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Bible Wordcounts

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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,320 dead one


    Gordon wrote: »
    Fabrications in the bible, WHAT?! :D
    Christian Mythologists, naming themselves the Christian Church, have built their fabrications, which, for BS and indulgence, isnt surpassed by anything that is to be seen in the mythology of the ancients.

    Christian Mythologists tell the 2 ends of their fabrications at the same time
    They show this pious and great man, Christ, both God and Human, and Son of God, heavenly BEGOTTEN, on logic to be sacrificed, because they tell that Eve in her yearnings had eaten a forbidden fruit --


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    You did, actually.

    Again no. I know what I mean by my own words, I do not need you to tell me. I have explained what I said and why and I stand by it. If you want to pretend that you know my own meanings better than I do then so be it, but pretending is all it is.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    "it seems insulting people who doubt is a useful replacement for actually substantiating your claims in books such as these". That statement makes no sense at all

    It does make sense as a general statement and it is a general statement I stand by. Quite often in books such as this (in other words I was not limiting my comment to JUST this book) one of the approaches taken by people with no evidence is to act like there is a failure on the part of the "mark" for not accepting the propositions.

    This is just psychology 101 stuff. I am not making any great revelation. Religions do it. Snake oil sales men do it. The advertising industry does it. It is a simple trick performed to sell a product. If you have no evidence for a god then a phrase like "The fool hath said in their heart there is no god" is one of the stock phrases you need to substitute for evidence. Deriding the "mark" for not accepting there is a god is one way to cajole them into accepting the product.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    I'm puzzled as to why this should strike such awe into you. The culture which produced the scriptures was not as technologically advanced as ours, but there is no reason why this would prevent them from developing techniques of effective writing

    My feelings are more to do not with the people, but religion itself. If one looks at religion as a kind of evolving entity in it's own right (like a meme though I know people do not like that word) it is pretty awesome to track how good it has become at utilizing aspects of the human condition in order to perpetuate itself. It shares in this sense a fascinating set of characteristics with viruses.

    Viruses are just bits of DNA that can not even reproduce themselves. Instead they evolve to use, commandeer or manipulate aspects of our bodies to use us as a reproduction machine on their behalf. The virus eye view is just a bit of DNA that "wants" to make more of itself and can illicit all kinds of unusual effects and behaviors in the "host" to do so.

    Taking the same eye view from the perspective of religion and watching how, like a virus, it has evolved to effective use humans as a reproduction engine is fascinating. Not just slightly, but ENTIRELY unsubstantiated ideas such as the existence of god spread to millions of hosts quite effectively despite there being literally no reasons on offer from the infected to lend even a modicum of credence to the claims.

    It has hit upon techniques and procedures for doing this before humans hit on the same techniques in the advertising or torture or psychological industries. Harking back to the phrase "Evolution is smarter than you are" which I heard once.

    Maybe "awe" was the wrong word, but I certainly find it fascinating.... a fascination that is not tempered by you pretending atheists ridicule religion in order to self justify their own beliefs. They ridicule it because, despite evolving to very effectively place the ideas in peoples heads.... the ideas of religion ARE ridiculous. Some of them egregiously so.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,476 ✭✭✭ swampgas


    Pearls - 9

    Swine - 19

    Okay, I admit it - you made me laugh ... :pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Maybe "awe" was the wrong word, but I certainly find it fascinating.... a fascination that is not tempered you pretending atheists ridicule religion in order to self justify their own beliefs. They ridicule it because, despite evolving to very effectively place the ideas in peoples heads.... the ideas of religion ARE ridiculous. Some of them egregiously so.
    Can you say "irony"?

    It may be objectively true that the ideas of religion are ridiculous, some of them egregiously so. Lets's assume it is. This is not in any way inconsistent with the idea that atheists ridicule and parody religion in discourse among themselves primarily for the purpose of reassuring and supporting one another in their chosen belief system.

    I've no problem with atheism. It's holier-than-thou atheism that bothers me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Can you say "irony"?

    I do try to write my posts as if the people I am talking to are adults. If you want to reduce the level of the conversation to patronizing and snide throw away remarks like this then that is ok, but do not expect me to join you at that level. As the conversation progresses I will simply edit out and ignore such comments before replying to what is left, if anything. Expect to be treated at the level of you represent yourself at. That is all I will say on the matter.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    It may be objectively true that the ideas of religion are ridiculous, some of them egregiously so. Lets's assume it is. This is not in any way inconsistent with the idea that atheists ridicule and parody religion in discourse among themselves primarily for the purpose of reassuring and supporting one another in their chosen belief system.

    I disagree. We have many useful faculties available to us when evaluating claims made by other people. Reason, logic, personification, external representation and much more. Humor is one of those faculties and I certainly would never apologise for applying it.

    If a claim is ridiculous the mocking it can not just highlight the fact it is ridiculous but exactly how and why it is ridiculous more effectively than sitting down and giving a boring rational explanation for why. I, like most humans, have the faculty of humor and I intend to use it where I feel it warranted.

    Do not underestimate the power and utility of humor. Similarly do not underestimate the motivations of those that use it. It is a lot more useful and important, and done for much better reasons, than the kind of mutual intellectual masturbation you seem to hand wave it away as.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    I do try to write my posts as if the people I am talking to are adults. If you want to reduce the level of the conversation to patronizing and snide throw away remarks like this then that is ok, but do not expect me to join you at that level. As the conversation progresses I will simply edit out and ignore such comments before replying to what is left, if anything. Expect to be treated at the level of you represent yourself at. That is all I will say on the matter.
    Hold on, hold on.

    You post saying that when believers write "the fool hath said in his heart there is no god"?, they are employing the techniques of torturers and of those who engage in psyschological manipulation.

    But when I point out that describing someone as holding ideas that are "ridiculous, some of them egregiously so", as you do, is perhaps not radically different from describing someone as a fool, suddenly I'm being childish and engaging in patronizing and snide throwaway remarks?

    Here, have some more rope, Nozz.

    Are you sure you're not some kind of Jesuit double agent, posing as an atheist in order to present atheists as lacking in self-awareness, applying a double standard and generally holier-than-thou? Because, you know, if you were, I think you'd be arging pretty much along the lines that you are in fact arguing.
    I disagree. We have many useful faculties available to us when evaluating claims made by other people. Reason, logic, personification, external representation and much more. Humor is one of those faculties and I certainly would never apologise for applying it.
    If a claim is ridiculous the mocking it can not just highlight the fact it is ridiculous but exactly how and why it is ridiculous more effectively than sitting down and giving a boring rational explanation for why. I, like most humans, have the faculty of humor and I intend to use it where I feel it warranted.

    Do not underestimate the power and utility of humor. Similarly do not underestimate the motivations of those that use it. It is a lot more useful and important, and done for much better reasons, than the kind of mutual intellectual masturbation you seem to hand wave it away as.
    Couple of points.

    First, just to be clear, I have no objection to people ridiculing or parodying belief (or unbelief). Go for it.

    Secondly, but they delude themselves if they think that this is an effective way of changing the minds of believers (or unbelievers). You don't need a Ph.D. in human psychology to know that, of the range of tactics open to you to win over people's minds and hearts, ridiculing their beliefs in terms which are intended to be offensive and demeaning is going to be one of the less effective. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the number of believers who adopted atheism as a result of being confronted with, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster gag is probably not very large.

    In my earlier post I suggested that ridicule and parody functioned as a group reinforcer in discourse among atheists (and equally in discourse among believers). In these discourses nobody is trying to convert anyone else because they are talking with people who already agree with them. They are instead engaged in the age-old human pastime of bolstering themselves as a group by pointing out how much wiser/cleverer/more clear-sited/more virtuous/more successful with women/whatever they all are that That Bunch Over There who are Not Us.

    As I pointed out, the "fool hath said in his heart" quote comes from a text written by believers, for believers. (And, furthermore, we are dealing here with a bunch of believers who had zero interest in making converts.) And the dispassionate truth is that memes like the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Jesus the First-Century Jewish Zombie are mostly employed in an analogous context (though among a different group, of course). They turn up a lot in atheist/agnostic/sceptical forums, discussion groups, etc, where they can be sure of an appreciative audience. Not so much, I think, in dialogue between believers and unbelievers.

    And, while I'm not denying that some people may employ it in the latter context - and if you tell me that you in particular do, of course I believe you - I remain extremely sceptical that it is likely to be very effective in that context. In fact, my first assumption would be that anybody trotting out such a tactic in a dialogue between believers and unbelievers was more probably attempting to sabotage the dialogue than to progress it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    suddenly I'm being childish and engaging in patronizing and snide throwaway remarks?

