Thursday, July 29, 2010

Atheist schools?

The BBC reports that the English education secretary (who is actually Scottish but has no say in Scottish schools), would be very interested if Richard Dawkins tried to set up an atheist school. The school would really describe itself as freethinking or sceptical or similar, but the name hardly matters.

I would welcome this as well, for two reasons. Firstly, we might get less whining from atheists that Church schools are good and popular. Secondly, Dawkins Academy would give us an objective test to discover if a Christian ethos really does improve the performance of schools. However, I hope the atheist school is a bigger success than the school, Beacon Hill, that Bertrand Russell tried the run in the 1920s. The less said about that fiasco, the better.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

71 comments:

Tim O'Neill said...

Doesn't Britain already have a state school system that is meant to be non-religious? Why couldn't that be used for "an objective test to discover if a Christian ethos really does improve the performance of schools"?

This article also seems to be another of the Beeb's weird "Dawkins to Steal Our Children - Shock!" beat ups. He hasn't said anything about "atheist schools" and they tuck what he actually said away in the final paragraph:

"I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded."

The monster! How outrageous!

Tim O'Neill said...

I’m also intrigued by Bertrand Russell’s supposed Beacon Hill School “fiasco”. I’m afraid I can’t find any detailed information on this.

Was it more or less of a “fiasco” than my primary school, which was run like a Stalinesque totalitarian state, complete with ludicrous arbitary rules for the sake of rules, petty despots and sickening corporal punishment applied to small children for such vile “crimes” as putting orange peel in the wrong rubbish bin, not running fast enough in an athletics carnival (despite winning) and praying in the “wrong” part of the church? More of a “fiasco” than that?

Or how about my high school, which turned a blind eye to at least two child-raping pederasts and then helped one of them escape potential criminal investigation by “transferring” him to another school where he raped more small children for many years? More of a “fiasco” than that?

Sorry, but given the sorry record that religious education has, it’s a bit rich for anyone from that side of the fence to start crowing about “fiascos”.

Jess said...

Although I would not wish to belittle what was obviously a traumatic experience for you nor excuse the horrendous actions of people who betrayed the trust that was given to them, but I'm sure sure your criticism's address the issue. Although we can agree that some Church schools have not reflected the spirit in which they were established, this doesn't really say anything about the veracity of the educational philosophy of said schools. If the 'fiasco' of Bertrand Russell's school was a result of it's educational philosphy then the comment is surely valid.

James said...

The Russell school is described in Ray Monk's biography of the great man. Volume 2 if I recall.

It was a progressive boarding school which was a fiasco because it lost lots money. My point is that philosophers tend not to be good at putting their principles in to practice in the real world and also that 'progressive' education has a poor record, at least here in the UK.

The BBC treats Dawkins as an entertaining celeb which is fine. As for his school, he says that a child taught scepticism and free thought will discover they are atheists.

James said...

More on what prof D said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/jun/29/richard-dawkins-atheism-schools

Tim O'Neill said...

I wouldn’t worry too much about any trauma on my part. Luckily, I (narrowly) escaped the pederasts and it’s remarkable how resilient kids can be to the sadistic regimes of bitter, small-minded, petty old nuns. What often amazes me is how those of us who lived through those vile institutions can laugh about it afterwards, while those who went to normal schools listen in horror and say things like “She did WHAT? And what did your parents do?”

Although we can agree that some Church schools have not reflected the spirit in which they were established, this doesn't really say anything about the veracity of the educational philosophy of said schools. If the 'fiasco' of Bertrand Russell's school was a result of it's educational philosphy then the comment is surely valid.

We still haven’t learned why Russell’s school was a “fiasco”. But I’m afraid you can’t let my schools off the hook that easily. The things I mention were very much part of their “educational philosophy”. Notice my horrified friends’ response about how our parents reacted, for example. The answer, which horrifies them still further, is that our parents supported this vile and petty abuse to the letter. It was not just the school’s philosophy that authority was always right and not to be questioned (however petty or even actively vindictive), but it was very much our parents’ idea of the Church’s philosophy as well.

My father – a kindly, intelligent, urbane, educated Catholic humanist – knew that the small minded tyrant who ran the school was essentially an idiot who took out her petty frustrations on small children by beating them till they screamed. But he would simply describe this as how “she runs a very tight ship”. It’s rather disturbing to think of it now, but her tyranny was winked at because to do otherwise would be to disturb the way the hierarchy was regarded and the requirement to not question authority that was ingrained in him and his generation. The terror – and it was genuine terror – that this vile, capricious old woman engendered in her charges was regarded by the parents as a kind of shared joke.

Ditto for the blind eye turned to the two child molesting pederasts. The second I so much as suspected a child was being interfered with by anyone, including a colleague or friend of mine, I would be talking to child protection authorities and/or the police. Yet the Christian Brothers in that school hushed it up because it was considered “his spiritual struggle” (no regard for their child victims, of course) and parents turned a blind eye to it because “you have to respect the Brothers”. When the law finally caught up with one of them and he went to jail my mother said “Oh, we always knew he was a bit funny”. Which meant “we always knew he was probably molesting and possibly raping small children”. But the philosophy of that education system was that you didn’t question the inner workings of the holy men who had given their lives to God to educate children in the faith.

So please tell me again how all this wasn’t part of the “educational philosophy” of these schools and the social structures that sustained them, because I can’t work out how these attitudes could be anything else.

I’ll wait to see if Russell’s “fiasco” involved weeping six year olds being ritually humiliated and beaten in front of an audience of several hundred or eleven year olds being sodomised while adults turned a blind eye.

Matko said...

What does all this have to do with the original post, Tim?

Deef said...

Damn... Tim. I'm one of those "they did WHAT?" people you mentioned before. I can barely believe what I'm reading. Of course I know these kind of horror stories but only from newspapers and such. Very sad and depressing to hear.

At my school (which was christian) I was pretty much the only christian around (except for the teachers) because a lot of non-christian people here tend to send their children to christian schools for better education and better ethics. I remember one time a teacher accidently hit a kid in the face and it caused a lot of drama with parents and the principal wanting to know what's up. So it's kind of a culture shock for me to hear what you've been through.

I'd say though that in Holland., despite being a very secular country, christian education is appreciated a lot because if it's good education and ethics.

georgesdelatour said...

There's the Elephant In The Room you're not discussing. CofE schools may or may not be a marginally good or bad thing. But if they exist, then so must Muslim madrasas. And they are a very bad thing indeed.

We used to have a law against blasphemy which only applied to Christianity. Mary Whitehouse used that law to silence gay poetry, which was bad enough. But then came the Satanic Verses. So either we had to have a law against all blasphemy of all possible religions or no blasphemy law at all. We've finally opted for the latter. A similar realisation will eventually kill off Church schools.

Perplexed said...

