Ill. Rep. Monique Davis: it's dangerous for children to know atheists exist, orders atheist to stop testifying

Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) faced off against Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove, who objected to the state of Illinois giving $1 million to the Pilgrim Baptist Church, excoriating him for not believing in God and for having the temerity to say that the Church and State should be separate. She told him that she believed it was dangerous for children to know that atheism exists. She ordered him to stop testifying and insisted that in the Land of Lincoln, "people believe in God!"

Don't miss the audio.

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Link, MP3 Link to audio (Thanks, Jessica!)

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  1. I find it odd and sad how vilified atheism is. Gallup polls show most Americans would rather have a gay Muslim as president (nothing wrong with either!! Just you’d think as homophobic and arab-phobic Americans are…) than have an atheist president.

    Yet: while between 5 and 15% (depending on what polls you read) of Americans are atheist, atheists make up <1% of the prison population.
    And most Nobel laureates are/were atheists.

    (Of course, to be fair, being in prison does not necessarily make you a bad person or even "criminal" in my mind, as a HUGE percentage of inmates are in there for consensual crimes such as minor drug use (vs. dealing).)

    Most atheists I know are anti-war, anti-hate, anti-bigotry, while most Christians I know are pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-xenophobia, pro-Earth raping.

  2. 1) Mech, you know some odd people.

    2) I think that the BB servers have gone Skynet, by way of Simon Powell. I tried to post the above comment and received the following error:

    Comment Submission Error

    Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

    Text entered was wrong. Try again.

  3. 1) Mech, you know some odd people.

    2) I think that the BB servers have gone Skynet, by way of Simon Powell. I tried to post the above comment and received the following error:

    Comment Submission Error

    Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

    Text entered was wrong. Try again.

  4. replace “Atheist” with “Islam” or “Judaism” and this woman would be out of a job faster than HD-DVD assembly line workers.

    And the Christians in this country have the nerve to claim they are the oppressed ones.

  5. Rob Sherman and I had a similar discussion about the existence of Santa Claus in 2006.

    I let him know that if kids are instructed that there might not be a Santa Claus, they will have no reason to avoid being naughty while their parents are out of the room. Their disposition for the entire year would change for the worse!

    I also reminded him that we were in the land of Lincoln, (in this case Nebraska) where Christmas is enjoyed by kids and parents alike.

    Also, I called him “Scrooge”.

  6. I am ashamed to share a country with this horrible waste of humanity.

    Someone needs to send her to tolerance class.

  7. Well that’s very odd to see a represenative from Illinois act that way. I would assume that this woman is from the southern part of Illinois and not from Chicago. People in Chicago do believe in god (I work in a Catholic hospital) but they aren’t this bizzare.

  8. But without God in their lives, people might have to take responsibility for their own actions and expect others to do likewise and we certainly don’t want that sort of dangerous belief filtering down to our perfect precious children.

  9. OK, so maybe I’m a little angry. Sorry. I’m just absolutely repulsed that a person who’s supposed to be a leader is setting such a dangerous, abhorrent precident.

    If she’s not capable of not acting like a bigot, she needs to step down.

  10. I second Mech’s observation. No wonder some in the mid-east think this occupation is the start of The Crusades Part Deux. They see us better from far away than we can see ourselves living right here.

    This just goes to show that you don’t have to waste gas flying around the world to find fundamentalist extremism…just look around the neighborhood.

  11. This woman taints my political party with her stupidity and insane belief in invisible sky wizards. She needs to STFU and GBTW.

  12. What an [unprintable word referring to the end stage of the digestive system.] What a perfect little [unprintable word] Rep. Davis is. She should be ashamed of herself.

    However.

    As an atheist concerned about how atheism is represented to a society in which we are neither the majority nor terribly well-understood, I am BEGGING any people who share that non-belief in divinity to avoid making the same [unprintable word] mistake that Rep. Davis did. Please, please, PLEASE do not externalize evil onto Christians or believers of whatever stripe.

    Bigotry is bigotry, and I’d like to keep the moral high ground, thanks very much.

    [My “text entered was wrong,” too. Hope this is the right text!]

  13. Weird…BB messed up my post. Where it says:

    “Yet: while between 5 and 15% (depending on what polls you read) of Americans are atheist, atheists make up And most Nobel laureates are/were atheists.”

    should read:

    Yet: while between 5 and 15% (depending on what polls you read) of Americans are atheist, atheists make up less than 1% of the prison population. And most Nobel laureates are/were atheists.

    (Oh I see why: I used the “less-than” symbol before instead of the words.)

  14. Im impressed than a journo for a newspaper is taking to time to reply to so many of the comments on that post. Kudos to ZORN.

  15. We can always contact her and tell her what we think of her views:

    http://www.ilga.gov/house/Rep.asp?MemberID=909

    I think it’s absurd that this sort of gasbag is elected to public office.

    Oh, and nmantzoros? Davis is from the south side of Chicago. My guess is (without researching) that she is (what she would refer to) as a God-fearing African-American woman, upstanding in her church, and strongly believes in the “responsibility” of Christians to spread the Good News.

    Disturbing.

  16. Also, I’d just like to toss this out there: “invisible sky wizard” is roughly in the same connotative space as n****r.

    It’s something you say when you want to get a little rush out of dehumanizing someone who’s not part of your clan. It’s a little like saying, “You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying.”

    Bigotry is as bigotry does.

  17. Apparently, even a basic understanding of the Bill of Rights isn’t a prerequisite for holding office in the Illinois General Assembly.

  18. Why is boing-boing censoring swear words?! Not only is it some *very* bizarre and archaic understanding of the relation of language to God’s wishes that perpetuates the “swear-word” insanity… but it also seems grossly inappropriate for Boing Boing in particular!

    For shame… Asshole. Cunt. Fuck. Shit.

    It’s one thing to kick someone off the boards for racism or bigotry. But these “bad words” are one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen in our society; and that’s among some great competition!

  19. “And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!”

    Funny, the Romans used to say the same thing about Christianity.

  20. Looks like ‘text entered was wrong’ is what Rob Sherman in the article got, too… (though he didn’t get the ‘try again’).

  21. I didn’t see any swear word censoring…

    Also, I got the bad text message on my last post. It was informative and would have made Christians into atheists and atheists into Christians.

    Making fun of someone for their beliefs, a system of thoughts they are in full control of, is quite different than making fun of them for how their DNA encodes their melatonin levels.

    Invisible sky wizard FTW!

  22. @17 But even those who believe in God (ie, Jehovah/Yahweh, the God of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), believe that he is an “invisible sky wizard.” It’s a euphemism that certainly seems to imply that its believers are themselves silly, but only implicitly — and surely only to those who also don’t believe as the standard Christian does. Is He magical? Can he defy physics by His will? Then he is a wizard. Is He above us? According to many verses in the Bible, He is quite *literally* in the sky. That’s where Elijah went, that’s where Jesus went, that’s where the voice always comes from, etc. Is He (generally speaking) invisible? Yes. While He may be technically “omnipresent,” the Father (as well as Yahweh in Judaism) is clearly *above* us — if not in the sky, then beyond it, in space. So He’s either an invisible sky wizard or an invisible space wizard.

    Incidentally, Jesus is a zombie. And Catholics, by their own chosen definitions, are cannibals.

    If it sounds silly, you don’t have to believe it. If you do believe it, own it.

  23. My apologies for my scathing comment against Boingboing’s censorship. My post was *not* censored, as I had expected, and I can only guess that the poster above with censored text censored it him/herself.

  24. As offensive as her statements are, I am surprised that anyone here (or even in general) would be surprised – particularly at her being an elected official and saying such things. What she has said on this occasion still pales in comparison to public remarks about atheists by former presidents (such as Bush senior – google ‘bush atheists’) who denied atheists could be patriots or even citizens. This sort of thinking is par for the course with them.

    My words to fellow atheists: You cannot play live and let live with people who want to destroy you. Until people of faith actually exhibit some tolerance, we have to fight the war they demand with us in yet another act of self-contradiction of (alleged) principles)

  25. semiotix: Why should people who have irrational beliefs be free of ridicule, or at least why should those beliefs be guarded from ridicule?

    If any deity takes offense at my use of the term “invisible sky wizard” in invite it to strike you down in order to get my attention (stolen from Carlin, obviously). The only logical reason to kowtow to these delusional twats is because the wield disproportionate influence and therefore some otherwise rational people feel the need to bow and scrape, or some people confuse intellectualism with passivity.

    Frankly people with these phony bullshit beliefs are the one’s primarily responsibly for fucking things up for the rest of us, and this includes Pagans/Neo-Wiccans, animists, Joos (theist, not ethnic), and all the rest. I’m fucking sick of them and their crutch, kill them all and let entropy sort them out.

    /ok, don’t actually kill them; but don’t ignore the fact that these beliefs are based on either willful ignorance or outright stupidity.

  26. I wonder if Monique Davis goes to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church.

    She’s the right religious sect (United Church of Christ), and the District is close enough.

  27. @25 “You cannot play live and let live with people who want to destroy you.” I think Gandhi and MLK would have something to say about that. Also, simply in principle, what is the point of fighting fire with fire when your whole purpose lies in your distaste for fire in all its forms?

    Your quote sounds dangerously like something some Fox News pundit might say about killing all the Arabs. It’s, in fact, the exact philosophy behind everything from genocide to eugenics.

    This is why the “enlightened” never win. They think they have to become unenlightened to get on top, and then history again scratches its head when, like always, the bottom becomes just like the top they toppled, and it all starts over again.

  28. Ha,
    That would be perfectly acceptable behavior for a South Side alderman but she’s a rep, wow.

    Anyway,
    It’s truly sad that this church burned down, it was a really beautiful Sullivan & Adler building. It was also considered the birthplace of gospel music in case any of you didn’t know.

    From wikipedia:

    The building was designed as a synagogue by Chicago architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, and built in 1890 and 1891. Originally, the structure was the home of Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv [1], an important congregation in the development of Reform Judaism; Adler was a member, and his father was a rabbi. A Baptist congregation moved into the building in 1922, forming Pilgrim Baptist Church.

    The church is credited as the birthplace of gospel music in the 1930s. Thomas A. Dorsey, the “Father of Gospel Music”, was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist for decades. Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Sallie Martin, James Cleveland, The Staples Singers, and The Edwin Hawkins Singers are among those who have sung at the church.

    Famous members of the congregation include Bessie Coleman. The church also hosted the funeral service of boxer Jack Johnson in 1946, and was prominent in the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered sermons at the church during the height of the movement.

    In 1973, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the building was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1981

  29. Yet: while between 5 and 15% (depending on what polls you read) of Americans are atheist, atheists make up less than 1% of the prison population

    Though I’m an atheist myself, I have to point out that since conversion in prison earns brownie points at parole hearings, atheists in prison might be more likely to lie on religious surveys.

  30. I would love to know I live in a world where people don’t fear the unknown as much as they seem to, and a world where we respected the opinions of others we live around.

    To know for SURE what we as a human race have coming to us after we die is to expect the caterpillar to know what a thermal updraft feels like on fresh butterfly wings.

    Allow others around you to believe in what they want and what they feel is right with themselves, and don’t fear that. I think fear is a big part of this person’s problem; fear of an alternate way of seeing life.

    Respect everyone, live as best as you can, and don’t fear the unknown. Instead, find your own truth and know it’s special for you.