    I think there is a difference between espousing a position and defending it, and coming out with snide throw away ad hominem and patronising comments like "Can you say irony". Further, I think you know it as you are no idiot. So keep your rope, you might run out.

    As I said, a common technique in advertising is to make the "mark" feel somehow deficient without your product. This gives them a free pass from having to espouse or defend the actual virtues or efficacy of the product. In the case of religion it gets them out of having to actually substantiate the claims. They do not have to evidence the existence of god, they just call you names if you do not accept it.

    And in quite a lot of cases this actually works on people. People do not want to be seen by their social peers as being the fool, so they either accept the existence of god or do a very good job of pretending they do. Putting the "fool" phrase into the search function of forums like this one, politics.ie, city data, isgodimaginary and more will show you too just how often believers cite it straight to the "faces" of unbelievers as if it constitutes an argument defending their baseless claims.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Secondly, but they delude themselves if they think that this is an effective way of changing the minds of believers (or unbelievers).

    I am not so sure. I think one of the strengths of atheism at the moment in the world is the diversity of voices espousing it. From the cool rational terms of Sam Harris, to the emotive portraying of science in artistic terms from Dawkins, to the Angry rantings of PZ Myers, to the lilting ironic humor of Daniel Dennett. The list goes on. This diversity of voices means that people who will not respond to one approach may well respond to another. Humor is another valid approach to the discourse and there will also be those attracted to that and who's mind will be open to the lack of gods by seeing just how ridiculous some of the religious claims actually are when you spell them out.

    Clearly the humorous approach does not "do it" for you, but it would be an error to extrapolate your personal feelings on the matter to a generalisation on all people. The diversity of people out there pretty much makes it obvious there are going to be some who respond to humor just as there will be those who only respond to having the facts cooly, emotionlessly and systematically laid out before them

    As for INTENDING to be offensive and demeaning, quite often this is not the intention but the effect. It is all too easy to offend people, even when you do not try. Just because some humorous approach leads to offense does not mean that was the intention. When I use humor in the realm of religion I do so to highlight just how ludicrous the claims actually are. If I cause offense while doing so then so be it. It was not the intention and if it happens then I am not all that moved to care either.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    the Flying Spaghetti Monster gag is probably not very large.

    A gag it may be but it also serves some other ends too. The FSM is designed for similar reasons as the Teapot argument. The humor in the FSM is designed to highlight the entirely ludicrous nature of the theist claim of "Well can you prove there is NO god". Like the teapot argument the humor is meant to highlight that you can not "prove there is no FSM either".

    So again, the humor as I keep saying is designed to highlight important points and to show just how ludicrous the opposing position actually is. People who ask you to prove there is no god are not just being silly, they are being egregiously stupid on the matter. What is worse is that a lot of people like Philologos on these forums know damn well the issues with "Proving the negative" but it serves their ends so well they are perfectly happy to continue doing it anyway.

    So as I said humor is a lot more than the mutual mental masturbation within an in group that you are so keen to dismiss it as.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    I think there is a difference between espousing a position and defending it, and coming out with snide throw away ad hominem and patronising comments like "Can you say irony". Further, I think you know it as you are no idiot. So keep your rope, you might run out.
    Well, if we're having a mutual love-fest, nozz, let me say that I don't think you're an idiot either. Such is my confidence in your intellect, indeed, that when you accused the religious of employing the techniques of torturers when they call unbelievers "fools", and a few moments later yourself said that the religious held ideas that were "ridiculous, some of them egregiously so", I felt that could point to the irony and you would know what I meant without me having to spell it out in too laborious a fashion.
    So as I said humor is a lot more than the mutual mental masturbation within and in group that you are so keen to dismiss it as.
    Well, we're not really talking about humour here, are we? I mean, as one-liners go, "the fool hath said in his heart there is no god" is not going to bring the house down. Nor is "egregiously ridiculous".

    I think what we're dealing with here is offensive, derogatory, demeaning language. True, this is sometimes dressed up as humorous (and sometimes is actually funny), but when you talk about the techniques of torturers you are not looking at humour, as such, but at dehumanisation, at destruction of the self. Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition is funny precisely because the humour they employ - the comfy chair, the tickling, etc - is not dehumanising, and therefore is not torture.

    Similarly - and here I take issue with one of your examples - the advertiser who assures you that "you'd be a fool to miss this offer!" is not actually calling you a fool. If you thought he was, you'd be repelled by the ad, and he knows this. He's actually expressing his confidence in your judgment and wisdom; that you are smart enough enough to recognise, as soom as you hear about it, that two-for-one deal is insanely good. He's not denigrating you; he's affirming you.

    Whereas the torturer who sneers at your convictions, your hopes or your concern for your family and friends is doing something completely different. He is not trying to win you over and he is not even trying to change your mind; he is trying to break your will and destroy you.
    As I said, a common technique in advertising is to make the "mark" feel somehow deficient without your product. This gives them a free pass from having to espouse or defend the actual virtues or efficacy of the product. In the case of religion it gets them out of having to actually substantiate the claims. They do not have to evidence the existence of god, they just call you names if you do not accept it.

    It may be that the religious sometimes do this, but I'll go back to what I said earlier; it won't work very well. After all, it doesn't work with you and, unless you're claiming for yourself superior powers of insight, wisdom and personal strength, why would you expect it to work with many other people? It stands tor reason that this line is going to be far more effective when preached to the choir. If you castigage the unbeliever as deficient, then the believer understands that he is sufficient, and he is of course very receptive to this message. I still maintain that this is going to be the primary impact of such language.

    If we think of religion as a meme, it's a bloody successful one. It follows that it has effective means of propagating itself. How are we to identify these?
    If you take the aspects of religion that you don't like, the ones you find most objectionable - like derogatory language - then either (a) you are weird, and the things that disgust you most other people find appealing, or (b) these are probably not the aspects of religion which account for its memetic success. I'm going to go with (b) as a working hypothesis.

    It stands to reason that the aspects of religion which account for its mimetic success are its appealing aspects. And unless you think that atheists/agnostics/sceptics partake of a different human nature from the rest of the species, they will have some appeal even for atheists. So look for the aspects of religion which atheists, etc regret losing; the things they found it difficult to let go of; the things that they still miss; they things that they are convinced are false but at some level they still wish were true.

    Of course, there will be some atheists who never felt any attraction to religions and cannot empathise with those who do; who struggle to see anything at all in the whole religious endeavour that could possibly engage anyone. And of course they are as entitled as the next bloke to their experience, and their perspective. But I will just say this; they are not likely to be very good at analysing religion, or understanding how the religious impulse works, or how or why religion is an effective meme.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    when you accused the religious of employing the techniques of torturers when they call unbelievers "fools", and a few moments later yourself said that the religious held ideas that were "ridiculous, some of them egregiously so", I felt that could point to the irony

    I see no irony at all. I just spell out the facts. Many of the techniques used to sell religion very much do match techniques used by torture. For example in torture and in interrogation the victim/subject is reduced to a point of terror, self disgust or worse, but then a kind of "get out" light is offered.

    Compare this to the religious notion that we are disgusting sinful beings of shame, made from dust or a clot of blood or worse (depending on the religion you look at) and essentially worthless. But fear not there is a great and wonderful plan for you and everything is designed with you in mind and god loves you anyway. This melding of shame, disgust and hope is a common manipulation tactic and alas it works.

    The "fool" tactic along with other tactics such as threat of exclusion also work. Making someone feel deficient, or even that other people will view them as deficient, if they do not accept your product/idea is a very effective way of avoiding having to substantiate the use or efficacy of your claim/product at all.

    None of this is comparable, hence the lack of irony, with my pointing out just how ludicrous some of those claims actually are. The idea a god came to earth in order to impregnate a child so she would give birth to itself for it, so it could walk around for 30+ years, get killed and have a book written about it... is simply ridiculous. The idea saying latin at bits of cracker turn them magic is stupendous. Mormon magic underpants are comical. The idea an illiterate pedophile suffering from cynophobia went into a cave and wrote a book with the assistance of his imaginary friends is just nutty. These claims are ludicrous and I make no apology for pointing that out. At all. Ever.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Well, we're not really talking about humour here, are we? I mean, as one-liners go, "the fool hath said in his heart there is no god" is not going to bring the house down.

    I was not talking about the humor IN that statement. I was talking about the humor in the statements that this statement is used to support, in substitution for any actual substantiation FOR those statements.

    As listed above the claims made by some of the religious simply are ludicrous and comical. That they have no substantiation whatsoever for those claims and back it up simply by deriding those as fools who do not simply accept them on face value is basically my point here.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    but when you talk about the techniques of torturers you are not looking at humour, as such, but at dehumanisation, at destruction of the self.