"CofE schools may or may not be a marginally good or bad thing. But if they exist, then so must Muslim madrasas"

With respect, you appear to have conflated the correct definition of "madrasa" (which without a qualify adjective simply means "school", either religious or secular) with the common usage in the West, which is interpreted as "terrorist training camp run by fanatical loons".

Arguments over faith schools in general aside, any specifically Muslim faith schools set up in the UK would be required to follow the same curriculum as anyone else. The only difference lies in the religious education component of the teaching. And believe it or not, there are actually quite stict laws that regulate preaching genocide in the UK.

Matko said...

A similar realisation will eventually kill off Church schools.

The day this happens will be the day we're in a dictatorship. If a faith school is a private establishment, there's no legal way to forbid its existence, unless one wants to abolish basic individual liberties. That would be a sad day

Ilíon said...

"And believe it or not, there are actually quite stict laws that regulate preaching genocide in the UK."

Not so as one would notice, apparently.

Karl said...

Tim,

While you may have had some bad experiences from your school days what exactly does that have to do with the original post? And if you think the little Catholic school you went to was bad I can give you worse. Most of my schooling took place in a country that no longer exists; East Germany. The school system was officially atheist and one of the things the principal required all students to do was join a local organization called Liga des Gottlosen Kämpfers; the "League of Militant Godless." One of my best friends, Joachim Kiesinger, refused to join; his family got a visit in the middle of the night from the Stasi. I never saw Joachim again after that and my parents told me never to talk about it.

Oh, we had some fun times in that school alright. Anybody that got caught with any type of Christian books or paraphernalia was lucky if they just got their asses whipped in front of the class. We had this one teacher, Professor Daecher the principal's brother-in-law, who had this big set of heavy keys that he threw at students that pissed him off; he actually took one kid's eye out doing that. Our fine teacher didn't get punished because he was connected; after all, he was the principal's brother-in-law and the son of the local party boss. Another time my friends and I, we were about twelve, got a hold of some cigarettes and skipped Russian class to go smoke them. We found out very quickly you did not do that. I personally ended up spending a week in juvenile detention while the Stasi grilled my parents; they were afraid we had started a revolution. Another time one of my other friends, Hans Mielke, grew his hair long in violation of school dress codes and refused to cut it. So the police grabbed him and shaved his head. And yes, there were child molesters in the school system; as we got older we heard stories. If they were members of the Party the state simply turned a blind eye.

I would trade every one of your old childhood school experiences for mine. You call corporal punishment (which I assume is a paddling) applied to small children for such vile “crimes” as putting orange peel in the wrong rubbish bin 'Stalinesque?' No Tim, Stalinesque is waking up one morning and finding your best friend and his family disappeared in the middle of the night for refusing the principal's instructions. Stalinesque is living every waking hour being monitored by a secret police agency like the Stasi; a group that thinks nothing of torturing little kids to death in front of their parents. You have no idea what Stalinesque really means and be thankful you don't.

You know, I wonder how much my repulsion of atheism and your repulsion of organized religion are shaped by our respective bad childhood experiences and not by rational thought.

Ignorance said...

It seems like a good idea. I'm in favour of allowing any worldview to found their own schools, provided that the education is not substandard and I do not have any reason to assume that the education to be provided would be inadequate. I hope Mr Dawkins succeeds with his school.

I'm not sure what progressive education is supposed to mean, but I'm personally in favour of more structured, traditional education.

There happens to be a Humanist University here, though what it has written about humanism and religion seems mostly poor polemic to me.

I also went to a religious primary school, with the bulk of children being not religious. I really appreciated the education I has there, but I can obviously not compare it to other primary schools. I just hope that Dawkins' school will be as tolerant of other view as the one I went to. I'm certainly giving him the benefit of the doubt. I will be roaring if his education is more likely to turn children religious. Particular if they turn fundamentalist.

Now what Tim related here is just horrifying. How can you grow up at a school like that? The same goes for Karl's narrative; it really sounds to me as the American prison system unleashed on innocent children. Did any of you ever got any word of those crooks being put to trial?

Karl said...

Ignorance,

The Wall came down and the border when I was sixteen. My father wasted no time getting out of the country and getting us on a plane to the US. I later learned from family members who stayed that the Stasi destroyed a lot of files before protesters and BRD agents stormed their headquarters. I haven't been back to Dresden since but from what I learned from my Aunt is that Daecher disappeared during the reunification and Principal Tillich ended up in prison for a few years before being released. He died of cancer two years ago.

Anonymous said...

"I wouldn’t worry too much about any trauma on my part."

On the contrary, you exhibit deep anger issues.

Ignorance said...

Karl, I'm sorry to hear that Dächer probably went free. I hope your life in the US has been way better than that.

Anonymous, that is rather akin to trolling, isn't it? Why is a person traumatised when using sarcasm? Or why would somebody have to be traumatised to be angry?

Anonymous said...

As others have pointed out, Tim is not addressing the topic of the post. That's why I say he is obviously too traumatised to address this topic rationally and objectively.

Sue Sims said...

Tim's memories stirred mine. I won't, given Karl's horrific account, call it 'Stalinesque', but there were some very unpleasant teachers there. The one who still gives me nightmares (and whom, fifty years on, I find it hard to forgive) was called Miss Snasdell, and specialised in humiliating me - well, many others as well, admittedly - in front of the rest of the class/school. She established 'toilet monitors': fourth-year pupils (10-year-olds) who had to stand outside the cubicles and inspect the wooden toilet seat before the user was allowed to leave: if it was wet, the offender was sent to Miss Snasdell, who would excoriate her at the end of 'playtime' in front of the rest of the Junior School lined up in the playground.

The headmaster did a nice line in pinching and patting various bits of one's anatomy, too. And of course, the boys were caned for quite minor offences in both my junior and grammar schools - that was quite normal.

The school, by the way, was a standard state school - not RC, C of E or anything else. (My parents, being Jewish atheists, wouldn't have sent me to any religious school.) I'm afraid that the sort of things Tim describes were prevalent throughout the educational system, and can't be ascribed to the Evils of Religion.

BTW, I was indocrinated with atheism and Communism from birth, but have ended up as a Catholic. Believe me, people do actually have minds of their own.

Karl said...

Ignorance,

I'm sorry to hear that Dächer probably went free. I hope your life in the US has been way better than that.

Saying that my life in the United States has been a lot better then my childhood in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik would be a major understatement.

Sue,

BTW, I was indocrinated with atheism and Communism from birth, but have ended up as a Catholic. Believe me, people do actually have minds of their own.

Indeed they do. I have seen enough atheists come from deeply religious households and enough devout Christians come from deeply atheist households (not to mention spending my childhood in a country that didn't so much as indoctrinate children with atheism and communism as ram it down their throats at gunpoint and seeing how well that turned out for them) to make me convinced that Dawkins' school isn't going to make the impact he thinks it is. So I am with James on this one.

James said...

One thing is for sure after reading the posts above: I'll never complain about my prep school again. It was rubbish and I hated it, but never dangerous or abusive.

Best wishes

James

Jim S. said...

