Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Real Root of Atheists' 
Anti-Christmas Rage

by Doug Giles - Townhall - 12/2/12 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I'd be interested in readers' impressions of the style in which this piece is written as much or more than its content. How does the author's approach strike you? I'll be frank. I think it's a little "off." There's something about it that seems inappropriate –– not in keeping with the author's reasoning –– almost as if he were mocking the very things he claims to be defending. Do you sense that too, or am I way off base? ~ FreeThinke]

Why do some atheists embarrass themselves year after year trying to eradicate Christmas from American culture? Why do they make themselves societal hemorrhoids during this hallowed season? Is it because they are crusaders for equality, secularism’s saviors and humanism’s heroes? I’m sure that’s what they tell themselves when they’re pouting on their couches all alone on Christmas Eve after every single one of their friends has dumped them for being a rabid jackass.

I believe, however, — and I could be wrong — that the reason some rage against the machine is that they hate God and love their sin, and bringing up Jesus in December is not the way they wanted to finish off the year. Indeed, Christ really rains on their parade … and they love their parade.

Christmas, if you really get down to the brass tacks of it, isn’t about reindeer, elves, iPhones or Lindsay Lohan punching a gypsy, but about mankind’s sin problem and what God did to remedy it by sending His Son.

I know the chief facet most people focus on regarding Christ’s birth has been the peace on earth and good will toward men stuff, but if you dig around in the gospels a tad you’ll quickly see that the “peace on earth” thing is an ancillary perk to the main reason the second person of the godhead donned an earth suit and decided to hang out with us dunderheads. The core cause that necessitated Jesus’ incarnation was our jacked up carnality. Yep, Hambone, it was our sin. There, I said it. Sin. Yours, mine and ours.

Transgression was the reason for the season.

This is why El Diablo didn’t pass out cigars at Jesus’ birth. Happy he was not that the Son was not only going to address our sins but He was going to eternally and temporally salvage those who believe from sin’s fetid effects. This is why slewfoot energized Herod to put a hit out on the Nazarene when He was a wee little baby and why Satan’s demon inspired ilk are anti-Christmas to this day. Jesus’ birth equated to Satan’s demise.

This is not good news to some, though. Indeed, many atheists are up front about it and don’t want to leave their wantonness. As Jesus Himself said, they prefer darkness to light and don’t like to be reminded of their personal accountability for their sin — and thus their need for salvation — and therefore we should not expect them to be stoked about Jesus’ birthday party.

This is easy math, folks: A person who has no remorse and thus no desire to repent from their sins is probably not going to be a big advocate for the celebration of the person who reminds them they’re wrong and calls them to repent and believe.

Call me goofy, but I’m forever grateful for Jesus’ birth, His attesting miracles, His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. While most atheists this Christmas will be drinking to forget, I will, as Martin Luther said, drink to remember the One who was and is and is to come.

Doug Giles is the Big Dawg at Watch him on ClashTV. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. And check out his NEW BOOK, Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate.

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  1. It seems that Doug Giles is a pastor.

    Apparently, he is also an an artist.

    He has written a lot of articles for Townhall.

    More about Doug Giles HERE.

  2. I conclude that his writing style is snarky. He likely means what he says, FT.

  3. "I conclude that his writing style is snarky."

    Yes, AOW. That's exactly what I thought. "Flippant" would be the term I would choose. This seems especially odd and out of place if he's a Minister of the Gospel as you have told us.

    I guess it's my personal distaste for the tone and style of "contemporary" modes of expression that raised my hackles as I read and contemplated using this piece.

    I tend to agree with what he says, but don't feel comfortable with his manner.

    At the same time I dislike with equal intensity the unctuous show of simulated piety most men of the cloth felt obliged to affect with great pomposity in days of yore. I sensed that, even as a young child, and always felt uncomfortable with it. As an adult it sets my teeth on edge.

    On the other hand talking to or about Almighty God, as though He were "just one of the boys" is appalling.

    I make no secret of my disdain for great words clearly misunderstood and inappropriately expressed. I believe the meaning is found much more in the music implicit in the motivation for the utterance than in the words, themselves.

    This attitude of mine seems to offend or disturb a good many who define themselves as Christian. I am sorry, but my devoted lifelong study of serious music has made that conviction possibly THE "Central Tenet" of my life.

    SO, the interesting question that emerges is how could one possibly be spiritually aware, sincerely reverent and "snarky," as you put it, at the same time?

    I hope others may join the discussion.

    ~ FT

  4. I agree with AOW, and you yourself pinned it, FreeThinke. Its a generational thing. Believe it or not, the way he speaks resonates with younger people.

  5. Those people with whom he resonates must be younger than I ever was.

    As a very young man & Christian, I would have disliked this piece's tone for the same reason FreeThinke does. These days, though no longer a Christian I am still young -- OK, that term is now a bit of a stretch but I can with effort still squeeze into it and fasten its zip; it might be getting uncomfortable to walk around in it, but it still technically fits -- I am equally irked by the simplistic psychology he applies to athiests (I hope my younger self would have perceived this fault too). I'm sure you could find a handful of people who fit this description, but I guarantee he is wrong about us way more often than he is right.

    This guy comes across as an inane simpleton, inexplicably infatuated with the sound of his own rhetoric. I speak as one who has intentionally left himself open to the same critisism in this comment. See how annoying it is?

    I am myself by no means anti-Christmas, but I know a very few people who are. None of them fit Giles' description. Their reasons for resenting Christmas are individual and actually pretty complex. I wouldn't presume to know the psychology behind any of them, I could only begin to speculate. Some of those stories are pretty dark, and have much less to do with theology -- which, remember (Giles seems to have forgotten), atheists don't believe in -- and more to do with the secular aspects of Christmas. It's not math, folks, and it's certainly not easy, but Giles ploughs in with the simple answers anyway. What a plonker.
    I don't know why he wrote this, he can't possibly be interested in answering the question posed in his opening.

  6. I realize Silver's assertion that this is a style of communication that is more apt to "get through" to young people than the more sedate, erudite phraseology I would much prefer, but -- as a proud, unrepentant, card-carrying "Fuddy Duddy" I am compelled to say that the eagerness with which "the young" would accept this kind of parlance is at the heart of what's gone so terribly wrong in Western Society.

    If anyone has the great misfortune to remember, as I do, the evening radio monologues of the late Jean Shepard -- an influence I recognized as hateful, gross and corruptive at least 55 years ago -- he would understand right away that this Doug Giles is a chip off that same old block. The obnoxious, sarcastic, pointedly irreverent, blatantly disrespectful, Dennis Miller, who functions most unfortunately as a “regular” on Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor, is a virtual reincarnation of Jean Shephard. The two share the same voice, the same accent, the same flippant attitude, and employ the same aggressive assault on dignity and propriety.

    From my point of view this approach to public discourse is right in line with taking the hoary old joke about putting Sophocles’ ancient tragedy Oedipus Rex in a more realistic, more relevant modern context by changing its name to Motherfuck. That’s no longer a joke. We have elevated that abysmal level of adolescent crassitude to the realm of acceptable literary and philosophical analysis and criticism.

    We no longer address each other in English; we use “Clodspeak,” instead, and I for one will go to my grave resisting and bitterly denouncing this degenerative practice as ruinous.

