useful! Without insulting them. If anything filters through to the religionistas, so much the better. But it would not be my direct objective. Just too much for me to handle. So “There are many situations in which you might debate even an entrenched person… – no, I would not be in such a situation. And if I ever found myself caught up in one, I would remove myself from it as diplomatically as I could.

    Just because something is difficult, is not a reason not to do it. … even if they themselves will never change Absolutely! But I don’t attempt the impossible, and I would advise you not to try either. As Einstein (allegedly) said: “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results!” I do not expect different results from the entrenched, and I think history backs me up on this!

    It’s important that these idiots (no offence intended!!) are challenged… Again, absolutely! But not by abusing/insulting them. Take examples from Dawkins, Harris, Dennet and the rest. They are doing a marvelous job. The most derogatory word you’ll find is ‘deluded’ when referring to the entire body of believers. They say what’s true, and that’s the best way to make others …learn that they are fools . I try to debate in their style, and I don’t care if some fanatics are offended by that – they’ll be offended by anything, as we all know.

    “There is no god as you describe him because the real world does not look or behave as it would if he were there” is both mature and intelligent, yet is extremely insulting to some people. Sigh… Of course it is. Who cares? It is also phrased in an uninsulting manner. The thinking listener will not be insulted (the whole point!) and the entrenched will. I do not care about the latter. Now, if the statement were “There is no god as you describe him because the real world does not look or behave as it would if he were there. Can’t you see that, you imbecile?” it would be insulting, as you have the intention of stirring up anger. Even the thinking listener would be offended. And I want to avoid that.

    I hope I have made my point now.

  55. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    From LostJohn’s link (emphasis mine);

    “We don’t say to people ‘don’t take your medication don’t go to the doctor’. I mean we never say that,” he said. (yeah, course you didn’t. AoS)

    “But we believe that the first healing comes from inside, it’s a spiritual healing. Some people are hurt, they have broken hearts. If you are healed from inside, then you are healed from outside as well.”
    Right, because HIV is caused by a broken heart. Morons!
    You see, undeluded, this offends me, the dangerous, ultimately fatal exploitation of the sick; the cynical disregard for life even though the sick continue to die despite being treated personally by an omnipotent being – almost as though the omnipotent being was on the golf course rather than its consulting rooms.
    If this were anything but religion there would be a police investigation and possible criminal charges for anything from causing unneccesary suffering to manslaughter, yet somehow we have to ‘respect’ them because God. And if we don’t respect it we have to shut the fuck up instead, in case we offend them. It’s no good debating or remonstrating with ‘moderates’ about this issue; it isn’t them doing it, it’s the ‘entrenched’. You could try talking to moderates about it, but you’ll rarely hear a one of them condemn ‘healing through prayer’; they may make noises in private about it not being the course they’d choose, but to do so publically would entail admitting that prayer is useless, and BANG! goes their belief system (or at least their credibility in the pews).
    So if it’s the ‘entrenched’ pulling this shit, but it’s the same ‘entrenched’ who take any criticism of them or their religious beliefs as a deliberately uttered insult, then by your logic we shouldn’t point out to them how dangerous their belief is, no matter how politely we do so.
    I have to point out that I tend not to deliberately insult believers – not straight away, at least. If they are prepared to have a sensible conversation that’s fine by me, but is it my fault if they’re going to throw a strop every time I ask them to explain the logic behind what they claim to believe? Querying the sense behind God sacrificing of himself in the form of his son to atone for my sins 2000-years later – yet I am still supposed to spend my life apologising for those same pre-forgiven sins; asking why they’d worship the kind of god that would order rape victims be stoned to death for the ‘crime’ of being a rape victim; or wonder what possible reason might they have for mutilating the genitals of baby boys (wouldn’t a perfect god making Man in its own image make perfect babies in need of no further fine-tuning?); all of these are almost always met with ‘now that’s just insulting’.
    Why do they get offended by the simple expedient of having what they believe described to them without the flowery prose to soften the horrors that are contained in all of their sacred books? After all, it’s not me that’s doing the offending, it’s their own beliefs, and as much as they really hate to hear it I will do my utmost to make them understand that.
    Offended or not.

