Thank you guys

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Thank you guys

I just watched your dateline debate for the first time, and I can't thank you enough for explaining our message in such a clear and articulate manner. I've seen a lot of debates where the atheists have been pinned down by some trivial questions, but you didn't let that happen and I can't thank you enough.

One thing that I think was obvious to anyone watching was that the rational response squad was chomping at the bit to get their message through, while the Growing Pains kid and his friend repeatedly acted as if they were watching the conversation through their televisions rather than actively participating.

I have never in my life seen a more skewed representation of science than the one put forth by those two. It'd be amazing to me if they had ever taken even 1 biology class in their entire lives.

Their whole thing was less of an argument and more of a sermon. They would be laughed at in any academic setting.

I'd also like to thank the rational response squad for not drifting into personal sob stories like the Christian side did. When it comes down to it, no one cares, and it detracts from the multitude of evidence on our side.

Thank you so much,  my final thoughts are simply that I hope that the goal of this group is more to spread science and overturn those who would have us read bibles in science class, and less to eliminate religion entirely. Certainly religion has done much bad, but I think that the goal of eliminating it entirely would be a very ambitious and unnecessary goal. I think it would be going too far and expecting too much of humans who are by nature a religious and superstitious group. If some people, who aren't impeding science and aren't pushing religion on anyone, want to believe in god before they die, I'm certainly not going to walk up to them and tell them they're a mental case.

I also hope the goal of this group is not to have atheists walk up to strangers wearing crosses and get in a fight with them about religion.

these last comments express my fear of what a group like this could be if not put in check. But if it's run by the people who gave such an articulate rebuttal, I'm sure I have no reason to fear.

P.S. I don't know what topic this post belongs in, so I apologize in advanced if this is the wrong one. Feel free to move it.


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Thanks for all the positive

Thanks for all the positive comments!

The Philosopher wrote:

I'd also like to thank the rational response squad for not drifting into personal sob stories like the Christian side did. When it comes down to it, no one cares, and it detracts from the multitude of evidence on our side.

Pre-debate we actually fought to get Kirk Camerons conversion story out of the opening arguments for "I can prove a god exists scientifically without faith or the bible" as personal stories aren't worth a lick to their argument.  He had no opening argument for his position that he could take so instead just told a deconversion story.  We agreed with each other in advance that we'd respond that we were both christians and have stories too, but wouldn't submit them as they don't prove or disprove a god. 

Quote:
Thank you so much,  my final thoughts are simply that I hope that the goal of this group is more to spread science and overturn those who would have us read bibles in science class, and less to eliminate religion entirely.

The goal would be better stated as: the attempt to interject better thinking patterns into mass culture

If the end result of that goal is someone abandoning their religion, that's great.  If the end result is someone who is on a school board and is voting on whether to teach intelligent design has realized that such teaching is not scientific based on finding out about our site, then that's great as well.  Ultimately we think that as time passes, people will leave religion or at least become more tolerant of the non-religious.  Additionally our people as a result will be more likely to elect leaders that value the seperation of church and state, so that our fight for equal rights is won.  Today atheists pay taxes for faith based spending, hopefully in the future as more people find life without god, we would not be as likely to have leaders that would put such bills into motion. 

If the end result is a mother is more considerate to her child upon hearing the child does not believe in god, that's awesome as well.  Oh also... if the end result is a fundamentalist becomes slightly more moderate in his/her views... that's great as well. 

That focus, the end goal, isn't as important to me, as getting the actual message out there.  I know it's having a net positive effect, I've got scientific data to prove it.  Eye-wink

 

 

Quote:
Certainly religion has done much bad, but I think that the goal of eliminating it entirely would be a very ambitious and unnecessary goal. I think it would be going too far and expecting too much of humans who are by nature a religious and superstitious group.

It depends on how you plan on ending it.  If the goal to bring religions dominance to an end allows for some people to still maintain religion, and we're not talking about legislating religion away, I think you could see a dramatic decrease in religions power in the next 500 years.  I don't think you have to hope to end religion tomorrow, you just have to play a role, any role that reduces it's power is a positive role.   Don't worry about a time line as much as worrying about making an impact, somewhere, anywhere.

 

Quote:
If some people, who aren't impeding science and aren't pushing religion on anyone, want to believe in god before they die, I'm certainly not going to walk up to them and tell them they're a mental case.