  31. #7 posted by nmantzoros , April 8, 2008 10:18 AM
    Well that’s very odd to see a represenative from Illinois act that way. I would assume that this woman is from the southern part of Illinois and not from Chicago. People in Chicago do believe in god (I work in a Catholic hospital) but they aren’t this bizzare.

    Actually, according to the article, she is the representative for Chicago.

  32. I wrote her a letter telling her, in essence, that if she doesn’t understand that this is a country where people are free to hold and express their views, then she is the one who shouldn’t be in the public forum.

    But I have to say that those of you who are surprised probably don’t know much about Illinois and Chicago politics. We specialize in state and local politicians who are certifiably ignorant and rabid, if not insane. Also, Sherman has been a highly effective gadfly over the last few decades. It’s not surprising that some of the more narrow-minded politicians can’t help but snap when they come into contact with him.

  33. (Gah, this “text in error” thing is annoying!)

    32: Good point!
    Although, if Christianity is THE sign of the best morality, and atheism is fundamentally amoral and evil, you’d think the number of atheists in prison would still be at a higher percentage/Christians in prison much lower percentage. If not flipped.

    And the Nobel thing still stands. :)
    And anecdotal evidence: Nearly every atheist I know is an advocate for human rights and decency.

  34. semiotix , April 8, 2008 10:37 AM:

    Also, I’d just like to toss this out there: “invisible sky wizard” is roughly in the same connotative space as n****r.

    Maybe God should start his own civil rights movement against such, er… racism, er… heresy against himself? LOL Couple bolts of lightning should do the trick, no?

    semiotix, seriously… if “invisible sky wizard” is roughly in the same connotative space as “nigger”, then I guess calling the “True Russian Orthodox Church” sect a “cult” is also close to the same connotative “nigger” space as well?

    BTW, the “True Russian Orthodox Church” was those, er… “religious practitioners” who recently holed up inside a cave outside of Moscow and stockpiled food and 100 gallons of kerosene. You know, the whole “end of the world” coming thing?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/europe/defiant-russian-cult-holed-up-in-cave-for-end-of-the-world-400863.html

    Dare we call them a “cult”? After all, we don’t want to sound racist, right? er, what? LOL

    Besides, don’t worry… My God slaughtered the invisible sky wizard eons ago in glorious interstellar battle. It’s a moot argument. My God was bigger than your god.

  35. @24: I mistakenly self-censored because I mistakenly thought I’d gotten the “wrong text” message for calling Rep. Davis an asshole. (Looks like it was an HTML thing instead.) Sorry to be the cause of further self-censorship on the part of others.

    As for the rest of you–well, hey, no one expects to be able to reason bigots out of their bigotry, because bigotry is deeply rationalized. Every time a black man is in the news for having committed a crime, Rush Limbaugh is beside himself with joy because it proves what he knew about them all along. Could you point out the flaw in that thinking? Sure, but you wouldn’t expect to make much headway. So it goes with every form of bigotry. Even the “good ones” are suspect, crazy, weird, different, other.

    Dominionist assholes like Rep. Davis aren’t representative of theists any more than heterosexual rapists are representative of heterosexuals. If it’s an article of faith for you to believe otherwise, don’t let me get in the way of your dogma. But don’t expect me to be thrilled that someone on my “team” thinks just like she does.

  36. Point 1: Worst. Comment. System. Ever. “Text entered was wrong”?!

    Point 2, for #17: Your argument cheapens both the word “bigotry” and the experiences of its victims.

    What’s your stance on the Tooth Fairy’s role in society, by the way? Would you still be my friend if I proselytized post-dental hygiene to you?

  37. “Dare we call them a “cult”” (#37)

    I would like to suggest “Christofascist” as a name for this cult.

  38. I personally think it’s dangerous to believe in a god who would allow the deaths of 600 Chicagoans during the 1995 heat wave. Well, Chicago was too decadent, wasn’t praying hard enough, and deserved what it got, a la New Orleans, right?

    (Apologies if double post)

  39. #43 I think the boingboing comment system is having issues today. The error message amuses me though.

    I am also entertained that this is my second attempt to post. I was previously pwned by that very same error.

  40. Think Mrs. Davis is nutty?
    You should see some of our Chicago aldermen. She’s no Arenda “Most politicians are ho’s!” Troutman.

  41. an interesting test.If this Davis is not in jail shortly, well then,you will know you are lost.

  42. @ #23

    The problem with your position is that it’s a deliberate oversimplification. I know plenty of people who believe in God, but none of them would consider him(her, whatever) as a literal “person”, much less one that performs magic and lives in the sky. The concept of divinity is far more complicated and nuanced than that, and I think you know it.

    Yeah, it’s a funny joke and all, but as serious analysis it’s akin to Mr. Garrison’s “You’re the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish-squirrel!” anti-evolution speech.
    [http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoID=1847939160]

  43. Reading this makes me appreciate my local LUG. We have atheists, religious people, agnostics, and humanists. And we all treat each other with respect and are all good friends. Because when it comes down to it we are all people.

    Plus religion IMO is such a small factor that it seems like a petty thing to fight over. Why argue over what form a persons higher being takes, if they believe in one, when we can figure out problems on a global scale.

    I think the saddest thing is how many lives have been lost or ruined over religion.

  44. I would like to point out that Davis is not the only one who appears to be acting in an inappropriate fashion.

    The recent April 4th post on Sherman’s website, http://www.robsherman.com, has him saying “Now that Negroes like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn’t them who are being discriminated against.”

  45. “@25 “You cannot play live and let live with people who want to destroy you.” I think Gandhi and MLK would have something to say about that. Also, simply in principle, what is the point of fighting fire with fire when your whole purpose lies in your distaste for fire in all its forms?”

    Neither would have anything to say, since both were assassinated. However, prior to being murdered, Gandhi himself declared his efforts to be a failure, and they resulted not in a free, peaceful and unified India but in two aggressive, divided nations.

    @“This is why the “enlightened” never win. They think they have to become unenlightened to get on top, and then history again scratches its head when, like always, the bottom becomes just like the top they toppled, and it all starts over again.”

    This sort of argument was not atypical while the American colonies of Great Britain were debating whether they should to go so far as to take up arms in revolution. Ultimately, they did and yet in the end their enlightenment wasn’t abandoned nor has there yet been a ‘reset’. So in fact, we discover what any moderately thoughtful person realizes, which is that there is a time and place for forceful action in defense of ones rights or beliefs.

    I don’t currently agree with the sentiment that atheists have to take the fight to the faithful on their own terms, but that doesn’t make it some kind of genocidal, fear-mongering bigotry to believe otherwise, either. There are instances in which some social injustice, refusing to compromise or embrace reason/compassion in its oppression of others, must be dismantled, by force if necessary. Davis has stood before the populace and tried to incite the masses against those who have done no wrong. She lies and slanders about a harmless group of people, ignores and undermines the Constitution and the rights it represents, but if someone in righteous outrage refuses to put up with that crap anymore, that person has ‘crossed the line’? Wrong.

    I personally believe that things look optimistic, overall, for an expansion of ideological tolerance. But this article is clear proof that the opposing argument could be made, and condemning those who refuse to sit idly while that happens as being the sorts of people responsible for genocide, just to defend a, “don’t make waves,” attitude strikes me as shallow and insulting, especially when backed by such obvious errors as, “This is why the “enlightened” never win.”

    The philosophies most likely to sponsor genocide are those that begin with sentiments like, “You have no right to be here!” The reaction, “I’m not going to sit there and let people like that incite hate against me or threaten my rights,” is actually one of the single most sane and appropriate responses possible. While an aggressive face to this response is not always productive, it’s still a superior behavior to the opening shots of intolerance. Further, claiming that it never works is nothing short of dishonest or delusional, and comparing those who embrace the behavior to the sponsors of genocide is itself just another form of exaggerated fear-mongering.

  46. I for one prefer the irony that there is much controversy about the namesake of the “Land of Lincoln” and his religious beliefs. The people in the “Land of Lincoln” believe in god, even if it’s not conclusive that Lincoln himself did.

  47. Xodarap 23: Incidentally, Jesus is a zombie.

    Sorry, but that’s just stupid. A zombie is by definition a mindless animated corpse. People who believe in the literal Resurrection believe that Jesus is/was more of a bodiless mind than a mindless body. He’s always disappearing, and he floats up to Heaven at the end. Even the being-raised-from-the-dead bit is less essential to zombiehood than the mindless part (see p-zombies, a concept based on the idea that there’s no way to be sure anyone but you is actually consciously thinking). I know those statements are obnoxious on purpose, but they don’t work if they’re factually inaccurate.

    Logruszed 26: Explain how the “Neo-Wiccans” (which by itself shows you don’t know shit about either Wicca or NeoPaganism) are fucking anything up for you? How do animists negatively affect your life?

    If you can’t cite examples, do I get to contend that you’re speaking out of either willful ignorance or outright stupidity, and dismiss you out of hand?

    You don’t know anything about MY religion, and don’t want to, I’m sure. I’ll just say this: the idea that being religious necessarily involves false beliefs, or indeed that it’s necessarily about “beliefs” at all, is a shallow, narrow view of religion. Not all religions are systems of beliefs, much as Ill Rep (bad reputation?) Monique may believe otherwise. There are even non-theistic religions out there, as y’d knw f y wrn’t wllflly gnrnt nd/r stpd.

    Xodarep 28: Hear, hear.

  48. @#33:”To know for SURE what we as a human race have coming to us after we die is to expect the caterpillar to know what a thermal updraft feels like on fresh butterfly wings.”

    i really like this.

  49. Favorite tidbit:
    “This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln ”

    AND Exactly what is that supposed to mean?
    Rationally…
    The state that existed a hundred years ago
    isn’t the one that this myth believing woman lives in today.

    and yet she holds a position of authority while ranting and repeating a license plate slogan like it really means something.
    I’m beside myself with their religious non thought.

  50. @50:

    God is CERTAINLY a “person!” I think what you mean is that He is not a *human*. Not being a person would bar Him from being a God. Even a supercomputer with AI is a person. Anything with a personality is a person. Also, non-persons don’t have moral responsibility, while the Christian God most certainly does.

    You’re reading the wrong book if you think He doesn’t live in the sky. Several verses are very clear on this, and I can quote them to you if you really want me to. Jesus went to the sky, and so did Elijah, as I said. Heaven is a PLACE, which means that it has a spatial location (even a non-material place has a location), and according to the Bible, it is upward from us (yes, literally upward) — putting it in space or in the sky (smart answer is space :P). He is also unmistakably invisible (as is Heaven, I assume, or we’d someday find it in a high-powered telescope!). I think all self-proclaimed mages (who should rightfully be asked first) would agree with me that magic(k) is the ability to alter reality in accordance with one’s will. Because that’s what causal sciences also allow us to do, I assume that magic(k) also requires that its effects be outside the predictable lines of scientific causality. God is most certainly magical. If not, He is mundane — the two are exhaustive. Would you prefer Invisible Space Mage? More dignity, maybe?

    People seem to act insulted when someone throws logic at God, like He’s above it. He’s not, and omnipotence has NOTHING to do with defying laws of logic. Can God make a rock to heavy for Him to life? Certainly not, since then there would be a rock such that He couldn’t lift it (and lifting rocks — of any size — is well WITHIN the bounds of omnipotence, since it is a physical, not metaphysical, act). In fact, as that proves (as there’s no logical contradiction involved) is that God also can’t break metaphysical rules. Or moral or mathematical ones for that matter. Physical ones, yes, and there are plenty of those to retain His impressive divine power. Of magic.

