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Michael Nugent speaks for Atheism

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,086 ✭✭✭ Michael Nugent


    What do you conclude differently about "there is nothing after this"?...
    Without analyzing it all point by point, it is correct to say that some of your conclusions are consistent with some of my conclusions.

    The difference is that my conclusions focus on the positive factors and yours focus on the negative factors.

    Possibly because it doesn't bother me that 'there is nothing after this' and I enjoy the fact that 'there is so much during this.'


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,086 ✭✭✭ Michael Nugent


    The second article in the series is published today.

    If there is a natural explanation then there is no reason to invent a god

    Feedback welcome.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,537 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    Feedback welcome.
    What's with the large, god-like image? :p

    Good article. Nice and straightforward.
    Nothing that could be construed as a generalisation about atheists to get you in trouble here!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,258 ✭✭✭ nozzferrahhtoo


    Utter selflessness (a.k.a. unconditional and sacrificial love).

    I actually find that to be much more interesting under atheism given that since we only have THIS life... sacrifice is much greater.

    Take the Jesus Fairy Tale for example.

    He is said to have "given" his life for us. However in the fairy tale he went on to an eternal life. So he did not "give" anything. He traded a fleetingly short life here for another eternal everlasting one of bliss. Hardly a sacrifice is it and a bit of an insult to our intelligence to be asked to treat it as such. The god character for example did not "give" us his only son. At best he "lent" us his only son. For an insignificantly short time.

    Now had the fairy tale been that he was sent to earth, offered an eternal life, and he turned it down in order to sacrifice himself for us..... now THAT would be a tale worth writing and a sacrifice worth harping on about. THAT would have been a testament to true selflessness.

    So I think when people make sacrifices in this life, in the knowledge that this is the only life they have in which to be making those sacrifices... I would respect their "selflessness" infinitely more than those doing it thinking "meh, sure I have eternity so this is no skin off my nose".

    Nugent is on this thread for example sacrificing time he does not really have in order to ask users how he can change his writing style in future to better portray his work in a way that is pleasing to more people. I appreciate that sacrifice of his time and his willingness to really listen to others and change his ways.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,370 ✭✭✭ Knasher


    Dades wrote: »
    Nothing that could be construed as a generalisation about atheists to get you in trouble here!
    I got to say I smiled when I saw the most qualifier at the end.
    Feedback welcome.
    Well seeing as you asked, the one area I felt the article was a little bit weak was near the end where you said:
    If there is a plausible natural explanation, there is no reason to invent a god.
    and then highlighted where the answer to some of the big questions will probably be found. The implication being that they currently don't offer a plausible natural explanation. That might have been an opportune time to expand on why it is a bad idea to use gods as an answer to these questions.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 68,296 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    Feedback welcome.
    You've confirmed for me that there's no way of presenting a godless view of the universe without using language that will in some way upset a believer or at the very least will appear anti-religion.

    You've probably presented it there in the most softly-softly way possible, yet I can still see a few fairly fervent backlashes in days to come.

    For someone deeply seated in their belief, I don't think there's any amount of articles that can help them look objectively at what they believe and evaluate it critically.

    But for those who are on the fence or questioning (a huge number of "Catholics" in this country IMO), it invites more questions and critical thinking about the nature of whatever they consider to be "god", and provides them with a few more starting points to get more information on the nature of the universe.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,370 ✭✭✭ Knasher


    seamus wrote: »
    You've confirmed for me that there's no way of presenting a godless view of the universe without using language that will in some way upset a believer or at the very least will appear anti-religion.
    Well the two lines I think might upset a theist the most are the inventing a god lines. If the objective was to not to insult theists at all then the wording could have been along the lines of "no reason to substitute a god as an answer to questions we can't possibly answer yet" and still maintaining the point. Not that I'm advocating always tip-toeing around theists for fear of insulting them, it's just apart from those two lines the rest of the article felt pretty soft.

    After that most of the article talks about some of the science behind the big questions and if people are getting insulted by science then they may as well just stick their heads in the sand and be done with it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,807 ✭✭✭ CerebralCortex


    But the idea that constraints add to rather than subtract from lifes enjoyment is inescapable. There'll always be a Howard Huges type to argue differently but he isn't the norm. Or normal.

    Who wants to be normal?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,807 ✭✭✭ CerebralCortex


    Tell Michael Nugent will ya?





    I think the 'bad' people find it good that evolution worked things out that way too. It means there's more opportunity for them.

    Ah hang on a second, you've clearly never heard of game theory.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭ recedite


    Dades wrote: »
    What's with the large, god-like image?
    Its good to project an "optimistic" looking face; it counters any "pessimistic atheists, nothing to look forward to" image out there.
    Feedback welcome.

    Good articles.
    The lack of commonality among atheists was already dealt with in the first article, dealing with such labels as the agnostic atheist. So I agree with your strategy of highlighting points of agreement by using strong statements like Atheists agree.... or Atheists reject... (where justified)
    Its only by presenting some sort of united front, backed up by significant numbers of people, to the general public and the politicians that progress can be made towards loosening the grip on power (schools, laws, oaths, the Constitution etc) traditionally enjoyed by the religious.
    I would also keep up the specific references to Prof Mackays IrishTimes articles. Otherwise, somebody reading one of yours for the first time might react thinking; WTF is this atheist preacher on about; who let him in here?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 8,556 ✭✭✭ Roger Hassenforder


    The second article in the series is published today.

    If there is a natural explanation then there is no reason to invent a god

    Feedback welcome.


    very good article Michael, but to be really picky:

    "RITE & REASON: ATHEISTS REJECT the idea that a supernatural being, and specifically a personal intervening supernatural being, created what we today call the universe".

    have you left scope for the Dana fans to accuse atheists of being closet deists?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,780 liamw


    The second article in the series is published today.

    If there is a natural explanation then there is no reason to invent a god

    Feedback welcome.

    Michael, just wanted to say thanks for writing these articles and getting them out there. A lot of us appreciate your efforts.

    I'd love to see an article that outlines why humans believe in god/s. A lot of people just accept what their 'brain tells them' and don't recognise or consider the known congnitive biases that exist. You could talk about concepts like supernatural agency detection and the predator/bush scenario which evolved the behaviour. More in this video.


