Critical Thinking

Well that’s a shame….

I received notification in the past few weeks of some new followers to my blog.  No doubt it was as a result of the big row between Eva and Tildeb a few weeks ago which spilled over to my blog as well as several other people’s blogs.  One of those people following my blog was Eva (started on the 19th of April) but I see that she isn’t any longer.  That is rather unfortunate but not entirely unpredictable.  I went over to hers and read about her experience with Enneagrams and Richard Rohr.  I tried to leave a response but it was immediately deleted.  That’s a shame.  It’s a shame because I wanted to relay some important information that I think she should know about Enneagrams and Richard Rohr.  It’s a shame because rather than have her views challenged and told that perhaps what she’s reading might be unsubstantiated nonsense written by an unqualified and untrained individual, she’d rather wallow in ignorance.  Hopefully, not all of her readers are as insecure as that.

She asked “Rohr and an online test?  What’s not to love?”  My response was as follows:

What’s not to love?  Well, if you take it as entertainment value, I suppose it could be fun and interesting – like a horoscope (if you’re into that kind of thing.  I’m not).  But you shouldn’t take it seriously.  Why am I saying that?  To be mean?  No.  Because Enneagrams are considered pseudoscience and because Richard Rohr is not an clinical psychologist or anything of the sort.  He has nothing more than a masters in theology and as such, has no qualifications whatsoever to be discussing the subject he’s discussing and writing the books he’s writing.  If you want to learn about the very complicated study of Personality Psychology, which I don’t believe is an exact science to begin with, go the Wikipedia page and check it out, then follow the references, links and further suggested reading.

But by all means, if you want to take the easy route, take a 5 minute online test and diagnose your own personality.  If you want something that is more substantive, do the reading I suggested and if you really want to know, maybe pay for some sessions with a psychologist who will be qualified to tell you what makes you tick.

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53 thoughts on “Well that’s a shame….

  1. I like Eva. While I’m not a fan of woo or oogity boogity, as Tildeb calls it, if people are going to believe in the Christian Messiah and/or other higher powers I’d prefer they all believed in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man version she does. No hell, no sin and shame, no punishments and no divine retribution. All dogs go to heaven and the stories in the OT are allegory, metaphor, and hyperbole. No real floods, no gardens of Eden, no fall of man.

    I did learn a while ago that she’s a big fan of woo. She has tried on Wicca and Buddhism and still incorporates parts of that into her faith. She will only tolerate challenge to a certain point. I don’t think she cares whether anyone else believes crystals have powers or not. She does and she doesn’t want anyone to tell her why that’s crackers.

    I searched for the post she did a few years ago about NDE’s and her fascination with them and their part in her belief that NDE’s are evidence that there must be something more than this life. I pressed her about the scientific explanations rather than the spiritual explanations and she let me know fairly soon into the conversation she wasn’t interested in being challenged on it. That’s part of the reason I don’t comment there very much. I like to read, but I don’t comment because she wants to believe and I’ve never had the aim of talking someone out of their beliefs. I want to help people who have doubts. I want to assist someone’s deconversion journey, but if they’re hell bent(pun intended) on believing there’s no amount of challenges that will change their mind. In fact, sometimes I think it servers to drive them deeper into their beliefs.

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    • I wish I could say the same about Eva but I am afraid I cannot Ruth. I find her to be an absolutely deplorable, close minded, dishonest individual who’d rather wallow in ignorance and point the finger at everything and everyone else rather than admit her own mistakes and shortcomings. Rather than admit that tildeb’s criticism and my criticism of her previous post (the one that started the big row) has some merit, she ignores that and goes straight for the ad hominem and starts calling the two us angry and hateful and so on. I have ZERO respect for someone like that.
      If I had to take her over say, a Jerry Falwell, yes, I would consider her the lesser of the 2 evils but that’s not saying very much. So I agree that anything that I say is unlikely (most certainly not) going to change her mind regarding the woo, I might be able to reach one person who reads it and dismisses it as the nonsense that it is.

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      • I pegged her for a bit closed-minded, as I said, before. I realized she didn’t want to hear objections to her approach to woo so I just left it alone. But I do have to say I’m quite surprised by her banning and censorship.

        I will say, though, that if I decided I didn’t like anyone who was closed-minded, ignorant on some level, and unable to admit shortcomings I probably wouldn’t like anyone. Then again, I do prefer my dogs to most people.

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    • It may seem that way, Ruth, but I think good bits of criticisms have away of staying hooked into someone’s thinking – usually covered up by loud protestations of deeply held beliefs – but I’ve read too often of people who finally have to face the niggling problem the criticism raised and dismantle piece by piece the beliefs they irritate. Lots of conversion stories indicate this happens frequently… but rarely accompanied with the same loud and public admissions of changing one’s mind or attributing some change to such a criticism; rather it’s a slower but surer process.

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      • I see what you’re saying. And I agree largely with that. What I meant was that when someone gets to the point that they are no longer willing to entertain the criticisms then I think it’s going to take a bit more than that.

        Using myself as an example; I was a hardcore YEC, fundamentalist, literalist, inerrantist, Christian. I believed the Bible was true in its literal form from cover to cover. I had come across Ark’s blog and a few others before and it didn’t even dent my faith. I had read bits here and there at infidel.org. Not even so much as a second thought given except to how lost the contributors there must be.

        I can also say that attacks on my intellectual integrity only served to give me a persecution complex.

        However, when my time of questioning did come -and not as a result of any of the questions posed on any of those sites(because I had my nice, tidy apologetics to fall back on) I found a small group of deconverted individuals who had compassion for my lack of knowledge and where I was emotionally who gently gave me things to think about rather than stinging criticism. It was criticism of my belief system, not of me or my personal integrity that helped shift my thinking.

        These days when I run up against a Tiribulous or a Colorstorm I have no problem tearing their belief system to shreds, but I still don’t publicly question their sincerity or their integrity(even if I personally question it). The reason is because a) I don’t think it does either of us any good and b)if there are lurkers hostility tends to scare them. Sharply criticizing a person’s honesty and integrity generally tends to shut down the conversation rather than cause that person or, as you might have observed with the Eva situation, even observers to think critically about the issues involved. People become emotionally charged and take sides (i.e. arch being banned from violet’s blog) when they perceive personal attacks are being made(whether that’s what is intended or not).

        I’m not sure if either of you have ever been a believer and deconverted or if you’re lifelong atheists. It may not seem like it but there’s a large chasm between intellectual dishonesty and cognitive dissonance.

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        • To answer your questions in no particular order Ruth
          1) I have never been a believer. I was raised in a Catholic home – was forced to do the Church thing on Sundays and stuff like that but there was no devout religiosity. I rebelled in my early teens (refused to go to Church) and then never really gave much thought to religion until about 5 years ago when I started reading books written by and debates/lectures given by New Atheists. I have now come to realize the perniciousness, stupidity, ignorance and outright evil that religious belief plays a central role in.
          2) Yes I do recognize that there is a big difference between cognitive dissonance and intellectual dishonesty. There’s no doubt in my mind that Eva regularly exercises the latter. I read through her post (the one that started this all off) and then through the exchange that she had with tildeb. I even tried to ask her questions of my own. I finally cornered her into admitted that she meant to malign atheism, New Atheism and the God Delusion with her comments. You can read about it on the exchange she and I had on her blog (if she hasn’t deleted it). It’s called the Socratic method. I use it all the time on people like her. You don’t have to accuse anyone of anything. Just ask questions. It doesn’t take someone like Eva very long to talk themselves in to corner that they can’t get out of. In this case I think it was about 4 exchanges. But here is why I suspect she’s being intellectually dishonest: Rather than admit what she did, she threw her hands up in the air, declared that I’d “won” (as if this was some kind of “game” or something), declared that she had “no idea what I was talking about” and that I’d subjected her to the “Spanish Inquisition”. Somehow, I became the villain for simply asking questions. This is not cognitive dissonance. This is deliberate obfuscation and responsibility-dodging.
          3) Somewhere, within you, something triggered a series of events that led you to question your previously held beliefs. I don’t think you are giving enough credit to the people and sites that you were subjected to that caused you to want to explore the reasons why those critiques existed. I think they played a role in your de-conversion. The rest was up to you though. Your psychological make up is obviously different from that of Eva’s (and every other person on the planet) and that’s why you’re now a non-believer and she’s not. I don’t know either of you so this is just speculation on my part, but as far as personalities go, you’re more the type of person who is concerned about what’s true and what’s not and she’s more concerned with what makes her feel better and is not interested in what’s true.

