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September 20, 2011

Comments

When I read posts like this, I don't think of Evangelical Christians, mainline Protestants, etc. I think of groups like the Huttaree.

If those are the types of groups in view, then I have no objections to any of what is said here. I would love for those ways of thinking to be eradicated. They are, in my view, darkness that should be exposed by the light, to use some NT language.

I could be wrong about the target of this article, admittedly. That's just my reading of it.

Okay, I've read the linked article twice now. I really don't see what STR is so upset about. I'll quote the best paragraph of the article, one that I completely support but was left out of STR's quotation:


Their interpretation of the Bible and Koran are such that there is no other course of action but to kill the infidel, and if anyone believes otherwise they are only fooling themselves. It is not just in the best interests of atheists to be intolerant of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam, but it is also in the best interest of mainstream believers within these faiths, as well. Moderates and even Progressives who stand in support of extremists just because there is a claim to the same deity are not doing themselves any favors. Fundamental Christians make all Christians look bad and radical Muslims make all Muslims look bad.

brgulker,

Where in the New Testament would anyone ever get the idea that "infidels are to be killed?"

Since that is what the author of the article has clearly and explicitly claimed, it is only naturally that it should be shown where or else he is wrong.

. I really don't see what STR is so upset about.
Is STR "so upset"? Or Did Amy take this opportunity make a good point about why Christians are a threat - as light to those who hate the light - to some?

Just because Stefanelli is making up his own definitions ("Fundamentalism" actually means something and it has absolutely nothing to do with killing infidels) does not hide the fact that he is advocating killing people for their beliefs. Here he takes his cue from (now) Dr. Sam Harris.
brgulkler's sugar-coating of this and saying it is ways of thinking that need eradicating emphasizes the point, for when you can't change a person's mind but need to eradicate his ideas you have no choice but to eradicate him. Exactly Amy's point.

brgulker, you should read my first sentence again. I'm not upset, I actually laughed because I find it so absurd. "Fundamental Christianity" doesn't teach "there is no other course of action but to kill the infidel."

Great post, Amy.

Way to show those atheists - this is a great post to build bridges with them, and to show that they are wrong and we as Christians don't just attack those we disagree with.

Well done.

There's an important strategy to note and be prepared to defend against here. The strategy has been used since 9/11 by those who reject Christianity. The strategy is this:

Link Christianity to radical Islam, then blame Christianity for Islam's ills.

My first response to dialog like this is to point out Islam and Christianity are very different. That's a major mistake made in this passage, and poses a serious threat to the author's credibility.

James--Interesting...you see this as an attack? That wasn't at all the spirit in which I wrote this. This is meant to relieve the tension that things like the article I linked to causes, and to encourage Christians to keep on in love, as Wurmbrand did. You can read the post I linked to in the last paragraph for more on that.

There's no sense pretending these things don't happen, and Christians are much less likely to be angry in return if they understand why.

bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.

"The dictionary defines intolerance as lack of toleration, an unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect. Sometimes, though, it becomes quite necessary. Intolerance toward beliefs and doctrines that serve only to promote hatred, bigotry and discrimination should be lauded, as should extremist points of view toward the eradication of these beliefs and doctrines."

Someone help me with my philosophical terminology: is this a vicious infinite regress (aka suicide tactic)?

brgulker-

Hutaree?

Really?

Please.

Historically, fundamentalism means belief in the following fundamentals (see how that works):

  1. The inspiration of the Bible and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
  2. The virgin birth of Christ.
  3. The belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin.
  4. The bodily resurrection of Christ.
  5. The historical reality of Christ's miracles.
Since I believe all of those things, I'm a fundamentalist. So, by the way, are John Warwick Montgomery, J.I. Packer and a lot of other good folks. (The only sticky wicket for any conservative believer is inerrancy...so if you're a conservative believer and you believe in inerrancy, then you're a fundie).

Stefanelli was clearly trying to attack all of these people using a rather clumsy guilt-by-association attack.