I'd agree that anyone who is only a harm to themselves is less dangerous than those who'd shove religion down our throats.  I've never walked up to someone that I know of in that situation and said such words, however I have spoken to moderates about religion.  I would prefer to refer to people like the one you describe here as victims, not as a mental case.  However I probably wouldn't use either word in the conversation, nor would I have walked up to them and started it.   I'd likely just try to plant a little seed of doubt, something that might make them question themselves later, like a little thought bomb just waiting to hit the ground.  Even if it's something really small like... "well then who created god."  Something that may help them to think it out. 

 

Quote:
I also hope the goal of this group is not to have atheists walk up to strangers wearing crosses and get in a fight with them about religion.

A verbal fight?  A battle of words, potentially both sides get heated after a few minutes?  You'd have to be more specific.  We'd never condone violence, however I have no problem with people opening a conversation up about religion.  If it escalates into a loud exchange of words, I can see situations in which I might find that both entertaining and a positive benefit, especially if the atheist is making good points, and the theist is not, and there are 20 spectators.  "Atheist Walking" comes to mind.   

 

Again though... this would not be the goal of our group as much as a different means of attaining the goal: interjecting better thinking patterns into mass culture

There are tons of different ways to do it, tons of different people trying to do it in their own individual way, this site invites them all.  If your way is more passive, we're all for it.  If your way is to do nothing, you may have found the wrong place (unless you're looking for atheist smalltalk, we do have some of that).

 

Welcome aboard, thanks again for all the positive comments.

 

 

- Brian Sapient


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Sapient wrote: The goal

Sapient wrote:

 

The goal would be better stated as: the attempt to interject better thinking patterns into mass culture

This is a goal I would agree with.

Sapient wrote:

If the end result of that goal is someone abandoning their religion, that's great.  If the end result is someone who is on a school board and is voting on whether to teach intelligent design has realized that such teaching is not scientific based on finding out about our site, then that's great as well.  Ultimately we think that as time passes, people will leave religion or at least become more tolerant of the non-religious.  Additionally our people as a result will be more likely to elect leaders that value the seperation of church and state, so that our fight for equal rights is won.  Today atheists pay taxes for faith based spending, hopefully in the future as more people find life without god, we would not be as likely to have leaders that would put such bills into motion. 

If the end result is a mother is more considerate to her child upon hearing the child does not believe in god, that's awesome as well.  Oh also... if the end result is a fundamentalist becomes slightly more moderate in his/her views... that's great as well. 

That focus, the end goal, isn't as important to me, as getting the actual message out there.  I know it's having a net positive effect, I've got scientific data to prove it.  Eye-wink

 

all of this I would agree to. In what form do you have data? Polls? I would love to see it.

Sapient wrote:

I'd agree that anyone who is only a harm to themselves is less dangerous than those who'd shove religion down our throats.  I've never walked up to someone that I know of in that situation and said such words, however I have spoken to moderates about religion.  I would prefer to refer to people like the one you describe here as victims, not as a mental case.  However I probably wouldn't use either word in the conversation, nor would I have walked up to them and started it.   I'd likely just try to plant a little seed of doubt, something that might make them question themselves later, like a little thought bomb just waiting to hit the ground.  Even if it's something really small like... "well then who created god."  Something that may help them to think it out.

It kind of made me smile when I read that last bit, because it reminds me of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters where a demon writes letters to a fellow demon on how to best damn human souls, and I think one of his suggestions was to put little seeds of doubt in their minds.

You're probably too much of a gentleman to go up to someone and call them a mental case, but my fear is that some atheists aren't. I think it should be made clear that one of the worst ways to convince theists that we are good people is to be carelessly insensitive.

I'm a huge fan of Neil De Grasse Tyson (an atheist astrophysicist), and I couldn't have agreed more with him when he said to Richard Dawkins:

 

"I felt you more than I heard you. So I asked the question...you're the professor of the public understanding of science, not professor of delivering truth to the public. These are two different exercises. One of them is, you put the truth out there and like you said they either buy your book or they don't. Well, that's not being an educator, that's just putting it out there. Being an educator is not only getting the truth right, but there's got to be an act of persuasion in there as well. Persuasion isn't always, “here's the facts, you're either an idiot or you're not”. Persuasion is, “here are the facts and here is sensitivity to your state of mind”. And it's the facts plus the sensitivity when convolved together creates impact. And I worry that your methods and your...how articulately barbed you can be ends up being simply ineffective when you have much more power of influence than what is currently reflected in your output."

