Fundamentalists say the silliest things!

By Phil Plait | February 18, 2008 10:00 pm

I am getting email about a video that purports to be between a scientist and a Muslim fundamentalist* debating whether the Earth is flat or not. It has English subtitles, and if they are accurate, well then, you can guess what the fundamentalist says.

Watching it means, of course, that hilarity ensues. Tear half your brain out and enjoy:

The man who quotes the Koran about paradise then uses it as a basis for saying things that are so obviously contrary to reality — and on occasion appear to be made of random words he has strung together — that I would question his mental health. The scientist makes a game try at it, but sometimes debating people like this just proves Heinlein right: "Don’t wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it".

It’s painful to watch the fundamentalist make his claims. The Sun, he says, is 2.4 million km across, and the Moon is half that. How can anyone say anything that ridiculous?

Oh right: he "categorically rejects" science. He says that "Anything that has no indication in the Koran is false."

I’d hate to point out to him that he’s saying all this while wearing glasses and a wristwatch. I don’t remember reading anything about them in the Koran, or optics, or gears, or batteries, or, for that matter, the television he uses to spread his dumbosity.

ObMistake: At 3:19 in, the scientist says that the mass of the Moon is one-sixth the Earth’s, which is why it has one-sixth the gravity. That’s wrong; the Moon has roughly 1/80th the mass of the Earth and 1/4 the radius; together they give it 1/6th the gravity. I have to admit he makes his points poorly, but then they didn’t ask me to be on the interview. When faced with such an avalanche of ridiculousness, it can be difficult to function coherently. I have personal experience here!

In the end, I’m not terribly sad that such people as the flat Earther exist; I am far more saddened that he would be given even one moment of air time. And before you mock that television station for putting him on, remember that at least he doesn’t have his own talk show.

* Yes, I know that the word "fundamentalist" technically refers to Christian fundamentalism, but I think in modern culture it’s taking on a broader context of any religion that adheres to strict literal scripture. If you know of a better name or category for this sort of religious person — a serious one, please — then by all means let me know.

Comments (96)

  1. Rand

    I think you’re wrong on your Fundamentalism note, Phil. I actually do think it applies to any religion. It started off talking about Protestants, I’ll grant you, but it can be used with any religion; perhaps any belief system!

    Actually, now that I browse Wikipedia, it states that Christians are the only religion to use “fundamentalist” to talk about *themselves*, but when talking about others, any belief (even atheism) can have a fundamentalist. The more you know.

    You know what the saddest thing of this whole post is, though? Historically speaking, it was a very, very short time ago when the Muslim world was THE center of intellectual thought on Earth! How very quickly things change.

  2. RayCeeYa

    The scientist makes a game try at it, but sometimes debating people like this just proves Heinlein right: “Don’t wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it”.

    I’m going to have to remember that one. This is a man who wouldn’t believe his own eyes if Mohamed himself came up to him and told him he was full of Bad word deleted by The Bad Astronomer.

    You can’t debate people like this. Debate implies dialogue. There can be no dialogue with someone who refuses to listen.

  3. J. D. Mack

    deke, I can’t make heads or tails out of what you just wrote.

    J. D.

  4. Cameron

    That was almost as painful as watching the video of Miss South Carolina…

  5. Wow. I must have just dropped twenty IQ points trying to understand how someone can have their head so far up their religion.

  6. Christian X Burnham

    Since all religious texts quite clearly state that they should be taken literally as ‘the Gospel truth’, it’s really not necessary to use the word ‘fundamentalist’- just call them ‘believers in religion’, or even simpler: ‘the religious’.

    Any Christians/Muslims/Jews who don’t fully accept the ludicrous creation stories (etc.) found in their books can be referred to as ‘cherry pickers’ (or illiterate).

  7. Quiet Desperation

    (blank stare)

    Bwuh?

    So… during eclipses our eyes are flat?

    No… wait…

    That was almost as painful as watching the video of Miss South Carolina…

    At least she’s easier on the eyes, split irises or not. The trick is to mute the volume.

  8. zeb

    Of course, the most obvious question for the flat-earther is “why do you think the Koran is correct?” Although if one asked that anywhere in the Middle East they’d probably be stoned to death or beheaded or something.

  9. Mark Hansen

    “The breadth of Paradise is as the breadth of the heavens and earth” doesn’t exclude the earth being spherical (or cubic, tetrahedric, octahedric, or even dodecahedric). The way I understand that verse is that paradise is the same size as the heavens and the earth.
    I think his title as “Iraqi Researcher in Astronomy” is much the same as a Disco ‘tute “researcher”.

  10. Ken Jackson

    Some Christians call themselves “fundamentalists” to strongly identify with the fundamentals of Christianity–that everyone is sinful and the only hope is to accept Christ’s death as payment for sin.

    But the news media started using the them “fundamentalist” to refer to Muslims that commit murder in the name of Islam. Why? Because the media hate Christians. They lump them in with Muslim Jihadis to generate guilt by association.

    This is rather ironic, since Christians want all non-Christians to come to faith voluntarily so they can be saved, while the Muslim Jihadis want to murder every non-Muslim. They are opposites. Sensible people would not use the same word to describe opposites. So “fundamentalist” is a contranym.

    BTW, a better term would be “Islamic Fascists”. (Look up fascist and substitute Islam for nation.)

  11. Jeffersonian

    “then by all means let me know”

    Well, since Muslims believe Christ existed, was a prophet, and the son of God/Allah, then, it follows that, linguistically, any of the 3 main Abrahamic religions can have adherents best described as “fundamentalist”. (Particularly when you consider that the worst-case fundamentalist positions often stand on words jerked from the Pentateuch/Jewish Torah, which all 3 acknowledge as a source).

  12. Jeffersonian

    “then by all means let me know”

    Well, since Muslims believe Christ existed, was a prophet, and the son of God/Allah, then, it follows that, linguistically, any of the 3 main Abrahamic religions can have adherents best described as “fundamentalist”. (Particularly when you consider that the worst-case fundamentalist positions often stand on words jerked from the Pentateuch/Jewish Torah, which all 3 acknowledge as a source).

    @zeb
    “Although if one asked that anywhere in the Middle East they’d probably be stoned to death or beheaded or something.”
    You could experience violence in the west for saying that, too!

  13. Jeffersonian

    But from watching the video, it’s hard to say if the guy’s not so much an Islamic fundamentalist as someone who just went off their meds. People off their meds can be very serious and convincing; maybe in that culture/on that station, they’re just not as picky in the screening process? Hard to tell. (I mean, standing on the beach watching a ship leave was the ancient’s first clue the Earth was round, so he readily dissproves himself.)

  14. Steve

    “Christian X Burnham” is speaking from his, er, fundament, if he thinks that the Bible states that it should be taken literally. For a start, the Bible is a collection of separate books, so if he wishes to prove his point, then he would have to find claims within each of the texts that they are to be taken literally.

