Some Commentary on "War on Easter" FAQ

Archangel__7
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Some Commentary on "War on Easter" FAQ

Quote:
Are you worried that the tone of your campaign will cost you your credibility?

As the author Sam Harris points out in this interview, ridicule is a potent weapon. And political correctness has not exactly been effective in keeping religion in check to date.

Hello,

I'd introduced myself in another entry here.
First of all, I want to extend my thanks to Sapient for his warmth and generosity in sending me a copy of the DVD. As agreed, it will be my intent to make its content more accessible to Christians, and it is my hope that this will encourage them to become intellectually engaged with their faith rather than remain content to sub-cultural confinement. It is also my hope that this in turn will encourage more open discussion where all sides of the matter can offer their best case on equal ground.

Because I haven't seen the content of this production yet, I'll withold any remarks on that, so instead I'd rather focus my attention now on the methodology upon which "Rational Responders" is motivating its adherents.

To wit, I'm a bit concerned about the final question in the FAQ section. Ridicule just does not strike me as an intellectually respectable maneuver in any debate. The justification for this, according to Harris and his disciples, is that political correctness has just been too ineffective. Does this mean that the skeptical community is beginning to loosen its grip on the merits of rational discussion, instead turning to thought-coercion by relying on less-than-honorable tactics of intimidation?

The problem with resorting to a-rational (even fallacious) methods of persuasion is there doesn't seem to be any limits to what lengths an atheist may feel free to go to just to degrade the personal dignity of a believer... and why? Because the beliefs he holds to are religious in nature? This more "civilized" form of torture seems more consonant with a modern-day grand inquisition... not exactly the kind of image I'd expect the more intelligent sector of society to espouse, is it?

Sam might have a few good points concerning the dangers of uncritical acceptance of certain religious beliefs, but it strikes me as a bit cowardly to abandon reasoning with the opposing side altogether. Shouldn't the main goal of any proponent be that of convincing their counterpart of the truth of their proposition, and not resort to mental or psychological coercion?


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Re: Some Commentary on "War on Easter" FAQ

Archangel__7 wrote:

First of all, I want to extend my thanks to Sapient for his warmth and generosity in sending me a copy of the DVD. As agreed, it will be my intent to make its content more accessible to Christians, and it is my hope that this will encourage them to become intellectually engaged with their faith rather than remain content to sub-cultural confinement.

No problem, and it's actually Brian Flemming that will be sending you the free copy. (for the uninformed reader, arhangel is Christian and asked for a free copy, Brian obliged)

Quote:
The justification for this, according to Harris and his disciples, is that political correctness has just been too ineffective. Does this mean that the skeptical community is beginning to loosen its grip on the merits of rational discussion,

Just for clarification: no particular part of the skeptic community speaks for the whole group.

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instead turning to thought-coercion by relying on less-than-honorable tactics of intimidation?

Anytime someone debates or discusses something they are attempting to coerce someone elses thoughts. Now if you're charging that the tactics we use are less than honorable as they are intimidating, I must cry foul. Nobody is threatening anyone, or using other forms of intimidation. We're simply acting similarly to how the proselytizers have acted to us for years. Ridicule and intimidation are seperate, while they may converge, Sam speaks about ridicule as a potent weapon, which is akin to attacking with laughable qualities, while intimiadation seeks to bring fear into the minds of those you are dealing with. We save intimidation for the acts of believers, aka: believe or go to hell for eternity.

Quote:
The problem with resorting to a-rational (even fallacious) methods of persuasion is there doesn't seem to be any limits to what lengths an atheist may feel free to go to just to degrade the personal dignity of a believer... and why?

You don't see any limits, eh?

This from the press release:

press release wrote:
"Our 'War on Easter' is of course completely without violence of any kind. Christians believe that beating a man to a pulp and nailing him to a cross somehow solves all the world's problems. Beyond Belief Media does not."

Additionally you can listen to this short show and hear Brian and I speak about three types of crimes: Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions. We explicitly state we don't want anyone in our campaign, to even draw an infraction.

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This more "civilized" form of torture seems more consonant with a modern-day grand inquisition... not exactly the kind of image I'd expect the more intelligent sector of society to espouse, is it?

As a theist are you really qualified to judge what is intelligent? (slight ridicule, kind of kidding) Seriously though, if the intelligent people on Earth realize that theism must end for the good of humanity, and they determine that ridicule is one of the best way to achieve that, then I don't think correlations to the "grand inquisition" bother me at all. Call it what you want, this method is one of many that will work to help save the world. I don't really care about image, FYI. I'm not here to impress anyone. I'm here to help end theism. Or more specifically, here to help create a world in which people are required to have evidence for their outrageous claims.

