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Wed May 15, 2019, 10:59 AM

How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus

From the article:

Meaning
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I grew up in Australia, in a loving, secular home, and arrived at Sydney University as a critic of “religion.” I didn’t need faith to ground my identity or my values....

King’s is known for its secular ideology and my perception of Christianity fitted well with the views of my fellow students: Christians were anti-intellectual and self-righteous....

.
After Cambridge, I was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford. There, I attended three guest lectures by world-class philosopher and atheist public intellectual, Peter Singer...

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism. ….. I began to realise (sic) that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear....

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed. At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God. A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.

To read more:

http://www.veritas.org/oxford-atheism-to-jesus/

Thoughts?

178 replies, 2356 views

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Reply How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus (Original post)
guillaumeb May 15 OP
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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:13 AM

1. "No longer running from god." WTF

 

I have never felt like I was running from anything. And "atheism were incompatible with almost every value..." What kind of values are incompatible with atheism?

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:15 AM

2. Welcome to DU.

This is the author's view.

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:27 AM

6. Good question.

You'll not get an answer, however, from the person to whom you replied, I predict.

Like you, I can't think of any values that are incompatible with my atheism, either.

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:38 AM

19. Vengeance?

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:05 PM

67. Belief in gods.

As far as I can tell that is the only set of ideas incompatible with atheism. Not sure if non belief in gods is a “value”, in fact I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Thu May 16, 2019, 09:04 PM

107. The author was clearly already in search of something.

Last edited Fri May 17, 2019, 07:37 AM - Edit history (1)

I spent a great deal of time in rehab with addicts of all types. Her conversion and rapid, deep immersion sound a lot like many, many addicts I know who used religion to replace the hole in their lives that they were formerly filling with substance abuse.

Now, I'm not saying this woman was/is an addict. Of course, there is no way for me to know.

I just know that people who have some emotional holes in their life often find ways to fill them with the sort of behavior she describes. Some people fill those holes by becoming marathon runners or other sorts of athletes. Some, as I mentioned, use drugs and alcohol, food, shopping, sex.

We don't get a sense of what her life was like, emotionally, before her grand conversion. The whole idea that atheism was incompatible with her values is odd and makes me wonder what those were. I share the same, human morals and values as every other human. I don't need a deity to tell me it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal and kill. Note though, the God of her Christian Bible is perfectly okay with all of those things as long as they're being done to neighboring tribes and not to one's own tribe. So there is a problem there.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #107)

Fri May 17, 2019, 02:19 AM

108. Yep, much more to this story

One doesn't go full tilt one way to full tilt the other without some type of catalyst and the author is trying to convince someone ethics and reason are that catalyst. "Because god" just isn't the firm anchor of reason she suggests with zero argument for such a thing. A far simpler explanation is her alleged conversion was emotion based. It might be because of substance abuse, depression, she got dumped, or a number of other things, all of which would be far more believable.

I just have one question for anyone who makes similar claims. Would you still be a good person without your chosen religion? If the answer is yes, then religion brings nothing to the table in terms of ethics. If the answer is no, then one has to question if they ever were a good person. Most simply refuse to answer the question, which provides its own answer.

If someone needs an imaginary friend to justify their moral values, they never had any to begin with and still don't. They have just deluded themselves into believing otherwise and justify it with hocus pocus.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #108)

Fri May 17, 2019, 10:16 AM

110. Look at her stated place of employment; Western Sydney U.

It's had problems. Says Wiki:


'Bent Spoon award for the promotion of quackery
Edit
The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), a part of Western Sydney University, won the Bent Spoon Award in November 2017. This award is bestowed by the Australian Skeptics to "the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle".[69][70] Having been nominated for this award in 2016 and because they continued to refuse to provide accurate information regarding the dangers of complementary medicines, especially traditional Chinese medicine, the NICM eventually won this award in 2017.[citation needed]'

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Response to Bretton Garcia (Reply #110)

Fri May 17, 2019, 10:47 AM

112. Her employer rates pretty low among institutes of higher learning

...even if you only consider the ones in Australia.

Which begs the question as to why a person with a PhD in history from Cambridge would seek tenure from a 3rd rate university that is in no way notable for their humanities scholarship. While there could be many explanations, the most obvious is incompetency.

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Response to Bretton Garcia (Reply #110)

Fri May 17, 2019, 10:48 AM

113. Sarah's job seems more serious:

https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/staff_profiles/search?query=Sarah+Irving&staff__flag=all

Still? Point well taken.

Looks like a very junior faculty member ("tenured lecturer"?) desperate to publish anything, anywhere.

From the way she proudly hyphenates her name, maybe the 'Mrs." degree is what she really values. Which fits her dislike of specifically a possibly apro-abortion atheist?

Looks like emotion comes before reason here.

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Response to Bretton Garcia (Reply #113)

Fri May 17, 2019, 12:33 PM

115. Curiously? There was a Dr. Irving Breakstone in Miami

Close to where Dr. Sarah "Irving- Stonebraker" taught. Irving also had a daughter named ... Sarah.

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/irving-breakstone-obituary?pid=1015756

He died 2003.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #107)

Fri May 17, 2019, 01:15 PM

116. The author of the article is whoever she is.

That's not the point, really, and hunting for things to minimize her is a waste of time.

This was posted here by Monsieur B for one reason only: It is an example of someone who identified as an atheist converting to Christianity, by her own account. That's the reason he posted it here, That it mentioned Oxford and Peter Singer was just iceing on the cake. The author is a young lecturer at a University in Australia.

There's nothing notable about her conversion. Such things happen. She was 28 years old when it happened. When she's 56 years old, she might be an atheist again. Who knows and who cares?

It's all silliness. People convert from atheist to theism from time to time. People convert from theism to atheism, arguably in larger numbers. It was important enough to our DU co-poster to dig back two years to find a story about an atheist converting to Christianity. Why, I don't know. It's unremarkable. Sarah is relatively unremarkable. Oxford is remarkable. Peter Singer thinks he is remarkable.

And so, there it is. In a grander scheme of things, none of this matters in any way.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #116)

Fri May 17, 2019, 02:22 PM

119. Yep! Just More Will B. Will Be Will B.

Last edited Sat May 18, 2019, 12:18 PM - Edit history (1)

LOL, you seemed to have had a lot of time yesterday to bother with this. Will B. does throw a lot of shit on the wall to see what sticks.

I was sincere in my post. This behavior does appear to me like the many, many "I found God/Jesus who saved me" stories I ran into in rehab. So the post was somewhat of a trigger for me.

The people with those stories were really freaking annoying. They had found THE answer to everything and then, because it was the Christianity cult that implores their members to spread the gospel, they HAD to preach about it. All the freaking time. Since I was in a "safe space" I couldn't tell them what I was thinking because of rules.

I can think of nothing more annoying than an addict who has changed their drug of choice from meth to Jesus. They want to use it and sell it to others very passionately. Just as much as they wanted the meth.

You are, of course, correct. There is nothing remarkable in her story - whoever she is. She is just another drop of self-deception in the bucket of delusion.

She seems to me to be just one of billions of delusional people who buy what the Christian churches are selling. I do mean selling. To buy a product for which there is no proof is rather ignorant, in my opinion.

Oxford is a remarkable place known for its status as an institution of higher learning. I'm sure that its name was thrown in simply to give some sort of appearance of credibility. At no point in the article did I see Oxford endorsing this person's story. At no point did I see any reference as to how Oxford lectures influenced this person. A book in the library takes center-stage. A book which is likely available in many university libraries and local bookstores or on Amazon.

I'd never actually heard of Peter Singer until the OP. From the little google-ing I've done he seems to hold a view with which I cannot agree.

