A Discussion About Christopher Hitchens, Religion & Science

The following conversation took place between a friend – Brian Blackwell – and random users, in the comment section under this video.

*Comments made by “Paul Edwards” are not shown. I assume they might’ve been deleted by the author. However, responses made to “Paul Edwards” will be included.

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Brian Blackwell
Anyone who considers this an example of any man at his “finest” has low standards for humanity. Leave it to arrogant internet atheists to use crude, abusive language to describe intellectual debate. Language fails in so many regards, but where it excels is illuminating quality of character. I don’t see anything special about this man; as far as I can tell, all of his “Hitchslaps” were lobbed over the plate by people with less-than-stellar intelligence.

The man’s body of work serves no one. He preached to his own choir while offering cold enmity to his opposition, thus deepening divides rather than bringing us any closer to resolution and a promising future. His personal war against religion was impotent and misguided, inciting the most rebellious and egotistical atheists to rally for the “cause” and feel justified in treating even the most compassionate religious observers with utter dismissal or outright scorn.

Religion was never the enemy — it’s just one more ideology that people use to justify their own capricious motives. The people who represent the worst of what religion has to offer would find another means by which to promote their agendas were their faith not available to bolster their cause. What can we say about all religious people? Next to nothing at all.

If religion were the cause of the despicable atrocities we’ve seen enacted in its name, then all who accepted religion in their lives would display near-identical behavior. But this is not the case; we see millions of compassionate, everyday religious practitioners who only want to raise their families in peace, and pray nightly for the world to be healed. They do not try to convert others, they do not treat non-religious people with hostility, they don’t even bring it up in conversation. Do they need religion to be good people? No; but it’s not hurting anyone and who are we to say what they should think within the confines of their own mind?

Misuse of ideology is the culprit and this applies to everyone, not just the religious. Hitchens was guilty of this very same “sin,” casting down judgment upon an entire institution rather than helping to solve the real problem. His words said “you can believe whatever you want” while his actions spoke volumes about his true beliefs — his way of thinking was right and his opposition’s way of thinking should be destroyed.

My, how original… let the atheist crusade begin.

P.S. I am not an atheist, agnostic, or religious observer of any kind — just to cut off the “You stupid Christians…” replies before they begin.

James tee Kirk
shut the fuck up.

Adam Langfelder
It’s amazing that someone can write so much and say absolutely nothing of value.

Greg H
That is why he and his legion of Hitchbots deserve my commentary. Well said.

James tee Kirk
couldnt agree more. 53 lines of pure fuck. now eat a dick and lick some shit. hey greg, i think youve still got some godly ooze on your upper lip… id wash that out.

Greg H > James tee Kirk
Nah, I am an atheist. You should figure out what I mean by saying so.

James tee Kirk
i realize now! by claiming to be an atheist, youre saying that you are so fucking stupid that you dont actually know what an atheist is!

i think jesus wants to see you finger your asshole some more. id comply, just in case hes in an “old testament” mood.

Brian Blackwell > Greg H
How well the universe provides — no sooner had I commented on use of language illuminating quality of character, then we have a fine example of just that very thing.

Emotionally-motivated argument has little value for thinking people; it only fans the flames of what’s already there, and the more boisterous the flame becomes, the less anything new can get through.

But you and I may have a basis for discussion… what do you make of all this, the atheist/theist debate and the manner in which Hitchens approaches it?

Brian Blackwell > Adam Langfelder
Well, this is simple enough to sort out — If you perceive that my words were not rich with content, then what would be an example of words that offer more value? Perhaps a demonstration, if you would be so kind.

Adam Langfelder > Brian Blackwell
Why? It would simply be more babbling.

Brian Blackwell > Adam Langfelder
All human language is babbling, but this is what we do… think of it as a hobby, or an interest — like singing. Now, you can just stick your head in the window, shout something, and then leave, but since you’ve demonstrated a desire to engage in this babbling hobby by commenting at all, I believe it’s fair enough to ask you what you mean by it. So, why are my words of no value? What would be of more value?

Adam Langfelder > Brian Blackwell
I will admit that you are well versed and I would enjoy debating you. I was having a rather off day.

Brian Blackwell > Adam Langfelder
Ah, very well, Adam. Rest up, maybe we’ll catch you next time!

Adam Langfelder > Brian Blackwell
I will say this: You have my respect in that you stand up for your beliefs, you are intelligent (unlike most of the people I debate) and most importantly, (and I do admit this) you are understandable. Good night sir.

James tee Kirk
I use coarse words cuz I’m an asshole, plain and simple. Was also having a bad day, but whatevs. I admire hitchens because he doesn’t mince words, he says what he feels. Apologies all, goodnight.

Tom Mulligan > Brian Blackwell
“Do they need religion to be good people? No; but it’s not hurting anyone and who are we to say what they should think within the confines of their own mind?”

But that’s just it! By its very nature religion cannot be something confined to ones own mind. Religion is an organized hysterical belief system shared by millions and there is even a book on it with pages of text derived from the bronze age. If only people kept their beliefs secret within their own head then there wouldn’t be a problem, and to say its not hurting anyone is either hugely dishonest or naive. We can make this world a truly better place if only people like you would put an end to this cult of supernatural nonsense.

Religion poisons everything.

Brian Blackwell > Tom Mulligan
I understand the motivation for this argument — I see religious nuts as ignorant and dangerous as well — but how is this any different from trying to ban drugs, or guns, or books, or anything else? You can’t rid the world of everything that people misuse; this approach has been proven to fail time and time again. And even if you could do this successfully, what about freedom?

You say: “If only people kept their beliefs in their own head then there wouldn’t be a problem,” but what is the logical conclusion of this perspective? Certainly not free speech. How about if we decide which ideas are appropriate and control the flow of information? That way we don’t have to worry about them sharing what’s on their mind, because it’s been pre-approved. When this kind of thinking becomes the overriding public sentiment, it opens the door for power-mongers to tyrannize and oppress. In fact, isn’t this the exact attitude that your claiming religious people have, and citing it as the reason why they’re dangerous and must be stopped? Humanity is nothing if not ironic!

Almost everyone you meet on a daily basis is religious to some degree — how much trouble do you have as a result of this fact throughout your day? I’m not saying atrocities don’t happen in the name of religion, I’m saying that religion is not the cause of such; because if it were, then all religious people would be dangerous maniacs. The fear-based perspective that you’re promulgating refers to a relatively radical segment of the religious population. Religion need not be hysterical, and we have no basis for calling it a “cult of supernatural nonsense.” Religious beliefs vary widely, and the jury is still out on exactly how much of it is nonsense. Plus, by adopting a loose or metaphorical interpretation, there is much value in the ancient historical texts. We should act with wisdom, lest we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Understand that I subscribe to no religion, and my commentary has no agenda; it is merely a call for reason and prudence. We cannot enact policies to solve this problem, and we cannot battle our way to victory; we must evolve the social consciousness to loosen their desperate grip on any ideology and become more self-reliant. We must empower people so they don’t feel the need for dogma, rather then tearing them down, which only makes them grip harder. Berating, insulting, and dismissing people for the beliefs they hold dear will never work, and leads only to war. Permitting this development is inadvisable to say the least, considering that atheists are drastically outnumbered and disorganized to such an extent as to be negligible to religious institutions.

Reactionary outbursts just add to the problem; the atheist’s only hope of eroding the grip that irrational religious beliefs have on the world is to employ compassion, diplomacy, and an attempt to soften — rather than destroy — religious beliefs until they come into accord with a more beneficial perspective. People will not heed your words until they feel understood. Get in their shoes and try to see it their way; from this perspective you may offer tweaks that move ideas toward a more metaphorical interpretation, which is the first step to unravelling the detrimental aspects of dogmatic religion. Accomplish this, and what remains will trouble you not at all. There is much within the scriptures to help you do this, but your efforts must be from an earnest desire to uplift, support, and join together, or they will see you for a charlatan and dig their heels in even deeper.