    Indeed, in this thread I am doing both. Given the dehumanising techniques of religion that it uses to sell itself, I think the application of humor to deal with those techniques and those claims is very valid, very useful and is one I intend to continue to apply when I feel warranted.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    that you are smart enough enough to recognise, as soom as you hear about it, that two-for-one deal is insanely good. He's not denigrating you; he's affirming you.

    Not entirely because if he is "recognising you are smart" for buying the product, the converse is that by not recognising what he wants you to in the advert and hence not buying the product, that you are not that smart at all. Which is my entire point. They are attempting to imply that by not buying into what they want you to buy into that you are expressing some lack on your part, not theirs. By not buying the product or not being convinced to buy it, this is a failure on your part, not theirs.

    "Smart people buy X" as a slogan in an advert is less overt in the implication for example but the implication is still there that therefore "Not smart people do not". You naively underestimate the techniques of advertisers if you think they are merely being nice guys and recognising your virtues if you, like them, come to the conclusion that the deal is a good one.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    If you take the aspects of religion that you don't like, the ones you find most objectionable - like derogatory language - then either (a) you are weird, and the things that disgust you most other people find appealing, or (b) these are probably not the aspects of religion which account for its memetic success. I'm going to go with (b) as a working hypothesis.

    You certainly will not get any argument from me about it being a successful meme. I would never claim otherwise. However I am not sure I would limit my inquiry to just the two options above. Something managing to propagate itself does not have to appeal to weirdness or being nicey nice to the host either.

    Viruses and parasites are a good example of this. They manage to propagate themselves with massive success using aspects of the human condition to do so and they in no way have to appeal to us or be nice in order to do it.

    There are parasites that get into mice and make them so brave they run at cats, get eaten and hence continue the life cycle of the parasite. Nothing about this is appealing to the mice whatsoever clearly as they get eaten. The parasite merely edits the behavior of the mice to suit its own propagation.

    So I would serve that merely as a warning to not limit your inquiry to the two obvious paths above, there are many most.

    However at the same time I do recognise religions ability to associate itself with things that DO appeal to people without actually adding anything of substance to those things. Conversations with theists such as I have had for 18+ years now will quickly show you that religion in the minds of its adherents is very much tied to concepts such as morality, charity, community and more. Religion adds in no way TO any of those things but it in proxy to them it has very much benefited by linking itself so closely to them in the minds of people who espouse the religious position.

    So the comparison to atheists that you make will indeed tell you much, but not really the things you are expecting. What you find is that all the same things that appeal to theists appeal to atheists too. Peace, love, harmony, charity, community, morality, meaning in life and much more. They are common desires across us as a species. Religion does not actually benefit any of those things in any way, and they are all perfectly attainable in the absence of religion. However as I keep repeating religion has been very successful at associating itself with them anyway and using them as a vector.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    I see no irony at all. I just spell out the facts. Many of the techniques used to sell religion very much do match techniques used by torture.

    Really? You see no irony at all? You disappoint me, nozz.

    Let me spell it out. The irony is that, at the very same time as you analyse the use of “fool” language by the religious against the unbeliever in these terms, you yourself as an unbeliever use precisely the same language against the religious.

    [Long screed against religion, followed by . . .] None of this is comparable, hence the lack of irony, with my pointing out just how ludicrous some of those claims actually are.

    Another irony, nozz. Your justification for using “fool” language yourself is, essentially, that the ideas you are criticizing really are foolish. But, as I’m sure has already occurred to you, it’s highly likely that if you challenged religious for using fool language they would offer exactly the same defence.

    And the third and ultimate irony; the defence is completely irrelevant. A moment’s thought will show that whether “fool” language is employed (effectively or not) as (a) a sales technique, (b) a torture technique or (c) any other form of psychological manipulation does not really depend on whether or to what extent the accusation of foolishness is objectively justified. (Or, if there is a relationship, then it is probably a positive correlation - the more foolish an idea is, the more effective the technique of pointing out its foolishness is likely to be. So saying that your accusations of foolishness are correct, if anything, strengthens the inference that they are being employed as a sales/torture/manipulation technique.)

    So your defence really boils down to this; yes, I’m engaged in sales/torture/psychological manipulation techniques, but I am morally justified in employing these techniques because the idea I am “selling” is objectively correct.

    And we can make two observations about this defence. First, yet again, it’s not hard to imagine a religious person, with equal sincerity to yours, mounting the same defence. Two, it’s quite obviously a defence which is only going to carry weight with people who already agree with you - i.e. with other atheists/agnostics/sceptics.

    So, again, I think this is basically preaching to the choir.

    And this is really where I came in. In many respects, there isn’t a huge difference between evangelical belief and evangelical unbelief. Both essentially adopt a position on a question of religious interest (“is there a god?”) and then advocate for their position with similar fervour, and very often with similar tactics (such as the use of “fool” language), and with a similar self-understanding about why these tactics are appropriate. And they very often react to the opposing viewpoint in similar ways. And they very often engage in the discourse in ways which meet, or seek to meet, the expectations of those who agree with them, rather than in ways which communicate with or influence effectively those who disagree with them.

    This is all pretty much to be expected. People who disagree on matters of policy, or philosophy, or aesthetics, or tribe, or which football team to support, often display these patterns. Why would we expect people who disagree on matters of theology to behave differently?

    The irony is that you don’t, or won’t, see it.

    The other irony is that this actually undermines your position. It makes you look insecure. You end up justifying your behaviour with arguments which you would instantly dismiss if religious people employed them to justify the same behaviour, and this in turn makes your position look like one which is intolerant, lacking in self-awareness and requiring a double standard to sustain itself. Which, obviously, is not going to make your position look attractive to anyone who doesn’t already share it.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Again nothing wrong here, except maybe your poor understanding of what constitutes Irony. There is a lot more at play here than simply how language is used, but the motivations for how it is being used.

    The use of the word "fool" which I am talking about is a cynical exercise to bypass the need for evidence. There simply is no evidence on offer that there is a god, so other tactics are used to substitute for that. One of those tactics is to demean those who do not believe it. No one wants to be seen as "the fool" so suggesting people are thus when they do not accept your proposition is an attempt to cajole them into believing or at least acting like they do.

    That in no way matches anything I am doing or saying here when I point out just how ludicrous some of the claims of religion actually are.

    When I start using demeaning language in the place of evidence for something I am claiming.... or when I start espousing entirely unsubstantiated claims.... THEN you can start harping on about ironies or comparing anything I have said to the tactics at play by the religious.

    Amazing how so simple a concept can be so entirely opaque to you but I will attempt to explain the difference to you again but in simpler terms in the hope it penetrates this time.

    On the one hand you have a group of people who are selling an idea. They have no evidence for this idea at all. There simply is no evidence, argument, data or reasons on offer from them to lend even a modicum of credence to their claim there is a god entity. So they are instead engaging in other tactics to cajole people into believing or at least into acting like they believe. One of those tactics is to make the “mark” feel like they are somehow deficient for not believing. No one wants to be “the fool” and so if the majority act like you are for not believing X you are going to feel a lot of pressure to either believe it or act like you do.

    On the other hand you have someone who is not selling an idea, but looking at the idea being sold to him and finding it to be entirely unsubstantiated and in some cases totally ludicrous. Whereas the group above are trying to suggest it is foolish to fail to accept entirely unsubstantiated claims… I am merely saying that I see no reason to accept ludicrous unsubstantiated claims. I am not selling any idea of my own, I am merely showing the failures of the idea being sold.

    So the differences here are massive and there is little basis for the comparisons you want to make at all.
    1. They are trying to sell an idea, I am not but am showing the failures of the idea being espoused.
    2. They are trying to suggest it foolish to not accept unsubstantiated claims, I am not but am suggesting that one should accept claims only when given sufficient cause to do so.
    3. They are calling people foolish, I am not but am calling certain ideas ludicrous…. There being a chasm of difference between attacking people and attacking idea. I respect people, I do not respect ideas.
    4. They are trying to use personal insults in place of evidence, I am not but am perfectly happy to back up with actual arguments, evidence, data and/or reasons anything I espouse.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Again nothing wrong here, except maybe a poor understanding of what constitutes Irony. There is a lot more at play here than simply how language is used, but the motivations for how it is being used.