If I'm reading the summaries correctly, then his philosophy is we are obligated to prevent every pain of every living being within our scope of influence. While that SOUNDS noble, it is not. I do not believe that I, or anyone else, is responsible for every other living being within my scope of influence. To assume this is true is to weigh down every person with the concerns of every person. This is a bit circular and gets ridiculous very quickly. When do my own personal concerns get to be weighed and by what standard do they preempt the concerns for others?

I'm a bit more of the Sam Harris type of atheist. I can only control my own actions. I believe that my actions should be in accordance with respecting the well being of others. If I act with respect to maintaining the well being of others then I have done my best to do no harm.

Being responsible for my personal inaction is a slippery slope upon which I do not wish tread. There are, of course, instances in which I feel I am obligated to act and my inaction is a failing. Yes, I will perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a person who is choking. My inaction in that case would make me a horrible person - Mitch McConnell excluded.

At what point though, do I stop being responsible for my inaction? If you decide to go hike Everest and I know that will likely kill you should I be responsible for not stopping you? For not making the arguments against it, that I certainly would, convincing enough? Should I physically intervene? No, of course not.

One is limited in what one can do.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #119)

Fri May 17, 2019, 02:34 PM

120. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I was interested in your comparison of "types" of atheists. I don't categorize myself as any "type" of atheist. I am simply a non-believer in all things supernatural. Aside from that, my atheism has no other characteristics I can identify as related to any other atheist.

Who I am is a reflection of many influences, from my parents to the last person I talked to about a serious subject. All affect me in some way, although many only in very minor ways. If, for example, something the last person I talked to said something that I thought about later, then that person affected me.

I try very hard to cause no harm to other people. Beyond that, I have few things about me that are notable, really.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #107)

Sat May 18, 2019, 09:31 AM

127. I agree with this

Not everyone who's religious falls into this camp, of course, but many who experience this "epiphany" have a major void in their lives that they're desperate to fill.

That doesn't make them flawed individuals, but it does make them annoying when they start trying to coax others to join the "cult." I don't need religion so don't try to sell me on it. If it works for you, great! Just keep it to yourself.

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Response to A DAY IN THE LIFE (Reply #1)

Fri May 17, 2019, 10:55 AM

114. He's clearly writing for an audience.

Because theists eat that dickish codswallop right the fuck up and ask for seconds. Every dweeb reading this article of his or own volition immediately smiled to themselves, thinking, "I always knew atheists were running for something and really secretly got their morals from God."

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:18 AM

3. Whatever an individual feels they need to give their life meaning is their business,

although I take issue with her apparent conclusion that she had to become a Christian to support "the values {she} held dear." Isn't that kind of ass-backwards? If you already have those values, is religious conversion really necessary?

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #3)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:28 AM

8. What comes first?

Perhaps she was referring to her personal search, and how her awareness of her values unfolded. As well, how her Christianity supports those values.

My thoughts.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:23 AM

4. It's a little difficult to understand how the implications of her atheism were incompatible with ...

... her values.

I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.


It sounds more like the implications of Singer's atheism were incompatible with her values. A lot of Singer's beliefs are also incompatible with my values; but I attribute that to a disagreement with Singer's reasoning. It doesn't make me doubt the legitimacy of my own values.

That said, it sounds like Christianity works for her, gives her life meaning and motivation. Finding meaning and motivation is no small task. I hope it continues to work for her.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #4)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:30 AM

9. I agree wih you that she is probably referring to Singer.

The reference to CS Lewis also supports (for me) the thought that she might have been offended by Singer's attitude.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #9)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:09 PM

69. Singer asserts that ethics that hold

humans to be superior to other animals are dubious. So my guess is she wants to continue to eat her hamberders while feeling good about herself, and the Christian gods provide that comfort zone.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #69)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:16 PM

71. Is Singer a vegatarian?

He describes himself as a flexible vegan.

Are his ethical principles also flexible?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #71)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:17 PM

72. So you demonstrably know nothing about Singer.

Try wiki.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #72)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:19 PM

75. One of us is unfamiliar with Singer's veganism.

And it is you.

Peter Singer is a vegetarian author - philosopher and writer
Birth date: July 6, 1946
Birth place: Melbourne, Australia
Website: http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/
Writer of Animal Liberation and current professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He criticizes the Western-style meat production, calling it cruel, unhealthy and damaging to the ecosystem. He has been a strict vegetarian and "flexible vegan" since 1971.



https://www.happycow.net/vegtopics/famous/peter_singer

You are welcome.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #69)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:36 PM

79. It sounds more likely that she disagrees with Singer's views on human equality.

This is what she said:

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism. But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof. The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent. I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.


Singer's views about human equality are complex and need to be considered as a whole; but many people are shocked by his views on infanticide. There is a very brief discussion of his views in this article from Aeon. A short excerpt:

In the 1970s, the Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer, perhaps best-known for his book Animal Liberation (1975), began to argue that it is ethical to give parents the option (in consultation with doctors) to euthanise infants with disabilities. He mostly, but not exclusively, discussed severe forms of disabilities such as spina bifida or anencephaly. In Practical Ethics (1979), Singer explains that the value of a life should be based on traits such as rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness. ‘Defective infants lack these characteristics,’ he wrote. ‘Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.’

The thought of killing disabled babies is especially dangerous because the concept of disability often functions as a mere cloak, thrown over much uglier hatreds. In ‘Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History’ (2001), the historian Douglas Baynton points out that African-American enslavement was justified through disability models: there was a supposition that African Americans suffered from a number of medical conditions that were understood to make them unable to care for themselves. Until 1973, homosexuality was a psychological disorder justified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; the current edition, the DSM-5, still considers transgender people disabled.

Singer generally frames severe physical disabilities through a medical lens. His ideas chafe against models of the disabled as a minority group. To Singer, severe disability is more a problem to be solved than a difference to be embraced and accommodated.

For years, I thought Singer was morally bankrupt. I grew up in a family with hereditary deafness, and though deafness is far from the type of disability that Singer was focusing on (with some arguing that it’s not a disability at all), I still recognised an idea that the disability community has faced for centuries: that people with disabilities are fundamentally less entitled to their rights – even their lives. Singer’s ideas stood in opposition to my core belief that the disabled body is created largely through a lack of accommodation, and that people with disabilities are different perhaps, but not less.

...

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #79)

Fri May 17, 2019, 09:34 AM

109. Is Singer wrong to question if ALL humans are equal?

We live in a world of over 7.5 billion people where a good portion of those people suffer from lack of food and clean water. The Earth, we have come to realize, does not provide mankind with unlimited resources. We must make choices about how those limited resources are consumed.

Is it irrational to consider the attributes of a person that will either allow them to become a contributor to the world or only be a consumer of limited resources? If an infant comes into this world with such a devastating attribute as anencephaly such an infant has zero chance of ever contributing to the world. If they survive, they will be consumers of limited resources for their entire existance. They will never be able to contribute to humanity.

With the advent of DNA testing and genome sequencing we can put the end to the myth that we are of different races. That there is one race that is better than another. There is only one race on the Earth. We have some slight variations but we are all one race. Therefore, any arguments based upon attributes such as being of Asian, African, or European origin are not valid. Because we all descend from one race.

I reject the argument that it is too difficult to determine which attributes about a person are reasonable for calling them "un-equal." If a human is born and that human can attain consciousness, can be self-aware, then that human is "equal" to every other human. This definition eliminates all the questions of physical disabilities. Such as blindness, deafness, and others. It is our ability to think that raises us above other animals. That is not to say other animals are not deserving of our respect and care.

I would never say that Stephen Hawking was an "un-equal" human. His disability rendered him physically unable to contribute through physical labor, but his ability to think made him capable of contributing to humanity through mental labor.

My opinion is that not all animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others.

FINAL NOTE: I'm trying to foster a debate here. Please do not alert on this post and say I'm being insensitive to any class of people because I'm proposing the argument that not every human on earth is equal to every other human on earth.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #109)

Fri May 17, 2019, 04:47 PM

121. First, I wasn't judging Singer's claims, I was addressing an issue about ...

... Irving-Stonebraker's article.

