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From Eric MacDonald, who's really on a roll these days. I'm so glad he started his own website.

There is a fundamental dishonesty built into religion. It comes out clearly in John Shook's book, The God Debates, that I am reading just now. John Shook thinks that it is incumbent upon atheists to join in the God debates, to learn as much as we can about religion and its argumentation so that we can join in the debates at a reasonably high level of sophistication. This I am willing to do, because it amuses me, but when you come upon things like the following, one has to admit that the argument is about air (and I apologise beforehand for quoting at such length):


 

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I don't believe that it is incumbent upon atheists to learn anything about religion. Do religious people learn about astrology so as to enter into discussion with those crackpots? As I have said before, listening to a group of "experts" talking about religion reminds me of the opening scene from Super Troopers when the stoners are talking about "God's water." If you haven't seen Super Troopers I think it is incumbent upon you to fill this ghastly void in your pop culture knowledge.

I'm having trouble making sense of the idea that it is or isn't "incumbent" on atheists or anyone else, to have a specified level of knowledge about anything. It seems nonsensical.

One needs to have SOME knowledge to reject a proposition. That may be a sentence, or that may be ten year's study. Then, once you have rejected the proposition, there is no sense in engaging the proponent of the view. If the person rejecting the view continues to want to dialogue with the proponent, then I would think the proponent would reasonably expect that the person have some foundational knowlege. It isn't "incumbent" upon him to do so, but the conversation isn't going to be very interesting or productive if he doesn't. Of course the proponent might be reasonably expected to have a foundational knowledge in whatever science might cast doubt on his views, and he can leave the discussion as well, but it isn't "incumbent" on anyone to learn anything they view as useless.

had a guest at a recent party. god conversation started. he said that he chose Christianity because it had the most historical evidence of those he had studied. I asked what other religions have you studied. He said , "well, none." He saw me squint and had no defense. "Do you agree that if you were born in a different place or a different time, you wold likely believe the same about any number of other religions?" "er, um.. well, probably, yeah"

it was just kind of hilarious. And at this party, half the guests know he is cheating on his wife, but she does not know yet.

Anyhow, I think it IS 'good' to know more about religion than the people who profess to follow it. if only for the comedy. I also think the world is an interesting place and religion actually serves an important purpose, and is an evolutionary advantage we have. I didn't say it was true, btw, or required, but there have been times in human history that it worked very well for the majority of a specific population. I can bring more specific details if anyone is interested.

re: excellent interview: "doug's dynamic drivel" is well named and i rarely get to see so many lies packed so tightly.

israeli's (including settlers) do not deny the "occupation". many of us contend that this "occupation" is justified, one way or another, by moral or international law, or the historical precedents set by the rest of you'se guys re: land conquered in a (defensive) war. but no one denies it's an occupation.

the west bank hasn't been annexed to the state, and exists under military occupation by anyone's standards (including our own). the only question is whether it's justified, and how it's handled, both legitimate questions. but it's existence, again, is denied by NO ONE.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the corporate domination of American life of which Chomsky speaks than the fact that Chomsky is virtually never heard on corporate media.

Congrats to the Egyptians. :)

whoohoo! paaaaar-tay! nothing going on here like what i've been predicting all along.:)

the egyptians are celebrting mubrak's stepping down, that's it. no democracy in sight. the new leaders are, as i predicted, the army under sulieman- a long term u.s. ally and hated chief of the egyptian secret police- and mubraks and the u.s.'s pick.

but they don't care! they've made their statement, time to slaughter some goats and shoot in the air! this would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

please understand: this is just great for israel. and the u.s. and the e.u. and it is, as i've been saying, what they've been working toward. so now you can see just how "smart" the egyptians are, and how they value "democracy", and how i've been right all along, unfortunately. because it doesn't make them look very good, in terms of their professed desire for "domocracy"- they're getting the very opposite, and CELEBRATING!

and all reported by al jazeera, the fox news of the mideast, creating news instead of reporting it. i'm sure you've all forgotten already how only a month or so ago their cherry-picked "revelations" from wikileaks about the perfidy of their leaders actually caused all these uprisings, which they now gleefully report (while raking it in), and which surprised no one except arabs who were unwilling to hear the truth from anything other than an arab source, which al jazeera (with no original reporting of it's own) gladly provided.