    ~ FreeThinke

    PS: There’s a world of difference between “classic,” and “archaic.” That would make a topic worthy of debate all by itself -- a discussion I hope we may have one of these days. - FT

  7. Glad you stopped by, Jez. I appreciate your input today. My wish would be that, as a society, we could simply let cultural phenomena be what they will be without all the rude, petulant, feigned outrage and hyper-aggressive condemnatory rhetoric accompanied by attempts to sue one's way to dominance, when the majority are less-than-enchanted with your aims.

    If anyone wants to be an atheist, it's all right with me. Our beliefs ought to be or on business and not subject to legislation.

    I believe, however, that many atheists either don't see -- or refuse to admit -- their beliefs are by classical definition as much a form of religion as any of the others. With that in mind activist atheism is doing nothing more than making an attempt to supplant one for of religious dominance and intolerance with another.

    I don't believe in being "offended," I think it's a waste of energy, but I do think pitched battles over issues contrived to push for the official right to bully others into submission to your will -- just for the sake of being able to do it -- is not only stupid, it's dangerous.

    ~ FreeThinke

  8. Passion, today, is seen as a proxy for conviction. Convictions are seen as sign of the "strength" of one's faith. But instead of directing his passion towards "building up" the case for his "Christian" faith, the columnist directs them at "knocking down" a strawman of his adversary's case. In so doing, he denies the very "charity" required for a civilized discussion to take place (shared premises). A far better approach, would be that of the elenchus.

  9. Plato, "Phaedrus"

    SOCRATES: I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.

  10. I've been known to be fairly crass in my own writing style. I don't really do it to be edgy or whatever, but my level of intensity and disregard for polite discussion usually depends on how heated I feel about the topic, or how badly my opponents drive me insane. That could be the case with this guy.

    However, I usually try not to come off as a jerk unless I'm fairly certain that I'm completely correct in my content. And by correct I mean factually correct and logically sound in my abstract arguments/assertions.

    For example, today I sort of "went off" on gun control nuts, but only because I thought I had quite a bit of good evidence and logical points to back up my snark and angst. I usually try to remain diplomatic with a topic that I feel unsure about.

    Also, I am aware of my own biases in terms of style. If someone uses this guy's style and I agree with what he's saying, then I generally tend to be less critical. However, in this guy's case, he is almost completely and utterly wrong in nearly every assumption he makes, so it renders his style choice fairly grating to me.

    I do see the irony here, though. He's preaching about how great Jesus is, yet he's doing exactly what Jesus told us not to do. Irony is always best, though, when the person doesn't even realize he's being ironic.

  11. FreeThinke, we agree substantially and let's not loose sight of that, but we may differ here:

    "[atheists' beliefs are] by classical definition as much a form of religion as any of the others."

    A classical definition would, I suppose, have something to do with the bond between man and gods, or reverence for the sacred.
    Someone like me would have so little to assert about gods or the sacred or the spiritual (in each case, I assert only personal ignorance), that any Bible I would author could fit comfortably on a postcard. Would you really dignify my atheism, which is mere lack, with the term "religion"?

  12. I'm an atheist in the conventional sense and understanding of religion.

    The wife and I, along with the rest of the family celebrate Christmas in the traditional way. My brother and I are the non believers in a higher authority (God) yet we enjoy the spirit of Christmas and being with family and friends.

    Guess you could call it tolerance, understanding, and acceptance, eh?

  13. I think you are correct. There seems to be something off about this writer. He begins by attributing a "rage" and "they hate God" and "love their sin". So if this guy is a 'man of the cloth', I personally wouldn't waste two minutes of my time sitting in a pew with him preaching.

    He's part of what give religion and Christianity a bad name: a sanctimonious and condescending attitude while pretending that he's apparently grasped the light and the truth.

  14. FT,
    I recently signed for daily Advent devotionals. The written word in them is uplifting and in keeping with the Meaning of the Season. But the music? It's the brand of music that "connects with" younger generations.

    Sorry, but I don't want to hear "jazzed up" Advent music -- too folksy, too much rock 'n roll, etc. In my view, these versions PERVERT the wonderful old hymns and chants. I want renditions that are more standard in approach. I find no reverence in the perverted arrangements.

    So, I read those Advent devotionals, which are excellent, but mute the speakers on my computer.

  15. If there is anything I cannot abide, it is a sanctimonious and condescending attitude (as Waylon mentioned). That kind of attitude brings to mind the Pharisees!

    As a Christian, I certainly hope that I don't come across that way. I have strong views but have never thought or pretended that I know the only tenets of the faith or have a direct pipeline to the Lord.

  16. Silverfiddle said, and he's absolutely correct: Believe it or not, the way he speaks resonates with younger people.

    Rudeness rules! I do find Giles's attitude one of arrogant rudeness.

  17. FT,
    the hoary old joke about putting Sophocles’ ancient tragedy Oedipus Rex in a more realistic, more relevant modern context by changing its name to Motherfuck

    You should have posted a spew alert for that one!

  18. FT,
    I can take Dennis Miller in small doses -- particularly for a change of pace. Sarcasm has its place, I think.

    But a steady diet of Dennis Miller and the like is what our society has turned into. Is it any wonder that so many teenagers are constantly smarting off and don't know appropriate boundaries? Hell, it's not just teenager who are smarting off and reveling in rudeness.

    I'm not saying that I don't sometimes descend into sarcasm and rudeness. I do. But living that way most of the time is self-destructive, IMO.

  19. "This is easy math, folks: A person who has no remorse and thus no desire to repent from their sins is probably not going to be a big advocate for the celebration of the person who reminds them they’re wrong and calls them to repent and believe."

    Wow, no kidding?
    I assume this little snot thinks he's profound.

    Of course he's a moron if he believes there is only one path to being aware of our failures or sins or what you may call them.

  20. Agnosticism is not atheism. One reflects uncertainty, the other, doesn't.

  21. If you are certain...then you have a religion, jez.

  22. You're homo sacer to me... No need to worry about having to play Isaac to my Abraham. ;)

  23. @AOW: I'll try to clarify what I said about sanctimonious and condescending attitudes. First I don't think that is unique to Christians. It can be equally applied even to the non-religious—atheists—if they embrace this type of elevated stance when dealing with others perceived to be outside their realm of thinking. Obviously it's evident in other religions than Christianity, too.

    I suppose one could call it a type of rote memorization of what is expected within oneself and also what one presupposes others to be if not of their particular sect or creed.

  24. A few points to ponder:

    Some people are not happy unless they're bitching.

    Give them an inch and they will want to take a mile.

    The answer to his question is much simpler than he makes it. Some people just LOVE the limelight. They don't believe in God, so they should NEVER have to see or hear anything to do with God. Fuck the rest of us. THESE are the assholes forever using the courts to screw over everyone else. They do it because they can. Period!

    I really do appreciate people like Rational Nation. He and most atheists do not push their beliefs on everyone else. That is left for the BULLIES to do.

    RN, I would submit that since you "believe" that there is no God, that you have beliefs, kind of suggests that you do in fact, have a religion. Myself, I do believe in God, I just don't believe in any of the established religions. I believe in, and practice "The Golden Rule." I wish everyone did. What a nice place this world would/could be!