    By the way, here’s a great passage from the Bible about giving science it’s due respect – Sirach 38:1-15:

    1 Honor physicians for their services, for the Lord created them;
    2 for their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king.
    3 The skill of physicians makes them distinguished, and in the presence of the great they are admired.
    4 The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and the sensible will not despise them.
    5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that its power might be known?
    6 And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works.
    7 By them the physician heals and takes away pain;
    8 the pharmacist makes a mixture from them. God’s works will never be finished; and from him health spreads over all the earth.
    9 My child, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you.
    10 Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly, and cleanse your heart from all sin.
    11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of choice flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford.
    12 Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; do not let him leave you, for you need him.
    13 There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians,
    14 for they too pray to the Lord that he grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.
    15 He who sins against his Maker, will be defiant toward the physician.

  15. Michael Lonergan

    Wow. This almost calls for a long line of expletives. I do think your definition of Fundamentalism was wrong also. It does refer to any person that takes the fundamental core principles of their religious beliefs in a literal sense.

  16. nowoo

    How about the term “scriptural literalist”?

    Whenever I hear people talk about “fundamentalist atheists” I wonder what these so-called fundamentals of lacking a belief in a god could possibly be. How do they differ from the fundamentals of lacking a belief in leprechauns?

  17. Ken Jackson
    But the news media started using the them “fundamentalist” to refer to Muslims that commit murder in the name of Islam. Why? Because the media hate Christians. They lump them in with Muslim Jihadis to generate guilt by association.

    You clearly have a martyr complex. And, no the media does not hate Christians. (Need we revisit the video clip a few years ago that had two Christians and a Jew in a round-table discussion about what’s wrong with atheists. That’s the media.) The word “fundamentalist” is used to describe people who want to get back to the fundamentals – the basic teachings of their religion. The result of this philosophy is that they ignore or downplay the value of everything mankind has learned since then. It wants to elevate “scriptural truth” above any philosophy or science, and anything that contradicts scriptural truth is regarded as flat-out wrong.

    Steve:
    The book of “Sirach” (also known as the book of Ecclesiasticus) is part of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, but is not part of the protestant Bible and is not recognized as divinely inspired by protestants.

    I would also counter with this section of the New Testament – James 5:14-15:

    “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up”

    Note the conspicuous lack of physicians in that verse, and the reliance on faith healing.

  18. TF

    Ken Jackson
    But the news media started using the them “fundamentalist” to refer to Muslims that commit murder in the name of Islam. Why? Because the media hate Christians. They lump them in with Muslim Jihadis to generate guilt by association.

    You clearly have a martyr complex. And, no the media does not hate Christians. (Need we revisit the video clip a few years ago that had two Christians and a Jew in a round-table discussion about what’s wrong with atheists. That’s the media.) The word “fundamentalist” is used to describe people who want to get back to the fundamentals – the basic teachings of their religion. The result of this philosophy is that they ignore or downplay the value of everything mankind has learned since then. It wants to elevate “scriptural truth” above any philosophy or science, and anything that contradicts scriptural truth is regarded as flat-out wrong.

    Steve:
    The book of “Sirach” (also known as the book of Ecclesiasticus) is part of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, but is not part of the protestant Bible and is not recognized as divinely inspired by protestants.

    I would also counter with this section of the New Testament – James 5:14-15:

    “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up”

    Note the conspicuous lack of physicians in that verse, and the reliance on faith healing.
    .

  19. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Oh, the ship thing? That’s because we don’t understand how the eye works and they’re kind of like bifocals but even if scientists did understand how the eye works, I would ignore it because I reject modern science categorically” as an explanation for why that specific bit of “No, really, the earth isn’t flat” evidence should be discarded.

    I mean, first, and I’m a chemist, not an optometrist, but I’m pretty sure we do know how the eye works. Second, what? Just… what?

  20. Jeff Fite

    I thought the Heinlein quote was about teaching a pig to sing…?

    “It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

    But I like BA’s version better for scriptural literalists…or whatever…because they *do* seem to enjoy the attention.

  21. RawheaD

    Come on guys! Science and religion doesn’t have to be contradictory! There are means of reconciliation!

    For example, the guy says the earth is flat.

    The scientist says the earth is round.

    Well, guess what, they’re not contradictory! I mean, come on! Take a look at any old pancake. It’s both round AND flat!

    On another note. I find it hard to believe this “physicist” is really what they say he is, when he didn’t even know the moon’s real mass.

  22. Christian X Burnham

    Of course! He’s thinking in four dimensional space time, in which our planet (and the entire visible universe) sits in a flat region according to the WMAP data.

    You lot just weren’t smart enough to understand him.

    (Now I’m off to start my own religion in which the Earth is hyperbolic.)

  23. As much as this clip reviled me, I should point out that MEMRI is a biased source. It’s like when MSNBC had Fred Phelps on, so he could air his views and the interviewer could attack them. Pretty much no different, and fortunately the people don’t endorse this view.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    the word “fundamentalist” technically refers to Christian fundamentalism,

    Oh, I had forgotten about this. So it originated to as a number of ingroup descriptions of diverse (and probably mutually incompatible) orthodox protestantic core doctrines, but is today perhaps an outgroup definition of “strong adherence to any set of beliefs in the face of criticism or unpopularity”.

    Whenever I hear people talk about “fundamentalist atheists” I wonder what these so-called fundamentals of lacking a belief in a god could possibly be.

    As I’ve only recognized a definition close to the earlier mentioned general definition, I have never really understood the above position to be anything but a jest. But maybe it isn’t.

    A fundamentalist atheist would by the Wikipedia definition have an unmovable position, regardless of empirical evidence. Roughly anyone who defines gods as semantically meaningless or outright impossible without adding the caveat “unless you can present evidence for gods”.

    Suffice to say that there are very few, if any, such individuals.

    For example, I’m an atheist, and as I’m also an empiricist I can’t make claims on observations or predictions without adding uncertainty. Let’s call that a naturalist atheist unless there is a better description.

    Thus I align myself with Dawkins, interacting religious gods are improbable compared to natural processes, not impossible. And the philosophic god of agnostics is uninteresting (Dawkins) or ruled out by being the limit of weakened proposed interaction (Larsson).

  25. Frank Mitchell

    “Fundamentalist” seems to imply some sort of “holy text”, revealed religion, or other creed.

    Hard-core Marxists and Objectivists, who believe that Karl Marx or Ayn Rand (respectively) are infallible, might be real-world examples of “fundamentalist atheists” … although in both cases they believe in something in addition to “there are no gods”, which is the true source of their “fundamentalist” irrationality.

  26. I see there are plenty of commenters here who understand that ‘fundamentalist’ is a word with a range of historical meanings, but it is rooted in a specific historical context. I’d like to plead that people treat ‘Fascist’ the same way, and not use it simply to spray around as a way to scent-mark people who manage to be unpleasant in their own unique way.

    Finally, I think that, while there are plenty of people who *claim* to believe religious texts literally, it’s essentially impossible *actually* to do so, because words just don’t work that way. Recognising that is not necessarily ‘cherry-picking’.

