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Monday, January 13, 2014

Mailvox: shut up, he explained

The Great Martini doesn't permit his complete unfamiliarity with Sextus Empiricus get in the way of his expressing a demonstrably incorrect opinion about Boghossian's clear-cut violation of Sextus's Sceptical teaching of "suspension of judgment":
He hasn't seemed to run afoul of this yet -- I just started reading the Kindle version. Sextus advised suspended judgement but didn't preclude the assertion of claims, that seems to be how his skeptical philosophy would be conducted. As far as I've gotten, Bog affirms Dawkins' 1-7 level of belief, that Dawkins only claimed a 6, and that the definition of "atheist" he wants to use is a person who doesn't believe there is enough evidence to confirm the existence of God. I'm sure he's not going to spend the entire book holding to strict suspension of judgement (I mean the entire purpose of the book is to weaken the societal influence of religion, which implies a judgement), but at least he seems to be aligning himself with the skeptical stance from the beginning.
This is completely and utterly wrong. Boghossian has done nothing of the sort. Do you want to know why I am so openly contemptuous of so many people who are fairly intelligent and sound more or less reasonable? Do you want to know why I am inspired to describe myself as a superintelligence? The reason is that it often feels as if I am the only intelligent individual who writes these days who ever bothers to take five minutes to actually read the bloody material upon which I am intending to opine. I don't know if it was TGM's intent to defend Boghossian or if he simply happened to miss the obvious, but either way, it is readily apparent that he doesn't know anything about the Scepticism of Sextus Empiricus.

Scepticism does not mean "I am dubious about X." It does not mean "I am going to convince you that X is better than Y". It does not mean "I will only believe X if there is sufficient evidence to justify it". It means: "I have no opinion about either X or Y, and if you assert that X is better, I will argue that Y is better in order to produce a contradiction of equal weight and thereby allow me to suspend my judgment." What virtually no one who talks about skepticism seems to understand is that for the Sceptic, suspension of judgment is not the method or the initial approach, it is the objective. If Boghossian was a genuine Sceptic, he would have presented an argument for the primacy of faith over reason to his atheist audience.

TGM is disputing this: " Boghossian's very stated purpose is in direct and explicit opposition to everything Sextus Empiricus advises, beginning with "suspension of judgment"."

In the fourth sentence of Chapter One, Boghossian explains his purpose:  "The goal of this book is to... help [the faithful] abandon their faith and embrace reason."

So, already we know that the Fifth Horseman clearly has an opinion on at least two things. Faith is bad by nature. Reason is good by nature. That this is a correct summary of his opinions on the two matters is confirmed repeatedly throughout the book. Now let us turn to Sextus Empiricus and the Outlines of Pyrrhonism.

Sextus: "He who is of the opinion that anything is either good or bad by nature is always troubled.... But he who is undecided, on the contrary, regarding things that are good and bad by nature, neither seeks nor avoids anything eagerly, is therefore in a state of tranquility of soul.... The Sceptic... rejects the opinion that anything is in itself bad by nature. Therefore we say that the aim of the Sceptic is imperturbability in matters of opinion."

Boghossian reveals his clear-cut opinions concerning faith being bad by nature and reason being good by nature. He is not even remotely imperturbable with regards to either matter of opinion. Therefore he is not only troubled, but his very stated purpose is in direct and explicit opposition to the heart of what Sextus Empiricus teaches. Which is exactly what I stated in the first place. Boghossian can't possibly be said to be "aligning himself with the skeptical stance from the beginning", not when he is expressly violating the very aim of the Sceptic.

And, in doing so, the Fifth Horseman shows himself to be a fraud, given his risible attempt to claim the intellectual mantle of Sextus Empiricus. As it happens, I very much doubt that Boghossian has ever read anything Sextus wrote that isn't on Wikipedia.

