A Plea for Rationality

gdon
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A Plea for Rationality

As a moderate Christian, I have debated against both atheists and Christians. I've never preached, as I believe that we all have to make our own path in life, and that God is more concerned with how we deal with each other than in our metaphysical idealogy. So I've always tried to restrict my comments to the evidence at hand. And if the evidence at hand is against either Christians or atheists, then it needs to be pointed out.

As some of you know, my main concern is the misinformation that gets copied uncritically from website to website. Too many websites have an unspoken agenda, where certain claims rarely get challenged.

A case in point is a board like the Infidelguy board, which I have described as a "fundy atheist" board (for reasons I won't go into here). Now, there are certain claims that get posted on the board which others know aren't true -- like "there is a Beddru of Japan" or a "crucified Mithras" or "there are heaps of saviours born of a virgin on 25 Dec" -- but the claims are rarely questioned on the board. Indeed, some atheists appear afraid to question them, since it generally brings out the scorn of the more dogmatic atheist.

I would really hate to see this happen on this new board. The RationalResponders have the opportunity of being one of the few objective boards on this topic, and it would be a shame to waste the opportunity of building a true "Rational" reputation.

That's not to say that the RR can't have a clearly defined agenda that focuses on religious irrational claims (which to be honest is most of them). But it would be a shame to bend over backwards to accommodate someone like Luigi Cascioli or Brian Flemming if you believe that he may be incorrect on one or more points simply because he is "on the same side" of the religious divide. Similarly on other topics like politics: it would be a shame to tolerate conspiracy theorists and other whackos simply because they come from the same side of the political divide.

Thus, my plea for Rationality: by all means expose the irrational. But do so on the grounds of rationality first rather than religion, politics or idealogy. And if you are going to support someone's views, then own them, i.e. make sure that you have looked into them for yourselves. Otherwise this will become just another "Infidelguy" board or conspiracy-nut board.

Thank you.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


Az
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A Plea for Rationality

Unfortunately religion is a deeply emotionally charged issue. From both the believer and nonbelievers point of view. As much as we value and cherish reason we are still emotional creatures. Holding to reason alone can be difficult. The anonymity of the net further exasterbates the matter. But the net is one of the few places atheists can come together or even find each other and thus it has become a bit of a beachhead for us in this modern society. Thus much of our rhetoric and style is colored by the nature of net discussions.

This does not mean that civil and productive conversations cannot be had though. But there are many presumptions to be overcome on either side. The atheists must get over their religion is a crutch attitude and the theists must consider that all atheists are not consumed with anger and spite for god.

Communication between opposing views can be difficult. But a dialog between the sides can be had if only both sides wish to have it.


gdon
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A Plea for Rationality

Az wrote:
This does not mean that civil and productive conversations cannot be had though. But there are many presumptions to be overcome on either side. The atheists must get over their religion is a crutch attitude and the theists must consider that all atheists are not consumed with anger and spite for god.

Communication between opposing views can be difficult. But a dialog between the sides can be had if only both sides wish to have it.


Yes, I agree, but that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying let's take the "opposing view" side of things out altogether. Instead, select a particular view and then give it a "RationalResponse" stamp of approval/disapproval, as something that has passed Rational Quality Control.

In other words, make this website a truly "rational" one, where people -- both atheists and theists -- can come to as a reliable source of information, and where all claims are investigated disinterestedly. Otherwise this website will become just another debate board filled with conspiracy nutcases.

For example, invite a fundy theist along who believes in inerrancy, and subject them to an official review process. It could be incorporated in part in the radio program. I wouldn't mind helping out with that by providing theological input.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


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A Plea for Rationality

gdon wrote:
In other words, make this website a truly "rational" one, where people -- both atheists and theists -- can come to as a reliable source of information, and where all claims are investigated disinterestedly.

Theism precludes rationality. Therefore, no theist is going to take RationalResponders.com as a reliable source of information, since everything here will point toward their lack of evidence for their deity.

For what it's worth, I'm trying to get more info on the Beddru issue. I'd like to know for sure. It would be fine if Flemming said "Hey I made a mistake." or "Hey, here's the research I did that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in the world." Staying silent on what could possibly be an eratta page on TheGodMovie.com is not acceptable. I am certainly interesting in the other claims such as the other savior gods on December 25th.

However, even if all of that was proven to be false, that certainly is not evidence for a god. If you claim to be so rational gdon, what evidence do you have for your god that you claim is so interested in how you live your life? Where is the rationality in that statement? Where is your objectivity? Where is your disinterest?

Edit: I just found your analysis of The God Who Wasn't There on the Internet. I skimmed it, and I'll read it in more detail tomorrow. I'm about to go to sleep. That still doesn't give you license for a belief in god. I look forward to your answers to my previous questions when I wake up tomorrow.