    By the way, Undeluded, I do get your point about focusing on the ‘unsures’, but as it’s the ‘entrenched’ that demand their values (sic) be imposed on society, then they’re the ones I’ll go after. We all choose our battles, and we all have as important a part to play as anybody else. Neither of us is wrong, it’s just a case of using the right weapons, the right tactics, and picking the right opponents. I’ll quite happily talk with those on the periphery of religion, but I’ve always much preferred to be in the thick of things, and that position is made much easier if there are others on our side slowing the recruitment of more for their side.

  56. MarkyWarky says:

    @Undeluded, I don’t even know what you’re arguing for/against now. Who has suggested that deliberate insult of the type you describe is a good idea? You agree that unintended offence is likely, you like Dawkins style of debate (which is often with the entrenched; the real target being the onlookers), and you agree that these things need to be challenged. So, unless you’re thinking that I’ve suggested insulting behaviour of the type you define, which ive made it clear I don’t condone, what is it we disagree on?

  57. Undeluded says:

    @Aos – Yes, believers are sometimes (okay, frequently) infuriating. And yes, we get insulted by them, too. They have their own logic and reasoning, but it’s always based on holey (intentionally misspelled) axioms that we simply deny as utter fabrication. The question is how we respond – and it is a response (or reaction, as MW stated earlier in this thread). “…by your logic we shouldn’t point out to them how dangerous their belief is”. Exactly. However, leave out “to them,” and I’m with you. I vote aye to pointing out – voluminously and, mainly, effectively. Asking them to “to explain the logic behind what they claim to believe” is a waste of time, teaching pigs to sing, brick wall, etc. If and when they use the word ‘logic’ it’s with a totally different meaning and on a totally different wavelength (my old ‘definition list’). You claim “I will do my utmost to make them understand that.” That kinda complements your ‘rallying’ appeal to give them something to cry about. Wrong approach, IMHO, because it is inefficient – you won’t be benefiting anyone, except perhaps yourself by letting off steam. You’d just be stirring up a hornet’s nest – causing harm, mainly to yourself. Picture this – a religious group is putting on a public demonstration: marching to town hall with banners calling for death to homosexuals, chanting and yelling through megaphones, huge posters depicting faith leaders, desecrated flags, calls for revolution – the works! This is damage of a very high order, second perhaps only to brainwashing children. Do you want to be there, telling them off? Debating? Arguing? Counter-demonstrating? Possibly leading to violence? I doubt it. That is what government and legislation are for. It’s the police’s job to prevent incitement. It’s our job to get the right people in power to do what needs to be done on that scale. Education is also on that scale. When enough people subscribe to J&M (for example), echoes will reverberate at the governmental level. That’s efficiency, to the best of our ability. But even at the level of a cocktail party conversation, do you really want to lambast into them? Compare that with your own words earlier in this thread “…ask me to to take it on faith or trust, to go with my ‘gut feeling’ or – and here’s one I really don’t like – to suspend belief and I’ll just laugh and walk away.” Now that is very sensible, admirable and also efficient.

    @MW – …unless you’re thinking that I’ve suggested insulting behaviour of the type you define…” Earlier in this thread you advocated the necessity of insulting. That is the only thing I opposed. And yes, I gave an example of what I would call insulting – deliberate, spiteful and with the intention to offend. And yes, I referred to us giving such offence. In short, being rude! If you’re polite, you cannot be insulting, even if interpreted that way by the opposition. If by ‘necessary’ you meant unavoidable, inadvertent, unintentional – that’s fine by me, I finally see the light, and we do not disagree about anything. Whew – you’re tough opposition, MW. Thanks for that! (How do I insert a smiley? A handshake?)

  58. HaggisForBrains says:

    Undeluded – colon dash bracket translates automatically :-).

  59. MarkyWarky says:

    @Undeluded, what I mean by “necessary insult” is telling the truth because it’s necessary to do so, even if you know it’ll be taken as an insult by some. As I think intent is key to your argument, the important thing here is that the intent is to be truthful, not to be insulting; the insult is a by-product.