Yeah, wow, my education simply failed to educate me and I've been complaining about it ever since. I'm blown away by the horrible experiences some of you guys are describing, especially Karl. It's just disturbing.

chuff said...

Reading all of these comments leaves me quite grateful for the schooling I received growing up. Like Tim, I went through Catholic schooling most of my life, but I can't say I suffered (or heard about) any of the abuses discussed here.

On the contrary, I ended up pretty well prepared for college and didn't have to fight through the apathy that goes on in the public schools in my area.

Btw, I stumbled across this googling about Russell's school:

http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1913&context=russelljournal

I'm no historian and have no way to judge how reliable this source is, but it argues that Beacon Hill wasn't as bad as it got made out to be. According to that source, Russell trashed the school out of bitterness towards his ex-wife who he ran the school with (what a lovely fellow that Russell guy was).

Ilíon said...

Karl: "You know, I wonder how much my repulsion of atheism and your repulsion of organized religion are shaped by our respective bad childhood experiences and not by rational thought."

Yet, if that explains (or "explains") the origins of your current respective stances, it is nonetheless true that yours is rational but his is not. For, after all, what was inflicted upon you is fully in keeping with communism (and atheism, when one gets down to it); what what was inflicted upon Mr O'Neill is contrary to Christianity.

Ilíon said...

T.O'Neill: "I wouldn’t worry too much about any trauma on my part."

Anonymouse: "On the contrary, you exhibit deep anger issues."

You have a point? Or are you simply inherently passive-aggressive?

Ilíon said...

Sue Sims: "[description of sadistic "teacher"] ... I'm afraid that the sort of things Tim describes were prevalent throughout the educational system, and can't be ascribed to the Evils of Religion."

I'm American, so my story is also not about The Evils Of Religious Education.

My mother, being a cripple, was shuffled of to a "special" school in the primary years -- in those days, the "progressives" hadn't settled on the current idea of "mainstreaming" the "special needs" kids.

There was a teacher who liked to traumatize and humiliate this one very small little boy in my mother's class. But, on the brighter side, one day this woman happened to walk close to my mother, who reached out and grabbed her. My mother had large hands and far greater than the average female upper-body strength (for, her legs were in the process of being rendered useless (*) by doctors). My mother managed to convince the teacher to leave the little boy alone. And the teacher learned to never come near my mother -- but, I think my mother could have caught her, if she’d wanted to, ‘cause you can run pretty fast with crutches if you know what you’re doing.


(*) It wasn’t only in Germany that “progressive” "doctors" were using "worthless" human beings as guinea pigs during the 20s and 30s.

====
In my own life, the three years my parents were able to give me a respite from the public schools by sending my siblings and me to a religious school (which wasn’t even our denomination) is one of the main reasons I finished high school, much less college.

Ignorance said...

For, after all, what was inflicted upon you is fully in keeping with communism (and atheism, when one gets down to it); what what was inflicted upon Mr O'Neill is contrary to Christianity.

I must disagree here, it is full in keeping with the policy of the DDR and the hardliners of the Warschau Pact, but I don't think that you could blame the entire ideology of Marxism/Communism for it, no matter how flawed the ideology is (I'm not trying to exonerate Marx here or anything). Also, not all atheism is Communist.

Ilíon said...

Chuff: ".. but it argues that Beacon Hill wasn't as bad as it got made out to be. According to that source, Russell trashed the school out of bitterness towards his ex-wife who he ran the school with (what a lovely fellow that Russell guy was)."

Sounds as though it were more a vanity project than a school. So, it stands to reason (human nature being what it is) that when his vanity was insulted he'd turn against the project as a way of "getting back" at the ex-.

Ilíon said...

"… Also, not all atheism is Communist."

And? Did I say it was?

"… but I don't think that you could blame the entire ideology of Marxism/Communism for it, no matter how flawed the ideology is."

Do you not understand what it means to say, “X is consistent with Y” or “X is fully in keeping with Y”?

georgesdelatour said...

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/5992368/Exclusive_over_60_per_cent_of_Britains_Muslim_schools_have_extremist_links_says_draft_report/

Ignorance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Sims said...

Ignorance: your comment is clearly correct in logic, but possibly not in history. Has there ever been an explicitly atheist state (that is, one in which atheism was officially promoted and which attempted to destroy or muffle religion among the populace) which was not also a Marxist/Communist state? (That isn't a rhetorical question: I haven't been able to think of any, but this may just be my inability to think at all at this time of the evening.)

I'm not, BTW, accepting states which try to ban one religion while encouraging another - that has been characteristic of a large number, of course. No - they've got to be explicitly atheist but non-Communist/Socialist/Marxist states.

Ignorance said...

Eh, I do not feel much incentive to discuss this here. Actually, I find such detailled quarrels a bit bit petty compared to the dreadful things above, so I do not feel much need for defending the morally corrupt Communist states of the past and present.

Karl said...

Llion,

Definitely in keeping with communism and the ideology of the Warsaw Pact. I have yet to have found one communist nation that has had a good civil rights record. It could have been worse though, I could have grown up when Stalin was still in charge or in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge was running the country or in China during Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward.

Tim O'Neill said...

Part I:

Some here will already be aware how I’m often amused by being called a “Christian apologist” on certain fora and “an angry anti-theist” on others. At about the same time Karl (wrongly) assumed I have a “repulsion of organized religion”, someone on an atheist forum attacked me for what they called my “constant defence of Christianity”. Either I am a very confused person or people are leaping to some rather odd conclusions about me.

The comment on the atheist forum was sparked by me daring to suggest that the regular posts by one forum member highlighting stories of particularly silly or looney Christians, especially the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, served no purpose but to reinforce smug prejudice and was an exercise in self-congratulatory wank. My initial comments here were pricking a similar (though less overt) level of smug self-congratulatory prejudice that often creeps into discussion here, particularly when the Dawkins bogeyman is invoked. Notice how the reaction in both cases was roughly the same – a defensive attempt to box me into a neat category that could then be summarily dismissed (Christian apologist/angry atheist).

Karl has asked what my stories about my schools had to do with the original post. I would have thought my point was pretty clear: it’s a bit rich referring to Russell’s (rather pleasant sounding) school as a “fiasco” when many religious schools can be said to deserve that description for far more horrible reasons than mere amateurish administration. I would have left things at that simple and valid observation, but Jess then questioned whether the things I mentioned at my schools had anything to do with their “educational philosophy”, so I went into more detail to show that, in fact, they did.

Ilion tried to claim this again:

For, after all, what was inflicted upon you is fully in keeping with communism (and atheism, when one gets down to it); what what was inflicted upon Mr O'Neill is contrary to Christianity.