  25. Here's a strange coincidence:
    Yesterday while at a bank a teller said that she was kind of enthralled by the date of December 12, 2012(12-12-12) and thought there was more activity taking place in her world because of it. Since I hadn't thought particularly about that I just said it must me because the date only occurs once in each century and won't again until another 100 years.

    I mentioned that whatever the significance of the date was, that there was more rumored significance to another date arriving soon, December 21, 2012. She didn't seem to know about that ... so I thought I better get some information for myself since supposedly time is running out fast.

    I came across something that intrigued me titled "The Esoteric Agenda" on YouTube. It's a discussion of commonalities of different religions and how some of the political and social problems of our time can best be resolved by spirituality ... which doesn't necessarily translate to a "religious solution".

    There may be much that some will disagree with but I found a lot of good information discussing how we perceive the world and how we respond to it. There's even a Berkeley professor speaking at the end of it about the subject ... which may or may not be a strange coincidence.

  26. Here are a few definitions of "religion" taken from several online dictionaries. I'm sorry for the redundancy, but at least it serves to underscore the commonality among the various sources. Definitions which apply to secular as well as sacred belief systems are offered in boldface type.


    Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

    A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

    The life or condition of a person in a religious order.

    A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader

    A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    the service and worship of God or the supernatural

    commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    scrupulous conformity, conscientiousness

    a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion

    single-minded devotion to or zealous conviction regarding anything.

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons

    the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices

    the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.

    the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

    something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience

    strict faithfulness; devotion

    a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.

    strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct.

  27. I checked your links to Mr. Giles at long last, AOW. He does have some real talent in draftsmanship, if those are his paintings and drawings, but his appearance and manner are consistent with the generally negative impression I got from reading this featured article. In street parlance he has tons of "attitude."

    Looks much more like a "jock" than a preacher, thinker or artist. It may be an affectation, I can't be sure, but he seems to be carrying a chip on his shoulder the size of Gibraltar.

    I suspect he may be far more interested in advancing his career as a "notable personality" than in cultivating piety in the young -- or anyone else.

    Despite his clean cut, wholesome, all-American good looks, he radiates an edgy egotistical effrontery qualities I find repellent.

    I was absolutely right about the resemblance to Jean Shepard and Dennis Miller.

    If you like that sort of thing, you're welcome to it.

    ~ FT

  28. AA (Joe, is it?), I always enjoy it when you share your thoughts and feelings here.

    You are blest with true wisdom always expressed neatly without frills or furbelows.

    Keep on keeping on.

    ~ FT

  29. "Sorry, but I don't want to hear "jazzed up" Advent music -- too folksy, too much rock 'n roll, etc. ... these versions PERVERT the wonderful old hymns and chants."

    Well, sister, you sure got THAT right. Truer words were never written.

    In my checkered career as an organist, choirmaster with various Christian denominations, and frequent composer of original anthems, organ music and alternative accompaniments to many of the hymns, I once made an arrangement of the Twenty-Third Psalm for soprano solo, and set it to familiar themes from The Blue Danube Waltz. It was all worked out very thoroughly and expertly rehearsed. My soloist and I performed with straight faces during the service.

    It was, of course, a travesty, and might have gotten me fired, if the rector and leading members of the congregation had any awareness of musical values.

    Much to my horror and chagrin they LIKED it, and believe me as service music it was godawful. As part of a nightclub act satirizing religion it would be excellent.

    I had to abandon the attempt to cultivate a higher level of musical taste and awareness of spiritual values that may -- or may not -- be present in any music that purports to be an appropriate setting of a sacred text.

    Having a mischievous streak and a wicked sense of humor I was not above performing similar experiments with several congregations I served over a forty-year period.

    What these dear people never realized was that much of the stuff they would have preferred to hear most was innately dreadful and frequently verged on the realm of self-parody.

    "Taste" may be subjective, but believe me there really is a difference between good taste, bad taste and no taste.

    The cultural relativists refuse to recognize that, and their aesthetic blindness and self-righteous intransigence has done a real hatchet job on our culture -- not only in the church but every other arena as well.

    How would you like Madonna, P. Diddy, Eminem, or Lady Gaga to sing the solos a YOUR church on Christmas Eve?


  30. "Agnosticism is not atheism. One reflects uncertainty, the other, doesn't."

    That succinct statement is, perhaps, the most valuable contribution to this entire thread.

    Thank you, Thersites.

    ~ FT

  31. Jez, as you said, we're really not much in disagreement here.

    I define "religion," however, as ANY set of beliefs one may subscribe to as a means of guiding and governing the decisions one might make to help get through life hopefully to some advantage.

    By that definition -- which broadens the most frequent definitions of religion by eliminating the requirement of being led by a supernatural element -- a belief in the NON-existence of God as a guiding principle is just as "religious" as its opposite.

    As Theristes seemed to indicate only the agnostic -- the curious, seeking, but decidedly inconclusive view of reality -- might be defined as truly irreligious.

    I am a Christian, because I CHOOSE to follow that path -- as I, personally, can understand it. To put it bluntly I have found after much trial and error that I get better RESULTS in my daily walk from adopting a determined faith in a loving God. I know POSITIVELY because of the immense power of AESTHETICS in Music, Art, Architecture, Literature, etc. that SPIRIT -- the unseen, immeasurable, cosmic creative energy that defines everything from the depths of Being -- is the most powerful force we may encounter. The closer we get to awareness of its presence and import, the brighter, livelier, more exciting and rewarding our lives become.

    I know the same levels of Beauty, Meaning and Excitement may be found in realms I do not understand at all like higher Mathematics, Nuclear Physics, Organic Chemistry, Engineering, etc.

    At root all things are one -- each individual is an integral part of an organic whole. That makes us inseparable and interdependent.

    Merry Christmas!

    ~ FT

  32. I don't argue against Therisites, who correctly explains the popular usages of these terms, but I will explain the more technical usage that I habitually use, in which agnosticism is concerned with knowledge and (a)theism with belief. Briefly, agnostics hold that god's existence and qualities are unknowable, while atheists withold belief.

    These terms can be modified and combined in dozens of ways, which allows for a much richer description of how people believe. For example, it is certainly possible to be an agnostic atheist, and maybe some of you are agnostic theists. I enjoy that richness, which is why I've got into the habit of using the words this way; maybe you'd like it too, hence the antisocial length of this remark!

    If I said I was agnostic, you'd probably understand what I mean, but I'm not: I can imagine ways in which (certain types of) god might be knowable.

    The dictionaries' definitions of religion include the idiomatic eg. "golf is my religion" or "Magna Carta is my bible". I believe this is what is meant by some of your emphasized lines. Do you mean to include mere codes of law such as Magna Carta in your definition of religion?

    I too am attracted to the immense power of aesthetics, and don't for a moment doubt that we are inseperable and interdependent. However, I am unable to choose what I believe -- I sm not constructed that way. The truth is, I don't believe even if I'd like to at some level. Meanwhile, the bible contains plenty that is unacceptable to both of us.

  33. Good morning, Jez, and all.

    Passionate devotion to and sedulous observance of any particular set of ideas, principles, tenets, notions, fond hopes, dream visions and fervent wishes would satisfy my personal understanding of the term "religion" -- especially when this devotion tends to lead one to believe that any and all forms of opposition must be regarded as evil, wicked, heretical, taboo, contrary to the best interests of society, etc.