          I think that the latter is a terrible way to live one’s life but that’s her mistake to make. I’m just trying to make it so that other people avoid falling into the same trap if at all possible. I see bad ideas and falsehoods spread about and I am compelled to say something.

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          • I have always thought I was interested in what was real and true and held the position that what I believed as a Christian was real and true.

            I meant to write in my previous comment that while I viewed those sites I mentioned before as contemptible I was ever so grateful when I did begin to question that they were there. They were very instrumental in my deconversion. Just not my initial crack, so to speak. To be quite frank, Christian teaching and websites were the initial reason for my questioning. My point about atheist/Christian critique websites was merely that had I never had occasion to question I would likely have continued to view them as contemptible. That is certainly not to say that they don’t deserve an immense amount of credit for helping me in my deconversion.

            I think because I’ve been on both sides of the fence I have empathy for those who do believe. I was once as they are. While I hold the Abrahamic belief systems as an abomination I know where I’ve been and generally take a different approach.

            For what it’s worth, I think that Eva had already gone on the defensive with tildeb and by the time you arrived on the scene she just thought that all the people there questioning her accounts were ganging up on her. This is some of what Christianity provides; the believer can simply wrap themselves in their persecution complex and not think critically about the critique involved of their belief system. They must be doing something right and then they identify themselves with the object of their affection by playing the role of martyr.

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            • Yes I must say you certainly have a point about truth there Ruth. It’s really in the eye of the beholder. Well, not actual truth, but perceived truth. “It’s true for me” – if I only had a nickel every time I head that phrase. The way to be able to discern between the 2 (actual and perceived) is to expose your “truth” to scrutiny and counter evidence. If you’re willing to look at it and consider changing your mind, then you’re interested in what’s true, not just what you want to be true. That’s all the difference in the world between someone like you and Eva.
              As far as your points about persecution complex, I couldn’t agree more. It’s the go to defense mechanism for religious people when their belief system is questioned. I would even wager that you might have engaged in it before you started to seriously question your beliefs.
              I’m not sure that I could say that I empathize with Eva. I think it would be more accurate to say that I bounce back and forth between my dislike of her and feeling sorry for her. I dislike her for being the dishonest person that she is. I don’t know her, but I feel that she’s smart enough to know better. But when I sit and think about it, and the fact that I believe that free will is an illusion and that everything is deterministic, I feel sorry for her because she had little to no choice in becoming the person that she is. I don’t believe that people willingly WANT to be taken in by frauds and charlatans and want to fall prey to every type of ridiculous woo belief out there. They simply have no choice.

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              • I would even wager that you might have engaged in it before you started to seriously question your beliefs.

                Depending on how much you have to wager you could be quite wealthy if you could get someone to play along. Of course I did! It’s an excellent defense and coping mechanism. It enables a believer to dismiss criticism while at the same time soothing the cognitive dissonance.

                I’m not sure that I could say that I empathize with Eva.

                That was part of the reason I asked about your background and your relationship between belief and atheism. I am able to empathize because I have been her. No, I never claimed atheism before because I was raised to believe in God even if it was nominally in the beginning. But as you know, regardless of your flavor of Christianity, you are taught (and if you’ve been an atheist and converted you likely agree) that atheism is spiritually bankrupt worldview. As such I can empathize with her because she clearly believes now that her life has some greater significance as a Christian. She has apparently found some type of liberty in believing in a deity. I found the complete opposite.

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            • Eva attributing her self-proclaimed bigotry and discrimination to be the same as and supported by New Atheism was a lie. Plain and simple. I called her on it, explained why it was deplorable, questioned why no one from her little blogging faith community would challenge her on the lack of truth value of her claim, and was banned for doing so. She wanted the lie to stand.

              Others did pile on after I posted about this deplorable tactic commonly used by convertees – a tactic of smearing New Atheists to if not to applause then by tacit acceptance for its truth value – rarely if ever challenged by members of the faith communities or even other non believers. If not them, then by whom should such falsehoods be challenged? I guess by default it falls to those who care more about what’s true than the feelings of those who wish to lie.

              So others did question other aspects of her testimonial but those quibbles were never my point. She can tell the truth or lie to her heart’s content about her past… as long as it doesn’t lie about others and malign their character.

              That she lied about her association with New Atheists, was caught lying about bigotry and discrimination in its ranks and supported by its referenced leaders, and was challenged to retract it but refused, was the point. It’s still the point.

              Eva never has and still refuses to do so. In fact a number of faitheists stepped up to the plate on her behalf and tried to vilify me, vilify my ‘harsh’ tone, vilify my motives, introduced hidden and presumably nefarious reasons for me having the audacity to challenge a lie that intentionally smears the character of certain non believers. She has never retracted this lie and her defenders have never supported the call for her to do so.

              Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why are so many people – believers and non believers so comfortable accommodating the lies about and vilification of New Atheism and its members?

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              • “Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why are so many people – believers and non believers so comfortable accommodating the lies about and vilification of New Atheism and its members?”
                The believers are easy – it’s because they’re part of a community that needs to stick together. The need for solidarity. The persecution complex that Ruth spoke of earlier is testament to that.
                The non-believers, I’m not sure. I would guess because of some misguided belief that challenging people’s bad ideas or outright falsehoods is tantamount to abuse or that all confrontation is bad whether it may be justified or not. Theirs is more of a “go along to get along” type attitude. Then there are the people like CJ Werleman who are either, to be very frank, deliberately obtuse or extremely stupid. They either just cannot understand what the reason for the criticism is, or they deliberately obfuscate it in order to refute their straw man versions of it. To what ends, I’m not sure but I guess everyone’s got make a living somehow.

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              • I read your reply yesterday and it’s taken me some time to reply. The fact is I understood your point all along. And I’m in agreement with your point. We are on the same side so I don’t really want to get into a war of words with you over this. However, I do think you can be right in the wrong way. All of that, of course, depends on what your objective is. If it’s merely to point out the falsehood, then sure, do at the top of your lungs, or in whatever harsh tone you want. But if your objective was to get Eva to realize her error, saying that she’s telling the Big Lie and that attacking her integrity probably wasn’t/isn’t going to get her to do that. That’s just my opinion.

                I don’t really care how harshly you speak to people if your not trying to make inroads to getting people to think critically about the issue and why it’s falsehood or, more to the point, untrue. If you were trying to get her, those who read her blog, or even other non-believers, to come on board and think about why she is in error then maybe your tone does come into play. Think about it like the Donald Trump phenomenon we see sweeping the country now. The only people he impresses with his bombast are those who already think and feel the way he speaks. So you ended up only preaching to the choir.

                But it’s really neither here nor there what I think about your tone. I never intended to condone nor accommodate Eva. I’d prefer to use a tactic that actually gets her to reconsider or at least own what she said. Which is where Ashley comes in. Ashley, though a series of questions, got her to own what she’d said. Then it becomes arguable about whether she’s telling a lie or not. She believes that her atheism, and in particular her brand of atheism, caused her to behave a certain way toward Christians. If you believe something is true(even if it isn’t) are you telling a lie when you say it?

                I can give evidence that it isn’t her atheism, or even her brand of it, that caused her to be bigoted toward certain beliefs as she claims(YECs, anti-abortion, misogyny, etc.) It’s in her own words. She still looks down on and mocks those beliefs because she’s a liberal progressive Christian. The thing is she has conflated the mockery and distaste of ideas with the mockery and distaste of people. Is it much different than “hate the sin, love the sinner” bullshit that Christians try to say makes them loving and not bigoted? To say that I hate the ideas of a swath of people who feel those beliefs represent who they are doesn’t sound much different than saying, “I hate your ideas, but I love you.”

                I understand your frustration about atheism being maligned. As I’ve said before, living in the deep south, I have a vested interest in atheism being seen in a more positive light. I’m the only atheist I know. It’s kinda lonely.