Bitterness, hatred and division poison everything — whether religious or not.

Adam Langfelder > Brian Blackwell
I have to agree with you on that sir.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Essentially what started the “firestorm” was the notion that “christian science” needed equal time in the classroom as “evolution science”. Their claim that the creation story is as equally valid as the science story, and that our children should be taught such. For years, when religions “kept to themselves” no one had a real problem with them. Some may think they are idiots for believing such a thing, but once they crossed the line stating: We want this taught in schools across the board, it became dangerous.

Interestingly, they aren’t consistent in their approach. If you ask them should hinduism, buddhism, islam, etc all get equal time they say no: just christian teachings. They are so unbelievably discriminatory because part of the bible’s teaching is to convert others, to their write, unsurprisingly the “one true religion”.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Of course they are not consistent in their approach, no one involved in any debate of this nature can be. Of the infinite number of ideas that could be taught in schools, the very act of deciding which are worthy of this honor precludes the idea of fairness. It is a microcosm of the larger social dilemma — who’s ideas are “right?”

Hahaha, how ludicrous and impossible a question… throwing your hat into that ring is an act of self-mutilation. If we could get all our thoughts, emotions and actions out onto a sheet of paper, the math wouldn’t add up. How can an inconsistent being create consistency in the world? And then to make a life’s work of asserting your “rightness” and/or others’ “wrongness”… it’s a fool’s endeavor, and here we have Hitchens and his opponents, standing at the pulpit all in motley.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Not so in my view. I’d merely suggest that religion need not be taught in schools. Teach the most up-to-date science, and that is all. Sunday schools exists for religious education (if you will), as well as the teachings done at home. Science isn’t a “belief” but a system of reasoning. If one wants to ignore science’s conclusions, one has the right to do so. But to teach religion as science, is not intellectually moral.

If one were to really push for it, the most suitable place for it would be in history class, such as this how it came about, and consequently it is a part of human history. Not as a science. Or in the sphere of higher education as courses in “religious studies”.

Moby Rick > Brian Blackwell
It’s clear you have no concept, or just refuse to see what this great man has achieved, and continues too after death. Stop trying to sound intelligent, you just sound dumb and jealous that you’ll die and no one will give a shit.

Brian Blackwell > Moby Rick
I think the antagonistic nature of your argument (if such it can be called) is evidence of your emotionally-charged, unbalanced mental position. If I am incorrect, then you will be able to concisely refute what I have said point by point, rather than resorting to profanity and insult. By all means, prove me wrong; I would much rather believe that I am in the presence of a mature person concerned with — and capable of — lucid thought, but I need some evidence to hang this notion upon.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
As an aside: Your proposition “If religion were the cause of the despicable atrocities we’ve seen enacted in its name, then all who accepted religion in their lives would display near-identical behavior.” is incorrect.

For example, the same can be said about smoking. If smoking causes cancer, then everyone who smokes would have cancer. Since this isn’t true, it is also true that smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

Or alcohol makes me people drunk. Since I drank alcohol and I did not get drunk, alcohol must not cause drunkenness.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
No, not in your view, because you operate on the assumption that some information is more appropriate than other information and that you are in a position to make that distinction.

The problem is that your opposition holds precisely the same assumption, so where does that leave us? Who shall be the arbiter? You will say “fact” as determined by science; they will say “revelation” as recorded in scripture — and so it becomes a game of “my ideology is better than your ideology.”

Believe me, I understand you argument and agree with your vision — I think religious instruction is better suited to a private venue specific to that purpose; but I recognize this as an arbitrary preference with no greater claim to appropriateness. The whole notion of what society “should be” is completely arbitrary as it is rooted in utter subjectivity.

They can teach my kids whatever they want, I’ll straighten it out when they get home, and they’ll review it all again for themselves once they’re grown. There’s no reason to be afraid of ideas — the only danger is believing that they’re “true.”

kurt knapp
Then we are back to the assertion that anything and everything should be taught in schools.

This is the argument that needs be made when one claims that religion should be taught in schools. If we are to go down “that road” then we must include all religions and not just your (any person claiming it should be taught in schools) respective religion.

Clearly the amount of time to satisfy such a requirement would not be feasible. Therefore, no religions should be taught in schools, as it’s own subject.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Just so you know where I’m coming from, I do not subscribe to any religion and I understand that almost all of the ideas commomly associated with the major religions are ludicrous and detrimental.

Let’s take history for example; this too has a body of knowledge so large that the inclusion of it in its entirity is time-prohibitive. So what shall we include and what shall we omit? It’s entirely subjective. The whole philosophy of the educational system is flawed. It is merely a conformity machine whose primary function is to create good drones to fill assembly lines and office cubicles. And yes, there are infinite little embellishments that distract us from this fact, and many well-intentioned people who blindly affect this end with benevolent intent. After all, it’s a great service to help these little ones grow up to get a “good job,” is it not?

Almost everything we learn is utterly useless and/or propagandized, and we leave with no knowledge of how to form successful relationships, interpret our emotions, manage our finances, run our household, raise our children, or any number of other essential life skills. Ah, but the war of 1812 — you better know the names of the generals by Wednesday or you are a very bad boy. It’s truly a laughable farce.

So trying to work out these details in the midst of such a ludicrous system is like swabbing the deck of a sinking ship. But if we could get religion out of the classroom, that’ll do the trick! Just another meaningless debate that distracts us from the real threat — and so you can be sure that corporately-owned politicians and their media mouthpiece will assure us that it is very important indeed. Stay in the fight — there are “family values” at stake! Hahaha, yes, yes, we will save the word one petty concern at a time.

kurt knapp
Of course, we can go round-and-round all day talking about the shortcomings of education as it is now.

However, I still contend that I’m making an all together different point. Specifically, those that want to frame religion as science. This should not be allowed.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Agreed; religion is not science and its proper role in society is personal, rather than cultural. In addition, its role should not include making claims about particular details concerning our physical world, as its services are no longer needed in this regard.

Paul WebsterAntiques > Brian Blackwell
So you are neither atheist, agnostic or religious, but you can go on at length about your opposition to his views, with what can only be described as a very clear agenda that firmly sits in the opposite camp. In an almost child like way. It’s very sweet, but serves no purpose, and certainly does not qualify as intellectual debate.

You are welcome to tell me that you believe I am wrong, just as I am telling you that I believe you are wrong. But at the end of the day, one side of the “argument” depends on reasoning and though…… the other on mythology and invisible friends used as a means to perpetrate horrific acts….. go figure eh….

Brian Blackwell > Paul WebsterAntiques
Hi Paul. I suppose I can clarify my position by saying that I do not disagree with Hitchens or most of the atheists who have offered rebuttal in terms of the details. The major religions are brimming with absurdity and the overwhelming majority of people who subscribe to these faiths are completely misguided and thus have a severely warped view that precludes deriving full benefit and often facilitates detrimental thoughts and actions.

I do not personally believe that any of the outlandish stories of the bible are true (though I do not assert absolutely that they cannot happen or did not happen), nor do I believe that their truth or falsehood is a viable line of inquiry because I see them as clearly metaphorical. I do not believe that Jesus was literally the “Son of God,” and if he existed as described, I do not believe it was his intent that we should view him as such. I do not believe in a supernatural parental judge, a superior being that created the world and exists outside ourselves, or any notion of God as typically described.

I will not impose upon your patience with more, but I think this serves to illustrate that I am not sitting firmly in the opposite camp. I would agree that there is no intellectual debate on this issue as both sides typically agree on the most absurd premise in the whole discussion — that religious scripture is to be taken literally — and then proceed to debate for or against on that basis.

I would also agree that there is no intellectual debate here because I have yet to have anyone refute my arguments point for point. The most promising example of actual debate was with Kurt — though we were specifically discussing religion being taught in schools — and we managed to come to some manner of consensus as a result.