    Most frequently there's a condemnatory aspect to anything I would call a "religion." Organized systems of belief and practice often adore taboos. Almost always they cherish the notion of exclusivity as well.

    By these lights, which I regard as thoroughly practical, virtually all the various "isms" qualify as "religions."

    All of which boils down to my insistence that the forcible IMPOSITION of any set of tenets, be they sacred or secular, religious or political, on the people belonging to any group, state or nation is inherently wrong.

    It is so wrong as virtually to demand resistance and open rebellion often followed by great personal sacrifice of life, limb and property, especially when those in power use the threat of incarceration, forfeiture of property, and the possibility of torture and eventual execution to force obedience to whatever agents of command and control there may be.

    I hope by now you may understand what I'm struggling to say without my having to write a tract or a tome on the subject?

    You seem to feel most comfortable with uncertainty and inconclusiveness. I imagine you would need some sort of a physical demonstration of weighable, measurable proof [something on the order of silvery liquid mercury being transformed into red powder when heated to a certain temperature] with perfect regularity under optimal conditions in order to believe in something unseen and impalpable.

    I on the other hand am willing to accept beliefs that give me comfort, cheer, encouragement and sound moral guidance unless and until they are tangibly disproven.

    For me God is the embodiment and perfect expression of Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Intelligence and Beauty among other things essential to a tenable existence. Surely, those things are as essential to our sustenance as air and water?

    My fundamentalist-evangelical friends are profoundly uncomfortable with my beliefs. I'm afraid they may regard me as "hellbound," but I'll continue to live by the sage advice of Shakespeare's crashing old bore, Polonius, and insist on remaining true to myself.

    Now who is this fellow -- Minchen, was it? -- you wanted me to listen to the other day? Perhaps I should give it a go after all?

    Merry Christmas!

    ~ FreeThinke

  34. Do you agree that democracy isn't a religion? Do you consider enforcing the law to be a legitimate function of government? I expect the answer is "yes" to both, but I don't understand it from your explanation of religion.

    It was Tim Minchin. I expect you would enjoy him. He's a prominent atheist who occassionally lapses into Dawkins-style anti-theism, but his song "white wine in the sun" is positive and explains how xmas can be worthwhile for us anyway.

  35. Short answer for now:

    Democracy is a broad general CONCEPT not a SYSTEM or an IDEOLOGY.

    I've always found it the height of irony that in a true democracy it is possible -- even probable -- that "the people" will eventually vote in favor of policies that oppress and enslave them.

    That's why I'm a Federalist and not a Democrat.

    The less Central Control we are forced to endure the better our chances of fulfilling our potential as individuals is bound to be.

    I'm great believer in discipline and clearly defined parameters, but only when they are SELF-imposed.

    ~ FT

  36. Briefly, agnostics hold that god's existence and qualities are unknowable.

    So do most Christians (hence the "Trinity") and Moslems. THEY, however, are not "agnostic".

  37. The fallacy of the atheist lies in his belief that one can "know", and NOT merely believe.

    Without realizing it, the Atheist falls victim to Nietzsche's four errors w/o overtly "choosing" to do so, as the "theologian" does.

  38. @ Waylon

    I agree that sanctimony abounds in all sorts of -isms and even in non-isms. People have a tendency to the sanctimonious as we tend to think too highly of ourselves in general.

    The past few years, I've had to deal with a particularly self-righteous administrator who is even sitting in judgment on me and everyone else. It's not a good situation all around, but I don't want to go into too much detail in any public forum.

    Anyway, so many of us dread our necessary dealings with this administrator. Her recent absence has been a blessing -- let me say that much. And, yet, we all do know that she is a fine person in many ways. I'm sure that she has zero idea that she's doing what she's doing. **sigh**

  39. FT,
    My fundamentalist-evangelical friends are profoundly uncomfortable with my beliefs. I'm afraid they may regard me as "hellbound,"...




    I qualify as one of the above kinds of Christians, but I don't feel that way at all toward you! I took to heart my father's words: "I have enough trouble tending to my own soul. Your soul is YOUR business."

    Dad had a Mennonite background, and I've found most Mennonites to be that same way. I don't live as a Mennonite does, of course. But I do find that particular attitude of Mennonites so very refreshing -- and appropriate. Particularly the Mennonite emphasis on service. Now, THERE is a Christian doctrine -- if ever there was one!

  40. thersites, even if I were inclined to reply there would be no point, since it is already clear as could be that you are not reading me.

  41. Oh, AOW, you were the farthest person from my mind when I mentioned fundamentalist friends, believe me.

    Enjoy the Season! No matter what.

    ~ FT

  42. It just occurred to me that if something is "unknowable," because of the inherent limitations of our human perceptions -- especially those dependent on the five physical senses -- that is no indication whatsoever that that "something" doesn't exist.

    Remember the Latin for "Soul" is anima -- the thing that animates us. Death, therefore, indicates the absence of Soul (animating force).

    Whatever that "force" may be, it is certainly nothing you could grasp with your hands and put in a box or pour into a bottle, place on a shelf, or place in a drawer or cupboard, is it?

    So this unknowable, invisible, immeasurable, intangible essence is the single most significant thing about being human.

    I find this understanding to be exciting, energizing and uplifting.

    I can't think why so many ardently turn their backs to it, and fervently wish to believe it could not be real. To me the value in encouraging and cultivating belief in the spiritual aspect of life is as obvious as five fingers of our human hands.

    Metaphysics is not fantasy. It is rooted in good common sense. It should be obvious to everyone that there's a great deal more to Reality than the few paltry thing we may perceive with our five senses -- and too often strait-jacketed minds.

    ~ FT

  43. No, I'm not reading you jez. You can't define terms in ways that surpass "common" usage. Those who do, we rightly call "liars".

    Plato rightly explains in "The Sophist" how the sophist escapes the argument through the web of "not being". In other words, you may have your "own epistemology" of "faith" and "belief", but without a consistent ontology supporting it, it's worthless.

    Some other time, perhaps.

  44. It seems to me the first of Nietzche's Four Great Errors could well be applied to the idiotic notion that the presence of guns in society causes antisocial lunatics to kill innocent bystanders at random in schools and shopping malls -- or that the existence of alcohol in the form of Scotch Rye, Gin, Vodka and Tequila, etc. is the cause of alcoholism and all that other awful stuff over which we love to cluck our tongues, wring our hands, and shake our heads.

    That kind of reasoning is as false -- and as idiotic -- as attributing our present economic decline, cultural degeneration and moral decay to the present occupant of the White House.

    "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

    YES, Pogo! You were right in 1955, you're right today, and doubtless you will be right throughout Eternity, UNLESS by some miracle the majority finally accepts the real Jesus Christ who is hard to know, and never easy to do thanks to the diabolical power plays by early Judaeo-Christian leaders in the movement who did everything possible to retain and strengthen their grip on power by terrifying people into submission.

  45. One thing comes through loud and clear.

    Doug Giles is an asshole.

    Dick Wilde

  46. My usage of "agnostic" is in agreement with T. H. Huxley, who invented the term; and only recently has "atheist" been released from millenia of being used as a mere prejorative. My usage is modern, but by no means non-standard. In any case, I make no attempt to surpass popular usage, of which I acknowledge Therisites' grasp. "Liar" is a pointless insult, demonstrating ignorance and hypocrisy -- I have already exposed him as a definitions troll elsewhere.