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                • You have to remember that Eva and I have a history. I’ve been commenting on her blog for many years making, as you say, the right points in the right way I presume… because I was never banned nor was my tone ever an issue. So I was disgusted that she would provide a testimonial that vilified New Atheism as if it contained these fundamental bigoted and intolerant principles. Eva knows it does not if I was any evidence for New Atheism. So why did Eva suddenly claim the opposite?

                  Perhaps, Ruth, not getting banned and saying the right things in the right way over several years didn’t end up being more effective at all. It didn’t seem to have any effect raising New Atheism in Eva’s esteem one iota, now did it?

                  In fact, Eva’s refusal to retract the lie shows just the opposite: using polite tone with people willing to lie, willing to malign others, doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn. What does matter is making such lying more uncomfortable for the person willing to spread it than the support it tries to gather, a lie that will instigate a wider exposure to challenging the liar directly and openly and publicly, a cost that others will appreciate if not because of the poor reasoning it relies on then at least the shit storm I will do my best to produce if and when someone lies about New Atheism and, hopefully, a few more people will decide not continue to use it and passing along the lie as if true. Make it cost. Maybe, just maybe, a few more people will think about that affect before parroting the trope.

                  Of course, mewling apologists like Barry and ConsoledReader masquerading as fair and honest and reasonable people will spend time and effort trying to make themselves look ever-so-tolerant by blandly excusing such intentional deceit on Eva’s part while holding those falsely accused by the intentional lie to a rigid standard of correct tone, meaning (after all is said and done) no challenging is permitted or one will be charged with demonstrating intolerance and bigotry.

                  Cute, eh?

                  I can understand Eva’s desire to paint her former self as intolerant and bigoted (I never saw any such treatment by her in action although she claims it was from distant ‘before’ the more recent ‘before’ I had been following) and if she had done so then I wouldn’t have said ‘boo’. But she falsely accused New Atheism of supporting her in the exercise of these nasty personal beliefs. That’s a lie. And it smears the character of those who identify as New Atheists who supposedly go along with and even proselytize these principles. So I challenged her directly on her blog and quite rightly accused others of failing to step up and challenge Eva on this.

                  Why didn’t they challenge the lie? Who is asking this important question in the right way on Eva’s blog to bring about a civilized and polite alteration of this incorrect opinion?

                  *chirping*

                  So you see the problem, Ruth? If not me, then who? If not now then when? If not directly then how?

                  And why must all of this fall on my shoulders and not the tone police who are ever-so-eager to present themselves after the fact as honest and open and reasonable? Well, apparently because I’m one of the very few who seem to give more than a tinker’s damn to respecting what’s true about real people in real life smeared by lies, The mewling apologists and faitheists sure don’t seem to care. At all. Ever.

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                  • Okay. Well, you clearly have a different objective than the one I thought you had. Create shitstorms to your heart’s content. I see your point and why you’ve used the tone you’ve used now.

                    I’m still not sure about efficacy, though. I’m not sure how many of those she’s talking to even know what New Atheism is. Hell, most believers don’t even know what atheism really is. No, believers are not going to hold her to account because they misunderstand the underlying premise of atheism to begin with. They aren’t likely to research New Atheism because a) they have a deep misunderstanding of Old Atheism, b)she didn’t use the term New Atheism, and c) they are unlikely to have read any of Richard Dawkins books and probably won’t read any of them to see if what she’s said is true.

                    As I said before most believers are interested in confirming their biases, not challenging the veracity of them.

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                    • I thought I’d add my 2 cents to this as well Ruth. You make note that I used a different approach than tildeb did – rather than use an accusatory tone, I simply asked questions. I referred to it as the Socratic Method. That is true, yes, but I am afraid that I whole heartedly disagree with your statement that I got her to “own what she said”. If you read through the exchange she and I had, you will see that she emphatically did NOT own what she said. Once I cornered her, rather than admit that her intent actually was to malign atheism in general and New Atheism (actually The God Delusion) in particular, she threw the whole thing back in my face, declared she “had no idea what I was talking about”, that I’d “subjected her to the Spanish Inquisition” and that I’d “won” – as if this was some kind of game that I was playing.
                      Also, if you read through further commentary (it’s either on that post or on a subsequent post called “The Debrief”), I am lumped right together with tlldeb as an angry, intolerant hateful atheist. So you see Ruth, it made no difference what approach was used – mine or Tildeb’s, the end result was the same. She never took responsibility for her actions and she doesn’t seem likely that she ever will. I have also now been banned along with tildeb from commenting on her site. Why? Because she doesn’t care about what’s true. She only cares about saying things that make her feel better and doesn’t care who or what she maligns in the process. Maybe she’ll adjust her thinking as time goes on, but I won’t hold out hope for it. She seems to have found her base of worshipping sycophant sheep, who fawn on her every word and she seems more than content to maintain the status quo.

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    • Oh believe you me, that kind of thing never goes unnoticed by me. I love pointing out people’s hypocrisy. How insecure must a person be to not be able to read something they don’t like, written by someone they don’t agree with or don’t like? It’s the perfect prescription if you want to live your life as an ignoramus.
      I especially love people (usually religious people) who say they’re open minded – and then delete and censor and ban everyone and everything that doesn’t fall into line with what they think and what they say. Not that I consider Eva to be one of those people because I don’t recall her saying anything about being more open-minded – only tolerance. But I have had the charge from many a religious person thrown in my general direction (and the blanket charge against atheists in general).

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      • Well, it’s not just religious people… although they do historically rank highly on the list of those willing to ban.

        A growing and deeply worrying sub group are those misguided souls on the Regressive Left, people who see themselves as protectors of the ‘offended’, defenders of snowflakes presumably too weak and downtrodden and sensitive to speak for themselves or handle any criticism at bad ideas they think of as politically correct. Many non religious people populate this list and it might surprise you who proudly sign their names to it in practice. Just look at any editorial page from Left leaning newspapers and magazines to campus student bodies busy disinviting speakers and shutting down contrary opinions not with better ones but by bully tactics… advocating in the name of tolerance and respect and free speech the denial of these same rights to those who are guilty of being off message. It is these folk who scare me because this is a growing fascism at the heart of the Left’s grass roots, misguided people coming not from the poorly educated and more religious gun-toting wingnuts of the Right where we usually find it but from from those who CAN spell.

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        • You’d be referring to the likes of CJ Werleman, Cenk Uygur and the like. None of them believers but oh so concerned about the “nasty”, “militant” non believers and how they bash the poor believers so horribly. I think I find them to be more distasteful than the Jerry Falwell’s of the world. In theory, they should know better.

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  2. Ashley, to answer my question why so many non believers go along with the Big Lie about the bigotry and intolerance supposedly embedded in New Atheism, you explain it with a “go along to get along” type attitude.

    I don;t think that’s true. I think it is far, far more malignant than that.

    I refer specifically to people like Consoledreader and Barry who go out of their way to be as forgiving as possible to theists spreading lies about New Atheism yet unforgiving to anyone who dares to try to correct it with what is true, a willingness to assume the very worst characteristics and motivations are the case for those who do so. It’s so transparently an imposed double standard that I am amazed they think they’ve successfully chastised the person who has been maligned by lies and stands up to it!

    What’s worse is that these same faitheists – these mewling apologists ready to kowtow to any religious person who wants to malign New Atheism with smear tactics and lying – then commit time and effort to assert on related comment threads or blog posts that to criticize this intentional deceit against New Atheism is actually evidence of the intolerance and bigotry contained within New Atheism in action… a ‘militant’ action that demonstrates a religious zeal of extremism… and then have a bunch of people – believers and non believers alike – nod their virtual heads in agreement!

    I think people do this so that they can convince themselves that they’re seen as if exemplary examples of tolerance, seen to be paragons of tonal virtue, not realizing that their advertized open-mindedness is to such an extent that their brains have fallen out and, with it, their intellectual integrity. This is how good little fascists are made.