    The use of the word "fool" which I am talking about is a cynical exercise to bypass the need for evidence. There simply is no evidence on offer that there is a god, so other tactics are used to substitute for that. One of those tactics is to demean those who do not believe it. No one wants to be seen as "the fool" so suggesting people are thus when they do not accept your proposition is an attempt to cajole them into believing or at least acting like they do.
    Nonsense, nozz. If we’re talking about motivations here, then the first thing we have to accept is that the people who wrote “the fool hath said . . . “ and, even more so, the people who canonized it, were not motivated by “a cynical exercise to bypass the need for evidence”. They considered that there was abundant evidence for the existence of god. The quote comes, in fact, from a work which they would have considered to be replete with evidence of every kind for the existence of god. Paucity of evidence was pretty much the last thing that might have embarrassed them.

    You and I would not agree with their assessment, of course, But if we’re looking at their motivation, then what matters is not whether you or I think they have evidence for the existence of god, but whether they think they do. And they certainly thought they did. Misguided they may have been, from your standpoint and mine. But cynical?

    You are imputing your beliefs and perspectives about the existence of god to them, and you have absolutely no justification for doing that, and certainly no evidence that this is warranted. And what was it you were saying about using demeaning language in place of evidence?
    When I start using demeaning language in the place of evidence for something I am claiming.... or when I start espousing entirely unsubstantiated claims.... THEN you can start harping on about ironies or comparing anything I have said to the tactics at play by the religious.

    Ah, yes, that was it.

    Evidence. Well, if we’re talking about evidence, could I suggest that the evidence you rely on here is not very strong, and that you certainly haven’t scrutinized it in any critical way?

    “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” is indeed a line from the Old Testament, and you keep trotting it out as evidence of believers employing the techniques of torturers and marketing men against unbelievers.

    But if you had actually looked at how this line is employed in scripture, you couldn’t possibly think that.

    The line in fact occurs twice, in Ps 14 and again in Ps 53. In both cases it’s a song lyric, and in fact Ps 14 and Ps 53 are two marginally different versions of what is quite obviously the same song.

    And, overall, the message of the song is very clear - even though the people of Israel are being oppressed by foreign (and therefore unbelieving) tyrants, God looks down and is passing judgment and the evildoers will get what’s coming to them, ‘cause [key change here] God’s in a smitin’ mood. So cheer up, lads, and hang in there, because God will restore the fortunes of his people. [Big finish with lots of trumpets. Not a dry eye in the house.]

    Now, you may think that this is nonsense from beginning to end, but you cannot think that its purpose is to make the unbelievers feel demeaned. Its purpose, quite obviously, is to cheer the Israelites through what were very hard times for them.

    The other point to note here is that this is a psalm. It was for liturgical use. Do you think it’s very like that the unbelievers were present at Israelite liturgies? No, me neither. So, again, this language is addressed to believers and is intended to influence them. Not unbelievers. They never heard it.

    And the other other point to note here is that the “fools” here were not atheists. We know who they were; they were worshippers of Marduk. The “god” they denied was not the general concept of deity, but the specifics of the God of Israel.

    Now, I’m not denying that at some point some Christian evangelist may have employed this scriptural quote in a misguided attempt to convert some atheist. But treating that assumed (but so far unevidenced) use as characteristic of religion, while ignoring the context, the source, the audience, the purpose and the primary use of the text is pretty cavalier treatment of the evidence, nozz.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Nozz, while I've been crafting my brilliant reply to your post #72, you've been editing your post and adding substantial new material, which of course is not addressed in my reply.

    No worries - these things happen on discussion boards. I'lll put up a separate post addressing the point you make in your additional material.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Nozz, your key point in the second half of post #72 is this:

    “On the one hand you have a group of people who are selling an idea. They have no evidence for this idea at all. There simply is no evidence, argument, data or reasons on offer from them to lend even a modicum of credence to their claim there is a god entity.”

    What you’re doing here is imputing modern, even postmodern perspectives about religion to people who certainly did not have, and could not have, those perspectives. You’re making judgments about people in the belief that they shared certain beliefs and perspectives of yours (and mine) which they not only did not share, but had never even been exposed to.

    Atheism as we know it is a completely modern invention. For most of the time since the word entered the English language, “atheist” referred to someone who denied his duty to god/the gods, not to someone who denied the reality of deity. And the root Latin and Greek words from which we got this word had the same meaning.

    It isn’t until well into the eighteenth century that you find any significant school of thought which denies the reality of any kind of deity at all.

    If “there is simply no evidence, argument, data or reasons on offer . . . to lend even a modicum of credence to [the] claim that there is a god entity”, we have to ask ourselves how somebody like Galileo, who was not afraid to challenge religious wisdom or to go where the evidence led him went to his grave devout in his belief in the reality of God. And we could ask similar questions about Newton, or a host of other moral and intellectual giants.

    This “evidence, arguments, data” line that you offer comes straight from the enlightenment, and you have to recognize that pre-enlightenment thinkers would not have found it persuasive. It rests on assumptions about the nature of truth, and about modes of enquiry and modes of knowing things, which they simply did not share.

    There reasons for believing what they believed may not seem sufficient to you. But you have to recognize that your reasons for believing what you believe would not seems sufficient to them, and you have produced no arguments which would seem compelling to them as to why they should adopt your approach to this question. You’ve simply said that they are foolish because they do not already agree with you (or, worse, you’ve said they are “cynical”, implying that they do agree with you but they conceal the fact to presever their power/authority).

    You are selling an idea - you are selling the idea that the only acceptable way of approaching theological questions is by employing the assumptions of the enlightenment about how all knowledge should be pursued. You’re selling a philosophy - specifically, an enlightenment epistemology. And you are condemning as foolish any epistemology other than the one you espouse. In short, you’re using the same technique to sell your philosophy that you accuse believers of using to sell their philosophy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Since you have decided to reply to me in 3 posts rather than 1 I will simply reply in one single post and amalgamate my entire reply to your material. I sincerely doubt that they felt they had abundant evidence for any such thing. If they had such evidence I can only imagine they would have been very keen to present it. They did not. Nor has anyone else. That is very telling. You might WANT there to be / have been evidence for god but that does not mean there is/was at all. And if you think that the position that one should have at least some reasons to believe something before believing it was some modern invention then you have more faith than even the religious, yet that is all my position is on the matter so let us not pretend I am espousing ideas only related to the 18th century. Even the Socratic method of hypothesis elimination should be sound enough to point out there literally is no substantiation for the claim that there is a god. The god hypothesis is merely made up and is not substantiated in any way whatsoever.

    No, quite the opposite, lines like that and others in books like the Bible and the Koran very clearly evidence the fact that unbelief and lack of any evidence for the claims was as much as problem then as it is now. The "fool" line is far from the only line in such books preoccupied with the problem of both doubts and false beliefs.

    What I will of course grant is that consistently the "evidence" offered by believers is open questions. Sentences of the form "If there is no god then how do you explain......." are all too common and one can only imagine that there were MORE such questions back then when many things explained today were still a mystery back then.

    However I am sure people then, as now, were just as aware that lack of knowledge is not evidence for entirely unsubstantiated claims. They would have had to deal with skeptics and doubters too which were a threat to their power and control. I Believe Help Me Jesus with My Unbelief indeed. Was it Mark 9 that the line "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" comes from? (I try not to go to google for everything) Doubts and dealing with doubters was certainly a preoccupation then as it is now.

    Thus tactics such as demeaning those who do not accept your ideas would have been just as useful then as now. Portraying unbelievers as fools, whether to attack them directly or make the believers "feel better about themselves" is just one such tactic. It is certainly a good way to keep even the believer in line who, when faced with doubts, is certainly going to shut up about them rather than risk being seen as the fool by his peers.... make them think "I have doubts, but maybe that is not because the idea is at fault, but the fault lies with me". A cynical technique to make the doubter doubt their own doubts.

    You seem wrapped up in whether the "fools" quote is direct. If you can cast any small doubt on whether it was directly written to attack unbelievers then you can throw out everything I have been saying. It does not work that way.

    It is more underhand and insidious. Even if only directed at the "in" group as you imagine it is still a way to keep them inline, to socially cajole them into shutting up about doubts if they had them, and to wield as a snide and demeaning insult against those in the "out" group who do not believe. Irrelevant as to whether the target is atheists or worshipers of Marduk, the point being that those who do not believe our unsubstantiated claims are "fools". Even if you were 100% correct in your imagined motivations for writing such a line, it would be naive to think such writers were not wholly aware of the other benefits of writing such a line in such a way compared to any of the many other things they could have written.

    Religion is replete with very insidious techniques like this. Achieving indirectly and subtly what one does not want to be seen to do 100% directly. The concept of hell is another great example of this and I have written often on this forum about how it achieves indirectly what previously would have been more direct, another good evolution in the meme.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Nozz, while I've been crafting my brilliant reply to your post #72, you've been editing your post and adding substantial new material, which of course is not addressed in my reply.