DH had a much more informed take on Boghossian's little book:
This has all the hallmarks of petty atheism which has as its main feature a stunning lack of scholarship and education. One of the main attractions of the RC church is that despite all the many faults, and theological questions I may have, the long and ancient history of scholarship remains unbroken. Whatever you think of any given Pope, it's unlikely that anything he ever wrote would be so filled with rote unverifiable garbage.
Oh, we haven't even gotten to the juvenile, self-serving definitions of terms such as "faith", "hope" and "atheist" yet. It is a stunningly dishonest little book and is unlikely to impress anyone with an IQ over +1SD who reads it with an open or critical mind.

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56 Comments:

Anonymous VryeDenker January 13, 2014 4:37 AM  

Why do atheist imtellectuals' linkedIn profiles always look like they just stepped in dog-doo?

Blogger redlegben January 13, 2014 4:41 AM  

Faith being bad by nature is an interesting way to address intellectualist morons. I am not sure if it is a better method than taking them to realization of their faith based beliefs in atheism. Perhaps it is individual dependent.

Anonymous dh January 13, 2014 4:57 AM  

I have long observed that the majority of GOP orientated media is simply a method to extract money from below average intelligence viewers who are prone to jump aboard bandwagons, easily rabble-roused, and uncritical. It's why GOP voter lists are very valuable to anyone selling anything - newsletters, investment advice, gold at 50%+ market rates, magic beans, cruises, burial insurance, or the like. These people don't seriously believe themselves, they just are in it for the money. It's the business model of the right - pump money from your intellectual base and make them happy doing it. It's the Newt Gingrich model of politics. Winning isn't that important, getting rich is a nice little side benefit.

It is becoming increasingly clear that these atheist writers are in it for just the same reason - to extract money from their base of low-IQ true-believers. The play book for shaking faith of a devout Christian isn't that hard to come up with - it's not to convince them that God is dead or never existed, it's to distract them. That's how most people leave the fold. It isn't some wake-up moment where you are no longer a believer. It's a gradual drift away from the community, letting slip a few things, and then raising barriers to re-assimilate.

You look at successful traditional sub-groups, like the Amish or similar sects, and they fear really one thing - that someone in the fold will leave the fold for even a short-time. Not because it's so much better on the other-side, but because the slow drift of distraction is what grabs and keeps most people away.

The idea that you are going to sit down with a believer and get them to abandon their faith based on a bad-reading of irrelevant history or some other sort of nonsense is very slim. Christians know too well that our ideological and faith communities history are stacked tall with martyrs who held the line in the face of all manner of torture.

The likelihood of success is so low that I have to suspect that it's not accidental. The book is not a real work designed to convince and explore the issues and determine a resolution. It's probably written for the reason that most modern works are written - as a vanity project and to make some money.

Anonymous The Great Martini January 13, 2014 6:27 AM  

Perhaps you're right with regard to classical skepticism and Sextus's injunctions about how to have peace of mind, etc. That's a lot different than how skepticism is used in the modern sense outside scholarship of classical skepticism, yet skepticism in the modern sense, the suspension of belief without clear evidence (which is what I meant by the "skeptical stance") must have grown out of classical skepticism at some point. Bog mentions Sextus, but you're the one binding him to the original classical definition. I don't see any reason we can't interpret Boghossian to mean "the philosophy that grew from classical skepticism," unless you really want to be pedantic about it.

Blogger James Dixon January 13, 2014 6:35 AM  

> Bog mentions Sextus, but you're the one binding him to the original classical definition.

Boghossian is the one who made the appeal to the classic philosophers, not Vox.

Blogger James Dixon January 13, 2014 6:38 AM  

> It's a gradual drift away from the community...

One of the strengths of the Baptist tradition is their emphasis on the individual relationship between man and God. Community is important, but it's the the be all and end all of Christianity.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 6:41 AM  

Perhaps you're right with regard to classical skepticism and Sextus's injunctions about how to have peace of mind, etc.

Perhaps?