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    • I read through this a few times and I feel that you and I are on the same chapter and are closing in on being on the same page.
      I think we’re in agreement that the faitheists want to appear to be tolerant but are perhaps disagreed upon the reasons for doing so.
      Whereas I say it’s a go along to get along attitude, you’re more of the opinion that they don’t realize how they’ve thrown the faculty of critical thinking out the window in their rush to support the poor, downtrodden, vilified believers. They don’t realize what they are doing.
      Have I got that right?
      If I do, I think I would be more inclined to agree with you.
      I look at people like Cenk Uygur and CJ Werleman and I have no problem seeing that “their brains have fallen out”. Noam Chomsky seems to have fallen in with the same crowd and I had him pegged to be much smarter than that.

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  3. Ruth, none of this would have occurred had I simply shut up and accepted the banning with good grace. I had to write a post about it and those readers then went to Eva’s site and caused the long commentary thread.

    But I notice you didn’t seem to consider my questions for you: “If not me, then who? If not now then when? If not directly then how?”

    This is really the growing problem I see infecting so many people today who on the one hand don’t or won’t take a stand against this kind of wanton vilification along with a tendency to accept the banning of others while, on the other hand, pretending to champion free speech and tolerance for others and make places ‘safe’ for ‘dialogue’. I don;t think anyone can have it both ways so each of us must choose.

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    • But I notice you didn’t seem to consider my questions for you: “If not me, then who? If not now then when? If not directly then how?”

      It’s not that I didn’t consider them. I’m still considering them. I also think that part of the perception on your part that no one else challenged her on the New Atheism paradigm is because not all of us consider ourselves New Atheists. Plus I think some of this might be down to personalities, as well. What I mean by that is, I’m not a confrontational person. I tend to avoid conflict and only use warfare as a last resort. Other people tend to be more aggressive.

      For instance, I’ve also been accused of not being a good feminist because I won’t speak harshly to individual men. I think that’s stupid. As far as I’m concerned feminism should be about exposing and fighting against an oppressive system, not individual people. Especially when those individuals are allies. I’ve been told you can’t talk about feminism nicely. Whatever. Other people can do what they want. It just doesn’t come naturally to me to be terribly aggressive.

      I did question her about her terminology of using The God Delusion as a Bible of sorts. As far as I can tell she was an atheist long before the book was published. I do think she was using hyperbole when she stated that. At the same time I’ve also admitted to not reading the book in question. In fact, I’ve not read any of Dawkins work. I haven’t read any atheist material, as a matter of fact, other than the few atheist blogs I visit and infidels.org. Most of the opinions I’ve developed about a god or lack thereof have come from reading the Bible and researching.

      She didn’t answer my question regarding the “Bible” claim. I didn’t press her terribly hard about it, either.

      I’m sorry you feel alone in your quest to avenge the name of New Atheism. Unfortunately there are going to always be people who use literature that supports their conclusions in terrible and unintended ways.

      I’ve also been on the receiving end of being told by atheists how stupid I am for ever having believed such nonsense as Christianity. As if somehow I’m a lesser atheist because I ever believed in the first place. As if I’m somehow I’m in idiot because I allowed myself to be indoctrinated. These atheists don’t just attack the ideals and beliefs of any religious system, they attack me personally.

      So as a final question to you: If someone who was diametrically opposed to an idea or belief you hold came to your blog and spoke to you the way that you spoke to Eva, no matter how long they’ve been commenting, would you defend your post, your integrity, and your character? Or would you humbly admit wrongful thinking and listen open-mindedly to what the person had to say? I think it’s human nature to defend ourselves when we feel attacked and belittled, even if we are wrong.

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      • Ruth,

        I pointed this out in my previous post and maybe you didn’t see it because it’s pushed so far to right that it’s hard to read, so I will sum up what I said earlier. I applied a totally different tactic than tildeb did (used the Socratic method). I did not accuse her of lying, I didn’t say anything about her character – I simply asked questions – and I ended up in exactly the same place with the same branding on me (hateful, intolerant, etc) as tildeb did. It most certainly is human nature to defend ourselves when feeling attached and belittled. I know it’s my immediate knee-jerk reaction to want to hurl insults, dismiss the person I’m talking to as an ignoramus, etc I usually try to read over a response a few times, let the knee-jerk reaction wash over me and then analyze what they said. Is it logical? Is it reasonable? Is there merit to it? I’m not always successful but I think I am getting better at it. While people can come around and question their thinking patterns and beliefs (you’re a prime example of that), not everyone can. Eva does not appear to be one of those types of people because she seems so enamored with Woo and supernatural nonsense. It’s possible, but I think it’s highly unlikely.
        I’d like to respond to her now, but I can’t, because I have been banned. I notice neither her, nor any of her followers have ever come over here to challenge me on anything. I know for instance that Wally is a follower of my blog. He’s only written a response or 2 to a post from approximately 1 year ago. I haven’t heard from him since. Eva was following and then abruptly left. I think there is a very good reason why they don’t converse with me. They don’t want their views challenged, they can’t handle the scrutiny and would rather receive accolades from uncritical sycophant followers. I feel sorry for those people because they’ve doomed themselves to living a life of ignorance when there could be so much more. However as per our conversation a few days ago about free will, I realize it isn’t entirely their fault because they had little to no choice in the matter.
        None of this means though, that bad ideas and purposely spread falsehoods shouldn’t be challenged and that those challenges can be simply waved away with dishonest and disingenuous tactics and the ad hominem. That’s the one thing I could never find it in myself to defend.

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        • I think that Eva got so defensive that she ended up banning people for merely appearing to be in the same camp as Tildeb. For what it’s worth, I do think Eva assumed you were working in tandem with Tildeb so she lumped you in together.

          No, I don’t agree with her banning of Tildeb, nor you, nor anyone else. I’ve never done it and I don’t think censorship is a good practice. It makes it appear, just as you said, that the banner cannot defend their position or doesn’t want to have to defend their position. Either way it’s just not a good idea. The other readers can decide for themselves if the person is being a jerk or not.

          Geez, I had a Christian come onto my blog and call a fellow commentator a serpent, my other commentators sycophants, and another the spawn of Satan(or something along those lines). Then he told us all how much he loved us. He still pops in every now and again to tell me he’s praying for me.

          Bad ideas and falsehoods should absolutely be challenged.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I think you are correct. The only reason I know of her in the first place is because I read about her on tildeb’s blog. So in that sense I guess you could say in a round about way that I was “working in tandem” with tildeb.
            However, I was allowed to post there for a little while (I have probably about 10+ posts on her original conversion fairy tale) but was banned much later. I only noticed I was banned when I went there last Tuesday to comment on another post and found I couldn’t so I posted here instead. So clearly, this wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction but was a thought-out decision made several days after the fact. I personally think that makes it even worse. It further relays to me that she is even more committed to entrenching herself in her own unfounded views and will not tolerate decent on her own blog. The fact of the matter is that she is an ignoramus, an unthinking person, possibly a bigot and definitely a tyrant (on her blog) and seems content to remain so. Those are not the qualities in a blogging acquaintance/friend that I am looking for and there is no reason that I could ever come up with to defend or excuse her behavior. I’ll take tildeb’s honesty and lucidity over that any day of the week.

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        • Your efforts have been productive and it’s revealing that a different approach has yielded the same results: intolerance. This is an indictment against Eva… someone who would prefer to maintain the lie she uses to transfer her own nastiness outside of herself no matter who she maligns rather than accept responsibility for her own actions and demonstrate the respect for others she and her supporters demand for themselves. Holding factually incorrect beliefs and protecting them from criticism is more important, apparently, than showing tolerance and respect for differing viewpoints from ‘militants’ who happen to respect what’s true and are rude enough to make an issue of it.

          As I’ve said elsewhere, irony is not a strong suit of believers and the faitheists who protect and defend them.

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          • That’s why I don’t take the Tone Police’s argument seriously at all because I usually end up in the same spot anyways. I like using the Socratic method because I can get people to admit what they don’t really want to admit, without them immediately recognizing it. It worked absolutely perfectly with Eva! Boy, did she ever get pissed at me when I pointed out what it was that she said and what she had to have meant by it! Ha ha ha. I’m actually surprised she took over a week to ban me.
            I made this same observation (the tone police argument) to Consoledreader who never even bothered to address it – even after I asked him point blank what method I should have used because I wanted to offer criticism and needed to know the “proper” way to do it. I’ve even noticed other faitheists (Swarn Gill comes to mind straight away) who aren’t even believers go straight for the ad hominem and the “you have so much privilege” argument when their unfounded ideas and unsupported assertions are challenged.

