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Daniel Voisin
Lives in Waterloo, ON
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My father was a medic in the forgotten war. He ran into mine fields to rescue soldiers. He couldn't watch modern war movies. He said, it's too real, I don't want to relive that. War is terrible. He never understood the dramatization or romanticism of war for propaganda.
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The article really fails to persuade me. I have no love for Baron Black, but he does make good arguments. A few points:

1. The old atheists were so much better than the new ones—wittier, better writers, more cogent, and less militant. This argument can be made only by those who have never really read Russell, Mencken, Ingersoll, and Mill; the claim is based on pure ignorance.

That's a pretty absurd claim if you know much of anything about Black. He's most certainly read all those writers and I would agree with him that they are much more nuanced in their arguments than anything Hitchens has ever written. Hitchens is entertaining to be sure, but he isn't on par with the names above. Not even close. 

I'll make this point clear with on of my favorite videos from Russell where he summarizes his ideals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8h-xEuLfm8

There is quite a gulf between that message and the one we hear from new atheists.

2. Without religion we wouldn’t have a good source of morality.  Seriously? Is Black ignorant of the long tradition of secular ethics beginning with the ancient Greeks? Or does he think that that morality is dubious if it doesn’t come from God? If that’s the case, does he know about Plato’s Euthyphro argument—to my mind one of the great triumphs of philosophy? Black says this:

. . . without some notion of a divine intelligence and its influence on the culture of the world through the various religions (though the principal religions are not interchangeably benign or influential) there would be no serious ethical conceptions. Communities untouched by religious influences have been unalloyed barbarism, whatever the ethical shortcomings of some of those who carried the evangelizing mission among them. Without God, “good” and “evil” are just pallid formulations of like and dislike. As Professor Lennox reminded me, Dostoyevsky, scarcely a naive and superstitiously credulous adherent to ecclesiastical flimflam, said “without God, everything is permissible.”

Plato's argument couldn't have been made without some notion of a divine intelligence. It is quite literally built on the notion of divine intelligence. While it might do a good job of raising hard questions about it, even dismissing it, the fact remains the idea of God is needed to even make the argument in the first place.

Furthermore, from a historical and sociological perspective, Greek philosophy was the religion of the Greeks for a period of their history. Platonism itself can be defined as a form of theism. So Black's point about having no serious ethical conceptions without religion does hold strong here.

That’s palpably wrong. Atheists are no more immoral than religionists, and we don’t engage in killing other people in the name of our nonbelief, nor do we try to force ridiculous strictures about sex, diet, and genital-cutting on everyone else.  The more atheistic countries like those in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe are, if anything, more “moral” (and less socially dysfunctional) than highly religious nations like America, Saudi Arabia, and much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Black isn't saying explicitly that atheists are immoral. A better retort here, instead of pointing out all the bad things religions have done, would be to point out that a society can grow past needing to think of God in a literal sense, and function quite effectively in a secular manner. Just like how the Scandinavian countries grew out of theocracies.

3. Atheism is a “faith.”

You have to acknowledge here that Black is using the definition of atheism as a belief there is no God. I know, in the atheist community atheism is a lack of belief, but that isn't as standard a definition as atheists pretend it to be. Really believing there isn't a God is something that requires faith because even though that's the most probable situation, it isn't something that can be supported with evidence. 

But so what? We all have beliefs in things we can't say have solid evidence. What should matter is how good the evidence we do have is.

4. Science isn’t leading to progress, just to more mysteries.

Agreed. Poor argument.

5. The idea of a multiverse is “diaphanous piffle.”:

Nor can the atheists ever grapple plausibly with the limits of anything, or with the infinite. They rail against “creation” — but something was created somehow at some point to get us all started. They claim evolution debunks Christianity  (though all educated Christians, including Darwin, acknowledge evolution) — but evolution began somewhere. When taxed with the extent of the universe and what is beyond it, most atheists now immerse themselves in diaphanous piffle about a multiverse — but the possible existence of other universes has nothing to do with whether God exists.

Black has a point. Things like evolution and the multiverse are very weak arguments against God. They might do a good job of showing us religious myths and stories are untrue, but that can be done in any number of ways. A good many Christians have given up thinking these stories to be literally true themselves a very long time ago. The only places you see this today are in pockets of the world with low levels of education.