The main thrust of my argument is that religion itself is not the culprit. It is merely one more ideology that people use to further their agendas. American slavery was a clear example of how this works, but does this kind of misuse represent a necessary result of religious practice? Of course not; so something else must be the actual cause. In addition, I am suggesting that rigid adherence to any ideology is dangerous and precludes true wisdom, and asserting absolute truth is nearly always invalid unless it is referring to subjective experience with the acknowledgement that it is subjective.

I have tried to be clear about all of this, but I still have people talking to me about spaghetti monsters and imaginary friends. I welcome anyone to approach my commentary with pertinence and pointed focus, rather than just firing the guns they loaded before I even got here. I am not every other anti-atheist you’ve encountered on the internet; please hear my words with new ears. I have no agenda, and I don’t think I am intellectually superior; I only wish to to temper this nonsensical and futile debate with some purity of thought and hope for resolve.

cmomofilm > Brian Blackwell
Since you seem to revel in very long diatribes perhaps you should actually look at the main body of work, rather than form a very wordy opinion based on a ‘greatest hits’ clip video mean for the the enjoyment of Hitch fans who have seen the full debates. Also, you don’t appear mysterious or intelligent by claiming to not be religious, atheist or agnostic, you just look foolish.

Brian Blackwell > cmomofilm
Not trying to be mysterious, bub, just trying to avoid impertinent insults. Pertinent ones — like my distaste for brevity — are duly conceded. But come now, do you really think I would base the entirity of my opinion on a single clip video? I am quite familiar with the man, but if you find something that I have said to be in error, then by all means point it out. Please be specific, however, as it becomes exceedingly tiresome to hear people disagree with me in principle just because they like the guy, but not refute my points directly.

MotesYT > Brian Blackwell
You’re in the wrong part of the internet, troll. But, go ahead land your act. You’ll show it burns.

Paul WebsterAntiques > Brian Blackwell
Oh…… what’s the phrase….. Let me put it in less than FIVE paragraphs……”Fuck off Troll” That is all…

Brian Blackwell > Paul WebsterAntiques
I understand, reading is hard and thinking even harder. If all the content of your mind can be expressed with a middle finger, who needs words, eh?

Brian Blackwell > MotesYT
Trolls don’t take the time to make lucid arguments, and I haven’t said anything in my post that was devoid of meaning or offered with the sole purpose of being inflammatory.

Still, I’ve yet to hear a thoughtful rebuttal — where are all our uber-rational atheists? You Hitchens guys are making my point for me — all you took away from his work was piss and vinegar.

Bri Durkin > Brian Blackwell
And yet you felt the need to write on a page celebrating him! Ironic! Face it, the man still has a profound effect.

I’m a fan of his work, and his demise hasn’t changed that. There are people discovering his videos and writings daily, and being influenced by his logical point of view in a meaningful way, not bad for a dead man.

I’m sure your biased opinion would be welcomed by Christopher, but I can only begin to imagine how he’d run logical and intellectual rings around you, and that’s what made him a great showman and advocate for atheism.

Brian Blackwell > Bri Durkin
It’s precisely because he’s celebrated without question by atheists that I posted here — I felt some balance was in order. Hitchens put forth reasonable arguments, but his entire approach lacked wisdom, and as a result his influence has been merely to excite atheists rather than teach them anything of value. Thus we have the “Hitchslap,” the very notion of which proves what his legacy is all about — never bridging gaps, enlightening his opposition, or making the world a better place, but instead inspiring an intellectual jihad where his followers run around telling everyone how stupid they are.

And there will be no running logical circles around me; I know exactly what I’m saying and will gladly concede any point where my error can be shown. If people are being influenced in such a “meaningful way” then where are the legions of the greatly benefited, using their supreme logic skills to prove me wrong, or at least iron this out to a consensus? Instead I get people telling me I’m wrong with no supporting argument and then cursing at me. Hahaha

You have not cursed me, Bri, and you seem like a reasonable fellow; this is much appreciated. What is also appreciated is the fact that Hitchens saw the flaws in religion (and other social issues) and sought to address them. Unfortunately, what athesits need is a Martin Luther King, not a Malcolm X — the “us and them” mentality isn’t going to get the job done. Show me the man who can balance immediate conversational rationality with a lucid grasp of the big picture for humanity by using his intelligence to bring people together and I will stand by your side and join in the celebration; but this Hitchens is simply no such man.

Moby Rick > Brian Blackwell
You demand some type of respect, cordial discourse and proof from any opposition. Yet, you started this thread and continue on it offering none of the same….you just assert your clearly inaccurate, arrogant, rude and ridiculous opinions as fact. You claim nothing special about the man, and that his body of work serves no one (just to name few ludicrous statements you made). These two statements alone show your utter ignorance, arrogance or both. “Nothing special about this man”? Can you possible be serious? Are you trolling? This man was exceptional! As far as his body of work, it has served millions. How dare you claim otherwise. You can’t speak to who and how others are served. I think it wouldn’t be going to far on a limb to say you’re just an arrogant, jealous, underachieved, pretend intellectual troll.

Brian Blackwell > Moby Rick
Very good, I can understand this perspective, it is not unreasonable to come to this conclusion. Perhaps you will be willing to soften this position in light of further clarification. I will certainly concede that this discussion cannot progress in the manner of strictly evidential discourse, as I began with loosely stated — and rather subjective — premises. This doesn’t preclude the possibility of a lucid, yet informal debate, but we will not be able to prove our respective conclusions absolutely, as they will largely be mere opinions.

I also agree that I could have approached this more cordially and with greater diplomatic finesse, though you will surely recognize my tone to be passionate rather than vicious.

“Nothing special about the man” — clearly a nebulous statement that requires clarification. What I mean by “special” is “of uniquely lofty moral character and/or significantly superior intellectual prowess as to be worthy of distinction and/or praise.” Now, “worthy” alone (among other terms) will necessarily make this a debate of opinions, but I will support mine here for your review.

These “Hitchslaps” (as well as his overall approach) represent either smarmy retorts or dismissals (not indicative of a sincere desire to uplift, heal, or enlighten, and thus not indicative of lofty, praiseworthy personal character), or pointing out logical fallacies of such an obvious nature that any clear-thinking person of average rational capacity should be able to discern them (thus not displaying superior intellectual prowess). Of course you may rightfully claim that he is special in many other ways, but these are to what I was referring specifically.

“His body of work serves no one” — again, to speak literally, a person may be well-served by watching a frog hop along the shore and being struck with some meaningful insight; what I mean to say here is that his opposition does not come away enlightened or swayed in any way because he does not embrace them lovingly and make them feel understood. Thus they are not coaxed into a state of receptivity, but instead dig in their heels to weather the assault.

His followers are not well-served because they are dazzled by his swaggering confidence and it is this that they seek to emulate more than anything else. Like a martial arts master who embodies humility, respect, and wisdom, and teaches that these qualities must accompany power, Hitchens would have served his people well by focusing heavily on these important principles as being necessary components to get the most from their intellectual development, but this message did not come across.

What we have now is that the “atheist movement” has a reputation for being obnoxious, condescending, disrespectful, and intolerant, and are thus not taken seriously. The most vocal atheists, who largely embody this generalization, are largely only able to rally their own, or draw out people who are motivated by an emotional tendency toward rebelliousness and subversion for its own sake. Hitchens can hardly be blamed for this, but he can be blamed for not maximizing the power of his celebrity to dissuade his “followers” from succumbing to these egotistical pitfalls. His students are not well-served by his example because of this missing piece.

And why people keep calling me a troll just because I don’t put this guy on a pedestal, I can’t figure. I’m making an honest case for my position, not just trying to piss people off. Was Hitchens a troll for questioning commonly-held beliefs and opinions?

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
People are calling you a troll because you are intentionally long winded, speaking in an air of sophistication, but saying virtually nothing at all.

b00bsism > Brian Blackwell
“What can we say about all religious people?”

they are not interested in finding the truth by reasonable means.

