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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 12:03 PM
Original message
Does everybody remember good old Melinda Barton?
Edited on Wed Apr-11-07 12:06 PM by trotsky
The insensitive clod who wrote the essay for Raw Story just about exactly one year ago about the huge threat that atheist "whackjobs" posed for the progressive movement? Who, when either she or her supporters were pressed, could not name one single specific "whackjob"?

Well, just so you know, that whole experience didn't teach her a damn thing. She just recently posted a whine about thin-skinned atheists taking offense at comments from Newsweek's favorite theist, Rabbi Gellman, who wondered if atheists have had negative spiritual experiences. Oh, he was just asking a question, you see! Why do atheists have to jump on him as if he was actually suggesting that atheists only have the beliefs they do because they were treated badly and not because they have actually engaged in honest and rational inquiry?

I have to wonder, would Melinda take offense at someone who wrote an article wondering if lesbians are only gay because they had negative experiences with men?

On edit: Sorry, forgot the link: / Even though I'd rather have her fade into obscurity, the fact that she's still railing on atheists means she still has a lot to learn.

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RebelOne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 01:14 PM
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1. I think many ministers think that a bad experience is what turns
a person into an atheist. Quite often, the Baptist minister and some of his followers make the rounds in my neighborhood to recruit people to come to church. I told him that I was an atheist and wasn't interested. He asked me if I had a bad experience caused me to become an atheist. I told him no, that I saw the light and woke up to the truth.
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lizerdbits Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 07:50 PM
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2. Honest and rational inquiry
How can one engage in honest and rational inquiry and conclude an old man lives in the sky?
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FiveGoodMen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Not just an old man...
An all-knowing, all-powerful being who can see the future, so he...

Created all the animals and one man, but couldn't figure out what a female human would look like (for a while), then he...

Acted all mad when his creations turned out just like he must have known they would (making one mistake), so he...

Decided they'd have to die and not just die but be tortured forever, but not just that...

They'd have to reproduce so there'd be more and more that had to die and be tortured forever, but that was kind of harsh, so he...

Came by thousands of years later and arranged to have himself tortured to death (because something had to suffer and die before he could get over it), but then he...

Didn't apply the results of this great sacrifice to everyone, instead he...

Hid every verifiable trace of his existence and would only forgive those who believed any of this because they...

Took the word of someone who took the word of someone who took the word of someone who wasn't there and couldn't have known one way or the other.

That's the story, isn't it?
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 07:08 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Oh you silly, silly person.
The parts of the story that are objectionable or just plain nonsense (or happen to disagree with my personal philosophy) are METAPHOR!

See how easy it is to dismiss the parts of the bible you don't like, while sounding spiritually mature in the process?
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 07:42 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Funny how that works
For much of the history of Christianity, most Christians (including most clergy) took the bible literally, and it's only now that we've reached a mature understanding. And what a golden age it is, such that even the lowliest Christian understands the bible better than most of the past popes! Even though s/he would probably not be able to list the books of the bible, or name more than half the apostles. Any book which has been largely misunderstood for two thousand years is a bit of a failure, isn't it?

"An old man in the sky" is so outdated. Just today, one poster in R/T says that God is the sun (literally), while another says that God is the laws of nature. I think my personal favourite from R/T past is "God is a dimension", in which case I suspect I must be perpendicular to him.
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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-13-07 06:13 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Don't forget his Guardian Angles...
All of them, like his followers, obtuse.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

The "spiritually mature" scam always leaves me laughing. You can see that old wheeze every day in the R&T threads.

It's really fun when someone points out those inconvenient Bible verses where the believers are literally promised magical powers. (Moving mountains, handling poisonous snakes, etc.) Or promised that their, excuse me, PRAYERS...will always be granted under certain conditions.

From the "mature" Xian, this always brings a huffy disclaimer that "Gawd is not an ATM machine" or somesuch.

Still, it's hard for them to wriggle out from the under the fairly clear Biblical promises. But they always have the "only a metaphor" escape hatch, I guess.

I've noticed that the "mature" Xers usually come from the Philosophical wing of the superstition. Their posts often have a long and helpful list of Xian philosophers attached, especially the "faith from reason" crowd like Augustine.

We should probably remember that the rational Augustine invented the idea of Original Sin. That exciting philosophical concept earned Augustine a letter from a contemporary bishop, who denounced Original Sin as contrary not only to basic Xian belief, but to common sense as well. (The Church hierarchy disagreed, recognizing a great marketing tool when they saw one...)
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-13-07 12:36 PM
Response to Original message
7. Blogging is her correct level
She hasn't read the Gellman article well herself, so there's some irony when she claims

I wonder: Have reading comprehension, original thought, and commitment to change gone the way of the dinosaurs? I was just reading the comments threads over at and I noticed yet again some peculiarities about internet discourse. First, I noticed that readers tend to attack stances that the author never took.
In one, he asks if negative experiences may have led to the anger many atheists feel. It seems that some readers interpreted this question as implying that people are atheists because of negative experiences and took offense.

when he said:

I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories. Perhaps their atheism was the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading sermon, or an insensitive eulogy, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse. /

So he wasn't just 'asking'; he was suggesting it. But there are plenty of blogs that get things wrong; I can't get too excited about her on her own. It was Raw Story's use and defence of her that got me annoyed (and Gellman gets me annoyed, because Newsweek gives him a platform, and he's still coming out with stuff like this:

So both Pastor Warren and atheist Harris have erroneously come to believe that the question of whether God is real is just some problem that can be answeredlike how far is it from New York to Cleveland? God cannot be proved with evidence that is outside of us. Said another way, the mystery of God is resolved by the answer we give to it with our life. If a person believes that all human beings are made in the image of God and thus deserve respect, then God is real for that person as the source of his or her transcendent duty to treat all people with love and respect. If, on the other atheist hand, people are just one of many species ruled by the survival of the fittest, then God does not exist for that person and neither does any transcendent duty to treat others with dignity. In this dispute, Sam is not wrong, he is just on the side of those who do not believe in the sanctity of life. Why they believe that others ought to be treated with dignity is not clear to Rick, and it is not clear to me, but I would not make the invidious case that atheists cannot be moral. Nor would I say that Sam is wrong. We might well be alone in a chaotic meaningless cosmos. I stand with Rick in responding to the mystery of meaning in the universe by affirming that I am not alone and that when I look into even Sam's eyes I cannot help but believe that I am looking at the image of God. Sam's response to the mystery of meaning is to try to hold onto the absolute moral judgments born of Rick's and my faith while not allowing the God who both birthed and sustained that moral truth. This, plus Sam's personal desire for a kind of rational spirituality, as well as the massive empirical evidence of religious altruismwhich he admitsversus the admittedly thin record of well known atheistic altruism all leads me to believe that Sam Harris may well understand deep down that ditching God is not remotely like ditching Zeus. /

That starts off acceptably, until he gets to "... born of Rick's and my faith". He's suddenly laid claim to the origin of Sam Harris's absolute moral judgments - not just that they are the same as basic Jewish or Christian ones, but that they were born from those religions. I'm sure Harris, with his more positive comments about eastern religions, would dispute that strongly. He then makes a claim about atheistic altruism without evidence, and then gives to Harris another view without evidence. For someone who claims in the article a doctorate in philosophy, it's a piss-poor argument. Finding it in a column for which he is presumably well paid is even worse.

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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-13-07 01:30 PM
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8. Melinda Barton
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