Hmmm, and no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. I won’t disagree with you that what Karl experienced was a direct result of an institution that operated as part of a totalitarian state. Given that you could find similar stories from all kinds of totalitarian states, including ones that definitely didn’t have “atheism” as part of its rigidly enforced doctrines, I will disagree with you that “atheism” had anything intrinsic to do with it. I know a Chilean guy who lived through the Pinochet years and could tell similar stories about anyone who was found with “socialist” material in his school in Santiago (eg an Amnesty International pamphlet). What can get you into trouble in a totalitarian state varies, but what we are looking at here is totalitarianism in action, not “atheism”. Atheism isn’t an ideology – it’s simply a position on a particular question of philosophy.

Tim O'Neill said...

Part II:

And while the actions of the individuals I mentioned in my schools are certainly contrary to many precepts of Christianity, the ideology and attitudes that lay behind them and allowed them to continue are not. Yes, that particular principal was a petty, bitter woman who would probably have been a horror in any school. But I’d like to think that in most schools the parents would have objected strenuously to, say, a child being caned for not running fast enough in a race he won. Yet my parents and the others never did because … well, it wasn’t acceptable to question “the good nuns”. They were holy women who had given up everything to devote their lives to Christ. So this, in a bizarre way, made them and their actions sacrosanct in a way that is hard to explain to a non-Catholic. Even when my parents knew that her actions were pretty vile and that she was actually an unhinged old bat. The ideology didn’t allow them to act with common sense – she was a figure of authority in the Church and to undermine her was to undermine the whole edifice. Ditto for the pederasts. Rather than going to the police, that was treated as a “sin’ that was somehow between the rapists and God. Pity about the kids. And as far as the parents were concerned, how the “good Brothers” handled the guys who were “a little odd” was their business and not to be questioned.

So sorry, but these things are very much a part of the kind of Christianity that underlay and supported those schools – a form of Christianity based on not questioning authority, however weird, disfunction and, yes, irrational that authority may be.

Finally …

You have no idea what Stalinesque really means

Actually, I do. I know, for example, that it doesn’t mean the same thing as “Stalinist”. I can call a woodland glade “Tolkienesque” and mean “having elements rather reminiscent of the works of Tolkien”. I don’t mean, “actually containing real elves and hobbits”. Note the difference.

Karl said...

Tim,

At about the same time Karl (wrongly) assumed I have a “repulsion of organized religion”,

That's nice, I based that characterization on your comments and opinions expressed here on this blog. Both in this conversation and other previous conversations I have had with you.

it’s a bit rich referring to Russell’s (rather pleasant sounding) school as a “fiasco” when many religious schools can be said to deserve that description for far more horrible reasons than mere amateurish administration. I would have left things at that simple and valid observation, but Jess then questioned whether the things I mentioned at my schools had anything to do with their “educational philosophy”, so I went into more detail to show that, in fact, they did.

And as my own life experiences show and Sue's experiences also show such environments are not limited to religious schools. Deef and chuff accounts show that not all religious schools are like the one you went to.

I won’t disagree with you that what Karl experienced was a direct result of an institution that operated as part of a totalitarian state.

Oh atheism had something to with it in this case. Joachim wouldn't have disappeared for refusing to join an organization called the League Of Militant Godless for one.

Atheism isn’t an ideology – it’s simply a position on a particular question of philosophy.

Excuse me? Last I checked materialist atheism came with a whole list of intellectual baggage including, something Tom Gilson pointed out a while back:

* The belief that every major world religion from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism is wrong.

* The end of your physical life is the end of your existence.

* All human experience, consciousness and rationality is solely the interaction of electrical impulses and chemicals in your brain.

* That the universe is impersonal and amoral.

* Atheism entails that there is no ultimate meaning, no ultimate morality, no ultimate beauty, no ultimate purpose for humanity.

* Any sense of meaning or purpose is to be found in human life, it is found in the contingent and accidental experience of humans—for even the existence of humans is contingent and accidental.

http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2009/06/atheism-is-not-a-belief/

There are a few more but you get the idea. My opinion is that when people stop merely saying you believe this position to actually trying to determine public policy according to that belief it ceases to become simply a position on a particular question of philosophy and becomes an ideology.

Karl said...

Tim,

But I’d like to think that in most schools the parents would have objected strenuously to, say, a child being caned for not running fast enough in a race he won.

In most schools parents would object to their kids getting their eyes put out with a set of keys. I can think of at least three incidents I ended up bleeding on the face from the damn things. But in this case the parents couldn't do anything about.

Yet my parents and the others never did because … well, it wasn’t acceptable to question “the good nuns”.

In my case it wasn't advisable to do so because you ran the risk of getting a noodle.

So this, in a bizarre way, made them and their actions sacrosanct in a way that is hard to explain to a non-Catholic.

And my teachers dedicated their lives to stamping out 'obsolete bourgeois superstitions,' So this, in a bizarre way, made them and their actions sacrosanct in a way that is hard to explain to a non-atheist/non-communist. Don't forget that Sue also had bad experiences at a regular public school, does that mean Miss Snasdell was sacrosanct with government secuar educational requirements?

Rather than going to the police, that was treated as a “sin’ that was somehow between the rapists and God. Pity about the kids.

At least you had the luxury of going to the police. We couldn't; especially if the pederast was a Party bigshot or connected to the Party bigshots. Then police tended to punish us for daring to embarrass the Party and the State and there was no pity for the kids. Quite the opposite. So far Tim the only thing we have managed to prove is that humans can be real bastards; no surprise to Christians since the theology states we are fallen creatures.

Ilíon said...

Tim O'Neill: "Some here will already be aware how I’m often amused by being called a “Christian apologist” on certain fora and “an angry anti-theist” on others."

Life is funny, isn't it? ... or, at any rate, human being are.

Tim O'Neill: "At about the same time Karl (wrongly) assumed I have a “repulsion of organized religion”, ..."

I assume he was making one of those famous "inferences to the best explanation" based on what he had read in this thread.

Karl said...

Actually, I do. I know, for example, that it doesn’t mean the same thing as “Stalinist”. I can call a woodland glade “Tolkienesque” and mean “having elements rather reminiscent of the works of Tolkien”. I don’t mean, “actually containing real elves and hobbits”. Note the difference.

Tim do you mean elements like having your fingernails pulled out with a pair of pliers? Elements like being taken out to the country side and made to dig your own grave before being given a noodle? Elements like not trusting anyone, including your friends and family for fear that one might be an informant ready to betray you to the Sword and Shield of the Party? Elements like praying for a bullet in the back of the head if the Stasi captured you because at least that would be quick and relatively painless? No Tim, western schools had none of those elements. Canning was used in public schools in America as late as the eighties, at least in the state I live; in the DDR canning was the least of your worries.

I grew up in a state founded by Joseph Stalin at the start of the Cold War, watched over by a secret police force headed by a die-hard Stalinist, the Stasi had a reputation of surpassing the KGB in ruthlessness. It was a nation where people and their entire families were shot simply for trying to cross the border illegally. Were children and their families disappeared for not following the principal's instructions.

