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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:18 PM

Too Simple to Be Wrong: Atheism's Bronze-Age Goat Herder Conceit

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-wallace/atheisms-bronze-age-goat-herder-conceit_b_2398220.html

Paul WallaceScience & religion teacher, writer, speaker
Posted: 01/09/2013 12:18 pm

Imagine we could revive a well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus, except on matters of faith. His beliefs about geography, astronomy, and medicine would even embarrass a child, but he would know more or less everything there is to know about God. Though he would be considered a fool to think that the earth is the center of the cosmos, or that trepanning constitutes a wise medical intervention, his religious ideas would still be beyond reproach.
There are two explanations for this: either we perfected our religious understanding of the world a millennium ago -- while our knowledge on all other fronts was still hopelessly inchoate -- or religion, being the mere maintenance of dogma, is one area of discourse that does not admit of progress.


Thus writes Sam Harris in his 2004 book The End of Faith. This passage shows up in a section about religious peoples' insistence on clinging to tradition. The idea being, only in religion would the thoughts of a 14th-century person still be considered authoritative.

Harris' words are indicative of a profoundly anti-intellectual conceit that holds an alarming amount of influence within contemporary scientifically motivated atheism. In his 2009 book "The Greatest Show on Earth," Richard Dawkins used the disparaging phrase "Bronze Age desert tribesmen" to describe the source of and intended audience for the biblical book of Genesis, and this phrase has been transformed in the mouths of lesser atheists into "Bronze Age goat herders." As in, "The Bible was written by a bunch of Bronze Age goat herders" (lifted from the JREF forum).

What's so wrong with goat herders, I don't know.

more at link

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Reply Too Simple to Be Wrong: Atheism's Bronze-Age Goat Herder Conceit (Original post)
cbayer Jan 2013 OP
Warpy Jan 2013 #1
cbayer Jan 2013 #3
trotsky Jan 2013 #6
dmallind Jan 2013 #12
cbayer Jan 2013 #17
Warpy Jan 2013 #31
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #9
Warpy Jan 2013 #14
cbayer Jan 2013 #25
trotsky Jan 2013 #2
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #4
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #7
trotsky Jan 2013 #8
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #10
trotsky Jan 2013 #11
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #13
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #15
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #19
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #24
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #26
Democratopia Jan 2013 #58
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #71
trotsky Jan 2013 #16
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #22
trotsky Jan 2013 #34
skepticscott Jan 2013 #38
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #39
Democratopia Jan 2013 #59
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #67
Democratopia Jan 2013 #68
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #69
formercia Jan 2013 #77
rug Jan 2013 #18
okasha Jan 2013 #42
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #46
okasha Jan 2013 #62
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #65
okasha Jan 2013 #81
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #85
okasha Jan 2013 #88
trotsky Jan 2013 #89
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #90
okasha Jan 2013 #91
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #92
okasha Jan 2013 #94
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #93
okasha Jan 2013 #95
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #96
okasha Jan 2013 #97
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #98
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #87
Scuba Jan 2013 #5
skepticscott Jan 2013 #27
pinto Jan 2013 #28
Jim__ Jan 2013 #32
skepticscott Jan 2013 #33
trotsky Jan 2013 #35
Goblinmonger Jan 2013 #37
okasha Jan 2013 #40
skepticscott Jan 2013 #47
skepticscott Jan 2013 #45
pinto Jan 2013 #48
skepticscott Jan 2013 #50
pinto Jan 2013 #57
skepticscott Jan 2013 #64
trotsky Jan 2013 #86
Jim__ Jan 2013 #20
cbayer Jan 2013 #23
dimbear Jan 2013 #21
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #29
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #30
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #36
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #41
okasha Jan 2013 #43
cbayer Jan 2013 #49
skepticscott Jan 2013 #51
okasha Jan 2013 #44
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #53
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #73
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #52
cbayer Jan 2013 #54
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #55
cbayer Jan 2013 #56
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #60
cbayer Jan 2013 #61
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #63
cbayer Jan 2013 #66
skepticscott Jan 2013 #70
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #72
cbayer Jan 2013 #74
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #75
cbayer Jan 2013 #76
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #82
cbayer Jan 2013 #83
spin Jan 2013 #78
cbayer Jan 2013 #79
okasha Jan 2013 #84
dimbear Jan 2013 #80

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:30 PM

1. Goat herders are superb at tending flocks of goats

They're just unqualified to discuss cosmology.

Don't feel so bad about that, most modern day cosmologists would be absolute shit when it came to herding goats.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:45 PM

3. Lol, good point. What do you think about his take on Sir William Herschel?

He puts him up as a kind of missing link.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:17 PM

6. Herschel is a "missing link"

only in the sense of the false dichotomy the author created.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:53 PM

12. A very good, perhaps approaching great, composer

Excellent use of counterpoint while avoiding the formulaic. It's almost a shame that he's so well known for his considerable astronomical contributions that most people dismiss his musical ones, if they know them at all, as side-issues.

But on topic; deeply religious scientific geniuses are hardly all that rare. Depending on era it's generally reconciled by assigning fine tuned creation responsibility, Deism, or separate magisteria.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:28 PM

17. Did not know that about him and will check it out.

Agree about the deeply religious scientific genuises and have always been fascinated with how some of them struggled with their own discoveries - fearful of the religious consequences.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 01:51 AM

31. Well, he is, pretty much

He came along at a point when many scientists were trying their best to make the research they were doing fit the stuff they learned in Sunday school, something that simply refuses to happen.

I dislike the article's conceit, especially calling atheists "brights." I know too many who are dumb as a box of hair and I know too many honest, rock headed scientists doing great work who are absolutely useless when they set foot anywhere outside their various fields.

However, Herschel's bias does seem to have limited him and caused him to toss out a few important things here and there because they utterly contradicted the bible. Scientists these days have a slightly easier since they've been allowed to think of all that stuff as allegory and myth, quaint but with little basis in reality.

Most of us have our blind spots and automatic cutoff points in our heads. Peer reviewal of all new data and conclusions have minimized some of the damage they've caused individual scientists.

It is, though, a more grown-up idea to consider the writings of all those biblical authors to be allegory, not fact. That's why science is advancing so very quickly these days, one serious cause of bias has been minimized.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:46 PM

9. Though they may be better than average with astronomy

 



There are some interesting accounts of these type of people having remarkable abilities to see celestial objects with their naked eye and navigate & plan based on what was going on above them in the sky.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:13 PM

14. Well, not really, since they generally don't differentiate between near stars

and bright, distant galaxies. In fact, they tend to consider the whole business a bunch of light scattered over the underside of a bowl, equidistant from their vantage point.