“Do they need religion to be good people? No; but it’s not hurting anyone and who are we to say what they should think within the confines of their own mind?”

But it does hurt people and mostly because of they believe in the word of god. I like Hitch, but I dont point blank agree with everything he says. But a god on the other hand… If you really believe it, you can’t ignore or put new meaning to his word surely? Hitch says “kill” I say “no”, god says “kill” I can’t argue.

“I am not an atheist, agnostic, or religious observer of any kind”

it’s a logical impossiblity to be none of these

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
C’mon Kurt, I thought we were friends! I will accept “long-winded” but take exception with the rest. Both the length and style of my comments are pure by-products of my effort to provide clarity. And though I concede the tendency toward… seemingly unnecessary flair… this too results from my intent to be impactful in getting my point across.

As for “saying virtually nothing at all,” I take no responsibility whatever for this unfortunate conclusion. I choose every word carefully to ensure that my statements are rich with meaning on a number of levels. I’m sure you would agree that when a blind man walks into an art exhibit and sees nothing, the artist has little need of regret.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Your position that those who don’t agree with you are blind, is as arrogant has hitchens saying someone is an idiot. The point is the same. If you use more words to express the same conclusion, it doesn’t make it any less arrogant.

Brian Blackwell > b00bsism
“Reasonable means,” you say? By whose standards? I have heard some very reasonable arguments for religious beliefs, and though I did not draw the same conclusion, there was clearly much sensible thought applied.

As for “believing the word of God” being a detriment to others, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the fact that there are many, many religions throughout the world with widely varying systems of belief. In addition, Christianity alone has countless interpretations of “the word of God,” many of which are completely benign.

Come now, this is an armchair argument anyway — don’t you know any religious people? What percentage of them would you characterize as “hurtful” to others? Of these, how many are hurtful in a way that differs from hurtful humans in general, as a direct result of their belief in the word of God?

Hey, if you want to know my personal beliefs, just ask; but don’t call me impossible — I exist, I assure you! Hahahaha

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
You misrepresent me — who said anything about people disagreeing with me? You said people believe my words to have virtually no meaning. I refer to a person holding such a ludicrous position as blind — in this regard, at least.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Which means you believe that what your saying is full of meaning, entirely subjective, despite what others think.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
I don’t even know what you’re trying to say at this point. Obviously I think it’s full of meaning, I wrote it to communicate ideas. If you’ve got a way more meaning could be conveyed, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask you to demonstrate. Tell us why what I’ve written is meaningless in your best meaning-conveying style, and maybe you will enlighten me and anyone else who comes along.

I’m no troll, so I’m not trying to set you up in order to tear you down. I will consider carefully what you say and concede any flaws in my ability to communicate ideas, if only someone will extend themselves to explain why my comments are lacking, rather than just stating it as fact with no supporting commentary.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
My point is, just because one thinks something is meaningful to them, doesn’t mean it is meaningful to others.

A longer description of a minor point, doesn’t make it more meaningful. Occam’s Razer if you will, the simplest way is the best.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Now it sounds like you’re using “meaningful” to indicate “emotionally touching” or “profound.” But I don’t think you can mean this because it is inconsistent with what you’ve said previously. So we must still be talking about conveying ideas, and I just do not see how you come to the conclusion that my words fail in this regard.

Since no one will explain how this is so, and I know that I had many ideas in mind when I wrote it, and I also see no evidence to suggest that I am utterly inept as it relates to writing, then I have no choice but to hold to my position that I have not been understood by those who make the claim. I can’t fathom how this can be so, as it is not a complicated topic and I have spared no expense of words and ideas in support of the stated opinions, yet here we are.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Precisely, perhaps you aren’t as effective a communicator as you think you are.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Hahaha, yes, yes. I’m quite sure that’s it. If so, you can surely point out how this is so. No? Then I’m afraid I’m left suspecting that you take my meaning just fine, but simply don’t like what I have to say.

b00bsism > Brian Blackwell
I’m still waiting Brian… How can you be none of the following: Atheist, agnostic, theist.

Also I want to get back to the hurting people problem and switch it up a bit. Do you know how may black rhinos are left in the world? In the last 100 years the numbers of black rhino have fell from roughly 500,000 to 5,000. Why do you think that is?

Ok you might argue competition for space but we know full well that this isn’t the only problem since the fall in black rhino population isn’t consistant to the amount of land taken by man in central Africa. Wanna know the biggest reason for this? It’s Chinese medicine. They want the horn of the rhino because they believe that it can cure almost anything. Using scientific evidence we KNOW that rhino horn doesn’t cure anything. WE KNOW THIS DUDE. Yet, rhinos are still being killed everyday to statisfy this stupid belief.

So it’s not just religion that is the problem here. It’s all about evidence based decisions and the sooner the entire world can move from belief to none belief without evidence the better chance we have to saving this fucking planet!

If we keep on going ignoring evidence we will fuck up this planet big time. Ecosystems will collapse and then every single person will be getting hurt.

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
My statements mention to the fact that his criticism of Hitchens was (not based on points made) but that he wasn’t eloquent enough for Brian’s tastes. I was just mentioning that essentially everyone has different “tastes”. Because long drawn out speeches are liked by Brian, doesn’t mean others enjoy listening to or reading it. All, I’m saying is to him, is what he said to Hitchens.

That was the most recent discussion anyway. We mentioned his misuse of logic earlier (the cause/all fallacy) as well as the his paragraph started “His body of work serves no one…” just isn’t true. Possibly in some cases, but to generalize, is misguided in itself.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
If you can quote me to the effect that Hitchens is not “eloquent,” that would be helpful, because this does not reflect my opinion and so I seriously doubt I said or implied it.

As for Hitchens not serving anyone, of course this is an inexact way of communicating my point, and it was not intended literally, as whether someone is well-served by any experience is ultimately up to them. Oftentimes people gain great benefit from situations that would emotionally destroy other people, like deaths, breakups, etc.; due to their perspective. “The wise man learns more from fools than fools do from the wise.”

Briefly, my point is that Hitchens’ approach is not inherently beneficial to either his opposition or his comrades (thus serving “no one”), due to a lack of wisdom. He deepens divisions between people rather than seeking to foster unity through compassion and understanding the other’s position and motivations. What good are all his logically sound arguments, when his agenda is just another example of man’s most detrimental folly — the “Us vs. Them” mentality. Tell me, who is served by this age-old perspective in the long run? Is it not at the heart of all the religious atrocities commited by his “enemies?”

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
And round and round we go… I’m happy to leave it at: “agree to disagree”.

Brian Blackwell > b00bsism
First, I think it’s worth noting that my initial comment was not intended to prove or disprove anything in absolute terms, but was merely an expression of my perpective; my opinion. The primary purpose was to illustrate that this man does not provide an adequate example of the perspective that will heal the world.

The terms “atheist,” “agnostic,” and “religious” may have many definitions, and I have used them here according to their meanings as most commonly understood.

Atheism is typically conceived as a lack of belief in a “supernatural” power that creates the universe and guides it in some way; often called “God.” It is also often associated with scientific materialism. I decline from describing myself as “atheist” so as to disassociate with this commom conception of the position. I believe that there is a “higher” consciousness that is at the root of the universe’s creation and development.

Agnosticism suggests that the existence of this “supernatural” power cannot be known, or at least is not known at this time. I believe this “higher” consciousness is utterly pervasive and known to us in everything at every moment, though is commonly not recognized as such.

As for not being a religious observer, I simply have not known any established religious ideology to perfectly reflect my perspective, and thus subscribe to none.

And now the rhino… I agree that a shift in perspective is necessary, though I do not believe that rational descisions based soley upon empirical evidence is the path to saving the planet. Scientific knowledge alone is not wisdom, and humans motivated from an unwise perspective will turn the tools thus derived against themselves. If anything, I think the modern western materialist perspective — rooted wholly in science — is the most destructive force ever to emerge on this planet in known history.