Her point of view deserves to be addressed seriously.

That said, Singer does more than question if all people are equal, he claims they are not. At least according to this '99 Washington Post article by Nat Hentoff - an excerpt:

Singer often claims that his views have been misquoted, so I am quoting directly from his books. From "Practical Ethics": "Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons." But animals are self-aware, and therefore, "the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee."


So, I consider him wrong to claim that not all people are equal. Sure, we can claim that Mary is smarter than John, or Lizze can play soccer better than Jane. But to claim that someone is not a person, or that someone is a more of a person than someone else is to make a critical judgement that we - people in general - don't have sufficient information to make. By far, the safer moral call is not to make that judgement.

At least a part of what Singer is talking about is pain. I believe we all have a right to make our own decisions about how much pain we are willing to bear. In the case of infants, parents, under the direction of medical personnel, should be allowed to make that decision for the infant. So, I agree with Singer about that.

You say:

Is it irrational to consider the attributes of a person that will either allow them to become a contributor to the world or only be a consumer of limited resources? If an infant comes into this world with such a devastating attribute as anencephaly such an infant has zero chance of ever contributing to the world. If they survive, they will be consumers of limited resources for their entire existance. They will never be able to contribute to humanity.


It's not irrational; but, in my judgement, undesirable. Something I've been wondering a lot about recently is what most of us - us being the working class - will have to contribute when our jobs are being done by robots. It is at least possible that the billionaire class that owns most of the robots will see the vestiges of the working class as just, in your words, consumers of limited resources for (our) entire existance. We will never be able to contribute to humanity. Hmmmm - what conclusions do you think they'll reach about the fate we deserve? Do you think they're not having much use for us gives them the right to decide our fate?

You say:

With the advent of DNA testing and genome sequencing we can put the end to the myth that we are of different races. That there is one race that is better than another. There is only one race on the Earth. We have some slight variations but we are all one race. Therefore, any arguments based upon attributes such as being of Asian, African, or European origin are not valid. Because we all descend from one race.


Nothing is that simple. Race is a word; and as such, has no fixed meaning. You can claim that genome sequencing has put an end to the myth that we are of different races. The people doing the genome sequencing don't agree. This is an excerpt from a '05 article in MIT Technology Review, Race and Medicine:

The roughly five million Americans who suffer from heart failure, a chronic and deadly disease, could be part of a radical change in the practice of medicine later this year. Cardiologists across the country will likely begin to prescribe a new, and by most accounts highly promising, drug based on an unusual criterion: whether the patient is black or white – or, to be more precise, whether the person identifies him- or herself as an African American.


If some medicines are racially targeted, it is hard to argue that science teaches us that it's a myth that we are of different races.

You say:

I reject the argument that it is too difficult to determine which attributes about a person are reasonable for calling them "un-equal." If a human is born and that human can attain consciousness, can be self-aware, then that human is "equal" to every other human. This definition eliminates all the questions of physical disabilities. Such as blindness, deafness, and others. It is our ability to think that raises us above other animals. That is not to say other animals are not deserving of our respect and care.


Well, Donald Trump mostly agrees with you on that point. He disagrees somewhat about which attributes are determinative for classifying someone "un-equal." But even if it's not Donald Trump wanting to call some people "un-equal," there's always someone. Once we accept "un-equal" as a valid label for people, then we're just arguing about which attributes we can use as the classification. I know, the attributes that you specify sound very good; it's accepting the classification that's the problem.

That is what I took as Irving-Stonebraker's point here:

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism. But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof. The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent. ...


You say:

My opinion is that not all animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others.


Well, Irving-Stonebraker has a doctorate in history - which may be a part of why she disagrees with that.


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Response to Jim__ (Reply #121)

Fri May 17, 2019, 06:48 PM

123. Thank you for a great response.

I haven't had time to read all of it and ponder it all just yet. But, I just wanted to say thank you for being a great DU-er and responding with some very good and thoughtful words.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:23 AM

5. My thoughts are that somebody in England became a Christian.

I assume that happens from time to time in many cases. Your excerpted anecdote verifies that.

Now, what are your thoughts? You didn't offer any in your post. I gave you mine anyway.

So, what are your thoughts, Monsieur B?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #5)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:32 AM

11. My thoughts are written here in my responses.

Perhaps she was repelled by Singer's attitude.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #11)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:33 AM

12. I'm not familiar with Singer's thinking.

Are you?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #12)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:36 AM

15. I have read some of what he writes.

He is yet another who insists on Biblical literalism so he can dismiss the Abrahamic religions.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #15)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:58 AM

30. OK. I rarely read writings about atheism that are written by

people who make a living from being atheists. I find them self-serving and of little use to me.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #30)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:59 AM

32. Understood.

But the author DID experience Singer.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #32)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:01 PM

33. So she said.

Still, my question remains: What was your reason for posting an excerpt of her anecdote?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #33)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:03 PM

35. I found it to be interesting.

Just as you hope that others will find your anecdotes to be interesting.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #35)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:11 PM

52. Why did you find it interesting? See that's the thing.

You keep mentioning my anecdotes. I never post any of them without explaining why I posted the story and what I learned from it or took from it.

You post without comment. Now, you might have found that woman's story interesting, but why would we? You posted only a fragment of it, and made no comment about it at all. So, what did you learn from her story? What is it about the story that you think made it worth reading? Add some of your thoughts before asking us for ours.

In reality, not enough of the story was in your post to form any real thoughts about it. I did click the link and read it, but more so I could reply and make some sense. I still didn't find it particularly interesting, nor did I think her conversion to Christianity was anything out of the ordinary. I doubt she was actually an atheist, really, but rather just someone without any particular reason to be religious.

I read the story, too. I said what I thought. You have still not expressed your own thoughts about that woman's story. You just dropped it here and have done little but argue with what other people have posted about it. We still don't know what you think.

You ask for people's thoughts, argue with them, but never share your own opinions or conclusions.

That does not make for a discussion, guillaumeb. It's just an excuse for an argument. And that, my fellow DUer, is a waste of time.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #52)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:46 PM

60. She stated that she was an atheist.

And that she became a theist.

But you claim to doubt that she was in fact, an atheist.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #60)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:54 PM

63. No, I'll take her word for it,

just like I take your word that you're a Christian. I even take Trump at his word about being a Christian. Now, I might not define the things in the same way, but I take people's word about their labels. Then, I judge the labels.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #63)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:56 PM

65. Well, you did write:

In reality, not enough of the story was in your post to form any real thoughts about it. I did click the link and read it, but more so I could reply and make some sense. I still didn't find it particularly interesting, nor did I think her conversion to Christianity was anything out of the ordinary. I doubt she was actually an atheist, really, but rather just someone without any particular reason to be religious.

So perhaps you understand my confusion.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #65)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:00 PM

66. I wouldn't argue with her, but I might not think her atheism

met my definition of my atheism.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #66)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:06 PM

68. If we agree that each atheist personally defines atheism,

that explains the apparent inconsistency in your 2 replies.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #68)

Wed May 15, 2019, 07:12 PM

83. Do you think that each atheist personally defines atheism?

And that this self-definition ought to be accepted by others?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #83)

Wed May 15, 2019, 09:11 PM

89. Of course.

And, that subset of atheists who believe in the divine are equally correct in defining their atheism in that fashion.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #89)

Thu May 16, 2019, 01:35 AM

91. Good, so I expect you'll never argue about the definition of atheism again.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #91)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:42 AM

141. I argued only for expanding the definition to include those who might believe. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #141)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:57 AM

146. You argued with atheists here about the nature of their own beliefs

Which you've now admitted they define for themselves.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #146)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:28 PM

149. No, I argued that, as you said, they are beliefs.

And I further argue that they are subject to the same behaviors as theists.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #149)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:34 PM

151. If their belief is that atheism is not a belief, then that is how they define their atheism.

Your unwillingness to let people define their own belief systems stands in stark contrast to your own unwillingness to let anyone define or even understand yours.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #68)

Wed May 15, 2019, 08:10 PM

88. Of course each atheist does that.

There is no Atheist Bible or anything resembling one. Each atheist disbelieve in his or her own way.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #52)

Fri May 17, 2019, 10:34 AM

111. What a great point! Someone needs a spine.

People post links to articles all the time. I post links to articles when I agree with them and when I want to vehemently disagree. When I post I make it clear whether I agree or disagree.