6.  Religion is the repository of right and wrong, and that, rather than the truth of scripture, is its value.

Religious practice can certainly be targeted as a pursuit of the hopeful, the faith-based and the uncertain. But they badly overreach when they attack the intellectual underpinnings of Judeo-Christianity, from the ancient Judaic scholars and the Apostles to Augustine to Aquinas to Newman; deny the existence of any spiritual phenomena at all; debunk the good works and cultural creativity and conservation of the major religion; and deny that the general religious message of trying conscientiously to distinguish right from wrong as a matter of duty and social desirability is the supreme criterion of civilization. The theists defend their basic position fairly easily and only get into heavy weather when they over-invest in the literal truth of all the scriptures — though the evidence for veracity of the New Testament is stronger than the skeptics admit, including of Christ’s citations of God himself: “And God said …” [Black’s ellipses]

Scripture does have value in so much that it contains the philosophical history of our culture if we like it or not. In exactly the same way the works of the Greeks contain the philosophical history of our culture and of Christianity. If more people could understand that value and take it for what it is, instead of taking it literally, we'd all be better off.  
 
Jerry Coyne tackles Conrad Black's recent "atheist bashing" in the National Post.

Several incensed Canadian atheists sent me a link to a truly execrable piece by Conrad Black in the National Post, “The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist.” I didn’t really know who Conrad Black was, but many Canadians seem to, for all the readers mentioned his criminal past. Born in Montreal, Black rose to control a chain of newspapers, acquiring titles and huge wealth along the way, but was then extradited to the U.S. to stand charges of fraud and obstruction of justice. He served three years in Federal prison, was deported back to Canada (and can’t re-enter the U.S. for 30 years), but still retains his enormous wealth and his title: “Baron Black of Crossharbour, of Crossharbour in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.”
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It's always interesting to read about the fantasy of the past. How the unseen or unheard were so much more eloquent in their protest of the establishment. What I hear is, it was so much better when, insert group here, was less vocal and knew their place and never rocked the boat. 

You can say whoever before never raised their voice. People today seem to have less patience for injustice than in the past.  If you're part of the majority and benefit from that status. It's very easy to tell others who can  and are oppressed to just wait their turn. 

You could say today's atheist shouldn't be so vocal and asinine  with their arguments. But I'd say the religious of the past seemed to be less concerned  with what others were doing and more focused on their actions instead. The religious of the past didn't seem to feel the need to have "their" god put into every facet of every one else's lives, due to reality breaking their faith.
We all may want to believe in Santa. But most of us realized around 9 or 10 that Santa isn't real. Sometimes you have to face the fact that we cling to the myths perpetuated by all the generations before us, because we were taught to.  Saying Santa is not real is like saying mom and dad are wrong. It's hard sometimes. It's also true sometimes. 

 
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I've been watching TOS recently so this is even funnier.
 
TMW rocks.


http://thismodernworld.com/

"  February 27, 2015
Tom Tomorrow:
Star Trek vs. the Internet
This cartoon won a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators yesterday, which is both a huge honor and now somewhat bittersweet. Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy.  "
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+Daniel Carelli I did notice Kirk seems to be falling for a new woman almost every episode. And there is a bit of sexism from a modern perspective.

But like +Barry Stephen Nieuport​ added there really were some heavy issues being dealt with. Even by our modern standards they remain problems we need to resolve. It really did give a vision of the future that seems attainable. 
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Japan's Ministry of Cool http://trib.al/kGXZlhL
Ahead of hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, the country is ramping up government-sponsored efforts to promote its culture abroad.
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I'm completely with Sagan here and have ruffled quite a few feathers arguing for what he's saying here.

It used to be the word atheist was a positive denial of God. It meant you held the belief there was no God. It wasn't until Anthony flew came along and wrote an essay that Richard Dawkins later read and repeated in his own book that this idea that the word atheist automatically implies doubt came into being.

Of course after people started pointing out some atheists don't have a single ounce of doubt about their stance on God the solution of attaching the prefix agnostic or gnostic was created. Which is absurd. Instead of having three words we now have at least nine combinations.

And why? So that we can group people into theists and atheists and make atheism a political force. So we can say smugly we are the superior group with real knowledge of reality.