What Stefanelli did was bury an obscure reference to the 'underbelly' of Fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam that might allow him to say "Oh, I wasn't talking about J.I. Packer, the 2.4 million members of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod or any of those people. I was talking about Fred Phelps and his 77 family members and, 15 guys in Michigan with bad hygiene and weird Pokemon-sounding pseudo-military ranks."

Tell you what, from now on, I'm going to use the phrase "Strong Atheist" to refer to Ted Kaczynski's Freedom Club. I don't care how Dawkins* or other Atheists like to use that term....it refers to the Unabomber. I made one mistake though. I made it clear that that's what I was doing. So when I say that Strong Atheists are guilty of a string of bombing fatalities and injuries, you already know that I'm just talking about the Unabomber. So I've let the cat out of the bag. Stefanelli, rather hamfistedly, 'avoids' that.

Let us suppose what I think is untrue, that Stefanelli is just referring to Hutaree and Westboro Baptist 'Church'. The fact that, to describe that fringe, he uses a term that applies to millions of good American people is itself, dishonest and despicable, And it utterly beclowns him.

================================

*-Dawkins issues a set of logos ranging from "Strong Theist" to "Strong Atheist" that you can put on your web site. Maybe STR should, just for grins, get a "Strong Theist" logo.

My thoughts almost exactly, WL. Right down to redefining "atheist" (rhetorically-speaking, of course) for maximum guilt-by-association.

You forgot to mention the name of the biggest nonconformist of them all.
Hint : It starts with the letter J. :-)

Good Grief.

They don't respond to letters, so they must must must be eradicated?

Maybe we should write a letter, and see if he desists. If not, can we eradicate him?

"beclowns"... he,he,he!

Amy, you have a better sense of humor than I do, that's for sure!

This made me angry, especially the nonsense that Christianity and Islam are pretty much the same. If people wish to hate Christianity, fine. But to outright lie and claim that these two religions teach the same things is a low blow. Worse of all, it misleads people who may not know the facts.

But I did love your point that nothing can sway us, and how it drives them nuts. I'd never thought about it that way.

The irony of all this pontificating about Christians being unwilling to reason or even engage in discussion is that while we speak all the evangelistic Atheists are doing all they can to run from WLC and his visit there next month.

Just don't call strong atheists fundamentalist atheists.

It confuses them.

Based on the popular media representation of right wing Palinesque Christianity, essentially the "American Taliban", it would seem fully justifiable to link these with radical Islam, even though they are at war with each other.

I suppose as a Christian, my ace in the hole would be especially the Mennonites and then the Amish who by their witness, remove all supports from the atheist's charge.

That's the problem when people get their information from pop media; they end up believing easily-digested myths like 'the church has always resisted scientific knowledge', 'people thought the Earth was flat in Columbus' day', 'there was no innovation or learning during the Middle Ages', 'religion is the cause of most wars', etc.
Ideas that are passed on gleefully even though a few moments thought would be enough to dispel them.

Since Atheists have no inherent beliefs, it is impossible to be fundamentalist. The term is either a lack of understanding (ie sloppy thinking) or an intentional false statement to act as an insult.

As for the WLC debate, the issue is the style. WLC's style does not promote a search for truth, but merely repeating of well practiced monologues.

The problem with WLC's debates lies in his recent partners. They do not want to search for the truth or answer the logical problems presented to them. Rather, they want to fold their arms, roll their eyes, and entertain the faithful with long strings of venomous denunciations against God. Although this elicits loud applause from their cheerleaders it does nothing to establish their credentials as reasonable thinkers. Nor does the strategy shake Craig off-topic. As they fail to infuriate him, and as even some of their own fans see their failures, they are realizing the wisdom of avoiding such a meeting.
Simply put, they just don't have the answers.

Alex,

You may call them monologues if you wish, but WLC presents premises that lead to conclusions. Attack his premises. Refute his conclusions. But please don't think by calling them monologues you can ignore their substance. Atheists and Christians alike agreed that Craig soundly defeated Hitchens and Harris. I fear that is why Dawkins is running scared.

"Since Atheists have no inherent beliefs, it is impossible to be fundamentalist."

Do atheists believe that they lack a belief in God? Could one say "I'm an atheist, but I have no opinion about whether I believe in God"?