I would, however, love to know how the Dogon people in Africa managed to predict a couple of planets. Of course, they also said Saturn was the last planet in the solar system (missed 2 of them) and that it was the only one with rings, two things we now know to be in error.

Goatherd astronomy is limited by poor access to tools and to modern theory.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #14)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:54 PM

25. They will laugh at our rudimentary way of seeing things in 2,000 years, too...

that is, if humans are still around.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:33 PM

2. The best response to this hit piece is in the comments at HuffPo.

Far be it from me to further clarify anything written by either Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, but simpler minds, as that of the subject articles' author, seem to miss the point of the quoted passage which is that all of religion is simply 'received opinion'. There is nothing new to be learned (or taught) in that closed box. Everything pertinent to that inert discipline was well defined, expressed, and understood centuries ago. It is ludicrous to accuse anyone defending an evidence-based scientific approach to understanding our universe of holding 'a profoundly anti-intellectual conceití. Indeed, it is the mountain-moving pace of religions' cosmology conceit that defines the very essence of anti-intellectualism. While science is open and dynamic, religion is closed and stagnant. Exactly how stagnant it is is always on display in the words spoken and written by its defenders; obfuscating, misrepresenting, and resisting the clear evidence supporting the obvious truths they believe they must deny.

Forget the goat herders. That is not the issue. It is a rhetorical device. Address the real issue: the stagnation of received opinion VS the dynamism of the scientific method.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:12 PM

4. +1000 That's the problem in a nutshell.

 

Ive used the "bronze age goat herders" line myself, because not only is it a clever line, but it's an accurate description of the authors of the Old Testament. Science is all about following the evidence. Religion is all about following the traditions. And that's why science (and technology) works, and gets results, and religion has nothing whatsoever to show for itself in the way of concrete results. If the need ever arises I'll take a science-based surgeon over a faith-based shaman any day of the week.

Religions should, frankly, be ashamed of themselves for holding back human progress at every turn.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:40 PM

7. They've both worked hand in hand at promoting this notion of progress

 

Religion has had quite a roll early on in expanding the bounds of civilization and spurring the cultivation of the wilds, along with the burning of the heathens. It was theistic religions that taught the animists/pantheists that the world was man's to exploit, given to them as a gift with purpose. Religion changed mankind's entire perception of reality and may mark the turning point where man no longer saw himself as a part of nature, but an entity with a special spirit that could rule over nature. When science could only give us primitive tools, religion gave us arrogance and manifest destiny. But it could only go so far, and has probably outlived its usefulness in the face of the exponential accumulation of scientific knowledge (in terms of the question of "progress").

Though I'd argue that each of them has completely failed at improving the aggregate happiness of mankind, but as long as this is not relevant to progress it doesn't matter. But if that is the case, progress is not relevant to me.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:41 PM

8. "progress is not relevant to me"

Just curious - do you have kids?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:48 PM

10. Yep

 

Increasingly, our level of "progress" concerns me due to the human misery it is promoting globally, as well as the ecological ruin. My children may not stand on the shores when they are my age and watch the salmon run--that breaks my heart.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:52 PM

11. Does it also break your heart to know that just a couple of generations ago...

children faced a significant chance they wouldn't survive to adulthood?

You seem to have this unrealistic, romantic view of the past. I don't think it was so great that you basically planned to have several children knowing you would be burying some of them.

On another note, do you think it's good that we've progressed to the point where the idea of owning another person as property is no longer socially acceptable?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:00 PM

13. They still don't in most of the world

 

If you are typing or reading this, you are likely in an area benefiting from mass human exploitation and misery.

Things have been fucked for a long time. I don't have a romantic view of anything since the onset of agriculture, and its subsequent exponential growth. Prior to that, I know people still died. I'm ok with that. Now our whole planet is dying--headed for an imminent population bottleneck event from climate change--and most of men suffer some form of subjugation and labor exploitation.

On another note, do you think it's good that we've progressed to the point where the idea of owning another person as property is no longer socially acceptable?

We haven't. We still have slavery. We keep them overseas, out of eyesight. Then there are billions more who live on subsistence wages. 4 billion chronically malnourished. Over a billion without access to clean water. 800 million starving. 25,000 starving each day.

We don't have to think about that. We have a seat at the good table. It only take 40-60 hours of week to keep yourself in the game and secure some chance at mobility for your kids. Here's to us. Ain't life now grand. Thats what I call "progress" (which as I suggested earlier, may be divorced from the notion of happiness).

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:24 PM

15. And science may be able to solve those problems, religion never will.

Last edited Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:55 PM - Edit history (1)

Religion has nothing to offer mankind, other than a false sense of security. Science, OTOH, offers limitless possibilities to improve our planet and our lives, but only if we smarten up and make the right choices not based on greed or salvation in another life.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 06:58 PM

19. No, there are limits

 

Science, OTOH, offers limitless possibilities to improve our planet and our lives

8 billion people cannot live like you. In fact, you may only live the way you do because of exploiting the masses of people and taking their resources to support our energy-intensive, complex infrastructure.

We have real, hard limits. We are headed right for them, in a very bad way. Climate change will only exacerbate the problem, which is a result of over production to support a fraction of the population's standard of living.


And no offense, but all around me I see a bunch of "spiritually"-wired humans who get jacked into objective reality by reading science books, watching star trek and having shiny LCD screens, which makes them put their faithy-wired brain functionality in worshipping technology and believing it will deliver infinite greatness (despite all contradictory evidence). So many of the technophiles are simply creating their own new, trendy religion that gives them hope but is rests on faulty, unscientific reasoning. Its....disheartening.

There are real physical limits dictated by science (resource and energy limits). There is also a limited amount of life that this globe can support, which seems to be inversely proportional to how much production we engage in. Science will not always save you and hasn't always saved us in the past. Believing such is an irrational faith-based belief.

Religion isn't dead. Its just sporting new duds.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:52 PM

24. Hey brother, I am agreeing with you.

Our current situation is not sustainable and those of us that are thriving are doing so at the expense of those that are suffering. That is the reality of the world we live in. Were there an all-loving, caring god, said entity would have dealt with that. (and if it didn't, why would it be worthy of worship and devotion? It wouldn't, but that's another thread...)