That's a lot different than how skepticism is used in the modern sense outside scholarship of classical skepticism, yet skepticism in the modern sense, the suspension of belief without clear evidence (which is what I meant by the "skeptical stance") must have grown out of classical skepticism at some point.

Yes, I imagine the concepts have mutated somewhat in the last 1,800 years. That is why I prefer to use the term "Sceptic" as opposed to "skeptic". But this doesn't change the fact that a) Boghossian is illegitimately, even fraudulently, appealing to Sextus Empiricus, or b) what Boghossian is advocating is directly opposed to the genuine Scepticism.

I don't see any reason we can't interpret Boghossian to mean "the philosophy that grew from classical skepticism," unless you really want to be pedantic about it.

Really? If so, then you are as intellectually hapless as he is. You're doing the equivalent of saying you can't see any reason to interpret Marxism as meaning "the philosophy that grew from classical economics" in defense of a claim that Marx was a capitalist. The reason is that Boghossian's position is not Sceptical and it's not skeptical either. He's only questioning the faith of others, he's not questioning his own faith in reason, science, morality, etc.

Anonymous cuious agnostic January 13, 2014 6:42 AM  

"faith" >>> biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm ??

Anonymous curious agnostic January 13, 2014 6:45 AM  

also... "Presuppositional apologetics" ... is this vox's style of judo?

Anonymous The Great Martini January 13, 2014 6:50 AM  

"Perhaps?"

Alright, I agree that mentioning Sextus is probably ill-advised here, if only because pedants (ahem) will come along and call him on it. From the Kindle search function I see that he mentions Sextus precisely once, in that sentence. His sin is about as consequential as someone mentioning Ben Franklin as an antecedent to modern electronics, but you're ready to can him for it. Well, if that's any prelude, this is going to be a long and arduous journey.

As to whether he's not sKeptical either, I haven't gotten that far.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 6:58 AM  

Alright, I agree that mentioning Sextus is probably ill-advised here, if only because pedants (ahem) will come along and call him on it. From the Kindle search function I see that he mentions Sextus precisely once, in that sentence. His sin is about as consequential as someone mentioning Ben Franklin as an antecedent to modern electronics, but you're ready to can him for it. Well, if that's any prelude, this is going to be a long and arduous journey.

Ready to can him for it? I recommend that you read the post on my method. I'm not being pedantic, I'm simply noting that Mr. Boghossian has demonstrated, right from the start, that he is factually unreliable. I am not dismissing his work due to his dishonest attempt to cloak himself in the work of his intellectual betters.

I am merely noting that I now know to be prepared to question every single statement he makes. I know, from experience, that the bait-and-switch with Sextus Empiricus is very unlikely to be the only one. And I'm quite confident, (actually, having read a few more chapters, I already know), that he's going to make more substantive errors of the same sort.

To claim that X must be X and not not-X is not pedantic. It is Aristotelian logic.

Anonymous The Great Martini January 13, 2014 6:59 AM  

Boghossian is the one who made the appeal to the classic philosophers, not Vox.


My mistake, ancient skepticism is post-classical. The SEP entry is pretty good.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 7:01 AM  

is this vox's style of judo?

My style is kali and its philosophy of gunteng, not judo. In other words, if it comes at you, don't block it or redirect it. Destroy it.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 7:08 AM  

TGM, I'm curious. You're obviously attempting to defend Mr. Boghossian, even referring to him as "Bog", although you haven't read his book. Are you an atheist? Or do you happen to believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?

Anonymous The Great Martini January 13, 2014 7:18 AM  

I'm an atheist, probably at about level 6, like Dawkins supposedly. I write "Bog" just because I have trouble remembering how it's spelled, not from affection and certainly not acquaintance.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'll like either "Bog" or his book. I'm not entirely convinced about the moral merit of deconverting people simply because I'm undecided about the morality of challenging people's source of comfort. This has always been my greatest quandary as an atheist.

Here I'm adopting the role of Devil's Advocate, which will probably resolve your curiosity.