Sapient
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cbenard wrote:

For what it's worth, I'm trying to get more info on the Beddru issue. I'd like to know for sure. It would be fine if Flemming said "Hey I made a mistake."

You hit it on the head, about the Beddru issue he said that it was in the background image in a faded column, he accidently left it in the movie. He chalks it up to mistake and it's coming out in the second edition. He hopes to have the second edition out in time to send to the people who are making "The God Who Was There" movie.

Also, he finds it humorous how people will take such an inane non-sequitorial point such as this to attempt to discredit the rest of the work in the movie. We didn't address any other questions from the 20 in our conversation today, due to time issues and show derailment issues. In fact I'm not even sure that answer will make the show which is why I mention it here.

- Brian Sapient


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gdon
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A Plea for Rationality

cbenard wrote:
gdon wrote:
In other words, make this website a truly "rational" one, where people -- both atheists and theists -- can come to as a reliable source of information, and where all claims are investigated disinterestedly.

Theism precludes rationality. Therefore, no theist is going to take RationalResponders.com as a reliable source of information, since everything here will point toward their lack of evidence for their deity.

Certainly the website would need to build up a certain amount of trust. A reputation for questioning all claims -- atheist (like "Beddru"Eye-wink or theist -- would do that.

cbenard wrote:
If you claim to be so rational gdon, what evidence do you have for your god that you claim is so interested in how you live your life? Where is the rationality in that statement? Where is your objectivity? Where is your disinterest?

I have a supernatural faith-based worldview. I have no hard evidence for the existence of God, which is why I don't preach to convert.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


gdon
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Sapient wrote:
cbenard wrote:

For what it's worth, I'm trying to get more info on the Beddru issue. I'd like to know for sure. It would be fine if Flemming said "Hey I made a mistake."

You hit it on the head, about the Beddru issue he said that it was in the background image in a faded column, he accidently left it in the movie. He chalks it up to mistake and it's coming out in the second edition. He hopes to have the second edition out in time to send to the people who are making "The God Who Was There" movie.


What "mistake"? I'd be interested to know where he got the information from in the first place. My point is that list is taken from a disreputable 19th C writer -- how did it make its way into the movie? Where did he get his research from?

Sapient wrote:
Also, he finds it humorous how people will take such an inane non-sequitorial point such as this to attempt to discredit the rest of the work in the movie.

"It goes to establish pattern, Your Honour". Smiling But that isn't the only one by any means. A lot of his claims come from rubbish books and websites. I suggest it indicates that he didn't do a large amount of research for the movie, merely read the usual suspects.

Brian Sapient, are you acting as Brian Flemming's PR, or as someone trying to arrive at the truth? Either way, would you like to answer the questions I have in my "20 Questions for Brian Flemming" thread?

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


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Sapient wrote:
You hit it on the head, about the Beddru issue he said that it was in the background image in a faded column, he accidently left it in the movie. He chalks it up to mistake and it's coming out in the second edition.

Fair enough. That's all I wanted to know on that issue.

gdon wrote:
I have a supernatural faith-based worldview. I have no hard evidence for the existence of God, which is why I don't preach to convert.

But you can't say that on a rationality based board and not have it vigorously questioned. That is preaching; otherwise, you would not have mentioned it. You're not even just a "spiritual". You identify yourself as a Christian, meaning you believe in the existence and teachings of Christ. This claim cannot be supported by any amount of substantive evidence.

Any claim of any supernatural phenomena must be supported by fact. Otherwise, it is foolish for you to say, especially since faith itself is the belief in something you cannot prove.

----Begin non sequitur----
Yes, I know I didn't go to bed. That makes me a liar, and according to Ray Comfort, I'm sure I'm a lying, thieving, adulterous-hearted blaspheming sinner who will be judged and sent to hell. Seriously, fuck him and Kirk Cameron. I hate them almost as much as Hovind. I'm going to go edit my signature for this board and then go to sleep.


gdon
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A Plea for Rationality

cbenard wrote:
gdon wrote:
I have a supernatural faith-based worldview. I have no hard evidence for the existence of God, which is why I don't preach to convert.

But you can't say that on a rationality based board and not have it vigorously questioned.

Question away (though probably better to do that in another thread). Any claim I make you should question. But since I'm not claiming that I have evidence for God, answers on that topic probably won't satisfy you.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


Sapient
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gdon wrote:

Brian Sapient, are you acting as Brian Flemming's PR, or as someone trying to arrive at the truth?

Did you ask Brian if he's working as my PR? Flemming and I are friends, who share a common pursuit of truth goal.

Quote:
Either way, would you like to answer the questions I have in my "20 Questions for Brian Flemming" thread?

