6/7/08

John Loftus Makes Some Videos

FYI: this post has been moved here.

12 comments:

  1. Ok, I guess my comments are unwelcome here. Good luck fellas.

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  2. “If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake.

    Most disagreements between theists and non-theists are based on "why" not "what." The golden rule is a perfect example. However, if by the "whole point" you mean salvation, then you make the assumption that God exists and can save us from our current situation. I think it's wishful thinking.

    However, I am free to adopt aspects of religious practice and observation without the need to assume they came from a divine source. For example, i've adopted many Buddhist practices and philosophy without subscribing to the supernatural aspects of reincarnation, etc. I've done so because they are logically contestant and practical.

    Muslims claimed that mathematics came from studying the mind of God. Christians thought the same when they formulated classic physics. Yet, we do not use the term Muslim mathematics or Christian physics. Advances in neuro-physics will likely empirically validate the benefits of meditation which have been around long before Christianity was formed.

    And, while I don't always agree with Hitches he proposes an excellent challenge. Name one moral action or idea held by a theist that could not be held by a non-theist? Name one evil action or idea that was supposedly commanded by God.

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  3. Thanks for keeping up on what I do! I may not do that many videos. It doesn't allow for anything in-depth. I cannot possibly say all that I know in a short video or in a comment or in a post, either. But as you can see I have more success as an author than as a video producer.

    Cheers.

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  4. [quote]NOTE: From Mariano - thought that I would end IrishFarmer’s post with a quote from one time atheist C. S. Lewis that seemed relevant:
    “If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.
    [/quote]

    Ah, C.S. Lewis. Such a rich source of interesting things to talk aboubt. Such fun reading. Such subtly slipped in errors it's easy to give him credit for not realizing he was making them.

    Consider: If you are an atheist, you do not have to believe that all religions are simply wrong all through (for example, insofar as most religions have a "don't do to others what you would not have done to you" variant, be it word-for-word or inverted like Christianity's is, most religions have got something right). If you are a Christian, you have to believe that the main point in all the other religions of the whole world (a point other than The Creed) is simply one huge mistake. If you are an atheist, you are free to think that all religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.

    The problem is that Lewis, probably unknowingly, was equivocating between things which weren't equal. If you ask a Christian what the main point of their religion is, it'll probably have something to do with some guy they call something like Jesus. That does not mean that Jesus is the main point of Christianity, simply that Jesus is what such Christians say the main point of Christianity is. If you ask a gang member what the main point of their gang is, it'll could have something to do with keeping their neighborhood safe. That does not mean that neighborhood safety is the main point of gangs, simply that neighborhood safety is what such members say the main point of their gang is. Ask these same questions to an anthropologist and you might hear that the main point of Christianity is establishing an artificially longsighted social system, and the main point of a gang is providing a feeling of empowerment. That does not mean that social systems are the main point of Christianity though (or that empowerment is the main point of gangs), just that social systems are what the anthropologist says the main point is.

    A natural objection is "Christians, being members of Christianity, are specially entitled to know what the true main point of Christianity is. Also, being members of a religion, they are specially entitled to know what the true main point of religion is." Then again, when such reasoning is extended to gang members, the same objectors might be tempted to say "Well, but in this case, the anthropologist has a more objective outside opinion, and the gang members are blinded to the real point of gangs by their false perception on what they think a gang is." That understood, let's not dick around with claiming anyone has special entitlement to knowing the True Main Point of something. In fact, if you start talking about the True Main Point of something, you've already set a foot wrong. Rather, talk about the main point according to whom.

    So, returning to the C.S. Lewis quote from above... "If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all religions (according to whom?) is simply one huge mistake." Insofar as it's the main point according to the anthropologist, the main point of most religion is emminently not one huge mistake. The huge mistake comes only when the members of those religions start trying to justify their main point, especially when they justify it by saying that (according to them) the main point is actually something else. Sure, the main point of Christianity according to Christians is one huge mistake, but the main point of Christianity according to our anthropologist is not a mistake at all, and simply is not wrong all through. Quite the opposite. In fact, one is free to think that even the queerest religion contains at least some hint of the truth. In even more fact, any religion which didn't die out in a matter of a few hundred years very likely contains more than just a hint of the truth. Just not in the way the members of that religion would think.