Unlike you I did not have the luxury of growing up in a real democracy were the worst I had to worry about were a few canings for not running fast enough or putting the orange peels in the wrong trash can. Even the possibility of sexual molestation by priests would have been preferable to some of the stuff I had to endure. While I was at the detention facility a Stasi noncom took me down to one of the integration rooms; a bare concrete cell about three meters wide and four meters long. It had shackles on one wall and a drainage hole in the middle. I remember the smell too; it stank of urine, shit and chemical disinfectant.

And on the wall next to the shackles were claw marks. The Stasi noncom explained that during interrogations they ran electricity through the shackles, threw water on the prisoners to help the conductivity. He said children younger then I had been shackled there and one day it would be my turn if I didn't change my ways. The entire time the bastard sounded like he was merely ordering lunch in a restaurant. Small wonder I wake up some mornings covered in sweat and hyper-ventilating; tormented by dreams I can't and don't want to remember.

Don't lecture me on Stalinesque and Stalinist. I understand what the words entail all too fucking well. I understand them in a way you probably and hopefully never have to understand. Note the difference.

Ilíon said...

Tim O'Neill: "Ilion tried to claim this again: ..."

Silly man! Treating humans beings as things, as means to ends, is contrary to Christianity but is fully compatible with generalized atheism (it is at least implicit in an atheistic worldview) and was always explicit in Communism.

Should we condemn Christianity because not everyone lives up to it? Should be extol atheism because not everyone lives down to it?

Ilíon said...

Karl: "You know, I wonder how much my repulsion of atheism and your repulsion of organized religion are shaped by our respective bad childhood experiences and not by rational thought."

Ilíon: "Yet, if that explains (or "explains") the origins of your current respective stances, it is nonetheless true that yours is rational but his is not. For, after all, what was inflicted upon you is fully in keeping with communism (and atheism, when one gets down to it); what what was inflicted upon Mr O'Neill is contrary to Christianity."

Tim O'Neill: "Ilion tried to claim this [Ilíon is unsure of the antecedent] again:

For, after all, what was inflicted upon you is fully in keeping with communism (and atheism, when one gets down to it); what what was inflicted upon Mr O'Neill is contrary to Christianity.

Hmmm, and no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. ...
"

I wonder, do these True Scotsmen engage in, or approve of ... hmmm, what's the favoréd term? "quote-mining"? But, more seriously, do the engage in, or approve of, the misuse of a certain rhetorical ploy that verges on the silly even when not misused?

Tim O'Neill: "Atheism isn’t an ideology - it’s simply a position on a particular question of philosophy."

Silly, silly, man! Atheism is an assertion about the very nature of reality, just as "theism" is. It's just that atheism happens to be the false answer to the question; the absurd answer, actually.

Tim O'Neill said...

That's nice, I based that characterization on your comments and opinions expressed here on this blog.

Your impression is still totally wrong.

And as my own life experiences show and Sue's experiences also show such environments are not limited to religious schools.

No. Luckily I didn’t say they were. How is that relevant to what I did say?

Deef and chuff accounts show that not all religious schools are like the one you went to.

See above. You’ve totally missed my point.

Oh atheism had something to with it in this case.

Yes, it did. And if your friend had lived in another kind of totalitarian regime, like my friend Javier’s Chile, some other ideology could have been the focus of the totalitarian reaction. The problem here is inherent in totalitarianism, not in whatever ideological element a given totalitarian regime decides to enforce.

Excuse me? Last I checked materialist atheism came with a whole list of intellectual baggage

Then you need to “check” again. None of those things are inherent in atheism at all. You can be an atheist and believe in the supernatural. You can be an atheist an atheist and believe in some kind of afterlife. Just because many atheists also believe many of the things you list doesn’t mean we all do. More importantly, none of those things are contingent on being an atheist. I have three friends who are Buddhists and atheists for example.

It really would be nice if the theists here stopped trying to tell us atheists what we do and don’t believe and what we are and aren’t not. Try listening for a change.

In most schools parents would object to their kids getting their eyes put out with a set of keys. I can think of at least three incidents I ended up bleeding on the face from the damn things. But in this case the parents couldn't do anything about.

Okay. And that has what to do with what I said? In my case, the parents could have objected. But their particular Christian ideology said they shouldn’t, so they chose not to. Spot the difference.

Don't forget that Sue also had bad experiences at a regular public school, does that mean Miss Snasdell was sacrosanct with government secuar educational requirements?

If parents at Sue’s school chose not to do something about these things then you’ll have to ask her why. I’m simply telling you why the Catholic parents at my school, including my own, didn’t do so in the case of my schools. Their reasons were directly relevant to the claim that the abuses in the schools had nothing to do with the schools’ Christian ideology.

At least you had the luxury of going to the police.

Yes. But that’s still irrelevant to what I’m saying.

So far Tim the only thing we have managed to prove is that humans can be real bastards.

And that this can be exacerbated by certain aspects of particular religious ideologies. Which is relevant to my original point – religious types have no grounds to be smug about something as insignificant as the poor financial administration of Russell’s school (which had zip to do with his being an atheist anyway) given the track record of much worse things in some Christian schools (which ARE at least partially related to Christian ideological ideas).

Tim O'Neill said...

Tim do you mean elements like having your fingernails pulled out with a pair of pliers?

No, I don't. Come on, isn't it time you stopped trying to pretend I was doing anything other than using a figurative turn of phrase? If I said I had "run into a storm of criticism" would it really make sense to tell a story of the time you lived through a hurricane and examined what I was talking about in relation to a literal "storm"? Or would that just be a teensy bit tedious.

Give me a break, please.

Tim O'Neill said...

Silly man! Treating humans beings as things, as means to ends, is contrary to Christianity but is fully compatible with generalized atheism (it is at least implicit in an atheistic worldview)

I have no idea that "generalized atheism" is and I can't see how "treating humans beings .... as means to ends" is implicit in being without a belief in any God or gods at all.

But I have this horrible feeling I'm about to have it "explained"
to me that I don't understand atheism at all and that I believe in both these things. It's amazing how I, as an atheist, am so ignorant about my own position ...

Atheism is an assertion about the very nature of reality, just as "theism" is.

That doesnt make it an "ideology". See my reply to Karl, above.

Ilíon said...

Karl: "Excuse me? Last I checked materialist atheism came with a whole list of intellectual baggage including [non-exhaustive list]"

Tim O'Neill: "Then you need to “check” again. None of those things are inherent in atheism at all. You can be an atheist and believe in the supernatural. You can be an atheist an atheist and believe in some kind of afterlife. Just because many atheists also believe many of the things you list doesn’t mean we all do. More importantly, none of those things are contingent on being an atheist. I have three friends who are Buddhists and atheists for example."

And you need to think more carefully/consistently. For, you might as well be asserting that one can be a Christian and disbelieve that Jesus Christ is the Creator, or that one can be a Christian and disbelieve that there even is a Creator.

The things Karl listed are among the logical implications of God-denial. That some self-identifying atheists (*) inconsistently and on an ad hoc basis believe things contrary to atheism doesn't change what logically follows from atheism.