Do atheists believe that the existence of God has not been proven to them? Could one say: "I'm an atheist, but I have no opinion about whether I've ever seen a good proof for existence of God"?

Atheism must involve certain beliefs, otherwise it wouldn't be an -ism.

Now, if you follow the pattern of Christian fundamentalism, it seems to be talking about more than a core of belief common to all people who consider themselves Christian. It's not about beliefs inherent to Christianity. As I noted, not every Christian, not even every conservative Christian, believes in inerrancy. And many people who consider themselves Christian have quibbles about one or more of the other four 'fundamentals'. So Christian fundamentalism seems to involve a certain set of beliefs that its adherents think essential to a full-bodied Christianity.

For atheists, there seems to be at least one such belief (#7 on the Dawkins scale):

I am 100% sure that there is no God.
Dawkins seems to think that holding this belief does qualify an individual as a more full-bodied atheist than, say, someone who's at level 5 on the Dawkins scale:
I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
After all, he calls the former a strong atheist, and the latter a weak atheist. He's not using the terms to insult weak atheists or exalt strong atheists. He just means that the strong atheist has the more full-bodied view. And he's obviously right about this.

Stefanelli is a Strong Atheist. Here, for example, is part of his 'testimony':

For me, personally, the whole idea that a god even exists goes against every fiber of my being. I can not wrap my head around how it could be good for anyone to believe in an imaginary being that expects credulous servitude, convicts believers of thought crimes and actually cares who we sleep with, what kinds of food we eat, what we drink or smoke and what we watch on our televisions, computers or in the movie theatres. As well, that if we piss him off we will be punished in a variety of lovely ways. No, I make no apologies anymore. When I sit back and look at all the arguments, hate, strife, war, murder, crime and discrimination that revolve around the belief in a deity I still find it rather shocking that with the cumulative knowledge in the sciences and in our age of reason that it is still necessary to argue and debate on a serious level that there are gods that really exist, and that they interact with humanity on a daily basis.
It sounds to me like he's pretty sure that there is no God. He's a strong atheist.

I'm guessing Dawkins is too. If the most doubt about the claim that God does not exist that he can muster up is that God's existence is on the same level as the flying spaghetti monster, then I 'd say that he's pretty sure that there is no God. Again, he's a strong atheist.

Now, it seems that we may fairly call strong theists adherents to Atheistic Fundamentalistism. They are the most full-bodied variety of atheist.

And the irony has escaped no one that Stefanelli seems to like the idea of eradicating his opposition as much as he claims fundamentalist Christians "want us to die." (Though, of course, fundamentalist Christians do not want their opposition to die.)

Stefanelli seems to have realized that he let the mask slip a bit too much. At the linked article, he's added a codicil that says that he was saying that the doctrines need to be eradicated, not the people.

To those of you who are coming here from The Blaze, which has accused me of calling for the eradication of living people, take note that I called for the eradication of the doctrines that are espoused by the fundamentalists and radical extremists. Also note that your death threats are being forwarded to the FBI.
This seems to suggest that his original text...
But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated. As long as they are allowed to exist, we will continue to be inundated...
...actually says that that he's not calling for the eradication of fundamentalists (those of the 'underbelly'), but only their ideas.

He does not say that he mangled what he wanted to say so that he seemed, contrary to intention, to be calling for the eradication of people. Stylistically, it is a pretty bad bit of writing (not that I'm claiming to be Hemingway), so I would completely take him at his word if that's what he said. But instead, he seems to be suggesting that the clear intent of his words is that the ideas are to be eradicated. You can decide for yourself whether you think this is true or not.

You can also decide whether you think he's really gotten any death threats...I know that the WWW is big, and lots of people of varying levels of sanity participate, but I'm calling baloney on that. I doubt that he's gotten any (unless yoy count something like Trent's joke a few posts up as a death threat).

Minor correction: I went looking for the Dawkins belief scale logo on Stefanelli's web site. I was surprised not to find it there. I was doubly surprised not to find it on Dawkins' own site. (Not the Level 7 logo, no logo at all.)

It was only then that I realized that, although Dawkins invented the belief scale (1-7), he's not the one offering the web site logos. Those badges are from Christopher Sisk and are available here, sorry about the mix-up.