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    Arcus it would have helped if you'd taken the time to actually read past
    the title before condemning the article:

    I know it'll be hard to re-read that passage without instantly assuming
    all the fluff you've propped yourself up on but to any unbiased reader
    it's as clear as day that the "We" follows on from the "most of us", so
    already the self-promotional overarching grandiosity of the "We" claim
    you'd love to have existed just isn't there (where did it come from? ;)).
    Context is a bitch, but if you really want to string this out then I think
    your argument is with the "most of us", despite any 8 year old knowing
    what is meant by the sentences being used. In any case the "We"'ness
    you're striving for makes no sense if you actually read beyond the title.

    Your'e making the self serving presumption that because part of the title was quoted then I must only have read the title. Then you quote a passage, take a part of it out of context and then say "context is a bitch". I'll take your word for the problem as you experience it. The "We" is in the title which you ought to have read.
    It would have been great if you'd quoted some sentences to show us the logical link between this delusion & the actual sentences, some quotes to back up the self-promotional qualities of the article would have been nice too.

    Do you think that anyone can speak for people based on the fact they don't believe in god's and after that may have nothing of note in common? There may even be many atheist who are anti-atheist! For any statements about atheists to be true they would have to first distinguish which groups of atheist or collective movements or membership of an atheist organisations they referred to. An atheist might just as well be a Pope in the Vatican planning and plotting to crush a movement which was based on professing atheisms as any other sort of atheist. Joseph Stalin didn't like rivals and claiming to be an atheist wouldn't have done you any good.
    Is this an "I was atheist before it was cool" steam reliever or can you
    actually justify, by means of quotations, that the article is just about
    these central bank good charlotte rockers new atheists?

    I used the term professed atheist or so called "New Atheists" which is a term being used whether rightly or wrongly. Do you think that an atheist is someone who does not believe in gods or someone who does not believe in gods and says so? Professed atheists by the way include the "I'm an atheist now that it's cool" types...

    I'm not an atheist I'm a human being. That's not as simple a statement as you might imagine. I just happen to be of the opinion that there is no reason to believe such things as gods exist. As soon as you immerse your identity (as something other than a human being) in a collective stance you can start to become part of a flock. Then you can start viewing things almost totally from within the flock. If flock leaders are criticised you jump to their defence. In a few short passages of time sure you'd probably have yourself a new religion..

    I see that a (voluntary, of course) public mark displayed on those things you despise would have a place in your "ethical" society.

    That's silly enough on it's own.
    We would change our minds if we were given new and credible evidence that we are mistaken.

    Do you think this repeat of something Richard Dawkins has often said is true or to what extent is it true or is it substantially wrong?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 873 ed2hands


    Thanks for that feedback. I tried to use qualifiers like ‘some’, ‘many’ and ‘most’ when it seemed appropriate, and to stress that most atheists do not make claims of certainty, and to only leave out qualifying words when I was making what I thought were uncontroversial observations.

    However, I do agree that it is a valid issue, and I am always open to improving how I communicate my ideas. Which generalised statements specifically in the article do you suggest that I should qualify in future?

    Michael, just to say really enjoyed your second installment. Your point about qualifiers is taken, and on second reading it might be reasonable that you had to generalise to that extent.
    Another poster has de-constructed the article already, so don't want to bore with my thoughts on every sentence and paragraph. But i suppose if i had to pick a part i wasn't personally in agreement at all with, it would be the following:

    We do not get our morality from books such as the Bible and the Koran, regardless of whether we read these books literally or metaphorically.

    As an ex-catholic, i must say i did enjoy reading the bible and i daresay many ex-cons like me would admit to learning much from it morality-wise in childhood. It's a great book; and it's a brave writer that would completely rule out it's moral value to non-believers; not that you have done mind. So it's sort of horses for courses.
    Also, there are broadly two ways to approach addressing this, and I’d welcome feedback as to which is the best way:

    One way is to qualify every noun with a suitable adjective, which would make articles more precise but harder to read, particularly for general readers who have to ‘get’ the basics before they can consider all of the nuances.

    Another is to start articles with an early disclaimer (or finish them with a late disclaimer) to the effect that some generalisations are made that have implied exceptions.

    Any thoughts on which approach would be most effective?

    Very admirable that you have asked moi for advice! Off the bat? The latter.
    IMHO, given the diversity of the people you are currently in the spotlight on behalf of; that would go towards helping keep things inclusive. But that's just me. To be honest, i have no idea about AI or what it's aims are.

    You've set yourself up though, by dint of your position and some of the phrasing of your first article as a spokesman for athiests to the IT readership so all eyes are on you Michael apparently! No pressure then hehe.

    Forgive the use of a silly analagy now, but it's like you've been charged with serving a 4 course meal (athiesm) to a table at a restaurant. (IT readers)
    You as the head waiter have just served the soup as a first course.
    For one diner the soup may have been too hot for his/her taste (offensive in some way to theists/misrepresentative to some atheists/agnostics)
    For another it may have been too cold (not strong enough for some atheists).
    But i gather you've done very well so far for most judging by the feedback; the soup tastes just right. So fair play. And at least you didn't do this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6aYLOf8CUQ ;)


    Best of luck and thanks for the reply.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 sponsoredwalk


    Your'e making the self serving presumption that because part of the title was quoted then I must only have read the title. Then you quote a passage, take a part of it out of context and then say "context is a bitch". I'll take your word for the problem as you experience it. The "We" is in the title which you ought to have read.

    First off could you explain to me what I was trying to preserve?

    Second I would love for you to explain to me how I was presuming
    anything, I quoted [in context] the part of the opinion piece that annoyed
    you so much to show you how your anger had nothing to do with the
    article. Funnily enough I did that to illustrate how you just 'presumed'
    so much about the article by virtue of the title not bothering to read past
    it (or misreading the article - evidenced by the half sentence quotes you offered out of context as
    further justification of your point [hence why I mentioned that in my post btw], but I do try to give
    the benefit of the doubt at first, obviously my fault)
    . Surely you'll agree that for
    someone to read the title of "the selfish gene" & to go on huge rants
    about Dawkins is a bit ridiculous, especially when the contents beyond
    the title contradict the point the person is making (or at least illustrate
    how flawed such rants are), if so I hope you see the point I'm making
    about your arguments.