(*) There are, in fact, very few real atheists in the world. For, a real atheist is also a nihilist; a real atheist knows that IF atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, THEN it matters not in the least that most of the people in the world hold to of one (or more!) of several false understandings about the nature of reality.

A real atheist knows that *everythng* dies, and *nothing* matters.


Tim O'Neill: "... I have three friends who are Buddhists and atheists for example."

That would be a "red herring," wouldn't it? I mean, we're not presently concerned with (and no one really cares about it, anyway) the atheism which denies Hinduism (**). We're talking about what is implied by the atheism which denies "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

(**) and which is even more absurd than western-style atheism, for it denies that anything exists.

Tim O'Neill said...

The things Karl listed are among the logical implications of God-denial.

No, they are not. I can be entirely without a belief in God or any gods and yet still believe in magic, fairies, reincarnation, mystical revelation and all manner of other things that are supernatural. I can also be an atheist and fully accept Buddhism in most of its forms, as those three friends of mine do.

Yet again you guys are trying to jam "atheism" into a conveniently shaped box. That won't work.

a real atheist is also a nihilist

And that's nonsense as well. These exercises in elaborate strawman construction are getting pretty tedious.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "Silly man! Treating humans beings as things, as means to ends, is contrary to Christianity but is fully compatible with generalized atheism (it is at least implicit in an atheistic worldview) and was always explicit in Communism."

Tim O'Neill: "I have no idea that "generalized atheism" is and I can't see how "treating humans beings .... as means to ends" is implicit in being without a belief in any God or gods at all. "

And now you're trying the Dawkins-ploy of fudging what little distinction there is between atheism and agnosticism.

You are now leaving argumentation behind and leaping into intellectual dishonesty.

Tim O'Neill: "But I have this horrible feeling I'm about to have it "explained" to me that I don't understand atheism at all and that I believe in both these things. ..."

What? It's *my* fault that you apparently have given so little thought to what God-denial means that these things Karl and I have said are (apparently) novel ideas upon which you can grasp no purchase?

Tim O'Neill: "It's amazing how I, as an atheist, am so ignorant about my own position ... "

What? Is it *my* fault that you (apparently) hold to an ad hoc mish-mash of ideas which cannot be squared with God-denial?

You *could* just give up the God-denial, since that is where the problem lies.


Tim O'Neill: "Atheism isn’t an ideology - it’s simply a position on a particular question of philosophy."

Ilíon: "Atheism is an assertion about the very nature of reality, just as "theism" is."

Tim O'Neill: "That doesnt make it an "ideology"."

No proposition is an ideology ... until someone takes it seriously enough to attempt to organize a human life, or a human society, around it.

So, are we in agreement that: "Atheism is an assertion about the very nature of reality, just as "theism" is." (It certainly appears that we are.)

And, after all, IF that proposition is true (and it is), THEN certain things logically follow. Karl listed some of those things.

Tim O'Neill: "See my reply to Karl, above."

I presume you mean the hand-waving in response to his list of some of the things which logically shake out from God-denial?

[continued]

Ilíon said...

[continued]

Ilíon: "The things Karl listed are among the logical implications of God-denial."

Tim O'Neill: "No, they are not. I can be entirely without a belief in God or any gods and yet still believe in magic, fairies, reincarnation, mystical revelation and all manner of other things that are supernatural. I can also be an atheist and fully accept Buddhism in most of its forms, as those three friends of mine do."

The issue here is not the inconsistent and generally ad hoc nature of the particular mish-mash of concepts that this or that self-identifying atheist asserts from one day to the next. The issue is the question of what propositions logically follow from God-denial.

Karl linked to this page (which, incidentally, is also addressed to your incipient intellectual dishonesty mentioned at the start of this post), which gives a short list of some of the things entailed by God-denial. In that post, Mr Gilson doesn't present an argument to explain *why* these things logically follow from God-denial ... but, at the same time, these things really are obvious to anyone who cares to think clearly about the matter. On my poor little blog, which no one reads, I've posted a few essays which begin to explore the argument(s) behind that list (this post sketches out the basis of it all).

That most self-identifying atheists are quite irrational is hardly my fault or responsibility. If it makes you feel any better, most self-identifying agnostics are even worse.


Tim O'Neill: "Yet again you guys are trying to jam "atheism" into a conveniently shaped box. That won't work."

No, you are trying to deny what anyone can see is true. That's what won't work.


Ilíon: "a real atheist is also a nihilist"

Tim O'Neill: "And that's nonsense as well. These exercises in elaborate strawman construction are getting pretty tedious."

But it's not nonsense, and it's not a strawman; it's wisdom, it's apprehension of the truth.

But, regardless, is it any more tedious than the intellectual dishonesty into which all self-identifying atheists retreat, sooner or later, as the means to protect their God-denial from rational scrutiny? If it makes you feel any better, self-identifying agnostics tend to make the retreat even quicker.

georgesdelatour said...

I think the Gods in every Earth-based religion I'm aware of are man-made. But I think there could be a God (or Gods) out there, as yet unrevealed to us. This God might be a mathematical formula, a synonym for "nature", or even a huge pulsating brain at the centre of everything. This God might micro-manage everything, or maybe just light the blue touch paper and retire. But I can't imagine this being a God whose main galactic concern is what one tribe of one species on one small planet in the outer Milky Way does with its male foreskins. Or a God who sends his son to said small planet - knowing the primitive locals will kill him - just so he can get up and walk around zombie-style after three days of putrefaction.

I don't know whether that makes me a Atheist, Agnostic, Deist or what.

"A real atheist knows that *everything* dies, and *nothing* matters." - I don't agree with this. Things matter more precisely because they're temporary. There's a fantastic play by Karel Capek, "The Makropulos Secret", in which the main character is immortal. She says she finds mortal humans so exciting precisely because they know they're going to die. It's what energises them, makes them invent, make art etc.

Tim O'Neill said...

But it's not nonsense, and it's not a strawman; it's wisdom, it's apprehension of the truth.

Good grief, what a fatuous statement. No, I'm not blurring any distinction between atheism and agnosticism, but having just gone over the meanings of those words and how I am, in fact, an atheist despite not fitting in any theist-constructed definition on the Quodlibeta forum recently, I'm not prepared to go over all that again.

I've found from past experience that when theists start lecturing me on what I do and don't believe and telling me that I'm a "nihilist" and that my carefully considered and well-informed ideas are "inconsistent" and "ad hoc" it's time to back slowly towards the door and leave them to lecture to the empty room.

Toodle pip.

Ilíon said...

"I don't know whether that makes me a Atheist, Agnostic, Deist or what."

I think the word you're looking for may be 'incoherent.'

Matko said...

I am, in fact, an atheist despite not fitting in any theist-constructed definition

Therefore all lexicographers are either theists or in collusion with theists to damage atheist by distorting the true definition of their position. Tell me, Tim, how deep does this conspiracy go?

