Posts Tagged ‘RS forum’

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Religious psychopathology redux

March 2, 2012

In a blog post from a couple months ago, I mentioned going back to the Rational Skepticism forum to give it another try, after giving up on it for about a year. Since then I haven’t found the moderation to have improved one bit, but I continue to read while not taking it as seriously.

An example of the lack of moderation was the post I found there and blogged about on January 4th: the latest iteration of ‘atheists have no absolute morality, therefore they should become psychopaths’. I wonder why it took so long, but the poster left a comment on that two-month-old post, yesterday.

I’m not going to approve it, since that would let him comment freely on my blog, and I have no interest in advertising his xian-apologist website. But it is interesting to note that he seems to be from Brazil – I didn’t think he was a native English speaker – and I suppose I could hang onto the IP for future reference.

I will, however, post a little of it so that I can mock the believer some more. This isn’t RatSkep after all.

Since there is only one life , and after the death its over, even Dawkins recommends to live it to the fullest. In case of a atheist, that does not have to care about objective , prescribed moral standards, that would mean to live your own tendencies at its fullest. That can be to do whatever is considered good by our society, or in the contrary, it could mean to do what is considered to be bad.

Right off the bat he fails with ‘objective’ moral standards. For morality to be objective, it’s supposed to be universally valid, and organized religions like xianity prescribe one set of rules for its adherents, and a different set for its god-concept – well, really the god-concepts tend to be completely amoral, justifying whatever their alleged actions may be by their godhood. It’s the ultimate ‘might makes right’ argument, typified for example in the book of Job.

The ending of that book always cracks me up; it’s as if the writers, sensing the weakness of might-makes-right, have their god character play country music backwards and give Job a new and better everything for his trouble. Not that this helps the hapless, innocent, first family of Job, who gets all slaughtered and such in a divine game of checkers. Original sin to the rescue! But I digress.

As if the amoral, psychopathic source of xian morality wasn’t bad enough, even the supposedly objective moral standards of bible followers have changed over time, most notably in regard to the issue of slavery. So, unfortunately, xians are moral relativists pretending to something superior. We’ll never know if such a revelation turns any of them into criminals, because I expect every last one of them to deny that moral relativism of theirs.

Now, this believer claims that his argument is not meant to be an insult to the skeptic, although I made my case for that in January. But it’s not difficult to show the believer to be wrong, and consequentially an insincere, atheist-bashing fool.

The attack does not go against the atheist, but the atheistic world view. If you would consequently live your world view, in my view, the most intelligent behavior would be the one described.

So this fellow thinks the most intelligent course for the skeptic is to embrace one’s tendencies to the fullest, with complete disregard for society. I addressed the consequences of ignoring societal mores back in January, but it’s interesting to consider how this believer imagines having no trouble at all, breaking rules and laws as his impulses might demand.

Hopefully if he ever does, he won’t be very good at it, and will get caught by the authorities before he does much damage to society.

Of course, the simple fact remains that most skeptics don’t do this. The news isn’t bombarded with stories of the latest amoral atheistic meltdown, of believers abandoning their gods to go on killing sprees.

And in spite of their supposedly objective morality, believers seem to have no trouble breaking laws – should it be ‘because of’? Perhaps, in some cases yes. But for all that they claim to possess some superior moral standard, it just isn’t borne out by their behavior. If their claims were true, you’d think it would; they ought to be obvious, these paragons of virtue. It should be a selling point.

Data like this, that atheists by and large seem to get by just fine in society, thanks, without any recourse to ‘objective’ systems of ethics, goes to disprove the believer’s theory. But that won’t do. No, the facts must be revised to fit the predetermined conclusion. Backed into this rhetorical corner, this fellow simply trots out the same line he used before.

Most atheists however do not live their life according to the world view they defend, They live a intellectually compromising position.

So to sum things up, he thinks the smartest way for an atheist to go is to be an amoral psychopath, and that if atheists are not such, they’re hypocrites failing to live up to their values.

And this is not to be taken as an attack on atheists.