    The concept of God’s divinity is NOT nuanced. It is this:

    1) Essentially Omnipotent (=df “can do anything that is metaphysically possible”)
    2) Essentially Omniscient (=df “Is actively aware of all propositional truth values”)
    3) Essentially Perfectly Good (=df (a) “cannot violate moral laws,” and (b) “must fulfill all moral obligations”)
    4) Necessarily Exists (big one to define, see Descartes’ Meditations for some starters — or learn modal logic/ontology for full concept)
    5) Creator of the World (the “world” is modal universe alpha, the one we see and live in, and as this isn’t an essential property, it works to stand in an existence-dependency relation to that universe, regardless of “will” involved — arguably)

    The Judeo-Christian-Islamic trinity will add a lot to that list, including conformity to the Torah, for example. Still, He’s just a really BIG and IMPRESSIVE invisible space wizard…

  51. Wow. Sounds like she should reread the bits in the Bible about tolerance and self-restraint in judging others.

    (BTW, nmantzoros, while not as offensive, your statement that she must be from Southern Illinois is just about as stereotypical as this woman’s concept of atheists. Come down and visit sometime, and be shocked at how “normal” we are…)

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Chicago was called the “Windy City” not because of the lake, but because of all the hot air blown by politicians there.

  52. #52 DA BEAKER, I’m not a huge Rob Sherman, but to be fair, you should probably continue that quote:

    “On the 40th anniversary, today, of his murder, I’m sure that my boyhood hero, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been appalled at Rep. Davis’ bigotry.”

    or just quote the whole thing:

    Friday, April 4: State Representative Monique Davis (D-Chicago) declares that Rob Sherman is a danger to the children of Illinois and has no right to testify before an Illinois legislative committee because he is an atheist. On Wednesday, April 2nd (my 55th birthday), I testified in Springfield before the House State Government Administration Committee. My testimony was that Governor Blagojevich’s plan to donate one million tax dollars to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago is unconstitutional. For background, see the March 4th update, below. Representative Monique Davis responded for the committee. She accused me of hating god. She said that the state should donate the million tax dollars to Pilgrim Baptist Church because the people of Illinois believe that there is a god. At a time when we are in the midst of a decades-long pervasive epidemic of Roman Catholic priests raping America’s children, Representative Davis said that I was a danger to the children of Illinois because I tell them that there is no god. She said that I had no right to inform children of that perspective. She then ordered me out of the witness chair, screaming, repeatedly, “Get out of that seat,” because I’m an atheist. Made me feel like Rosa Parks, who also was told, “Get out of that seat,” and arrested when she didn’t give up her seat on the bus to Whitey. Now that Negroes like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn’t them who are being discriminated against. On the 40th anniversary, today, of his murder, I’m sure that my boyhood hero, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been appalled at Rep. Davis’ bigotry. Eric Zorn wrote a column, yesterday, about the exchange between Rep. Davis and myself. His column is complete with both a printed transcript of part of the exchange between Rep. Davis and me, as well as a link to an audio recording of most of the exchange. Here is a link to Eric Zorn’s column. Here is a direct link to the audio recording, courtesy of Eric Zorn and the Chicago Tribune. Then e-mail me at rob at robsherman dot com and let me know what you think.

  53. MUIRNE81, I’ve been in Southern Illinois many times. I have relatives there. Mom lives there. Sister lives there.

    It’s a scary place, religion wise and gun wise. It’s a “newsmax.com” scary place.

  54. @#33:”To know for SURE what we as a human race have coming to us after we die is to expect the caterpillar to know what a thermal updraft feels like on fresh butterfly wings.”

    Someone said they liked this. I hate it.

    I DO know **FOR SURE** (I want to say that in a mocking voice :P) what will happen when I die.

    Do you know for sure what will happen if you poke out your eyes? You won’t be able to see.

    Do you know what will happen if you poke out your ears? You won’t be able to hear.

    Do you know what will happen if you poke out your whole brain? You won’t be able to think.

    Without reflection (thought), there is no experience. Without experience, we are not conscious. Without a brain, there is no mechanism for reflection. Hence — we will be unconscious. Sure, you can hide behind the same “science just doesn’t see my spirit” (which makes me wonder WHAT you think it COULD be composed of), but I CAN say FOR SURE that your spirit isn’t, without you brain, capable of thought. JUST like your hand isn’t capable of sight. Wrong instrument.

    Let me put it to you another way? Ever been knocked out? You know why they call it “being unconscious,” right? Because your thought centers are relatively inactive. And without them, no consciousness. You need nerves to feel, you need eyes to see, you need brain to think or have emotions.

    Your “bar” for sureness is far, far too high. Some may say that we can’t be sure of ANYTHING. But then, they aren’t sure of that, either, and shouldn’t be saying it, let alone proselytizing it…

  55. @#33:”To know for SURE what we as a human race have coming to us after we die is to expect the caterpillar to know what a thermal updraft feels like on fresh butterfly wings.”

    Someone said they liked this. I hate it.

    I DO know **FOR SURE** (I want to say that in a mocking voice :P) what will happen when I die.

    Do you know for sure what will happen if you poke out your eyes? You won’t be able to see.

    Do you know what will happen if you poke out your ears? You won’t be able to hear.

    Do you know what will happen if you poke out your whole brain? You won’t be able to think.

    Without reflection (thought), there is no experience. Without experience, we are not conscious. Without a brain, there is no mechanism for reflection. Hence — we will be unconscious. Sure, you can hide behind the same “science just doesn’t see my spirit” (which makes me wonder WHAT you think it COULD be composed of), but I CAN say FOR SURE that your spirit isn’t, without you brain, capable of thought. JUST like your hand isn’t capable of sight. Wrong instrument.

    Let me put it to you another way? Ever been knocked out? You know why they call it “being unconscious,” right? Because your thought centers are relatively inactive. And without them, no consciousness. You need nerves to feel, you need eyes to see, you need brain to think or have emotions.

    Your “bar” for sureness is far, far too high. Some may say that we can’t be sure of ANYTHING. But then, they aren’t sure of that, either, and shouldn’t be saying it, let alone proselytizing it…

  56. @55 — Not a zombie? Undead, then, right? Okay — Jesus is the walking dead — the undead. Many would say that’s enough to be a zombie. My friend gets incredibly annoyed whenever he sees a movie wherein zombies can run. “Zombies can’t run,” he says, as though he knows one. However, even in zombie “canon” Romero movies, zombies learn how to think. Jesus was a special zombie — the kind that can think. :)

  57. Xodarap 58 sez

    I think all self-proclaimed mages (who should rightfully be asked first) would agree with me that magic(k) is the ability to alter reality in accordance with one’s will.

    Well, yes, but it’s primarily (and arguably entirely) the art of changing consciousness at will. Could be entirely; many of us just don’t worry that much about the distinction, because the more magic you do, the more you realize that it fundamentally doesn’t matter.

    Because that’s what causal sciences also allow us to do, I assume that magic(k) also requires that its effects be outside the predictable lines of scientific causality.

    See, this common but incorrect assumption is what allows many people to dismiss magic without examining any facts, because with that assumption, anything magic does MUST conflict with science, and therefore it must not be true; if it doesn’t conflict with science, it automatically falls out of the realm of magic, and again magic does not exist.

    The fact that magic DOES exist and DOESN’T conflict with science would (and, I hope, will) take a whole book to explain, but I’ll just leave you with a couple of thoughts.

    Magic is not about causality. Causality is the turf of science, where magic does not tread. There is science in magic, and magic in science, but they’re two different ways of looking at the same things, not two things only one of which can be true.

    Magic lies more in perception than in action. The Mandelbrot set is magical; it’s a wondrous part of Nature that we couldn’t see until we developed reasonably fast computers, just as microbes are part of nature we couldn’t see until we developed microscopes. Mathematics is the only pure science—and is also the most magical of the sciences. You can’t use science to decide about magic any more than you can use a spreadsheet to decide whether you’re in love…it’s maybe not completely useless, but it’s fundamentally the wrong tool.

  58. @#62:

    Well, sure, you could go all realist on me. I just liked it for the image it evoked, and the way it related to the emotional state I was in when I read it.

    Unconsciousness isn’t that simple though is it? When living, we still have some brain function that continues. So there is still something, some feeling, some sense of experience. Maybe not that you can consciously parse, but alot of coma stories include vivid dreams, and other senses of being “there.”

    While, death, which noone experiences until it comes, isn’t something they’re going to come back and tell you about.

    That quote to me basically said, you won’t know for sure until you’re there. You can imagine what death will be like. You can assume. But you won’t “know.”

  59. @53: “Win” was an ill-chosen word. Certainly, the enlightened have always ceased to remain enlightened after seizing power — in any form, to any large degree.

    The post I was commenting against declared something about hypocrisy — either that the Christians’ “war” against Atheists is hypocrisy, or that the atheists’ picking up that gauntlet is a necessary hypocrisy. I think both are true.

    I certainly don’t advocate just “ignoring” it. But I also don’t think that the more successful civil rights movements were *simply* ignoring the problem. Quite the opposite; but they were nonviolent.

    My point about fighting fire with fire when fire is the very problem in the first place remains apt. The point is that when atheists become bigoted against Christians, and start exhibiting the same behavior and sentiment about which they complain so fervently, they “lose” (also ill-chosen, but an easy word to throw in for simplicity).

    A battle over principles is never worth abandoning your principles. Makes sense, yes?

  60. Moon, I stand corrected. All people south of I-80 have 20 assault weapons each, cradle snakes, drink Stag all day (while driving!), and walk around chewing on straw.

    Where is Representative Davis from?

    BTW, I’ve been to Chicago many times. I have relatives there. My father lives there. Aunt lives there. It’s a scary place, religion wise and gun wise. It’s a “airamerica.com” scary place.

    Wouldn’t you be offended if I really believed that last bit?

    Let’s all move on from attitudes like “people who live here are this” and “this place is *x* *y* *z*”. That’s the same world view that Rep. Davis has. That’s the same world view that gets us into conflicts at home and abroad.

  61. To add on, the way it was worded was so broad.

    “To know for SURE what we as a human race have coming to us after we die…”

    That could mean anything. What will happen to the earth after we die? What EXACTLY will happen to our remains after we die? How will the place we inhabited but no longer affect change with time?

    You seemed to read that and look only to the possible allusion to an afterlife.

    I just made me think a bit.

  62. Xodarep 63: Indeed, the mark of the true scientific viewpoint is doubt. Being entirely without doubt leads to being like the stpd btch we’re discussing here today, or to falsify data in your research when it doesn’t fit the current theory. Even Einstein fell prey to this, when he denied that the universe could be expanding. I believe he had the humility to recant later, however.

    Try living in a perpetual state of doubt. It’s uncomfortable at first, but then joyful, and it makes it much easier to be nice to people who believe things different from what you believe yourself. You should absolutely act on your own beliefs, however derived, and may I say that deriving your beliefs from the best available scientific evidence you can lay hands on is one of the better ways…but science is discovering new things all the time. The Big Bang is an innovation in my lifetime, for example, and it changed everything. Don’t hold on too tight to your beliefs, or when they go down you’ll go with them…like Fred Hoyle, poor man.

    _____ 64: Now yer jus’ bein’ gooofy.

  63. Xodarep 67: A battle over principles is never worth abandoning your principles.

    Hear, hear!!! Or, as Lois McMaster Bujold put it, the only thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.