    So, I stand by my original assertion that “I’m of the opinion that in many cases involving religion, insult IS necessary”, but will add the qualification “….as an unavoidable by-product of telling the truth”.

    But to be honest, even without that, I can’t for the life of me see why you’d think I was advocating doing anything that was “deliberate, spiteful and with the intention to offend”, as I said several times that that’s not acceptable.

    I’m glad we agree 🙂

    @HaggisForBrains, as does colon bracket (no dash needed), and several of the other standard smilies 🙂

  60. MarkyWarky says:

    @Undeluded (again; I’m not picking on you, it’s just you bring up some fascinating points!):

    “Asking them to “to explain the logic behind what they claim to believe” is a waste of time”, I’m afraid I strongly disagree with this. I agree that it’ll get you nowhere with the actual individual, but one of the best ways to show others that a belief is poppycock is to have the believer try to explain it, then pick his explanation to pieces. Same with racism, sexism, homophobia etc etc etc. These people should never ever be excluded from public debate. They should be paraded openly, questioned, and given enough rope, so that the maximum possible number of people can see what a bunch of morons they really are (insult intended, if any such people are watching).

  61. Undeluded says:

    @MW – key to your argument is “to show others!” When others are present, you are being instrumental in an act of exposure and your message goes toward those others – mainly, the undecided. You mentioned that earlier as the ‘Dawkins style,’ and I agree with you totally. In fact, I sincerely hope that several undecideds are reading this blog – and we should encourage them to do so. However, if there are no others – no potential for persuasion – yes, it’s a waste of our time. And it happens so often! Amazingly, though, those out to convert me never think they are wasting time, mine included.

  62. MarkyWarky says:

    I”d suggest debating the entrenched when alone has at least five purposes that make it not a waste of time:

    1) To make them realise they are not unopposed, and so possibly keep a check on their otherwise unrestrained actions.

    2) To practice debate.

    3) To better understand them and their arguments.

    4) To double check and, if found still valid, to re-enforce our own beliefs.

    5) To distract them from peddling their nonsense to the vulnerable.

    It is a waste of time if your only goal is to convert them, but that doesn’t need to be the goal.

  63. LostJohn says:

    Acolyte of Sagan @August 17, 2013 at 1:43 am said: “If this were anything but religion there would be a police investigation and possible criminal charges for anything from causing unneccesary suffering to manslaughter.”

    There have been cultures where the local priest, witchery doctor or medicine man was topped if his patient died of something deemed curable. I would assume that either they had a truly *fantastic* rate of cures or the job of shaman was left vacant for many years before some one suicidally depressed chanced his luck but I may be underestimating the need for the priestly to avoid gainful employment.
    I’m not sure eliminating failed priestly ones along with those they failed to save is a moral move but it could do wonders for the survival rate of those who currently refuse blood transfusions on “big daddy says no” grounds, and it could possibly remove from existence all chance of anyone being stupid enough to propose sex with an infant to cure AIDS.
    It could even end up causing the superstitious to *promote* prophylaxis as a means of avoiding getting done for not doing so.
    That would be useful.

  64. Undeluded says:

    @MW –
    1) I hope you don’t think that without you (or me) they would never realize they are unopposed. It’s a non-task – they already know, in spades! Their own scriptures teach them this fact and how to cope with it. And it’s not my job (and certainly not my inclination) to “keep a check” on whatever they do – I always assume they are up to doing the most mischief that they can, and I try to prepare the undecided for that! So – waste of time.

    2) I practice debating techniques with people who can commit to a rational dialog – or at least ask rational questions. The undecided qualify. The entrenched do not. Therefore – waste of time.

    3) Please think ‘blind Chinese who speaks only Mandarin.’ To understand them and their arguments you need to speak their language (or they, yours). No interpreter – no understanding. Ergo – waste of time.

    4) You double- and triple- and quadruple-check every time you broach the topic. The last person to give you any sense of validation would be a religionista. Interestingly enough, there are those among the entrenched who ‘update’ their arguments – usually alongside new scientific discoveries. Unfortunately (for them), they only seem to entrench themselves deeper in their own absurdities – not worth the effort of responding to. I would concede this point, however, if the debate were public, and ‘others’ could witness the debunking, probably by using very simple ammunition to do so. Otherwise – waste of time.