When people post without comment I can only assume they agree with the opinion/view and tone of the author of the article they post. Any logical person would clearly state otherwise if they disagreed.

We do not always deal with logic here. We deal with people who have more time than logic or reality on their hands. We deal with people who are more interested in stirring shit than producing an outcome.

Such is the case with willy b.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #111)

Fri May 17, 2019, 02:20 PM

118. I'd bet my firstborn he completely agrees with the OP.

It's standard theist fare. Atheists know deep down god is real, but they are running from something/in need of something/hiding from something/angry with god. They can be good people, but they get their morals from god.

I've heard this shit so many times I could recite it my sleep. No doubt the OP thinks it all very novel.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #15)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:14 PM

70. Uh what? Singer is famous for his utilitarian

ethics that include all species rather than assuming that humans are superior and ignoring the suffering we impose on other beings.

Did you think “Singer” was a misspelling of “Dawkins”? Or do you just lump all atheists into the same bucket?

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #70)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:17 PM

73. If you have read any of his dissertations about Abrahamic theism,

his insistence on Biblical literalism puts him in the same category as Dawkins and others of that type.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #73)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:19 PM

74. You demonstrated upthread that you

have clue who Singer is and what he is famous for.

Please inform yourself.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #74)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:21 PM

76. Ironic that your reply #71 demonstrates the opposite.

Please, inform yourself.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #76)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:25 PM

77. Really? Let's go to the wiki.


Peter Albert David Singer, AC (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. He is known in particular for his book Animal Liberation (1975), in which he argues in favour of veganism, and his essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality", in which he argues in favour of donating to help the global poor. For most of his career, he was a preference utilitarian, but he stated in The Point of View of the Universe (2014), coauthored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, that he had become a hedonistic utilitarian.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer

Let me know when it’s time to change the subject to China.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #77)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:27 PM

78. Agreed.

Again, as I posted earlier:

One of us is unfamiliar with Singer's veganism.

And it is you.

Peter Singer is a vegetarian author - philosopher and writer
Birth date: July 6, 1946
Birth place: Melbourne, Australia
Website: http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/
Writer of Animal Liberation and current professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He criticizes the Western-style meat production, calling it cruel, unhealthy and damaging to the ecosystem. He has been a strict vegetarian and "flexible vegan" since 1971.



https://www.happycow.net/vegtopics/famous/peter_singer

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #78)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:36 PM

80. Wtf are you on about?

But please continue. I need a good laugh in this dark times.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #80)

Wed May 15, 2019, 05:38 PM

81. Have you already forgotten?

71. Is Singer a vegatarian?

He describes himself as a flexible vegan.

Are his ethical principles also flexible?


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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #81)

Wed May 15, 2019, 07:20 PM

84. Perhaps you should study his thinking in more detail and let us know.

Your questions appear to have some unstated assumptions what it might mean to be a vegetarian or a flexible anything, but only you know what you are assuming. As for what Singer assumes, it's probably in his writings somewhere.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #81)

Wed May 15, 2019, 07:34 PM

85. You do understand that vegans are a subset of vegetarians right.

Your transparent dishonesty is quite a hoot.
As I said, do carry on.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #85)

Thu May 16, 2019, 02:29 PM

104. Also thinks deists are a subset of theists

... while claiming to be both after posting a reference defining them as mutually exclusive.

Also continues to claim a subset of atheists define atheism for all atheists.

So yeah, that whole set/subset thing seems to be a trigger for fuckup.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:28 AM

7. What kind of values are incompatible with atheism?

Bigotry
Idolatry
Misogyny
Genocide
Homophobia

Just a few of the values that are incompatible with my atheism. I find them present in many theists.


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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #7)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:31 AM

10. And they are present in non-theists as well.

This is her story.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #10)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:35 AM

13. And she's welcome to her story.

What about her story do you find unusual? Many people have become Christians. It's a pretty common phenomenon, for which churches are very grateful, I'm sure.

What lesson are we supposed to take from this anecdote, I wonder?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #13)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:38 AM

18. What lesson are we to take?

It is a personal narrative. Much like your very many personal narratives here that discuss theism.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #18)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:44 AM

22. And yet, you found it interesting enough to share here.

It's not your anecdote. It's someone else's. Why did you feel it would be of use to readers here? Generally, if I tell a personal anecdote, I explain why I shared it in public. You may have noticed that.

Your excerpt from someone else's anecdote is puzzling. Now, we all know someone who has become a Christian for whatever reason. Why is this anecdote interesting enough to you to think we all should read it?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #22)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:47 AM

23. Your many anecdotal observations support your own narrative.

And we understand how you feel that these observations support your own personal beliefs and positions, and how they validate, for you, these personal positions.

If you do not like this narrative, I understand.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #23)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:50 AM

25. It's not that I don't like the anecdote.

The person who shared it seems to be a charming young woman. I just don't understand what you think I should take from it. You must have had a reason for posting it.

I share personal anecdotes and opinions here. I have reasons for doing so, and share those reasons when I do post them.

I rarely post other people's anecdotes, though. I leave that to them.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #23)

Wed May 15, 2019, 01:02 PM

45. We understand how MM's post supports his narrative.

Last edited Wed May 15, 2019, 01:44 PM - Edit history (1)

We don't understand how your posts support your own narrative, because this is someone else's story and you didn't provide any comments of your own.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #45)

Wed May 15, 2019, 01:27 PM

46. Thank you.

Guillaumeb studiously avoids commenting about anything if those comments will reveal anything about his own beliefs. Anyone who reads here will recognize that. He prefers to post other people's statements from internet sources, without remark, since those other people are not here to answer questions about what they have said. Generally, he posts only fragmentary excerpts from his sources and insists that others go to the links if they want to actually understand what has been posted.

Many people have asked what guillaumeb believes about things and what opinions he holds. They ask in vain, however. In almost all cases, their questions will not be answered in any meaningful way. When asked how he defines his own religious beliefs or what creed he follows, he responds by saying he believes in "The Creator." He refuses to supply any sort of definition of what that vague term means to him, though.

Perhaps he has no opinions about things. I don't know. If he does, though, he will not share them. Others who describe their religious beliefs are accepted at their word and not questioned. Everyone here, I'm sure, thinks that people are entitled to believe what they believe, and on their own terms. Or to disbelieve, if that's their philosophy or understanding.

Guillaumeb is unique, at least at this time, here. He will insist that you define your belief or disbelief. If you do not, he will define it for you, and will argue that his definition is the correct one. But he will not define his own beliefs. Nope. And so, we end up with lengthy threads that are all about guillaumeb here. If another member posts an opinion or relates a personal anecdote, guillaumeb will interject something and attempt to shift the discussion in another direction, with a focus on guillaumeb. He uses whataboutisms freely to attempt to alter what someone has said or to distract from a point that has been made.

And that is the tone in this group. Perhaps that is intentional. I do not know. There used to be another person who behaved in much the same way, but that person no longer posts here.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #10)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:37 AM

17. Needs further explanation

I listed several major undesirable values. None of which people should be compatible with. So did she need to find Jesus to embrace them?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #17)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:40 AM

20. You listed several things that are present in humans.

But that does not stop people from embracing such behaviors.