    Third I like how you're using my own words against me, but the thing is
    that when I labelled a charge at you I actually bothered to quote the lines
    of the article that specifically refute your tangential point, you just choose
    to vaguely insinuate that it was, in fact (at the end of the day), me who
    was taking things out of context all along as we can all surely see by just
    returning to the article... So why don't you go back to the article, actually
    quote it & explain to me how the "We" that has annoyed you so much
    due to it's flockish overtones was speaking of the general flock despite
    the actual context of the article which, clear as day, isn't referring to the
    grand "We" you think it is. Honestly I only see two possibilities that would
    lead to such a conclusion, not reading past the title or misreading the
    whole thing focusing on pieces that aid your preconceptions & ignoring
    that which doesn't. Again this is like reading the title of Dawkins Selfish
    Gene & assuming Dawkins is perpetrating laring logical fallacies.

    Fourth, I did read the "We" in the title, I read the argument you were
    making (before I bothered to read the actual article), read the quote
    about your personal issues with AI, suspected ulterior motives driving
    your essays, read the title, read the article, spotted the disconnect &
    here we are.
    Do you think that anyone can speak for people based on the fact they don't believe in god's and after that may have nothing of note in common? There may even be many atheist who are anti-atheist! For any statements about atheists to be true they would have to first distinguish which groups of atheist or collective movements or membership of an atheist organisations they referred to. An atheist might just as well be a Pope in the Vatican planning and plotting to crush a movement which was based on professing atheisms as any other sort of atheist. Joseph Stalin didn't like rivals and claiming to be an atheist wouldn't have done you any good.

    "In fact, after the usual beginning stuff, the title page, various prefaces
    for various editions, both by Newton and his editor, and a long ode to
    Newton written by Halley (which I haven't read, but have grave doubts of
    being very good), the very first words of the Principia proper are..."

    See? I can reply to you too by completely ignoring your point & instead
    focusing on something that only has anything to do with the actual
    content of the article if you pick the sentence or two that appeals to you
    ignoring all the rest. You'll notice I asked you to actually back up your
    claims with quotes, kind of a way to see if you could justify yourself if you
    get me.
    I used the term professed atheist or so called "New Atheists" which is a term being used whether rightly or wrongly. Do you think that an atheist is someone who does not believe in gods or someone who does not believe in gods and says so? Professed atheists by the way include the "I'm an atheist now that it's cool" types...

    So in other words, it was an "I was atheist before it was cool" steam
    reliever comment, It's always hilarious to me how speaking about such
    matters is like a crime (hilariously similar opinions can be found in the
    music world, for example). Could you explain to me the egregious sin
    people indulge in by talking about their own atheism?

    I'll just mention in passing I could literally quote your own "We" argument
    here now & argue you're over-generalizing about "I'm an atheist now that
    it's cool" types to point out how you're contradicting your own previous
    gloriously independent minded stance about the independent mindedness
    of atheists, but I see you've managed to split "We" atheists into the in
    group, pure breed, atheists & the out group, dehumanized deatheistized
    "I'm an atheist now that it's cool" types so in a warped sense they don't
    classify as people atheists to you ergo in this line of thought it makes sense.
    However stepping out of the shadows of such bias I think you're perfectly
    contradicting yourself, we'll have to agree to disagree as I'm doubtful as
    to whether this point will register.

    Furthermore, lets pretend the out-group are all just "I'm an atheist now
    that it's cool" types, what's so bad about them exactly? They're not doing
    it right? They haven't declared their undying allegiances to atheism in the
    right way? Funny how such a concept stands with regard to the main
    point you were making in your essays... :pac:
    I'm not an atheist I'm a human being. That's not as simple a statement as you might imagine. I just happen to be of the opinion that there is no reason to believe such things as gods exist. As soon as you immerse your identity (as something other than a human being) in a collective stance you can start to become part of a flock. Then you can start viewing things almost totally from within the flock. If flock leaders are criticised you jump to their defence. In a few short passages of time sure you'd probably have yourself a new religion..

    As fantastic as that is, when Plato referred to Socrates definition of man
    as a featherless biped he wasn't defining the sum total of the entire
    existence of all man. Similarly, when someone says "I'm a teacher" they
    aren't actually defining their entire identity. Curiously, the same goes for
    those who treacherously say "I'm an atheist". Could you explain to me the
    herd mentality of teachers, or does herd mentality only apply in some
    situations by virtue of the label people are bandying about? Are doctors
    not also people as well as indoctrinated cattle of the cult of Hippocrates?
    Do you think this repeat of something Richard Dawkins has often said is true or to what extent is it true or is it substantially wrong?

    Why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't anyone? Generally people who don't hold
    a grudge or do not suspect ulterior motives would expect such a thing of
    anybody. As for the comment about what our dear herd leader has said
    often enough, this may come as a shock but our enobled one was not,
    despite what some elders may lead the flock to believe, the first one to
    espouse such wise & enobled wisdom. I do dissent from the ranks & put
    my family at great risk by saying this alright but Richard Dawkins words
    did not fuel science & the scientific method with pearls of wisdom such as
    the ability to change ones mind in the face of evidence, it was the other
    way round. Eppur si mouve, eppur si mouve!


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    First off could you explain to me what I was trying to preserve?
    Where did I say you were trying to preserve anything? Sponsored are you getting this mixed with a thread about jam making?
    Second I would love for you to explain to me how I was presuming
    anything,
    Did you or did you not presume I hadn’t read the article?
    I quoted [in context] the part of the opinion piece that annoyed
    you
    That’s self-contradictory since you’d already presumed I hadn’t read the article. It’s also presumptuous to think I was annoyed since you couldn’t possibly know.
    so much to show you how your anger had nothing to do with the article.
    More self-contradiction and presumption: first you claim I didn’t read the article then you claim I did. By means of some crystal ball you presumed you could tell the exact part of the article that “annoyed” me and then you go on to claim that it wasn’t that at all. Then just to suit your imagination you presume I’m angry when you’re demonstrating all the symptoms.