            P.S., I noticed you mentioned Cedric in a post and I was wondering if he also has a blog because if he does, I’d like to check it out. I always enjoyed his posts and rebuttals, especially to everyone’s favorite critical thinker, av8torbob. I’d like to read more of his stuff if there’s any.

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  4. @ Ruth,

    Does one have to be a Jew to challenge anti-antisemitism, a member of some maligned racial group in order to challenge racism?

    I know many non believers who fall somewhere on the spectrum of uncaring ‘meh’ to strong supporters of antitheism. I don’t expect all non believers to be sympathetic to New Atheism but I do expect the vast majority of people living in enlightened liberal secular democracies to be more than silent co-conspirators sympathetic to bigots and not just permissive towards statements of bigotry but defenders of it. Do you think I’m being unreasonable?

    The challenge I directed towards Eva was to try to shock her into realizing her bigotry was not some prior ‘before’ belief she could put on and take off like a coat but an ongoing exercise of a <i.characteristic she possesses still now brought forward in a new form. My intention wasn’t to ‘avenge’ New Atheism but to reveal the depth and scope of bigotry allowed to go unquestioned by all of her readers. She lied. She promoted that lie. Other readers went meekly along with the lie. That’s a problem. That people like Barry and ConsoledReader and others still don’t get it, still don’t understand their personal role in promoting it by excusing it, nor appreciate the harm they are supporting that feeds the larger negative effect such faitheism produces in the public domain, is an indication of how much more effort is needed to challenge, curtail, and reduce this insidious bigotry against anyone who stands against religious privilege.

    It’s not a question of me; it’s a question of Eva lying to justify a bigotry she exercises and others going along with it… even to the point of believing it themselves. That’s why I raised the point that if not me, then who, and if not when it happens, then when? No one said diddly squat until I made an issue of it on my own blog… a post that explained why Eva’s flippant vilification has to be challenged more than it is and its content revealed to be the lie that it is.

    What would you think of someone who believed that speaking some Latin over pancakes would magically change them into the flesh of Elvis Presley?

    Seriously, what would you think of that person’s ability to think well? Like most people, you might suspect there was something wrong with such a person, that they were crazy because the idea is unhinged from reality.

    But cloak the same idea with a cracker and a priest and surround it with a spectacle and you have just another normal Catholic. Is each Catholic responsible for going along with this charade? Well, a lot of non believers think this is so. Dropping the belief is not an indication of sudden mental health and clear critical faculties but it is a good start.

    You see the problem when religious privilege is to be assumed first – and accepted and defended by many who atheist ‘butters’ (I’m an atheist, but…) – before any criticism of religious influence can be directly and honestly addressed? The same is true in Eva’s case where her bigotry and intolerance is similarly cloaked by associating it not with where it truly resides – in her character – but transferred to a kind of active atheism where it does not – in New Atheism.

    It’s not a question of tone or nefarious motivation confronting such bigotry as Eva practices; that’s a defensive framing that far too many people fall for. It’s a question of intellectual integrity and principle – those who exercise it and those who will not… if it involves either accommodating religious wingnuttery or supporting New Atheism. I think all of us would be better served by demonstrating a willingness to uphold intellectual integrity and honesty and respect for what’s true over and above and in spite of respecting those who assume beliefs because they are faith-based deserve privilege. This sense of appeasement is the necessary condition for fascism to arise and how the vast majority of otherwise good people can stand by and allow it to happen. It is a personal responsibility and a demonstration of character.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. @ Ruth

    You asked,

    “So as a final question to you: If someone who was diametrically opposed to an idea or belief you hold came to your blog and spoke to you the way that you spoke to Eva, no matter how long they’ve been commenting, would you defend your post, your integrity, and your character? Or would you humbly admit wrongful thinking and listen open-mindedly to what the person had to say? I think it’s human nature to defend ourselves when we feel attacked and belittled, even if we are wrong.”

    Let me put it to you this way: how much do you learn from someone who agrees with everything you say, do, and think?

    I expect people to disagree with me and they do so in all kinds of ways. I don’t take it personally. I see ideas and beliefs as bubbles over people’s heads and worthy of challenge if I think they are in error. Turn around is fair play. How this is done doesn’t really matter as long as a real exploration of differences can take place.

    This is why my commentary almost always involves an explanation of how I arrive at the opinions I hold. If better evidence, better reasoning, better insight comes along, then I change my opinion. And I have done this even on my own blog because I hold what’s true to be of higher value than having to pretend to respect bad ideas and poor reasoning in the name of respecting the person who holds them.

    I don’t care how someone points out poor reasoning done by me as long as they can explain why it’s bad reasoning that weakens the quality of an opinion. Cedric Katsby is famous for his acerbic style and he took me to task in about as unpleasant a way as possible for not agreeing that global warming was driven by human activity. We argued but he insisted that I must come up with a way, a set of conditions, for me to change to mind, which I did and, when those conditions were met, (when the frequency and amplitude of extreme weather patterns indicated an increased rate of change independent of natural forcings and feedbacks related to increasing CO2 levels) I changed my mind because the evidence indicated I should.

    My identity is not determined by my specific beliefs in this, that, or the other, but by HOW I think, by the integrity and honesty I bring to my intercourse. I expect no less from others. In this way I remain true to myself and the enlightened principles that are worthy of dedication and am always willing to see myself in the Other. Tone is not the issue, ever. Respecting what’s true is the issue, no matter how brutal the lesson may be. I learn, therefore I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It doesn’t appear that I can directly reply to a comment, so I guess this will have to do. I refer to Tildeb’s comment “I refer specifically to people like Consoledreader and Barry who go out of their way to be as forgiving as possible to theists spreading lies about New Atheism yet unforgiving to anyone who dares to try to correct it with what is true, a willingness to assume the very worst characteristics and motivations are the case for those who do so.

    If I for a moment thought that Eva was spreading lies or denigrating atheism, I would have “liked” Tildeb’s post. I’m still not persuaded that she did either. I have not assumed any motivations or characteristics regarding Tildeb. In fact his position as does yours, Ashley, mystifies me.

    I’m not tolerant of anyone deliberately spreading falsehoods about any belief or ideology. I have “liked” a number of Tildeb’s comments on various blogs criticising aspects of religion, and will continue to do so when appropriate. Likewise on the rare occasion I feel compelled to take a stand against what he believes, then I will do so. His comments over Eva’s testimony was one such rare occasion – in fact the only occasion I have made a stand.

    I don’t know enough about New atheism to have a view about it, although I strongly disapprove of Richard Dawkins’ pursuit of Ahmed Mohamed. From this distance it appears that Dawkins is being a jerk, and perhaps even an Islamophobic jerk. And don’t for a moment think that I imply that Islamophobia and New Atheism are in any way related. I don’t believe they are, but that’s not so say someone can’t be both, and a jerk at the same time.