  47. Please let indulge in no "personalities" at this blog.

    Feuding is not welcome here. I do not believe in unrestricted "freedom of expression" when it's merely an exchange of insults and unpleasantries that adds no new insights or further depth to the discussion of whatever issue may be at hand.

    There are so many WORTHWHILE aspects of these issues we might explore together to some mutual advantage.

    I've meted out healthy doses of Balzac, Rousseau and Mahler for Heaves' sake. So why waste time squabbling over semantics when there are more important things to think about?

    Balzac, Rousseau and Mahler are CHALLENGING, that's probably why.

    Alas! We human beings always seem to prefer bitching to learning, don't we?


  48. FreeThinke, I am recovering from a bit of orthopedic surgery, it's not serious but the level of pain involved is quite startling. I accept no further challenges for the moment.

    Meanwhile, what response would you consider appropriate to this false accusation? Surely the only thing I said which does not qualify as worthwhile and mutually advantageous (eg. the origin of the term agnostic is of some interest, I hope) was to point out Therisites' hypocrisy. It was simply too brazen to resist, but I agree with you that it is beneath me.

  49. What, Atheist's don't profess to have knowledge of "first causes"?

    Who knew?

    So much for Big Bangs and Scientisms. ;)

  50. ...and please jez, it's "bad form" to bring up past arguments that you so badly lost. It's also embarrassing for you, as it shouldn't be held against you in this argument. :)

  51. ...but then, you've already acknowledged how petty and small it makes you seem, so I won't belabor the point. :)

  52. Abiogenesis 1:1

    In the beginning was the primordial soup...but the chef had the day off

  53. Jez,

    I'm so sorry a man of your young years has had a need for orthopedic surgery. Naturally, I had no idea you were laboring under the throes of post-operative trauma. You have my sympathy.

    I do hate squabbles when they become personal, even though I make a clear distinction between the squabbles and the squabblers.

    I have been pleased to see you here once again, and have appreciated your participation this time in particular.

    You might be surprised at how many of my dearest friends of longstanding are both liberals and determined atheists. It's probably a preponderance of those in my circle of friends and acquaintances. I, however remain a stubborn holdout, and strive to maintain and further develop the faith I acquired in childhood -- not from any official "indoctrination" I must add, but from dire need. It's a very personal thing -- which is s it should be.

    The idea of trying to tell others what they MUST believe is as preposterous as it is offensive to me. HOWEVER, it works both ways. I resent the atheist's attempt to make HIS beliefs predominant as much or more than he would resent any attempt to reestablish the rule of tyrannical Mediaeval-style theocracy.

    "Do not go gentle into that good night," Jez.

    You are welcome here as long as you don't try to badger me when we find ourselves in disagreement.

    The Best of the Season to You, and please GET WELL SOON.

    ~ FreeThinke

  54. Freethinke: thanks :). It's just a plate to fix up a fracture (I fell off my bicycle), and while the first couple of days without a cast were astonishingly painful it's rapidly becoming more manageable. I'm pretty confident about being functional (though still one-handed and probably wooly-headed) by xmas.

    I am by no means anti-theist, I argue against them just as eagerly (and just as easily) as I do against anything that the dominionists and their like might upset me with.
    While I don't back anti-theism, there is in my opinion a sensible line of secularist activism especially relevant in America, it's worth remembering that not every fallen soldier, for example, was Christian. There is legitimate offense to be taken by their families and friends when official speeches and displays elide those soldiers' (lack of) beliefs.

    In general, I do like an argument. That's what I'm here (online) for. A proper one I mean, without all the creative swearing and school-yard putdowns. If I appear to badger you it's rarely intended as anything unfriendly. Ideally in an argument, someone's gonna learn something and if I'm lucky, it's me. If I get to show someone else something cool that they've not seen before, that's fun too. I don't fully understand the impulse some people have to turn it into a pissing contest, but I see no reason to act like it's not happening when I'm on the receiving end.

    Luckily even with one hand and a stomach-full of opiates it is all too easy to defeat Thersites (let's see if I can pursuade him to put his willy away and/or find a proper urinal), who claims to have won our past argument in which he pretended to misunderstand my usage of the term "gender" despite mine being common, and his techical. Here the roles are reversed and he now claims that to use anything other than popular usage is to be a liar. If he really thinks that, he must be an idiot, albeit an idiot with an excellent reading list. If he doesn't think that, he must be a troll and a hypocrite. Freethinke will want to be loyal to his friend (and I apologise if this resembles a feud; it is not, merely a response which you should feel free to delete if you wish) but I struggle to conjure a third explanation for Thersites' behaviour.

    I don't claim big bang cosmology as knowledge, and I don't know of anyone who legitimately does so (my familiarity with cosmology and esp. with cosmologists is little more than nodding). Thersites' crack about Abiogenisis 1:1 is ridiculous, intentionally of course, but for me most of the absurdity derives from the idea that anything like a bible could exist for science. Science admits doubt, it invites contrary evidence, and it does not set out any sacred dogma or hold any text as sacred. There could never be a Science Bible, not even in those areas where one theory is so successful that it dominates its domain and would require extraordinary evidence to be overturned. In the case of abiogenisis, there is no dominant theory. A holy book of abiogenisis, if it made sense to write one, would have to either keep silent or else continue at inpractical length, listing ad nauseum every plausible hypothesis.
    Thersites' intention is to appeal directly to our incredulity. "Life coming about without a Creator? Pull the other one!" he might say in a broad cockney accent before laughing like Sid James and pasting another quote from the Republic. Just as fascinating as what is on his reading list is what must be off it -- it must have taken some cunning to read so much Plato and Nietzsche without cottoning on to the danger of argumentum ad ignorantium.
    In short, one's inability to imagine something is not evidence that it didn't happen. Some people (surely anyone who's seriously tried) would have trouble imagining God. I have a feeling Thersites won't admit that as evidence against theism. Now, can he be consistent?

  55. Science admits doubt, it invites contrary evidence, and it does not set out any sacred dogma or hold any text as sacred.

    ...except when it comes to the "idea" of a Creator, and of His "Creation".

    ...the mere "thought" that a Creator might enter into the realm of possibilities MUST be apriori DENIED in a scientific argument.

    So much for their oft claimed "open" minds and avoidance of "dogma".

    And as for my so-called "hypocrisy", in our previous argument I made a special appeal to definitions provided by "professional science" OVER common definitions of terms. In this case, I denied that very same argument, and appealed to "philosophy OVER science" (and ontology over epistemology). I did so do the nature and sphere of the argument. For it is the function of philosophy to mediate BETWEEN theology and the liberal arts and sciences and NOT to take sides, one AGAINST the other. And so it is NOT hypocritical to argue each within the "realms" of an argument's appropriate "sphere". Science, in this case, doesn't get an automatic "win" just because Darwin's bulldog sets the CURRENTLY accepted definitions.

    Whereas theologians must accept the validity of the Kantian critique against PURE knowledge, Scientists need to accept the Kantian critique against PRACTICAL knowledge/ and JUDGEMENT.