No, they're not my area of expertise. Rook, will likely answer some. Many should be sent off to Richard Carrier or Bob Price, which is where Flemming got a chunk of his info.

NOW...

Answer one question with a finding for me, and then you will actually have a little something that helps discredit the work of Flemming:

PLEASE NAME ALL OF THE PLACES THAT I CAN FIND, WHERE SOMEONE WROTE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, WHILE JESUS WAS ALIVE.

Your style, seems to be, to point out that I didn't cross a "t" or dot an "i" please don't play that game. Just provide the contemporary evidence for Jesus that I crave.

- Brian Sapient


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gdon
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Sapient wrote:
Answer one question with a finding for me, and then you will actually have a little something that helps discredit the work of Flemming:

PLEASE NAME ALL OF THE PLACES THAT I CAN FIND, WHERE SOMEONE WROTE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, WHILE JESUS WAS ALIVE.

Your style, seems to be, to point out that I didn't cross a "t" or dot an "i" please don't play that game. Just provide the contemporary evidence for Jesus that I crave.


There is no contemporary evidence for the existence of Jesus. Zilch. Nada.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


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...and thus the crux of the movie is completely valid and rational.

- Brian Sapient


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gdon
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Sapient wrote:
...and thus the crux of the movie is completely valid and rational.

If you mean "there is no contemporary evidence for Jesus, therefore there is no evidence for a historical Jesus", then I'd say no, this is not a valid conclusion. Historians simply don't work that way, as I cover in my review of TGWWT: http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/God_Who_Wasnt_There_analysis_Part3.htm#3.6

Peter Kirby believes a decision can be made from the basis of Josephus, and Jeffery Jay Lowder believes a decision can be made from the Gospels.

Brian, how about interviewing an actual historian on your program? Or even someone from Internet Infidels like Kirby or Lowder? You'll find that no-one supports the "no contemporary evidence therefore no existence" view. (It's almost as ludicrous as creationists trying to claim that the monkey has to turn into a man in the laboratory to show evolution). So where do you get that idea from?

Here is something earlier from the RR regarding a competition to win $500:

Here is what EVERY respectable historian considers evidence for a historical person:

1. CONTEMPORARY UNBIASED ACCOUNTS! That means somebody else that lived during the time of Jesus, and did not have a bias towards him. That also means the Bible does not count since none of the books in the New Testament were first or second hand accounts of Jesus' life - Including the Gospels.

2. NON-CONTRADICTORY ACCOUNTS!

Can you tell me where you (or Rook) got this from? Where is the list of criteria that historians use as evidence for a historical person, and why does it discount later First Century writings like Josephus, etc, in the case of Jesus? Understand, I'm not asking for YOUR opinion on this, but where you or Rook got the "respectable historian" opinion from.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


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gdon wrote:

If you mean "there is no contemporary evidence for Jesus, therefore there is no evidence for a historical Jesus."

No, that's not what I mean. I said what I meant.

Quote:
Peter Kirby believes a decision can be made from the basis of Josephus, and Jeffery Jay Lowder believes a decision can be made from the Gospels.

Josephus is worthless to me. Detailed essay from Rook within weeks. (months?)

Quote:
Brian, how about interviewing an actual historian on your program?

We had Richard Carrier on today. Subscribers will get the almost 2 hour show in about a week, the rest will hear it around the first week of June.

Quote:
Or even someone from Internet Infidels like Kirby or Lowder?

I believe, Carrier helped found the Secular Web of IIDB, or he's at least their largest contributor. Good enough?

Quote:
You'll find that no-one supports the "no contemporary evidence then no existence" view. (It's like creationists trying to claim that the monkey has to turn into a man in the laboratory to show evolution, which is just as ludicrous an idea). Where do you get that idea from?

Name five other important historical figures that are commonly accepted as true that have no historical evidence for them.

Quote:
Can you tell me where you (or Rook) got this from?

Rook wrote that, I'll let him respond.

Do you believe Jesus was not only a historical figure, but was also the son of god, and performed miracles?

- Brian Sapient


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gdon
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Sapient wrote:
We had Richard Carrier on today. Subscribers will get the almost 2 hour show in about a week, the rest will hear it around the first week of June.

OK.

Sapient wrote:
Quote:
Or even someone from Internet Infidels like Kirby or Lowder?

I believe, Carrier helped found the Secular Web of IIDB, or he's at least their largest contributor. Good enough?

Yes, I'll look forward to listening to that show. Did you ask him about the question of the implication of the lack of historical evidence for Jesus? He had written earlier on the II website:

"we have no reason to expect any historical record of a HJ [historical Jesus]. We are lucky to have any sources at all from that time and place, and those sources do not record every movement or its founder"

Sapient wrote:
Quote:
You'll find that no-one supports the "no contemporary evidence then no existence" view. (It's like creationists trying to claim that the monkey has to turn into a man in the laboratory to show evolution, which is just as ludicrous an idea). Where do you get that idea from?