    Brilliant reply? Get over yourself. There was 44 minutes between my post and yours so do not pretend I have been subtly editing this or that under your nose. The forum adds an "edit" comment when people edit their posts telling you when the edit was done. This happens if a post is edited within 2 or less minutes of being posted. No such thing exists in my post. You will however see it below in THIS post....

    However this is all getting very far from the original point I made which you appear to have taken exception to. I made a prediction based on a hypothesis and that prediction was verified. Now as we both said and both agreed, that does not mean the prediction verifies the hypothesis, but since my first post never claimed it did you have just been going further and further off the rail to avoid admitting there was literally nothing wrong with the original post or anything in it. All I said in that post was this: Given that insulting those who do not accept your ideas is a tactic I have seen often, I therefore predicted that the word count for "fool" would be quite high. My prediction that it would be high turned out to be correct. More than that I never claimed. You might think the reasons for the count being high are different to my hypothesis, and that is all well and good, but that is nothing to do with anything I actually said in the original post.


  • Registered Users Posts: 500 ✭✭✭ parrai



    However this is all getting very far from the original point I made which you appear to have taken exception to. I made a prediction based on a hypothesis and that prediction was verified. Now as we both said and both agreed, that does not mean the prediction verifies the hypothesis, but since my first post never claimed it did you have just been going further and further off the rail to avoid admitting there was literally nothing wrong with the original post or anything in it. All I said in that post was this: Given that insulting those who do not accept your ideas is a tactic I have seen often, I therefore predicted that the word count for "fool" would be quite high. My prediction that it would be high turned out to be correct. More than that I never claimed. You might think the reasons for the count being high are different to my hypothesis, and that is all well and good, but that is nothing to do with anything I actually said in the original post.

    How is a post made on the 14.11 referring to a post made on the 13.11 a prediction when there has been no contribution to the topic been made until after the fact? This is a genuine question...


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Simple. The post #43 referred to a prediction I made to myself before having read post #24. I merely described that prediction in #43 as a point of conversational interest as I personally found it interesting that it seemed to support something I had been thinking to myself anyway. I did not actually MAKE the prediction in #43 nor have I pretended to have done. In fact it was something I was thinking about long before this thread even started. I have posted on this forum before long ago about the "fool" comment in question back when I was pursuing an interest in the parallels between how religions perpetuate themselves and similar methodologies in areas such as advertising and torture. It has been for some time an area of inquiry in which I have been highly interested.


  • Registered Users Posts: 500 ✭✭✭ parrai


    Simple. The post #43 referred to a prediction I made to myself before having read post #24. I merely described that prediction in #43 as a point of conversational interest as I personally found it interesting that it seemed to support something I had been thinking to myself anyway. I did not actually MAKE the prediction in #43 nor have I pretended to have done. In fact it was something I was thinking about long before this thread even started. I have posted on this forum before long ago about the "fool" comment in question back when I was pursuing an interest in the parallels between how religions perpetuate themselves and similar methodologies in areas such as advertising and torture. It has been for some time an area of inquiry in which I have been highly interested.

    Based on this, I have to say, Pereginus' argument is sound. If you had said prior to post 23 that 'I would say the reference to fools has a high number count in the bible', then this would have been close to a prediction. (though not really an appropriate word, more an assumption one would have thought)

    When reading your posts, it's safe to say that either the atheist/catholic perspective can be applied. Hence the irony. Read it as both and see for yourself.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    parrai wrote: »
    Based on this, I have to say, Pereginus' argument is sound.

    I am not sure his points have had anything to do with this. Nor do I see anything wrong with the original post. All the post essentially said was, as a matter of conversational interest, that the count for the word "fool" had met my expectations. I then explained part of the reasons I had those expectations.

    More, or less, than that the post was never meant to have said. I do not see anything wrong with having said it either, nor has anyone on this thread suggested what is wrong with having said it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 500 ✭✭✭ parrai


    All the post essentially said was, as a matter of conversational interest, that the count for the word "fool" had met my expectations. I then explained part of the reasons I had those expectations.

    More, or less, than that the post was never meant to have said. I do not see anything wrong with having said it either, nor has anyone on this thread suggested what is wrong with having said it.

    Fair enough.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    I sincerely doubt that they felt they had abundant evidence for any such thing. If they had such evidence I can only imagine they would have been very keen to present it. They did not. Nor has anyone else. That is very telling. You might WANT there to be / have been evidence for god but that does not mean there is/was at all. And if you think that the position that one should have at least some reasons to believe something before believing it was some modern invention then you have more faith than even the religious, yet that is all my position is on the matter so let us not pretend I am espousing ideas only related to the 18th century. Even the Socratic method of hypothesis elimination should be sound enough to point out there literally is no substantiation for the claim that there is a god. The god hypothesis is merely made up and is not substantiated in any way whatsoever.

    You’re talking nonsense, nozz, and I suspect you know it. There isn’t a shred of evidence in support of your position. The quote you pick is taken from the Hebrew Bible which is filled with accounts of personal encounters with God, miracles attributed to divine intervention, theistic explanations of historical and (then) current events, accounts of prophecy, claims of direct divine intervention into human affairs, etc. Hell, this was a culture which considered the mere existence of things to be evidence for the existence of God since, without postulating a creator, they could not otherwise account for the existence of things. Your or I may not regard any of this as evidence for the existence of God but they certainly did. To deny this is to fly in the face of much that we know about human history and culture.

    To deny this we also have to explain why, prior to the eighteenth century, we cannot point to a single culture which is atheist in the modern sense, or to a single atheist society, or indeed to more than a handful of atheist individuals. We have to explain why, in all the accounts we have of theological disputes, religious disputes, wars over religious issues, etc, we never find an atheist challenge to religion, or to the religious establishment. In the wide variety of hotly-fought inconsistent views on religious questions of every kind, atheism simply does not feature. Why is this, if as you suggest everybody knows that there is no good reason to believe in god? The one view which everybody secretly knew to be correct was never asserted? Mortal enemies were joined in a conspiracy over centuries to suppress what everybody knew?

    We have to explain why, when enlightenment thinking finally does take hold, we find people moving not to atheism, but to Deism. It’s another hundred years before atheism as we know it becomes a significant intellectual presence. Even enlightenment thinkers, it turns out, have difficulty in wrapping their heads around modern atheism.

    Modern atheist perspectives are very much the product of the enlightenment. To deny this is a amusing speculation, but it flies in the face of all the evidence. You cannot simultaneously assert that the ancients did not believe they had evidence for the existence of god, and at the same time claim that your own beliefs are evidence-based. At least, not if you wish to retain credibility and avoid derision.

    No, quite the opposite, lines like that and others in books like the Bible and the Koran very clearly evidence the fact that unbelief and lack of any evidence for the claims was as much as problem then as it is now. The "fool" line is far from the only line in such books preoccupied with the problem of both doubts and false beliefs.

    Oh, suddenly you’re bracketing unbelief with false belief? That’s a huge change in your position, nozz, and not one one that you can slip in and expect nobody to notice. The false believer is, quite obviously, not an unbeliever in the eyes of a modern atheist. The worshipper of Marduk is no different than the worshipper of Yahweh. And likewise the doubter is not an unbeliever, if in fact his doubts amount to a sneaking suspicion that maybe those Babylonians over there have a point.

    You seem wrapped up in whether the "fools" quote is direct. If you can cast any small doubt on whether it was directly written to attack unbelievers then you can throw out everything I have been saying. It does not work that way.

    It is more underhand and insidious. Even if only directed at the "in" group as you imagine it is still a way to keep them inline, to socially cajole them into shutting up about doubts if they had them, and to wield as a snide and demeaning insult against those in the "out" group who do not believe. Irrelevant as to whether the target is atheists or worshipers of Marduk, the point being that those who do not believe our unsubstantiated claims are "fools". Even if you were 100% correct in your imagined motivations for writing such a line, it would be naive to think such writers were not wholly aware of the other benefits of writing such a line in such a way compared to any of the many other things they could have written.

    Hold on, hold on. You seem to be making two contentions here, each of which is unsupported by any evidence, and which are hard to reconcile with one another.

    First, the Israelites who employed “fool” languge in Ps 14 all knew that they had no good reason to believe in god, but they engaged in a massive communal pretence over a couple of millennia. Indeed, they are still engaged in it.

    Now, the religion that they pretended to believe in was emphatically not missionary or evangelical. It had absolutely no interest in turning non-Jews into Jews, and did not view this as in any sense a good thing. In fact attempted converts were (and are) discouraged, and treated with a degree of suspicion.