  56. Science concern’s itself with cause and effect. Philosophy (ontology) with the BE-cause.

    As Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” said,

    “To BE or NOT to BE, that is the question.”

    And as Nietzsche said, in his "Gay Science 112 " Cause and Effect. We say it is "explanation "; but it is only in "description" that we are in advance of the older stages of knowledge and science. We describe better, we explain just as little as our predecessors. We have discovered a manifold succession where the naive man and investigator of older cultures saw only two things, "cause" and "effect,"as it was said; we have perfected the conception of becoming, but have not got a knowledge of what is above and behind the conception. The series of "causes" stands before us much more complete in every case; we conclude that this and that must first precede in order that that other may follow - but we have not grasped anything thereby. The peculiarity, for example, in every chemical process seems a "miracle," the same as before, just like all locomotion; nobody has "explained" impulse. How could we ever explain? We operate only with things which do not exist, with lines, surfaces, bodies, atoms, divisible times, divisible spaces - how can explanation ever be possible when we first make everything a conception, our conception? It is sufficient to regard science as the exactest humanizing of things that is possible; we always learn to describe ourselves more accurately by describing things and their successions. Cause and effect: there is probably never any such duality; in fact there is a continuum before us, from which we isolate a few portions - just as we always observe a motion as isolated points, and therefore do not properly see it, but infer it. The abruptness with which many effects take place leads us into error; it is however only an abruptness for us. There is an infinite multitude of processes in that abrupt moment which escape us. An intellect which could see cause and effect as a continuum, which could see the flux of events not according to our mode of perception, as things arbitrarily separated and broken - would throw aside the conception of cause and effect, and would deny all conditionality.

  57. Eh? The question is, why are you deliberately misinterpreting my remarks be stubbornly sticking with your (valid) definitions for atheist and agnostic when reading my remarks, despite my having so clearly explained how my usage (also valid) differs? At the point that you started doing this, there were no spheres because there was no argument, so the above is not an explanation. In any case, I would expect my usages here to be the more prevalent among professional philosophers esp. epistemologists. (Ontologists, enjoying a renaissance in more practical spheres, are less likely to care one way or another.) Are you certain that you aren't arguing against yourself?

    I suspect that your noticeably weak point about science and the creator is intended as camouflage. Please don't use it to distract from the question of your equivocations, but very briefly: science does not deny supernatural hypotheses any more than epistemology denies ontological arguments, in each case the hypothesis may be interesting, but only in the appropriate spheres. We cannot argue scientifically for the supernatural without altering the character of the argument away from scientific and onto some other discipline. This is not rejection, and there is no shortage of theist scientists, maybe they count for something.

  58. Do you know the difference between a "part" and a "class"? In order to form a "class", each "part" must be separated in a manner which maintains a piece of the overall "whole" being divided. The sphere of "science" does not do this, for the "spirit" is first separated "out". Ontology, at least, attempts to rejoin the "whole".

    Are you familiar with Emerson's critique?

    "Conduct of Life" (Beauty) - The spiral tendency of vegetation infects education also. Our books approach very slowly the things we most wish to know. What a parade we make of our science, and how far off, and at arm's length, it is from its objects! Our botany is all names, not powers: poets and romancers talk of herbs of grace and healing; but what does the botanist know of the virtues of his weeds? The geologist lays bare the strata, and can tell them all on his fingers: but does he know what effect passes into the man who builds his house in them? what effect on the race that inhabits a granite shelf? what on the inhabitants of marl and of alluvium?

    We should go to the ornithologist with a new feeling, if he could teach us what the social birds say, when they sit in the autumn council, talking together in the trees. The want of sympathy makes his record a dull dictionary. His result is a dead bird. The bird is not in its ounces and inches, but in its relations to Nature; and the skin or skeleton you show me, is no more a heron, than a heap of ashes or a bottle of gases into which his body has been reduced, is Dante or Washington. The naturalist is led from the road by the whole distance of his fancied advance. The boy had juster views when he gazed at the shells on the beach, or the flowers in the meadow, unable to call them by their names, than the man in the pride of his nomenclature. Astrology interested us, for it tied man to the system. Instead of an isolated beggar, the farthest star felt him, and he felt the star. However rash and however falsified by pretenders and traders in it, the hint was true and divine, the soul's avowal of its large relations, and, that climate, century, remote natures, as well as near, are part of its biography. Chemistry takes to pieces, but it does not construct. Alchemy which sought to transmute one element into another, to prolong life, to arm with power, — that was in the right direction. All our science lacks a human side. The tenant is more than the house. Bugs and stamens and spores, on which we lavish so many years, are not finalities, and man, when his powers unfold in order, will take Nature along with him, and emit light into all her recesses. The human heart concerns us more than the poring into microscopes, and is larger than can be measured by the pompous figures of the astronomer.

    Now, why do you suppose I reject "sciences" definitions when addressing the subject of "first causes"? If it isn't obvious, then there's little help for you, jez.

  59. ps - and given the divisions, it should come as no shock that the religious are VERY capable of practicing "science", but the scientist is completely unequipped to discuss matters of theology. His education is lacking the "other' half of the human "whole".

  60. He's missing "the leaf"... (although in this particular case, more likely the "charm"). ;)

    Plato, "Charmides"

    But I controlled myself, and when he asked me if I knew the cure of the headache, I answered, but with an effort, that I did know.

    And what is it? he said.

    I replied that it was a kind of leaf, which required to be accompanied by a charm, and if a person would repeat the charm at the same time that he used the cure, he would be made whole; but that without the charm the leaf would be of no avail.

    Then I will write out the charm from your dictation, he said.

    With my consent? I said, or without my consent?

    With your consent, Socrates, he said, laughing.

    Very good, I said; and are you quite sure that you know my name?

    I ought to know you, he replied, for there is a great deal said about you among my companions; and I remember when I was a child seeing you in company with my cousin Critias.

    I am glad to find that you remember me, I said; for I shall now be more at home with you and shall be better able to explain the nature of the charm, about which I felt a difficulty before. For the charm will do more, Charmides, than only cure the headache. I dare say that you have heard eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes, that they cannot cure his eyes by themselves, but that if his eyes are to be cured, his head must be treated; and then again they say that to think of curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of folly. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body, and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. Did you ever observe that this is what they say?

    Yes, he said.

    And they are right, and you would agree with them?

    Yes, he said, certainly I should.

  61. (cont)

    His approving answers reassured me, and I began by degrees to regain confidence, and the vital heat returned. Such, Charmides, I said, is the nature of the charm, which I learned when serving with the army from one of the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis, who are said to be so skilful that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told me that in these notions of theirs, which I was just now mentioning, the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis, he added, our king, who is also a god, says further, 'that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this,' he said, 'is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.' For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body. And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same time added a special direction: 'Let no one,' he said, 'persuade you to cure the head, until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this,' he said, 'is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.' And he added with emphasis, at the same time making me swear to his words, 'Let no one, however rich, or noble, or fair, persuade you to give him the cure, without the charm.' Now I have sworn, and I must keep my oath, and therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to your soul, as the stranger directed, I will afterwards proceed to apply the cure to your head. But if not, I do not know what I am to do with you, my dear Charmides.