 

I agree with him, and sometimes I worry that atheists, as much as we hold to reason, sometimes we come across as very emotional and that's why there's this stereotype of the angry atheist. There's something wrong with both the way we market ourselves to people (and let's face it, to an extent we have to market ourselves) and in the way we can have this attitude of "there is no god, if you don't agree you're an idiot".

 

Sapient wrote:

 

  You'd have to be more specific.  We'd never condone violence, however I have no problem with people opening a conversation up about religion.  If it escalates into a loud exchange of words, I can see situations in which I might find that both entertaining and a positive benefit, especially if the atheist is making good points, and the theist is not, and there are 20 spectators.  "Atheist Walking" comes to mind.  

I suppose it depends on your goal. If your goal is to make some noise and draw attention to atheism, then I think walking around and challenging strangers about their religious beliefs would achieve it. I would hope our goal is not to simply make noise, but to make impact. Since what we're fighting is fear and ignorance, I think the only way we'd make an impact is through understanding and education.

 

Sapient wrote:

There are tons of different ways to do it, tons of different people trying to do it in their own individual way, this site invites them all.  If your way is more passive, we're all for it.  If your way is to do nothing, you may have found the wrong place (unless you're looking for atheist smalltalk, we do have some of that).

 

Welcome aboard, thanks again for all the positive comments.

 

 

But I would hope this site does not invite ways that are simply loud and obnoxious and give atheists in general a bad name.

Of course I do want to do something to help, but I think some ground rules should be set so we don't end up (even with the most honorable intentions) persecuting others.

I'm not saying this group has done a bad job. the reason I posted was to praise this group, not to criticize it. I was merely hoping that fellow atheists share my concern for our public image and the manner in which we express our beliefs.

to reiterate, thank you for the work you have done.


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The Philosopher wrote:But I

The Philosopher wrote:

But I would hope this site does not invite ways that are simply loud and obnoxious and give atheists in general a bad name.

Hey, fuck you, man!

(I kid, I kid!)

Welcome to the forums - enjoy.

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Woo a lover after all the

Woo a lover after all the haters!

The Philosopher wrote:

 

I agree with him, and sometimes I worry that atheists, as much as we hold to reason, sometimes we come across as very emotional and that's why there's this stereotype of the angry atheist. There's something wrong with both the way we market ourselves to people (and let's face it, to an extent we have to market ourselves) and in the way we can have this attitude of "there is no god, if you don't agree you're an idiot".

I completely agree. I've seen on other forums that's something people don't like about atheists, that some do have a ''smarter than you attitude.'' That's no way to win people over to anything. I prefer politeness and compassion. Not to say I haven't wanted to go off at a theist before, but when you let emotions override your response, it's no longer a debate but  shouting match.

Especially with being an ex-christian, I think it's important to see where theists are coming from and understadn they genuinely believe what they say. That doesn't make it any less false, but understanding will get you further than disdain.

 

The Philosopher wrote:

I'm not saying this group has done a bad job. the reason I posted was to praise this group, not to criticize it. I was merely hoping that fellow atheists share my concern for our public image and the manner in which we express our beliefs.

 

 

I think about atheism's public image alot, though I think that's something that starts with the indivivdual. I try live a good life, one that theists can't point at and say, ''see those morally degenerate atheists.'' Not to say I let their opinion stop me from having fun, I'm hapy with the way I live. But you might be the only example of atheism they have, and just being a gppd person can help shake preconceptions.

And welcome to the forums! Do hope you'll be sticking around.

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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This is getting redudnant. My patience with the unteachable[atheists] is limited.

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Welcome aboard

  Good to have yet another woman here !!      I'm probably one of the best here at small talk, I am a very shallow person but I do have manners.  So pull up a chair, sit on the floor; admissions free, pay at the door.  I thought that was from Tom Hicks but I can't find it.  Maybe Matt can find it, he's good at that sort of thing.


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Boon Docks wrote:  Good to

Boon Docks wrote:

  Good to have yet another woman here !!      I'm probably one of the best here at small talk, I am a very shallow person but I do have manners.  So pull up a chair, sit on the floor; admissions free, pay at the door.  I thought that was from Tom Hicks but I can't find it.  Maybe Matt can find it, he's good at that sort of thing.