    If it was necessary, convenient or served my purposes and the right conditions were all in place I could literally kill you without being angry or even thinking about you afterwards. I don’t have to worry about gods only other humans. You potentially could do the same but you might need to be angry. Whether you'd need to be angry or not is no more than a condition of your personal mentality. Humans kill humans every day.
    Funnily enough I did that to illustrate how you just 'presumed' so much about the article by virtue of the title not bothering to read past it

    So first there’s a part of the article that annoyed me then according to you it couldn’t have been that because you presumed (yet again) I didn’t read it.
    (or misreading the article - evidenced by the half sentence quotes you offered out of context as further justification of your point [hence why I mentioned that in my post btw], but I do try to give the benefit of the doubt at first, obviously my fault).
    Surely you'll agree {presumptuous again} that for someone to read the title of "the selfish gene" & to go on huge rants about Dawkins is a bit ridiculous, especially when the contents beyond the title contradict the point the person is making (or at least illustrate how flawed such rants are), if so I hope you see the point I'm making about your arguments.

    All again based on you original self-serving presumptions. The title of the article presumes to speak for people based on what they don’t believe. The title of the book represents it’s content which is what the title is for. There’s a difference. Here comes a question…….

    Do you think anyone can write an article about people based only on the fact they don’t collect stamps?
    Third I like how you're using my own words against me, but the thing is that when I labelled a charge at you I actually bothered to quote the lines of the article that specifically refute your tangential point, you just choose to vaguely insinuate that it was, in fact (at the end of the day), me who was taking things out of context all along as we can all surely see by just returning to the article... So why don't you go back to the article, actually quote it & explain to me how the "We" that has annoyed you so much due to it's flockish overtones was speaking of the general flock despite the actual context of the article which, clear as day, isn't referring to the grand "We" you think it is. Honestly I only see two possibilities that would lead to such a conclusion, not reading past the title or misreading the whole thing focusing on pieces that aid your preconceptions & ignoring that which doesn't. Again this is like reading the title of Dawkins Selfish Gene & assuming Dawkins is perpetrating laring logical fallacies.
    Well I’m glad you found something you like. The “we” I was referring to was part of the article so there is no other “we” bar one you’ve invented.
    If you’d answered the very simple questions that were put to you it might help.

    Once again, how can anyone presume to speak for a mass of people based only on what they don’t believe?
    Fourth, I did read the "We" in the title, I read the argument you were making (before I bothered to read the actual article), read the quote about your personal issues with AI, suspected ulterior motives driving your essays, read the title, read the article, spotted the disconnect & here we are.
    All my issues are personal. So are yours. With humans everything is personal. The above sounds like the path to your presumptions. It’s a classic path common in the religious type mind. Rather than deal with the very simple questions, though they might be very uncomfortable, you've gone off all defensive possibly because you’re not hearing what you want to hear.
    See? I can reply to you too by completely ignoring your point & instead focusing on something that only has anything to do with the actual content of the article if you pick the sentence or two that appeals to you ignoring all the rest. You'll notice I asked you to actually back up your claims with quotes, kind of a way to see if you could justify yourself if you get me. So in other words, it was an "I was atheist before it was cool" steam reliever comment, It's always hilarious to me how speaking about such matters is like a crime (hilariously similar opinions can be found in the music world, for example). Could you explain to me the egregious sin people indulge in by talking about their own atheism?

    No I don’t get you. I even think there might be something wrong with me if I did. I don’t know what it is exactly that’s reduced you to hilarity but with any luck you’re enjoying it. There's no such thing as sin except in the religious mind and you're making up things I didn't actually say yet again. If you've started to see yourself as an atheist "sinner" don't go blaming me. Maybe you need to join an atheist confession and get a few Hail Darwins and a decade of the Dawkins for the sins you feel guilty of.

    You shouldn’t need quotes to answer a simple question:

    Can anyone claim to speak for people based only on what they don’t believe?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 sponsoredwalk


    *** We could ignore every single point & question here if you'd just
    answer the one particular part of my response with these *** things.***
    Where did I say you were trying to preserve anything? Sponsored are you getting this mixed with a thread about jam making?

    Apologies, I read "self serving" as "self preserving", jam may have
    had something to do with it :o
    Did you or did you not presume I hadn’t read the article?

    Okay, bad question. I actually did presume you hadn't read the article.
    I guess I am just mired in contradictions now, because in my original post
    I began with the presumption that you hadn't read past the title only later
    to imply that you were quoting half sentences from the article out of
    context, one wonders how the two can be resolved, I mean surely it is
    me talking out of my ass to say you hadn't read past the title only to then
    imply you were quoting half sentences from the very article whose title
    I had just said you hadn't read past!

    Maybe, just maybe, I meant something a little more subtle when I said
    "it would have helped if you'd taken the time to actually read past the
    title before condemning the article", I doubt it though...

    So I take it you just misread the article then, if so could you perhaps
    re-read the passage I quoted in my original post & explain to me how
    the title of the article is not linked to the conditional "most of us"
    considering it's the only part of the article at all that you could link the
    title to, with deference to the few grammatical moments where Nugent
    actually goes out of his way not to be so general & breaks people up
    into respective categories ("at least in the western world", "most of us", "About 60",
    Only about 40")
    .

    Note that when a person writes a sentence like the one just written it's
    actually a question as well as a follow on from the implications of a "yes"
    to that question as opposed to an actual declarative presumption, the
    thing about extended sentences such as the above is that it's hard to add
    a question mark when the end of the extended sentence doesn't allow for
    it.

    To be pedantic it's a means to express a point based on the presumption
    of an expected answer, the vitally important aspect of such grammar is
    that it allows for the possibility of being wrong but it a nice time-saver.
    If you re-read the passage where you inserted {presumption} I think
    {presumption?} you'll see I'm following the exact same common style of
    rhetoric which oddly enough is found in reams of literature.
    All again based on you original self-serving presumptions. The title of the article presumes to speak for people based on what they don’t believe. The title of the book represents it’s content which is what the title is for. There’s a difference.