And I still don't understand what your post about a negative experience in a private Catholic school has to do with Dawkins's anti-faith school? That is the most meager discussion subject present in the comment section.

Deef said...

[i]And I still don't understand what your post about a negative experience in a private Catholic school has to do with Dawkins's anti-faith school?[/i]

I actually do. I don't get why some think Tim's answer was offtopic in some way. James posted about atheist schools, Tim replied about christian schools and made a fair point doing that.
Christian schools can be horrific, which of course is true. Karl made clear how non-religious can also be horrific.

I essentially agree with Tim that the key factor here seems to be totalitarianism in some sort. State totalitarianism like in East-Germany(in the case of Karl) or the 'smaller totalitarianism' of teachers and principals on a power trip (in the case of Tim).

Ilíon said...

Karl: "Excuse me? Last I checked materialist atheism came with a whole list of intellectual baggage including [non-exhaustive list]"

Tim O'Neill: "Then you need to “check” again. None of those things are inherent in atheism at all. You can be an atheist and believe in the supernatural. ..."

Ilíon: "[statements in support of what Karl said, and pointing out some of the silliness of Mr O'Neill's attempted disputing of it]

There are, in fact, very few
real atheists in the world. For, a real atheist is also a nihilist; a real atheist knows that IF atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, THEN it matters not in the least that most of the people in the world hold to of one (or more!) of several false understandings about the nature of reality.

A real atheist knows that *everythng* dies, and *nothing* matters.
"

Tim O'Neill: "And that's nonsense as well. These exercises in elaborate strawman construction are getting pretty tedious."

Ilíon: "But it's not nonsense, and it's not a strawman; it's wisdom, it's apprehension of the truth."

Tim O'Neill: "Good grief, what a fatuous statement. ..."

Listen to you!

On the one hand, you're obviously quite familiar with making fatuous statements; on the other you seem to be having difficulty calibrating your Fabulous Fatuousity Detector. Or, perhaps you're just having a bit of trouble pointing it in the right direction; I hear those things can be tricky like that.


Tim O'Neill: "I've found from past experience that when theists start lecturing me on what I do and don't believe ..."

No one is doing that. Are you unable to read?

Tim O'Neill: "... and telling me that I'm a "nihilist" ..."

Dewd! What I said is that a real atheist -- one who understands what is entailed by his commitment to God-denial -- would be a nihilist.

You're just a would-be atheist, who either does not or will not understand what his claimed atheism means.

Again, I have to wonder, are you unable to read?

Tim O'Neill: "... and that my carefully considered and well-informed ideas are "inconsistent" and "ad hoc" ..."

Sometimes, the truth hurts. You know, when it's truth that one doesn't want to hear.


Tim O'Neill: "... it's time to back slowly towards the door and leave them to lecture to the empty room."

Well, Hell's Bells! of course you're going to run away, even though we're nowhere near the *real* question you need to avoid (and even though we were not going to get anywhere near it). It was never a issue of whether you were going to run away, but when, at what point.


Now, it's great that on such historical questions as Hypatia's murder, or the relationship of Christianity to the development of a reason-based society, you stand up for truth and reason. But, those questions, however important they may be (and the importance is mostly a function of the necessity of opposing ideologues misrepresenting historical knowledge), are not the questions which matter ultimately.

Ilíon said...

GeorgesDelatour: "I don't know whether that makes me a Atheist, Agnostic, Deist or what."

Ilíon: "I think the word you're looking for may be 'incoherent.' "

Now, certainly, I might have said more to explain why I said that, which was directed at this:
"I think the Gods in every Earth-based religion I'm aware of are man-made. But I think there could be a God (or Gods) out there, as yet unrevealed to us. This God might be a mathematical formula, a synonym for "nature", or even a huge pulsating brain at the centre of everything. This God might micro-manage everything, or maybe just light the blue touch paper and retire. ..."

But, a person writes things like this:
"... But I can't imagine this being a God whose main galactic concern is what one tribe of one species on one small planet in the outer Milky Way does with its male foreskins. Or a God who sends his son to said small planet - knowing the primitive locals will kill him - just so he can get up and walk around zombie-style after three days of putrefaction."

... it's clear that that person isn't really interested in understanding the incoherence of his rationale for waving his hands at Christianity.

Ilíon said...

Matko: "And I still don't understand what your post about a negative experience in a private Catholic school has to do with Dawkins's anti-faith school?"

Deef: "I actually do ...

I essentially agree with Tim that the key factor here seems to be totalitarianism in some sort. State totalitarianism like in East-Germany(in the case of Karl) or the 'smaller totalitarianism' of teachers and principals on a power trip (in the case of Tim).
"

So, logically extrapolating, you must *disagree* with Mr O'Neill's silly attempt to invoke the "No True Scotsman Fallacy" Fallacy.

For, after all -- and just as I said -- whatever the problems were at the terrible schools to which Mr O'Neill was subjected, if was not Christianity that was the problem. The situation was, in fact, contrary to Christianity; both the situations in the school and in the wider community.

Deef said...

Ilion,

Yes, I agree with that. That's why I called it teachers on a 'power trip'. The essence of the problem wasn't christianity. Like the essence of the horrors Karl was confronted with was totalitarianism instead of atheism. I actually agree with Tim on this.

Karl said...

Tim,

Your impression is still totally wrong.

Or maybe how you see yourself is very different from other people view you?

No. Luckily I didn’t say they were. How is that relevant to what I did say?

Right. how all this wasn’t part of the “educational philosophy” of these schools and the social structures that sustained them, because I can’t work out how these attitudes could be anything else; made them and their actions sacrosanct in a way that is hard to explain to a non-Catholic. Ring any bells?

The problem here is inherent in totalitarianism, not in whatever ideological element a given totalitarian regime decides to enforce.

No Tim, when a society that espouses state atheism represses religious people simply because they are religious then atheism is intrinsic to that repression.

None of those things are inherent in atheism at all. You can be an atheist and believe in the supernatural. You can be an atheist an atheist and believe in some kind of afterlife. Just because many atheists also believe many of the things you list doesn’t mean we all do.

Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennet, Sartre, Russell, Nietzsche and many others say otherwise. You yourself fit many of the criteria on that list and you just admitted most atheists do believe the items in that list. Does the fact the Unitarians reject the Trinity somehow disprove that Catholic doctrine is not an ideology? No, it doesn't; so why does the fact there are buddhist atheists not make the views voiced by Dawkins and company an ideology?

It really would be nice if the theists here stopped trying to tell us atheists what we do and don’t believe and what we are and aren’t not. Try listening for a change.

I am listening to you. You are reinforcing my current opinions of atheism. And that statement is rich coming from somebody who tell others what to believe while simultaneously insulting them.

Okay. And that has what to do with what I said? In my case, the parents could have objected. But their particular Christian ideology said they shouldn’t, so they chose not to. Spot the difference.