Yet science, or rather the possibilities that science has to offer, may just be able to solve the riddle and bring us prosperity, equality, and harmony. Or it might not. The point is, that science DOES offer possibilities. Religion offers jack shit, and jack just left town.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #24)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:17 PM

26. Im just not sure science is necessary for that possibility

 

Its counterpart of technology--which is applied typically to cultivate the natural world--risks endangering these possibilities that science can offer us.

And Im not sure religion, on some level, is completely hopeless at offering it as well.

Yes, that may sound absolutely crazy (and yes, I am a degreed scientist saying this).

Imagine a religion where people believed that all matter was essentially the same, and part of the "divine", and therefore, everything was sacred and should be revered. People--a part of that divine, who are composed of the same matter as everything else)--are therefore compelled to seek harmony with the natural system that they belong to and promote system balance. Imagine a religion that recognized that all actors within that divine would impart real world effects on the system through their actions that reverberate through time (in ways that promote pleasure and/or pain in the system). Such a religion would surely make people try to coexist with nature instead of destroy it and threaten all life on earth.

Interestingly enough, this is a religious framework that many primitive people had without the help of science (as we know it today). Yet, our current levels of science supports much of these ideas other than the classification of matter/energy as "divine". Frankly, the presence of these beliefs in so many geographically isolated populations may even suggest man has a natural tendency to see the world in this manner if not blinded by culture, modern religion, or even science (that objectifies parts of the whole in order to devise ways to more aptly control or exploit nature).

In any case, I find that the modern religion and technology has both manifested in very egregious ways that has not improved the aggregate condition of mankind (but has grown civilization). Likely, that is because both have been tools that civilization has primarily used to accelerate its own growth. Due to where we are today, it makes me very open to ideas that humans can use (post-bottleneck) to reorganize themselves and actually live in a sustainable manner. This may not include the tools we lean on today (science/religion), and may even include ancient beliefs that primitive man may have very naturally developed.

Who knows really. Time will certainly tell what will come if we can figure it out. Otherwise, there is some nice real estate here for whatever comes along in a million or so years.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:16 PM

58. As an atheist, I must say were it not for religion to control the people, I doubt we would be here

 

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #58)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:15 AM

71. Youre right. We might be exploring other worlds by now.

Religions control over the eons has been malevolent. It has opposed and oppressed new understanding of our universe and hindered scientific progress at every turn, for the sole reason of saving itself. I think a very strong argument could be made that had religion been unable to bring us the "dark ages", our advancement would boggle even the most brilliant minds of today.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:25 PM

16. Of course.

But do you think it's a good thing that your kids have such wonderful odds in their favor or not? What do you think a parent 100 years ago would have said if they knew how much infant mortality would be reduced in the future?

It seems to be that you are stuck in this mindset of "as long as something's not perfect in the world, no progress has been made."

I couldn't disagree with you more.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:19 PM

22. None of us have wonderful odds in our favor with 400 PPM CO2 concentrations

 

Billions upon billions will face famine by 2100 based on projections using IPCC AR4 models. America will no longer have viable land to grow corn, wheat and soy by 2050 according to Ortiz et al (crops are already just started to experience this failure). The ocean is acidifying, which will--through food-chain disruption--kill off most of the water based populations that are not yet completely depleted through over-fishing. No one has "wonderful odds" unless they own swaths of Peruvian rainforest.


What do you think a parent 100 years ago would have said if they knew how much infant mortality would be reduced in the future?

Why does it concern me that the affluently malnourished agriculturalists (whose infant mortality rates exceeded 30% at one point) finally brought their rates back on par with the pre-agricultural foraging societies according to paleopathological studies? As I said early, I do not romanticize earlier parts of the agriculturalist civilization or their "improvements" to the very problems they created (like high infant mortality, epidemics, malnutrition, xenoestrogens and environmental toxins, etc). And even in doing so, this does not account for the majority in civilization who live in squalor, but only those with a good seat at the game in the land of plenty.


It seems to be that you are stuck in this mindset of "as long as something's not perfect in the world, no progress has been made."

I'm stuck in the mindset that this system of infinite, perpetual growth is destroying our environment without improving the aggregate human condition (Africans to Americans), and we have to pay the piper real soon within our life times. Im stuck in the mindset that I will have to watch my children die of famine because the salmon won't run, wheat won't grow and we will decimate what is left of wild game in our hunger. It doesn't have to be this way, but the science worshipping technophiles believe their new God will save us from our finite limits.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:45 AM

34. You must be a riot at parties. n/t

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 02:34 PM

38. The irony is that you wouldn't even be aware

of the things you rail about, or even be having this exchange at all, if it weren't for science and those "science worshipping technophiles"

How do you know that we have 400 ppm CO2 levels? Where do your IPCC projections come from? Uh, that would be...wait for it...Science!

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #38)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 03:21 PM

39. Would you listen to my "feelings"?

 




Along the same note, one of the best ways to tear apart a theists' conception of reality is using the arguments of religious philosophy (instead of showing them carbon dating).

In general, my response is 3 fold:

1) We should not confuse science with technology and culture. While science can be used for tool development (technology), in its rawest form it is about understanding and observing the reality. Nothing about science itself dictates that we should be where we are today (science doesn't tell us to exploit the earth, but it can be used to determine how best to). So, my disdain is more for the institutions who have decided to implement science in the manner they have that has materialized this reality. Civilization has used religion--when it was still relevant enough to work--in egregious ways as well.

2) Even if your point stands, it does not necessarily speak toward the aggregate benefit of science. Our ability to understand how much we have destroyed the world (with IPCC reports and other data points) is neither good nor bad. Now, our ability to use that data and act in a beneficial manner would be important, though its questionable if science can mitigate this significantly, or if our civilization would use science to do that (if it threatened civilization). Ultimately though, the manifestation of this level of science is a civilization on the brink of billions of deaths and ecological destruction. The use of science to determine where our scientific civilization has brought us is...rather moot.

3) A more primitive person with a connection to their land doesn't need science to tell them their ecosystem is out of balance right now, meaning modern science is not completely necessary to understand the pertinent issues of the day. On the other hand, its entirely necessary for me to relay those to you across cultural boundaries (it creates a universal language to convey what is happening objectively)


As I originally said, both tools (science and religion) have been used by civilization to dominant the globe and bring destruction. Science does not act on its own; it needs actors to develop and implement it. It is neither good nor bad. But people are beginning to think that it is a spring of cornucopia goodness, but this stands contrary to reality (as science reveals). This means our scientific civilization is diverging from the findings of science with their believe in its "good" nature. This means a new religion is basically forming.