Did the author need to find Jesus? Apparently she needed to find the example of Jesus, and of Christians whom she admires.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #20)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:50 AM

26. You missed

So name me several values she found incompatible. I can't think of any positive value incompatible with atheism.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #26)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:53 AM

27. The logic behind your question is puzzling to me.

Hate is not required to be an atheist or a theist. But atheists and theists hate.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #27)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:59 AM

31. No

She claimed certain values are incompatible with atheism. Which values?
While both theists and atheists can hate, only religion provides the prompt. Atheism has no Bible.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #31)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:02 PM

34. Yes, she did claim that.

I did not claim that.

But given that both theists and atheists hate, obviously the prompt, as you put it, is not exclusive to either position.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #34)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:12 PM

37. It is exclusive

The Bible is a hate manual. It lists many crimes for which stoning is the recommended punishment.

Atheism has no such manual. When an atheist hates, they do it on their own, with no impetus from atheism.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #37)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:15 PM

39. Do all theists hate?

I understand your position, and I reject its simplicity.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #39)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:23 PM

40. I never said all

And I know you don't claim all atheists hate. I only say that when theists hate, they do so because their religion tells them too.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #40)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:26 PM

41. You cannot logically assert that you know why theists hate.

But you can make your assertion.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #41)

Wed May 15, 2019, 01:33 PM

47. Jeez, whatever gave me that idea?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #7)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:36 AM

14. Those values are incompatible with *your* atheism,

not necessarily with anyone else's. The same values might be incompatible with someone else's Christianity (or Judaism, or Buddhism, or whatever), but, as we see every day, quite compatible with some others'. You don't need religion to be a good person and you can be a bad person with or without it. The problem with the author's position is that she seems to think she couldn't uphold her "good" values until she got Jesus. I would argue that if she already had "good" values she didn't need Jesus to be a good person -although evidently he makes her feel better about her life, which is her business.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #14)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:41 AM

21. Well, it was just an anecdote about one person's decision.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is supposed to illustrate. I asked the person who posted it initially, but he did not answer my question.

Apparently that young woman had some conflicts that she feels were solved by becoming a Christian. However, I don't know her, so I can't say whether that is true or just what she thinks at the moment.

It is just a single anecdote, however. I'm not sure what its application to others might be. Apparently someone thought it was important enough to be shared. I wonder why.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #21)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:48 AM

24. People publish personal anecdotes all the time. Obviously it meant something to the author,

but, as with all personal anecdotes, the readers are free to take from it whatever they will. Maybe the author wanted others to take her as an example of having one's life fulfilled or some such thing, or maybe she is just excited about Jesus. It seems like new converts to anything, not just religion, often seem to want to share their special thing with the whole world. "Hey, everybody, I just got into {yoga, snowboarding, veganism, organic gardening, falconry, Jesus, you name it}, and it's totally changed my life!!!

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #24)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:54 AM

28. Falconry?

Well said.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #24)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:55 AM

29. I find personal anecdotes to be very interesting when they are

posted by the person who experienced them. The discussion that such anecdotes often create is interesting. I'm more puzzled, though, by second hand postings of someone's anecdote. Usually there is some reason the person posts someone else's story, but there can't be any real discussion, since the story-teller is not present.

For example, even after I visited the full article at the link in the OP, I was left with questions about what things Singer said led the story-teller to her decision. But, I can't ask that question, because she is not a participant in this thread. Nor can the person who posted an excerpt of that story answer, because he has no more information than I do.

It's just odd, I think.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #29)

Wed May 15, 2019, 09:39 PM

90. Sarah seems superficial on Christianity

Last edited Fri May 17, 2019, 05:27 PM - Edit history (6)

Yes she went to Cambridge to work toward a PhD. But was it completed? Finally she ended up at Florida State, then west Sydney Australia as a "tenured lecturer ," which we are told is a professor in Australia.

She apparently doesn't actually know much about religion. Here's her over-idealistic summary:



'In the Summer of 2008, I began a new job as Assistant Professor at Florida State University, where I continued my research examining the relationship between the history of science, Christianity, and political thought. With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.'


If Sarah had looked more carefully at the FULL history of Christianity, she would have discovered its countless religious wars and executions.

I see her error fairly often; a person with a secular background, is sometimes vulnerable to Christianity's self aggrandizing claims. Just because a secular background did not give them the fuller view of Christianity; warts and all.

Looks like her attention was split between 1) science, 2) politics, and only then 3) religion.



https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/staff_profiles/search?query=Sarah+Irving&staff__flag=all

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Response to Bretton Garcia (Reply #90)

Thu May 16, 2019, 09:25 AM

99. Rose-colored glasses are very popular, I understand,

among recently converted Christians.

She does not know whether those feeding the homeless, running community centers, and supporting farm labors are Christians. There are people of other religions, agnostics, and atheists doing those things as well. She is assuming. She might have met a few people doing those things who identified as Christians, and then applied the broad brush to paint them all in the same color.

However, I don't really know much about that woman. Without meeting her and talking to her over time, there's no way for me to know what her thinking is really like. I can't ask her questions. I can't suggest lines of thinking she might have missed or ignored.

Based on the brief excerpt posted at the top of this thread, I would know even less. I did read the article, but it wasn't all that informative, either.

Frankly, I'm not sure why it was posted here, really.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #99)

Thu May 16, 2019, 10:29 AM

101. She also appears to not realize...

that the people who have set up a system where lots of people are homeless, need community centers, and exploiting farm laborers are ALSO Christians.

Rose-colored glasses indeed.

But anyway, whatabout China?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #7)

Wed May 15, 2019, 11:37 AM

16. Yes, I don't like those values, either.

Nor do I hold them.

They seem to me to be incompatible with being a thinking human being.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #7)

Thu May 16, 2019, 01:40 AM

92. Not so much incompatible as non-complimentary

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #7)

Mon May 20, 2019, 10:31 AM

138. Singer also made an ethical case for Vegetarianism/Veganism.

That might be off-putting for certain people.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:10 PM

36. Anyone who is convinced by "Mere Christianity" wasn't looking for answers.

They just wanted confirmation.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #36)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:14 PM

38. So you dismissed her claim of being an atheist?

On what grounds?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #38)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:27 PM

42. I'm commenting on how awful Mere Christianity is.

But I will note that when she herself says:

perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God.


That implies she believed all along there was a god to be running away from.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #42)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:31 PM

44. So you accept that she was an atheist, and retract your claim?

Understood.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #44)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:05 PM

50. You clearly didn't read what I wrote.

That's a pity. So much for your alleged desire for dialog.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #50)

Thu May 16, 2019, 01:47 AM

93. Looked more like a desire for strawman

But either way the desire for good faith discussion left the station some time back on a one-way trip.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #44)

Thu May 16, 2019, 03:56 AM

95. She says she was from a "secular" family

Last edited Fri May 17, 2019, 09:45 AM - Edit history (3)

Which does not quite say she was an atheist.

She only mentions being in an "atheist" university. Which she partly condemns

She clearly disliked elements of religion. But was repelled by specifically Singer's ideas.

So it's only the title that suggests she was an atheist. But even then the title is equivocal. Going "from" an atheist Oxford, to Christianity, does not clearly spell out that you were an atheist there

So Sarah is playing sly, deceitful word games.

Typical for the allegedly intellectual Christian:
snakelike word-twisting.

Sarah Irving- Stonebreaker? Should be breaking stones in the burning Australian desert.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #36)

Wed May 15, 2019, 12:29 PM

43. I've read "Mere Christianity," and although it's a beautifully-written explanation

of Lewis' own beliefs and how he arrived at them, it wasn't sufficient to convert me from my own apathetic agnosticism. I wasn't looking for confirmation or anything else; I just happen to like the author - he was an interesting guy in a lot of ways - and after reading Surprised by Joy I was curious about how and why went the way he did (he was influenced by JRR Tolkien, among others). The author of the essay might have been looking for an articulation of the bases of her conversion rather than confirmation. But to each his/her own.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #36)

Wed May 15, 2019, 01:38 PM

48. I share that criticism of that book.

I read it, many years ago. I found it to be illogical in a circular reasoning sort of way. After reading it, I was not more informed, actually. Nor was I in any way convinced that my journey toward atheism was misdirected.