    This might be a bit spooky, but you'll notice something amazing if you
    re-read my point about the selfish gene title without assuming that the
    point I was making follows on from my very serious presumption that
    you hadn't read past the title of the article.

    It might be even spookier to notice that both examples, you & the selfish
    gene example in the link, are based on assuming lots of corollaries based
    on what you both thought after you read the title, both ignoring the actual
    words of the book/article which, had either of you read (and/or thought
    about) notice how many possibilities are allowed for with my language here, I have the rare gift
    of envisioning many possibilities & structuring my language accordingly...
    the actual words
    contained within (and from which both titles inextricably follow on from
    - as any good title should), your assumptions about what the title implies
    couldn't be anything but sheer nonsense.

    Here's an analogy, if an article has a title like "Water was found on the
    moon!" only for the article to be talking about Europa, surely {presumption?}
    you'll agree it would be a bit foolish to be railing the magazine for
    implying that the earth's moon had water and not engaging the content
    of the article?
    Here comes a question…….

    Do you think anyone can write an article about people based only on the fact they don’t collect stamps?

    Absolutely, what to one person is a piece of wood is to another a
    soon-to-be boat & to another is a scene in Wayne's World 2. I even bet
    you'd be able to write an article about people based only on the fact that
    they don't collect stamps. The books being sold in the nearest petrol
    station containing them should {presumption?} convince you of the
    non-impossibility of such a task.

    To engage the point you're trying to make with this example, I think
    you're argument is with human nature in general really. To go back to
    my Plato/Aristotle/Diogenese definition of man, such a definition does
    not define the sum-total of man, neither does the word atheist. Still,
    people throughout history use such language & it really is up to the
    reader to decipher the meaning &, hopefully, understand what is meant
    without being totally lost due to the unwritten (usually timesaving)
    assumptions - especially in an opinion column on the internet...

    Notice I did not also include the possibility that the article was printed in
    the newspaper, because to waste time mentioning such trivialities is
    nothing but time-wasting, similarly if we are to assume the worst about
    what was meant about the title, I think you could argue the exact same
    thing about time saving &/or speaking to a particular audience (the Irish
    Times reader). If you wanted to poke holes I think you'd make a far
    better point in highlighting the culturally constrained perspective of the
    author & the limited scope of such a perspective in the grand scheme of
    things if you really did want to poke holes in the use of such language.
    But I digress, considering this has nothing to do with the actual article...
    Well I’m glad you found something you like. The “we” I was referring to was part of the article so there is no other “we” bar one you’ve invented.
    If you’d answered the very simple questions that were put to you it might help.

    ***There were a few "we's" in the article, which one precisely were you
    responding to? Could you perhaps quote three previous sentences
    as well as three sentences following the "we" you're referring to in the
    article so that we have a chance at understanding the context, and
    furthermore (this is pivotal) could you justify your understanding of
    what is meant by "we" (i.e. the grand, overarching, speak for everyone
    understanding) with recourse to the previous & following sentences
    (where applicable). Personally I think this is an impossible task if you
    are reading the article and paying attention. ***
    Once again, how can anyone presume to speak for a mass of people based only on what they don’t believe?

    I presume you have serious problems with the field of psychology, if you
    dare to browse a textbook you'll find, to your great horror {presumption?},
    that psychologists can most definitely say something about large masses
    of people based on what they don't believe. One quick example, do you
    deny that I can say something about a mass of people in the 21st century
    based on the fact that so many people don't believe in slavery? Maybe not
    though, maybe we can't say anything about people because of what they
    don't believe as regards women, as regards children, as regards medicine,
    as regards psychological treatment, as regards locks on doors, as regards
    stealing land, as regards 1 = 0, as regards... I don't think it takes a great
    deal of courage for many many many authors to even presume, let alone
    speak, for masses of people when addressing & discussing such topics.
    I guess what it requires is knowledge about the topic at hand & the
    courage to speak about it, to answer your question as to what it takes
    for someone to even presume to speak for people based on what they
    don't believe.

    (Notice the other possibilities, such as sheer ignorance, false knowledge,
    guts, hatred of the idea of someone fearing to speak because they must
    satisfy regulation X before daring to speak for people about any topic,
    etc... etc... that I left out in my response, again it's an unfortunate
    aspect of reality that such must occur).
    All my issues are personal. So are yours. With humans everything is personal. The above sounds like the path to your presumptions. It’s a classic path common in the religious type mind. Rather than deal with the very simple questions, though they might be very uncomfortable, you've gone off all defensive possibly because you’re not hearing what you want to hear.

    I apologize for my primitive, religious_type-like mind.
    No I don’t get you. I even think there might be something wrong with me if I did.

    Take the risk, it might cause something to go wrong with you if you try
    but be brave, if you figure out what I meant by replying with something
    that only tangentially has something to do with the topic of discussion if
    you read sentences out of context then I think you'll grasp the main point
    I'm making about your response and how it has nothing to do with the
    article unless you aren't paying attention to the point being made in the
    article and instead are just taking things out of context & responding
    based on your own understanding of a sentence in vacuo.
    There's no such thing as sin except in the religious mind and you're making up things I didn't actually say yet again. If you've started to see yourself as an atheist "sinner" don't go blaming me. Maybe you need to join an atheist confession and get a few Hail Darwins and a decade of the Dawkins for the sins you feel guilty of.

    The atheist shame was drilled into me at atheist boot camp to which I
    was sent because I'd spoken about my atheism :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    I even bet you'd be able to write an article about people based only on the fact that they don't collect stamps.