    But, your second contention is, in reality they secretly did wish to turn non-Jews into Jews, and have them adopt religious beliefs and practices which they, in fact, knew all along to be baseless (see contention one).

    And the best way they could think of to do this was call their non-Jewish overlords “fools” when they weren’t listening. It never occurred to them, apparently, that a more effective way of facilitating conversions to the religion they didn’t believe in would be, well, not to oppose conversions, and frame their religion as one which sought, welcomed and rewarded conversions.

    So, in summary, the Jews created a religion which they secretly knew, and still know, to be false, and they created it in a way which would inevitably frustrate their secret objective of getting people to join it.

    You can see, can’t you, that this is a pretty improbable set of propositions? No offence, but to hold your interpretation of the motivation and effect of this text requires an extraordinary abandonment of common sense and disregard of abundant evidence.

    I’m not denying, nozz, that religious people can and sometimes do employ derogatory language in the way you suggest. (But I think they mainly employ it for entirely other purposes, and that its main effect is entirely otherwise, and the example that you have chosen rather bears me out.)


    My point has always been is that "fool" language is something employed only by religious people. It is used by people of opposing views in conflicts of every kind. And, in the religious context it is used by atheists too, and for pretty much the same motivations, and the same purposes, as it is used by relgious people. My main criticism of your position is your refusal to recognize or acknowledge this. You have persistently sought to maintain that atheists using “fool” language - and, specifically, yourself - are engaged in something radically, fundamentally different, and altogether more worthy and high-minded.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy this. It strikes me as fundamentally improbable, and I see no evidence to support it. And I observe that, in your attempt to defend this position, you paint yourself into inconvenient corners, asserting beliefs which are abundantly contradicted by the evidence, while at the same time insisting that all beliefs must be evidence-based.

    It looks very defensive, nozz. It looks weak. I smell insecurity. I seriously doubt that I’m the only one to note that the person condemning the use of “fool” language by the religious claims a moral right to use it himself. And I doubt that I’m the only person to find his defence of that position deeply unconvincing, resting on a degree of denial of evidence and a degree of doublethink.

    And this, I’m afraid, may tend to reflect on the core atheist/agnostic/sceptic position that you espouse. If nothing else, it shows that a person can at the same time be an atheist, and be capable of a high degree of self-delusion. And it will give rise to the speculation, is he an atheist because he is capable of self-delusion? Does he require this self-delusion in order to sustain his particular brand of atheism?

    All in all, it’s not a good look.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    You’re talking nonsense, nozz, and I suspect you know it.

    An easy sentence to type when one needs a throw away sentence but I do not agree. Especially given that my position simply is that we should not accept ideas that are unsubstantiated and that such a way of thinking is not new in the 18th century as you comically claimed.

    All my position on this thread is/was and which you have inexplicably taken exception to is the following:

    1) I have long noticed the practise in many areas of substantiating ideas not with evidence, but with derision of those that do not subscribe to it.
    2) I noticed lines like "The fool hate said in their heart there is no god" which fit with what I noticed in 1.
    3) I at some point in my mind extrapolated that into a prediction that words like "fool" would have a significant count in the bible.
    4) I mentioned only for sake of conversation that this prediction was verified by this thread.

    What part of that you have issue with or is "nonsense" I am still entirely unclear on.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    the Hebrew Bible which is filled with accounts of.......

    So are many works of fiction from the Bourne Identity to the Lord of the Rings. All of which are accounts of personal encounters with wizards and goblins and super soldiers, often such as the case of the former, set against a backdrop of real world events, people and places. None of this means any of it is true or constitutes a reason to think or even act like it is true.

    However none of this is addressing my point at all which is that lines like "the fool hath said...." are useful in cajoling unbelievers or false believers into believing or at least acting like they do.... and also cajoling those who do believe into staying that way and/or not expressing their doubts if and when they have them.

    As I keep pointing out, even if you could verify your claims as to other motivations for having written such a line, it would be naive to think that the writers were not also aware of the other benefits of putting it in such as I mention above.

    And none of that point which I am making requires, mentioned, appeals to or is dependent on the existence of "atheists in the modern sense" which you mention for reasons unknown to me. What I am saying has nothing to do with them and the psychological benefits to the writers of writing such a line has nothing to do with them.

    For example you say the line was nothing to do with atheists but of believers of some false doctrines. So what? The same thing is true that I am saying that a) The line keeps believers of THIS religion from expressing doubts as they do not want to be seen as the "fool" and b) believers of the other religion get derided as fools and no one wants to be seen as "the fool". It also gives subscribers something to make them feel superior of others with, also a useful way to manipulate a "mark".

    Dismissing all these benefits is naive, especially if you are doing so solely because you can find other parallel motivations for also writing such a line.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    We have to explain why, in all the accounts we have of theological disputes, religious disputes, wars over religious issues, etc, we never find an atheist challenge to religion, or to the religious establishment.

    Hardly difficult to explain is it? Such people have long been cajoled into silence historically. Until relatively recently any expression of religious doubts or disagreement was blasphemy. A person doing so would suffer from one or more of financial, physical, social or mental torment. They would be derided or in some places even tortured or killed. If you are going to trawl through history and noting the distinct lack of anti religious sentiment then at least do so under the intellectually honest light of recognising just what people would generally endure for expressing such sentiments. Being called a "fool" is only one mild example.

    Nor is this purely historic. There are areas of the world today, both east and west of Ireland, where people simply do not feel comfortable.... or even safe.... expressing dissent against the concepts of religion. We are still a growing species in this regard and "coming out" campaigns from people like Dawkins are only a drop in the ocean, but a much needed one.

    Yes I say there is no good reason believing in god. However do not take that sentence as me EVER claiming that there are no good reasons for EXPRESSING a belief in god. Do not mix the two ever, they are worlds apart.

    In that light why you find people "moving to atheism and not deism" becomes a lot clearer. The less taboo being a non believer becomes the more people you are likely to find espousing such a position.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Oh, suddenly you’re bracketing unbelief with false belief? That’s a huge change in your position, nozz

    I am not aware of any such change and what I have already typed in this post should clarify why but I will repeat it. I am talking about the psychological effects of deriding those who do not accept your position/product as "fools".

    That point is true regardless of whether you are targeting people with no belief at all, or.... as you not me brought into the conversation.... those who have a "false belief" such as the followers of Marduk that you brought up not me.

    In fact I think it should be clear that not only is this NOT a change of position, but my position is actually not only about non belief and false belief but also about believers. I have mentioned a few times that the "fool" line also is a good psychological manipulation of people who currently believe to keep doing so or at least to keep doubts they may have silent, because they to do not want to be seen as "the fool" for their doubts.

    So far from being a change of my position, my position is one of recognizing the power of such a tactic over all three groups, and not just any one. Portraying this as a change in my position is at best simply false, and at worst a desperate grasping at straws.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    that atheists using “fool” language - and, specifically, yourself - are engaged in something radically, fundamentally different, and altogether more worthy and high-minded.

    Somewhat but not quite how you are presenting it because I think you will find that I have not been calling anyone fools. I have been attacking ideas. There is a world of difference between attacking ideas and attacking the people that hold them. Calling people "fools" is to do the latter. I do not do this. Calling ideas "ludicrous" is to do the former and not only have I no problem in admitting I do this, I make absolutely no apology for it either.

    When an idea is ridiculous I have no qualms in highlighting this. If humor is a good tool to use in doing so I have no problem with doing that either. Nor has anyone on this thread, much less yourself, adumbrated a single reason why I should not.

    The problem many people have in this world is that they equate the derision of an idea with the derision of the person who holds it. They are not the same. I can, for example, recognize that Newton was a mind far beyond anything I could ever aspire to be. I can bow before his massive intelligence and recognize he was a better man than me in this regard.

    I can do all that while also pointing out he held some simply absurd ideas on subject ranging from medicine to alchemy. His ideas were ludicrous, unsubstantiated and preposterous and in some cases simply comical.

    Do I call him names for holding them? No. Do I deride him as a person and call him a fool? No. I recognize he was a brilliant mind which held some really bad ideas.

    If you can not see the distinction between attacking ideas and calling them ludicrous, and attacking the holder of ideas (or people who fail to hold a certain idea) and calling them "fools" then I am not sure how to help you further, regardless of what you feel you "smell".


  • Registered Users Posts: 35,524 ✭✭✭✭ Gordon


    Can someone summarise what nozzferrahhtoo and Peregrinus have been squabbling about for the past 20 posts? I tl;drd them.

    too long: 1
    not read: 8
    thread: 7
    spoilers: 7
    focus: 0
    the point: 5
    heathen: 150


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 42,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Beruthiel


    Have you looked up anus yet?
    I couldn't be arsed (pun?) going back through the thread to look.