  27. One Eyed Jack

    You don’t have to look to an Islamic country for this sort of inane mentality. This sounds just like the filth spewed by AiG.

    OEJ

  28. I hope someone sent this on to the Discovery Institute, they’re bound to want to offer this guy a fellowship.

    His mind set is exactly the same as theirs, “I don’t care how much evidence you show me I prefer to believe magic sky daddy did it”

  29. He is the Iraqi equavilant of Ken Ham. AIG will most probably give him a doctrate

  30. I *like* the bifocal iris hypothesis. It makes sense that an intelligent designer incapable of making eyes that actually work properly would provide a work-around like this.

    As long as we stare fixedly at the horizon with our heads perfectly level, we will never be exposed to evidence to the contrary. Unless there are mountains.

  31. H.C.

    However. During a course on ethics I said that I was a gravitationist. That is somenone who believes that gravity exists. Everybody laughs. Then you add that there are still dumb anti-gravitationists, such as people who believe that, under certain circumstances, someone has once walked over the water (JC), or someone has once flown through the air on an iron horse (Mo), or someone in the east once levitated in the air (any guru). And then you can start a discussion. However, I shouldn’t have added that the latter could have been true, as in Cambodia there are so many landmines that if you sit down somewhere, sooner or later someone is going to levitate in the air.

  32. Inertially Guided

    BA, In my time here in the middle east I’ve run across a LOT of this kind of stuff..here is a good example (posted on the Dubai Astronomy Group), though I would like to point out that most of the DAG members have tried to talk this guy down from his fundie ledge:

    “The mistake of Astronomers about comets

    In the year 1705 the Astronomer Halley brought about his theory about the comet, and since then Astronomers started to orbit around Halley and his theory.

    He discovered a comet, which was called to his name, and said it was similar to the description of a comet that had come 76 years before. He said mostly this is the same comet that has come now, and it is expected to come 76 years later; because it orbits around the sun.

    Then they investigated the light spectrum, and found Na, Oxygen and Hydrogen, and some combinations of such elements in the tail of the comets, and they said another theory that the comet includes water in the form of ice and dust: a dirty ice in the inside of the comet head or body!

    Then others said there is a jet propulsion phenomenon of the water vapor that makes the tail more prominent!

    I say: this is very surprising how people believe about something, even though it is very strange; that is because it was told to them by a famous scientist; while if you or I tell them more reasonable ideas, they will laugh at it, then will ridicule you, then will transgress on you with non-ethical words, and quarrel with you (it may be that in case you are present with them, there may be boxing and kicking); but certainly this is not a scientific way of considering things.

    The Arab say to their guest: “There has been food and salt between us and you”; they mean they have been friends and have together eaten of the same food and drink. But I say there has been mocking and shouting between us, friends.

    Now, Halley and other scientists said: it is most probably, and most likely; but others who came after them took it as most certainly and absolutely.

    After the discovery of Kuiper belt, some scientists said that the comets came from this belt.

    What is the comet?

    ·The comet is a fire mass thrown out of the sun, following some local solar explosions, resulting in the hurling or shooting of such sparks or fire masses.

    God – be exalted – said in the Quran, 77: 32-34

    ????? ??????? ???????? ?????????? . ??????? ???????? ?????? . ?????? ????????? ??????????????? .

    The explanation: (32- It [: Hell] shoots sparks like the castle.

    33- As it might be yellow thick ropes [of ships.]

    34- Woe, on that day, to the deniers [of the Judgment Day.])

    The interpretation:

    – Hell is the sun,

    – (shoots sparks like the castle) means: the size of each one of these sparks which Hell or the sun throws out in the space is like the size of one of some large constructed palaces or castles; and its sparks, in fact, are the comets. For this reason God -be exalted – said ??????? ???????? ?????? i.e. (As it might be yellow thick ropes [of ships.]); i.e. like the yellow stays of ships. God – be exalted – simulated the long tails of comets to the [long thick yellow] ropes of the ship.

    The comet does not orbit the Sun, but goes on wandering about in the space. They are oblong objects, not spherical like the planets and moons, and they do not rotate around themselves, neither do they rotate around the Sun, but they move along wandering about in the space. They are relatively small objects, and will get colder by time, and their heads may then become a group of hot rocks.
    They are more numerous than what one may think, but most of them are hiding and invisible; because of their relatively small volumes and particular sort of movement.
    The tail following the head of the comet, being attracted to it by gravitation. The tail does not propel the comet, and there is no jet propulsion; on the contrary, sometimes the tail is in front of the head. The tail direction is always away from the sun.
    The comet is very hot and flaming; its tail may include water vapor, but there is no ice in the comet.
    The comet has affinity to the cold and freezing regions of the Earth (and other planets), and has repulsion with the hot objects like the Sun.
    When a comet falls on the ground, it will melt the stone and dig in the surface to be buried under the ground; this is in comparison with the meteorite which when falls, will remain above the ground. Usually, the falling comet will lead to the formation of a crater. Its falling will cause burns, storms and quaking of the earth, and will destroy a wide area.
    Life did not come to the Earth embedded in the comets, but in the meteorites; because comets are flaming objects, and fire kills the living cells. ”

    Kinda’ makes the brain cells melt a little, Hmmm…?

  33. Inertially Guided

    Okay, I really DID NOT mean to send that so many times! Sorry, BA!

  34. The original meaning of the word fundamentalist was a description of a group of Christians who believed the “five fundamentals”:

    Inerrancy of the Scriptures
    The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus
    The doctrine of substitutionary atonement through God’s grace and human faith
    The bodily resurrection of Jesus
    Second coming of Christ

    The word has since morphed to include believers in all religions who take their holy books literally; and more recently the word has begun to be synonymous with “extremist,” hence the use of the term “fundamentalist atheist” which make absolutely no sense given the original meaning of the word fundamentalist and the fact that atheists have no holy book to take literally.

  35. Hannu Siivonen

    I noticed the mistake the scientist made about the mass of the moon. But that didn’t even make him any less convincing. In my eyes he lost his credibility, when he waved his book with word “Science” written on the cover in big letters. I don’t know, but I guess that whole thing was staged by fundamentalist muslims, which could be why the scientist didn’t really stand up well (though he did much better than the fundamentalist)

  36. Michelle

    *scratches head* And uh, the folks that went in space… Guess they just made that big ball idea up? Or is God messing with their brain?

  37. (HEARTS)

    @Michelle .. it’s because the eyes are spherical .. therefore they make everything at a sufficient size look like a ball .. err .. like .. the same way that Virgin Mary appears on the slice of bread. We see what we want to see .. and so do our eyes .. kinda

    But basically we don’t know anything about our eyes. I reject the idea of eyes.

    There is no spoon.

    42!

  38. Walabio

    ¡Wow! Even the round-Earther was wrong (the Moon has ~ 1/81st the mass of the Earth — not 1/6th).