joe biden says here it was all started by a tunesian vendor who set himself on fire. even he knows that's bullshit.

another al jazeera reporter here says the joy in the streets is even greater than the egyptian victory over israel in 73- a "victory" which cost them all of the sinai, many lives, and the idf a few miles from cairo, until the u.s. intervened.

meaning, they're still buying the same bullshit nasser was feeding them, even today. and their interest in "democracy" or peace is quite questionable. they just wanted mubarak out- the man is near death anyway- as some kind of "ego-boo", as harlan ellison used to call it. and now their celebrating their NEW american-backed military dictatorship.

whoohooo!

Dear Killjoy,

I am celebrating today's momentus meaning for the Egyptians who crave the right to vote.

Start a thread on the forum should you choose to delve further into the topic of which you speak.

Or as Obama said:

There's something in the soul that cries out for freedom

Go Egypt!

sorry about the killjoy thing. and the "i told you so" thing which you were kind enough not to mention.

but egyptians had the right to vote for a long time, just as many others who suffer under dictatorships do. it's not the right to vote as americans understand it, of course... but anyway, the current "triumph of the people" has not brought them any closer to a REAL right to vote. rather farther away- and as i have said, they don't particularly seem to care.

It's still as I wrote: the end of an era. What comes next will be the real test. No, I'm not Happy about Suleiman, and only time will tell if he remains in power. Basically most of us only have the power to sit back and watch. signed, Killroy

There were difficult times after the French Revolution. In the long run the Revolution can be considered a success. You only need go to France to feel that... The Egyptians did what they had to do. They are doing what they have to do.

Oh, they care. You have no fucking idea how much that they care. They want the right to vote and they'll get it. I have confidence in the intelligence of the Egyptians.

Look the ruling class, America, and Isreal got the interim Govt They wanted!

Further proof that Arabian and Islamic People Can't self Govern!

I stuggle with your logic...

I find it hard to believe that the new govt won't make significant reforms to avoid a repeat of all this a few years down the line.

Will that be a real democracy? What is, really.

didn't understnd your first statement at all- could you try to type slower?

re: your last points: there isn't really a "new government" yet, just the army and suliemen. and i don't doubt they will make the most minimal reforms possible to allow the egyptins to save face from all this turmoil, to make it seem as much as possible that the "revolution" was not a complete failure. and everyone will go home, satisfied, nowhere near true democracy, but heads held high. that is, if the "mob" doesn't try to challange the army itself- which i don't see happening but if it does god help them. again, not "fact". just my call.

joe biden says here it was all started by a tunesian vendor who set himself on fire. even he knows that's bullshit.

Joe bidens ability to identify bullshit is easily over estimated.

most of the same could be said for progressives when Obama was elected, but he is mostly same old same old.

we'll see what happens, but I'm with you, and think a military leader with no other government in a country in a state of emergency is the first step to a continued dictatorship. But.. the people are riled, and have just won. If there is no election soon, they will likely revolt again, and then there will be lots and lots of blood as the new enemy is the army. And then it gets messy for them (and us).

a couple of Egyptians (one Islamic and one christian) helped save my daughter's life, so I'm rooting for them. But, historically, democracy never comes cheap, and as Patrick Swayze "it'll get worse before it gets better"

but egyptians had the right to vote for a long time, just as many others who suffer under dictatorships do.

You knew perfectly well that I would question this statement. Why did you not explain this from the get go?