  62. Now if the subject you'd care to discuss is the "leaf" (less that power which animated it), I'd be happy to discuss the leaf's botany with you, but please, don't make me limit myself to a botanist's definitions when the question as to the source of its' animation arises.

  63. ps - If, as you said, "science does not deny supernatural hypotheses any more than epistemology denies ontological arguments" then why not allow "competing theories" to be taught in school? Why is "evolution" (and corresponding abiogenesis) the ONLY theory permitted? Science cannot EVER answer "first cause" arguments.

  64. definition. It would have to "witness" it, and "report."

  65. THAT is "why" I do not argue with you using your "definitions". Now if you want me to adopt your definitions and perform an elenchus with you to prove how STUPID they are, I believe that my earlier "quips" have already pointed to the "ends" that will be reached. That we will be forced to conclude without ANY supporting evidence that the "cook" must have been absent upon the day that the "primordial soup" bore "fruit".

  66. In other words, an "atheist" doesn't merely "with-hold belief". He declares the certainty of his "alternate faith", that there IS no G_d, an ontological position that directly results in his flawed "alternate" epistemology. He no longer "knows" what he "doesn't know", he "believes" his universe of sensory information to be ALL that CAN BE KNOWN, and that metaphysics is "bunk". Neo-positivism is an error that an "agnostic" does not make.

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. You were already equivocating and calling me a liar before you introduced this "first cause" smokescreen.
    The definitions in question are NOT a scientist's vs a philosopher's: my definitions have nothing to do with a scientific outlook, and yours are certainly nothing to do with philosophy.

    You reject my usage of "atheist" on the basis of your objections to the atheist's (your usage) epistemology. Forgive me for my bluntness, but you are in the most terrible muddle. You must treat our definitions independently, not swap them over at will. When you do that, either implicitly or (now) explicitly, that is equivocation. Plato will tell you that's a Bad Thing.

    I do not pretend that your usage and my usage boil down to the same thing. I know they are substantially different. That's what makes it possible for mine to be substantially better.

    Do you disagree that T. H. Huxley coined the term "agnostic"? Do you agree that the origin of life has nothing to do with it (except insofar as plausible materialistic explanations for aspects of biology render your arguments to incredulity less appealing)?

    Do you understand that atheism (my usage) is a superset of agnosticism (your usage)? So therefore atheists (my usage) need not be logically positivist. (Actually, even in your usage atheism does not entail positivism -- your implications are backwards.)

    Now I comment, unwisely, on selected particles of smoke:
    To paraphrase FreeThinke: why, I wonder, does Emerson prefer the fraudulent practices of astrology and alchemy to the fruitful pursuits of astronomy and chemistry? Because the latter are CHALLENGING, that's probably why. Alas! We humans always seem to prefer the comforting scam to the difficult truth.

    Evolution is taught in science classes because it is a successful and elegant theory which therefore dominates biology. There is a variety of evidence for it, both in the prehistoric record and in modern, observed populations (and I insist that the prehistoric record is a valid witness).
    If abiogenesis appears on a science syllabus it must be as a selection of competing hypotheses, each one uncertain.
    If supernatural alternatives appear on any syllabus, it must not be a science syllabus, because science is inappropriate for supernatural hypotheses.

  69. To be universal, a definition must express what is essential about the thing defined, and be in terms of genus, species, and its differentiae.

    Science recognizes no "species" for justice.

  70. Do you disagree that T. H. Huxley coined the term "agnostic"?

    I would agree that Christians coined the term Gnostics or gnosticism to differentiate themselves from the Greeks.

    Dialectic represents a division into "halves" not "three's". So there are either agnostics and "others" believers of a sort (henceforth further subdivided) OR theists AND atheists (with no room for doubters on either side). Regardless, the atheists end up in the same category as the "believers" and NOT agnostic.

  71. But then, one should ALWAYS attempt to divide numbers into the "odd" and "even". Zero (a third category... infinity a "fourth") are typically left OUT of this "categorization".

  72. ...and so the "smoke" is all yours.

  73. Now language is typically divided into "vowels" and "consonants". You can argue a case for "semi-vowels" if you want, but the brain either processes the language as a Start-Stop header or emotional data packet. Any "admixtures" of the two are purely "coincidental". ;)

  74. The "science" of evolution is ALSO a supranatural hypothesis. So you are saying that we need to STOP teaching it as part of a "science" class?


  75. Maybe they should solve the species problem before being allowed to present their hypothetical theories that apriori preclude other theories from being taught as "theories"...

  76. Secular religions based upon scientisms should be legally considered just as unconstitutional as those based upon Deity's... for there are no "agnostics" when it comes to the realm of "opinion".

  77. I'll let Plato summarize the argument ("Parmenides")

    Then may we not sum up the argument in a word and say truly: If One is not, then nothing is?


    Let thus much be said; and further let us affirm what seems to be the truth, that, whether One is or is not, one and the others in relation to themselves and one another, all of them, in every way, are and are not, and appear to be and appear not to be.

    Most true.

  78. Bluff!

    If anyone else where still reading (is anyone?), I'd say your cover would be thoroughly blown by now, you Charlatan! :P

    - Justice is not a scientific term. Do you object to that? If you mean it as an example of how science is not universally applicable, I concur.

    - No-one ever defined "agnostic" in terms of gnosticism, but if they had would you call the classicists who preferred it liars for using it that way?

    - The parity of zero is even.

    - Trichotomy is often vital mathematically (eg. less than, equals, more than). Therefore I do not recognise any value in dialectic as you describe it, but in any case it is a trivial exercise to describe my usages in dualistic terms. This objection is pointless.

    As a side note, though I admit I am unfamiliar with the term "dialectic," I am not convinced that you are using it correctly -- I do not know in what sense it demands dualism.

    - There does not appear to be any information contained in your remark about vowels and consonants.

    - In simple terms, evolution is two things: 1) gradual change in phenotype and diversification of species over several generations, and 2) the theory that this process is fully explained by the natural selection of inherited traits.
    Both aspects are suitable for scientific consideration, 1) being an observation, 2) a valid theory.

    - The ID proponents have more trouble defining "kind" than biologists have defining "species"; but there is nothing about evolution which excludes creationism from scientific consideration, it rules itself out without any outside assistance. In other words, if evolution had not been discovered, creationism would still not be a scientific hypothesis.

    - I don't understand Plato's "Parmenides," was I supposed to? Perhaps you intended to remind me of Plato's own fondness for a fallacious argument, to which I reply: it's not OK when he does it either.

    So, up to what does all this add? Anything? You pebble-dash the blog with disparate points whose purposes I so often have to guess (sometimes giving up), all the time evading the point in hand. Why? If you have a point, make it! Abstruseness is a bigger error than positivism or any of Nietzsche's four, which are frankly of more instructive value to the mystics among us than the scientists -- the latter being professionally committed to the systematic avoidance of the first three at least.

    Merry Christmas anyway!

  79. The point is that the "genus" of faith and belief is justice. It's NOT a "species" of science.

    And no, I don't expect an admitted dolt like you to understand.

    As Socrates stated in Plato's "Euthyphro" SOCRATES: That was the sort of question which I meant to raise when I asked whether the just is always the pious, or the pious always the just; and whether there may not be justice where there is not piety; for justice is the more extended notion of which piety is only a part. Do you dissent?