    The flat-Earther believes that Moon is about as big as the Sun and the Sun is twice as big as it is, yet the Earth is bigger than the Sun. ¿How big does he believe that the Earth is?

    If given a chance, the theocrats and creationists will make the United States of America just like that.

  39. JackC

    @Jeff – you beat me to it. I knew that Heinlein “quote” was wrong – and you spotted it.

    The Never wrestle with a pig” misquote seems to be from a book by Mark McCormack – though I don’t actually find a full reference (the title of one of his books is “Never wrestle with a Pig”) – I am finding the phrase is at times (perhaps inaccurately) attributed to Lincoln, and appeared in print at least in 1948.

    But it is NOT Heinlein.

    JC

  40. Religion is a danger to an entire society when it holds back knowledge.

    http://www.atheistrevolution.com

  41. Ken Jackson

    @”One Eyed Jack” and @”The Fallen Angel”,

    I am not a fan of Ken Ham or Answers in Genesis, but the only thing they have in common with the Muslim clown in the video is your contempt.

  42. This might be a bit ironic coming from an atheist, but Oh! My! God! Are we to assume that those glasses the guy is wearing were designed with absolutely no idea of how they eye works? Yet amazingly, they correct his vision? Or did Allah come down and give him those glasses in person?

    ‘mute

  43. Hmmmm, should’ve looked up the Heinlein quotation before posting.

  44. Ken_g6

    Tomorrow night is a great opportunity to prove any flat-earthers wrong, when the earth’s round shadow passes over the moon.

    Phil, please don’t forget to post about the lunar eclipse before it happens!

  45. Carl

    The word you’re looking for is “scripturalist”.

    @Christian X Burnham: I hope your comment was intended to be ironic, because otherwise it is wrong in more ways than I can count.

    Start with the fact that their is no such thing as “the” Bible. It has been miscopied and mistranslated so many times that there are literally [sic] tens of thousands of variations, many of them theologically significant. Why is your particular variant better than mine, or hers, or the one from the 6th century of which no copies survived?

    Then consider that the Bible is internally inconsistent. The four Gospels disagree on details. Matthew misquotes the old testament. The old testament contradicts itself.

    Then realize that to the people who wrote the Bible, none of this matters. To their mindset, the entire concept of “literally true” was meaningless. It’s a creation of the modern mind (and possibly the printing press).

    Also, consider that Jesus condemned the scripturalists of his own time.

    Finally, consider that if you had been alive at the time of the Jesus you would have rejected him, because he taught things that were different from your Scriptures. Ironic, no?

    Like patriotism, scripturalism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  46. ioresult

    BA said: “I don’t remember reading anything about them in the Koran”.

    You read the Koran? nice! My mom did too, to better understand her business partners. And it worked; she ran a very successful business.

  47. Gary Ansorge

    I have read the Quran and it makes exactly as much sense as the Christian and Jewish bibles,,,

    The conflict between conservative and progressive mind sets is likely of genetic origin. I expect if one tried to explain contemporary knowledge of the cosmos to a dog(remember, that’s God spelled backward), they would have just as much success as trying to explain it to one who chooses(based upon genetic limitations) to believe in any authorities’ holy book pronouncements.

    I recall, Heinlien himself said he was prone to plagiarism. He likely lifted the aphorism about pigs from a previous intellectual, which as I dimly recall, would likely have been Abe Lincoln. But don’t quote me on that,,,

    As a child I was told many times by close minded individuals,”If it was good enough for grandpa, it’s good enough for me,,,”. Then they would go to that new fangled painless dentist to get a tooth pulled,,,
    ,,,peoples is the funniest critters,,,

    In the final analysis, if there is a god, it’s really whacked. Just look at its’ creation for evidence of that,,,

    I prefer Chaos to a whacked god. At least it’s not purposely inimical,,,

    GAry 7

  48. Thomas Siefert

    Hmmmm, should’ve looked up the Heinlein quotation before posting.

    Don’t bother, there’s 57 varieties.

  49. Helioprogenus

    It may not be the most specific, but I’d go for Irrationalist, or anti-reasonist. Perhaps these terms are not strong enough for true fundamentalists, so maybe just RELIGO-EXTREMIST, or even extremist.

  50. eyesoars

    That seems pretty weird to me. Islam AFAIK understands and accepts that the earth is (more-or-less) a sphere.

    The Qiblah (the direction to Mecca that Moslems face when they pray) is a great circle direction: the local one here in the North-Central U.S. is slightly North of East — not South of East, as one would expect on a flat earth.

  51. billsmithaz

    RawheaD sez:
    “For example, the guy says the earth is flat.

    The scientist says the earth is round.

    Well, guess what, they’re not contradictory! I mean, come on! Take a look at any old pancake. It’s both round AND flat!”

    Oh, please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE tell me this is sarcasm. It’s so hard to tell any more.

  52. blf

    Thw word you’re looking for is fruitcake. Or nutter.

  53. This guy is the single most inane person I’ve seen on Arabic television (I have the benefit of not having to read the subtitles). I couldn’t believe my ears, it was so hilarious that I’m honestly wondering if it isn’t satire, but the way this guy’s going on and the tone of it all suggests otherwise. I’ll have to email a couple of relatives overseas and have them tell me if it’s a serious or satirical news show. The font and the name of the show in the byline, 1/2 Hour, suggests that it might be a sketch. The frequent cutting and MEMRI’s opportunistic sensibilities make it harder to figure out.

    Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing seems authentic, but it carries that hint of incredibility that makes me really want to check.

    I loooove the way the scientist literally held up a book labeled clearly: SCIENCE. I want a still frame of that to go on my wall.

  54. @billsmithaz, I don’t know RawheaD’s comment was sarcasm or not, but it sure made me hungry ;)

    ‘mute

  55. Calli Arcale

    eyesoars: It’s worth pointing out that some very sophisticated medieval sextants were built by Muslim scholars for the purpose of finding the direction to Mecca on a spherical Earth.

    On another note, there are of course plenty of Muslims who understand quite viscerally that the Earth is round. There are, after all, plenty of Muslims who pilot long-haul aircraft and who do things like design and operate spacecraft. (Saudi Arabia has a few satellites, for instance.)

    A few years ago, I remember a Saudi imam issued a fatwa that the Earth was flat, and anyone who claimed otherwise was an apostate. The silence from the Saudi royal family was, as usual, deafening. This struck me as particularly ironic given that one of the Saudi princes has actually been in outer space, aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. But the secular authorities refuse to get involved in these sorts of religious matters, as they get their power in part from their tolerance of the religious police. It’s rather like the way some crooked corporate execs keep getting huge raises because the directors (who vote on their contracts) are getting rather smaller but still absurd raises. A mutually parasitic relationship between two entities who aren’t really friends but who together are abdicating all responsibility for actually doing something to help their people because to do so would threaten the status quo.

    From what I’ve heard, religious “fundamentalism” (or whatever you want to call it) is far more of a problem in countries such as Saudi Arabia than it is here in the US. While I’m not crazy about it here, it’s orders of magnitude worse there.