So go on writing to me here if you want, pal. I wouldn’t recommend it, because here you can be treated as you deserve, as a self-righteous, insulting little holy troller should be. I can go right on, happily picking apart your comments and mocking them without letting you get a word in edgewise or indulging your link-spam.

You’re better off harassing folks on RatSkep where they have to behave a bit better than you in response. And that is why I don’t take it seriously. It’s obvious from the moderation there that they like keeping a few rhetorical punching bags like yourself around.

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On religious psychopathology

January 4, 2012

This is an argument that I’ve seen often enough to find it a cliché, the believer who thinks that they would go full-on psycho without whichever brand of theism keeps them from lashing out at everyone around them. It seems unfortunate that since I decided to check out the Rational Skepticism forum again, some things just never change. Like believers having meltdowns.

Your efforts to indoctrinate others, that theism is vanity, is not living atheism consequently. A militant atheist as you, should live his world view. According to you, you do have only this life to live. Ones it ends, and you die, the game , the show is over. Finish. End of story. Whatever happyness you had, you will not experiment anymore. Forever. So if i would follow consequently your world view, i would live a extremely ego-centric life. I would not care about others, since that is a total waste of time. What matters, is YOUR satisfaction. Is YOUR happyness. Is YOUR fun. is YOU, your self. If i would be you, i would live and experience my inclinations in their full extent. I would not care about contemporary moral standards. I would create mine. And adapt them perfectly to my needs. I would not care about what society regards as virtues, as love, honesty, justice, rightness, selflessness etc. If i would love to rape and kill and torture little children, i would do it without hesitation. It would serve to please my own wishes at best. Ones i die, its over. I couldnt do afterwards anything anymore, that pleases me. So it would have to be now, today, right now. That is behaving intelligently, according to your world view. And i would not have to fear any “magicman”, and neither think, i did something wrong. Since there would be no objective moral standard, and if i determine, that kill, rape , and torture little babies is actually a virtue, is good, there is no ” magicman ” to tell me its wrong, so it is actually good. I make the standard. I say what is good. There is nobody to tell me , something is not good, since nobody is above me. If i would be a lazy person, which hates to work, but love luxury, money,, and everything money can buy, i would never search a job in a company. I would probably find out the most refined way to steal money, in a way never to be catched, and spend it without think about tomorrow. Ones it ends, i would find out the easiest way to get money again. cheating, killing, stealing, hurting, whatever. I would not care. Actually, i would think, the more effective i were to reach my objectives, the better……..

I’m not going to comment on the spelling/grammar as it’s likely the poster is not a native English speaker. There’s enough to condemn without worrying about that.

So if i would follow consequently your world view, i would live a extremely ego-centric life.

It’s interesting to consider the god-believer, trapped in a humane, altruistic mindset, apparently by their fear of whichever god-concept has captured their fancy or was drummed into them as a child. As a skeptic, I never experienced such a radical change of POV, although I have known some who did – not hard to find amongst libertarians, and cats.

I do remember questioning why I behaved as I did, and devising a more reasonable set of ethics to replace the whole sin mindset.

I would not care about what society regards as virtues, as love, honesty, justice, rightness, selflessness etc.

This to me is someone who is fooling themselves. It’s not surprising to find a believer who talks easily about becoming a psychopath in the absence of their religion; it’s not about them abandoning their religion after all, it’s an attack on the character of the skeptic. But believers and skeptics alike do not live and work in a vacuum, and society does matter. Society is where I get most of my information and suggestions for ethical behavior, although not exclusively so. But any ex-believer who thinks they can drive their car down the street through traffic lights and over pedestrians will quickly come to care about society, as society will most assuredly care – and do something – about them.

And i would not have to fear any “magicman”, and neither think, i did something wrong.

If there was any doubt about the mindset of sin and fear of punishment that guides this poor sap, I think it can be safely dismissed here. It isn’t necessary that he live in constant terror; but it seems that the root of his ethical system is sin and fear of punishment.

cheating, killing, stealing, hurting, whatever. I would not care.