Sure, I use science to determine what the reality is. Science may even paint a picture that our ways of technology and perpetual production are destructive. But civilization largely ignores that, and looks for answers in technology that contradict this idea. They struggle for "progress" (more technology) to save them from a reality that is nearly unavoidable. Its a bit disturbing.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:24 PM

59. What you forecast is chilling and seems inevitable, were it not for the ingenuity and ever-expanding

 

scientific knowledge of our species. We risk changing the climate in a way that will be devastating, but we also have a chance to rise to a new challenge. The first step is for both political parties in USA to take the matter seriously.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #59)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:53 PM

67. We've had a good idea this was happening for 4 decades

 

The ever-expanding scientific understanding is only actually making it more apparent that disaster is in our path. Despite constant accumulation of knowledge concerning our situation, we emit more and more carbon into the atmosphere year after year. We have not experienced a colder than average month for about 30 years straight. At what point will knowing magically transform into salvation? Is this an evidence-based belief or a faith-based belief that science & ingenuity will save us?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #67)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:55 PM

68. We will have to build machines that will extract the C02 from the atmosphere.

 

Do I think we will be able to do that? Yes. We put man on the moon just 66 years after the Wright brother's first flight. Can we do it before there are serious disasters that will impact on tens of millions of people? I doubt it. It may take a cataclysmic event before we take the issue seriously.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #68)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:03 PM

69. Will they run on oil?

 

All useful work requires energy.

Maybe they can run on solar panels we create using coal energy.

After all the production required to make sure machines, I surely wonder how long they would need to run to pull 100 to 200 ppm CO2 out of the atmosphere

The quicker path with be poison sulphates released in our atmosphere and algae farms in the ocean (geoengineering).


It may take a cataclysmic event before we take the issue seriously.

Surely, and after that point, we may no longer have the available energy, people, political will and capital to address it in an organized manner. Time will tell.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #13)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 08:21 PM

77. WE don't soil our hands with Slavery

It is outsourced in an effort to create plausible deniability.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 06:11 PM

18. What an obnoxious post.

Once again you demonstrate an inability to discuss a religious topic without inserting personal attacks. Congratulations, you've now achieved the status of accusing a Duer of callous disregard for the life of his children.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:51 PM

42. No, it isn't "an accurate description of the authors of the Old Testament."

As Muriel Volestrangler notes below, the first books of the OT were written during the Iron Age. Specifically, they were written during the Josian reform period, when what we know as Judaism emerged from the background of "pagan" Canaanite religion. Josiah and his priests re-invented monotheism (Egypt's Akhenaten had invented it in Egypt several centuries before.) They divorced Yahweh from his wife of many centuries, Asherah; tossed out the healer serpent-god(dess) Nehushtan, who makes a cameo appearance as the tempter in Genesis; and destroyed the shrines to these other deities, establishing Yahweh as sole god and forbidding ceremonial worship anywhere but the Jerusalem Temple. The men who carried out these changes were not pastoralists. By this time, Judah had emerged as a nation-state, with a central urban government, a literate urban bureaucracy, and strong mercantile ties to the Mediterranean and Central Asia.

They also had close cultural ties with their trading partners. As has been frequently noted, the priest-authors were familiar with the Gilgamesh epic, appropriating its Flood narrative for the Noah story. It's also fairly clear that they were acquainted with archaic Greek literature; the face-off between David and Goliath, for example, follows the same structure as single combats between Homeric champions. This is not accidental, since what they were actually doing in the Pentateuch and conquest narratives was creating an epic for a nation that Josiah intended to expand into the former territory of the northern kingdom of Israel, which had just been conquered and largely deported by Assyria. Judah was, in fact, at the peak of its power and regional influence--so much so that Pharoah Sheshonk of Egypt took exception and summarily executed Josiah. The OT books that follow are all of varying, later age, with the most recent, Daniel, dating from around the second century BCE, when Palestine began to recover its identity under the Hasmonean dynasty.

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Response to okasha (Reply #42)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:21 PM

46. Whatever. My point is, they were not rocket scientists. nt

 

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #46)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:47 PM

62. By which you mean

that they lacked intelligence? Or that they lacked technology?

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Response to okasha (Reply #62)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:19 PM

65. That they lacked knowledge of how the world works. They were ignorant.

 

Basic physics. Basic cosmology. Basic meteorology. Basic anatomy and physiology. They knew none of that. Nobody at that time did. So why should we take their word on how things work?

The sun didn't frickin' stop in the sky!
The earth wasn't made in 6 days.
The whole planet never flooded.
The Red Sea never parted.
You can't appease the gods by wringing the neck of a pigeon.
They are folk stories. Nonsense mixed with a smidgin of distorted history.
To imagine that somebody could take those books seriously is just laughable.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #65)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:10 PM

81. They knew a great deal more about those things

.than you seem to kno about them.

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Response to okasha (Reply #81)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 11:01 PM

85. OK. Whatever you say.

 

The J texts weren't committed to writing until around 600 B.C. but the E texts may go back as far as 900 B.C., so that puts them anywhere from 2200 to 2500 years before Newton, so just how much did they know about physics, for example? I'm sure they knew more about yak herding they the average modern American, but they sure didn't know much else of basic science. I'm sure they thought the earth was flat. I'm sure they knew nothing about thermodynamics. But I'm sure they had a few very wise men among them who knew about relationships politics, but they also treated women like slaves, and kept slaves as concubines, so they didn't hold the moral high ground either.

Now, exactly how was it that they were so much wiser than we are?

And DO be specific.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #85)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:39 PM

88. I didn't say they were wiser than "we" are.

I said that Iron Age people knew more about science than you know about Bronze or Iron Age people.

Do you think the zigurrats of Mesopotamia and the Egyptian pryarmids were somehow built without some knowledge of physics?

Or that gravity-fed irrigation happened all by itself?

Or that the priests of Amun correctly predicted the annual inundation without meteorology and some astronomy thrown in?

Or that the Romans invented concrete without knowing some relevant chemistry (and again, physics)?

Or, coming forward in time to the Mayas, that an essentially Chalcolithic society built observatories and charted the phases of Venus and the courses of all the planets visible to the naked eye?