Apologetics are apologetics, regardless of the literary skills of the apologist. Once one understands the tautological bases for apologetics, it becomes impossible to take them seriously any longer.

C. S. Lewis is rather a popular author. It was probably a bad thing that I read "Mere Christianity" as the first book by that author. That prevented me from reading his other works. I read quickly and voraciously, but there are still far more books available than I can possibly read. If my first book by an author is not at least entertaining, I'm unlikely to pick another one by the same author. "Mere Christianity" was such a book by C. S. Lewis. I never read another.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #48)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:08 PM

51. I was raised a Christian.

Had some doubts as a teenager that only grew. I heard that Mere Christianity was something that someone in my position might appreciate, so I read it.

It was disappointing for me as a Christian, but helped convince me that my doubts were valid, and that there were serious problems with Christian theology. So in that regard, I appreciate the book for helping steer me further toward atheism.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #51)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:15 PM

55. Yes. The book has helped many on their road to atheism.

My experience was similar to yours.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #48)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:15 PM

53. Since you don't like religion and were predisposed to disagree

before you read the book, it figures that you wouldn’t like it. I’ve read most of Lewis’ books and I consider him to have been a fine writer, even though I don’t agree with his religious beliefs. I also read George Will’s columns because I appreciate the way he writes, even when I think he’s full of crap substantively. You might want to try some of Lewis’ fiction if you find his religion offensive.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #53)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:42 PM

57. Actually, you're incorrect about that.

I read it at a time when I was questioning my religious beliefs. It did nothing to answer the questions I was having. It was recommended to me, at a time when I was also considering taking advantage of a free-ride scholarship to Wheaton College, sponsored by the church I attended. I was a Junior in high school, and spent many, many hours each week within the walls of that church. I sang in two choirs there and helped maintain the church's pipe organ, which I had helped to install as an unpaid intern for the organ builder. I was a nice, young, Christian high school boy.

Why did the deacons of that church decide to offer to completely pay my way to a theological college? Because they thought I would make a good pastor. That's why. Someone recommended "Mere Christianity" to me, so I read it. Shortly thereafter, I politely declined the scholarship offer. In some ways C. S. Lewis was responsible, in part, for my decision not to go in that direction. I was 16 years old, and was beginning to look at Christianity from a different perspective. I had lots of questions. I talked at length with the pastor of that church about those questions, which were mostly theological in nature.

So, I went another direction with my life. Within a couple of years, after much reading and many discussions with ministers and the like, I found that I could no longer believe in deities at all. I read all of the books that were recommended to me. I read books on other religions. I read the Quran and the Upanishads, along with commentaries on those, as well. At the same time, I was voraciously reading in the sciences, and had advanced to reading college-level texts on several of them. I was considering a possible career as a doctor at the time. I ended up being an atheist during the year between 18 and 19 years of age. Not a whim. Not a youthful fancy. I don't work that way at all. It was a fully reasoned decision. I simply was no longer able to believe.

I didn't become a doctor, either. Instead, I dropped out of college in my sophomore year, where I was studying electronics engineering. After six months of wandering around the country on my own, I was still uncertain about where my life should go. I had been to Selma, Alabama to see Dr. King. I had been in about 40 states, meeting people and talking with them. But, I still didn't know what I would do. So, I joined the Air Force for four years.

They sent me to Syracuse University and a total immersion 24/7 Russian language school for a year, and then had me doing things related to that for the rest of my enlistment. After that, I was finally an adult at 24, ready to do something. So, I went back to college, using the GI Bill to get my BA in English, followed by a year of graduate school. What I had decided was to polish my writing skills so I could make my living by learning things and writing about what I had learned.

My career ended up with me being a perpetual student and supporting myself by sharing what I learned in writing. It worked out very well for me. It has been interesting, engaging, and I've been of some use to others. All in all, a very satisfactory life. I'm still learning. I'm still reading voraciously. I'm still writing, and will continue doing those things until I drop dead one day.

So, it's not that I didn't like religion and was predisposed to disagree. It's that I found C. S. Lewis's apologetics circular and unsatisfying, as I said earlier. I disagreed with his reasoning because I disagreed with his reasoning.

And now, guillaumeb will probably say that I have once again merely posted a personal anecdote. And he will be correct. That's what I do. I learn and I write.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #57)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:45 PM

59. Wheaton

That's right next to my hometown. John Belushi was from there. You didn't miss anything.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #59)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:55 PM

64. Yeah, I agree.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #59)

Wed May 15, 2019, 07:58 PM

87. I probably wouldn't have lasted long there.

I think I knew that then. But there was that free ride. My parents had three kids and blue collar jobs. But they understood my decision.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #57)

Wed May 15, 2019, 06:06 PM

82. OK, fair enough. I read it when I was much older, and because

I liked the author's other books. This one didn't influence me one way or the other, though I found it interesting, and maybe I'll read it again. The problem anyone has with trying to justify religion using logic is that religion (more specifically, belief) isn't logical or rational, almost by definition. You are being asked to believe something you can't prove so either you have faith, meaning you believe it anyhow, or you don't.

As far as faith or the lack of it is concerned, I care a whole lot more about how people behave than what they believe. People who call themselves Christians but don't do what Jesus explicitly told them to do - feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, heal the sick and all that - had better be ready to explain why they aren't doing those things. Does it mean they don't really believe in their religion, or do they figure God will give them a free pass anyhow because they hate abortion and gay people (neither of which seems ever to have crossed Jesus' mind)? My "religion" is this: As far as I'm concerned everybody can just go ahead and believe in whatever supreme being they want (or not), as long as they're not haters, assholes, or authoritarians who want their religion to be mine. However many angels are or are not dancing on the head of a particular pin is no concern of mine, so I try to stay out of arguments about whether religion per se is "good" or "bad." People's behavior is good or bad, which is what matters.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #82)

Wed May 15, 2019, 07:54 PM

86. I'm sort of naturally logical in my approach

to most things. Except for personal relationships. Logic takes second place there.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #36)

Thu May 16, 2019, 02:29 AM

94. The entire piece rings of bullshit

It may very well be this person was genuinely an atheist who genuinely now subscribes to Christianity, but the explanation given doesn't make much sense. The third paragraph is supposed to be the aha moment, but reads more like a string of non-sequiturs. The rest of it doesn't get any better as it's filled with cliched phrases and anecdotes which come across as profoundly fake. Ironically this 2-year old piece seems to be the author's greatest accomplishment as it seems to be passed around quite a bit with others seeking confirmation a little too much.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #94)

Thu May 16, 2019, 08:56 AM

98. Sure does.

Hits a lot of the fundie points too, like atheism being "incompatible" with values. That's anti-atheist bigotry right there. But guillaumeb loves it anyway.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #98)

Thu May 16, 2019, 02:15 PM

103. You can hear the same horseshit from batshit crazy streetcorner preachers

The claim is those who are godless can’t possibly have a moral compass. It sounds no less like horseshit coming from someone trying to pass themselves off as an intellectual, and arguably more so.

It’s about as duplicitous as asking in an open forum for people’s thoughts and then proceeding to tell each one of them how wrong they are. It’s just another sermon masquerading as discussion.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #103)

Thu May 16, 2019, 03:31 PM

105. Hey now. He doesn't always tell people how wrong they are.

Sometimes he just tells them they are confused.

https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=313284
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Response to trotsky (Reply #105)

Thu May 16, 2019, 07:43 PM

106. ...