    No not me, but if by that you mean it’s possible, as the article is pompously trying to do, then go ahead. Considering the volume of text you’re capable of a few pages shouldn’t take you too long.
    Once again, how can anyone presume to speak for a mass of people based only on what they don’t believe?
    I presume you have serious problems with the field of psychology, if you dare to browse a textbook you'll find, to your great horror {presumption?}, that psychologists can most definitely say something about large masses of people based on what they don't believe. One quick example, do you deny that I can say something about a mass of people in the 21st century based on the fact that so many people don't believe in slavery? Maybe not though, maybe we can't say anything about people because of what they don't believe as regards women, as regards children, as regards medicine, as regards psychological treatment, as regards locks on doors, as regards stealing land, as regards 1 = 0, as regards... I don't think it takes a great deal of courage for many many many authors to even presume, let alone speak, for masses of people when addressing & discussing such topics. I guess what it requires is knowledge about the topic at hand & the courage to speak about it, to answer your question as to what it takes for someone to even presume to speak for people based on what they don't believe. (Notice the other possibilities, such as sheer ignorance, false knowledge, guts, hatred of the idea of someone fearing to speak because they must satisfy regulation X before daring to speak for people about any topic, etc... etc... that I left out in my response, again it's an unfortunate aspect of reality that such must occur).
    Psychologists have problems with the field of psychology so I’m not alone by your measure. It’s not like they’re measuring lengths of rope. The best practitioners of psychology are not officially psychologists in my opinion. Since overall here you’re claiming, as far as I can tell, that a book or an article in this case can be written ascribing attributes to people based on what they don’t believe can you give me a few titles just for the hell of it. I’m sure you can by the way. I can give you books which will inform you there are ancient landing zones for spaceships in South America.

    The point is this: if the term atheists only means people who do not themselves believe in the existence of gods then how can anyone purporting to speak on their behalf ascribe to them attitudes, attributes, standards of behaviour etc without qualifying in some why which atheists they are referring to?
    I apologize for my primitive, religious_type-like mind.
    Sponsored you could have made that sound even more sarcastic and humorous if you’d thrown in a bit of the Vatican’s official language. Something like it “De omnibus dubitandum”. Maybe not that particular phrase in your case but something along those lines.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 8,556 ✭✭✭ Roger Hassenforder


    guys, can ye start PMing each other or something?
    meet for coffee and have a right good one..


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 sponsoredwalk


    No not me, but if by that you mean it’s possible, as the article is pompously trying to do, then go ahead. Considering the volume of text you’re capable of a few pages shouldn’t take you too long.

    So in other words you now concede the possibility of something so utterly
    despicable as writing an article about people based only on the fact they
    don’t collect stamps? I'm glad the length of my responses has finally,
    finally, been acknowledged on this site as something other than a
    negative. If something such as the volume of text could go some way to
    convincing you of the opposite of what seemed so definitive in your earlier
    responses then I can do nothing but commend your receptiveness to
    opposing opinions, perhaps next you'll try going beyond the volume of
    text to embracing the meaning of the words constituting it ;)
    Psychologists have problems with the field of psychology so I’m not alone by your measure. It’s not like they’re measuring lengths of rope. The best practitioners of psychology are not officially psychologists in my opinion. Since overall here you’re claiming, as far as I can tell, that a book or an article in this case can be written ascribing attributes to people based on what they don’t believe can you give me a few titles just for the hell of it. I’m sure you can by the way. I can give you books which will inform you there are ancient landing zones for spaceships in South America.

    "Characteristics of Patients with Schizophrenia Who Do Not Believe They Are Mentally Ill"
    (I guess this article isn't ascribing attributes to people based on what they don’t believe though...)

    Why People Don't Trust Government
    (I guess this book isn't speaking for a mass of people based on what they don't believe though...)

    "Comparison of the smoking behaviour and attitudes of smokers who believe they have smoking-related problems with those who do not"
    (I guess this article isn't ascribing attributes to people based on what they don’t believe and
    contrasting that with the behaviour of people based on what they do believe though...)


    I can't find an article that convinces me of the apparent equivalence
    between the above articles & your books about ancient landing zones for
    spaceships in South America though, so my articles may be null & void :(
    The point is this: if the term atheists only means people who do not themselves believe in the existence of gods then how can anyone purporting to speak on their behalf ascribe to them attitudes, attributes, standards of behaviour etc without qualifying in some why which atheists they are referring to?

    I'm well aware of the point you're trying to make, I think that was clear
    in your first response. However I wonder are you ignoring the point I'm
    trying to make because you think I don't get what you're trying to say or
    is there some other reason you're repeating yourself without engaging
    any of the points I'm making? I think the vital question here is how the
    point you're making has to do with the point being made by the article.
    I think I've summed your activity in this thread up perfectly when I quote
    a random passage discussing the Principia, just try, try, to see what point
    I was making by doing that & how it maps onto what you've done in here.
    Better yet, try to answer the *** part of my last response, if you do this I
    really doubt you can miss the point I've been making all along.
    Sponsored you could have made that sound even more sarcastic and humorous if you’d thrown in a bit of the Vatican’s official language. Something like it “De omnibus dubitandum”. Maybe not that particular phrase in your case but something along those lines.

    Well now I apologise for not having a religious-enough_type-mind that
    permits me to strategically interject Vatican catechism passages at whim :o


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  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    guys, can ye start PMing each other or something?
    meet for coffee and have a right good one..

    If the term atheists only means people who do not themselves believe in the existence of gods then how can anyone purporting to speak on their behalf ascribe to them attitudes, attributes, standards of behaviour etc without qualifying in some way which atheists they are referring to?

    I wouldn't recommend Sponsored for clues as to a possible answer but make up your own mind.

    The question is also relevant to Tim Robbins OP and relevant to the article in question.

    It's also has relevance in the wider context.

    While it can be argued that it's quite valid to point out how absurd it is to believe in a god thing based on the fairy tales in the bibles it does not follow that anyone can then ascribe collective characteristics to those who don't believe.

    That's why the whole article is just a self promoting distortionist trying to present atheists as pudgy pawed teddy bears. It makes atheists sound like people who aren't in full time employment but are quite happy living on social welfare as long as they can huff and puff all day at religion.

    An atheist doesn't believe in gods. That's it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    So in other words you now concede the possibility of something so utterly
    despicable as writing an article about people based only on the fact they
    don’t collect stamps?