The phrase “saving the planet” is being used very loosely here, but I believe it is made possible only via a perspective that acknowledges our true nature and our connection to all things. Evidence, statistics, facts, can be manipulated or selectively discerned to suit one’s purposes. It is our purposes themselves that must come into harmony with the purposes of our world and the universe as a whole, and this is most directly achieved via personal, subjective insights, often associated with “spirituality.”

I submit that the society exhibiting this “enlightened” perspective would not glean the fields of any resource — rhino horns included — and would find that all is provided for via modest physical means and a sublime connection to the eternal.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Very well, Kurt; no hard feelings.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
“I believe it is made possible only via a perspective that acknowledges our true nature and our connection to all things.”

…which is precisely what science (evolution) suggests, and I absolutely agree with what you said as well. Sure, many people have agendas but science, in itself, does not.

Garrett Thompson > Brian Blackwell
You are a troll and a blowhard.

Brian Blackwell > Garrett Thompson
I’m starting to think I should have just adopted the strategy of my detractors — why bother offering a rationale for your opinion when you can just cast down your word from on high and walk away?

I’m still waiting for a hero of the hopeless to defend the opposing position with some ideas that directly refute my own. This thread makes my case better than I ever could — all you took away from the man was arrogance and scorn; and that’s more your fault than his. So much for the supreme intellect of the Hitchens camp, eh?

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
It’s an opinion. You’re entitled to your opinion Brian, you have a right to it. The appropriate response from your “detractors” is: Thanks for sharing.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Thanks for sharing.

b00bsism > Brian Blackwell
You seem to be ignoring me… Unlike kurt knapp, I’m not so sure I want to give up. So when you are ready I’d like a response.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
“I’m still waiting for a hero of the hopeless to defend the opposing position with some ideas that directly refute my own.”

“If religion were the cause of the despicable atrocities we’ve seen enacted in its name, then all who accepted religion in their lives would display near-identical behavior.”

This isn’t a true statement. As an analogy:

“Smoking causes lung cancer, therefore everyone who smokes develops lung cancer.” Which is a false statement.

Brian Blackwell > b00bsism
Hey boobie, as Paul mentioned, there’s a lengthy reply to you up about 10 posts.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
If smoking in general caused cancer, irrespective of any particular usage parameters or physical circumstances, then ideed all who smoked would suffer the disease. The premise “smoking causes cancer” is invalid as stated because it is too broad, as it is but one potentially contributive factor in a biological haystack of variables contributing to disease.

Likewise, religion is not the cause of atrocities, but merely one psychological factor at play in the mind of the person who commits the deed. Just how much it contributes — if at all — is entirely unknown. And since it is present in cases where atrocity does not result, we can definitively say that it does not act alone, but must be combined with some other factor(s) to achieve the result; in which case we are obliged to investigate whether the other factor(s) might not be wholly responsible,

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
It is not the same thing.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
I’m glad we agree. However, the fact that religion condones or entices bad deeds, while actually not benefiting anything uniquely in it’s purpose, is enough to say “okay guys enough of the fairy tale, we don’t need it anymore”. (This is Hitchen’s argument: Name one good thing a religious person does that a non-religious person can’t do)

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
“So something along the lines of ‘religion is the cause of despicable atrocities’ is just a different way of saying that ‘people are the cause of despicable atrocities’.”

The above example you gave is not correct. So yet another example: Gay Marriage.

People like to tell homosexuals that they are evil for participating in such acts, and that they are going to burn in hell for all eternity and that beyond that we’re going to make it illegal to be married.(A small atrocity in it’s own right).

Many people hold this view specifically because of their religion. If religion convinces even 1 person of this viewpoint, it is a source of evil.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Ok, well first we’d have to define which religions we’re talking about because the fact that thousands of religons exist and not all of them condone or entice bad deeds invalidates the statement. We also have the problem that “bad deeds” has not been defined and is inherently subjective.

Can you refine the premises a bit so I can understand what you mean?

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Actually any example you can think of would do. Can you think of any?

I forgot to comment on your remark that “The premise “smoking causes cancer” is invalid as stated because it is too broad, as it is but one potentially contributive factor in a biological haystack of variables contributing to disease.”

Smoking does indeed cause cancer.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
The one you gave Paul is good — Christianity and homophobia. Do you know any secular homophobic people? I do. This person is put ill at ease by anything homosexual; can’t even admit the slightest good quality such a person may have.

Homophobia exists without Christianity, so the religion cannot be the cause. Though this doesn’t prove that it may not be one of many causes. Do you know any Christians who are not homophobic? I do. They claim to be a Catholic Christian, they go to church every sunday, but believe that gays should be able to marry and that all people deserve equal respect. So here we have Christianity, but not homophobia, so the religion cannot be a cause at all.

A purpose the religion serves very well, however, is as a justification for whatever you’ve already got going on. You hate gays? Well now you’ve got a socially acceptable reason for it, and can go forth into the world with head held high.

In this case, the religion is no more the cause of the atrocity than the knife is the cause of the murder. It’s merely one possible use of an inherently neutral tool. It’s what the weilder brings to it that lets it take shape.

What do you think about this depiction of the scenario? Does this seem a fair enough balance between our two perspectives — Me saying religion is not a root cause, and you saying religion may be used to ill ends?

“Smoking does indeed cause cancer.”

But, but, but… My grandfather smoked for 50 years and never had cancer, so how do we account for this? Clearly the statement is not sufficient to cover all the phenomena, there are other factors that must be present; some qualification is required.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
So the position you’re taking is that every person who exhibits homophobia (for example voting against gay marriage) would vote that way regardless of religion, in every case?

That you don’t think there is one instance that someone voted against gay marriage, while they don’t care one way or another personally, they don’t want to condone others to sin?

[cancer thread] It is difficult to know precisely in a specific case. Certainly I can’t answer that.

But we know smoking causes cancer, perhaps one day we will discover the mystery of why he didn’t get cancer. (It is also possible he had cancer and simply didn’t know it or die from it).

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
“The suggestion that a belief that there is no God could cause a person to commit an atrocity?”

Atheism isn’t a belief system.

“Would you agree with the suggestion that a belief in God could just as easily prevent a person from committing an atrocity as it could cause one?”

No, I wouldn’t. Are there good and bad people in the world sure, no one is saying otherwise. That isn’t the debate and takes away from the discussion. We aren’t saying all religious people are evil and all non-religious people are perfect citizens.

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
Very good Paul! Okay, well one must eat to survive so we better just chew our food slowly and take our chances… lets see religion…that doesn’t really give us anything but it can lead to evil, so we will do away with that one. 🙂

kurt knapp > Paul Edwards
That is actually a really great illustration when you think about it. Life is all just “risk/reward”. Since religion really doesn’t present any reward, only risk of being misused, it is most intelligent to not have it.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
I understand the logic of the risk/reward scenario, and I certainly don’t believe that a religious person can do anything that a secular person can’t do, though I do believe religion inspires people to do something that they ordinarily won’t do, which is spend time considering the big questions (who am I, what is this world, how should I proceed in life).

Now, I absolutely recognize that the major religions — via their misguided or immoral leaders — offer answers to these questions rather than encouraging people to find these answers themselves. And it is exceedingly common that people do not use the tool of religion to discover insight and wisdom, but rather just get fixated on the tool itself.

This is a cultural phenomenon — implemented by political motivations — and not inherent to religion itself. Reading the gospel from a certain perspective reveals that Jesus (if he existed as described) did not have modern Christianity in mind when he taught, but rather wished for people to discover their own power.

Religion may not be the best way to attain such insights, and there are risks involved given its cultural emphasis; is this enough to warrant calling for its destruction, or even for it to be forsaken?

A bicycle is not the most efficient means of transportation, nor the most efficient method of exercise, nor the greatest thrill ride. It certainly has inherent risks that far exceed other modes of travel, and many claim that they pose a danger on the roads; but does this mean that their use should be discouraged?