  64. Lincoln, was a very, very mild christian at best, and there’s plenty of evidence to support this. And in the time he lived in, when athesim was even more feared and ostracized then it is now — makes him the last person you would invoke to obtain religious supremacy …

  65. There are a few details worth noting that I haven’t seen yet mentioned.

    (Full disclosure: I am running for office in Illinois, and I do know Rob somewhat from my political dealings.)

    Rob Sherman is a Green candidate for the 53rd District State Representative – same job, different district as Ms Davis. Seems to be a detail that’s overlooked.

    (For an interesting means of promotion, check out the ‘Shermanator’, a toy-hauler RV that he instead uses to truck LTL freight. Clever bloody idea.)

    His daughter is the main plaintiff in a federal lawsuit, which seems to be gaining reverse class action status (i.e. one plaintiff vs. many defendants), which alleges that a recently passed state law which mandates a moment of silence at the start of each class day is s lippery slope to full-blown school prayer.

    Despite being a highly religious person, I do agree on this point.

    Oh, and the class action part? Originally they sought an injunction against the local school district, but the federal court is basically calling out ALL the school districts in the state to defend this.

    He also has a reputation as a very vocal and staunch proponent of church-state separation (kinda obvious when you read this piece). And yes, I fully believe that religion and politics should not mix.

    Now, I have to play devil’s advocate ever so slightly to be fair.

    The preamble to the Illinois State Constitution states..

    We, the People of the State of Illinois – grateful to
    Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty
    which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing
    upon our endeavors – in order to provide for the health,
    safety and welfare of the people…. [cut]

    Again, don’t agree with it, but it’s there…

  66. @66: Again, your bar for knowledge is inanely high. By that same logic, I can’t KNOW whether a bottle that I drop will fall to the ground until I try it. After all, gravity is only a law because it hasn’t failed yet. But knowledge requires three things: (a) adequate justification, (b) belief, (c) truth. No, (c) does not require some divine “direct link” to what makes things true — otherwise nothing would be knowable. I can at least say that I have plenty of justification for my belief. It is also true, as I pointed out:

    A man without eyes cannot see; a man without a brain cannot think.

    The point is this: you cannot say that I don’t KNOW what will happen when I remove my eyes. I do. I don’t have to “experience it when it comes” to know. Eyes are what LET me see.

    To get less materialist (warning: I am NOT a materialist; I’m an epiphenomenalist dualist), all thought and consciousness are CAUSALLY DEPENDENT on the material brain. That is, if I insert a rod in a particular part of the brain, blocking communication, I will be unable to read words, but still able to interpret pictures. Moved again, I can read, but can’t interpret pictures. Moved again, I cannot see. Moved correctly, I cannot think or experience at ALL. We can, with the same causal sureness with which we credit gravity (and I do KNOW that gravity exists, even though I can’t define it!), predict the immaterial mind’s (if it does exist) reactions to stimuli in the material brain. If I alter my serotonin levels, I will become happier or sadder, or more relaxed or agitated. I do believe that there is an immaterial mind — but just as there is no picture on the monitor without the CPU, there is no mind without the brain to work it. Our vision, itself, is an immaterial thing (even surfaces don’t actually exist in the material world, but they do in our vision), but it depends on the eye to create it — it is causally dependent.

    Determinate causation; it is enough for knowledge. I know that I will not have thought after I am dead. Just as I will not have sight. Similarly, sight is an interpretation of the movement of a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum through space — to see, one would have to be able to absorb light, which would require a MATERIAL object for that absorption. Even if it didn’t, ghosts aren’t absorbing light, or we’d see them…

  67. I’m a born-again evangelical Christian, but it sickens me how these extremists have given the public the perception that all Christians are intolerant Neanderthals.

    I know a lot of Christians who think like me, that Christianity can hold its own in a free marketplace of ideas.

  68. @66

    There’s all sorts of epistemological problems here, and if we take these sorts of “you don’t know” problems to their logical conclusion, we conclude that we don’t know anything. And yet we continue to go on living, getting in our cars every morning, more or less “knowing” that there isn’t a hungry cougar waiting in the passenger seat. If we didn’t “know” that our cars were cougar-free, we’d never get near them.

    We draw a lot of conclusions about our world based on logic and experience, and make predictions based on what we think is strong probability. I don’t know that I won’t return home today to find my dishwasher full of diamonds, but I can say with a high degree of certainty that it will not. That prediction then informs my actions- I won’t take bet my savings at the racetrack, knowing I have a dishwasher full of diamonds to fall back on.

    In the same way we can predict the contents of our dishwashers, we can predict life events with a fair amount of certainty. I predict that if I ever break my leg, it will hurt like hell, because leg injuries I’ve sustained in the past have hurt like hell, and I’ve heard reliable, first-hand accounts of victims of broken legs. And so, I can predict with a fair degree of certainty what death will be like. I can infer that it’s something like sleep, which I’ve spent about half my life doing. Only I probably won’t dream, because I’ve heard reliable first-hand accounts from scientists that the activity that causes dreams ceases at time of death. And it will be different from sleep in that I won’t wake up, because the probability of rising from the grave is almost infinitesimally small. Even if Jesus did it, he’s only one of about 90 billion, so I don’t like those odds. Therefore, I can infer with a great degree of certainty that death will be much like sleep, but without dreams, and without an awakening at the end.

    Philosophically, we can never “know” anything, but practically, we substitute the term “predict with a great degree of certainty based on logic, life experience, and reliable third party testimony” with “know.”

  69. Lizardman @ 25 public remarks about atheists by former presidents (such as Bush senior – google ‘bush atheists’) who denied atheists could be patriots or even citizens.

    I have googled it.. Sherman (the same dude Davis was ranting at) asserts that Bush said this at a press conference that Sherman attended. It looks like no other attendee has ever verified that this occurred, and that no one claims to have a recording of the event. Sherman insists that responses on the subject from the White House counsel at the time confirm that the statement was made as given, when the responses clearly don’t confirm or deny it.

    The evidence on this one seems shaky enough to me that I’ll stick to being offended by other, more easily verified, things — it’s not like there’s a shortage.

  70. #76: “I don’t know that I won’t return home today to find my dishwasher full of diamonds”

    Will you put this on a t-shirt? You had me laughing so hard. Brilliant.

  71. @76 Sorry, just plain wrong. Saying that philosophically, we can never know anything, is like saying, “Scientifically, I am a 300-foot mega-hippopotamus.” See, people think that philosophy is just something everyone understands and gets a piece of. But there are those of us who study it, and discover it to be a very coherent and well-developed rational science. And, just like physics or any other science, it has rules and agree-upon laws. NO philosopher would agree with you that we can’t know anything. What about this: “All bachelors are unmarried.” We KNOW that, because it’s in the definition, and it can’t possibly be false. There is no universe in the set of metaphysical universes, wherein there are married bachelors.

    Similarly, there is a degree of INDUCTIVE certainty that meets the bar for knowledge. Whether or not you KNOW that there won’t be diamonds in your dishwasher is certainly up for debate. But you DO know that you won’t fly to the moon using your hair like a propeller. You do know that you won’t jump over skyscrapers for fun. You do know that a fish will not be elected president. (They aren’t allowed to run, btw). You also know that if you lose access to your brain, or it turns off completely (ie, stops processing electrical impulses), eg if you die, you will not be able to think. ;) Because one FOLLOWS the other. And you will know that you will not meet any married bachelors (where “bachelor” means “unmarried male”).

  72. Malex: I get your point, but if they believe in a god which is not actually an entity and has no supernatural abilities then don’t they really just believe in spending time with people singing songs or having quiet time on whatever sabbath they observe? Perhaps they enjoy the belief that they are in communion with other humans who share a similar family and personal background and similar ethos? Is this what you you mean to describe? Because I define belief in god as explicitly belief in the supernatural.

    And I’ll say it more explicitly: Belief in the supernatural is stupid and/or infantile (I think it’s ok for kids to believe in magic, the Easter bunny, or whatever).

  73. This will grow and grow.

    Already “And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!?” is getting upwards of 50 000 hits on Google.

    It’s a shame, just when the democrats were doing a great job of re-invigorating world’s perception of America, this has to come out of the woodwork and put everyone back to square 1.

  74. Damn posting errors…

    I just wanted to clarify for xodarep that I simply said fight (#25) and you projected in violence v non-violence. The fighting could be non-violent and perfectly in line with the ideas of MLK and Gandi. Currently, I think public speech and the courts are the best methods. However, as someone who has been physically threatened for being an atheist I am not prone to pacifism. My tolerance ends at your fist.

    I say atheists must fight people of faith ( or resist if that helps prevent you mis-reading violence in my words ) because they will not tolerate us. All to often for people of faith tolerance means tell people of other faiths and no faith how to live. I don’t claim to be enlightned – I am put off by anyone who does – and I do not want to be on top. I simply want to be given space to live as I choose. I am perfectly willing to extend that same courtesy to anyone of faith who can stay out of my business.

  75. @76 was always essentially my response to the folks in philosophy who said “you can’t prove anything 100%, so believe my wacky philosophy.” And I would say, well, I can’t prove the existence of that tree under your intellectual constructs, but I’m going to go cut it down and construct a house with it and live in it.

  76. @80: If “God” isn’t supernatural, then It doesn’t pass the test for getting to be called “God.” :P

    Yes, I’m agreeing with you. It is infantile and epistemically irresponsible to believe in the supernatural (more accurately, to believe in discrete causal interaction between the natural and supernatural; though its merely pointless and ontologically irresponsible to believe in anything with no causal relation to the material world). What’s more, it’s silly to believe in a God that isn’t supernatural. What gives it Godhood status, then?? So its either irresponsible or silly :)

  77. @83 The burden of proof is on the believer. That person should have said, “If you can’t prove anything, then you SHOULDN’T believe my wacky philosophy.” In other words, they philosophically shot themselves in the foot.

    And, as I explained a few posts above, there are plenty of things (at the very least, “analytic propositions” like bachelors are unmarried, and “necessary propositions” like squares have four corners) that are 100% provable. Smack whoever said that to you. They are giving us philosophers a bad name ;)

  78. @77 Zed

    “I’ll stick to being offended by other, more easily verified, things — it’s not like there’s a shortage”

    If you don’t like the evidence on that one fine but your final sentiment is the point I was making – her behaviour is not unusual or uncommon. What is noteworthy is that people are finally taking the offense that they should

  79. Xopher:

    Explain how the “Neo-Wiccans” (which by itself shows you don’t know shit about either Wicca or NeoPaganism) are fucking anything up for you? How do animists negatively affect your life?

    In the same manner, albeit to a proportionally lesser degree, as any other belief based on mysticism negatively impacts us all. Propagation of anything which detracts from rational inquiry lessens or detracts from rational inquiry. There is only so much human intellect to go around, reality TV, soap operas, theism, etc. are all diversions that are of doubtful personal value in terms of enrichment and certainly do not contribute to any general progress for the human race as a whole when compared to direction rationalism.

    As for neo-Wiccan/Pagans. You certainly don’t think that Wicca or paganism as practiced today bears any real resemblance to the cunning man/wise woman tradition of the previous centuries do you? There isn’t even a linear progression from the old beliefs to their revival. The only plus I can say that these “faiths” have going for them is they don’t proselytize.

  80. Perfect example of why we need to actively fight back against the people who insist on forcing their fairy tale beliefs on us.

    “Mr. Wee Wiilie – you don’t believe in the leprechaun’s gold at the end of the rainbow? You only believe in rationality and observation? It’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!”