The typical response from the skeptic, and from this one, is that if your god-concept is all that keeps you from behaving like this, then keep it. Of course, statistics I’ve seen about the religious beliefs of inmates in prison suggests that, often as not, it’s not enough.

In the end, though, it is just one long insult to the skeptic, a love letter from the believer about ‘this is what I think of you’. Not that there’s any credible evidence that atheism results in a psychotic break; it’s just insulting rhetoric that makes the believer feel better.

I’ve seen it often enough that it doesn’t get a rise out of me any more. More like a roll of the eyes – typical. Leave it to someone younger, who hasn’t been putting up with such nonsense for decades, to get pissed off and unleash on them. I can take it apart, I can turn it on the believer and say, this is what you would do without your belief in a god to stop you? Either they would, and they’re a terrible person; or they wouldn’t, and the argument collapses.

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Atheism vs. despair

February 4, 2011

A recent thread on the RS forum came up about the despair some feel results from the loss of faith in a god, afterlife, etc. Unfortunately it became bogged down by a particular fellow whose personal experience with despair has apparently achieved clinical depression. Since I can’t really speak my mind about the guy there, here we are.

It’s times like these that I’d like to do something about the poster. He’s admitted to clinical depression and anxiety, for which we’d like to think he’s being treated, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. His disappointment in the prospect of an inherently meaningless life, inevitably transitory experience, and in the suffering he and his family have experienced, have pushed him to arguments no sane person would make. Stuff about forcibly sterilizing the human race, so it can die off and put an end to human suffering.

The poor sap seems to revel in his despair, in an odd way. He’s reminded several of us of ex-agent Smith from the Matrix movies, the anti-Neo.

Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you’re fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson, Why? Why do you persist?

These ideas wouldn’t get into a character in a popular movie if they didn’t have some resonance, if they didn’t make somebody stop and think a little. And I would be kidding myself if I didn’t own up to occasional glimpses of this despair, that I have a dark night of the soul every so often. There’s some irony in that being a term associated with xianity; not even the believer is immune. The sense of crushing despair they impute to the skeptic is something they know very well indeed.

You learn something new every day. I thought that was just a bit of poetry. I thought the smug satisfaction of the xian, however deluded, might be genuine. It pleases me to see that it’s not.

As for the depressed forum poster, it is a difficult line to walk. Personal attack is forbidden, yet he is clearly sick and in need of help. His arguments are repulsive, and at times seemingly designed to piss people off. Several times I’ve tried to warn people off of telling him to go through with his suicidal tendencies if his life is so bad; I don’t wish death on anyone.

Although, I wonder which is the more merciful suggestion…linger on, or end it? There’s the rub.

Having seen what happened here in Tucson, the mix of mental illness and whee, guns! that took lives and shattered others, I would seriously consider reporting this guy to whatever authorities are in his area — if I knew where to go. The anonymity of the Net puts it in the hands of the site admins. And so I consider asking them about it.

So why do I persist?

I can’t disagree with Smith. To the extent that life is apparently, evidently, meaningless, without purpose of its own. To the extent that anything I do or build or experience is temporary, quickly forgotten when I am gone, swallowed into oblivion in a relative eye-blink on the cosmic scale. I know, I’ve learned, how much of our thought processes and systems of ethics are built up from simple survival mechanisms, how our consciousness of choice appears some time after the brain has made its decision.

The final experiment that they showed proved that scientists could establish which decision a human would make, 6 seconds before the human consciously made the decision – by pressing a button to indicate which option they were choosing.

Skepticism takes ideas like meaning, purpose, and free will and puts them in serious question. Evidence suggests life on our planet is a fortuitous accident. The lack of evidence suggests no purpose to it. Experiments suggest that what we feel to be free will may not be quite what we think it is.

So again, why do I persist?