  56. Christian X Burnham

    Carl: I’m pleased to tell you that I wasn’t being ironic in the slightest.

    You seem to have misread my comment though. I was in no way suggesting that it’s a good thing for people to believe in any part of religion.

  57. Yoshi_3up

    The classic “When a ship approaches the shore, you’ll see the mast first” statement. Seriously, I can’t believe how people argue to something like that.

  58. Daffy

    Just in case no one else posted it, the Heinlein quote is (or close to it): “Never teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

    It is found in “Time Enough for Love” and/or “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.”

  59. rae

    okay, so maybe the translation is wrong. but i noticed something that the “fundie” said. he agreed (in translation, at least) that the sun’s diameter was such and such and the moon’s diameter was such and such. um. so the sun’s round and the moon’s round (b/c they have a diameter), but the earth can’t be.

    hmmm.

    something’s rotten here.

    sorry if someone else mentioned it as well, but i couldn’t let the opportunity go by.

  60. Quiet Desperation

    There are, after all, plenty of Muslims who pilot long-haul aircraft

    Or short haul.

    Oh, my goodness!

    What do ya think? Too soon?

  61. CXB says:

    [[Any Christians/Muslims/Jews who don’t fully accept the ludicrous creation stories (etc.) found in their books can be referred to as ‘cherry pickers’ (or illiterate).]]

    I accept the creation story in my book, CXB. I just don’t think it’s meant literally. According to you, that makes me a “cherry picker.”

    I’ve always been interested in the fact that extreme fundamentalist Christians and extreme fundamentalist atheists have the same view of the Bible — it must all be taken in the most plain, literal sense, without any room for figures of speech or symbolic language. Does it ever bother you that you have the same mode of interpretation as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson?

    In real life, of course, theologians as a whole have never taken all of the Bible, or all of any other sacred text, in that simplistic fashion. That’s why Augustine could write in the fourth century that the Genesis creation narrative was not meant to be taken literally — he wrote a book about it, De Genesi ad Litteram. That’s also why Saint Jerome could say the Genesis creation narrative was written “after the manner of a popular poet.”

    The real threat to atheism of the Christian X. Burnham variety isn’t fundamentalism — it’s intelligent mainstream theology. That’s why the CXBs of the world need fundamentalism so badly. Without that strawman, their arguments wouldn’t carry as much force.

  62. Daffy

    “I’ve always been interested in the fact that extreme fundamentalist Christians and extreme fundamentalist atheists have the same view of the Bible — it must all be taken in the most plain, literal sense, without any room for figures of speech or symbolic language. Does it ever bother you that you have the same mode of interpretation as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson?”

    Which parts should be followed and which should not, Barton? Maybe the safest approach to the Bible is to accept that NONE of it was written by God.

    You love to say that certain, horrifying, parts of the Bible are taken out of context. But you never explain what context makes them acceptable.

    It’s at best a work of philosophy. There is nothing, NOTHING, that supports the ridiculous notion the God wrote it. Unless you believe the supreme being can’t write simple, declarative sentences. Maybe you do believe that; I wouldn’t know.

  63. Daffy writes:

    [[Which parts should be followed and which should not, Barton?]]

    All of it.

    [[ Maybe the safest approach to the Bible is to accept that NONE of it was written by God.]]

    That might be “safe,” but it certainly wouldn’t be accurate.

  64. Daffy

    Barton, please (for the umpteenth time) tell me the context where murdering babies (Psalm 137:9) is OK in your view.

    You say over and over again that I am taking it out of context. Show me the context. Personally, I say murdering babies is always wrong and the Bible is mistaken.

    Show me the context.

  65. Daffy writes:

    [[Barton, please (for the umpteenth time) tell me the context where murdering babies (Psalm 137:9) is OK in your view.
    You say over and over again that I am taking it out of context. Show me the context. Personally, I say murdering babies is always wrong and the Bible is mistaken.
    Show me the context.
    ]]

    The context is the whole psalm, Daffy. I explained this before in another thread. If you didn’t get it then, you won’t get it now. I’ll just repeat that it would take a complete blithering, drooling idiot to think the Bible advocates killing babies.

  66. Daffy

    “The context is the whole psalm, Daffy. I explained this before in another thread. If you didn’t get it then, you won’t get it now. I’ll just repeat that it would take a complete blithering, drooling idiot to think the Bible advocates killing babies.”

    What a lame non-answer. “Blessed is he who dashes the little ones against the stones.”

    Explain the context where that’s OK. Of course, by now I have to assume you can’t. Big surprise.

    Maybe calling me more names will help.

  67. Pat

    Where was this broadcast at first? What TV station? Did El Jahzira pick it up?

  68. Christian X Burnham

    The very first sentence of the very first book of the Bible is

    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Straight away, the Bible is in absolute contradiction with modern cosmology. We are absolutely certain that our planet was not created at the beginning of the universe.

    If you believe even first sentence of the Bible to be true, then you are a religious fundamentalist who has no interest in modern science.

  69. Carl

    @Christian X Burnham: I don’t know from your post what your position on the value of religion is. But you clearly stated that people who take scripture literally (despite, i reiterate, its internal contradictions and external variations) are “religious” and that those who don’t are “not really religious”.

    That is, quite simply, wrong. If you are yourself a scripturalist you may choose to claim that definition for yourself and others like you, and those of us who are religious but not scripturalist will respectfully disagree. But whether you are or are not a scripturalist then you have no business telling other people that they are not authentically religious. You are using a definition of “religious” that is in complete dissonance with that used by 90% of the rest of the world.

    By the way, can you cite the chapter and verse where the Bible claims literal accuracy for itself? I don’t, off the top of my, recall that… especially as the Bible is a compendium of many separate books, not one book whose texts make *any* claims about the entirety.

  70. Christian X Burnham

    Carl: I’m not religious. I don’t believe in leprechauns either.

  71. Daffy

    “By the way, can you cite the chapter and verse where the Bible claims literal accuracy for itself? I don’t, off the top of my, recall that… especially as the Bible is a compendium of many separate books, not one book whose texts make *any* claims about the entirety.”

    It is Christian preachers all across the world who are making that claim. If you think it is wrong—which it obviously is—perhaps you should argue with them.

  72. Steve

    “It is Christian preachers all across the world who are making that claim. If you think it is wrong—which it obviously is—perhaps you should argue with them.”

    Uh, we do. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t correct Christian X Burnham’s odd ideas.

  73. Christian X Burnham

    In this comment I will try to explain my thoughts a little more clearly.

    ————————————————-
    I looked at religioustolerance.org, which usually provides a balanced discussion of such things:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/inerran2.htm

    The article roughly divides Christians into two camps:

    1) Conservative Christians who believe in Biblical inerrancy, because the Bible was inspired by the word of God.

    2) Liberal Christians who believe that the Bible was not inspired by God and contains errors.