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    • Barry,
      “In fact his position as does yours, Ashley, mystifies me. ”
      This comes as absolutely no surprise to me whatsoever Barry. That is because you have no concept of critical thinking, logic and consistency. I also question your reading comprehension skills as well. Now, this might seem harsh, but bear with me, for I have plenty of evidence to buttress the claims that I make.
      The evidence, in no particular order:

      April 18th statement made by you: “There is no cause and effect claimed between atheism and her dislike of Christians. Both existed at the same time. Neither relied on the other.”
      Direct Statement made by Eva on her own blog: “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this.”
      (which you say you read “I have re-read her post…” – April 15 statement made by you)
      Barry 1, Critical thinking, Consistency and Reading Compression 0

      April 18th Statement made by you: “Eva does not claim that her attitude about Christians came from being an atheist, Dawkins or The God delusion.”
      April 21st statement made by you: “She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.” (someone – described by herself on her own blog – as an angry, intolerant atheist)
      April 24th statement made by you: “She does not use either atheism or The God Delusion to excuse her behavior.”
      Barry 2, Critical Thinking, Consistency and Reading Compression 0

      April 19th Statement made by you: “Eva does not claim that atheists are intolerant or that atheism leads to intolerance.”
      Direct Statement made by Eva on her own blog: “I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get”
      Barry 3, Critical Thinking, Consistency and Reading Compression 0

      April 20th Statement made by you: “Now think for a moment if the only religion you knew and which you didn’t like was Christianity, precisely what option would you have than to be other an atheist?”
      Barry 4, Logic 0 (False Dichotomy – could be a spiritualist, or a deist to name but 2 examples)

      April 21st statement made by you: “If someone thought religion was nonsense then what else could someone be other than an atheist?”
      Barry 5, Logic 0 (False Dichotomy AGAIN, after it was pointed out the first time)

      I’m going to stop there for now, but if I felt like dedicating more time to this, I could come up with several MORE examples. I believe those should provide sufficient evidence that you don’t even recognize how many times in the course of a conversation you contradict yourself and how you can’t even get your own story straight. That’s what happens when you throw critical thinking right out the window Barry – which, not coincidentally, is exactly why you consider yourself religious. Critical thinking is death to religion, which is why it must be discarded.

      Yes, I believe I understand perfectly well why MY position mystifies YOU.

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      • I really don’t want to spread the argument of the meaning of Eva’s testimony to yet another forum. Let’s keep that to my blog.

        However, I feel your comment about Eva choosing an alternative to atheism needs a response. Eva was already an atheist, and from an early age she had a dislike of Christianity and religion in general, and by extension, Christians. This was well formed by the age of eight (grade 3). If one thought religion was nonsense, why would one even bother to investigate deism or any other form of supernatural belief. Remember this was decades before Eva had access to the internet. As she lived in an atheist community I daresay her attitude to any form of supernatural belief would be similar to that she held about Christianity. That’s if she even knew that concepts such as deism, pantheism or spirituality actually existed. Remember in this part of the world religion is not particularly important, even within the Christian community. I had never heard of such terms as lent, communion, the Eucharist, deism, substitutionary atonement, sermon of the mount, animism, and much more until after I got broadband internet about ten years ago. Dial up internet was too expensive for casual browsing. I didn’t know that what I used to consider a sensible solution/alternative to religosity is called pantheism until a few years ago. Religion plays such an insignificant part of life that it’s seldom in one’s consciousness, even among those who claim a religious affiliation on the census forms. I don’t think it’s any different where Eva comes from. Most, if not all of the people in her circle had no interest in religion. She was an exception. She disliked it, thought it was stupid. Why should she dig deeper?

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        • “Eva was already an atheist”

          NO, SHE WAS NOT AN ATHEIST
          SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE TERM EVEN MEANS.
          “In my mind I disliked Christians… and I was an atheist because of this.”
          DISLIKING CHRISTIANS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN ATHEIST, IT MAKES YOU A BIGOT OR AN INTOLERANT ASSHOLE.
          NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH ATHEISM.
          ZERO
          ZILCH
          NADA
          ZIP

          Jesus H F*&king Christ Barry! How many more goddamn times do I have to repeat this before it f*&king sinks in?!?!?!?!?! I’m sorry, but f*&king hell man, my patience has simply run out. It’s like I am talking to a f*&king brick wall.
          Someone is an atheist for ONE reason: They don’t believe in god. THAT’S IT. THAT’S THE ONLY REASON. Not because you hate this group or that group of people, not because you dislike organized religion, not because you think Christians are stupid and ignorant.

          And ONCE AGAIN, we resort to the False Dichotomy
          “If one thought religion was nonsense, why would one even bother to investigate deism or any other form of supernatural belief?”
          I can’t believe I have had to have this conversation with you for a THIRD time Barry. It’s getting very tiresome talking to someone who is absolutely committed to not listening.
          Rejecting religion DOES NOT make you atheist. It makes you anti-authoritarian.
          Deism has got NOTHING TO DO with religion.
          I have friends who completely reject organized religion and believe in all sorts of spiritual energy, psychics and other superstitious woo and nonsense. Religion does not have exclusive rights to deities and it sure as hell does not have exclusive rights to supernatural belief.
          People, many of whom even claim to be Christian, even concoct their own image of a god all the time. Apparently, according to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury there’s no hell because “Satan repented many years ago.” Where he’s getting this bullshit from, I have no idea, but it sure as hell isn’t from Christianity or the bible. Is this a Christian God? No. God and Jesus Christ routinely condemn people to hell throughout the bible. So where did this crap come from? THIN AIR, that’s where it came from. That’s where EVERY GOD THAT’S EVER “EXISTED” HAS COME FROM. You don’t need to be a member of organized religion to believe in God. Rejecting organized religion (even if you only know of one) doesn’t make you not believe in god. Logic, reason and skepticism are reasons you don’t believe in God. Eva has NONE of those qualities. She’s an insecure coward (can’t take criticism and bans anyone from her blog who criticizes her), a willful ignoramus (doesn’t want to learn anything if it conflicts with any views she holds) and is susceptible to all kinds of ridiculous woo from what I have read on her blog.

          Stop calling Eva an atheist. She wasn’t. She doesn’t know what it means and apparently, neither do you since I have had to explain it to you 10+ times.
          Stop saying since you reject organized religion and don’t know of any other religion other than Christianity, you are by default, an atheist.

          None of those things are the case.

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          • Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” (atheists.org)
            Eva had no belief in God’s therefore she was an atheist. I have a lack of belief in gods therefore it would seem that the definition above also applies to me.

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            • And yet Barry, she tells us that she was an atheist, not because she didn’t believe in God but because she didn’t like Christians and thought them to be stupid and ignorant.
              Funny that.
              Also, funny she’d call a book – that takes the position that a supernatural creator almost certainly doesn’t exist and that a belief that one does, qualifies as a delusion – a “bible”. A “bible” which, as everyone knows, is promulgated by organized religion (Christianity) as the word of the one True God and believed by millions of people as such. It’s almost as if she tries to make an analogy of some sort. As if The God Delusion is the sacred script of another religion. Like Atheism. But wait, that doesn’t make any f*^king sense since atheism is not a religion. It’s as if she doesn’t know what the f*^k she’s talking about. That’s exactly why she says she was a “fundamentalist” atheist. She doesn’t know what the f*^k she’s talking about. NOWHERE in any of her writing does she ever say she didn’t believe in God. EVER. You have made this up out of thin air.
              Oh you’re an atheist are you Barry? That’s interesting because I just finished reading your Am I Religious post on your blog where you tell everyone that your beliefs are compatible with Quakerism.
              Which I find even more perplexing since you just finished telling me in the previous post that a reasonable alternative to religiosity is pantheism.
              Sorry Barry. You can’t be a pantheist, a Quaker and an atheist all at once.
              This further reinforces my belief that you have no idea what atheism is and have no idea what it means to be an atheist.
              Can I humbly submit that you’d be better off quiting while you are ahead? The further along this goes, the more ridiculous this gets. You’re talking yourself in circles, you’re contradicting yourself every other post, you’re making things up out of thin air and for what?! To defend a dishonest and disingenuous liar? To appear tolerant and accepting?
              Why are you doing this to yourself?

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              • Not believing in deities is not incompatible with Quakerism. Nor is being a pantheist. I thought I made it clear that I no longer hold a belief that is compatible with pantheism except in a metaphorical sense. There is considerable difference between what I feel on the one hand and what seems logical and rational on the other. That post you refer was more about how I feel and not what I believe is reality.

                I am quite convinced that there are no deities or other supernatural beings. There are no supernatural events, simply events we are unable to explain with the knowledge we currently have. There’s no heaven or hell. No second coming.

                Look, in this part of the world a majority of the population lack a belief in gods. Most of the population (90%) view atheism positively. Not only that, but the same number of people view the world’s major religions in the same light. I acknowledge that fundamentalists and evangelicals are rather thin on the ground, and perhaps that’s why I, Christians, and atheists from down under don’t see the message you do.

                Finally, I freely admit that my English comprehension is not the best at times. It was my worst subject at school by miles. Yes I have trouble “reading between the lines” and I have trouble understanding social intercourse. On the other hand I can comprehend and evaluate a four page long Boolean algebra equation.