And that's a bare sample. Your assertion that ancient peoples knew nothing about how the universe works is simply wrong.

And then, of course, you shift the whole discussion to other issues entirely. So: Women in the United States are still disadvantaged relevant to men. We don't have equal pay for equal work. The American people have still to elect a woman president. American men still visit prostitutes, who are frequently no better than slaves to their pimps. American corporations run sweat-shops in Mexico and Pakistan, usually employing young women at outrageously low salaries. Etc. Etc.

And nope, Iron Age folk knew the world was a sphere, or at least curved. Forget the fairy tales about Columbus and how "everybody" thought he'd sail off the edge of the world. The surprise was that there were two whole continents between Europe and East Asia.

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Response to okasha (Reply #88)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:05 PM

89. Actually, what you said was:

"They knew a great deal more about those things than you seem to kno (sic) about them."

To be fair, it's not all that clear what the pronoun "them" is referring to. "Those things" or "They"? You should not berate people misunderstanding something that you did not communicate effectively.

Returning to the topic, you appear to be melding three logical fallacies here:

1) Straw man. No one is denying that previous societies possessed scientific and engineering knowledge, so I'm not sure why you think you need to forcefully argue that they did.
2) "Wisdom of the ancients" - look it up if you are so inclined.
3) Red herring. Gender equality in the workplace is an important issue, but has nothing to do with this discussion.

The primary question you seem to be dancing around is, do we possess more scientific knowledge than people did thousands of years ago? I think we all know the answer to that.

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Response to okasha (Reply #88)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:22 PM

90. Sure, those civilizations you mentioned knew some engineering

 

and basic observational calendar-related astronomy.

But those specific civilization that you mention are NOT the ones that wrote the Bible. Unless, of course, you count the original versions of stories like Gilgamesh which the Bible authors plagiarized.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #90)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:18 PM

91. True,some of these technologies were developed

outside the borders of Iron Age Judah and Israel. But they were available to those kingdoms because, except for very brief periods, Judah and Israel were provinces of the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Roman Empires. Even during their periods of independence (Israel under the Omride kings, Judah during the reign of Josiah) there would have been plenty of cultural and technical cross fertilization. Israel and Judah were at the crossroads of major trade routes and knowledge travels just as well as any other merchandise.

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Response to okasha (Reply #91)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:26 PM

92. Well, I guess they were intellectual giants

 

who solved problems we can't even begin to solve today. Between milking goats.

How could I have been so blind?



I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm going to believe that goat herders knew more about cosmology than we do. I could write a better Bible, I and don't even have a herd of goats.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #92)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 12:22 AM

94. I suppose you have some reason for continuing to argue

with things I've never said, but this iis where you stop wasting my time.

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Response to okasha (Reply #91)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:30 PM

93. Are you implying that the religion of those civilizations gave them that knowledge?

Engineering? Technology? That knowledge came from their religion? Is that what you are saying?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #93)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 12:28 AM

95. No. See post 94, above.

nt

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Response to okasha (Reply #95)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 10:47 AM

96. I have reread this subthread and am even more confused.

I guess I simply do not know what your original point was then. Can you rephrase it?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #96)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 02:37 PM

97. My point was a very simple one.

Iron and Bronze Age populations were not nearly as ignorant of science as Speck Tater indicated. I provided examples of instances in which they made use of scientific principles and knowledge.

That's it.

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Response to okasha (Reply #97)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 02:40 PM

98. Ahh, I see. My mistake.

Thanks for clearing that up.

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Response to okasha (Reply #81)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:12 AM

87. Such as?

So as to avoid confusion, please, be specific.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:13 PM

5. +1

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:35 PM

27. I think this deserves an Excellent Post(r) Award from cbayer

but you'll probably be waiting longer then Pete Rose for the Hall of Fame. She'll certainly never be honest and admit there's anything to this.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #27)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:07 PM

28. Your decision to replace discussion with this personal vendetta type thing is toxic, imo.

I don't get it and it's none of my business. Yet as an occasional group participant it's hard to follow a discussion with this type of petty side swiping. I really don't get the point of it all.

I'm pretty good at ignoring it, but sometimes I feel I need to speak up for some common civility. That includes all member participation here. Yours included. Couldn't you make it a little less personal?

Kind of awkward to be so personally blunt in asking for discussions to be less personal. But there's a line. I wanted to speak to that.

Thanks.

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Response to pinto (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:47 AM

32. +1

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Response to pinto (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:05 AM

33. Discussion? Please don't talk to me about "discussion" when it comes to the bayer family

They come on here peddling some of the most ridiculous lies and nonsense concerning religion and atheism, not to mention some of the vilest hate and bigotry, and when the flaws in their arguments and their facts have been pointed out, along with the despicable double standards they apply, clearly, civilly, and by multiple people, they flatly REFUSE to "discuss" any of it. They pet the lapdogs who offer fawning and obsequious praise, and ignore any dissenting views, or they simply walk away and start a new thread that doubles down on the same BS. They both have their fingers jammed so far in their ears now that they merit nothing but scorn. And at this point, frankly, I'm beyond caring if they respond or not. But it's important that sensible people here see their arguments and their agenda for what they are.

Unless you're willing to take ALL of that into account, your precious little scold deserves no consideration. You want civility? Where the hell were you when cbayer was wishing for someone to die when she disagrees with then or doesn't care for their tone?

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Response to pinto (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:54 AM

35. Your consistent defense of cbayer, coupled with your eerily similar opinions, posting patterns,

and subject interest is far more interesting, "imo."

Perhaps you could "speak" to cbayer and let her know that hypocrisy is not cool, that waving double standards in everyone's face, pretending you're so much better than everyone else, that you're above the fray while still calling people "dumbasses" and wishing death on people like Richard Dawkins, ya know, that's kind of insulting and disruptive, and that when you engage in all that behavior but bemoan the lack of civility, people are going to notice that?