  • Registered Users Posts: 35,524 ✭✭✭✭ Gordon


    Hehe, only 4 references to a person by the name of Silvanus! Must be someone so old they called him grey butt.

    from earlier -
    bottom: 20
    buttocks: 3
    ass: 26


  • Registered Users Posts: 500 ✭✭✭ parrai


    Gordon wrote: »
    Can someone summarise what nozzferrahhtoo and Peregrinus have been squabbling about for the past 20 posts? I tl;drd them.

    Pereginus though is very informative at the very least, on a historical level.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    An easy sentence to type when one needs a throw away sentence but I do not agree. Especially given that my position simply is that we should not accept ideas that are unsubstantiated and that such a way of thinking is not new in the 18th century as you comically claimed.
    Nozz, if you hope to persuade anybody of anything, you’re going to have to try to follow the thread of your own argument.

    I have never claimed that the idea that beliefs should be substantiated arose only in the eighteenth century.

    What I am challenging is your claim that the ancient Hebrews knew that their beliefs were not substantiated, were cynical in asserting those beliefs, and employed ridicule to distract attention from the fact that their beliefs were not substantiated.

    In post #76 you asserted that the culture which produced and canonized “the fool hath said . . .” understood that they had no good reason to hold the beliefs they professed; that they were, as you claimed in post #72, “cynical” in their description of people who doubted those beliefs as fools; that they were seeking to bypass the need for evidence because they knew there was no evidence.

    I’ve challenged you to justify this before, and your only response has been to emphasise, with some vehemence, that their reasons for holding the religious beliefs they professed do not seem sufficient to you. The unstated but essential premise on which you are relying here is that, if there reasons for holding their beliefs don't seem sufficent to you, they can't have seemed sufficient to them either. In other words, you belief that their (pre-modern, pre-enlightentment) understanding as to what would be a sufficient foundation for a belief was the same as your (modern, post-enlightenment) understanding.

    That’s an extraordinary claim. If the enlightenment did anything at all, it developed the way we investigate and critically assess truth-claims; it changed our understanding of the grounds of knowledge. Yet your belief is that the ancient Hebrews assessed truth-claims in much the same way that you do.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and, by your own standards if you believe this you must have evidence for it. Yet you have ignored repeated invitations to produce that evidence. Why?
    What part of that you have issue with or is "nonsense" I am still entirely unclear on.
    I really don’t see how you can be unclear on this. Go back to post #82, where I say that you’re talking nonsense. That statement immediately follows a direct quote from your post no #76, beginning “I sincerely doubt that they [the ancient Hebrews] felt they had abundant evidence for any such thing [the existence of god]”. That’s what I describe as nonsense. How can you have difficulty grasping this?
    So are many works of fiction from the Bourne Identity to the Lord of the Rings. All of which are accounts of personal encounters with wizards and goblins and super soldiers, often such as the case of the former, set against a backdrop of real world events, people and places. None of this means any of it is true or constitutes a reason to think or even act like it is true.
    I know you think that the scriptures are works of fiction, nozz. What you need to produce here is your evidence that the ancient Hebrews also thought that. All the evidence that I know of points rather strongly in the other direction; they seem to have taken the scriptures quite seriously.
    However none of this is addressing my point at all which is that lines like "the fool hath said...." are useful in cajoling unbelievers or false believers into believing or at least acting like they do.... and also cajoling those who do believe into staying that way and/or not expressing their doubts if and when they have them.

    As I keep pointing out, even if you could verify your claims as to other motivations for having written such a line, it would be naive to think that the writers were not also aware of the other benefits of putting it in such as I mention above.
    They can indeed be useful for that purpose. (Though I think the particular example you selected is a very poor one. If you seriously think that the authors of that line were “aware” that it would have the “benefit” of “cajoling” their Marduk-worshipping Babylonian overlords in believing in Judaism, or acting as if they did, then it is not me who is naïve.)

    But my point has always been that this cuts both ways. Unbelievers trotting out similar language must be similarly aware of the effects it might have. (Unless, of course, you think unbelievers are generally more stupid than believers, and cannot spot things that believers must be taken to have spotted. I myself do not think that.)
    And none of that point which I am making requires, mentioned, appeals to or is dependent on the existence of "atheists in the modern sense" which you mention for reasons unknown to me. What I am saying has nothing to do with them and the psychological benefits to the writers of writing such a line has nothing to do with them.

    For example you say the line was nothing to do with atheists but of believers of some false doctrines. So what? The same thing is true that I am saying that a) The line keeps believers of THIS religion from expressing doubts as they do not want to be seen as the "fool" and b) believers of the other religion get derided as fools and no one wants to be seen as "the fool". It also gives subscribers something to make them feel superior of others with, also a useful way to manipulate a "mark".

    Dismissing all these benefits is naive, especially if you are doing so solely because you can find other parallel motivations for also writing such a line.
    I’m not dismissing them. You are the one who is dismissing them, at least when it comes to the use of such language by (a) atheists, or at least (b) yourself.
    Hardly difficult to explain is it? Such people have long been cajoled into silence historically. Until relatively recently any expression of religious doubts or disagreement was blasphemy. A person doing so would suffer from one or more of financial, physical, social or mental torment. They would be derided or in some places even tortured or killed. If you are going to trawl through history and noting the distinct lack of anti religious sentiment then at least do so under the intellectually honest light of recognising just what people would generally endure for expressing such sentiments. Being called a "fool" is only one mild example.

    Nor is this purely historic. There are areas of the world today, both east and west of Ireland, where people simply do not feel comfortable.... or even safe.... expressing dissent against the concepts of religion. We are still a growing species in this regard and "coming out" campaigns from people like Dawkins are only a drop in the ocean, but a much needed one.

    Yes I say there is no good reason believing in god. However do not take that sentence as me EVER claiming that there are no good reasons for EXPRESSING a belief in god. Do not mix the two ever, they are worlds apart.
    Nope, still don’t buy it. You are essentially claiming that, throughout all of human history, both the priest and the worshipper, the torturer and the tortured, the murderer and the martyr, the saint and the sinner knew there was no substance to the issues over which they were fighting, killing and dying. They hated one another, even though they knew their was no foundation for their hate. They loved one another, even though they knew there was no foundation for their love. They killed when they knew they had no reason to kill; they exiled or went into exile when they knew they had no reason to; they suffered death when they knew they had no reason to. And, despite the enmity, the conflict, the wars and the desolation they inflicted on one another, they conspired together for millennia never to mention or acknowledge what they all knew.

    A much more parsimonious explanation of the known facts is that, by and large, these people believed pretty much what they said they believed, and that their reasons for believing were good enough for them, even if not for you. Occam’s razor would suggest that this is the most likely explanation of what we observe.

    And, so far, I have seen neither coherent argument nor any evidence from you as to why we should discount this possibility.
    I am not aware of any such change and what I have already typed in this post should clarify why but I will repeat it. I am talking about the psychological effects of deriding those who do not accept your position/product as "fools".

    That point is true regardless of whether you are targeting people with no belief at all, or.... as you not me brought into the conversation.... those who have a "false belief" such as the followers of Marduk that you brought up not me.
    You brought them up, nozz, if perhaps unknowingly. It was you who selected the “fool hath said in his heart . . .” language as an evidence of what you were talking about and the “fools” referred to there are, in fact, Marduk-worshippers. You can hardly think that people who scrutinize the evidence that you introduce are bringing new material into the discussion.
    In fact I think it should be clear that not only is this NOT a change of position, but my position is actually not only about non belief and false belief but also about believers. I have mentioned a few times that the "fool" line also is a good psychological manipulation of people who currently believe to keep doing so or at least to keep doubts they may have silent, because they to do not want to be seen as "the fool" for their doubts.

    So far from being a change of my position, my position is one of recognizing the power of such a tactic over all three groups, and not just any one. Portraying this as a change in my position is at best simply false, and at worst a desperate grasping at straws.
    It’s very hard to reconcile, nozz, with your position that atheists employing similar language against believers - atheists who are, necessarily, attacking “false belief” - are doing something radically different from believers who are attacking “false belief”. In post #66 you defended the use of ridicule in relation to false beliefs. Yet you continued to attack the use of ridicule in Ps 14. It was a reasonable inference to think that you did not regared the language in Ps 14 as directed against false belief because, if so, you would (if you were being consistent) have defended it.
    Somewhat but not quite how you are presenting it because I think you will find that I have not been calling anyone fools. I have been attacking ideas. There is a world of difference between attacking ideas and attacking the people that hold them. Calling people "fools" is to do the latter. I do not do this. Calling ideas "ludicrous" is to do the former and not only have I no problem in admitting I do this, I make absolutely no apology for it either.
    I dunno, nozz. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no god” fairly plainly links foolishness to the idea of denying god. And, on the other hand, telling someone that his beliefs are “ridiculous, even egregiously so” would be taken by most people, I think, as a personal slight. Accusing him of advocating egregiously ridiculous ideas must be taken as reflecting on either his intelligence or his honesty.