    [Aside – this does not mean I would not listen or read updated stuff coming from them. If a theist came out with a book entitled “New and Absolute Proof that God Exists” I would definitely not pass it by. If I find the back cover challenging, I would read the introduction – and if I found that challenging, I would purchase the book and study it. Who knows, it may convert me – or give me more ammunition for my debunking sessions.]

    5) Quite a tall order, this one. It would succeed only if all of us could get all of them to debate for all of the time. Nice, Utopian thought, though. Regrettably – waste of time.

    When I say ‘waste of time’ I mean I would prefer to use my time more efficiently and usefully doing other tasks. Naturally, I cannot assume to dictate to you when you are wasting your time or not. So let’s agree to disagree what constitutes wasting one’s time, shall we?

  65. Completely off topic but… While we all sit around this local talking about the non-issue of whether God exists it has come to my attention that Stephen Gough is in jail again, and possibly facing life in prison, for the “crime” of walking around naked. Now there’s an issue that I can get steamed about. There is nothing obscene about the human body, not even the nasty bits, and to put a man in jail for merely being naked is an abuse of power. I’m deeply offended by this.

  66. WetWednesdayInBognor says:

    LostJohn @ August 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm: “There have been cultures where the local priest, witchery doctor or medicine man was topped if his patient died of something deemed curable. ”

    We would hope that under your proposed scheme, evidence-based scientific medicine would be excluded from the patient-dies-doctor-dies rules?
    Science is predicated upon failure. It is fundamental to scientific efforts to admit ignorance, to embrace failure and to welcome errors. Unlike witch doctors and priests, Science-based healers *start* from knowing little or nothing and work their way up to kidney transplants, cytotoxic anti-cancer agents and other tools, sadly killing patients en route.
    Science-based medicine is ultimately completely the reverse of faith-based witchcraft like aromatherapy, homeopathy and other drivel. The delusion-based rubbish is authoritarian and fixed and dogmatic and relies on “It is so written…” while Science-based medicine is driven by ignorance and error and the need to eliminate both by *first* admitting them.
    So by all means choke the life out of any priest who prays for someone who then does not get a complete cure, but don’t apply that rule set to real healers.
    Discriminating between the two by a death-trial would certainly ensure no one would ever claim sex with an infant would cure AIDS unless there was actual repeatable *evidence*. Anything less would be faith-based and would incur penalties.
    That would be nice.

  67. WetWednesdayInBognor says:

    Darwin Harmless @ August 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm :” There is nothing obscene about the human body, not even the nasty bits, and to put a man in jail for merely being naked is an abuse of power. I’m deeply offended by this.”

    I don’t like it either, but:
    I’m not being snarky, just trying to clarify. Would you be happy with a small, fat, hairy male in his 50’s sunbathing nude in his garden while your daughters played in yours even though the fence between was mere chicken wire? Would you be happy for your daughters and wife to sunbathe nude while the fat, hairy old male made a hash of trimming his roses?
    Some days some employers have a ‘dress down day’ when you can wear what you like. If they were lax enough to allow that fat, old male to wander about wearing only an open bathrobe (for the pockets) would it upset you? If his employer was a school?
    Once you introduce *any* dress code for any reason apart from protecting the skin making it statutory is but a small step.
    But all this is irrelevant. Like lots of other legal codes, the dress code that insists on covering willies is not reasoned, it’s ancient and irrational. It’s not even “Biblical”. The book forbids looking upon your mother’s nakedness and it forbids boffing a man vaginally but just about anything else is condoned, even necessitated.
    No matter how nice Mr. Gough’s body might be, and I seem to remember he’s a hiker so he is probably *not* fat and ugly, the old men with wrinkled needles where their dicks once were are *never* going to sanction him showing a nice one. They would not risk their women liking his more than theirs.
    Invidious comparisons to male models are never good for the male ego and elderly, wrinkled, wizened males with dongs like microscopic flagellae make all the laws.
    Like it or not.

  68. WetWednesdayInBognor says:

    Ophelia Benson @August 16, 2013 at 1:18 am:

    “I’m very dodgy. I make a point of it.”