People find benefit in the activity, and after all, isn’t freedom the most important thing? Isn’t life about the individual exploring and finding what’s meaningful to them, so long as they don’t get in anyone’s way? Speak out against behaviors that infringe on the rights of others, but not against the numerous motivations claimed for these actions.

I don’t disagree with most of your points at all — I think we need to move past the literal interpretation of these major religious doctrines — but I also think there’s a larger picture that makes your ultimate conclusion inadvisable. Let’s aim for the real target — the detrimental behaviors themselves; this way the innocent don’t get bunched together with the guilty.

Garrett Thompson
Brian your lack of brevity, to me, proves your lack of courage. You are a coward.

If religion is a bicycle you are the TOOL (see: gear) that keeps it involved in an otherwise reasonable conversation.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
“though I do believe religion inspires people to do something that they ordinarily won’t do, which is spend time considering the big questions (who am I, what is this world, how should I proceed in life”

It absolutely doesn’t. Religion in fact invokes the very opposite. It has “all the answers” to our unknowns. If we can’t explain it down to every detail, god did it.

Where is the better place to look to find out “who am I, what is this world, how should I proceed?” I would suggest the proper answer is everything here around us. Other people, our planet, the universe…versus a book that was made up by people 2000 years ago.

I’d in fact argue that science has provided better answers to those questions than religion. In science as well, “I don’t know” is a correct answer. It gives people the drive to unanswered questions. Religion answers “Oh they don’t know? We do, god did it, and don’t question god, because that’s a sin.”

“Religion may not be the best way to attain such insights, and there are risks involved given its cultural emphasis; is this enough to warrant calling for its destruction, or even for it to be forsaken?”

See above, religion doesn’t really ask one to seek out answers, it asks one to obey.

“A bicycle is not the most efficient means of transportation, nor the most efficient method of exercise, nor the greatest thrill ride. It certainly has inherent risks that far exceed other modes of travel, and many claim that they pose a danger on the roads; but does this mean that their use should be discouraged?”

In my opinion, this analogy Religion:Bicycle does not do anything for your argument.

“Now, I absolutely recognize that the major religions — via their misguided or immoral leaders — offer answers to these questions rather than encouraging people to find these answers themselves. And it is exceedingly common that people do not use the tool of religion to discover insight and wisdom, but rather just get fixated on the tool itself.”

Perhaps this is precisely the lesson we should have learned by now. That when you allow someone to attain power over others, they abuse it. Religion invokes power over people. Religious leaders are the “messengers of god’s will”. Throughout time there are examples of this abuse, time and time again.

“Let’s aim for the real target — the detrimental behaviors themselves; this way the innocent don’t get bunched together with the guilty.”

Again, as I’ve said, religion brings nothing to the table. It only brings restrictions. It doesn’t offer one to an open mind, but a close mind. In this way, it is a primary source for detrimental behavior. It can’t be proven, but it could be argued that in fact it slows humanities progress down, by providing false answers. (think: Copernicus publishing the heliocentric model on his death bed, not during his former years, for fear of the church’s retaliation.)

I also, however, think humans have a natural curiosity about the world. It comes with the territory (frontal lobe/cortex). We will ask the questions on our own. Religion suppresses the questions, giving a wholly untrue answer, (after all it can’t be taken literally) and saying that it is the word of god.

Brian Blackwell > Garrett Thompson
If your brevity is indicative of your courage, then it must be the courage to say something nonsensical and not feel the need to support it with an explanation. I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
I may be mistaken, but I believe Garrett Thompson is referring to your inability (or unwillingness) to assemble your points into concise statements.
Being verbose doesn’t strengthen ones argument.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
There is a tendency to use the word “religion” to mean something very specific, namely a tyrannical organization that seeks to close minds and control the world; but this need not be the case. I know a Lutheran group whose members were practically hippies — tolerant, loving, full of wonder, using scripture as a launching point for philosophical inquiry, not a closed closet full of answers.

I’ve acknowledged the less desirable manifestations of religion, but we must also recognize that there is another way to use it, and that many do with great benefit. I would point out that nearly every atheist came to their conclusions after being inspired to consider these metaphysical matters through religion. Unfortunately they often took it at face value and just rejected it as offered, rather than giving some thought to whether there may be a baby in that bathwater that others were missing.

Religion is personal; we don’t have to accept others’ interpretations. For the mass popular culture, religion is the only socially-acceptable form of “philosophical” thought. It’s the only time when asking these questions is appropriate. This is an incredible opportunity that clergy often waste by offering dogmatic answers and passing around a donation dish; but this need not be the case.

Surely you’ve seen Joel Osteen on TV or the internet. Aside from a few brief nods to dogma, this is basically a secular motivational talk. He has more people in the audience than many sporting events — there is opportunity for religion to reach the masses in a way that other schools cannot. It is the nature of this message that we should concern ourselves with, not whether or not there should be any message at all.

“Being verbose doesn’t strengthen ones argument.”

Give me a break with this already, how petty can you be? The entirity of my comment would take less than two minutes if spoken verbally. Are we having a conversation or designing bumper stickers? Anyone who can’t manage to focus their attention on what someone else has to say for two minutes without chomping at the bit has no place in discussions of this sort — leave philosophy to the adults and go watch videos of people crashing their skateboards.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
“Language fails in so many regards, but where it excels is illuminating quality of character.”

Ad hominem.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
See, again brevity is a hinderance. I have no idea what point you’re trying to make with this ad hominem post.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Your attack on my character (implying I’m not an adult, nor worthy enough to participate in this discussion), revealed your true character.

In regards to your previous post. I still stand by religion is not needed for “philosophical launching points”.

You claim: “There is a tendency to use the word “religion” to mean something very specific, namely a tyrannical organization that seeks to close minds and control the world; but this need not be the case.”

Religion by definition is a set of organized (predetermined) beliefs. Hence, close-minded. One doesn’t “test the bounds” of religion. It is what it is.

To be concise: Religion is the practice of dogma. Spirituality is the search for the transcendent.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
See where brevity got me? You misunderstood my meaning.

Are you someone “who can’t manage to focus their attention on what someone else has to say for two minutes?” I think not, as you have stuck with this conversation throughout. Anyone to whom this description applies is immature, however, as their attention span and capacity to bear a complex series of thoughts is child-like. See this as an attack if you like, but it’s a fairly neutral statement — they’re no more equipped to adequately participate in this kind of conversation than I am to pitch in the World Series. We all have our strong and weak points.

The literal definition of religion is what it is, but this is not how it always plays out, and we can use it to inspire alternative ways of thinking. I’m not saying it’s the best way, just that it can be a “foot in the door” that we wouldn’t have otherwise. My commentary isn’t merely about how things “should be” but about how we can move from where we are to a better place. Giving up religion entirely is simply too radical a shift for society to make; but maybe we can inch our way toward a less dogmatic, literal interpretation.

kurt knapp
If that was the implication of your post, it was utterly useless to submit. Since the post was directed at me, yet simultaneously you also claim (in a later post) that it doesn’t apply to me. What was the point of even writing such nonsense? Nothing productive came of it.

That rationale [back to religion] is like saying “the holocaust killed some Jewish people that were murderers, so while genocide isn’t the most efficient method to lower crime, which is a good thing, it is an alternative means of doing so. Therefore, since there are some instances of the good it did, it is too general to say that it is entirely bad… and it’s elimination would simply be too radical a shift for society to make.”

Ad nauseam:
The good that religion provides is not inherently unique and can be cultivated elsewhere. The uniqueness that stems from it are it’s given rules/constrictions. Religion doesn’t add any new freedoms of any kind.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Well, you answered on behalf of Garrett and so I responded in kind. As for you, it seems you share his sentiments but at least are willing to suffer my explanations and address them directly, not just air bomb a note saying “you’re an asshole and you talk to much” then leave without supporting the position — which is basically what we got from some of the other posters.