    That's not what that meant. I hope you're deliberately making the mistake because if you're not you're reading it wrong.
    I'm glad the length of my responses has finally, finally, been acknowledged on this site as something other than a negative. If something such as the volume of text could go some way to
    convincing you of the opposite of what seemed so definitive in your earlier
    responses then I can do nothing but commend your receptiveness to
    opposing opinions, perhaps next you'll try going beyond the volume of
    text to embracing the meaning of the words constituting it ;)

    If you've been feeling abused and unappreciated don't let me go upsetting something you're used to.
    I can't find an article that convinces me of the apparent equivalence
    between the above articles & your books about ancient landing zones for
    spaceships in South America though, so my articles may be null & void :(

    The point was you could find books that claimed almost anything. I'd wrongly had the half idea that that would give you a clue as to the pointlessness of dragging up a bunch of book titles and instead you'd concentrate on answering the question.
    I'm well aware of the point you're trying to make, I think that was clear
    in your first response. However I wonder are you ignoring the point I'm
    trying to make because you think I don't get what you're trying to say or
    is there some other reason you're repeating yourself without engaging
    any of the points I'm making? I think the vital question here is how the
    point you're making has to do with the point being made by the article.
    I think I've summed your activity in this thread up perfectly when I quote
    a random passage discussing the Principia, just try, try, to see what point
    I was making by doing that & how it maps onto what you've done in here.
    Better yet, try to answer the *** part of my last response, if you do this I
    really doubt you can miss the point I've been making all along.

    As far as I can see you're not making a point or at least not one that my short blip on earth allows sufficient time to untangle from your voluminous page fillers. What you're doing overall is providing a demonstration.

    Are you a member of an atheist organisation or are you not attracted by that sort of thing or limited by location if you are?
    Well now I apologise for not having a religious-enough_type-mind that
    permits me to strategically interject Vatican catechism passages at whim :o
    I didn't mention anything about the catechism but never mind that's not something you'd appear to think makes any difference. As far as I'm concerned you have no one to apologise to but if it's something you've grown used to go right ahead.

    Is there a particular reason you're writing in columns instead of the full width available?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 sponsoredwalk


    That's not what that meant. I hope you're deliberately making the mistake because if you're not you're reading it wrong.

    I'm just going by what you said:
    No not me, but if by that you mean it’s possible, as the article is pompously trying to do, then go ahead. Considering the volume of text you’re capable of a few pages shouldn’t take you too long.

    Let's narrow it down:
    I even bet you'd be able to write an article about people based only on the fact that they don't collect stamps.

    No not me, but if by that you mean it’s possible, ..., then go ahead.

    To which you then let us know that it wouldn't even take me too long
    to do such a task because of the volume of text I'm capable of:
    Considering the volume of text you’re capable of a few pages shouldn’t take you too long.

    to which, again, I thank you for acknowledging as having done something
    useful in a conversation.

    Oh, and lets not forget the piece of text I deleted in the above quote with
    the ... :
    as the article is pompously trying to do,

    Now, considering your record of statements about the article that just
    scrupulously ignore the quotations to back you up, I understand how you
    are capable of fantasies as regards what the article says to a degree, but
    claiming the article was pompously trying to argue in any way, shape or
    form anything about stamps tells me you're attributing a hell of a lot of
    negativity to this particular article, who knows what other untold evils the
    article is responsible for :rolleyes:

    So unless you want to actually justify your claim that I'm reading it
    wrong, I think we can put that comment into the set of all those
    comments you make that require contextual explanations via quotations
    to justify but strangely are never offered up.
    The point was you could find books that claimed almost anything.

    "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."
    I'd wrongly had the half idea that that would give you a clue as to the pointlessness of dragging up a bunch of book titles and instead you'd concentrate on answering the question.

    You were trying to make an argument about how anyone could presume
    to speak for a mass of people based on what they don't believe, I then
    responded with an argument giving many easy examples of how everyday
    in jobs where peer review is factored in (obvious everyday examples will
    be scoffed at), instead of engaging the fact that these are valid examples
    you try to vaguely insinuate the credibility of my examples is non-existent
    so I've now not only offered examples but links to back myself up. Quite
    frankly if you had a case you wouldn't dodge or ignore the fact that your
    argument has been refuted & they would explain, in detail, how my
    response is dodging the point you were trying to make (with quotes, I
    think you seriously need to focus on doing that a bit more, if anything it's
    a test to ensure you have a justification for the point you're making)
    As far as I can see you're not making a point or at least not one that my short blip on earth allows sufficient time to untangle from your voluminous page fillers. What you're doing overall is providing a demonstration.

    So if you're not even going to bother engaging the point I've been
    making, and will respond to sections of my post completely ignoring
    the questions I'm asking of you - of which, by the way:
    "Better yet, try to answer the *** part of my last response, if you do this I really doubt you can miss the point I've been making all along."
    is hardly a page filler, it's a sentence composed of one line - what
    exactly is the point of responding? You'll notice all I'm asking you to
    do is to justify, with quotes & context, the high and mighty refutation
    of the article you've offered up earlier in the thread. Considering I've
    asked you more than three times to do so I think you're purposely
    refusing to do it at this stage, why that would be the case is something
    only someone who presumes to speak for all atheists would know...
    Are you a member of an atheist organisation or are you not attracted by that sort of thing or limited by location if you are?

    Again with the yellow badge rhetoric, what would it matter if I was a
    member of the fraternity of the sons of the protocols of the elders of zion,
    it has nothing to do with the passage you've quoted.

    (Note: that's also one of those sentences containing a question I warned you about earlier, despite
    the question mark not being there).

    I didn't mention anything about the catechism but never mind that's not something you'd appear to think makes any difference. As far as I'm concerned you have no one to apologise to but if it's something you've grown used to go right ahead.

    By analogy this is how ridiculous your response is:

    BILL: "I'm going to London tomorrow."
    PHIL: "Have a nice time in England Bill."
    BILL: "I said I was going to London Bill, jeesh... As far as I'm concerned
    _____ you have no one to apologise to but if it's something you've grown
    _____ used to go right ahead."

    If you don't understand why I used the word catechism at that particular
    place, & not some other place, that would go a long way to explaining
    what's been going on in this thread.
    Is there a particular reason you're writing in columns instead of the full width available?

    Yes, I read a piece of historical text that convinced me of the truth of
    columns versus rows to which I now subscribe as the one true path,
    thanks for asking.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 8,556 ✭✭✭ Roger Hassenforder


    If the term atheists only means people who do not themselves believe in the existence of gods then how can anyone purporting to speak on their behalf ascribe to them attitudes, attributes, standards of behaviour etc without qualifying in some way which atheists they are referring to?