    Didn’t I marry you once? If not, can I? I don’t accept “sin” as a social concept but I’m not that averse to living in it.
    I’m being pushy again, aren’t I?
    No, I am not going to make jokes around that name. I’m sure you’ve heard them all.

  69. hotrats says:

    If we can learn to ignore bad haircuts, ill-fitting clothes and inappropriate footwear, and nearly all hats, I’m sure that with a little practice we could learn to ignore public nudity, though the novelty might take some time to wear off.

    Some time ago a nubile young woman streaked Cheltenham High St., and was cited as the cause of a several minor road road accidents on insurance claim forms, on which the insurance companies refused to pay out. One of the claimants had slyly suggested that his attention ‘Was fatally diverted from the road ahead, due to having to witness an arrestable offence taking place on the pavement.’.

  70. UncoBob says:

    One of the best cartoons and one of the best discussions for some time, plus some information about formatting. How much better can it get!

    I’d certainly agree with those who say that challenging believers is unlikely to change their views. After all, they are equally likely to change ours. There might be a few reasons for doing so, though. Avoiding boredom is one – I find it more stimulating to let a visiting Jehovah’s Witness know that I don’t see the world being guided by a benevolent all-controlling intelligence rather than just saying ‘Not interested’.

    Self-respect is another reason for engaging in debate, at least if you are good enough at it to be sure of at least an honorable draw. I’m still annoyed at myself for not having challenged a fundie former colleague who seems to think that there’s something wrong with ‘evolutionists’ being prepared to modify their views as new information comes to hand.

    Power is another issue – especially big here in Oz at the moment. The current PM describes himself as a ‘god botherer’ and the alternative (and most likely next) PM gets his policies direct from the Vatican. When public funds are used to fund chaplains in schools or promising research is hampered by the strategy of establishing an ‘expert’ advisory committee stacked with members of a particular church, an alternative view needs to be put. This requires credibility to be effective which in turn needs at least a perception of voter numbers.

    After all, letters I have written to various politicians about responding to the persecution of people for expressing their personal views have been totally ignored – not even received an acknowledgment. An approach from a significant churchman who can at least try to influence his parishoners would carry much more weight, I assume. Having said that, putting the view to Facebook ‘friends’ resulted in me being cut off by a distant cousin who had been seeking donations to fund his role as a school chaplain.

    The point about religion and ethics being confused also applies in Oz. Our public broadcaster, the ABC, has a ‘Religion and ethics’ report, which I occasionally listen to on my way home from work. Apart from having to fight constant nausea at the unctuous tones of the announcer, the content has been exclusively religious, mostly christian.

    Apologies for not having acknowledged the proponents of the original posts.

  71. Undeluded says:

    @UncoBob – I bow to your dazzling wisdom! Yes – enhancing your self esteem is a worthy reason for debating a religionista! But she has to start it – I shudder to picture myself actually in search for a victim.

  72. WetwednesdayinBognor, in answer to all your questions about what would bother me, no, I would not be bothered. But that is not the point. If I was bothered, so what? There are a great many very ugly people in this world, even with their clothing on. Should we jail them for being ugly? I’m well aware that it is an ancient taboo, but I think it is not as ancient as you. Ight imagine. In ancient Rome and Greece, I believe, athletes competed in the nude. Somehow the anti-sex of the Abrahamic religions got involved here, then spread like a viral meme. I think if nudity were allowed, it would become totally a non issue. But jailing a man for nudity is bulshit. That’s not what our laws are for, and the minute you use the law to enforce the irrational taboos of the majority you are on the slippery slope to dress codes for women and laws against shaving, or wearing a beard. There is no rational justification for jailing Mr. Gough, other than the belief that we the public get to enforce our aesthetics on everybody. We do not need laws to protect you from being offended. If you say we do, then you have justified blasphemy laws.

  73. WetWednesdayinBognor, I’d also like to point out that your argument is totally Eurocentric. In India, for example, the members of the Jane religion wa about nude all the time, unmolested and unimprisoned, bothering nobody and upsetting no prudes.