Anonymous lurking January 13, 2014 7:39 AM  

" Boghossian explains his purpose: "The goal of this book is to... help [the faithful] abandon their faith and embrace reason."

That's like saying he wants you to embrace photons but abandon light. They are not mutually exclusive.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 7:44 AM  

I'm an atheist, probably at about level 6, like Dawkins supposedly. I write "Bog" just because I have trouble remembering how it's spelled, not from affection and certainly not acquaintance.

(laughs) I can understand that.

Here I'm adopting the role of Devil's Advocate, which will probably resolve your curiosity.

Advocate away. It should be interesting what sort of defense you can muster and it will certainly make the future posts more entertaining. Anyhow, I agree it would be pedantic if I were to dismiss the book on the basis of the Sextus Empiricism and read no more of it. However, that's not what I'm doing here. I've barely begun revving the engines.

Blogger Markku January 13, 2014 7:58 AM  

Heh heh, Greg Koukl criticized Tom Gilson's Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician for that. "You don't put the hard name first, people won't find it"

Anonymous zen0 January 13, 2014 8:38 AM  

@ lurking

They are not mutually exclusive.

I concur. It is also the way with theory and practice. They are technically separate, but form a continuum of action.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 January 13, 2014 8:50 AM  

a devils advocate is a useful and content skeptic waiting in the wings then - and a viper ready to strike. Words can certainly mean more than their original authors intended. Truth is a boundary condition.

Blogger tz January 13, 2014 8:59 AM  

I think Bosshogian is going too fastdown a hazzardous road.

Yet the "non serviam" is right there - is the position itself recommending abandoning faith (with the promise more reason - people already have some) an attempt to do good or evil? Who/How to define good and evil? It would be more reasonable to say he is evil, whether intentionally or indirectly.

I'm waiting for the atheists to go out and see how many young children they can reduce to tears by demonstrating the non-existance of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, andthe Easter Bunny.

Their purpose is not so much to raise people living behind stained glass into greater light, but to simply be vandals and throw stones in a form of krystallnacht.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 January 13, 2014 9:10 AM  

tz, thanks for that; I was driving along, looking at the graffiti just this very day, thinking these are dogs marking territory. Vandalism isn't just destruction but an ownership claim. People making claim to public spaces.

Anonymous Eric Ashley January 13, 2014 9:22 AM  

PhillipGeorge, much of public discourse is intimidation.

As to Bog, one suspects that since Skeptic=Atheist, that he wants to claim all Sceptics. Its one of those liberal probjects (a misspelling, but a good one...problem and project ran together) of stealing words for their side.

Anonymous FP January 13, 2014 9:34 AM  

" " Boghossian explains his purpose: "The goal of this book is to... help [the faithful] abandon their faith and embrace reason."

That's like saying he wants you to embrace photons but abandon light. They are not mutually exclusive. "

Its a tax or a penalty.

Blogger Nate January 13, 2014 9:41 AM  

"I have no opinion about either X or Y, and if you assert that X is better, I will argue that Y is better in order to produce a contradiction of equal weight and thereby allow me to suspend my judgment."

And if tomorrow someone else claims that Y is better... I will forget everything I said today and argue that X is better. For the exact same reason.

Blogger Nate January 13, 2014 10:38 AM  

"The reason is that it often feels as if I am the only intelligent individual who writes these days who ever bothers to take five minutes to actually read the bloody material upon which I am intending to opine. "

It should be pointed out that this is EXACTLY how I feel when people start claiming that Joe Montana was the greatest QB ever.

Blogger wrf3 January 13, 2014 11:04 AM  

Vox wrote: If so, then you are as intellectually hapless as he is.

I think you're missing a golden opportunity here. Combine "intellectually hapless" (which almost all atheists are) with your posts on HBD (human bio-diversity), along with the idea that the evidence for or against God is exactly the same for atheists, agnostics, and theists -- only the processing of said evidence differs -- and you can make the case that atheism isn't the result of reason, but of faulty brain wiring.