    Has anyone found Ill. Rep. Monique Davis’ email address? I want to fight intolerance with intolerance!

  81. Well, it’s fun to debate whether Jesus is a zombie, etc., but if anyone really cares about this, they will contact this poor, benighted woman and let her know that she is living in the 21st century, and that religious persecution went out with stocks and dunking witches:

    http://www.ilga.gov/house/Rep.asp?MemberID=909

    Does anyone reading this still have a fax machine? My God… she probably still has a rotary phone made out of Bakelite.

    Per the “Text is wrong” error message: you have been logged out of the system by mistake. You need to log-in before you comment.

  82. @85: I *am* a philosopher. Please believe me that I’ve done the studying and know what I’m saying.

    Nihilism is NOT the belief that we can’t know anything. (That, by the way, is called Global Skepticism — and I know FOR A FACT that no self-proclaimed global skeptic would agree with you about anything. They can’t agree with something and still be a true global skeptic) Nihilism is either (a) the BELIEF (ie, purported or candidate knowledge) that NOTHING exists, or (b) the belief that nothing has any “deeper meaning.”

    There are three stances on any belief, P:
    (a) P. (P is true). The theistic belief, for example.
    (b) ~P. (P is not true). The atheist, or in your case, the nihilist. Their belief is just as much a positive belief, since there’s a belief, Q, that says “Q =df P is not true” such that the opponent holds its negation. Nihilism is, therefore, a POSITIVE belief!
    (c) The skeptical position. This holds many wordings: P is not tenable, We should suspend judgment as to whether P or not-P, P cannot be proven, etc. This is akin to agnosticism. Or in the BIG case, global skepticism. Look it up, and you will find that NO ONE believes it. If you can’t believe ANYTHING, then you can’t believe that you can’t believe anything, either. I know of no true global skeptics, but I played one in a class to prove it COULD be done — by answering every question with “Huh?” That’s about all they can say…

  83. @88 — Shame on you. Theism detracts from rational inquiry?! Apparently you haven’t looked into your histories of science or philosophy! Galileo was a theist, so was Einstein, so was Thomas Aquinas. In fact, the vast majority of those people who built the foundation of western rational thought were not only theists but Christians! MUCH of the logic we now owe for everything we hold dear as rationalists OR epicureans, we got specifically from people attempting to “pin down” the nature of God. From Aquinas to Descartes, even Einstein. Kant, to whom we arguably owe more of our modern science and philosophy than any other person that ever lived, was a very devout Christian.

    Aren’t you forgetting that Deists — believers in a “clockmaker” God — are also theists? I happen to be a theist, and a deist, and a VERY rational person!

  84. @85 — sorry, I didn’t see all three blanks. Still, even the skeptic admits to (a) analytic propositions being knowable, (b) necessary propositions being knowable, and (c) the tenability of skepticism being knowable. None of them, in existence (as judged by my keeping up-to-date in peer-reviewed philosophical journals), are GLOBAL skeptics.

    Relativists also know things. They just only know things of multiple relata. Plenty of things fall into that category. They can know things of the form “X is to Y” or, more often used, of the adverbial form, like “that wall appears whitely” (where there is an implicit relata that is being appeared to, but they won’t say “to me,” which implies the non-relative existence of a perceiver with coherent subjective apprehension).

  85. #17 POSTED BY SEMIOTIX , APRIL 8, 2008 10:37 AM
    Also, I’d just like to toss this out there: “invisible sky wizard” is roughly in the same connotative space as n****r.

    Alas not. Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

    If you wish to continue your claim then, by all means, have god file a tort.

  86. XODARAP:

    No disrespect intended, but being a theist is deeply irrational, and the fact that theism can coexist with facts as in the case of Galileo and Einstein proves very little except the hospitable nature of the human mind.

    Thomist prima mobile-type arguments and the like are in my opinion based in wish fulfillment. They are not subject to disproof, either abstractly or empirically. Therefore, the only rational stance on the existence of God or gods is agnosticism. IMO.

  87. Xodarap-

    I think you’ve thoroughly split every hair on the thread. If you’re through, I’m sure some of us would like to get back to the conversation, albeit with minor errors in philosophical jargon. Thanks, though.

  88. #79 POSTED BY XODARAP , APRIL 8, 2008 1:20 PM
    See, people think that philosophy is just something everyone understands and gets a piece of. But there are those of us who study it, and discover it to be a very coherent and well-developed rational science

    Philosophy isn’t science, it is what we had before we had science. If what philosophical theories have been rejected, as whole, by the science of philosophy? And I don’t mean by you or people who share your opinion, but philosophy as a whole? There may be some examples, but nothing ever gets kicked out of philosophy as being wrong the way “creation science” or alchemy get booted out of science for, well, not being actual science.

  89. Per “‘invisible sky wizard’ is roughly in the same connotative space as n****r”:

    This a category error: racial epitephs and metaphors are in different categories, and thus are not equatable.

    I also object to the use of stars (n****r). C’mon, Semiotix, we’re all grown-ups here, you can write the word “nigger.” We won’t be offended, we promise. Not by that use of the word, anyway.

    After all, even in the event that a dewy innocent (like the ones that Davis is trying to protect) should happen onto this discussion and see the word “nigger,” I guarantee that he or she will not be struck blind, rendered mentally incompetent or morally degenerate, or emotionally scarred by the experience!

  90. @99: Just replying to attacks; I’ll discontinue the nitpicking ;) See 97 for an example.

    @97: Wrong. It can be proven that God exists. Yes, 100%. Why isn’t it common knowledge? Because its highly technical — yet there are no gaps or loopholes, tricks or the like. It is “watertight.” For my attempt to make it accessible, see http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=24065074&blogID=69705851
    at my own blog. I don’t mean to advertise myself, but I need to, as #99 has said, leave this thread alone. Included in the blog itself (aside from the blog’s link to my actual paper) is a refutation of atheism (it’s unprovable and untenable), and a strong endorsement of agnosticism. I agree with you there — unless you have a long and careful study of modal logic, you don’t have a VERY good reason to believe in God. But atheism is just silly — “Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack” sums it up nicely, although badly oversimplified. As in most cases where science can’t weigh in, skepticism (ie, suspending all judgment) is the best way to go. And always respectable…

    I’m out of here. Any more people who want to reply to me — or attack my views (or be smartasses like 85) — can do so at the aforementioned blog post.

    Logic IS my religion. I study it well, and take it very seriously. Sorry if that’s annoying to some here…

  91. Xodarap:

    Galileo’s Roman Catholic faith and belief in dogmatic law was overcome by rationality. It landed him in jeopardy of excommunication, possibly death or imprisonment. Because of his strict adherence and friends in high places he was allowed to recant his statements and promise no further inquiry as to the nature of the physical universe in areas where it may have conflicted with Catholic doctrine. Arguing on his own behalf he once stated “The bible teaches us how to go to Haven, not how the heavens go.”

    It was not his faith which allowed him to succeed in science, it was his looking past his faith which enabled him to do this.

    “MUCH of the logic we now owe for everything we hold dear as rationalists OR epicureans, we got specifically from people attempting to “pin down” the nature of God.”

    Maybe so, but they also and in every example would have had to go beyond “faith” to do this. And none of them ever managed to prove any of the mystic claims they were looking in to. Think of how much people with such bright minds could have gotten to had they not been hampered on issues of spiritualism, or how much an average person could get to if if were not for the same distraction.

  92. I’m a Unitarian-Universalist who’s recently been attending a United Church of Christ church. I’d hardly call the UCC a “sect,” and there’s a huge gradation from conservative to super-liberal within the denomination. For example the one I go to is actively LGBT welcoming, does all sorts of justice work, sustainability efforts, etc. Righteous Christians who don’t quite fit Mech’s stereotype of “pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-xenophobia, pro-Earth raping” Christians.

    Anyway, it’s clear Davis is in the wrong here and her comments were incredibly disrespectful towards atheism. My faith requires me to respect all belief systems, including the lack thereof, so I don’t dis ’em. But a lot of the replies here are just as lame as Davis’ remarks were. Jesus is a zombie, Invisible sky-wizards, Catholics are cannibals? That shit’s not clever and it’s not even funny. Hmm but I bet you wouldn’t make disparaging remarks about Buddhists, Hindus or Jain’s would you? My PC hipster brethren, always so full of hypocrisy.

    On that note yeah, Christianity is in no danger of showing up on stuffwhitepeoplelike anytime in the near future. “Spiritual not religious” or atheist is definitely the status quo in our little world. Well, there’s a lotta cool stuff outside that little world- please don’t let folks like Monique Davis scare you away.

  93. @100 (I did say I’d still respond to “attacks” :P)

    Hence the qualifier: “rational.” Science, without a qualifier, refers to inductive testing of theories, whereas rational science is the deductive testing of theories. Either one is a science because it’s testing theories in order to validate them. Science simpliciter tests patterns in perception; rational science tests what must be and what can be and what must not be (not by patterns, but by absolutes). Still, though, the whole argument for that could take books, and has before. Suffice to say, analytic philosophers consider their field a rational science…

    Speaking of something that would take books… PLENTY of philosophical theories have been “cast out,” “kicked out,” and even still bring up painful and embarrassing “memories” for philosophy. Just like with science. The scientists falsely judge the philosophers based on these mistakes, just as the religious often judge scientists based on their rocky past.

  94. I sent her a fax explaining the difference between authoritarianism and free thinking and which one our Founding Fathers set up our country to protect, which they fought a war against, and which religion supports and which it is opposed to. I doubt it will make a difference, but glad the fact the FBI hasn’t shown up at my door to ask me why I think I can send faxes to people about not believing in god, there’s still room for debate in this country.

  95. PS: I see now (belatedly) that Semiotix wasn’t self-censoring out of prudery (#41). Sorry, Semiotix!

  96. muaythai:

    I’m the person who first used the “sky wizard” term in this thread, and I will absolutely call out a Buddhist, or a Jain (wtf is a Jain?), or a Hindu, or whomever on the basis of holding any faith in the mystic. You must not have actually read all the comments which offended you, instead you just scanned for little offensive bits; otherwise you would have seen my clearly state that the issue is belief in that which not only cannot be proved but is also a least likely hypothesis.

    I’m not saying you can’t be a cool or a nice person and believe in whatever brand of voodoo you personally are in to but it does mean that at least a part of your will or your mind is devoted to adherence to irrationality. that means you’re at least a little bit crazy (or stupid, you could be stupid but I’m granting the benefit of the doubt here as you seem otherwise cogent).

    Now I have friends who believe some really stupid non-theistic stuff, actual friends. they believe weird conspiracy stuff or they think Coldplay is a good band, etc. I’m still friends with them but there is always a part of me that recognizes in them a little bit of insanity.

  97. Xodarap,

    You’re doing pretty much the same thing as Rep. Davis. Of course, since you’re (presumably) not an elected official, you have no power over us. Other than that, I see no difference between you screaming inflammatory rhetoric at us and her screaming inflammatory rhetoric at Mr. Sherman. The problem with many religious people and many atheists is not their beliefs. It’s their apparently inability to stop jamming them into other people’s heads. The belief that you know the definitive answer, whether via science or religion, isn’t called atheism. It’s called narcissism.

  98. there’s still people on this planet who have never heard of Jeebus. With luck, they never will. They will continue to have happy, rich, full and loving lives. Unless the missionaries get them.

    What more proof do you need it’s all nonsense?

  99. Was XODARAP “screaming inflammatory rhetoric”? I didn’t think so, or I wouldn’t have addressed any comments to him/her.