And my teachers and the DDR government could have respected my family's religious views but their particular atheist ideology made sure they didn't. I am taking issue with the fact you are acting like what you had to endure is somehow the sole providence of Christian religious schools while excusing and rationalizing worse behavior in an atheist school system.

exacerbated by certain aspects of particular religious ideologies.

And history has shown, repeatedly, it can be exacerbated by particular atheist ideologies as well.

religious types have no grounds to be smug...which ARE at least partially related to Christian ideological ideas).

And an atheist type like yourself has no reason to act superior given the religious repression that went on in Warsaw Pact schools and society which definitely was based on atheist ideological ideas.

Ilíon said...

Deef: "... Like the essence of the horrors Karl was confronted with was totalitarianism instead of atheism. I actually agree with Tim on this. "

You agree with Mr O'Neill on misrepresenting what was said?

Karl said...

Tim,

No, I don't. Come on, isn't it time you stopped trying to pretend I was doing anything other than using a figurative turn of phrase?

Because I actually lived in a Stalinist State. I lost friends and family in said Stalinist State. I suffered physical, emotional and mental abuse in a Stalinist State. I don't like someone who grew up in a nice, safe country like Australia tell me I don't know the difference between Stalinist and Stalinesque; it is like someone who spent their entire life in America tell an old Jewish man who survived the camps he doesn't know the difference between fear and terror.

If I said I had "run into a storm of criticism" would it really make sense to tell a story of the time you lived through a hurricane and examined what I was talking about in relation to a literal "storm"? Or would that just be a teensy bit tedious.

Does a storm last for sixteen years? Does a storm specifically and maliciously single you out for meticulously thought-out cruelty? Does a storm have a human face? Does a storm rationalize its actions? Does a storm have apologists? Do you think its fun to make light of storms to someone who lost friends and family in one? Do you think that is a sorry analogy?

Give me a break, please.

I will give you a break when you display a some common sense.

Karl said...

Tim,

but having just gone over the meanings of those words and how I am, in fact, an atheist despite not fitting in any theist-constructed definition on the Quodlibeta forum recently, I'm not prepared to go over all that again.

Let's see, you don't believe in God. In a previous discussion in response to my statement 'If you don't believe in an eternal soul or God then your world literally ends with you' your response was Umm, yes. So? Big deal. .

It logically follows from those two points that you believe every religion is wrong (even Buddhism believes in an afterlife). Since you don't believe in the soul it logically follows that you believe all human experience is neuronal/electrical/chemical along with human consciousness and rationality. That same discussion also shows that you also believe any sense of meaning or purpose is to be found in human life, it is found in the contingent and accidental experience of humans—for even the existence of humans is contingent and accidental. Just based on that I would say you fit Tom Gilson's definition fairly well.


I've found from past experience that when theists start lecturing me on what I do and don't believe and telling me that I'm a "nihilist" and that my carefully considered and well-informed ideas are "inconsistent" and "ad hoc" it's time to back slowly towards the door and leave them to lecture to the empty room.

It could be that they lecture you because they see you profess to believe certain things at the same time denying the logical implications of said beliefs. And I am sure I don't need to point out just because you say your ideas carefully considered and well-informed does not make them so.

Irrational Atheist said...

I'm interested if Mr. O'Neil would agree with theses stated in the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnad6Wv_8RA

Ilíon said...

Karl: "(even Buddhism believes in an afterlife)"

One of Buddhism's key doctrines is that there are no selves, which is to say, Buddhism explicitly asserts that we don't actually exist.

With "western-style" atheism, that particular absurdity is implicit, rather than explicit.

Karl said...

Lion,

My mistake.

Ignorance said...

Matko, regarding dictionaries, there is also colloquial use to consider. Dictionaries are descriptive, not normative. That may be an explanation.

Ilíon said...

"My mistake."

All things considered -- and even without taking into account the Boutique Buddhism popular in Hollywood -- it's easy to come to believe incongruous things about Buddhism.

How could a person not come to believe incongruous things about an atheistic religion which nonetheless is stuffed to the gills with gods and demons, for which “the sound of one hand clapping” -- a contradiction in terms -- denotes Deep Wisdom?


"Llion/Lion."

It's ILÍON ... but many people initially see it as "LLION," so please don't imagine my feelings are hurt.

Tim O'Neill said...

of course you're going to run away

Er, yup. Look, you and the other two little yappy theist attack poodles can do a little victory dance if you like, but the second any discussion on this blog turns to "your atheism is incoherent/"silly"/nihilistic/not actually atheism/wrong" I'm out of here. Not because I'm not capable of defending my position - anyone who knows me will be able to assure you that I most certainly am and in no uncertain terms. But simply because (i) James doesn't like rancor on his blog and that particular discussion would get pretty bloody racorous and (ii) because going over the same old tired crap, correcting the same stupifying misapprehensions and hearing the same smug nonsense is, to me, simply boring.

The may have been a time back in my early twenties when I found it interesting, but those days are long over. It bores me.

I don't happen to care if you guys believe in your God. Go right ahead. I also don't care if you think atheism is "silly" or incoherent or whatever. Whatever. I care so little in fact, that I have no interest in continuing any discussion here the second it turns to the usual tedious stuff. So both here and in any other such discussions, I will be taking my leave when that topic comes up for the reasons detailed above.

Clear?

Now, cue happy attack poodle victory dance. I'm going to the pub.

Ilíon said...

Tim O'Neill, engaging in "projection": "[blah, blah, blah]"

In a way, I'm sad that Mr O'Neill is behaving as 'atheists' always do. I thought I'd finally encountered one who was willing to be rational about atheism abd Christianity.

At the same time, to encounter an 'atheist' willing to rationally critique atheism would really throw my view of humanity into chaos. So, perhaps it's just as well that Mr O'Neill's defense mechanisms have kicked in.

Karl said...

Tim,

James doesn't like rancor on his blog and that particular discussion would get pretty bloody racorous

This coming from a guy who wastes no time insulting people who disagree with him? The guy who on this blog turned an entire discussion into a personal insult fest about Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh? And then insulted people who proved you had misattributed a quote to Limbaugh and were subsequently mocking him for something he didn't do?

Or how about saying Dawkins doesn't insult people, saying that Dawkins is unfailingly courteous to all kinds of morons and and fundie clowns. Then when other people did provide you with quotes and links proving beyond a doubt that Dawkins is rude and insulting your responses consisted primarily of insults and mockery. The same holds true to the discussion I linked to earlier about intrinsic meaning.

In short Tim every discussion I have had with you, or seen you participate in, on this blog has reeked of your personal rancor and hypocrisy. Even here, your last post calls your opponents sons of bitches albeit in a slightly classier way then usual (after all,a male 'happy attack poodle' is a son of bitch, is it not?).

Clear?

James said...

I think this thread has gone as far as it can. Tim has bowed out of this thread and I would really rather he was not tempted to bow back in again or I'd have to close a thread down for the first time ever.