Because meaning can be what we make. The evidence suggests that the supposedly ‘inherent,’ ‘objective’ meaning and purpose of the xian is made-up, so what harm is there in doing the same myself, consciously? Without delusions to the contrary? I can choose to make the best of this life, as I see it, knowing that it is just my opinion and not some divine imperative. I can accept that this choice may be influenced by the biology and evolution that got me here, a mix of instinctive drives and emergent consciousness. It may not be the reputed ‘free will’ of organized religion, but perhaps I can content myself that the process is complex enough that it is hard to follow, hard to classify with certainty as not free.

Sure, scientists can hook me up and run some tests and show that my brain chose this path before I could say yes or no. Maybe someday, they’ll be able to follow the cascade of decision-making and instinct that makes me value life. I don’t particularly need them to, though. I would be surprised if I lasted long enough for the technology to become available.

There’s some irony to the argument on the forum, where the deranged poster questions the rationality of this answer. I wonder why he expects a rational response to a question like ‘why do you love, why do you care‘. Why do you persist. If he’s like Smith, no surprise then that I answer like Neo.

Because I choose to.

It helps to know that it is their finite qualities that make life and experience and love valuable. It’s when we take something for granted, when we have a seemingly endless supply, that it’s devalued. We don’t value the environment because it seems like we can go on dumping whatever and keep on truckin’. Kids take risks and join the army because they have no sense of mortality. Endless life would have no value.

So the terminally depressed skeptic questions why we get out of bed in the morning. But it is in the context of an eternal life that this question really hits home. Why bother? Why do anything? There will always be another day. Put it off till tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It can wait.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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How very Christian of you

January 15, 2011

When it comes to the topic of suffering, like what we’ve endured this past week in Tucson, believers are always at the ready to offer words of condolence. Ken Ham, famous for the Kentucky eyesore and national embarrassment of the Creation Museum, offers his, as I read about on the Rational Skepticism forum.

Yes, we mourn with people over these sad deaths in Australia (and also in Tucson, Arizona because of the horrible shooting a few days ago). But we need to be reminded that death is the ultimate end for all, and the question we need to ask ourselves is” “Where will we stand in regard to what happens to us after death?”

Most of his article at AiG is about the flooding in Queensland, Australia, since he’s from there; the bulk of Queenslanders are likely glad to be rid of him. The cavalier name-dropping of Tucson here was enough to earn my ire, though, as if the rhetoric was not. It is no matter that a tragedy has occurred; it’s time to atheist-bash.

I was pleased to see the Australian prime minister on television who, even though she is an avowed atheist, showed sincere care and concern for the people of Queensland. But as an atheist, why would she do this? As an atheist, she may claim that her worldview prompts her to care for people, but in an ultimate sense, what purpose would this have in a purposeless universe? And in reality, whether she likes it or not, she is borrowing from Christian presuppositions to incorporate such care into her worldview. In fact, even though she says she is an atheist, the prime minister is not! God’s Word in Romans 1 makes it clear that the knowledge of God is written on our hearts.

Ham provides a few different arguments here as if they were the same thing. Presuppositionalism is one thing; and it would be easily crushed by reference to societies that had no xian influence in building their sense of morality. Ham naturally has to include circular reasoning from the bible to trump that. Whether we know it or not, or like it or not, according to this xian, our morality is founded in his religion. Not that he can show anyone that this is so. For him, it just is. This leads into the slave morality sales pitch — and when I read it, that’s what it reminded me of.

The things of this world, including material goods, are temporary. They will not last. Eternal matters are most important and should always be our priority.

So, sure, taking care of the sick and injured, fine. But get out that gospel! High priority! Besides, the best way to forget that the world sucks is to devalue it. Saves the priesthood from any responsibility for improving anyone else’s lot.

There are many other matters we could consider in this topic of God, suffering, and death, but the bottom line is this: We live in a sin-cursed universe. The floods in Australia and the devastation they caused are ultimately our fault—all of us—every human being. It is not God’s fault. Certainly there are those who will get angry at God over what has happened. But instead we should be angry at sin—our sin.