Anonymous Josh January 13, 2014 11:06 AM  

Their purpose is not so much to raise people living behind stained glass into greater light, but to simply be vandals and throw stones in a form of krystallnacht.

They can't build anything, all they can do is destroy. Note that many of them teach at universities that had been founded by the church. Where are these great atheist institutions?

Anonymous Josh January 13, 2014 11:08 AM  

and you can make the case that atheism isn't the result of reason, but of faulty brain wiring

It has nothing to do with their ability to be convinced by evidence. They don't lack faith in God, they hate God.

Anonymous Brother Thomas January 13, 2014 11:14 AM  

I know nothing of this man. Is he anywhere close to being a real atheist of the Nietzsche variety?

Anonymous Josh January 13, 2014 11:20 AM  

I know nothing of this man. Is he anywhere close to being a real atheist of the Nietzsche variety?

Highly doubt it. His morality is probably basic Christian morality with an exception for whatever particular sex acts he finds appealing. And probably drugs.

Blogger JartStar January 13, 2014 11:23 AM  

- and you can make the case that atheism isn't the result of reason, but of faulty brain wiring.

The research seems to be pointing in that direction.

Anonymous Porky January 13, 2014 11:26 AM  

It is becoming increasingly clear that these atheist writers are in it for just the same reason - to extract money from their base of low-IQ true-believers.

Dh, if believers see through a glass dimly, then you are trying to look through a wall. Not surprisingly, you frame a spiritual battle in the only terms you can capably recognize - money, greed, lust, self, earthly power.

These things are but the 2 dimensional shadows in Plato's cave.

Blogger JaimeInTexas January 13, 2014 11:53 AM  

How does the atheist ascertain that something is true, without appealing to trust/faith in someone else's work? Otherwise, all is suspect 100%, 100% of the time unless the atheist is the one, for example, to dig out some apparent old document, verified, authenticated, translated and compared to other documents. Which, of course, the atheist discovered, verified, etc.

Life is impossible without faith/trust. Atheists are not faithless, regardless of their protestations to the contrary.

Blogger Markku January 13, 2014 12:02 PM  

How does the atheist ascertain that something is true, without appealing to trust/faith in someone else's work?

Well, in principle, if you doubted the claims and had the money and the time, you could go to, say, Antarctica. To ascertain that there isn't much ice there.

Anonymous Tex January 13, 2014 12:15 PM  

Vox:

Serious question about how you govern your responses like you did in these kinds of posts.

Do you take in account what Scripture has to say before you respond?

And if so, what Scripture would you recommend?

I'm thinking specifically of :

Matthew 7:6
Luke 9:5 & Matthew 10:14
1 Peter 3:15
Matthew 28:19

Now, I think you ARE being faithful to Scripture, but I was curious if it was intentional or not.

You don't have to reply to all the verses above, but a couple would be enlightening I think.

(I'm asking Vox, but I'd appreciate responses from everyone)

Anonymous Tex January 13, 2014 12:19 PM  

Also one more:

Proverbs 26:4-5

Blogger Markku January 13, 2014 12:32 PM  

I think the takeaway from those verses is simply that you shouldn't spend too much time on any one person if he isn't receptive to the gospel and if your time is better spent elsewhere. As for the dust off one's feet, I've heard that it is a symbolic way of saying "we are not in any way in your debt now that we leave; we even give your dust back to you." So, make sure it's true. Be sure that you didn't in any way consume the resources of those you assign to that category.

But when you have an audience, the same principle doesn't always apply. Even if you know THEY will not receive grace, the audience may have something to learn from the interaction. Especially if the atheist uses the popular arguments, and you think you have good responses for them that others might benefit from.

The main way I think this applies today is that you don't have the obligation to spend an unreasonable amount of time (or reasonable, but especially unreasonable) in private email correspondence with a belligerent atheist.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 12:46 PM  

Serious question about how you govern your responses like you did in these kinds of posts.