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                • Barry,
                  Here’s what I have read about Quakerism
                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quakers
                  Now I am sorry, but there is no possible way, you can claim that Quakerism is compatible with atheism and is just another way of saying atheist.
                  It’s a sect of Christianity.
                  This is beyond absurd.
                  Here’s what I know about pantheism
                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism
                  Again, you cannot square that circle between pantheism and atheism. Atheists don’t believe in ANY kind of God, not even an immanent one.
                  Atheism and pantheism are not the same thing That’s why they’re 2 separate words.
                  I cannot for the life of me figure out why you’ve put yourself through all of this to defend a dishonest, disingenuous liar, coward, embarrassingly willful ignoramus who believes in as much woo and idiotic nonsense that’s possible for a human being to believe in.
                  In your attempt to appear tolerant, you’ve had to completely abandon critical thinking, logic, reason, common sense in the process. You claim you’re not very good at reading between the lines yet throughout this conversation you continued to assert things that you couldn’t know were true
                  1) Eva doesn’t believe in God – which she never comes out and says directly
                  2) calling a book a “bible” doesn’t mean that it’s divinely inspired – it means anything BUT that. Which, by the way contradicts what Eva told me directly what she meant by it.
                  You’ve bent over backwards to twist meanings of words and phrases and create excuses (some from thin air) to defend her conversion story all to her benefit. Seems to me you’re perfectly willing to “read between the lines” – as long as it’s to Eva’s benefit.
                  Did you read tildeb’s last response on your blog? His spelling out of her intentional deceit is crystal clear.
                  So instead of assuming the best about her and the worst about him, maybe trying going at it the other way around?

                  Like

    • New Atheism is the call for public criticism of religious privilege. Its advocates hold the view that superstition, religion, and irrationalism including woo of any kind “should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises in government, education and politics.” (Wiki)

      This movement was a from a confluence of writers post 9/11 starting with Sam Harris’ End of Faith, Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and Hitchens’ God is not Great who all shared a similar desire to understand, confront, and reduce public acceptance of woo and religious privilege in the public domain (like government, law, education, defense, medicine, foreign policy, and so on) because of the pernicious harm it caused. Religion, remember, is just one of these means but because it is the Mother Ship for faith-based rather than evidence-adduced belief, was the central target. They became known as The Four Horsemen of this new movement, which was given the name in the Press New Atheism. It was new because prior to this few people if any publicly condemned and criticized religious interference in any kind of systemic way other than a few notable individuals.

      When someone relates Dawkins to be the face and voice of New Atheism, they reveal their ignorance by doing so. When people criticize these authors for personal reasons and associate these reasons as if criticizing New Atheism, they reveal their ignorance by doing so. Privileging any faith-based idea or policy is a bad idea on merit that demonstrably harms real people in real life every day. Criticizing this bad idea and prmoting a better one – evidence-adduced – is New Atheism.

      So you can see straight away that accusations of Islamophobia is a tactic to divert criticism away from Islam and not a way to face it. On merit, Islam is worthy of great and sustained criticism and politicizing (Islamism) and advocating for its implementation in law (sharia) is a very real and dire threat against Western liberal secular enlightenment values. Unequivocally. Note this is not an attack against Muslims nor a call for intolerance of them (Muslims pay the highest price in harm from Islamism). New Atheism’s call is to get Islam out of the public domain altogether and back into its private domain box where such miserable and anti-human ideas can languish to their adherents’ hearts content.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You claim that your beliefs are compatible with Quakerism AND that certain definitions of atheism are compatible with your beliefs.
    Now let’s examine that claim a little more closely. Let me tell you why you are trying to have it both ways and why it’s not going to work.

    The oxford dictionary defines atheism as “Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”
    The oxford dictionary defines atheist as: “A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods”
    However, there are some dictionaries that continue to define atheism as the belief that there is no god or the doctrine that there is no god or the denial of the existence of a god.
    Let me explain why those are inconsistent and/or simply wrong.

    Take these words for example:
    Theist – someone who believes in god. A-theist – someone who does not believe in god.
    Symptomatic – a patient shows symptoms of a disease. A-Symptomatic – a patient does not show symptoms of a disease
    Symmetrical – an assembly has corresponding identical parts. A-Symmetrical – an assembly does not have corresponding identical parts

    See the pattern? Adding the a in front of the word gives it the opposite meaning of the original word. Belief/Nonbelief, Symptoms/No Symptoms, Corresponding/Not Corresponding

    Now lets see what happens if you do to the other words what some dictionaries do to the word atheism (define it as a belief that there is no god)

    Theist – someone who believes there is a god. A-theist – someone who believes there is no god.
    Symptomatic – a patient shows symptoms of a disease. A-Symptomatic – a patient shows symptoms of no disease
    Symmetrical – an assembly has corresponding identical parts. A-Symmetrical – an assembly has corresponding un-identical parts

    These definitions are absolutely nonsensical. No one could seriously read definitions like that and accept them. They are complete gibberish.

    Therefore, there is one meaning of the word atheist. One who does not believe in god. PERIOD.

    So, let’s get back to the Quakerism and Atheism thing you brought up.
    I see you referenced a link to non theist Quakers. Although these people don’t believe in god, they accept, identify with or engage in Quaker practices. I have read it and acknowledge that there are many people who identify themselves as such. I simply note that this the no true scotsman fallacy in practice. They have redefined what a quaker is, to discard the bits that they don’t agree with or adhere to, yet continue to call themselves a Quaker. A Quaker, by definition, is a Christian and a believer in god. The entire basis for Quakerism is Christianity. No Christianity, no Quakerism. These non theist Quakers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. It won’t work. They can engage in and identify with Quaker practices all they like. If they don’t accept that Christianity is foundation for Quakerism, then they are not Quakers and never will be. If they don’t believe in the God of the bible, they are non theists who enjoy participating in Quaker practices and rituals, but they are not Quakers.
    If they believed in God and lost their faith, they are ex-Quakers. If they were never believers in the first place, then they are atheists participating in Quaker rituals.

    So I guess I will ask the question then Barry

    Do you believe in God(s) (of any kind)

    Yes or no?

    Like

    • Ashley, that’s like demanding a Yes or No answer to the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?“. Sometimes it’s not possible to give a simple yes or no.

      So if you don’t mind, I’ll answer the question as if you’d asked “Do you believe in the existence of god(s) in a literal sense?“. No. If I was asked “Which is more likely: We find evidence that proves the existence of god(s) or we find evidence that proves giant moa still roam the Fiordland rainforests“, then I would choose the latter. I see as much evidence for god(s) as I do for flying pigs. Where am I giving myself wriggle room that you repeatedly claim I give myself? How many more times do I have to repeat this?

      The entire basis for Quakerism is Christianity. No Christianity, no Quakerism“. From the UK Quaker Website: “Although we have our roots in Christianity, we find meaning and value in the teachings and insights of other faiths and traditions. From the NZ Quaker website: “.Quakerism in Aotearoa/New Zealand is Christian in its origin and inspiration, but is open to ideas and values from other forms of religious expression”. The Canadian Quaker website says “Some Quakers have a conception of God that is similar to the Protestant impulse from which we arose, and these folks would use similar language. Others are happy to use God-centred language, but would conceive of God in very different terms to the traditional Christian trinity. Some describe themselves as agnostics, or humanists, or non-theists and describe their experiences in ways that avoid the use of the word God entirely. Some use feminist language. Quaker faith is built on experience and Quakers would generally hold that it is the spiritual experience which is central to Quaker worship, and not the use of a particular form of words (whether that be “God” or anything else)“.

      Having been involved with Quakers on and off for some 20 years, attending Meetings for Worship, Meetings for Business, participating in discussion groups, and leading one discussion group, I think in all probability, I know a little more about Quakerism as it’s practised in Aotearoa New Zealand than you do Ashley. I can’t speak with as much knowledge or certainty about Quakerism elsewhere. But I can assure you that it is not necessary to be Christian to be a Quaker. I’d go further and say that anyone holding a belief that Christianity is the only “truth” or that atheism is “wrong” would be declined membership if they were to apply.