    It’s clear to me that the 1st group are religious. The second group are ‘pickers and choosers’ who are happy to discard the more ridiculous parts of the Bible, or explain it away as a work of its time.

    The problem is, without miracles- the Bible is nothing more than a work of fiction, like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland.

    If you don’t believe in the miracles outlined in the Bible, then you’re not religious, by any conventional use of the term. You’re at best an ethnic Christian, who thinks that Jesus was a good philosopher.

    If however, you do believe that such miracles occurred, then you’re choosing to reject the scientific method in which it is assumed that the universe follows natural laws.

    ——————–

    If you don’t believe that the Garden of Eden story is literally true then you can’t justify the Christian concept of ‘original sin’. Neither can you justify Jesus ‘dying for our sins’.

    The whole logic of the NT falls apart without recourse to the stories in the OT and Genesis in particular.

    Either you believe the very first sentences of Genesis, or you don’t. If you do, then you’re a fundamentalist who is choosing to reject modern day cosmology in favor of faith. If you don’t, then you’re following a religion with a creation story, which you yourself don’t believe in!

    If you believe that the first sentences of Genesis are a folk tale written by people ignorant of science, then I would agree with you!

    If you believe that these passages were meant to be taken metaphorically, then you’re just plain wrong. There is nothing in their style to indicate that they’re anything but a straightforward account of God’s creation of the Earth and the Heavens.

    If I find an error in a math text-book, my first response is not- ‘oh well, I’m sure the author was speaking metaphorically.’ It’s a ludicrous position to take and doesn’t hold any water with me.

    Yes I know the standard reply: ‘The Bible is not intended to be a science text-book.’ (even though it does make numerous scientific claims).

    Good thing too! It’s wrong on just about every scientific claim it makes.

    Kind of makes you wonder whether the rest of it is correct, n’est ce pas?

    ————————————————–
    For the record, I have never witnessed a Christian leader begin his/her sermon with ‘But, remember, the Bible contains all sorts of statements which have been proven to be false.’

    Christians only admit to mistakes in the Bible when they’re in debates with atheists and are trying to show how liberal/reasonable they are.

    I would have many fewer problems with the religious if they prefaced every moralizing speech with the above disclaimer, but they don’t.

    Scientists however are quicker than anyone else in society to make sure that their audience understands that all knowledge is provisional and open to scrutiny.

    In order to get anything published I have to submit my mini-masterpieces to the scrutiny of peer reviewers, who are quick to pounce on any possible errors or shortcomings. I then have to contend with others writing papers in which they do their best to improve (or sometimes knock down) my work. Even if my papers do get published, they most likely will be superseded by more sophisticated analyses in the years ahead.

    Even Nobel prize winners get the same treatment. They too suffer like the rest of us in the peer review process.

    None of us enjoys peer review, but we do it because we recognize that its only by constant evaluation in which mistakes are mercilessly exposed that science works at all.

    On the other hand, the religious have no method for updating their scriptures. Even if you admit that the Bible is flawed you are powerless to change it.

    I would like to see the so-called ‘liberal’ Christians produce an annotated Bible in which all the scientific accuracies are listed in footnotes. But, the truth is that they won’t, because fundamentally, the religious are completely uninterested in exposing the errors in their own source-texts.

    Any Christian who becomes serious about separating fact from fiction in the Bible will become an atheist in short order when she realizes that there’s nothing in scripture of any religious importance which can be verified to any degree whatsoever.

    ——————————————-
    And Steve, perhaps the religious should refrain from accusing others of having ‘odd ideas’.

  74. Carl

    @Daffy: Burnham very explicitly said that scriptures, not preachers, claim literal authenticity for themselves (and therefore, you cannot without inconsistency believe in scriptures non-literally). In a discussion about literalism, perhaps you should pay more attention to the text ;-)

    @Barton: Brilliant post. If BXC is not allowed to define “religious” in his own absurd terms, he has no position at all. Apparently, you don’t have to be religious to be a fundamentalist.

    @Burnham: “It’s clear to me that the 1st group are religious…”. To be blunt to the point of rudeness: just because its “clear” to you doesn’t in any way make it true. Your definition of “religious” is not accepted by many others. Your categorization of Christians is facile. Frankly, your underinformed opinion in this matter really is of no importance, and you should spend some time studying some actual theology rather than relying on your own instincts and a web site (!) to define “religious” for the rest of us, let alone the myriad forms that belief takes. I don’t know how old you are, but you are coming across as being about 15. That’s usually the age at which people acquire such bizarre, yet firmly-held ideas.

  75. Christian X Burnham

    Carl:

    I don’t think I’ve been rude to you in any of my replies. Unfortunately, the favor hasn’t been returned, but I do appreciate that Christians are in general slow to ‘turn the other cheek’ to use their phrase. I don’t know of any other group in US society which takes offense at so much.

    My definition of religious, is the universal one. People are religious if they hold religious beliefs. A religious belief is characterized by belief in a supernatural god. To the extent to which people believe in supernaturalism, they’re not using the scientific method. In fact, as the BA makes clear, belief ‘or faith’ in magic or ‘religion’ with no evidence whatsoever to support it, is ‘anti-science’.

    Anyway, my dialogue with you has come to a halt. I accept that people who fervently believe in magic are not going to be persuaded by any amount of argument, though it certainly was not my intention to convert you.

  76. Christian X Burnham

    Oh, and Daffy, thanks for the posts.

    I’m genuinely not sure if people who defend the Bible understand it. It never goes well when you ask them about specific problematic passages. They always decide that the passage in question is all mystical and allegorical and besides, God works in mysterious ways.

    I have some sympathy with them though. A lot of the Bible is quite obtuse. Personally, I think God could have saved us all a bit of bother by hiring an editor to get rid of some of the ambiguous parts which have led over time to internecine wars resulting in millions of deaths.

    Oh, and he could also do a little bit more to prove his existence. Maybe if he popped in for a cup of tea every other century the Christians wouldn’t have to put up with so many annoying atheists like us.

  77. Carl

    It’s pretty ironic that you want to criticize christians who accept that a text recited, written and rewritten over thousands of years shouldn’t be taken literally… but you can’t keep your OWN story straight across a matter of hours and a handful of blog posts.

    >I don’t think I’ve been rude to you in any of my replies.

    On the contrary. You began by telling me that I wasn’t religious because i don’t conform to your narrow definition. That’s extremely rude — both in its content and its presumptuousness. You declined to answer my question about where the Bible claims literal truth for itself, which was the crux of your initial post. That’s mildly rude. And several of your other statements are moderately rude.

    >My definition of religious, is the universal one.
    >People are religious if they hold religious beliefs.

    Please, at least be consistent. In your own posts from the very beginning you defined people as religious ONLY IF they adhere to the “literal” words of a holy book. It’s right up there in the 6th post, if you need to review it. That is not the universal definition. And now you turn around and disown that as if it isn’t your definition either, and offer instead this vacuously circular definition!