I didn't govern my responses at all. I simply wrote exactly what I think. I do not pretend to take Scripture into account every time I write anything.

Blogger stareatgoatsies January 13, 2014 1:01 PM  

I've listened to an interview of Borghassian. I'm strongly agnostic, but the guy's a boring, irritating, self-promoting, close-minded windbag. Looking forward to Vox's deconstruction.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 1:05 PM  

I'm strongly agnostic, but the guy's a boring, irritating, self-promoting, close-minded windbag.

He certainly comes off that way in the book. To put it in perspective, I have to read and re-read Dominic's arguments before I critique them. With Boggie, I'm mentally writing my critique as I read his arguments.

Anonymous Scintan January 13, 2014 2:13 PM  

It should be pointed out that this is EXACTLY how I feel when people start claiming that Joe Montana was the greatest QB ever.

Interestingly, that's how I felt when I read your anti-Brady drivel from a couple of days ago.

Blogger stareatgoatsies January 13, 2014 2:19 PM  

Furthermore, for someone who's written a book on it, he flails at the simplest, most obvious, challenges such as "If someone's happy living their life, not hurting anyone and believing what they believe, why can't you just leave them alone?" Because reasongood, faithbad! Asking that question proves how much cleverer I am than you!

And he doesn't bother to justify himself... It's axiomatic. Ignore the Mormons in the corner... And while atheism is nothing more than lack of belief, the premise of the entire book is that atheists should evangelise. He ignores the actual most troubling and intractable questions an atheist should have about the meaning of life but still considers himself a serious thinker...

Blogger Sleepy January 13, 2014 3:44 PM  

"If someone's happy living their life, not hurting anyone and believing what they believe, why can't you just leave them alone?"

The answer will typically be that they are hurting someone merely by being a part of the culture. Because some of the faithful have the audacity to vote or voice their opinions every now and again, that's a unit of resistance (however small) against secular pet causes. Nevermind that secular causes tend to fail on their own level before bringing faith into it; surely if religion diminished, then the sexy secular utopia would flourish.

Or to put it simply, not liking gays makes them suicide, and isn't that a shame?

Anonymous Noah B. January 13, 2014 5:34 PM  

The ironic thing is, the people being most harmed by this work are the ones who are paying good money for it and who think they're reading something logical and insightful, when the truth is quite the opposite. Those who are the ostensible targets -- people of faith -- won't be affected much.

Anonymous The Great Martini January 13, 2014 6:33 PM  


The answer will typically be that they are hurting someone merely by being a part of the culture. Because some of the faithful have the audacity to vote or voice their opinions every now and again, that's a unit of resistance (however small) against secular pet causes. Nevermind that secular causes tend to fail on their own level before bringing faith into it; surely if religion diminished, then the sexy secular utopia would flourish.


Despite its many benefits, one of the most regrettable aspects of democracy is that anyone's opinion can potentially affect anyone else, so in effect what you believe is everyone's business. Now, in practice, the complexity of figuring out the myriad implications renders this an inactionable idea, as it should be, but it still holds in theory. This was one of Sam Harris's central theses in End of Faith, that given the potential for destruction even a single person can wield in the modern world, it is no longer feasible to ignore the crazy thoughts of others. If we all inhabited isolated enclaves consisting of uniform belief, this might not be the case, but humans haven't existed like that for a long time, if they ever did.

Anonymous Sigyn January 13, 2014 8:15 PM  

Despite its many benefits, one of the most regrettable aspects of democracy is that anyone's opinion can potentially affect anyone else, so in effect what you believe is everyone's business.

However, in the case of democracy, one person's opinion doesn't matter in the least until 51% of the population shares it with him--in which case it's no longer "anyone's opinion" and becomes "most people's opinion". But that's utterly moot as we don't live in a democracy.