However wacky AiG’s creationist beliefs may be, this preaching about suffering, and whose fault it is, seems fundamental to the religion — something most all of them would believe in, even if they might be reluctant to admit it. This is the enslavement.

And even though we ask why, and we do have to suffer in this world, ultimately we have to come to the point that Job did where he fell before the Lord in dust and ashes and recognized that God is God (Job 42:6). Who are we to question His ways? We need to acknowledge who we are (i.e., sinful creatures) and throw ourselves at His feet, knowing He is an all-merciful, all-loving God—a Heavenly Father who wants us to live with Him in eternity.

Mind you, why should anyone be prostrate in the dust and ashes before some supposedly ‘all-loving’ god…but there it is, the might-makes-right mentality that typifies xian morality. Follow these rules or god will kick sand in your face, ruin your life, throw you in hell forever. Because he loves you.

If the church is the ‘bride of Christ,’ to me it is a battered wife and suffering the syndrome. It was rejection of this preaching, that it’s all your fault, that truly broke me of this faith. Why should it be my fault that Queensland is being flooded? Why should it be my fault that some ignorant couple from myth and legend ate an apple they shouldn’t? And what was the lesson they inevitably failed to live up to? Mindless obedience.

Is that all-loving?

It’s thinking like this that brings up the line ‘how very christian of you,’ which is decidedly not meant as a compliment. Ken Ham is being very christian indeed in blaming everyone for the world’s problems, the same way other xian preachers blame calamity on whatever sin du jour they like to attack — and it’s not even exclusive to xianity.

So that’s how the presuppositionalist, happily enslaved xian treats with tragedy. They can presume that there is some good reason for it all, that it’s on a ‘need to know’ basis, that it shouldn’t bother them to not comprehend it at all. They always have the fallback position of the paradise afterlife to make up for any perceived injustice. And if any odd question pops into your head — like why would a god set up this game in the first place? — he’ll be there, to kick sand in your face.

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It’s like trading cards

November 18, 2010

On the RS forum, I am once again participating in the excision of a creationist twit from the community. This particular fellow has made a habit of quote mining scientific work and articles, to the point that he’s built a forum of his own where he has the information and linkage collected, ready to C&P creationist spam all over the Net. And judging from his list of places he’s been to spam it, it’s been a major pastime for years.

And in return, I cited this in support of a quotemine charge, as it seems those will most efficiently dispose of the fellow. It would be a bit embarrassing, if they cared, that this quote mining activity were so blatant and frequent that skeptics compile such testaments to religiously-inspired dishonesty.

Since the current Liar for Jesus has gotten called out on it at least three times in just one thread, and he seems keen to keep on spamming, I’ll have to keep the Talk Origins Quote Mine Project handy. I wonder sometimes what the thought process is like for these people when their citations are revealed to be lies. I can be charitable and think they’re just saying what they’ve been told, that they didn’t know any better. But do their opinions change at all? Do they respond to correction? Not that I’ve seen.

This particular fellow has simply added ‘no guarantee’ on the accuracy of his citations, as if that somehow excused his behavior and allowed him to continue posting lies. The RS forum will begin the long process of suspending him long-term or banning him permanently, at which point he will likely break out the sockpuppet brigade.

It is amusing to check out his forum, though. It seems completely unmoderated, and a few other people have posted there. There is no discussion, though; it only resembles a forum superficially. It’s really just an online resource for the creationist to C&P from. He doesn’t respond to anyone trying to engage him there. And on the RS forum, it’s not much of an engagement there; just spam from his website and smilies. I’m sure he’ll find other forums to pester once we’re done with him.

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The right to not be offended

October 16, 2010

…like god, as far as I can tell, does not exist. But it’s been a running theme on the Rational Skepticism forum, where a probable sockpuppet/stalker is stubbornly trolling away about ‘new atheism’ as a cult. Naturally, after opening with such inflammatory rhetoric, the troll then whines about the profanity-laden responses. Not that I indulged, but others certainly do.

Oh, we’re just cult members. Nothing to get worked up about eh?