    ***

    Scoutmaster: good for you! A fax, no less. Admirable.

    Davis’ e-mail (again): mdavis2147@aol.com

    ***

    #55: “A zombie is by definition a mindless animated corpse.”

    Philosophers define “zombie” differently than B-movie fans. “Zombie” is, believe it or not, a term used by philosophers, as in the Zombie Paradox. Look it up!

    One more thing: I was going to look at XADARAP’s logical proof of God’s existence but then I decided to do something more fun, like stick needles in my eyes.

  100. Logruszed 88: First, you know more than I thought. But Wicca is a Neo-Pagan religion; it’s the name Gerald Gardner gave to his revival/reconstruction/reinvention of the tribal religions of pre-Christian Europe. There is no Neo-Wicca because there is no Eo-Wicca, nor was there any Paleo-Wicca. By contrast, there are Eo-Pagans (Hindus are an example) and there were Paleo-Pagans (ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt were all Paleo-Pagan).

    (I actually believe there was no Wicca of any sort prior to Gardner, but Gardnerians would dispute me—to the point of violence, in some cases. Gardner was a charlatan and told all sorts of lies, some more transparent than others, but he hit on something that works.)

    Wicca is a loving reconstruction that took on a life of its own. Like all living traditions, it changes, and people introduce new things all the time (well, some Gardnerians don’t, but I totally don’t hang with them). All Wicca is Neo, so the term is redundant.

    And btw, Wicca is a religion, but not IMO a “faith.” Perhaps that’s why you put that in quotes; if so, I agree with you.

    As for the idea that having a spiritual life detracts from intellectual pursuits…you’ve never had a satisfying spiritual life, have you? It’s really like saying that sleeping just takes away from time you could spend doing research. Well, yeah, but… In the same way, a fulfilling spiritual life enables more coherent rational thought, in those of us who need a spiritual component in our lives.

    Please note: you may have no such requirement. That’s up to you to decide. I need sunscreen but not vitamin D supplements; I have friends with the reverse needs. That makes us different; it needn’t set us at odds. But a world that bans sunscreen is no better than one that bans vitamin D supplements. I have different needs than you. My rational mind is sharper and more systematic when I do puja to Ganesh-ji every morning. I’m more sensible about being out in the sun if I pray to Ra when I come forth by day.

    What for you would detract from intellectual pursuits enhances them for me. What your frame omits is the simple fact that humans are all different. Different people have different requirements for a healthy mind as they do for a healthy body.

    And you know what? That’s why we don’t proselytize.

  101. Nick,

    Yes. On the grounds of deliberately trying to offend religious sensibilities, using all caps for emphasis and going on and on. Coming in late to the thread and reading it all at once gives a different perspective on one person’s contributions than watching the conversation evolve.

  102. Antinous 109, I find your statement about Xodarap and screaming inflammatory rhetoric so bizarre that I think you must have simply gotten the name wrong. The thing about Jesus being a zombie? That was to show how dumb things get if we all use the worst possible terms for each others’ beliefs. Xodarap is a self-identified Christian, btw.

    Logruszed 108: I understand now. You’re a proselytizing evangelical atheist. You don’t mind if we keep our quaint beliefs as long as we understand that you’re just a tiny little bit superior to us.

    Your belief that you’re better than people of faith is irrational and unjustified.

    Nick 111: I’m aware of p-zombies; that’s why I mentioned them. Jesus wasn’t one, though of course this cannot be proven! :-) The point is, Christians don’t actually believe anything that could justify calling Jesus a zombie.

  103. Xopher: “Logruszed 108: I understand now. You’re a proselytizing evangelical atheist.

    You know, that’s a pretty good description. If I can convince someone to abandon a superstition and turn to physical science and reason then I see this as a good act. Fair enough, although I don’t knock on doors or hand out pamphlets or have special bookstores to help me with it.

    You don’t mind if we keep our quaint beliefs as long as we understand that you’re just a tiny little bit superior to us.

    sometimes it’s more than a “tiny little bit”, depends on if I’m talking to someone who says “I believe that there is an energy connecting all living things…” etc, or someone who insists the Earth and the universe is 6,000 years old or thereabouts. I’d imagine you feel superior to people who buy chunks of “the true cross” out of the back of tabloid magazines, or people who believe G.W. personally orchestrated 9/11. Am I right in this assumption?

    Your belief that you’re better than people of faith is irrational and unjustified.

    Your apparent belief in a divine entity is based on less evidence than my belief in my own superiority (to whatever degree) over those who believe in magic beings or mysticism.

    There are more written words depicting the existence of dragons than there are depicting Jehova/Yaweh or whatever, but I bet you would think someone who regularly practiced some form of ritual to prevent dragon attack or to placate dragons was pretty silly.

  104. Xodrap @102: Your purported proof of the existence of the Flying Spaggetti Monster fails. You assert without proof that the universe and everything in it is contingent. Even your definition of “contingent” depends on counter-factuals, which lots of people reject for good reason. As someone once said (Bohr, probably, although I heard it from Wheeler, I think): “An experiment that is not performed does not have a result.” This is a common-place amongst a certain sort of quantum mechanic. The very notion of contingency is at least suspect.

    But then, you probably believe Leibniz’s Law is true too, right?

    This whole thread makes me sad, although it’s good to see a few people understand that if a thing is a cause it can be analysed scientifically, and if a thing cannot be analysed scientifically it is not a cause. Ergo, the notion of “supernatural cause” is an oxymoron.

  105. the only workable model for running a society and having religion running around loose is clear separation of religion and state. Not a Freedom OF Religion clause, rather a FREEDOM FROM RELIGION ironclad right in the very fabric of the basic law.

    This Davis assaulted a persons most basic right: freedom to think. Davis belongs in prison.

  106. My first thought was “well, what can you expect from an American politician?”

    But then I read that Davis is 71 years old. Her little outburst is nothing more than common senile dementia.
    So your country is not going to hell in a handbasket. Atheists are not about to be burned at the stake.

    Take a deep breath. Relax.

  107. then she should be removed from office as mentally incompetent.

    Look at all the evil wrought by that Thurmond monster. He was senile for decades too. A crime HE didn’t die in jail.

  108. My bad. Xodarap has owned the terminology of the opposing side so effectively that I had to read the comments twice to figure that out.

  109. “Nick 111: I’m aware of p-zombies”

    Didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t, honest!

    The whole debate about logical proofs of God’s existence is wrong-headed, it seems to me. Thinking a human can understand God is like thinking a fish can do algebra, or that a blind-from-birth person can imagine what the color orange looks like.

    There are such things as frames of reference, and some of them are as impossible to transcend as it is impossible to move faster than the speed of light. (See catepillar/butterfly analogy above.)

    Having said that… I don’t blame the believers in this thread for being miffed and feeling condescended to. I would be, too.

    Not by the comparisons of Jesus to the Easter Bunny (rhetorically and logically legitimate it seems to me) but in the comparisons of believers to little children who need to educated by non-believers. No one likes to be talked down to.

  110. Logruszed: I wouldn’t sign up for Xopher’s crackpot job description so easily. Slippery slope, homes. Next thing you know, your “evangelical atheist” tuchus is just another a featured body part in the latest edition of the Festival of Folk Epistemology — which today happens to star Rep Davis, but is (as always) hosted by that inimitable frontman, Hizzonah DJ 100-Foot Zombie Jeebus.

    Oh, and I’m definitely checking out Xodarap’s logical refutation of atheism/proof of the existence of God, too (on MySpace, that fount of all good research things both original and peer-reviewed). That will be immediately after Xodarap checks the specs on my perpetual motion machine and my diagram of a squared circle.

    And people here sometimes have the gall to accuse Theresa of being an “intrusive moderator.” My, my….

  111. Hey! You’re insulting the genuinely senile!

    But seriously, she’s not senile, she’s just seems to be a little out of touch with contemporary America.

    I hope if anyone e-mails her (and I hope many people will!) they will be polite. We should let her know that we exist and that her view of The Land of Lincoln and of the US in general is incomplete and closeted. Her age is irrelevant.

  112. Xodarap is a fool. It will be funny to watch his head explode when he discovers that logic is a human invention and not a feature of the universe.

    Rep. Monique Davis is just grandstanding.

  113. #122: My bad. Xodarap has owned the terminology of the opposing side so effectively that I had to read the comments twice to figure that out.

    Mine too. Spent a whole half hour digging through all Xoda’s posts and reading his site for exactly the same result. Must prove something. One born every minute? Arguing religion with a believer is like wrestling a pig? That just because he has a complete set of nice, shiny tools doesn’t mean he’s a neurosurgeon?

  114. XOADARAP —

    I don’t remember if they Wittgenstein-ed the language into submission, but I remember they had ways (that’s right, I’m NOT accepting the burden of proof on this one, since it wasn’t my durn argument!) of dealing with the “propositions” argument too. Then they could say — “hey, since it’s all nonsense, my nonsense is as good as yours” …

  115. shhhhh. outraged atheists, save your vitriol for Davis herself, like Scoutmaster (post 106) did. this story hasn’t been picked up by any major news outlet, so if we want this madwoman to resign, we need to get crackin’.

    POWER TO THE HAPPY MUTANTS!

  116. All Xodarap has done Maddy, is prove that married bachelors are all gay. You’d think that was obvious.

  117. I would say that most people who say that they believe in god are actually to afraid to say that they don’t believe in god.

    …”what would “they” think if I don’t believe in god.”

    Is it so hard to think that someone who doesn’t believe in god can still live a life with good values and be loving and caring with children?

    Atheists are not “EVIL” and we do not push our views on others unless someone asks. I am a tolerant person, I married an Adventist who is fine with me being an Atheist. But I love her and she loves me. I am tolerant because I love. I am an Atheist who is capable of loving others and living peaceful in a small town in the state of Washington.

    I am human, and according to our constitution, I do have a right to be here bitch!

  118. Evofus: Actually in most contexts since faith in a god or divine entity is part of some covenant between the faith holder and said entity wherein an exchange of certain behaviors (prayer, honoring your parents, etc) for certain rewards (elevation to a higher status as a living being or residence in an exclusive heavenly neighborhood) and further balanced with the treat of possible negative acts should the individual fail to observe the aforementioned behaviors (hell, reduction in rank after reincarnation, etc) the only truly good deeds which are certain to have been done for the sake of goodness are those which have been done by an atheist.

    An xtian or even a Buddhist (or whomever) may be doing a good deed out of pure kindness, but since they buy into a belief system involving rewards and punishments based on deeds they may just be acting out commerce.

  119. I’ve seen her traditional contact info posted a few times already, but hadn’t seen her email address yet. Here it is: mdavis@hdsmail.state.il.us

    As a resident of Illinois, I am disgusted that a hate-mongering bigot like Monique D. Davis is allowed to speak publicly after this episode. If she believes in hell, she must really want to go there.

    If she thinks she is divinely entitled to discriminate and spew hate based on religious beliefs, she has no business holding a public office. Let’s all email her and talk about how her remarks go against the beliefs of her own United Church of Christ! Let’s fill her inbox with a unified call for her resignation! And, by all means necessary, let’s get this bigot out of office and away from anyone who might imitate or adopt her truly distorted and psychotic view of reality.

    To that end, we might even email Davis’ peers in the Illinois Legislature and ask them to urge her to resign. Their emails are on the same page where I found hers: http://www.iavat.org/legislator/contact/legiscontacts.asp

  120. PYLB

    Y r rght, sh s crtnly nt llwd by dvn rght t spk pblclly r t dscrmnt.