If we’re going to compare our situation to genocide, then we have to construct the model in parallel form. If a system of genocide were in place that was widely accepted and no outside force had the means to destroy it, what could we do? Our only choice would be to guide it in the direction of causing less and less harm until it had become something utterly benign.

Taking on religion with intellectual guns blazing isn’t the answer; we need to soften our approach and chip away at the detrimental aspects while empowering the more beneficial doctrines. Otherwise we have war, and nobody ever wins a war, one side just loses less.

I deem it hopeful that we seem to be perceiving the same phemomena, though drawing different conclusions. That is to say that we don’t disagree on the facts, which are that religion is often used to bad ends, but not always, and that it is not the only — or best — means of seeking “the transcendent.”

You just hold the sterner position that it is not worth the trouble it causes, while I believe it to be less black and white and see potential for its being a benefit. I don’t think we can get any further than this, but everyone will never agree on everything, and if they ever did, the world would be over. Our differences give humanity the traction to move, we just have to keep our intentions pure and try to keep an open mind.

kurt knapp
My position is that religion adds nothing good, uniquely, to the human condition, while granting evil and being yet another available source for one to abuse of power.

In the risk/reward analogy: religion is all risk/ no reward.

It is not intelligent to encourage any participation in such a process.

“If a system of genocide were in place that was widely accepted and no outside force had the means to destroy it, what could we do?”

The elimination of slavery is an example of what you described, having already been achieved, in this country. We need to educate. To not take a “soft approach” and give religion any credibility.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Kurt, you dasterdly dog, you won’t give me an inch here! Hahaha

American slavery doesn’t quite fit the model as described because there was an outside force capable of ending it, which is the only reason that it ended when it did.

There are millions of fine people in this country full of love because they believe Jesus to be in their hearts. There may be other ways to achieve this, but what about freedom to choose your preferred path? Who gets to decide which ideologies will be acceptable and which will not? Shouldn’t it be “do whatcha like, so long as you ain’t hurting nobody?” Those individuals aren’t hurting anyone, regardless of what any other religious people are doing.

I agree educating is the answer, but what form does this take? They already know about scientific materialism and reject it, so how do we educate? Doesn’t it have to be a subtle shift, followed by another, etc.? Doesn’t it have to be a soft approach? Smacking them in the face with science, and telling them God doesn’t exist when you can’t disprove it and they deeply feel his presence only sets you up as the evil tempter and makes them dig in their heels.

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
Slavery does fit the model. There is an outside force present, although you criticize it (people such as Hitchens pointing out the stupidity of religion).

The loving people ONLY because they have jesus in their heart, as you speak of, I’d refute. Such a statement can’t be proven.

Secondly, how many children are indoctrinated at a young age into the church? “Make them go to the church young, because if you don’t they’ll never believe it when they are older.” It is a system of brainwashing. Masses of people reject science and it’s findings. In return, it literally slows the progress of civilization.

You educate by “breaking the cycle”, if you will. For example, we’re still fighting racism today, but in every new generation it gets weaker and weaker. So even though there was a “harsh breaks” from condoned racist acts that occurred the shift from it appears as “soft”.

Certainly people can believe in whatever they want. They can still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy too. But as a society, we need to speak up and say, these things aren’t real. They are made up.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
I agree with the fact that we shouldn’t tiptoe around religion where it refutes scientific “facts” about the world, or where it infringes on the rights of others; this goes for any ideology.

I support any method that successfully (and humanely) moves religion from a belief system that guides thought in every aspect of life (history, science, personal behavior, etc.) to one that is limited to issues concerning our relationship to “the transcendent.”

All other areas of life will naturally be affected if this connection is made, but the way it’s set up now is like telling kids they have a test next week and then asking if they would prefer to receive a textbook about the material or an answer sheet with all the right answers. People have a tendency to cut to the chase. Hahaha

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
I think Hitchens both realized and appealed to that. He cut to the chase in his critique of religion.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Yes, Hitchens was adept at pointing to the pitfalls of religion and illuminating that it currently operates outside its proper scope, though I don’t believe he ever brought it to a conclusion that represented a satisfactory resolution for both sides. If you know of places in his arguments where he extended his hand to bridge the gap rather than seeking only to dismantle the enemy, I would be interested to hear about them. Otherwise I am pleased to retreat to our corners, parting as friends with confidence that neither of us represent an acute threat to a peaceful society. Hahaha

kurt knapp > Brian Blackwell
His “bridge the gap” argument was that he didn’t really have a problem with deism, just theism.

It would also be wise to note that one of the most acute threats to society is religious conflict… for example, the middle east.

Brian Blackwell > kurt knapp
Fair enough.

Hell No > Brian Blackwell
How can you be neither athiest, agnostic, or religious? That makes no sense.

Brian Blackwell > Hell No
Well, terminology can be hazy but basically the atheist does not have a belief in God in any form; I do not believe in a personified parental judge God, but I do believe in a “higher power.” My vision of this is not what some would consider a God, though some may, as it is omnipresent and the basis or first cause of the physical universe. I see it more as an extention of ourselves; a mass-consciousness, or universal consciousness. The agnostic says that we cannot know, or do not know this “God” and I believe it is readily apparent and can be subjectively known. I subscribe to no organized religion and am explicitly wary of dogma and systematic beliefs or ideologies being purported as “truth.” None of the aforementioned labels seem to apply.

KiithsaGnomer > Brian Blackwell
I believe what you are describing is called “Deism”, belief in a Diety of some kind without claiming to have a specific description.

Brian Blackwell > KiithsaGnomer
Thank you, Kiithsa. I find that labels (words in general) carry not only unnaturally limiting definitions, but also amorphous connotations.

Although Deism seems pretty accurate, it is commomly associated with an idea of God as “other;” a position that does not represent my belief accurately. I also make no claims about what’s possible regarding “miracles” or “revelations.” It seems all of these terms are so loose that their intended use would need to be described by all parties involved before any conversation could begin.

Figuring out what to call my pile of ideas is a job I’ll leave to everyone else — after all, each person has a nuanced conception of what all this stuff means, so how can I presume to describe what they’ll see when they look at it?

KiithsaGnomer > Brian Blackwell
So, correct me if I’m wrong but when you say “higher power” you aren’t talking about a individual God or deity-type being. You are describing a “power” that we as humans have but for whatever reason don’t understand or have control over.

If that is the case then isn’t it possible that we will understand it someday? Also, if that’s the case wouldn’t it then just become another part of our scientific understanding? Could we still call this “power” God at that point?

Brian Blackwell > KiithsaGnomer
I don’t see any reason why science couldn’t figure it out, as it’s just another aspect of this omni/multi/universe, according to my notion.

As for calling it “God,” we will not call it so and mean what we generally mean now; the choice will be whether to evolve our definition of God, or to just call it something else. Either will do, as my conception of it is characterized by a dissolution of boundaries that obviates the utility of precise definition.

KiithsaGnomer > Brian Blackwell
I hope that comes to pass, It would be great if we did have that power and come to have an understanding of it someday. I’d also like to see our definition of God evolve into something else. I know alot of people wouldn’t like that, but I think it’s a good thing, it’s called learning.

I agree also, that we wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t call it God at that point. Seems as though if we all agreed on this understand of the “power” that would eliminate practically all of these labels we struggle with. Which would also be a good thing.

Brian Blackwell > KiithsaGnomer
There will always be fear-based grasping and a reluctance to move forward for fear of losing what’s left behind; but by spreading the “good news” that it’s not about asserting or denying any existing definition but instead about finding the all-encompassing truth that umbrellas all, we can ease that transition for those who are willing to evolve.

And fear not, for life has a built-in system for evolution which is enacted via birth and death; each new generation will be more receptive to this message.

I appreciate your forward-vision; it’s a form of optimism that is wholly appropriate considering what appears to lie on the horizon.

UberTheRandom Randomizer > Brian Blackwell
You certainly do know how to create controversy of troll proportions without actually being a troll. Lol. Even we atheists have our sacred cows.