 

ya know, I was actually thinking about the fact that there seems to be more male atheists than female atheists. I don't know if it's a biological thing or if society's role for women asks us to be more pious. I'm not sure, but it's interesting.

I was also thinking about what I think Kelly said in the debate. That we are born atheists. I wonder if a group of humans were able to grow up without societal influence if they would come up with the idea of gods on their own.

As for our public image, I've seen a couple good attempts to make atheism have less of a shock value. I've heard a few atheists refer to themselves instead as "secular humanists" and I've heard the word "bright" being thrown around. IDK if that actually works to our advantage because it makes us sound less scary or to our disadvantage because we're conceding something, but I think it's interesting.

What I think a major obstacle is our lack of unity. We don't have a book of rules that every atheist would agree to. and of course, we wouldn't want one. But it's an issue that other groups don't have to deal with.


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The Philosopher wrote:What I

The Philosopher wrote:

What I think a major obstacle is our lack of unity. We don't have a book of rules that every atheist would agree to. and of course, we wouldn't want one. But it's an issue that other groups don't have to deal with.

First of all, there's the problem that we're hotter. That's going to generate some jealousy.

Second, I've always like "rationalist" better than "atheist", but I think it's a bit disingenuous not to just say you're an atheist when someone asks religious questions. Honestly, they're going to have to get used to us (and our hotness) at some point.

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I think masks would help. 

I think masks would help.  Like those masks in "V for Vendetta."  If we all wear masks, they won't be awed by our hotness, and they will be able to hear our message.

 

Oh, and welcome to the forums, The Philosopher!  Have you checked out our author section?  There's lots of awesome stuff in there.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/rrs_authors

 

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Quote: I think masks would

Quote:

 

I think masks would help.  Like those masks in "V for Vendetta."  If we all wear masks, they won't be awed by our hotness, and they will be able to hear our message.

 

My fav quote from that movie:

Paraphrase:

'Behind this mask lies an idea. And you cannot kill an idea. Ideas never die.'

 


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Found the actual

Found the actual quote:

 


Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

 

 

I was way off.

 


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 Okay, but for us we'll

 Okay, but for us we'll have to change it.

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is great hotness, Mr. Creedy, and great hotness is bulletproof.

[edit]

hmm ... maybe "great awesomeness"? No ... "great greatness"? No ... "awesome ..." aw, fuck it.

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The Philosopher wrote: ya

The Philosopher wrote:

 

ya know, I was actually thinking about the fact that there seems to be more male atheists than female atheists. I don't know if it's a biological thing or if society's role for women asks us to be more pious. I'm not sure, but it's interesting.

 

Because females are more rational thinkers. Smiling


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HisWillness wrote:First of

HisWillness wrote:

First of all, there's the problem that we're hotter. That's going to generate some jealousy.

 

IDK,  no disrespect, but Jesus was pretty hot. who wouldn't nail him? Eye-wink


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There is no doubt that many

There is no doubt that many here want to see an end to religion. BUT, the fear mongers amongst theists take that as some sort of advocation of government sanctioned opression via genocide. THAT IS NOT what any compassionate human, of any belief should want for humanity.

It is exactly like Brian said. Spreading, via voice through the free market and free speech, BETTER ways of thinking. We believe that by putting forth better ways of thinking, people will, or may not, come to the conclusion that we have in that a deity of any label, past or present, is merely a product of wishful thinking and is not needed for living life.

BUT, in no way would anyone here want or desire to oppress people who do believe. We may criticize, blaspheme and even ridicule magical claims, but we also realize that in the end a Christian, Jew, Muslim and atheist are STILL all human beings.

It is more along the lines of Jeffersonian thinking that many here take on the task of dispelling religion(of any label). To be unafraid of questioning even the most deeply held beliefs and traditions without fear where the answers may lead. In no way is this a call for oppression. In every way it is a challenge to believers to THINK about what they have been sold to be true.

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The Philosopher wrote:I'm

The Philosopher wrote:

I'm not saying this group has done a bad job. the reason I posted was to praise this group, not to criticize it. I was merely hoping that fellow atheists share my concern for our public image and the manner in which we express our beliefs.