Which is exactly what seems to happen in history with nearly every religious movement.
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+Daniel Voisin​​ as an example: A 21st century experience.

Look what happened to Neil DeGrasse Tyson while COSMOS was on. He avoids the word atheism like the plague, but look at all the flak he got from the keyboard campaign of those so easily offended by not getting religion in on the science lesson.
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Daniel Voisin

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Great, thought-provoking article.
Out of 35 million people in Canada, Stephen Harper has chosen to single out for verbal abuse one lone, niqab-wearing Mississauga woman, Zunera Ishaq
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What has our country become? Is this what we stand for?
Jeremy Morlock, 23, tells US military court he was part of a 'kill team' that faked combat situations to murder Afghan civilians
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The military machine love this guy.
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Stumbled on this whole looking for people to argue with in my what's hot thread.

Fantastic article. Instead of focusing on why objectivism is so wrong, the author looks at the type of person that is drawn to it, splitting people into CSI types and Columbo types. This reminds me very much of the split you often see in atheist communities. Where the CSI types are entirely incapable of understanding how a religious person might need religion or how they tend to divide things into facts and beliefs where facts are the things they believe while everything else is faith.
 
#AynRand   #Objectivism   #Cult   #Psychopathy  
For Justin Templer, the Objectivist Psycho!
"Objectivism works by describing a certain type of person who is probably not weak minded enough to join a traditional cult or even a supremacist movement. But they probably were born with some of the traits that can lead to Objectivism. They are also less likely to be total social failures than the people who join such movements. A potential Objectivist may well be at the top of general society in some respects, like education or income. But such people have strong deficiencies in other areas, like empathy or imagination. These are people who tend to be emotionally immature and possess low emotional intelligence. More likely than not, they feel separated from other people and/or lack social skills. So it’s easy to sell them on the idea that this is all evidence of their superiority."
The Objectivism Cult: What types of people are drawn into it and why?
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We're all biologically inclined towards pattern seaching/finding, beyond what's actually there. I'd never call that weak or stupid (though I suppose some would).

As to a recognizing it as a true understanding, randian objectivism, just like much of religion, is an ideology, i.e. a belief system based on what they feel reality should be like rather than one based on what reality actually is (and what we've managed to find out about it). That's why both religion and objectivism lead to many a contradiction, as well as having a tendency to measure themselves and other people on two different scales. Rand's work is full of this (e.g. no physical force whatsoever, except if it's the hero doing it), and so is religion (e.g. killing is bad, unless they're headens).
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This kid is sure going to remember this birthday. Send him a text and remind him the world isn't filled with assholes.
 
Can you spare a moment (and the cost of an SMS) to text a happy birthday wish to a special 13-year-old? He's an Aspie going through some tough times (freakin' bullies), and could use a pick-me-up on his special day.

Apparently, his mom tried to organize a bowling party for him, but nobody has RSVP'd, so she's relying on the power of the internets to flood his phone with birthday texts: 705-808-3086

#HappyBirthdayOdin   #aspergers   #bullying
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That'd be fantastic if that happened. He's got the best mother ever
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Daniel Voisin

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I'm completely with Sagan here and have ruffled quite a few feathers arguing for what he's saying here.

It used to be the word atheist was a positive denial of God. It meant you held the belief there was no God. It wasn't until Anthony flew came along and wrote an essay that Richard Dawkins later read and repeated in his own book that this idea that the word atheist automatically implies doubt came into being.

Of course after people started pointing out some atheists don't have a single ounce of doubt about their stance on God the solution of attaching the prefix agnostic or gnostic was created. Which is absurd. Instead of having three words we now have at least nine combinations.

And why? So that we can group people into theists and atheists and make atheism a political force. So we can say smugly we are the superior group with real knowledge of reality.

Which is exactly what seems to happen in history with nearly every religious movement.
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That we are a way for the universe to know itself maybe? Yeah I'm pretty sure he said that once...
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Actually, I wonder where on this planet a real democracy exists … some Scandinavian countries perhaps?

(Thanks, Ed)
A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.
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Introduction
I am an all around geek, raising two little geeklings, and loving all that life has given me. I love reading, writing, and thinking about everything from tech to religion.

Doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Hopefully Google+ will give me the push to finish this year! 
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My son can explain the plots from all six Star Wars and my daughter likes to dress up as Darth Rainbow.
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