    EUTHYPHRO: No, I think that you are quite right.

    SOCRATES: Then, if piety is a part of justice, I suppose that we should enquire what part? If you had pursued the enquiry in the previous cases; for instance, if you had asked me what is an even number, and what part of number the even is, I should have had no difficulty in replying, a number which represents a figure having two equal sides. Do you not agree?

    EUTHYPHRO: Yes, I quite agree.

    SOCRATES: In like manner, I want you to tell me what part of justice is piety or holiness, that I may be able to tell Meletus not to do me injustice, or indict me for impiety, as I am now adequately instructed by you in the nature of piety or holiness, and their opposites.

    EUTHYPHRO: Piety or holiness, Socrates, appears to me to be that part of justice which attends to the gods, as there is the other part of justice which attends to men.

    SOCRATES: That is good, Euthyphro; yet still there is a little point about which I should like to have further information, What is the meaning of 'attention'? For attention can hardly be used in the same sense when applied to the gods as when applied to other things. For instance, horses are said to require attention, and not every person is able to attend to them, but only a person skilled in horsemanship. Is it not so?

    EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

    SOCRATES: I should suppose that the art of horsemanship is the art of attending to horses?


    SOCRATES: Nor is every one qualified to attend to dogs, but only the huntsman?

    EUTHYPHRO: True.

    SOCRATES: And I should also conceive that the art of the huntsman is the art of attending to dogs?


    SOCRATES: As the art of the oxherd is the art of attending to oxen?

    EUTHYPHRO: Very true.

    SOCRATES: In like manner holiness or piety is the art of attending to the gods?—that would be your meaning, Euthyphro?


    SOCRATES: And is not attention always designed for the good or benefit of that to which the attention is given? As in the case of horses, you may observe that when attended to by the horseman's art they are benefited and improved, are they not?

    EUTHYPHRO: True.

    SOCRATES: As the dogs are benefited by the huntsman's art, and the oxen by the art of the oxherd, and all other things are tended or attended for their good and not for their hurt?

    EUTHYPHRO: Certainly, not for their hurt.

    SOCRATES: But for their good?

    EUTHYPHRO: Of course.

    ...and therefor the language of science has NOTHING to offer the subject, despite the "piety" of its' adherents.

  80. You can't derive the even from the odd, especially if you insist upon "dividing zero".

  81. ...and a Merry Christmas to you, as well. :)

  82. ps - The Parmenides dialogue is the greatest example of dialectic ever written, a dialectic of Absolutes.

  83. ...if you seek "clarity" of argument, speak to an Aristoteleon like sf, NOT a Platonist. It's his duty to explain, it's mine to get you to think for yourself.


  84. Being offensive is a poor way of doing it. I don't recall Plato being rude, at least not in his own voice. If you insult me, you'd better have an adequate explanation or an apology ready. Fair?
    Meanwhile, straighten up your logic and learn to avoid the fallacies first, then maybe we can get together for a thinking party.

    You continue to labour under the misapprehension that my usage of terms has something to do with science.

    And don't worry, we really can nicely establish zero's evenness without any troublsome divisions. Trust me. Consider it a Christmas present. :)

  85. Fair? In the real world, you only get the caritas you give.

    And I don't labour under any misapprehension that your definition of terms has anything to do with science. I "know" that it doesn't.

    As for zero, the Greeks didn't believe in it. It had no ouisa (essence). The concepts of Even and Odd, which they DID believe in, have been "retro-actively misapplied to it. As I described previously as related to ontology, affirmation of existence is in fact nothing but denial of the number zero. And as the existentialist philosophers have also concluded, existence precedes essence.

    So you choose your definition of nominalism, and I'll choose mine.

    For as Plato concluded, either One is not, or nothing is.

    ...but now I repeat myself.

  86. ...but as for the nominalist positivists, I'll leave them with this conclusion from Plato's "Cratylus"

    SOCRATES: Nor can we reasonably say, Cratylus, that there is knowledge at all, if everything is in a state of transition and there is nothing abiding; for knowledge too cannot continue to be knowledge unless continuing always to abide and exist. But if the very nature of knowledge changes, at the time when the change occurs there will be no knowledge; and if the transition is always going on, there will always be no knowledge, and, according to this view, there will be no one to know and nothing to be known: but if that which knows and that which is known exists ever, and the beautiful and the good and every other thing also exist, then I do not think that they can resemble a process or flux, as we were just now supposing. Whether there is this eternal nature in things, or whether the truth is what Heracleitus and his followers and many others say, is a question hard to determine; and no man of sense will like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names: neither will he so far trust names or the givers of names as to be confident in any knowledge which condemns himself and other existences to an unhealthy state of unreality; he will not believe that all things leak like a pot, or imagine that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. This may be true, Cratylus, but is also very likely to be untrue; and therefore I would not have you be too easily persuaded of it. Reflect well and like a man, and do not easily accept such a doctrine; for you are young and of an age to learn. And when you have found the truth, come and tell me.

    CRATYLUS: I will do as you say, though I can assure you, Socrates, that I have been considering the matter already, and the result of a great deal of trouble and consideration is that I incline to Heracleitus.

    SOCRATES: Then, another day, my friend, when you come back, you shall give me a lesson; but at present, go into the country, as you are intending, and Hermogenes shall set you on your way.

    CRATYLUS: Very good, Socrates; I hope, however, that you will continue to think about these things yourself.

  87. ps - Since you profess a likeness for definitions, perhaps you can explain whether zero is a postive or a negative number... and why its' okay to multiply by zero, but not divide. For a "number" it sure has a lot of inconsistent rules. Thanks in advance. :)

  88. Cuz I have a sneeking suspicion that your favorite colour is likely "black"... the only colour that results from an "absence" of colour. ;)

  89. I suppose that jez has gone back to measuring zeroes. But I suppose to him it's more than a Nietzschean exercise in Democratic politics. For as Nietzsche has said, "What? You search? You would multiply yourself by ten, by a hundred? You seek followers? Seek zeros!"

    Me. I'll stick to geometry. After all, only a democrat could logically believe that there are equal things in the "real" world.

  90. The Greeks didn't believe in lots of things, eg they refused to add a single number to a product of two, so distracted were they by the geometric interpretation of the number as length and the multiplication as area.
    Zero's existence is only slightly more of an issue than the natural numbers', which relate to the concrete world only as the cardinality of a set; zero is the cardinality of the empty set.
    Furthermore, zero is demanded by the addition function, which requires an identity (x+0=x forall x). Combined with the distributive law for multiplication (x.[y+z]=xy+xz), we get the result x.0=0 forall x. So we can see that there is no multiplicand for zero to produce a non-zero result, and to produce zero, any multiplicand will do. Division, being the inverse of multiplication, therefore cannot meaningfully accept zero as a divisor.
    Addition demands not only zero, but the negatives; and division demands the fractions, and so on. The "existence" of these new types of number worries many but is of zero practical importance.
    it is neither +ve nor -ve, another trichotomy. Mathematicians often use the ugly term "non-negative" when they want to admit zero.

    There, you just got back way more than you put in.

  91. MY, how far afield from Doug Giles and the content of his column we strayed!

    When it comes to Mathematics, please deal me out. Math is a jagged crater in the sphere of my otherwise fairly well-rounded capabilities.



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