I just want to point out that the reason atheists have a public image problem is not so much related to what atheists do, but to the stereotypes that have been constructed by theists of various flavours. Here's an example: There have been several occasions where I have made friends with a person, and then later I may be asked, or I may casually comment, "I'm an atheist." All of a sudden, they get this look of surprise and disgust on their face. Now, I have done nothing to inspire disgust, and in fact we were getting along just fine. But the well had already been poisoned. Suddenly they look at me in a new light. They suddenly have a negative opinion of my character. Why do you suppose that is? Because of something I've done, or because they got the idea from somewhere? And where do you suppose they might have got this idea? I don't suppose it could have been from all the preachers saying, "atheism leads to Hitler", and "atheists have no morals", and on and on.

So, in my opinion, the best way to combat this is not to put on the kid gloves and act all nice. After all, it wasn't something I did in the first place that created this negative image, so doing something to try to counter that is unlikely to make any kind of impact. Better is to confront the stereotype directly and stick to my guns. Stand up and be myself, not some meek and cowering doormat. Don't fear the other person's feelings. Confront the stereotype, and if possible throw a little guilt and shame in their face for holding such a stereotype. That's how opinions get changed. The image of blacks was not improved by Uncle Toms, but by MLKs and Malcolm Xs. The image of homosexuals was not changed by those in the closet, but by those in pride parades.

Another point is that this is a mission of many fronts. The RRS represents one variety of methods for getting the message out, but we support other people who approach it in different ways (as long as they are open-minded enough to support us in return). In some ways, RRS uses this idea to weed out the fair-weather friends from the true supporters. We will sometimes present a tongue-in-cheek over-the-top image and see who gets in a fit over it. Those who 'get it' become obvious from those who don't. An example is the Blasphemy Challenge. There are many atheists who think it is 'hurting the cause' and will denounce the RRS over something like that. They clearly don't get it, and are more concerned about cowering in fear of 'our image' than in actually standing up and doing something to confront it.

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Closer read

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Found the actual quote:

 


Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

 

 

I was way off.

 

 

 

   Not that far off  !!   


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Hot hot hot !!

The Philosopher wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

First of all, there's the problem that we're hotter. That's going to generate some jealousy.

 

IDK,  no disrespect, but Jesus was pretty hot. who wouldn't nail him? Eye-wink

 

 

     I think the actor here may be HOT,  but what the hell does your Jesus look like ??  


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The Philosopher

The Philosopher wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

First of all, there's the problem that we're hotter. That's going to generate some jealousy.

 

IDK,  no disrespect, but Jesus was pretty hot. who wouldn't nail him? Eye-wink

Is that Christian Bale?! Holy shit--when did he play Jesus?


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I just saw the debate for

I just saw the debate for the first time too and had a few comments and questions. I should be happy that Kirk and Co. did so well in the debate but I am not. Way too much time was spent on the teleological argument which we should all agree is not science. It is philosophy. The "putting scientists in a room to watch a coke can" argument just makes me angry. That was pretty condescending to the audience. And the constant argument from authority that "I used to be like you" was unfair as well, because he was not like you. He was not a christian that is now an atheist. I think sapient should have thrown in some counters to that to win the debate of public opinon. There's 2 separate things. Winning the debate. Having a better argument. We often see the person with the worse argument appeal to emotion to win a debate unfortunately.

I think falling into the "first cause" response trap was bad because the first cause argument is bad. God is not the first cause. Therefore its innapropriate to ask what caused God. The definition of God is something that has always existed. You can argue that that is meaningless assertion or improbable but you cannot argue "what caused God". So that looks bad in debate to say "what caused God".

Which brings me my main question.  Brian said because of thermodynamics, the universe has always existed. Since the primary definition of God is something that has always existed, doesnt that make him a naturalist pantheist? What is the difference between that and atheism? If the universe has always existed, we can call the universe God. If I had to guess I would say

1)  30% of atheists believe the universe has always existed in some form and

2)  60% believe the universe started from a singularity and had a beginning.

3) 10% other.

Can you provide better estimates since I dont really know what atheists believe about this. It seems like 1) is very similar to naturalistic pantheism. 2) is atheism as long as nothing has always existed. Obviously, I am in 3) as a believer but I could be persuaded by biblical pantheism.

But all in all sapient had so much negative opinion against him in the room to start, he did a pretty damn good job to sway that.


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Naturalistic pantheism is

Naturalistic pantheism is monistic atheism clothed in metaphysical gibberish.