Since Atheists have no inherent beliefs

Atheists (the people) DO have beliefs. We all do.

It does occur to me that Stefanelli's article is rife with allusions to "them" when discussing removal of the threat. I think it possible that WL is correct in suggesting that it's just a case of bad writing. I also think it slightly more than just as likely that it's a Freudian slip. I will note that this type of slip is not unique to atheists. I have often had to interject with weak theist, and strong but unthinking theist acquaintances the necessity of always monitoring your thought and speech to train yourself to separate people from their ideas. I still slip occasionally when I'm tired or particularly angry. However, a worldview that holds one to be accountable after death to an other so removed in intellect, and more importantly Holiness as to be alien to us, does make me more inclined to love my enemies at least far enough to find the notion of "eradicating" them wholesale just for their ideas is repugnant. I am highly unconvinced that such a reflex is native to a strong worldview that fundamentaly holds people to be nothing more than clever animals and morals to be relative.

But, I also know that it is often characteristic of humans to be most emphatically hostile to things that they themselves most deeply and secretly are guilty of; I wonder how many of the most hostile anti-theists are trying to wipe out god by denying him so strongly. Taking Jonah one better - not trying to hide from God, but trying to bury him so they don't have to answer to him.

I am willing to believe S doesn't advocate actual eradication of the people. But I think he's trying real hard to dig a hole.

Atheists know they lack belief in God, so belief is not needed.

Alex:

You're on thin ice. Let me support my claim:

I. You have premises (that you haven't shared with us) leading to your conclusion, claim, belief, view (call it what you want) that you lack of evidence for the existence of God. Your claim and the premises supporting it are subject to verification and are either true or false.

"I lack evidence for a belief in God" is a verifiable claim about the existence/nonexistence of evidence for a deity.


II. Atheism:

(1) is a claim about knowledge
(2) is a view
(3) is a position
(4) is different from agosticism
(5) is more than a description of a psychological state
(6) requires justification in the form of evidence or argument
(7) is the position that there is no God (as opposed to the absence in a belief in God)
(8) is either true or false.

III. In the face of

a) the Cosmological argument for the existence of God
b) the moral argument for for the existence of God
c) the teleological argument for the existence of God
d) The historical evidence supporting the existence of Jesus
e) The archeological evidence supporting the existence of biblical events
f) other arguments and evidences

you *claim* no evidence.

You must have done a lot of homework to arrive at this conclusion my friend!

Thoughts?

Let's be serious here, folk. Stefanelli wasn't talking to Christians of any ilk. He wasn't really even talking to atheists. He was trying to incite them. This is propaganda, nothing more.

James - I'm trying to understand your point.

What do we do with your conclusion, "this is just propaganda intended to incite atheists"

It seems you would have us ignore it.

Many on this thread are attempting to dispel it.

As Paul says in 2 Cor 10:3-5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Does ignoring this propaganda further Paul's charge?

I'd prefer to be prepared to answer this propaganda in a knowledgeable and winsome fashion the next time I encounter it on campus, or increasingly (and unfortunately), at church.

You seem to be advocating for ignorance and denial.

Can you help me understand where I've misunderstood the message behind your posts on this thread?

Jim,
For no reason in particular, your comment about evidence reminded me of our legal system.

When selecting a jury the judge says, rather emphatically, that we don't know if the defendant is innocent or guilty because we haven't heard the evidence yet.

That's not entirely true. If there's ZERO evidence against the defendant, then why is the legal system taking the case? There's also zero evidence against everyone else in the court room. Does it make sense to put everyone on trial simply because someone accuses them of a crime?

Of course not, because the truth is there IS evidence suggesting that the defendant is guilty. It's not proof of guilt, but it's evidence suggesting guilt. That's why the defendant is on trial, and other suspects are not.

The same reasoning can be used when discussing God. There is evidence suggesting that God exists - historical and otherwise. Some atheists say there is none and that is clearly false.

Alex--when you say atheists lack beliefs, how would you define 'belief'?

SteveK

"Does it make sense to put everyone on trial simply because someone accuses them of a crime?