Thanks!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #35)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:41 AM

37. Curiouser and curiouser. n/t

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Response to pinto (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:13 PM

40. A vendetta is exactly what it is.

In his original post, That's My Opinion made a statement that sent some of the local gentry to the fainting couch. Basically, he said that no one would want to live in a society that did not have some basis in religion-based morality. Despite many, many clarifications of his statement and explicitly stating numerous times that atheists and agnostics make invaluable contributions to society, three or four posters have made it their business to demand an apology for this "offensive" statement every time TMO posts and to extend the harrassment to his daughter and son-in-law. (I put "offensive" in quotes for the simple reason that I think TMO's statement is literally true, even for those who object to it. Every attempt to date--the USSR, People's Republic of China, France duting the Reign of Terror--at building a society on a non-religious ethical basis has been a bloody tyranny, as have innumerable theocracies.) None of the hand-wringing posters concerned, of course, has ever offered an apology for insulting theists or even atheists who don't toe their line.

This little dust-up was followed almost immediately by an accusation that TMO was a former or present monitor, who was abusing his administrative authority to oppress atheist posters. The "proof" offered was a post by cbayer, which quoted one of her father's essays bearing his signature. According to these folks, cbayer and TMO were the same person. (I can't offer a link to this exchange because in DU's former incarnation, moderators deleted not only offensive posts but threads or sub-threads containing them. Others will, however, remember.) You have now been honored with a similar attempt. If you scroll down a few posts, you will notice that you have just been obliquely accused of being cbayer's sock.

The whole point of these personal attack posts is to disrupt the thread. Hijacking a thread is a classic means of preventing discussion. Ignoring them really is the best way to deal. It won't stop the nastiness, but one need not waste time on it.

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Response to okasha (Reply #40)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:27 PM

47. Hijacking? Oh please.

I can't even count the number of times that TMO and cbayer have made posts here that were deeply flawed, factually and logically, to which multiple people raised substantive objections that they flat-out refused to respond to. (Do YOU believe TMO's claim that most of the seminaries in the world are open and accepting towards homosexuality in their teaching and practices?). Discussion was requested, demanded, practically begged for in some cases, and none was forthcoming. Just whiny complaints and excuses about "tone". Only responses which offered praise or obsequious deference to their nonsense were deemed "worthy" of notice. You know this as well as anyone, if you've been paying attention. And yet you dredge up these two ridiculous examples as "proof" of a "vendetta".

Only in the bizarre little fantasy world that you and the other apologists here inhabit is pointing out logical and factual errors in a post or demanding evidence to back up claims "hijacking".

And if you think that cbayer and TMO are being held to higher standards that the atheists here, maybe it's because their hypocrisy is on such prominent display, as they regularly scold others for behavior they are only too happy to engage in.

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Response to pinto (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:15 PM

45. Hmmmmm..no response...interesting.

That certainly smacks of the kind of hit-and-run tactics that the bayer clan is famous for. Attack, and then run away and refuse to address any substantive points raised in the response.

Ok, let's make this simple and direct. Here's what cbayer said in a recent post:

And I hope Dawkins is going the way of his much beloved dinosaurs.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=60184

Questions for you:

In light of your impassioned call for civility from ALL participants, what do you think of a post that hopes for the death of someone you don't agree with or like?

What does it say about a person who would make such a post?

What is the appropriate response of decent people to such a post, if not personal condemnation?

Is this something that a decent person should apologize for, or should it be given a pass? Will YOU call for cbayer to retract and apologize for this post, in the same light as you've presumed to upbraid others, or will you devise an excuse not to?

Oh, and btw...failure to respond will be duly noted, and will have me and a few other people wondering whether you're actually in cahoots with cbayer on this whole thing..or something worse.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #45)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:15 PM

48. Hi. Back in. Just wanted to speak my piece about civil discourse among members here. Which I did.

I'm not going to call for anyone to do anything other than encourage and ask for civility. I'm also not in cahoots or something worse, whatever that means, with anyone in these discussions. I speak for myself and myself only.

Religion can be an emotionally laden topic. I know that from my own experience. And the framing of some discussions is often divisive, an us v them sort of thing. And in it all, I don't think personal condemnation adds anything to discussion. It diminishes it. That is my point of view.

Ideally, a diversity of opinion ought to welcomed. We can all have different points of view, advocate for them and add them to the mix.

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Response to pinto (Reply #48)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:19 PM

50. In other words, you direct your call for civility in one direction only

And dodge simple and direct questions, as expected. Typical of a bayer trained poster to drop a shitbomb of accusations you can't support, and then slink away when you're challenged on it. And to advocate for "discussion" and then refuse to engage in any.

When I see you calling out cbayer and TMO directly for their own incivility, then maybe I'll believe you're sincere, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you'll never do that. At present all I see you doing is upholding the same double standard as they do.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #50)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:59 PM

57. You win. I'm going to STFU. Sorry I ever stepped in on this. I shouldn't have.

I don't want to answer your personal attacks except to say this - I meant well, honestly. Sincerely. That's all I can say. I'm moving on.

I'll post here on the topics, no more nor less.

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Response to pinto (Reply #57)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:17 PM

64. Personal attacks? That's rich

You accuse me out of the blue, with NO evidence to support it, of conducting a "personal vendetta", and being "toxic", and now YOU'RE whining about "personal attacks" and saying you "meant well"? Boy, I'd hate to see what kind of venom you'd spew if you didn't "mean well".

You really are bayer trained...playing the victim of a "personal attack" is another of their favorite tactics. Are you sure you're not related, even distantly?

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Response to pinto (Reply #57)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 05:05 PM

86. See you around the campfire! n/t

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:11 PM

20. I wish he would have posted his theory rather than the chart.

I hope his follow-up column comes soon. I'm curious.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:29 PM

23. The chart is pretty humorous, though.

I also look forward to his follow-up and will watch for it.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:14 PM

21. If our 14th century chap were familiar with Euclid's Elements, he would still today be a capable

geometrer. The Elements comes from around 300 BCE.

The real rub is more that the chance of striking an educated 14th century chap was practically nil. It wasn't in fashion to be educated. Faithful, yes.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:20 PM

29. Conceit

 

I am just a high school math teacher (retired), but I find myself agreeing with Mr. Wallace. T.S. Eliot addressed the conceit we have about the superiority of our noble selves compared with our ancestors by pointing out that if we are better off than they were, it is because we remember what they learned. The Bronze Age goat herders were as human as us, and their stories are as wise, silly, flawed, and knowledgable as ours. We have made unsustainable progress in meeting our material needs. As cyber points out, if we survive NoOneMan's bottleneck, how silly and unwise will our progeny find us in a few millennia hence?