If we all inhabited isolated enclaves consisting of uniform belief, this might not be the case, but humans haven't existed like that for a long time, if they ever did.

Well, c'mon, what do you think universities are?

Blogger Crude January 13, 2014 8:29 PM  

Well, c'mon, what do you think universities are?

HA!

Anonymous VD January 13, 2014 8:37 PM  

Despite its many benefits, one of the most regrettable aspects of democracy is that anyone's opinion can potentially affect anyone else, so in effect what you believe is everyone's business.

Well, the European Commission has certainly solved that problem. The rulers are now unelected, so it doesn't matter what anyone who isn't on the commission believes any more.

Anonymous Anti-Democracy Activist January 13, 2014 9:37 PM  

"This was one of Sam Harris's central theses in End of Faith, that given the potential for destruction even a single person can wield in the modern world, it is no longer feasible to ignore the crazy thoughts of others."

Yes, I recall hearing that sentiment before. I believe last time, the exact phrasing was "Error has no rights".

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2014 11:40 PM  

"This was one of Sam Harris's central theses in End of Faith, that given the potential for destruction even a single person can wield in the modern world, it is no longer feasible to ignore the crazy thoughts of others."

How do you not consider that a parody?

Considering atheists are in the minority and with the recent historical examples of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, that's quite courageous of him. Do you guys really want it to go down this path? I don't.

It's pretty retarded. What constitutes 'crazy thoughts', and who decides? That's obnoxiously vague (I'm assuming you're representing his views accurately). It doesn't even say that the beliefs are in any sense dangerous, just 'crazy'. So if I believed that the moon landings were faked, and everyone thinks that crazy-talk, do I go to prison to keep society safe? Because skepticism of moon landings is just one step away from unleashing nuclear holocaust, amirite?

It just sounds like a blank check to go a-mobbing. Better yet, it just sounds like he wants to reinforce the conviction that atheists determine right thinking, and everyone else must accede. And vilify Christianity with something as foolishly abstract as 'those people believe in God, therefore, it's just a matter of time before they kill everybody" because he doesn't actually have anything real to argue.

I mean, c'mon, how can you read the equivalent of 'Christians have dangerous beliefs' and not think that's some kind of classic sci-fi parody of totalitarian government? Seriously, it's full on 'Big Brother is Watching You' kind of stuff. In fact, it also almost sounds like holocaust-style rhetoric.

Hitler's very first line: "The danger posed by Jewry for our people today finds expression in the undeniable aversion of wide sections of our people."

(A whole bunch of people don't like them, that basically proves they're dangerous.)

Despite its many benefits, one of the most regrettable aspects of democracy is that anyone's opinion can potentially affect anyone else, so in effect what you believe is everyone's business.

Um. When is this not true of everything? And isn't that pretty much how democracy supposed to work, that every man's vote counts for something? That's a pretty ridiculous justification for social purging or mental policing.

Someone thinking the wrong thoughts? Your Government Needs To Know (before it becomes a problem.)

Or: 'One of the regrettable aspects of life, is that people can potentially affect your life. So we need to ensure their conformity. Sign up for the Psi Corp, today."

So much for voting your consience. You'll have to vote the 'social conscience', Government Approved.

Anonymous Noah B. January 14, 2014 12:34 AM  

"This was one of Sam Harris's central theses in End of Faith, that given the potential for destruction even a single person can wield in the modern world, it is no longer feasible to ignore the crazy thoughts of others."

Well, it's nice of them to just outright admit to being totalitarian assholes.

Blogger Outlaw X January 14, 2014 1:08 AM  

logic is not defined by one man and never will be .Logic is a process of the human mind and not defined. I can walk, I cannot walk is logical I can see or cannot see is a construct of human Imagination.