    >A religious belief is characterized by belief in a supernatural god.

    Wow, you really do need to go and learn some theology, don’t you?

    You also need to learn some history. A great many scientists, both historically and currently, are religious (by the common definition of the term).

    My guess is you were brought up in a strictly scripturalist household where your parents inculcated in you the bizarre definition that religion equates with literal Biblical interpretation; that somewhere along the way (adolescence? college?) you had a crisis of faith and became as fervently antitheist as you once were religious; but despite your conversion you have been unable to shake off the definition of religious that your upbringing incubated in you. Nothing shakes you more than people who actually read the Bible intelligently, critically, acknowledging its prehistory as an oral form and its evolution over thousands of years of retelling and rewriting.

  78. Carl

    There is actually a very useful analogy between the way most people read their religious texts and how scientists view their theories.

    Think of the Old Testament as being akin to Newton’s theory of gravity: a tremendous breakthrough in explanatory power, but (we now know) only an approximation to the truth. It’s biggest flaw, as Newton himself knew, was that it proposed no mechanism to explain how gravity’s effects came about. In a sense its description of how gravity behaves is arbitrary, albeit effective, which limits its power to predict as-yet unseen effects.

    Think of the New Testament as being akin to Einstein’s General Relativity. It builds on and refines Newtonian gravity, rather than overturning it. It does provide a mechanism (spacetime curvature). But most importantly, it provides an entirely new perspective on the relationships between mass-energy, space and time. Consequently, it creates a flood of new insights in a way that Newtonian gravity could not and did not.

    Smart scientists, of course, know that GR is not the last word. It too is only an approximation that awaits a reconciliation with Quantum Field Theory in the form of Quantum Gravity.

  79. Daffy writes:

    [[What a lame non-answer. “Blessed is he who dashes the little ones against the stones.”

    Explain the context where that’s OK. Of course, by now I have to assume you can’t. Big surprise.]]

    No, Daffy, I explained it before, and you didn’t get it. I don’t think you can get it. You’re taking as a premise that the Bible is an evil book and that the first evil interpretation you can put on a passage must be the right one, and you then proceed to close your ears to anyone else’s explanation. You don’t want an answer to your question, Daffy, you want to go on repeating your anti-Christian smear, because you’re the modern American equivalent of Julius Streicher talking about Jews — repeat the Big Lie over and over and over again until people start to believe it.

    It’s not a question of you having a new and different view of the subject. You’re just an idiot.

  80. CXB writes:

    [[The article roughly divides Christians into two camps:
    1) Conservative Christians who believe in Biblical inerrancy, because the Bible was inspired by the word of God.
    2) Liberal Christians who believe that the Bible was not inspired by God and contains errors.
    ]]

    Well, that’s a stupid division, to begin with. It ignores the fact that “inerrancy” has more than one meaning to different Christian groups, and it assumes that people who believe in inerrancy don’t think the Bible can contain errors. Neither is true, so this so-called definition is out of court from the beginning.

    [[If however, you do believe that such miracles occurred, then you’re choosing to reject the scientific method in which it is assumed that the universe follows natural laws.]]

    Wrong! You just believe something exists outside nature which can occasionally introduce a new event into those laws. There’s no contradiction between believing in miracles and believing in natural law, any more than there is a contradiction between believing in civil law and believing that crimes take place.

    I suggest you read C.S. Lewis’s book, “Miracles.” He deals with a lot of the kind of misconceptions you hold about the subject.

  81. CXB continues:

    [[To the extent to which people believe in supernaturalism, they’re not using the scientific method.]]

    To the extent to which people play musical instruments, they’re not using the scientific method.

    To the extent to which people eat food, they’re not using the scientific method.

    To the extent to which people make love, they’re not using the scientific method.

    All very true statements, and all pretty useless observations. Once again — pay attention:

    Science deals with nature, the empirical Universe.

    The religious question is whether something other than nature also exists.

  82. Daffy

    Barton, “You’re just an idiot.”

    Praise Jesus, Barton. You never answered my question and you know it. Saying, “the context is the entire psalm,” is semantically meaningless. Circular logic at it finest. Resorting to childish name calling just shows that you know I am correct.

    Remember: I didn’t write those verses, Barton. And you can’t defend them.

  83. Daffy

    Btw, Barton, comparing me to an anti-Semite is beyond childish…it is desperate.

    And also utterly absurd if you knew anything about me.

  84. Christian X Burnham

    Daffy: Not only is BPL’s comparison distasteful (and stupid), it also breaks the rules of this board.

  85. Daffy

    Thanks, Christian.

    For many years I didn’t bother challenging this stuff…it kind of goes against the philosophy I do try to live by. But as certain groups started pushing for their brand of religion to be adopted as the law of the land in the U.S., it began to seem like a good idea to really examine what they had in mind for all of us.

    Fair is fair; if these people want to impose their beliefs on the political system, it should be perfectly OK to examine those beliefs. Of course, they don’t want that, but that’s beside the point.

  86. Christian X Burnham

    Daffy: Firstly, thanks again for your posts.

    The religious want the rest of us to think that religion belief is a matter of private conscience and that we should respect their faith even if we disagree with it.

    For a lot of people, that argument went out of the window on 9/11. It’s not easy to tell how big a part religion played in those attacks, but the only way to find out is to start asking serious questions. (I don’t have a settled opinion on this issue.)

    Even the beliefs of nominally non extremist Christians in this country (who would never personally resort to violence) have a big effect on all of us. It’s partly because of these beliefs that politicians are voted in with policies of outlawing abortion, cutting off funding for stem-cell research, banning gay marriage and altering the science curriculum. (I’m not stating that all these issues have a definite answer, only that they are influenced by religious thought.)

    The three main contenders for President have all stated that their (Christian) faith is very important to them and that it will play some role in decision making. Even Obama, who is generally praised for his secular outlook, has given speeches in which he states that the religious in particular have a valuable role to play in government.

    So yes, I agree with you. We have a right, and even a duty to ask serious questions about religious belief and faith and it should not be taken as rudeness to do so.

    I’ll also note that all the name calling in this thread have all been from the defenders of ‘tolerant’ Christianity.

  87. Daffy

    Well said, Christian!

  88. Barton: read the rules for posting comments. They’re not hard to learn. There’s just one.

    Calling someone else an idiot in the comments here will not be tolerated. Don’t do it again.

    Also, comparing someone to a specific Nazi should maybe, just maybe, be done with a little bit of care, don’t you think?

    You may not like what others are saying here, but they’re not being rude, they’re being persistent. So calm down. I’m not asking.

  89. Daffy writes:

    [[Btw, Barton, comparing me to an anti-Semite is beyond childish…it is desperate.
    And also utterly absurd if you knew anything about me.
    ]]

    No, Daffy, it’s spot on. Your method of Biblical interpretation is identical to the method David Duke uses to talk about the Talmud. Same mindset.

    I’ll give an example. There’s a line in the Talmud that says, “Children as young as three may be raped.” Duke quotes this and says, “Clearly, the Talmud is saying that it’s okay to rape little gentile girls.”