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:24 PM

30. Auriga

 

This just seems to belong here.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:38 AM

36. I wouldn't restrict the comparison to science; religion is stagnant compared to politics, too

The 'Bronze Age goat herders' (probably, more accurately, Iron Age pastoralists, since they had more than goats, and were post 1000 BC) believed in a theocracy, with a 'divinely appointed' monarch, slavery, institutionalized misogyny, and the death penalty for a wide variety of harmless infractions of religious superstitions. Since then, humanity has progressed with things like democracy, equality of the sexes, and so on. Not perfectly, of course, but the roles of those who want to keep the Iron Age rules in holding back the progress is painfully obvious. That's why morality based on the religion of the herders is a horribly conservative mistake that needs to be corrected.

As for the article: it's a huge strawman, as far as Harris, or Dawkins, is concerned - it actually has to admit that Harris doesn't talk about the Bronze Age at all, and that Dawkins is talking about the suitability of a creation myth, but the author waves his hands with "but it does not matter", and proceeds to lay about his strawman with gusto.

To answer the question in the last bit of the excerpt:

What is wrong, from the moral point of view, with that particular set of goat herders, was their massive bigotry - see above. What was wrong with them from the scientific point of view (what Dawkins was talking about) is that their origin myth was constructed before they had understood the half-lives of radioactive isotopes (the particular area of science Dawkins is explaining, and in which he is disparaging the attempts of a few extremists to claim that the earth could still be just 6,000 years old, even with the figures we get from measuring the isotopes).

I await the next instalment from Paul Wallace with as much eagerness as I await a delivery of rotting fish on my doorstep.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:39 PM

41. The AVERAGE theist's beliefs ARE stuck in "bronze age" thinking.

All the esoteric writings of theologians are irrelevant to 99% of religious people, who universally think of God as a great Sky Daddy who helps good people and punishes bad people.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #41)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:59 PM

43. Oh, goody.

Another "We're right/ You're wrong/ We're better than you" post.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #41)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:08 PM

49. They aren't irrelevant to religious leaders though, and that gets taught

in seminaries and schools who teach theologians, pastors, rabbis, etc.

Your generalization about what people universally think is narrow and mistaken.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #49)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:23 PM

51. And how many Christians would you say

mouth the words "Our Father who art in heaven..."? Pretty damn many. Sure sounds like a sky daddy to me. Unless you're going to claim that people's praying the Lord's Prayer is just phoniness.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:14 PM

44. Anti-intellectual indeed.

Only two suppositions are possible about this passage from Harris. Either Harris has no idea what he's talking about; or Harris assumes his audience knows nothing of what he's talking about, leaving him free to lie at will. To state that Judeo-Christian theology has not changed in three millenia is--well, let's be honest--ignorant. It ignores the emergence of Judaism from Canaanite relgion; the emergence of Christianity from Judaism; the theologies of Augustine and Aquinas; the Reformation; the Counter-Reformation and the Great Awakening. More recently, it ignores the evidence of archaeology, recovered "lost" texts, and the theologies of Teilhard de Chardin, Gustavo Gutierrez, Hans Kung and a good many others.

To state by implication that all Western religions equate with Judeo-Christianity, though, is just silly.






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Response to okasha (Reply #44)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:34 PM

53. More Eliot

 

"Christianity is always adapting itself into something which can be believed".

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Response to okasha (Reply #44)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 07:11 AM

73. Harris talked about 700 years ago; so most of your points are strawmen

A protestant might say that "a well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century" had outdated religious ideas. But the counter-reformation seems, to me, a case of the Roman Catholic church saying "no, we're sticking with what we said in the 14th century". For all the name-dropping of Teilhard de Chardin, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Hans Kung, the Vatican has ignored, or even condemned, them, and mainstream Catholicism is still pretty much where it was. They're having second thoughts about some details, like limbo, but they're pretty static. And that's by far the largest sect of Christianity (and I don't think there's been a great change in the Orthodox churches in that time, either).

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:30 PM

52. Too parochial to be right.

 

God creator of the whole fucking cosmos and the ONLY people he revealed The Truth to were a bunch of unwashed goat herders in the Middle East.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #52)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:35 PM

54. Well, you've got the talking point down.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #54)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:54 PM

55. And your belief system is anything but talking points?

 

From day seven onwards, the ineffable supreme being ignored 99% of the planet and devoted all of his attention to one tiny corner. In that corner he set brother against brother; father against son; and neighbour against neighbour. He condoned/required genocide; taking slaves and the systematic rape of virgins taken as the spoils of war.

In short, according to your own INERRANT refference manual, he behaves just like a kid with a magnifying glass, a bottle of petrol, and an anthill.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #55)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:58 PM

56. My belief system? My INERRANT reference manual?

You make assumptions about me because I don't think just like you.

That, my friend, is an error that can lead to broadbrush and inaccurate generalizations about people.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #56)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:31 PM

60. Broad as the one that says ALL NONBELIEVERS are damned...

 

...for all of eternity?

Is it any better to paint with one so narrow as to exclude everyone who refuses to kiss a particular pastor's arse?

To deny all inconvenient emperical evidence, then to claim that unsupported claims must be afforded the status of unasailable truth.


There is only one value for which makes all belief systems equally valid.

FALSE!

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #60)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:34 PM

61. I would equally challenge anyone who made such a broad statement.

Because no one really knows, do they?

It is those that claim to hold the TRUTH or make blanket assumptions about those that don't hold their particular POV that I have the most trouble with.

I don't understand your last statement.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #61)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:13 PM

63. Thought it was self evident. For all beliefs...

 

...from agnosticism to Zoroastrianism to have EQUAL validity, they must ALL be wholey or in part false, because almost all of them catagorically deny the validity of the others.

Deny all the deniers, and you're left with basically: "Treat each other decently."

Frankly, a bloody great chunk of religion is having a "higher power" to give people permission to treat other (non/wrong-believing) people as badly as they know how.


No one really knows? Really is that the best you can do?

If you don't know, you collect evidence until you do know. You DON'T demand that untestable claims be treated as trancendant truth. And you most certainly don't demand that trancendant truths be exempt from testing.


Not you "you" BTW, but ANYONE who would deny evidence to preserve faith.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #63)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:26 PM

66. That's true and I am wholly on the side of treating people with different

beliefs decently (unless they try to impinge on others rights with their beliefs).

But I wholly disagree with your conclusion that "a great chunk" of religion is used to treat people badly. There is no doubt that it has been used in such a way, but it has also been used to treat people well.