Of course not, because the truth is there IS evidence suggesting that the defendant is guilty. It's not proof of guilt, but it's evidence suggesting guilt. That's why the defendant is on trial, and other suspects are not."


Obviously you have no real experience with our legal system. Your statement doesn't reflect the present reality.

Jeff,

Obviously you have no real experience with our legal system. Your statement doesn't reflect the present reality.

Mostly it does reflect reality. For the vast majority of defendants there are reasons why the defendant is on trial and you are not. Circumstantial reasons perhaps, but reasons that go beyond being accused of the crime.

If there were no reasons outside of the accusation itself then most legal systems, especially the prosecution, would not see any merit in taking the case.

SteveK

Sorry, but you just don't know what you are talking about.

I really wish your view was true.

Once the self perpetuating legal gears start turning, it becomes about who has money and not about truth or justice or right and wrong.

I hope you never have to find this out firsthand. It isn't pleasant.

Once the self perpetuating legal gears start turning, it becomes about who has money and not about truth or justice or right and wrong.

So you're telling me that if you ask the prosecutor or the judge, "Why is the defendant going to trial rather than the bailiff or me or YOU?", that neither will be able to give you a legitmate reason because it's all about money?

I think you don't know what you are talking about, Jeff.

Jeff,
The real point of my comment is this: the atheists are wrong.

There are valid reasons for thinking a particular God exists rather than some other god just as there are valid reasons for thinking a particular person committed a crime rather than some other person.

Nice dialogue style once again, Jeff. And somehow you find that other Christians aren't as polite with you as they could be.

And I don't even think SteveK is a Calvinist.

Would that make me impolite or just wrong?

Belief is accepting something as being true that evidence would convince anyone with a reasonable intelligence is obviously false.

That's a very different definition of belief than what I, and many Christians here hold to.

I realize it's a common notion that beliefs are things held in spite of the evidence, but where did this idea even come from?

Alex-

You said:

Belief is accepting something as being true that evidence would convince anyone with a reasonable intelligence is obviously false. (Emphasis mine)
What does "convince" mean? Random House says this:
to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action
Of the four results of convincing mentioned, only two have to do with attitudes regarding truth: belief and agreement. Belief is unambiguously an attitude regarding truth. Agreement is about truth only if "agree" means "harmonize in belief or opinion." Otherwise, it means the same as giving consent. Which does not have to do with truth, but with the permission to act.

So the reasonable person you mention is moved by the evidence to believe, possibly to believe in harmony with the person who gives the evidence, that some claim is false.

Suppose that I gave you a proof for some simple mathematical truth. Say that 1.0 is exactly equal to 0.999... (where the 9s go on without stop). Would it make any sense to respond as follows? "Well WL, you've proven it to me, and I agree with you that 1.0=0.999..., but I don't believe it!"

No.

What you say is that you believe it because I've proven it to you. That's what it means to agree with me.

The standard definition of "knowledge" is "justified, warranted or proven true belief". So every instance of something one knows is an instance of something one believes.

Suppose that I gave you a proof for some simple mathematical truth. Say that 1.0 is exactly equal to 0.999... (where the 9s go on without stop). Would it make any sense to respond as follows? "Well WL, you've proven it to me, and I agree with you that 1.0=0.999..., but I don't believe it!"

-----------

So you accept Zeno's paradox and believe you can never reach your destination?

An atheist is merely someone who does not accept existence of a god there has never been any proof for. I might as well believe Battlestar Galactica actually happened. Just as much evidence.

SteveK,

I didn't think you were impolite. Wasn't the least bit put off by what you wrote. I really don't know what Daron was talking about.

We agree about atheists, just not about our legal system. But, I get your point.

I guess, Alex, the next question would be.....

What would you accept as proof that God exists?

I was joking around with Daron, Jeff. No worries.

What...

Wait....

Battlestar DIDN'T HAPPEN??????

Alex,

"Belief is accepting something as being true that evidence would convince anyone with a reasonable intelligence is obviously false."

Do you believe that?

The way Christians define God, there can be no proof for something that isn't composed of anything in the universe.

You've defined yourself out of providing scientific proof.

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