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:00 PM

49. Thoughts?

After 48 replies and 453 views without a single rec, I'd say no one is buying this.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #49)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:15 PM

54. It's also a two-year-old piece.

Clearly someone is desperate to find SOMETHING to bash atheism or atheists with. Gotta have that "counterpoint" to the religious institutional sexual abuse of children, you know. Peter Singer said something rude that pushed someone toward Christianity, so that's basically the same thing you know. /s

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Response to trotsky (Reply #54)

Wed May 15, 2019, 03:10 PM

58. Damn! I didn't notice the date.

Desperation time, I guess. The site that's on, too, is, well, perhaps, a little biased.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #54)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:50 PM

62. Very good.

But it was in the actual article.

So was it past the freshness date?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #62)

Thu May 16, 2019, 08:29 AM

96. Whatever you need for your agenda, g.

You'll manage to humiliate yourself anyway. You always do.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #62)

Fri May 17, 2019, 01:38 PM

117. Well, two years is quite some time, and Sarah may have changed her mind

again in that time, so who knows what she's thinking now about all that?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #49)

Wed May 15, 2019, 04:49 PM

61. Yes, the Rec standard.

Understood.

Perhaps some do not like this article because those some prefer the "theist to atheist" path.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #61)

Thu May 16, 2019, 08:34 AM

97. You're the one who has claimed to have a giant fan club sending you private messages.

All encouraging you to keep doing what you're doing.

Strange how so few members of that club can be bothered to click "Rec" on your posts though.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Wed May 15, 2019, 02:18 PM

56. going to church, several of them, drove me to atheism.

atheism is more ethical, in my eyes.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2019, 10:03 AM

100. How Christians drove me to atheism.

They didn't. But if they did, this post would be why.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2019, 12:47 PM

102. "I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus"

Aha! From atheist to literalist, eh?

I think that line in this excerpt is striking. It is an example of the zeal and dedication to following the supposedly recorded words of the supposed Jesus to the letter. It would be nice to have known this young woman before and after her epiphany. But, she doesn't run in my circle, so I guess that won't happen.

On the other hand, I'd be very happy if some noted Christian evangelists did their praying in a closet, as Jesus was supposed to have instructed. Now, that would be progress...

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #102)

Mon May 20, 2019, 10:35 AM

139. Another interesting stand-out.

"But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof. The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent."

That's the sum total of her values conflict. Quelle horreur she didn't realize those European empires, without exception, rammed their gods into, through, and over those indigenous populations, and felt fully justified in doing so without apology.

I guess she wants to join the club?

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #139)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:56 AM

145. Many of the indigenous cultures they encountered

suffered greatly from the encounter. Some were completely eradicated through genocide.

Apparently, those had no worth at all, according to the European Christians.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Fri May 17, 2019, 05:52 PM

122. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker, and Science-Fiction Christianity

Like many converts to Christianity, Sarah Irving- Stonebraker drifted into Christianity in part by reading CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity." But? Aside from converting later in life to, and writing about, some kind of odd, to-some heretical, Christianity, CS Lewis note, also wrote science fiction. And wrote about quaint Medieval ideas.

So was Lewis et alia a good guide to solid truths? And what kind of religion did Sarah finally embrace?

In most ways it was a typical kind of modernist. hypocritical, sophistical, "High" Christianity. It had early on abandoned complete literal fidelity to much of the Bible and most churches. It had found the equivocal word tricks in the New Testament. That to be sure presented a human, not godlike, Jesus.

In some ways it was a more intellectually defensible Christianity than literalist Christianity; one halfway to secularity and atheism in fact. But in other ways, it had all the deficits and hypocrisy of "high" Christianity.

Sarah was still too sentimental. And has not yet discovered the Science of Religion, the scientific understanding of the Bible. Or the contextualizing understanding that we get of religion, from Social Science, Culture Studies.

https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/text-collections-and-an-emergent-nt-canon/

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2019, 08:39 AM

124. I didn't know anything about Singer before, but I see he has a unique moral perspective

And advocates for ideas most of us would considered depraved. He says it's wrong to eat animals but okay to kill babies. Thinking about that probably made her uncomfortable.

If there is no divine justice, our society could kill babies in good conscience and there would be no consequence. Ancient societies actually did kill handicapped babies.

There is only the justice we make for ourselves, which is imperfect and subject to constant revision.
She may have been uncomfortable with this responsibility, and so had trouble living without a god. Far easier to forget we created our own justice, and believe instead that the rules we have today always existed and came from on high.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #124)

Sat May 18, 2019, 09:13 AM

125. The fundamental error is believing that one person, Peter Singer,

represents atheism. Singer has espoused some horrifying ideas at times. He does not represent atheism, nor atheists. Nobody does. Atheism has nothing to do with morality. It is simply non-belief in deities. Atheists might follow any sort of philosophical path, and have any kind of ideas about anything you can imagine.

Nobody, however, represents atheism nor atheists. It is not a group. There is no membership requirement. There is no doctrine. Atheism is simply individual non-belief in supernatural entities such as deities.

Too many people hear some notable atheist espouse some idea, and assume that all atheists follow the same thinking. That's simply ridiculous.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #125)

Sat May 18, 2019, 09:17 AM

126. Great words as usual

Yes, it's ridiculous

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #125)

Sat May 18, 2019, 01:51 PM

129. I think is a general discomfort with the idea that there is no ultimate justice.

Religion offers the comfort that evildoers who escape justice in this life will receive justice in the next. Atheism allows that successful mass murderers can live long and happy lives with no consequences while their victims go to early graves. Even worse, entire societies can justify and commit genocide while still believing in their own essential goodness. In fact this happens all the time.

I'm speculating that this fundamental unfairness of life is what the author finds "incompatable" with her values. It's not that a given atheist has bad values, but the concept of atheism reminds the theist of the facts of life.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #125)

Sat May 18, 2019, 05:49 PM

134. I would think that Humanism might represent the ethics

of a majority or plurality of atheist in the West. So one could argue that "a lot of atheist think" and debate humanism. Of course this would be about atheist not atheism, so one would have to be careful about generalizing.
Using the philosophy of single atheist is absurd.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #125)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:46 AM

142. All atheists "represent" atheism.

If they are open about their beliefs, their positions, they represent atheism as examples of atheists.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #142)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:52 AM

143. All atheists represent themselves.

They are simply non-believers. Beyond that, there is nothing they have in common to represent.

Atheists do not have beliefs. They have a disbelief. There are no positions unique to atheism other than non-belief.

Atheism is dead simple.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #143)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:55 AM

144. We disagree.

If I do not know you, I will judge you on your actions. I literally have no idea what you believe.

But if you identify as an atheist, or a theist, people will often see that as a factor in judging your actions.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #144)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:57 AM

147. Of course we disagree.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #144)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:01 PM

148. So we can judge Christianity by the examples of individual Christians?

And draw conclusions about Christians in general that are not tautologies?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #148)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:31 PM

150. Do we not judge everyone by their actions?

And if we label ourselves, will others not judge us as examples of what we name ourselves?