    Sh s llwd t by lw.

    Fr spch wrks bth wys.

    f y dny hr th rght t spk, thn dn’t cry whn r slncd. (spclly by bg bd Mthr Trs)

  121. First they came for the atheists…

    #106: Well done. I’ll be crafting a letter also. She’ll probably “round-file” it (I am not from IL) but…

    Also another angle worth looking at is contacting the DNC; after all, if she is a Democrat, then the DNC can publicly comdemn her bigotry and make it clear her behavior betray democratic values.

  122. why isn’t she hearing from a barrage of christians? The hatred she is spewing is directly contradicted by their putative teachings.

    Moreover, her occupation is listed as “educator”. I hope the relevant governing bodies are reviewing her licences.

  123. I’m increasingly thinking that the ‘War on Terror’ is in fact a war of religious extremists.
    Islamic extremists are ‘terrorists’ while the Christian extremists are called ‘George Bush, The Republican party and their backers.’
    The only way to stop them fighting is to preserve secular separation of state and religion worldwide (especially within the US) and the empowerment of Arab women.
    Patience people, if you guys get Obama, you might do alright.

  124. In case anyone is hoping for a a truly democratic means of getting her out of office, fuggedaboutit.

    According to elections.il.gov, which also conveniently lists her home address as 2147 W 107th St, Chicago 60643, she, like far too many state legislators, is unopposed in the November election.

    She’s a machine girl all the way.

  125. What a fun/frightening thread to read.

    I’m a Christian myself, and I hope, hope, HOPE that Rep. Davis gets fired or forced to resign from her position for her stupid, bigoted bullshit.

    These days I prefer atheists to most of my fellow Christians… at least those I hear about in the media.

    Atheists may think I’m stupid, uninformed and possibly crazy–they may even hate me for my beliefs–but so many Christians use their faith as a platform for any horrible thought that comes into their heads that it makes me want to throw a rock through my monitor.

    Atheists and others are RIGHT to be angry at American right-wing evangelical Christianity, and until the rest of us (we Christians who have at least a fragment of sense) take responsibility for shutting down those members of our community who say/do this crap then we don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

  126. #136:

    while this is true, someone who spews such bigoted hatred should not be in office, as they have proved themselves unintelligent and unworthy of the job.

    She had the right to say what she did. Doesn’t make her any less of a raging fool.

  127. #142

    Ofcourse someone like that shouldn’t be in office. Someone who uses there power in politics to finance a religious organization. Yes, organization.

    But the people of Chicago, at some point, found her fit enough to be in office. But to the point of having the right to say it, she does, having the power and press to say it, thank Chicago.

  128. Logrusred 117: Your apparent belief in a divine entity is based on less evidence than my belief in my own superiority (to whatever degree) over those who believe in magic beings or mysticism.

    I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that it’s no use arguing with you, but I do want to point out that you have no evidence whatsoever that I “believe in” a “divine entity.” And if you think mysticism has anything to do with “believing in” things, you clearly have no first-hand experience of mysticism.

    Far from being the objectively rational person you think you are, you are wallowing in ignorance and prejudice. I’m pretty bored with trying to show you a larger picture, though: I have belatedly remembered my Heinlein.

  129. I don’t know which is dumber… the original story, for obvious reasons, or the numerous posts decrying the situation. If you want something done about, call or write. Whining about the real world on this forum is totally unproductive.

  130. @143:

    Bollocks. We in Chicago don’t really get to choose our legislators. Like I mentioned, she is getting a free pass this election, as are many other candidates.

    Hell, several Congresscritters would be getting free passes if not for a few Greens willing to force the issues. This includes both Luis Gutierrez, who his facing his first opponent in over a decade, and Rahm Emmanuel, whom most people despise with a passion.

  131. “We in Chicago don’t really get to choose our legislators.”

    I am not sure what you mean by this, did the constitution forget to add Illonois! Those knuckleheads in D.C.

  132. @145:

    Rob IS doing something about it; he’s taking the state to task (and, if need be, to court) on several church-state issues, and he is running for the state house.

    *I* am doing something about it as well, also running for office so that maybe we can keep an eye on these shenanigans and prevent them from occurring.

    And the story is NOT dumb. It’s important to know if a politician, a person in a position of actual authority, is a bigot. As previous posters have pointed out, if “Jew” or “Muslim” or “queer” or “Latino” or just about any other socioethnoreligious qualifier were used in lieu of “athiest”, the media would’ve been on this in half a second.

    As it stands, the first guy to point this out is a Tribune columnist on the paper’s blog.

  133. #145, in addition to #148’s comments, and all the others who’ve said they’re writing or taking other actions, let me add that there’s nothing particularly wrong with discussing what an idiot she is. Venting about it helps lower blood pressure and all that. :) I think people enjoy having a common target at which to focus their scorn. Uniting, not dividing and all that ;) It really does no harm.

  134. Xopher: The word “apparent”, let me point it out to you.

    As for first hand experience with mysticism and me having no first hand experience with it, guess what nobody has any experience of a first hand nature with it because it’s bullshit.

    As to your statement that mysticism has nothing to do with “believing in things”, no believing in mysticism has precisely something to do with “believing in things”, things which don’t exist. Like Leprechauns and the healing properties of crystals.

    As to not wishing to argue with me: Have you been arguing with me? I’ve seen precious little in the way of argument coming from you and directed at me. Refutation isn’t argument, you may be unaware of this. If you are a theist I would advise you to seek out your nearest Jesuit brother and ask for guidance, of all the xtians they have the most solid tradition of cogent argument as a part of institution.

  135. Xodarap: I can’t believe I missed this but you stated the following:

    NO philosopher would agree with you that we can’t know anything.

    and

    I *am* a philosopher. Please believe me that I’ve done the studying and know what I’m saying.

    You should re-read the Euthyphro, specifically the Apology. Plato writes, Socrates speaks: “I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.”

    Certainly a the implication is that nothing can be known, at least not by mortals in in that awareness comes the only trues wisdom (ok, and an inherent contradiction; but those guys were drinking from lead pipes for generations).

  136. LogrusZed 150: I’ve gotten into a mystical state by doing zooms on the Mandelbrot set, by experimenting with the Fibonacci sequence, and by sitting in the dark doing glossolalia…sometimes just from sitting in the pure dark WITHOUT doing glossolalia, and without doing anything at all.

    I don’t think leprechauns or crystals have anything at all to do with any of these experiences. What exactly are you claiming is belief-dependent about sitting in the dark? After a little time there, I’m not thinking at all, let alone actively believing anything; yet it is a profoundly spiritual experience. I know full well that the visions I experience there are manufactured by a stimulus-deprived visual cortex: so what? They are still visions.

    That’s what I mean by “a first-hand experience of mysticism.” I’m sure that if you had such an experience (it would have to be involuntary, since you would never seek it out) you would deny, disparage, or discount it.

    Now, I fully expect that you will deny some or all of this, because you are too arrogant to admit that there’s anything you don’t understand, and too much of a dogmatist to acknowledge being outright incorrect about someone else’s spiritual life.

    As to whether I’m a theist…the distinction between theism and atheism doesn’t make sense when applied to my religion. It’s just not applicable at all.

  137. Btw: some of my friends, when I describe my spiritual path, have referred to it as “atheism with spirituality.” It’s not precisely accurate, but it’s not bizarrely wrong either.

  138. So, in her opinion, Atheists are godless heathens who want to destroy the American way of life? Wow, that’s a real learn-ed and mature way to think.

    What about Agnostics? Are we worthy of existing, purely because we’re undecided and therefore fair game for conversion? :p

  139. @155 takuan

    my pal and i we’re unable to link up in nyc… he lost his cellphone (should have viewed for it!) and i din’t know this till i was home. i’ll give serious thought to a way to perform the test, or a different test.

    it baffles me that no one has cashed in randi yet… my wife had an interesting theory in my opinion… two fold.

    one part is that if you can even consider that psychic phenomena exists, than it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest that the psychic climate might have a profound effect on the results, both that serious doubt might harm results, and serious attachment to success might harm results.

    the second part is that because all of these phenomena still happen in physics, don’t break the laws of physics, they aren’t “magic” per se. if you test a number of people, you will find some that differ from the statistical average, even significantly, but almost never 100%. that’s the whole theory behind the e.s.p. testing… some people consistently get higher levels than “should” exist, but almost never have it higher. it’s a weird part of consciousness and in weird dimensions that these phenomena exist, it may be much harder to “prove” than more obvious physical experiments like billiards.

    this might explain the beginners luck in both my remote viewing experience and the mind reading experiments with my wife (where i got 5 out of 5, when random choice would get 20%).

  140. Xopher: You’re too quick to say that an unusual mental experience is somehow appropriately associated with magic or mysticism. If introspection (either aided through isolation or chemistry) is what you really mean by mysticism then I’ve plenty of first-hand experience with it, both for entertainment purposes and explorative purposes.

    And while opening the doors to perception (to borrow a phrase) might be something I would heartily suggest anyone try, it is not mysterious or even removed from the context of physical science. Anyone who studies such experiences and the methods used to facilitate them (ie: meditation, LSD, etc) should understand that the emotions and sensations are originate through chemistry and psychology.

    I’ll grant you that if you are a secular humanist or some variation which holds to the “self is god” principle then yes tripping balls might be a mystic experience. But aside from relating shared experiences with other trippers it isn’t a mystic experience, at least not in the way most people would consider the term “mystic” to imply.

  141. noen:

    You’re probably not far wrong about Socrates. I’ve found that his reductive argument style is about the fastest way to piss your opponent off without really breaking form.

    I think it is fair to say that at least Plato thought Socrates got some measure of personal enjoyment or satisfaction from nitpicking arguments and even his death allowed him to be a “true Greek” (he had opportunity and even tacit consent from the jury to flee Greece and thus have his life spared, he chose death).

  142. (I’m B :P)

    (B: Something along the lines of logic being absolute.)

    A: Logic is just something we made up!

    B: Is that true?

    A: Yes.

    B: So it’s not false.

    A: No, it’s true.

    B: Can’t it also be false?

    A1: I guess so. (<- the "smart" answer) B1: So it's also NOT something we made up. A1: Sure. B1: Then it's not something we made up. That's what I think, too... A2: No, it can't ALSO be false if it's true. (<- The "true" answer) B2: It CAN'T? If it truly CANNOT be false and true, then logic is absolute. That is, it's impossible that logic be circumvented.

  143. Everything that is material is causally dependent. Therefore everything that is material is contingent. I think the individual that said my proof failed misunderstood what contingent means. It is usually defined through counterfactuals (ie; X is Contingent =df It could have been the case that X did not come to exist), but needn’t be: the correct definition is “X is contingent =df It is possible that not-X” (clearly not physical possibility or logical possibility; metaphysical possibility here).