There are non-believers who use their lack of belief to treat other people badly. Are they any better?

Yep, "no one really knows" is the best I can do. Can you do better? Do you presume to know?

I demand nothing except to be treated civilly, so I don't know who you are referring to.

All the arguments are circular and no one will win. I am not a fan of those who push their beliefs or their non-beliefs on others.

And I am definitely not a fan of those who make broad brush assumptions about either believers or non-believers.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #66)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:39 PM

70. Utter horseshit

I defy you to show us non-believers who "use their lack of belief to treat other people badly". That is the vilest kind of broad brushing bigotry, cbayer, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #66)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:16 AM

72. Really? Lets take the poster child of compassion, Mother T.

 

For her own personal medical needs she went to the best in the world.

For the medical needs of those she "served", she was providing the same basic quality of care on the day she died, as people got on the first day she entered that Calcutta clinic.

Why? Because her belief system held that too much material wealth distanced people from God, whereas those who had nothing but God, clung to him like shit to a blanket.

YES! A bloody great chunk. Up until quite recently (and still in way too many places) the penalty for holding beliefs inconsistent with the local majority was death or coventry (psychological exile within the community).

God says this is OK. God all too bloody often DEMANDS it!

Standard practice for all of recorded history is for the invader/coloniser to attempt religicide, to supress or eliminate extant religions for the purpose of establishing their own.

I do not presume to KNOW anything. I presume, to examine the evidence and draw conclusions consistent with that evidence.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #72)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:40 PM

74. Lol! Mother Theresa. You have definitely got the playbooks down.

If the great, almighty Dawkins said it, it must be true.

It's almost.....er..... religious.

Your definition of god is more concrete that most believers that I know. That seems odds.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #74)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 08:04 PM

75. I barely know who Dawkins is, except from snark like yours.

 

I got to where I got, mainly by first principals.

Starting with a childhood best friend of an inquiring type of mind who was returned to the folds of Young Earther Creationism at the end of a razor strop, when his father found one some kid's science books I'd lent him. I was briefly fostered (Mum got spiked by a sewer infected fish) to neighbours who'd abandoned the Salvos for being insufficiently evangelical, who took great delight in describing all the horrors awaiting naughty little boys who didn't repent.

Later when the Internet came along, after exhausting the R.H.F.M archives, I eventually found the Darwin Award Forums and got into some real ding-dong battles on any number of subjects there with some really great people. Religion was a minority subject of discussion, until a bunch of god botherer types tried to make everything about god.

And finally I wound up here. And still I'm facing people who cheerfully me that to have salvation, I have to accept that it's denied it to the majority of the Earth's inhabitants. I have to somehow believe that the creator of everything, right out the furthest star, gave "the greatest truth of all" to only a fraction of one percent of the planet's population and then left them to rot (God's Chosen, but doomed until the Messiah comes along.) for 4000 odd years, except to pop in occasionally to tell them to be as nasty as possible to the neighbours. (Kill the men, rape the maidens and make slaves of the kids.)

Cue another five hundred odd years in which most of the world still has no path to salvation because no-one's got there to tell them. And after that another fifteen hundred of expansion, conquest, genocide and religicide. One mob to the West, another to the East and both beating the living shit out of each other on top of the oldest of the three Abrahamics.

And finally at the very end, Jesus gets a makeover. Six thousand years of history are declared un-representative. He's all sweetness and light. God loves everyone. But you still got to toe the line or "down" you go.


Yeah I got a concrete view of God. He's humanity's greatest excuse for inhumanity.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #75)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 08:11 PM

76. I would be interested in seeing the posts on DU that

cheerfully tell you what you state about salvation and god. I may have missed it, but I read most of the posts in here, and I have never heard anything like that.

What you describe sounds like the stuff one might read on a fundamentalist web site, not DU.

Of course your perception of god is based on your personal experiences, but it certainly isn't consistent with everyones, or even most peoples, conception of a god. Sounds like your experiences were pretty horrific, so it's understandable that you have reached those conclusions.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #76)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:27 PM

82. ONLY path to salvation is to acknowledge and accept Jesus/God.

 

Good works count for nothing without that, but genuine repentance on the part of a Hitler or Pol Pot will do it.

People here aren't as in your face/evangelical about it as they have been elsewhere, but that's still the basic message.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #82)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:35 PM

83. Again, a very narrow, fundamentalist view of it all.

It's the basic message that you heard, but it's not the only one out there.

I wish you well.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 09:14 PM

78. Let's suppose a time machine was invented. We then sent an average ...

college educated individual who grew up and lived all his life in a large urban area such as NYC back in time to a Bronze Age desert without anything except the clothes on his back and possibly a couple of Bronze Age implements such as a knife and a bow.

Could he survive and prosper?

Suppose then you took a Bronze Age nomad and snatched him forward in time to a modern desert. Would he survive and prosper?

I would suspect that if the modern day individual I described had a fair amount of desert survival training he could. The desert nomad might be able to live in the desert but would have a difficult time understanding what was happening if he encountered modern civilization.

While we have far more scientific knowledge than those who lived in the Bronze Age or the Middle Ages they were as intelligent as we are.

Here's another challenge. Take a similar sized population of modern day people who live in Egypt as were present in the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Could they build a Great Pyramid using the tools that were available at that time? Of course they would be required to grow food using the same methods as were used over 4000 years ago and deliver it to the pyramid builders without using modern equipment.




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Response to spin (Reply #78)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 09:19 PM

79. I'm not so sure. Without really understanding the culture into which the person

is thrust, I think the likelihood of them getting taken out as some kind of threatening alien might be high in either case.

Which is why you can't read these stories without taking the culture into consideration.

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Response to spin (Reply #78)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:37 PM

84. If the modern American were found

by local tribesmen, the ancient laws of hospitality would apply, and his chances of survival would go up astronomically. Otherwise, if he weren't dead of dehydration within 36 to 48 hours ,ie., unless he found a water source within that time, he'd be severely constrained in his attempts to forage by his need to stay close to the water source. And of course, he would need to avodi becoming lunch for roving lions, hyenas and such.

The ancient's most pressing need, on the other hand, would bee to avoid being shot by a border guard.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 09:37 PM

80. Just as a single informed point, the Bible was written in the Iron Age. By propagandists.

The idea that any of it goes back to the bronze age is a fable which comes from the religionists.

As a simple matter of fact, the Hebrew language couldn't have supported any such literary effort in that early era.

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