    I wouldn't recommend Sponsored for clues as to a possible answer but make up your own mind.

    The question is also relevant to Tim Robbins OP and relevant to the article in question.

    It's also has relevance in the wider context.

    While it can be argued that it's quite valid to point out how absurd it is to believe in a god thing based on the fairy tales in the bibles it does not follow that anyone can then ascribe collective characteristics to those who don't believe.

    That's why the whole article is just a self promoting distortionist trying to present atheists as pudgy pawed teddy bears. It makes atheists sound like people who aren't in full time employment but are quite happy living on social welfare as long as they can huff and puff all day at religion.

    An atheist doesn't believe in gods. That's it.

    because I've a very short attention span I stopped reading both of your posts, an element of "whose schlong is bigger" has developed, and its completley hogging the thread which had a lot of potential.
    Meet for coffee I say.


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    because I've a very short attention span I stopped reading both of your posts, an element of "whose schlong is bigger" has developed, and its completley hogging the thread which had a lot of potential. Meet for coffee I say.

    The question, which you included in the quote from me while at the same time apparently not reading it, was this:

    If the term atheists only means people who do not themselves believe in the existence of gods then how can anyone purporting to speak on their behalf ascribe to them attitudes, attributes, standards of behaviour etc without qualifying in some way which atheists they are referring to?

    This is the title of the article:
    We atheists will change our minds if evidence shows we are wrong


  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ Arcus Arrow


    Are you a member of an atheist organisation or are you not attracted by that sort of thing or limited by location if you are?

    That was just a simple question you were asked as to where you stand on organised atheism and you come up with this:
    Again with the yellow badge rhetoric, what would it matter if I was a
    member of the fraternity of the sons of the protocols of the elders of zion,
    it has nothing to do with the passage you've quoted.

    Out of that one simple question you've managed again to draw a ridiculous paralleled with the persecution of the Jews.

    You're demonstrating all the allegations of a religious believer by your list of over reactions. You've even managed previously to manufacture compliments for yourself where there were none. Filling up maximum space defending an article while the author is too afraid to defend it himself and while his know followers shy away looks strange to say the least.

    Atheism, when it becomes an exception to the same questioning and criticism as religion by those who class themselves within it, will support and breed the same kind of self promoting charlatans and distortion liars that religion does. It will breed supporters who will in their turn will engage in distortions and duplicity to promote their particular brand of atheism and even the odd personality cult with devotees who will defend their leaders fanatically.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,086 ✭✭✭ Michael Nugent


    Thanks for all of the feedback. It’s helpful and I appreciate it.

    I’ll start by clarifying a technical point: these are newspaper articles, and the titles (“We atheists agree...” etc) are written by an editor and not by the writer. For clarity, read the titles in the context of the articles rather than the other way around.

    With regard to some of the specific points made:

    Tim and others, I agree about the need to qualify nouns referring to groups of people. I generally do this unless I think (sometimes mistakenly) that the assertion is uncontroversial, or that a qualifier is implied by a fair reading of the context.

    Cavedave and others, yes, by “impersonal forces” I meant things like gravity and electromagnetism etc. as opposed to supernatural forces.

    Knasher, I agree, I should have been more explicit at that point about why the god answer is not a good one.

    Seamus, the final two articles will be more directly addressing faith-based claims, as they are responding to assertions made about faith and about Jesus by Professor Mackey in his series of articles about the World Atheist Convention.

    Recedite, yes, all of the five articles take as their starting point one or more of the assertions made by Professor Mackey in his series of articles.

    Roger, you’re right about that. Instead of “and specifically”, I could have put “and particularly” or “including specifically” at the start of that sentence.

    Liam, I agree that would be a useful article. This series has already gone to print, but I will try to do something on it somewhere in the future.

    Ed, the next article addresses morality. The reason I say we don’t get our morality from the Bible is not because it contains no morally good messages (it does), but because it contains a mix of morally good messages and morally bad messages. So most of us accept ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ and we reject ‘stone a woman to death for not being a virgin on her wedding night.’ By making that distinction, we are applying our own pre-existing morality to what we are reading, not getting our morality from what we are reading.

    Sponsoredwalk, you are right, the first set of ‘we’s in the first article refer back to the ‘most of us’ who do not claim with certainty that gods do not exist. The headline ‘we atheists...’, which was written by an editor, also refers to this. The second set of ‘we’s in the first article (about where we don’t get our morality) could refer either to atheists or to people generally. I usually intend it to mean people generally when I make that particular argument.

    Again, thanks for all of the feedback. It’s very helpful.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,086 ✭✭✭ Michael Nugent


    The third article in the series is published today.

    Atheists and religious alike seek to identify foundation of morality

    Feedback welcome.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 sponsoredwalk


    Atheism, when it becomes an exception to the same questioning and criticism as religion by those who class themselves within it, will support and breed the same kind of self promoting charlatans and distortion liars that religion does. It will breed supporters who will in their turn will engage in distortions and duplicity to promote their particular brand of atheism and even the odd personality cult with devotees who will defend their leaders fanatically.

    Ignoring the rest of your fine response due to the fact that it not only has
    answered every question I put (many times) to you but also clears up any
    other interests I had in pursuing this conversation further I'll just thank
    you for not only presuming to speak for, but actually speaking for the
    mass of atheists like myself who do not criticize our atheist faith & are
    promoting our 'atheist-while-it's-cool' brand of atheism that requires
    nought but duplicitous charlatans to maintain itself, I am positive you
    haven't generalized but were, in fact, accurate in your portrayal of the
    millions of us. Such clairvoyance will be useful for the atheists in your
    particular denomination (or brand, if you prefer) of the atheist faith that
    simultaneously questions your atheist faith while not speaking about such
    faith for fear of the dreaded out-group status, such silence requires
    clairvoyance.


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,537 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    The third article in the series is published today.

    Atheists and religious alike seek to identify foundation of morality

    Feedback welcome.
    I enjoyed that, thanks. I like that Sam Harris reference.


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