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Sam might have a few good points concerning the dangers of uncritical acceptance of certain religious beliefs, but it strikes me as a bit cowardly to abandon reasoning with the opposing side altogether.

Who said he abandoned reasoning with the opposing side?

Quote:
Shouldn't the main goal of any proponent be that of convincing their counterpart of the truth of their proposition, and not resort to mental or psychological coercion?

Little do you realize that your resorting to mental and psychological coercion in your post here as well. So we can call you a hypocrite, however I'll stick to calling your point "moot."

P.S. I'm moving this post from General Conversation to War on Easter forum in the News and Activism.

- Brian Sapient


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Archangel__7
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Some Commentary on "War on Easter" FAQ

Quote:
Just for clarification: no particular part of the skeptic community speaks for the whole group.

Yes, that's generally understood, but that it's displayed on the site's official FAQ section would seem to imply this view really does represent Waroneaster.org's "orthodox" view.

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Anytime someone debates or discusses something they are attempting to coerce someone elses thoughts...

Coerce may be a too strong a term for rational discourse, perhaps one could say that debate involves persuading (vice coerce) another to assent to your proposition on its own merits. Consciously employing tactics exploiting the psychological weakness of your opponent hardly seems to achieve that goal, rather it seems to serve as more of a distraction from it.

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Nobody is threatening anyone, or using other forms of intimidation.

The "threat" need not be explicit, nor physical. There appears to be a real call to radicalization by ridicule rather than by reason. If not by exclusion, then certainly by emphasis.

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We're simply acting similarly to how the proselytizers have acted to us for years.

Before continuing, I'll simply mention I'm not at all discouraging open discussion in the public square. By all means, I'm very eager to find a knowledgeable and amiable atheist at my local coffeehouse to talk about these things hours on end! But you'd be hard pressed to find any major Christian ministry today advocating "ridicule" as a means of addressing a non-adherent (And Phelps is just fringe).

Quote:
Ridicule and intimidation are seperate, while they may converge, Sam speaks about ridicule as a potent weapon, which is akin to attacking with laughable qualities, while intimiadation seeks to bring fear into the minds of those you are dealing with.

I don't think the distinction will cut mustard here. I'm sure anyone here can easily identify with the average kid observing the schoolground bully using ridicule as a potent weapon to intimidate other schoolchildren into submission.

Quote:
We save intimidation for the acts of believers, aka: believe or go to hell for eternity.

There may have been a time when culture at large shared similar enough values that to employ a "turn or burn, flip or fry" method was more akin to appealing the common values that public had already largely agreed to be true. Cultural momentum at this point doesn't seem to be moving at all in that direction; at best using that form of rhetoric in isolation would be pretty ineffective.... at worst, yes it would strike me as "intimidating" if that were even possible.

Quote:
"Our 'War on Easter' is of course completely without violence of any kind."

Heh.. it's comforting to know that this is going to be a peaceful Jihad. Seriously though, I've no intention of finding fault in the distribution of free media based on militant language. Indeed, Christians are just as capable of speaking of "spiritual warefare" much apart from encouraging actual violence. At any rate, I do find it very commendable that there is an equally great effort to remind everyone to not break any laws.

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Call it what you want, this method is one of many that will work to help save the world.

So you and Mr. Fleming are going to "save the world". =)

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Or more specifically, here to help create a world in which people are required to have evidence for their outrageous claims.

Like the fate of the world literally hangs on ending belief in theism? But really, how does one go about "requiring" someone to have evidence for their "outrageous claims"? A requirement for what, exactly?

Quote:
Christians believe that beating a man to a pulp and nailing him to a cross somehow solves all the world's problems. Beyond Belief Media does not."

Taking any unique facet of a belief system out of its original context is always an effective way to make it appear unreasonable. Cheap shot. But that's a debate for another time. Eye-wink

Quote:
Little do you realize that your resorting to mental and psychological coercion in your post here as well.

The imagery I use here is intended to offer a reflection of what these tactics really look like from where I sit. Whether this is really necessary to make the correlations more clear is never easy to tell. Nonetheless, my apologies if my writing comes off as excessively derisive.

Quote:
So we can call you a hypocrite...

But before calling me the hypocrite here, note I'm not the one advocating ridicule as a matter of principle! I'm not talking about our habitual mannerisms (which in many cases are difficult to control at times), rather what I'm critiquing here is an official stance Waroneaster.org has taken to advocate a what appears to be a fallacious move as a legitimate means to "save the world".

Christians may often fail to meet the standard they intend to uphold, but by no means do I see any justification for using ridicule as a tool for evangelism. The tactic I'm targeting just doesn't seem to rise to the level of intellectual respectability,