So, go ahead. Explain yourself.

were you unaware that there were "elections" in egypt, just as in jordan and iran etc. etc. even though they were rigged and people were intimidated and sometimes there was only one man on the ballot, etc.? even in american enforced "democracy" in iraq and afghanistan this has been the case, one way or the other. and don't get me started on europe, even recently. point being, "elections" are worthless unless they are fair, and even in the u.s. this has not always been the case (remember bush and florida?). and true democracy, that rare flower, is not, as i keep saying, what the egyptians are interested in- rather, the removal of u.s. influence (the strengthening which of they are currently celebrating, oblivious...) and islamic based rule, no matter what the form of government.

i know this isn't what your blogging friend is saying, but you, and she, and the western media (but NOT their governments) are overestimating her/their power and influence.

repeat after me: 84 MILLION. how many do you think own computers? how many have any sort of education? do you know? i don't, not exactly, but i can tell you this: a lot less than the members of the egyptian army. and guns and tanks against computers, in an arab, mostly fundamentalist country, doesn't look like a good bet to me. and your government is going to go with the sure bet, as will mine, and the e.u., although there will be a lot of talk about the "value of democracy" and "support for the aspirations of the egyptian people" and such in public.

that's my call- i'm not presenting it as "fact", as i have been accused here of by you and others falsly. it's just my call. fwiw, i've been right so far. and the egyptians are CELEBRATING the outcome of my predictions. right now.

i also offered my predictions (not as "facts", again) re: what will happen if true democracy happens there. but this is looking farther and farther from any possibility. for god's sake, the army is literally running the country, under the u.s.'s and mubaraks chosen successor- and they are CELEBRATING.

hope it's a great party, anyway, no point in giving up on any excuse to party. i don't see it lasting very long, if they really want democracy- they will soon wake up, with sharpie doodles on their faces (actully much worse) and living under a dictatorship worse than before and go "wtf was i thinking?"

Whaaah.

People overthrowing a dictator for failing to meet their economic needs, and meeting every internal security threat by rounding up people without warrents, charges, or evidence?

What do you want us to do have a wake?

Maybe tomorrow will be shit, but that doesn't mean today is a bad thing.

like i said, any excuse is a good excuse to party.

Excuse? What is a "reason" for a party?

any reason. this, at least, the egyptians seem to understand better than you do. :)

failing to meet their economic needs, and meeting every internal security threat by rounding up people without warrents, charges, or evidence?

hey, if these are good reasons for a revolution (not, imo, the reasons for the egyptian "revolution" but still) shouldn't you be getting on that over there in the states? :)

exactly right. Said it to support your argument.

all excellent ravers happily accepted as allies.

you are an excellent raver imo, robinson. if the egyptian bloggers and their allies were half as good as you they might get somewhere. :)

as ex-CIA man John Stockwell likes to point out, dictators LOVE elections. A statistical fact. But, they also like to put contenders in jail and torture their families.

Right. So one can hardly refer to these shams as elections. I see it as the dictator pretending that there's an election.

yes. so...? you can try as hard as you want, joann, and wish and hope and support etc., which i admire you for, but you won't get past the simple brick wall, which i would think (i would think...) 1goodmoovers would understand better than anyone: islam and democracy just don't mix. at least, as pedansaurus point out below, not yet. i'm not saying it's impossible, it just isn't the case right now and never has been. you don't have to be a genius, or even follow the news that closely, or have more than a cursory understanding of the history of this area to be able to predict (as i have, yawn...) how these things will go.

what's interesting is that now we have a series of "experiments" going on at the same time- all these uprisings in arab countries, all this talk about democracy...maybe, one of them might actually achieve democracy, and do something with it other than what hamas did in gaza, or the mullahs in iran? if so it would be a first. a first i heartily join you with in fervently hoping for.

-signed, canary in a coal mine

if so it would be a first.

Only time will tell. And yet the power of the people prevails in Egypt at this moment in time.

And congrats to that geek and other members of the Egyptian youth movements who made this day possible.

On thread....

The chomsky interview is really enjoyable as always with Noam.

As is often the case I come in late to this - it's nearly midnight here on the Island - but I can't help but find JBs arguments compelling. What happened 30 years ago ? The military took over in Egyot and said something like "We will move towards democracy." They are saying the same thing now. The Arab nations, and Islam in general, seem to be in a medieval state of development which needs TIME to evolve into democracy. In many respects their thinking is several hundred years behind the West (NOT in all, I hasten to add) but certainly in their attitude towards religion they are very unevolved compared to the Western civilisations. (Note I do not include the fundamentalist American and other religious nuts within the term 'Western civilisations'). It will take time, and we (the world at large) may not have time if the Islamists get the weapons they want.

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