    As for Socrates “argument,” as even the poster admitted, it generates an obvious self-contradiction. I should have said “modern (or contemporary) philosopher” as Russelian logic wasn’t around in Socrates’ time and they didn’t worry as much about being inconsistent/incoherent. No coherent philosophy can possibly boast that nothing can be known. It would also have to then say that no belief can be justified, including, of course, the belief that no belief can be justified. So they wouldn’t be justified in believing that, either, and so they wouldn’t (as a philosopher, since by nature, they require justifications for their beliefs). Obviously, non-philosophers, as shown on this forum, can believe any number of incoherent things. Just like non-scientists can believe in space wizards… ;)

    Also, wow, the calls for narcissism and people acting like I’m such an ass. I may be an ass, but it is not by way of my expertise. If a physicist, who has spent years in college, labs, and writing for peer-reviewed journals, tells you something about particle mechanics, it is unlikely you will call him a jerk, an arrogant bastard, or leap into an argument with him about it. There’s an incredibly annoying societal surge against logic (post-modernism is horrible, see my post right above this one), which unfairly discredits those of us who study it and work in/with it. I only ask for the same dignity you give the particle physicist for his field. Sure, you don’t *have* to believe in logic (that’s not true, really, or you wouldn’t be able to form statements or link them together, or extrapolate, or abstract, etc.), but that’s just like retorting to the physicist that quantum mechanics is pure nonsense. Prepare, as you do with me, to get a rant. :P

  144. @141, 142, and especially 147:

    I’m going to work under the assumption that some of you do not understand the concept of machine politics. (Not you 147: based on your poor spelling, I’m going to make the rash and sane assumption that you’re the product of some US public school.)

    And I apologize if this seems like a rant, but I’m mouth-deep in the dung of Illinois politics, and yes, the taste of it is unpleasant.

    Intelligence, qualifications, vox populi mean bupkis. Chicago has been a strong bastion of Democratic machine politics for decades.

    The machine picks its people mainly on the same basis Bush the Younger does: party loyalty and personal relationships. The ones who end up legislators know someone and/or are owed big by someone, and the cushy position is their reward.

    Elections.il.gov can show you the extent of this system; if you look at the primaries, there was not a lot of competition even in that stage.

    Now, that’s not to say there is no dissent; the problem is, between the systems being set up (by the machine men) to block access and the rest of the machine working against you, you don’t have much of a chance.

    You work for the machine men, and they take care of you. They’ll make your street look nice, they’ll take care of your sewer problems, they’ll give you a nice patronage job (which means big money little work >bleepIllinois’ 4th Congressional District (via census.gov), and you are struck by the shape. What’s even more amazing is that, to conform to the contiguity requirement, part of it runs up the median of an expressway.

    And I bet some of you are asking, “Where are the Repubs?”

    Forget it. They don’t exist properly in Chicago.

    Here’s the nitty-gritty:

    Established political parties also get the right to elected party officials called committeemen. The sig requirements are reasonable, and as a result the Dems get someone to take one for the team and sign as the Repub committeeman. I’ve been told by several former Dem insiders that there are multiple cases where the Dem organization pays for the rent and office expenses for the Repub group, and where they slot in Repub committeemen.

    These comitteemen are important, though, because they have the ability to slate candidates. If a candidate could not get on the primary ballot for some reason, she can assemble the committeemen that cover the district of the office she wants, and with their nod and a few formal sheets of paper she can fill a vacancy of nomination. However, if you cannot get the committeemen together, or if they do not want you on the ballot, you are denied this ability.

    Which means that you would have to file petitions months before, and getting the sigs alone would be tough assuming you weren’t run through the wringer in the objection process.

    Which in Illinois is even more tricky, because the state Repub party is busy reformulating itself into a black hole.

    Two races in particular point this out. First, this past March was a special election to replace former Speaker of the House Hastert’s seat. The candidates were a relative nobody Dem (don’t flame me, Foster fans, note the ‘relative!’) and a billionaire Repub who has name recognition by the bushel, since he is also the namesake of a super-premium dairy company which has its products in any supermarket worthy of the name, and stores, and.. you get the idea. Oberweis lost, and the seat flipped from Repub to Dem. Smart money says it will stay blue in November.

    The other one is with the probably Dem presidential nominee, Obama. He had a cakewalk election to gain his seat in the Senate, easily one of the easiest first-term wins in history. For those of you who don’t remember, Repub Fitzgerald, himself a billionaire candidate, stepped down after one term in office. The open seat was fought originally between Obama and Jack Ryan, former husband of Jeri Ryan (ST:V’s 7 of 9, since I figure that would be the easiest reference for this crowd ;). Actual backstory I don’t know, but the colorful fictional version is that Jack wasn’t happy with his highly attractive successful wife and was involved in sex clubs. Something like Spitzer without as many punch lines, I guess. He had to drop out of the race, and the Repubs scrambled to find… Alan Keyes, who fits into the triangular hole of Illinois like a square beg and lost the election by greater than a 2-1 margin.

    So, you see, we really do not have much of a choice in our candidates in Chicago.

    I hope that this lesson in elementary Chicago civics was education as it was long and painful to write, and don’t forget there will be a test on this come November.

  145. why is it that strict logical thinkers who will tell you at every turn that “you can’t prove a negative” KNOW there is NO god?

  146. Xodarap
    “I may be an ass, but it is not by way of my expertise.”

    I think you underestimate yourself.

    Huny. look. You are making an old mistake, one that was addressed long ago. You seem to think that logic is “Nature’s own language”. It isn’t. That canard was refuted long ago and your childish little faux dialog does nothing for your case.

    But by all means, prove the axiom of choice for me ok? For extra credit throw in the law of the excluded middle. I could use the laughs.

  147. @139 (irreal):

    I thought that War On Terror was a boardgame, and a rather good one at that. I’ve bought no less than ten copies of the game, and given them to friends who’ve done nothing but thank me for it.

    (Yes, that’s a bad joke. But it’s free, and you get what you pay for.)

    @Takuan:

    Wow, someone read it ;)

    I’d come up with some lame Soviet Russia joke, but, yeah, I cannot think of one.

    I didn’t make the system. I know the system’s broken, and there’s a lot of people who believe my (and Rob’s, for that matter) campaign in quixotic.

    But, you know what? Evil happens when good people do nothing, and I at least try to be a good person.

    By vocation I’m a hacker. If I see a broken system, I try to make it work, whether it’s debugging a subroutine in the kernel, repairing the video daughterboard in my laptop, rescuing a computer headed for the landfill because “Widnows[sic] no workie” then gutting it and making it more functional, figuring out which combination of accessories increase the fuel efficiency of my car the greatest amount (for the record: lightweight oil, two-point spark=plugs, fresh, fully inflated tires, and a jet engine in the back seat), or ripping the corruption in the system, attempting to be in a position to rip the corruption out of the system.

    @165 (Mindpowered):

    Funny you mention l’ile.. my mom was born there.

    And, yeah, the dead vote here. And some folks vote twice.

    Remember, vote early and vote often!

  148. LogrusZed 159: OK, give me a non-judgemental, objective definition of ‘mysticism’. It’s possible we’ve been talking at cross-purposes; I may even agree with you.

    But the stipulations on the definition are essential. If you define ‘mystical experiences’ as “stupid bullshit that doesn’t exist,” it’s pretty meaningless to say that mystical experiences are stupid bullshit that doesn’t exist, because that’s true by your definition. Come up with something that COULD exist, that COULD happen, but in your view does not; then it’s meaningful to discuss whether such things actually occur or not, and we may actually agree.

    For example, if Apocalyptic visions like the Revelation of St. John (yeah, I know I’m being redundant) are the standard—guess what, I think he was eating the funny mushrooms off the cowpats, and was kind of a wacko besides. How that crap made it into the Christian Bible I’ll never know.

    So give me your definition, or a first try at it (and we’ll smooth the edges a bit if needed), and then we can discuss whether we agree or not.

    And don’t fall back on the “commonly understood” definition. Mystical experiences are NOT commonly understood, and most people wouldn’t know one if it bit them on the subtle ass and drew ectoplasm. Dictionaries are also utterly useless in this regard, because lexicographers are not exactly known for high degrees of spiritual enlightenment!

    Besides, I want to know what YOU think. Not “most people,” not some dictionary. Surely you’ve thought about this enough to have your own definition, though it be of something whose existence you deny. If not, I encourage you to do so.

  149. (Xodarap’s claim: Something along the lines of logic being absolute.)

    Nice to leave yourself some room for future equivocation.

    Xodarap: You claim logic is just something we made up!

    noen: No, I claim it is the language that we use to describe the world.

    Xodarap: Is that true?

    noen: What is truth? I think the word you’re looking for is consistent. Is logic consistent? yes, it is. Is it contingent? Yes.

    Xodarap: You reject the Law of the excluded Middle? Heresy!

    noen: Yes, I reject it as axiomatic. That does not mean I accept it’s negation however. Classical logic can be seen as a topos in which all topological sets are discrete spaces. But why should all domains be discrete? LEM should be abandoned since it is not unusual to consider continuous and discrete domains in other disciplines, why should mathematics be any different.

    Xodarap: But my proof depends on the Law of the Excluded Middle. It is the essence of reductio ad absurdum.

    noen: Indeed, tough luck there. Logic is just a tool created by humans. It’s very powerful and allows us to achieve certain things but we should because so attached to one particular tool when there are better alternatives available.

    Xodarap: But… but… you haven’t made your case at all. You’ve proved nothing.

    noen: Ok. Take the set ‘D’ to be a metric space and that the property ‘P’ is an open subset of ‘D’, ‘notP’ is the topological exterior of ‘P’ and ‘U’ is union. So is it true that P U notP covers all of D? It depends on P.

    For example, let us suppose that ‘D’ is the set of Reals ‘R’ and that P = {x is an element of R; x is greater than 0} it follows that notP = {x is an element of R; x is less than 0}. Combining we get P U notP = R – {0}. However R – {0} does not equal R! The Law of the Excluded Middle is inoperative in this instance. On the other hand the set ‘N’ of Natural numbers has a discrete topology and in that case whatever P we choose it’s exterior will cover N. Got all that?

    Xodarap: No :(

    noen: You will hun, you will.

  150. Too bad this conversation seems to be over. I am very interested in whether there could be any issue where it’s harmful for it to be known that there are opinions on both sides. Is there an ethical issue that is so dangerous that it shouldn’t even be discussed?

  151. It’s not an ethical issue, but it seems that warning people against using steroids or other illegal drugs actually encourages them to do it. And there’s always horcruxes.

  152. That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to think of! (I had to google horcruxes, nice example.) Though that’s more a prohibition having a perverse effect (along the lines of scarcity –> desirability, with prohibition functioning as scarcity) than an ethical discussion, though. Like, I don’t think it’s dangerous to discuss steroid regulation or steroid use. (Heck, my grandmother’s on steroids, as she loves to tell me every time her doctor gives her a shot.)

    I wonder if there’s some discussion where it would create a scarcity effect or something like that, though.

    Based on the Horcrux example, though – it’s possible that people could transmit sort of hysterical diseases just by discussing them. Like the Nostalgia situation with the eighteenth century European soldiers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostalgia

  153. There’s also The Bad Things. The people of China are grateful to their government because the government carefully screens media to keep them from being exposed to The Bad Things. “What are The Bad Things?” “We don’t know. Our government protects us from them.” Obviously, they’re a boogie man to make the citizenry grateful for being deprived of knowledge that might incite them to overthrow their own government.

  154. Ah. So if I had a good argument that a totalitarian state ensured a higher level of happiness for my people than a free one, I could justify keeping information away from them because it would lead them to overthrow the government, making them less happy.

    That seems crazy, obviously. Maybe it’s the whole freedom v. happiness thing.

    I have a seriously Christian friend who is incredibly kind and creative and brilliant, but relies on very high levels of cognitive dissonance to get through her day. In a sense, I think knowing certain things – being exposed to certain arguments and evidence – might actually hurt her.

    She’s pretty good at screening them out, though.

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