  74. Man I hate typing on a touch screen. Please ignore the typos in my Levi us comments. Autocorrect and an inanity to control the cursor are the root cause. Inability, not fucking inanity. Okay, I will hold the next comment until I’m back on my computer.

  75. LostJohn says:

    Darwin Harmless @ August 18, 2013 at 8:38 am said loads of good stuff:

    Cool. And true, too.
    Enforcing taste using a well-armed policing force, well-built dungeons and other sanctions is often a poor idea. Though it could improve Saturday nights on the TV.
    You are right that many societies haven’t had the body “modesty” rules of Europe and its offshoots and historically nudity has been considered unremarkable anywhere it’s warm enough and safe enough for it. Which excludes UKland much of the time. When UKland isn’t too cold or wet or both it’s full of skin-harming hazards like bushes, sticks, barbed wires, bugs, nettles and dogs. (And those well-armed policing agents).
    You’re also right that some people (me for one) are not known for their physical beauty even when clothed in a new, tailored suit. But I’m probably marginally less lamentable dressed than not.
    Mr. Gough is harmless and had the busies not bothered him the chances are that no one would have been offended. He’s a little swampy bit you build around, nothing more.
    From what I can gather, he doesn’t even urge others to follow his dress code which I find to be damned decent of him.
    I agree that the examples WWIB pulled up were irrelevant. Were nudity accepted as just another mode of dress none of his examples would *matter*. No one would even notice. It could be that this was the point he was trying to make. [“He” includes the chance that “he” is a “she” in English. No offence intended, WWIB if you’re female.]
    And I’d slightly disagree that this is Off-Topic. UKlandish nudity laws, and its sex laws in general, are influenced by those dozens of fat, rich, old men on hassocks in the Lords. The ones put there for no sane reason but just because they run a minor, local, temporary religion. It’s just one more aspect of the vast harm religion does quietly and gently.
    Absent the religion, nudity and sex *might* be treated sanely.

  76. JohnM says:

    I hope this is not considered off-topic – I don’t think it is – but it is well-crafted by a wordsmith who clearly knows his job. Therefore I consider it worthy of my fellow J & M followers’ attention.


  77. LostJohn, thank you. I’m sure there is a sizeable percentage of the population of England who would release Mr. Gough and wave at him as he strides past their garden. I wish his imprisonment roused these people to a bit more indignation. I have no desire to parade around in my birthday suit, but the fact that there is a law against doing so is infuriating, and the fact that Mr. Gough is in jail for this “offense” is truly offensive.

  78. John, not at all OT but also nothing new to see here. The amazing thing is that idiots like Karl Giberson continue to make it into print. It’s such a tiresome “debate”. Unfortunately the apologists never tire of it, because that’s how they get attention.

  79. LostJohn says:

    @WWIB : “The book forbids looking upon your mother’s nakedness and it forbids boffing a man vaginally but just about anything else is condoned, even necessitated.”

    “Vaginally”? …
    Oh, “must not lie with mankind as with womankind”? [Lev 18:22]
    Sneaky. I wonder if the Gay community have tried that interpretation? It would certainly stop some of the louder pulpit-pundits dead in their tracks as they sorted out their responses.

  80. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    DH, whilst I have no objection to nudity in general, there are certain situations where a modicum of cover is desirable. For example, if somebody wants to sit down nude at my table that’s fine, but there’ll be trouble if he leans across for the salt and dangles in the soup. Even if it is it’s cock-a-leekie 🙂

    LostJohn, UKland? Really?

  81. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oh, “must not lie with mankind as with womankind”? [Lev 18:22]

    And I thought that was all about the ‘working late at the office, darling’ type of lying.

  82. LostJohn says:

    JohnM @ August 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm offered us a link:

    The author of the dissection of the NYT thing accepts that rational humans can have a sense of wonder but thinks we may take issue with the sense of specialness of human beings as proposed by religions.
    As proposed by religions, yes. However, I do think humans are special. They are the only species we know of capable of providing me with endless marvels like this here Internet, microwave ovens, hot showers and other niceties. They may just be follicly-challenged monkeys to Evolution but they have the potential to be ever so much more.
    Humans are the first lifeforms on this planet who can spread Life among the stars. Probably also the last.
    Humans could make this a human galaxy.
    That’s special. Not in the sense of everything revolving around them or them being given dominion over all that creepeth or them having a big daddy in the sky telling them with whom and when they can have sex, but special in that humans have *magic*.
    Humans *are* magic. They can change the universe through the use of their wisdom and knowledge, they are mages.
    They even have a sense of humour. And ladies. And ladies with a sense of humour.