One can safely conclude that a Christian is a theist. But what does that say about how a specific person might behave in specific instances?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #150)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:38 PM

152. Based on everything you've said before, no category is relevant for any purpose.

We all act like humans, therefore whatever anyone does is simply normal human activity. Which is why I run a re-education camp in my basement, because that is such a quintessentially human thing to do.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #152)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:39 PM

153. We all act for our own reasons.

If you say to me that you are an atheist, that tells me nothing about how you might behave, or what your political beliefs are.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #153)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:53 PM

154. Atheists on this site have been telling you this for years.

But you seem to dislike it when they say so.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #154)

Mon May 20, 2019, 03:15 PM

155. If that is your preferred narrative, I understand. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #155)

Mon May 20, 2019, 03:17 PM

156. Or so you have convinced yourself.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #156)

Mon May 20, 2019, 05:36 PM

159. Ironically, I think the same thing about many of your posts. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #159)

Mon May 20, 2019, 05:41 PM

161. Yah, OK, then.

Real good, then.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #155)

Mon May 20, 2019, 03:32 PM

157. My preferred narrative is called "the truth."

If you prefer some other narrative, I understand.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #157)

Mon May 20, 2019, 05:36 PM

160. What is truth?

Pontius Pilate posed that question 2000 years ago.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #160)

Mon May 20, 2019, 07:01 PM

162. It's very weird for a Christian to quote Pilate's cynical question.

It says a lot about you.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #160)

Mon May 20, 2019, 08:21 PM

163. What an odd thing to bring up...

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #163)

Mon May 20, 2019, 08:23 PM

164. Truth has many meanings.

What is truth to a scientist is different from a philosopher's truth.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #164)

Mon May 20, 2019, 08:30 PM

165. No, not really.

Truth is the positive of a binary thing. Something is true or it is not. Equivocation is not truth. Approximation is not truth. Guesses are not truth.

You seem confused about this.

If you say "This is so" and it is not, you have not said the truth.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #165)

Mon May 20, 2019, 08:35 PM

166. You are confused about the various meanings of the word truth.

And your limited, binary approach is part of the issue.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #166)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:09 PM

167. I believe this form of lying is called dissembling.

But I understand if that doesn't fit your postmodern narrative.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #167)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:12 PM

168. Perhaps you should research the word truth.

Report back with your findings.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #168)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:14 PM

169. I did research the word. And I know a postmodern narrative when I see one.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #169)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:18 PM

170. And what type of truth are there?

When Jefferson said that "we hold these truths...etc", was he speaking of scientific truth? If so, is it provable?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #170)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:29 PM

171. What makes your narrative postmodern, is that you can take any text

and turn it into something else, simply because you have the power to do so. So instead of acknowledging a speaker's clear intent, you can pretend their words have alternate meanings that don't fit the context. In fact, the power of postmodernism is such that you can pretend nothing has any meaning at all. Which is why Pilate could ask "What is truth?" while condemning a man to die.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #171)

Mon May 20, 2019, 09:31 PM

172. And what was the clear intent?

Did Jefferson mean women and non-whites in his "all men ...etc" sentence?

Seeing only a binary view of the world leads to poor vision.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #172)

Tue May 21, 2019, 12:57 AM

173. Well, since I am the one who brought up the word "truth,"

the question is my intent, not Jefferson's. My intent was to put an appropriate label on my preferred narrative. If you prefer to talk about Jefferson's intent, I understand.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #173)

Tue May 21, 2019, 02:34 PM

177. Thank you for the clarification of intent. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #177)

Wed May 22, 2019, 08:11 AM

178. Well now that you know why I picked that word, perhaps you could consider

what advantages a true narrative has over other narratives?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #166)

Tue May 21, 2019, 08:38 AM

174. "You are confused"

Can't stop gaslighting, can you?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #174)

Tue May 21, 2019, 08:46 AM

175. ...

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #166)

Tue May 21, 2019, 09:20 AM

176. No, actually, I am not.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #124)

Sat May 18, 2019, 11:38 AM

128. Whether or not you agree with Singer his methods are far superior

Our standard of ethics should always be subject to evaluation and change. The things society found acceptable and unacceptable 20 years ago are not the same things which apply today. 20 years from now there will be more changes. All of this happens because there's a discussion about what is right and what is wrong.

Now consider religious based standards of ethics.

God said this is wrong so you can't do it.

How do you know god said that?

The bible says so.

How do you know the bible is accurate?

Because the bible is the inerrant word of god.

So the "values" the author is really talking about are based on obvious circular "logic". Worse than that, they aren't subject to change, and the only discussion you are allowed to have must be based on a stone aged manuscript which was written anonymously.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #124)

Sat May 18, 2019, 02:03 PM

130. Divine Justice?

If there is no divine justice, our society could kill babies in good conscience and there would be no consequence

Is this you talking or paraphrasing?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #130)

Sat May 18, 2019, 02:17 PM

131. Who do you think I might be paraphrasing?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #131)

Sat May 18, 2019, 02:24 PM

132. Peter Singer

So that was you saying that? That's not only wrong, but insulting. I don't need any divine being to tell me that killing babies is wrong. Do you?

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #132)

Sat May 18, 2019, 03:43 PM

133. I was paraphrasing a quick survey of her impression of what he seems to be saying.

It's my understanding that he thinks it's okay to kill babies in some cases. Apparently he said something along those lines, but even if my brief survey of his ideas is wrong, it's in no way an insult. That's because I don't believe in absolute morality.

The ancient Romans and Greeks practiced infanticide, the Jews by Jesus' time did not. Infanticide was outlawed after Christians took over the Roman Empire. Our seemingly rational protective attitude towards babies is just a Christian holdover.

I don't believe in killing babies, but I could construct a rational argument where it might be justified in some cases. If such an idea is too horrible for you to contemplate, you can go ahead and insult me. I do believe in some horrible things. Moral discomfort is not just for theists.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2019, 06:48 PM

135. My thoughts are that for someone who apparently got her PhD from Cambridge, logic or clear writing

are not her strong points.

"The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent. I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear."

We can't tell why her atheism was a problem. She seems to have a problem with "believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism". Why? Why can't we just accept that it is indeed liberalism that has assigned universal value to all humans? That's one of the major reasons (perhaps, fundamentally, the reason) that we liberals like liberalism. We can see, as she points out herself, that "societies have always had different conceptions of human worth". Those that held slaves, committed genocide etc. were worse than modern liberal society.

Is she struggling to say that she needs to believe that a higher power must want everyone to be liberal - that it's not good enough for us just to work, as secular humanists, to persuade everyone of this?

She seems to believe the story of Jacob in the bible was written by God. Otherwise, how can she tell that it lets us know what God wants? It's profoundly worrying that a historian will pick an anecdote from the middle of a book of obvious myths, legends, and attempts by the priestly authors to justify their power and decide that one is true - as opposed, say, to the bit about Jacob's relations being turned into pillars of salt, or a flood that drowned the world.

She is, frankly, gullible. Not good for a professional historian.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #135)

Sun May 19, 2019, 01:01 AM

136. Irving-Stonebraker writes a cliched "captivity," then "conversion narrative"

Last edited Sun May 19, 2019, 02:52 AM - Edit history (2)

As we historians would call them. First she was 1) allegedly captured by heathen liberal secularists. But then 2) escapes, to convert to her "true" original culture.

No doubt Singer is a bit too heathen for even most atheists. But to embrace cliches as the only alternative? Falling down on her knees to accept Jesus, and get another publication, etc ?

Sound like she's basically conservative, seeking familiar protections . A girl from a from a strong - if a bit deaf - Australian family. Who traveled to England and America, only to come back to a protected home, like a prodigal daughter. Falling back into the embrace of all-too familiar and supportive.

Looks like she couldn't cut it, or felt inadequate and unloved, in the world of competitive rationality. And fell back to writing sentimental True Confessions anecdotes.

Granted, there's a place in life for sentiment. And anecdotes. But?

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #135)

Mon May 20, 2019, 10:42 AM

140. I am convinced it's a narrative crafted to appeal to evangelical christians.

It carefully and specifically ticks all the boxes that please them.

Basically another S.E. Cupp.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #140)

Mon May 20, 2019, 04:48 PM

158. Or Irving-Stonebraker genuinely loves cliches


It's a major pillar of Christianity. Which loves dogmas and endlessly-repeated prayers.

It's the all too common love of the familiar, fear of the new and often better.

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Response to guillaumeb (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2019, 10:28 AM

137. 'Bullpucky'.

It's not much of a thought, but it's all that comes to mind.

I suppose it would be a reach to assume the publisher wants to boost sales of 'mere Christianity'.

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