    In terms of the psychological impact of derisive language, nozz, I think it's a bit jesuitical to say that one will operate as a personal attack and the other will not. You’re putting much more weight on the formal structure of the sentences that I think it can reasonably bear.
    When an idea is ridiculous I have no qualms in highlighting this. If humor is a good tool to use in doing so I have no problem with doing that either. Nor has anyone on this thread, much less yourself, adumbrated a single reason why I should not.
    I’ve never said that you shouldn’t use “fool” language. The only person in this thread who has objected to “fool” language is you. I’ve merely pointed out that your objection to it is rather selective.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Gordon wrote: »
    Can someone summarise what nozzferrahhtoo and Peregrinus have been squabbling about for the past 20 posts.

    Nozz objects to the use of ridicule by believers against unbelievers.

    Howeever he himself, an unbeliever, employs ridicule against believers.

    I point to the apparent double standard, and invite him to justify it.

    He denies that there is any double standard at work, and offers various justifications.

    I don’t find his justifications adequately established, and don’t think that they stand up to critical scrutiny. I continue to think that he is employing, and attempting to defend, a double standard, and that in the minds of some this may tend to reflect badly on the position for which he advocates.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Gordon wrote: »
    Can someone summarise what nozzferrahhtoo and Peregrinus have been squabbling about for the past 20 posts?
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Nozz objects to the use of ridicule by believers against unbelievers.

    I am unsure why you need to keep misrepresenting my position except of course to claim a double standard that is not there and is only there when you change my position.

    No I do not object to the use of ridicule per se. As I said I think humor is a very important faculty and one we need to use often. When an idea is ludicrous then by all means ridicule it. The idea that is, NOT the people that hold that idea.

    No my position is entirely different to your straw man of it. What I am saying is that I object to the use of ridicule in place of evidence. When one espouses an unsubstantiated idea and instead of offering substantiation instead attempts to ridicule or demean those that do not accept it.

    For example there is no evidence, argument, data or reasons on offer at this time to lend even a modicum of credence to the claim there is a god. Suggesting people are fools for saying in their heart there is no god therefore is an attempt to bypass the requirement for evidence on the matter and instead to try and cause the "mark" to believe without evidence or at least to act like they believe.

    I call foul on such tactics and no one, much less you, has suggested why I should not. Deriding the mark to make up for ones own lack of substantiation for ones claims is a poor tactic and one I do not apologise for highlighting wherever I see it.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,264 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Nozz, if you hope to persuade anybody of anything, you’re going to have to try to follow the thread of your own argument.

    I am perfectly aware of what my argument is. Your failure to understand it does not equate to me failing to do so. Maybe I am failing to help you understand it, that much is clear, but that does not mean I have any issue with understanding my own position. I will continue to help you to understand it and clear up errors like the misrepresentations you include in the post I just made above.

    I have never claimed that the idea that beliefs should be substantiated arose only in the eighteenth century.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    What I am challenging is your claim that the ancient Hebrews knew that their beliefs were not substantiated

    Again this is not really what I am claiming and so you are challenging it for no reason. What I am actually saying stands regardless of whether they actually believed what they claim to have or not. People leaving their faith for others, or having no faith at all, was still an issue. The bible and Koran are punctuated with messages for, and about, people doubting the faith.

    And as such all my point is is that lines like "The fool hath said in their heart there is no god" are useful lines in that context. Lines like that are targeted at people who do not want to be seen as "the fool" and so will cajole them into believing, staying as believers, or at least keeping doubts quite if and when they have them.

    I repeat this has nothing to do with whether the people who wrote the lines or not actually believed what they where shoveling. The usefulness of such a line to them remains unchanged regardless and it is that usefulness I am directing my points at.

    Further, and to highlight that I am not just saying NOW that I do not care if the writer was a believer or not but thought this all alone, there is a reason, which you clearly have missed given I have had to explain all this again, for me having mentioned religion as an evolving meme and taking a meme eye view of that evolution. Lines like "the fool" one get into texts like this and survive because of the evolutionary usefulness they provide the meme. The meme "wants" to be replicated in human minds and lines like this give it evolutionary advantages to do so by making the host(s) more likely to accept the meme or at least act like they do accept it... so long as they pass it on by espousing it. Regardless of whether the writer(s) believed this rubbish themselves or not, the writing and including of such lines increases the evolutionary advantage of the religion by utilising aspects of the human condition (just like a virus does) such as the human fear to stand out from the crowd and be derided by ones peers.

    The advantages of such lines therefore is clear. The reasons why such lines are included and written is clear. The survivability and the advantage to the religion of having such tactics is clear. None of it is predicated on the writers of those lines believing or even knowing why they are writing such lines or why they are advantageous. A religion that employs such tactics is going to be more successful than a religion that says "Look guys, we believe this stuff, we hope you do too, but if not thats fine with us".

    Again that is my main point and if you can not understand it so be it, but do not presume to extrapolate that into a claim that I do not understand my own arguments. Such is just poor point scoring and one up manship which this thread does not require.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    It’s very hard to reconcile, nozz, with your position that atheists employing similar language against believers - atheists who are, necessarily, attacking “false belief” - are doing something radically different from believers who are attacking “false belief”

    Maybe it is for you, but your difficulties do not negate the points.

    The points are simple:

    1) There is a massive difference between deriding people, and deriding ideas. I respect people. I do not respect ideas. I evaluate reasoning for ideas. I can attack an idea as ludicrous and even comical without attacking the people that hold them. I do not need to call people names in order to show how ridiculous one or more ideas they hold actually are.

    2) While I may call ideas ludicrous I also in parallel provide my reasoning and arguments. If I espouse a position I evidence that position with arguments, evidence, data and reasons. This is contrasted to those using derision of the "mark" solely and IN PLACE OF evidence for their claims in order to sell those claims to the mark. I have constantly said it on these forums (which a quick play with the search function will confirm) that my ONLY problem in this forum is with unsubstantiated claims and the underhand tactics used to disseminate them. I highlight and deride such claims when I see them. I highlight and deride such tactics when I see them. Nor do I apologise or feel remotely in the wrong for doing either.

    So yes, I do "defend the use of ridicule" as you put it. I think it a useful tool when correctly and honestly applied and when applied to the right target (ideas, not people). What I am attacking is the use of ridicule in place of evidence, whether intentional or not. I include and underline that last caveat to make clearer what the first half of this post was trying to explain to you.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    And, on the other hand, telling someone that his beliefs are “ridiculous, even egregiously so” would be taken by most people, I think, as a personal slight.

    Let us finish the post on a note of happy agreement. This I have no disagreement with at all. However that is their problem not mine. I very firmly said in a couple of posts now that I attack ideas, not people. If people want to engage in vicarious offence on behalf of their ideas or the ideas of others then that is their problem/choice and not mine.

    But you are entirely right. When attacking ideas people who hold those ideas do get vicariously offended on their behalf. There are people on these forums who do often say "People who think there are gods are stupid" and I take exception to that as much as you would. Some very very intelligent people indeed have thought there was a god. Saying belief is linked to stupidity is poor form and I deride it just as much when I see it. You will find a couple of posts in the last year from me in After Hours doing just that, such as this one where I denied the power of the relevance of the correlation between increasing intelligence and atheism.

    No, more correct is to say that the idea is stupid. Even better is to say the idea is unsubstantiated and ludicrous. Some of the ideas really are such as the idea saying Latin at crackers turns them magic,
    or that an illiterate pedophile who was also likely suffering from cynophobia and epilepsy went in a cave and wrote a book with the help of his imaginary friends.

    But I stress that attacking ideas as stupid is not to attack the holder of those ideas as stupid and if people want to get offended when you attack their ideas then so be it.

    I again make no apology for this nor do I see any reason why I should. If an idea is ridiculous I have to be honest and say so. I can not be anything other than honest and I will not compromise that. If the holder of the idea is offended then I am sorry, but that is their problem. People get offended too easily. Look at the music forums on here at how offended people get when you question the quality of music their personal hero produces. They actually take personal offence as if deriding the quality of a product is a direct insult to the person who enjoys it.

    People are too quick to offend which is bad enough. People are too quick to suggest we should be pandering to that offence however which I find to be many levels worse.


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