    Now, in context, what the passage is doing is defining the crime of rape. It is not advocating raping little girls, it is saying that the crime is still rape even if the victim is very young. But Duke interprets it in the worst possible light because he wants the Talmud to look like an evil book and Judaism to look like an evil religion.

    And that’s exactly what you’re doing with Psalm 139. You ignore the context and use it to say the Bible advocates killing babies. Your method is David Duke’s method because your goal is David Duke’s goal — smearing the bad guys, showing how awful they are.

    Your anti-Christianism is morally equivalent to anti-Semitism. Come to think of it, it incorporates anti-Semitism, since the reference in question is an Old Testament reference.

  90. Oh, and BA — they may not be calling names, like I did — mea culpa — but they sure are being rude. You just don’t see it because it’s not your group or your beliefs being slandered.

    I’ll try to “calm down,” but I sure am sick of being treated like an enemy because I don’t share the religious beliefs of most of the posters. Religious bigotry is just as unattractive as name-calling, in my view. Of course, I’m not making the rules here.

  91. Daffy

    “I’ll try to “calm down,” but I sure am sick of being treated like an enemy because I don’t share the religious beliefs of most of the posters. Religious bigotry is just as unattractive as name-calling, in my view. Of course, I’m not making the rules here.”

    Barton, please show one quote from me where I treated you like an enemy. All I have done is ask—over and over again—for you to explain the context where killing babies is OK. I say such killing is wrong and there is no context that makes it OK.

    You have responded with insults and slander.

  92. Daffy writes:

    [[All I have done is ask—over and over again—for you to explain the context where killing babies is OK. I say such killing is wrong and there is no context that makes it OK.]]

    I explained it, in detail, the first time you brought it up. You keep bringing it up, claiming I can’t answer you, when anybody following these threads knows I already did answer you.

    [[You have responded with insults and slander.]]

    Gee, you harrass me endlessly and I reply with insults and slander. I wonder what could have motivated that?

  93. Daffy

    “Gee, you harrass me endlessly and I reply with insults and slander. I wonder what could have motivated that?”

    Bad manners.

  94. Daffy posts:

    [[“Gee, you harrass me endlessly and I reply with insults and slander. I wonder what could have motivated that?”

    Bad manners.]]

    As opposed to your impeccable courtesy? Stop giving yourself airs.

  95. Sockpuppet

    BPL: As far as I can tell, you’ve just followed a warning from the BA with a second post comparing Daffy to a Nazi/Anti-semite. That was totally uncalled for and is clearly in violation of the BA’s instructions.
    I’m writing this post anonymously, because I don’t want to get involved in back and forth argument about this, but you can probably guess who I am.

    I appreciate you subsequently said you’d make an effort to ‘calm down’, and I also appreciate that you felt personally offended by some comments in which your religious beliefs were challenged.

    If you make any more comments in that vain, I will specifically ask the BA via email to have you removed from the site. I don’t know if he will or not, but I think there’s a good chance.

    ——————————————————————————
    Some friendly advice, and I really mean it. I’ve tried hard not to be condescending or preachy. It’s the sort of advice that anyone could write, but we all need to hear it from time to time.

    1) Believe it or not, I know what it’s like to get furious in an internet debate, and to feel deeply wounded, even when the comments are not directed at a personal level. We all identify ourselves with various social groups, whether it be religious or otherwise. I understand that it hurts when causes or views we care deeply about are misrepresented or attacked.

    So realize, that I’m not singling you out because I disagree with you on religion. I disagree with everyone on religion. Even other atheists think some of my arguments are crazy.

    2) If absolutely you have to attack, then why not compare atheists to fascists or call atheism an idiotic and dangerous philosophy? By keeping the comments aimed at a general group, you’re not insulting someone on a personal basis and so less likely to run amok of the rules. (I have a feeling the BA might not entirely approve of this point. Accusations of Nazism rarely improve a debate, no matter what context.)

    3) Try to remember that you don’t know any of the people you’re criticizing. You’re only judging them by a few words, which through no fault of your own, you could be misinterpreting. The internet is a great tool, but it’s sometimes hard to get a viewpoint across in email and bulletin boards and confusion is the norm.

    The reason that personal attacks are frowned upon is partly because you have no idea what the person you’re attacking is really like. I imagine that many of the people I’ve argued with, who sound like foaming at the mouth bigots on the internet, are in reality people who in ‘real life’ I would get along with just fine.

    Also, you have to realize that this board is read by adolescents, who may sometimes post comments. It’s possible that a personal attack which an adult would be able to brush off would be far more serious if the person you were criticizing turned out to be a child.

    There’s also the possibility that a person you’re arguing with has psychiatric problems. (No, I’m not referring to anyone on this page). Some of the more extreme comments I’ve read on the internet were probably written by people with mental illness. Their comments may be annoying, but do you really want to be the one seen kicking a mentally ill person when he/she’s down?

    4) This is not an atheist site. Do not presume that the BA is an atheist. He has never mentioned his private views in that regard. Unlike me, the BA does not criticize all Christians in general. He criticizes religious people only for specific comments.

    You would probably be mistaken to assume that the BA shares my views or Daffy’s views on religion and atheism. It’s quite possible that he thinks my posts are idiotic and derail his threads, or that some of my posts are plain wrong. (He did say that with one of my posts a couple of years ago.)

    For all we know, the BA could be Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or atheist. However he identifies himself, we do know that he doesn’t like some aspects of faith/spirituality, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t identify with a particular belief system. (For comparison, Martin Gardner, who is one of the most famous skeptics and who has written numerous articles criticizing religion self-identifies as a Christian who believes in a god.)

    The BA forums are used by people of every religion. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with each-other in threads like this, but it does show that your religious belief (if any) is not a pre-requisite for posting.

    —————————————————————–
    I want to emphasize that I have no more right than you, or anyone else to post on these boards as long as we both follow the rules. In fact, none of has any rights. We can only post on the BA’s blog because he grants us that privilege. It his decision to revoke it.

    Also, I do not speak for the BA and have no more knowledge than you when it comes to rule-breaking. If you’ve read the rules, then you know as much as me. And again, I do not expect the BA to agree with my comments on religion any more than yours.

    I won’t respond, because these arguments have gone on long enough. It’s slightly crazy to be writing new posts to a Blog page which is a week old. Besides, we’ve long since lost the thread of the original Blog post and are not adding anything new. So this will be the last time I write anything on this page.

  96. Sockpuppet writes:

    [[If you make any more comments in that vain, I will specifically ask the BA via email to have you removed from the site. ]]

    “Vein.” And go right ahead. When people use Nazi or Klan-like tactics, including Nazi or Klan-style exegesis of sacred scriptures, I will continue to point them out. And when I want advice from an anonymous poster who goes on at length about my failings but refuses to acknowledge that anyone on his side has done anything wrong, then I’ll drop you a line, kitten.

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