Anonymous The Great Martini January 14, 2014 3:06 AM  


It's pretty retarded. What constitutes 'crazy thoughts', and who decides? That's obnoxiously vague (I'm assuming you're representing his views accurately). It doesn't even say that the beliefs are in any sense dangerous, just 'crazy'. So if I believed that the moon landings were faked, and everyone thinks that crazy-talk, do I go to prison to keep society safe? Because skepticism of moon landings is just one step away from unleashing nuclear holocaust, amirite?


In this vein, "crazy" usually means "dangerous" for Harris, and usually dangerous means terrorism, and usually terrorism means Islamic terrorism. That seems to be his obsession. That being said, I'm sure he is also happy to call many aspects of Christianity crazy (and also moon landing denialism) but the imperative to change it isn't there.


"Despite its many benefits, one of the most regrettable aspects of democracy is that anyone's opinion can potentially affect anyone else, so in effect what you believe is everyone's business."

Um. When is this not true of everything? And isn't that pretty much how democracy supposed to work, that every man's vote counts for something? That's a pretty ridiculous justification for social purging or mental policing.


Well, the original question was why does anyone like Boghossian write an evangelical manual. Why should anyone care? The answer that would probably be given is that we live in a democratic society and everyone has a certain stock in what others think. I mean, why does anyone ever write a social polemic?

I mention how the same concept is employed by Harris, except that Harris is using the 'roid rage version of it. It was probably a mistake on my part to even bring it up. What Bog is after and what Harris is after are two qualitatively different things. Harris is concerned about the continuity of civilization; Bog is concerned about improving society--according to him, but again isn't that the prerogative of anyone who writes a polemic?

Anonymous Mudz January 14, 2014 5:22 AM  

In this vein, "crazy" usually means "dangerous" for Harris

Exactly. That's equivocating between two completely distinct terms in order that - if you can call someone crazy, you can flag them as a danger to society, without having to actually justify it. That' a flat-out false pretext. A lie. A big steaming pile of bullshit to justify good old fashioned mob action.

They can't nail us with being an immoral or dangerous demographic, so they're trying to railroad it in there with 'crazy', which is entirely subjective, and even more foolish because of it. Self-identified Christians make up 80% of America. For all intents and purposes, Christians are the society. You really want them to decide to take punitive measures against 'anti-social' elements for holding crazy ideas about the existence of God?

It's a good thing that Christians worship God, we don't generally have that compulsion to turn the state into His substitute.

Well, the original question was why does anyone like Boghossian write an evangelical manual. Why should anyone care? The answer that would probably be given is that we live in a democratic society and everyone has a certain stock in what others think. I mean, why does anyone ever write a social polemic?

I don't think you're really saying anything concrete here. It's all too damn vague and weird.

The best interpretation I can make of your post, is that in other words, you (presumably as devil's advocate) are worried about people not voting the way you want, and that needs to be fixed.

That's democracy, man. I'm not personally the biggest advocate of democracy, but the idea that you should have a democracy where the opinions of the majority should be governed by the elite or 'right-thinkers' is supremely stupid. , Not to mention you seem have some rather frighteningly vague concept of pre-empting voters based on a knowledge of what they're thinking beforehand, in order to - what?

What the heck is your criteria, what's the game-plan, and what actions are you thinking of as appropriate to the people with 'troubling ideas'? You're gonna black-bag everyone who doesn't vote in Obama 2.0?

You're arguing that the really bad thing about democracy is that it's democratic.


Harris is concerned about the continuity of civilization; Bog is concerned about improving society--according to him, but again isn't that the prerogative of anyone who writes a polemic?

I don't care that they wrote books. I don't even know why you're talking about it. Their arguments, positions, and justifications, however, are fair game. Why else does anyone argue?

(I completely forgot that I actually have read 'End of Faith'. That's kind of funny.)

Anonymous Mudz January 14, 2014 5:28 AM  

Me:
"It's a good thing that Christians worship God, we don't generally have that compulsion to turn the state into His substitute."


Actually, I have a feeling this is less true than I would like. I don't have much first-hand experience of liberal Christianity in America. So I guess you had better hope it doesn't get any worse.

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