    Another thing in that article which bothers me is this: “David P. Redlawsk, professor of political science” who later has pretensions of *being* a scientist and using the scientific method. “Political science” is descriptive narrative nothing more. It is no more a science than aromatherapy; far less so than “dog whispering”. It is *all* opinion and authority. Rather like philosophy. Or, to be nasty, religion. Mr. Redlawsk is no more a practising scientist than is a banana. He may have an academic’s grasp of every nuance of everything everyone has ever written about Science but his job is no more scientific than Mickey Mouse cartoons.
    It is also far less amusing.

    AoS: you don’t like UKland? Sorry but I’m never sure these days what to call this place without offending some section of the populace. “England” doesn’t exist, “Scotland” and “Wales” were never really countries, “UKoGBaNI” is a mouthful and “Britain” includes bits that other names don’t and excludes other bits. I found UKland in Usenet and quite liked it. For myself, I like “England” but there are a few northerners who object to that being used to describe the whole lump.
    Maybe “EuroregionWest”? “Western France”? “Eastern USAlia”?

  83. hotrats says:

    AoS, LJ:
    How about ‘Airstrip One, Oceania’?

  84. Dalai Llama says:

    @LJ – in fact, it’s England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland that are the countries, with the UK being technically a ‘sovereign state’ composed of the four aforementioned ‘constituent countries’.

    I lived in Spain for a while, where they tend to use ‘Inglaterra’ synonymously with ‘el Reino Unido’; tipsily explaining the precise distinctions of the various terms to equally tipsy Spaniards was a source of endless amusement/frustration. I could never seem to convince them on political or technical grounds that Wales, England, Scotland and ‘Norn Iron’ each count as countries in their own rights – yet, strangely, the one argument that almost always did work was “ah, but they all enter the World Cup as separate entities”.

  85. Mike N. says:

    Any one else seen this http://www.bibviz.com/ ? Its on Hermant Mehta’s friendly athiest blog. Every arc is a contradition in the xtian bible, click on the arc and it links to the verses in the Skeptics Annotated Bible.

  86. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LostJohn, I think my problem with ‘UKland’ is that it just looks like a letter’s fallen off the sign over a down-market sex shop. A bit like ‘oundland’ with dildoes.

  87. HaggisForBrains says:

    Mike N – good link, thanks.

  88. LostJohn says:

    Acolyte of Sagan @August 20, 2013 at 1:11 am said:
    “LostJohn, I think my problem with ‘UKland’ is that it just looks like a letter’s fallen off the sign over a down-market sex shop. A bit like ‘oundland’ with dildoes.”

    “I am *sure* I *don’t* know *what* you mean”, he says in his best imitation of a mortally offended lady who knows exactly what was meant.
    Maybe that, subconsciously, was why I liked “UKland”?
    It’s been a long time since a government hasn’t ukked-over this septic isle. The only things that keep it going are that it’s a beautiful place and the UKlandish people are, in general, wonderful, generous, accepting and kind. “English” in the best senses of the word.

    Mike N.: that bibvis link is *exactly* the kind of useful little tool the Great And Powerful Internet was created for. Serious academic research aiding Humanity’s march toward a more rational, easier, healthier and wiser future. A tool all children should be introduced to as soon as they can read anything. Which means it’ll be blacklisted soon.
    Thank you, sir.

  89. Acolyte, agreed there are some times when clothing is appropriate. I’m wearing some as I type this. Nobody wants to see it dragged through the gravy boat. My objection is only to putting a bloke in jail for simply dangling in open air.

    I was unaware that there was any problem with naming the realm in which you reside. Fun listening in on the discussion. UKland is a new one on me. You guys rock.

  90. OtterBe says:

    [don’t mind me; just testing here ???? ]

    this is not the post you are looking for


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