Brian Blackwell > UberTheRandom Randomizer

Robert Charette
Christopher Hitchens was particularly barbed in his methods. Although I think many of his arguements held merit, he could have represented himself better.

Brian Blackwell > Robert Charette
Yes, his logic is sound wherever I have heard him; the scope of logic’s utility is a subject for discussion elsewhere, but he’s certainly not a raving madman.

Brilliant rebuttal there but if your a died in the wool atheist then no matter what you said wouldnt scratch the surface. it will fly over their heads, hItchens was a contemptuous little public schoolboy who probably learned his craft bullying his juniors. i found him scathing and hateful so his message gets lost, to me he was a tosser.

dilettantescorner > Brian Blackwell
unfortunately, the majority “thinks” (it’s just a manner of speaking; bear with me here) like you. it’s not that I have low standards for humanity, it’s that humanity’s standard is objectively low. just like yourself, mind.

Brian Blackwell > dilettantescorner
Be more specific, please — in what regard does the majority think like me, and how is humanity’s standard “objectively” low (particularly since “low” is a relative term)?

danielcoppock > Brian Blackwell
I have bad news for you, you are following a mindset that should of died out over 30 thousand years ago. Something that we can live without now we are humans we have free will and can do amazing things with science. Disprove our old theories move on and advance as humans. You do see why religion is outdated now and the fact their is no god should not scare you because you should be able to accept that life is what you make of it not a test. You only get one chance in this life and you should try to make the world a better place not pollute it with more religious filth which has raged wars for centuries Maybe if you insist on us atheists to read your bible which many of us do and this is why we are atheist. Why not read some less biblical literature maybe god is not great maybe something scientific like the theory of everything.

And I can tell you why you will not even pay attention to this comment if you even get this far its because you have based your entire life on this idea that their is more that you have achieved all you can because of a pre determined plan. But no in fact you have saved no one changed nothing created nothing that is going to help the next generation. When their are people in this world. Like myself at the age of 18 Have saved dozens of lives helped people through many struggles been charitable worked hard. And achieved more than you could ever with a religion over your head.

UberTheRandom Randomizer > danielcoppock
Hmmmm, I don’t think +Brian Blackwell is religious, but I could be wrong. I think you may have missed his point.

Brian Blackwell > danielcoppock
Hello Daniel. I did read your comment in full, and though you have cannonballed recklessly into a pool of assumptions, I do not hold it against you, as this debate is usually between two clearly defined factions and it is somewhat unusual to happen upon one who sits firmly in neither camp.

Please bear with me…

I grew up surrounded by moderate religious people and accepted what they said generally, but did not have reason to give it much thought on a daily basis. In my teen years I began to have questions that received no satisfactory answers and became atheistic in my thinking. Just like many here, I was zealously rebellious regarding religion and swelled with arrogant pride for discovering what fools the rest were.

In college I was exposed to philosophy, the study of which became the driving force of my life at that time, and I continued the investigation throughout those years, finishing with a degree in the field. From there I continued to expose myself to innumerable perspectives on the cosmos and the metaphysical, and arrive before you here with a point of view difficult to define in a few short words.

I tell you all this not because it is a marvellous tale — I loathe reciting such self-indulgent drivel, as my area of interest is ideas, not personal histories (even my own) — but rather my hope is that it will shed new light on my commentary throughout this thread.

I am not a blind, dogmatic religious observer who has yet to see the ludicrous nature of literal scriptural interpretations; I am one who has moved from that place, through atheism (as commonly conceived), to a world of thought beyond.

Now, whether or not that realm “beyond” represents a step forward or a step back would be for you to decide once you fully understood my viewpoint, but please note that I have not come to these conclusions without intense and prolonged consideration.

To be clear, I do not subscribe to any religious sect, nor do I accept the notion of a personified “God” who exists outside myself. That being said, I do not believe that scientific intellectual methodology represents an appropriate “arbiter of all thought” (McKenna), but I do recognize the supremecy of science within its chosen boundaries.

Ultimately, I hold to the primacy of individual experience, am prone to solipsism, and think that if science or religion accurately explained away every question we had, the realm of the unknown — the answers to questions undreamt by human minds — would dwarf that body of knowledge by such a degree as to render it nigh unto negligible.

danielcoppock > Brian Blackwell
Such a descriptive text that explains your stand point clearly, an intelligent man you may be sorry for any judgements or conclusions that may of came during my previous comment.

But surely you understand that absolutely every religion is completely wrong and have been created by man not by a supreme being of sorts. Furthermore I have to ask the question what drives you to think that their is such a thing as god assuming you have knowledge about how vast this universe is and the fact that every religious ideology causes nothing but pain and suffering. Would it not therefore be better if their was no such thing as a “God” Because clearly if there was such a thing he would at least enlighten those causing so much damage to the world.

Brian Blackwell > danielcoppock
I thank you in earnest for reading my exhaustive response, and for the kind words.

I view the major religions as dreadful mutations of the ubiquitous acknowledgement that there is some (apparently) non-physical force as a first cause of the cosmos.

I say ubiquitous because disperate clusters of early humans seemingly all came to similar conclusions independently, having no influence over each other. I see no reason to assert denial of this possibility, and though the “evidence” is antecdotal, the sheer volume demands consideration.

I believe that this nebulous core acknowledgement quickly went awry, whether because of man’s inherent abhorrence for questions unanswered, or as a result of man’s quest for power (born of insecurity). The latter scenario is clearly discernable in the three Abrahamic traditions, and conformist cultural guidlines for practical daily living display prominently in their teachings.

In the case of Jesus — assuming he existed as described (a big assumption) — I read his words and receive a very different message than what common interpretations would render. I believe he saw clearly the metaphysical truths of the human experience, but embarked upon the nearly impossible task of relating to the masses that which is discernable only to the most perceptive among us. Thus he was misunderstood, and later misused as a source of credential for power-mongers and misers.

I assert nothing, and can define this potentially valid core non-physical acknowledgement no more concisely than I have already done. However, the religions that I am aware of have apparently strayed so far from this mystery, and loaded mountains of dogma, inappropriate labels, fear, and control on top of it, that I cannot view them as appropriate representatives. For this reason, I draw a distinction between them and the the notion of “God” itself.

“God” is a lamentably indistinct term, and the God that I will allow for is so vastly different than that which is usually denoted that I am hesitant to use the term at all. A personified, judge God who governs the cosmos as an independent supernatural entity with a will of its own has no place in my belief system.

However, a universally shared non-physical consciousness that acts as a support structure for the physical cosmos seems to be within the realm of plausibility (from my subjective standpoint), and I think prudence dictates leaving the door open for the time being, until we can ascertain what’s actually going on.

John Trent > Brian Blackwell
What is this (be it anecdotal) evidence you speak of? The sheer amount of which demands consideration.

I may have entirely mistaken you here, but could you have been referring to the persistence of the anthropomorphic gods in various mythologies?
I always took this to be a simple cocktail of ego, ignorance and the fear of death.

Again, I may have completely mistaken your meaning here.

Brian Blackwell > John Trent
Hi John. The anthropomorphism seems indeed to be born of the aforementiomed pitfalls. I refer to the persistence of the fundamental notion that preceeds all such particulars — that some non-physical element exists parallel to, and intertwined with, our physical reality.

John Trent > Brian Blackwell
Oh right, I definitely mistook you. Apologies.

Yeh Roddy > Brian Blackwell
which god you worship? dare to tell us?

Brian Blackwell > Yeh Roddy
Worship? I don’t worship any God. I permit for non-physical consciousness; if you like to call this “God,” so be it, but most don’t. Worship would imply that I envision this thing — should it exist — to be somehow greater than myself, which I do not.

Brian can be contacted through my Discord server:
Or at his Steemit:

Find Me @:
1st BITCHUTEhttps://www.bitchute.com/channel/amp3083/
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