      I don’t intend to give a lesson on Quaker history, but of the three main branches of Quakerism, the largest by far are the Evangelical Quakers, who cam be found mostly in America and the eastern region of Africa. They are without doubt Christian, and you’d be hard pressed to find significant differences between them and other evangelical Christian denominations. They have churches, clergy and accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God. Such beliefs and practices must have George Fox turning in his grave. Some Evangelical Quakers believe his teachings to be heretical.

      Liberal Quakers probably make up less than a quarter of all Quakers worldwide, but are the major or only branch found in other parts of the world, including Aotearoa New Zealand. Liberal Quakers respect and value their Christian roots, but nowhere do they claim to be Christian on their UK, NZ or Australian websites. Membership does not require the holding of any specific belief, nor a belief in a deity. They are Christian by history and association, not by the beliefs they hold. Although some do hold liberal Christian beliefs, many do not. In fact for many liberal Quakers, theology is considered “silly notions” and not worth discussing, much less arguing about. Liberal Quakers have Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Atheists, Deists Pantheists, Universalists, Agnostics, and no doubt many other religions and types of spirituality in their ranks.

      See what the NZ cults website says about Evangelical Friends and Liberal Friends. The comments made are factually correct, although clearly I disagree with the author’s conclusion.

      There is no requirement to hold Christian beliefs to be a Quaker. Quakerism is not about what you believe, but how you live.

      BTW, most Quakers in NZ are not born into Quakerism Around 90% become Quakers by convincement as adults from other traditions. While I’m sure most Quakers would like their children to join the Religious Society of Friends when they become adults, there is no expectation that they will or should.

      To summarise: (a) I do not believe in the existence of deities (or gods). (b) I live life based on the belief that there is that of God in everyone. I don’t believe either statement is in conflict with atheism or Quakerism. If the two statements cause you a problem, ponder what I might mean by “of God” (Hint: it’s not literal).

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      • “Quakerism in Aotearoa/New Zealand is Christian in its origin and inspiration…”
        Thank you for re-affirming my original statement – that without Christianity, there’d be no Quakerism.
        But anyways, it’s abundantly clear to me that you have no intention of abandoning your position that you can define Quakerism to be literally compatible with any and every belief and non belief so that anyone can be a Quaker so I’ll just leave it at that.
        Have it your way Barry. Anyone can believe anything they like and call themselves a Quaker.

        And no Barry, asking if you believe in God is not a loaded question, no matter how much you think it is.
        A loaded question is one that contains an unjustified assumption.
        Asking you if you believe in god requires me to make exactly ZERO assumptions.
        It very much is a yes/no question. I asked if you believed in god(s). The literal sense is implied because I don’t know in what other sense you can believe in them.
        If your “God” in the “God of everyone” answer is not literal, then you have the burden to explain what “that there is that of God in everyone” means exactly
        This is me being painfully honest and forthright. I can say that “I live life based on the belief that there is that of God in everyone.” is the most profoundly idiotic gibberish I have ever read in my entire life.

        Like

        • Thank you for re-affirming my original statement – that without Christianity, there’d be no Quakerism.”. But you didn’t stop there. You went on to state that one could not be a Quaker without being a Christian – for example: “A Quaker, by definition, is a Christian and a believer in god”. Whose definition? It clearly wasn’t made by a Quaker. And I believe Quakers have the right to define what being a Quaker is. You then go to some lengths to tell me that an atheist cannot be a Quaker, and then immediately go on with “So I guess I will ask the question then Barry. Do you believe in God(s) (of any kind) Yes or no?”. And you wonder why I might think it’s a loaded question?

          I’m trying to see where I implied “that you can define Quakerism to be literally compatible with any and every belief and non belief so that anyone can be a Quaker”, but I can’t find it. That is not what I was trying to say. Belief or non belief in a deity is irrelevant in becoming or being a Quaker. I claimed no more than that. Can you point out where I have made claims that “anything goes” for Quakerism?

          then you have the burden to explain what ‘that there is that of God in everyone’ means exactly”. I would have the burden of proof if I was trying to convince you to believe as I do, but I’m not. It might be profoundly idiotic gibberish to you but it most certainly isn’t to Quakers. It’s possibly the most uniting belief between the various branches of Quakerism even though every Quaker will have their own understanding of what it means. Here’s some:

          Asking you if you believe in god requires me to make exactly ZERO assumptions.”. No doubt that’s true for you, but for me to answer it, I need to make assumptions about what you mean by “believe in” and “god(s)”. Also, I need to be mindful of the possibility that what I say might be able to be interpreted in more than one way. One of the burdens of being autistic is the inability to discern the difference between literal and figurative communication. Sixty years of being an undiagnosed autistic taught me to be very cautious about accepting statements and questions at face value. I’m tired of apologising for being neurodiverse, but more so I’m tired of the implication that I’m an idiot because what is obvious to you is not obvious to me.

          Like

          • Yes I did go on Barry. And I did explain the No True Scotsman fallacy to you. Which, as per usual, went in one ear and out the other.
            I don’t care how many Quakers you’ve met who don’t know what they do or don’t believe in. I don’t give a fuck about how many of them claim to be agnostic or atheist while simultaneously claiming to be a Quaker.
            I have repeated, several times now that Quakerism is founded on Christianity. If you don’t accept Christianity as a basis for Quakerism, then you’ve got no business calling yourself a Quaker. You can call yourself a liberal Hindu Muslim Jew if you like since you apparently don’t believe in any of the tenants of those religions either. It doesn’t make you any of those things.
            You’re tired of the implication that you’re an idiot? What do you expect when you write IDIOTIC BULLSHIT like “I need to make assumptions about what you mean by “believe in” and “god(s)”!?!?
            Jesus H fucking Christ I have met and/or talked to some incredibly stupid and obtuse people in my life but you’re at the very top of the list Barry.
            My goodness! The words “believe in” is just so complicated a phrase that it requires in depth complex analysis and many assumptions…
            How many hours does it take for you to get out of bed and figure out how to put your pants on in the morning!?!?

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            • Ashley, if you said Quakerism was founded on Christianity, we’d be in full agreement. But Quakerism started more than 350 years ago. As Quakers have no creed or dogma, and believe in “continuing revelation” (which essentially says that what we believe to be true today may not not necessarily turn out to be true in the light of new knowledge), don’t you think that after all this time Quakers might hold very different beliefs to the founders. Also consider the fact that most Quakers (90% locally) do not come from a Quaker background. Don’t you think under those circumstances beliefs can change dramatically in a very short time?

              So I’ll ask you a direct question Ashley: Can a non-Christian be Quaker?

              Like

              • Yeah. If only I said something like “No Christianity, no Quakerism” then I might have conveyed that Quakerism was founded in Christinaity….Oh wait. I did say that.
                I’ve answered your question about 10 times already and there’s no reason for me to believe that answering it again will make any difference but I’ll do it anyways.
                No it’s not possible for a non-Christian to be a Quaker. If you read the “theology” section of the wikipedia page I’ve linked to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quakers you’ll note that it makes reference over and over to Christian revelation, God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I see no mention of Bhudda, Mohammed, Allah, Vishnu, The Flying Spaghetti Monster or any other God or religious doctrine.
                Anyways Barry, it’s been wonderful chatting with you but I’m going to bow out.
                You’ve proven to me that any conversation with you is pointless. I’ll give you a hint as to why I say that. When someone tells me that they can’t grasp what the words “believe in” and “god(s)” mean, I know that further conversation with such a person will produce nothing but headaches and frustration.
                Continue posting if you like Barry. I’m not going to read it and I’m not going to respond.

                Bye bye

                Like

                • The very first sentence of that Wikipedia page states “Quakers (or Friends) are members of a historically (and still predominantly) Christian group”. Since when has “predominantly” meant “exclusively”?

                  The article incorrectly defines liberal Quakerism in that the liberal tradition includes those described separately as Liberal, Universalists and Non-theists. They are not separate branches.

                  As I have stated before, the majority of Quakers worldwide are Christian. The are predominantly in America and Africa. Outside of those places the story is quite different. The entire article seems to be written by someone who has little understanding of liberal/post modern Quakerism.

                  Like

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