Name five other important historical figures that are commonly accepted as true that have no historical evidence for them.


Jesus has historical evidence for him (see the comments by Kirby and Lowder above), just not contemporary evidence. But no historian would say that that makes him non-historical.

Sapient wrote:
Quote:
Can you tell me where you (or Rook) got this from?

Rook wrote that, I'll let him respond.


Thank you. It just appears to be an "over-the-top" statement from Rook.

Sapient wrote:
Do you believe Jesus was not only a historical figure, but was also the son of god, and performed miracles?

No and maybe. I can't understand what "son of god" really means. I don't think it was DNA based. OTOH, ancient Israelites called themselves "sons of god" because of their relationship with God. I don't think Jesus was virgin born or born of an angel, though, so he was not a demi-god. On the miracles: I believe in the supernatural, so have no problems with miracles in theory. Whether Jesus performed them I don't know.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


Az
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A Plea for Rationality

A problem. Theism vs Atheism. Atheism is nearly by definition a reactionary condition. It is only notable in the presense of theists. Without theists we would make no more note of our lack of belief in gods than we make note of our lack of belief in smurfs. I am an asmurfist but because there is not a substantial number of smurfists in the world I don't have to make note of it.

So the theist is the initiator. In a debate of whether god exists or not they carry the burden of proof. But the other end of this logical structure implies that if the theist does not offer any proof or evidence for their god then the atheist really doesn't have an argument against them. Simply put we cannot initiate the debate. We can only react to claims for specific gods.

We can take positive steps to explain why some people believe in gods or where the initial notion may have arisen from. But the actual construct of god is dependent on someone making a positive claim for us to take apart.

So if a theist and atheist come together in a discussion and the theist offers no claims for the nature of their god the atheist has no rational basis upon which to assail their stance. Of course the theist can make no claim of support for their particular notion of god and cannot rationally expect the atheist to believe in that which has no support. Its effectively a stalemate with not rational basis to break it until the theist offers a positive argument for their position.

If an atheist initiates a positive claim that there is no god they have reveresed the situation. They have taken on the logical position of having to bear the burden of proof. And while we may be able to provide all manner of theories and ideas of where various notions of god arise from we cannot address the infinity of potential notions of god in an absolute sense. We may be able to provide a reasonable argument for where the notion of god comes from but we cannot absolutely preclude all gods without hearing arguments for all gods. Hence stalemate again.


Sapient
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gdon wrote:
Did you ask him about the question of the implication of the lack of historical evidence for Jesus?

Yes.

Sapient wrote:
Quote:

Name five other important historical figures that are commonly accepted as true that have no historical evidence for them.

Jesus has historical evidence for him (see the comments by Kirby and Lowder above), just not contemporary evidence. But no historian would say that that makes him non-historical.

I'm waiting for those five other important historical figures without contemporary references so I can see that Jesus isn't the only one existing in a vaccum of non-evidence.

- Brian Sapient


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gdon
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Sapient wrote:
gdon wrote:
Did you ask him about the question of the implication of the lack of historical evidence for Jesus?

Yes.


Do he agree with his previous statement: "we have no reason to expect any historical record of a HJ [historical Jesus]. We are lucky to have any sources at all from that time and place, and those sources do not record every movement or its founder"

Sapient wrote:
I'm waiting for those five other important historical figures without contemporary references so I can see that Jesus isn't the only one existing in a vaccum of non-evidence.

If I do produce them, then what would that mean IYO?

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown


gdon
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Az wrote:
A problem. Theism vs Atheism. Atheism is nearly by definition a reactionary condition. It is only notable in the presense of theists. Without theists we would make no more note of our lack of belief in gods than we make note of our lack of belief in smurfs. I am an asmurfist but because there is not a substantial number of smurfists in the world I don't have to make note of it.

So the theist is the initiator. In a debate of whether god exists or not they carry the burden of proof. But the other end of this logical structure implies that if the theist does not offer any proof or evidence for their god then the atheist really doesn't have an argument against them. Simply put we cannot initiate the debate. We can only react to claims for specific gods.


Hi Az. Well written, and I agree with what you say. But the danger is to accept any claim that comes along without examining it, in order to bolster one side. There are plenty of claims made by atheists and theists on a variety of topics -- from the Problem of Evil, to saviour copycats, to how historical research is done -- that can (and should be) examined in their own right. Thus my "plea for rationality". Rather than just being another debate board, it would be good if the board could investigate all claims disinterestedly. I fear this board will slowly become just another conspiracy nutcase hangout.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Author unknown