A few posts back, in the context of Harrisian determinism / Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument, I asked:
Why embrace a worldview that necessarily commits one to a full abdication of ultimate moral responsibility, especially when it’s a philosophical position with no scientific grounding?
In a very long response, a commenter going by ThatGuyWithHippyHair (hereafter “ThatGuy”) replied:
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Isn’t it funny how one-sided the average atheist meta-argument against Christianity usually is? By “meta-argument” I mean an overall case supported by other arguments, perhaps the POE, arguments from contradiction, stuff like that. In my experience, pop atheists limit themselves to a few failed arguments (ala Dawkins & Loftus) and the atheists who can’t muster that much intellectual fortitude just talk a bunch of crap (ala PZ Myers & Loftus). Notice how they never, ever, ever, you know… counterbalance their vitriol? For example, nobody will deny the damage that comes from bitterness and anger, and one could reasonably suppose a good God would have an interest in teaching us this. Get the drift? Here are some relevant Google search results. “But the Bible is a morally bankrupt book!”, they’ll try to convince whomever will listen. Point is, atheists shan’t just irresponsibly use a few cherrypicked proof-texts and mistake that as a commitment to reason. No, I mean really. The playing field is so much larger than what’s often played.
I’ve alluded to these sentiments before, but this short post is meant to clarify and summarize some of those ideas. I suggest reading Mike Gene’s wonderful posts on the subjectivity of evidence, here and here, then coming back to read what I’m about to say, which is only a single paragraph. Seriously, read his posts first! My words will make much more sense if you do, especially if you’re an atheist.
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I was trolling through the gospels recently when something occurred to me. When Yeshua went to Nazareth, the writer of Matthew said, “he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matt. 13:58) Similarly, the writer of Mark said, “he could not do many miracles there,” and further, that Yeshua “was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:5-6) This is interesting: something about the mentality of skeptics impedes the miracle process.
I couldn’t help but let my mind wonder on this. Have you ever been in a room when somebody intense and full of negative energy walks in? Is it not the case that such a person can deflate and suck the energy out of an otherwise upbeat gathering? So must it be with the presence of doubters and scoffers, so full of confidence in their own knowledge and opinions! I propose a rudimentary hypothesis: faith and belief allow wave function collapse; skepticism and doubt impede it. Is this not borne out in certain evidences? That placeboes work? That cheerfulness and faith are beneficial to healing? That doubt and negativity impede healing? That a man can literally think himself to ill health or radiance?
Food for thought, if nothing else.
From Yahoo news, 6 Ways Social Security Will Change In 2013:
Paper checks will end. The U.S. Treasury will stop mailing paper checks to Social Security beneficiaries on March 1, 2013. All federal benefit recipients must then receive their payments via direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or loaded onto a Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Retirees who do not choose an electronic payment option by March 1 will receive their payments loaded onto a pre-paid debit card. Most people already receive their benefit payments electronically, and new Social Security recipients have been required to choose an electronic payment option since 2011.
He who has ears, let him hear!
For some, the message of today’s short post doesn’t need restating. I apologize for wasting their time. However, I’m always amused when people trot out the “Hitler was a Christian,” or “Hitler was a Catholic” tropes. These are just as inaccurate as the “Hitler was an atheist” trope. Such canned statements show ignorance of history and naïveté in general. It behooves any powerful leader to pander to the religious ebb and flow of his day. Constantine did it, and the Roman Catholic Church was the result. Remember the photos of Bush 43 donning a Kipa and praying at the Wall? Hitler used religion. He tried to destroy mainstream churches. Jews weren’t the only ones consigned to concentration camps: priests, nuns and Jehovah’s Witness were, too. Hitler youth were indoctrinated in blasphemy from the ground up. Consider the following “children of Hitler” chant from the 1934 Nuremburg Party rally:
No evil priest can prevent us from feeling that we are the children of Hitler. We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel. Away with incense and holy water. The church can go hang for all we care. The swastika brings salvation on Earth. (Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p.442)
There was a Nazi rendition of “Silent Night” that was mandatory in state-run orphanages. The Nazis also had their own marriage and baptismal rites. This was anti-YHWH pagan occultism, plain and simple. Next time you hear somebody trot out the tropes, educate them.
Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and it’s pretty clear that somebody is killing Iranian nuclear scientists in an effort to stop this. I felt this was interesting because it relates directly to Sam Harris’ remarks that it “may be ethical to kill people based on what they believe.” What do you think? Is it morally right to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists as a pre-emptive measure? Why or why not?
I support ‘Chick-Fil-A, with a caveat: I probably don’t support the farms they get their chicken from, but I say “probably” because I don’t know where they get it from. Chances are it’s a farm with inhumane practices. At any rate, members of the GLBT mafia calling for the “banishment” of ‘Chick-Fil-A restaurants are spreading anti-American, unconstitutional bigotry, and I challenge any one of them to provide a reasoned argument demonstrating otherwise. Incidents like this really expose the danger of the militant GLBT factions. They are threatening to undermine the very principles this country was founded upon.
Is a universe with compassion better than a universe without compassion? Why or why not? As with yesterday’s question, I’m looking for direct, “yes” or “no” answers, followed by explanation if necessary.
Are empathy and compassion logically possible without experiencing suffering?
In honor of twimfanboy’s obsession with the “firmly cemented goalposts” thing, I’m looking for—and trying to encourage in general—direct, “yes” or “no” answers to questions. This is how you cement firm goalposts, fanboy! Sure, many questions don’t have only yes or only no answers. I get that. Explanations and caveats are welcomed, just prefix them with a “yes” or “no” whenever possible.
To demonstrate my own willingness in abiding by this principle, I say no, neither is logically possible without experiencing suffering.