At the same time, I’ve seen a skeptic launch a thread to complain about the believer’s habitual god bless you when someone sneezes. And an essay by Steven Pinker, to me, suggested a possible link between the two.

Curses provoke a different response than their synonyms in part because connotations and denotations are stored in different parts of the brain.

Pinker suggests brain structures as responsible for storing these connotations, these invested emotional meanings, and that the word brings up an involuntary response through recall.

The response is not only emotional but involuntary. It’s not just that we don’t have earlids to shut out unwanted sounds. Once a word is seen or heard, we are incapable of treating it as a squiggle or noise; we reflexively look it up in memory and respond to its meaning, including its connotation.

While Pinker’s point is about garden-variety profanity, it made me wonder if that’s the sort of connotation I have applied to the concept of a god. Especially the one that saturates my society, the xian one. I have learned quite a bit about it since I left the faith. I’ve read the book, I know the laundry list of divine atrocity that is the holy bible. I wonder if I have associated ‘god’ with this malignant, repulsive entity. Such a god, if it did exist, would earn only my scorn. To think that it doesn’t exist is more charitable than the accusations I could heap upon such an existent…thing.

And so, like if I mention a certain synonym for a steaming dogpile you might recall some pungent memories and cringe a bit, perhaps the notion of ‘god’ for me brings up pillars of salt, campaigns of genocide, malicious toying with hapless mortals, discrimination, slavery and sexism, and other such butchery.

Actually, I think I know what memory that will bring up for Dave, but that’s ok. It was pretty funny.  🙂

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Actually, I’m pretty laid back

October 7, 2010

…but the stereotype of the angry atheist persists, and I’m sure my postings on skeptical topics could be considered shrill. When a thread on the Rational Skepticism forum led to this other blog’s lengthy (and yet, not even comprehensive) analysis of reasons ‘why are we so angry.’ I was proud to find my own favorite sound bite first on the list. Atheist president. It’s real easy to sum up right there. Apparently, from looking at the polls, a fair number of people will say they would personally, but America on the whole? Nah. Never happen.

If any of them read this (ha!) I guess I’d have to ask how that works. Because it makes it look like some of them are lying about what they would do personally.

But out of all of the reasons, I liked this one toward the end.

And I get angry when believers act as if these offenses aren’t important, because “Not all believers act like that. I don’t act like that.” As if that fucking matters. This stuff is a major way that religion plays out in our world, and it makes me furious to hear religious believers try to minimize it because it’s not how it happens to play out for them. It’s like a white person responding to an African-American describing their experience of racism by saying, “But I’m not a racist.” If you’re not a racist, then can you shut the hell up for ten seconds and listen to the black people talk? And if you’re not bigoted against atheists and are sympathetic to us, then can you shut the hell up for ten seconds and let us tell you about what the world is like for us, without getting all defensive about how it’s not your fault? When did this international conversation about atheism and religious oppression become all about you and your hurt feelings?

I see this one a lot. Constantly. The believers who stop by the RS forum are, by and large, trolls, or liberal, everybody’s-cool sorts of believers. It’s the latter who consistently pooh-pooh the problems and contradictions and outrages of organized religion because they, personally, don’t buy into that. It’s as if, simply because they don’t buy into, say, creationism, that the millions of brainwashed fools and the malicious twits who lead them just…don’t exist.

The blogger also goes into the reasons why this anger is justified, even useful. How a lot of social change has taken place in this country, and how much of it was associated with…angry people. She demolishes the notion that the moderate, compromise position is always the better one with stupid-easy examples like, say, slavery, or civil rights, or the American revolution for that matter. Yes, Mr. President, sometimes compromise is bad. zing.

Anyway, I found the whole article worth the read-through. It may provide some measure of perspective, some hint of why I harp on organized religion and speak out about a lack of belief. If you don’t believe anything, what are you so mad about? Yeah, I get that a lot. That usually leads into the typical ‘atheism is a religion too’ tu quoque. Yep, quality apologetics…get that a lot. It makes me go all…

GUNDAM RAGE!