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On the Road

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Name: Jack Neefus
Gender: Male
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Home country: US
Current location: Baltimore, MD
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 20,783

About Me

Email: jneefus@gmail.com

Journal Archives

I Don't Doubt You When You Say

"I am an atheist. I do not believe that there are gods of any kind. I do not pray. Ever."

On the other hand, the phenomenon is old enough and frequent enough to have become a commonplace: "there are no atheists in foxholes." I don't think you can infer that atheists do not pray either from your personal experience or from the observation that praying is inconsistent with an intellectual position of atheism.

How behavior can coexist with incompatible belief systems is another matter. It may seem trivial, but it is these are the kind of questions that lead to greater understanding. It could be that many younger atheists are uncomforable with this kind of analysis, since it moves the discussion from the realm of science and reason to the irrational world of psychology, emotions, and behavior. However, being able to deal with it in those terms will ultimately provide modern atheists with a more sophisticated version of human belief sytems.

But atheists do pray -- I have done so myself on a few occasions, usually under stress of some kind. The questions is whether that is dealt with by dismissal or by attempt to understand how people's belief systems interact with their behavior.

Yes, That is Exactly the Argument You Hear:

"Oh, I don't want to be naive or unsophisticated. It's all corrupt. They're all a bunch of criminals."

Now you can't blame anyone for being suspicious. The problem occurs when suspicions based on ignorance and insecurity are given the weight of belief, adopted as a worldview, and provided as an answer for any question to which the answer is not known and cannot be observed.

As a reality test, when you hear some version of this argument ("they're all liars", does it usually come from the most or the least knowledgable people in the discussion?

I am Sure You Would Like to Know About it

but the government has been listening in on people's calls (as opposed to collecting phone logs) for over a century now. Few people seem to have a problem with it, largely because a warrant is required.

Information on local wiretaps is not routinely distrbuted, and few people know if they have been a subject of a warrant. Whether you have a constitutional right to information on wiretaps has not been decided by the courts:

...courts have not been clear about whether the public has a right to review warrants and related materials. Indeed, in a series of cases arising out of the same 1988 investigation, different federal appellate courts came to very different conclusions.


It doesn't sound like the FISA warrants are being any more restrictive with information than either local law enforcement or other federal investigations of criminal investigations or terrorist groups.

On the other hand, if your phone call data is captured while making an international call to a location covered by a warrant, do you really want that distributed to the general public? Is that protecting privacy?
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