    With the equivocation taken away, the assertion falls apart. If you leave the equivocation in (but use "according to Christians" wherever Lewis implicitly used "according to nonchristians" and vice versa) then you arrive at a similarly evocative quote which, while I bet many atheists would nod their heads in agreement (just like many Christians probably nod to the Lewis quote), I'd also bet most Christians would shake their heads at (with just the motions many atheists use for the Lewis quote):

    If you are an atheist, you do not have to believe that all religions are simply wrong all through. If you are a Christian, you have to believe that the main point in all the other religions of the whole world (a point other than The Creed) is simply one huge mistake. If you are an atheist, you are free to think that all religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.

    So, unless you're a Christian who's nodding in agreement to that last passage (or an atheist who nodded along with the original Lewis quote) I suggest you join with me and reject Lewis' equivocation.

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  6. Because we have kids. That would be a reason to matter.

    And, please don't start talking about morals. I have encountered... four, yeah that is the right number, Christians defending genocide, rape and murder. Using divine morals. Needless to say I consider that tantamount to following Khrone.


    You are right about John and exclusivism- one side is right, and another is wrong.

    That is sloppy. John forgot there are other religions. Deism doesn't really work- it is a massive argument from ignorance.

    Logic sides against theism. Still, you should use logic, reason and evidence.

    Demonizing the opposition is okay if the accusations are accurate. Calling Vox Day a "#%$^ sociopath" for example (he is one of the four).

    Conclusion-
    John needs to actually realize what he is saying and not repeat mindless drivel. If you want to be an antheist, fine. We don't have any hurdles. If you aim for antitheism, you better know what the heck you are talking about.

    Flaws- he considers tolerance a good thing AND is a hypocrite. Possible solution... point out the contradiction.

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  7. Good work, IF...glad to see you answering his assertions.

    Some of us almost thought you guys were running away from him.

    (On a positive note, at least he is not wearing the cowboy hat!)

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  8. John,

    You make some pretty sweeping statements about Christians in your video. In my time spent reading debates on various blogs and on amazon.com and youtube, I must admit I have yet to see a theist actually call an atheist "a devil" or some such thing. It wouldn't surprise me at all that there are some Christians out there who do believe that anyone who questions Christianity or criticizes it is demonic or possessed. However, I really wish that you won't do what Richard Dawkins seems prone to doing, which is to find the most extreme, fundamental, Bible-thumping Christian... and then portray them as "the average Christian," or, "this is how the average Christian acts" when they accuse someone of "doing Satan's work" or some such thing. To portray all Christians as such would be extremely dishonest! There are both extreme, radical Christians as well as rational, reasonable Christians who are merely looking for intellectual, ad hominem-free conversation. Likewise, there are extreme, radical atheists who have said some of the vile, repugnant things I've ever heard (you'll find some on youtube) as well as polite, reasonable atheists who are looking for intellectual, ad hominem-free conversation. One of the reasons I often read this blog is that the conversation is, more often than not, reasonably polite and intellectual, with little in the form of personal attacks and childish insults from both sides of the debate.

    I'm glad that you have the honesty to say that you could be wrong. I feel the same way as well. In fact, many of my beliefs are held very tentatively, as I feel I don't know nearly enough about the subject matter in order to warrant any degree of certainty. And I agree with you when you say that many Christians are very adamant and sure of their beliefs. I believe you used the words "cock-sure" to describe them. However with all due respect, I have a very, very, very hard time believing that you have never come across a "cock-sure" atheist on the net. I wish you would admit that both Christians AND atheists are guilty of such behavior. You seem to portray all Christians being absolutely certain that their beliefs are true, and they don't leave any room for doubt, or for questioning their beliefs. This is far from the truth! There are many, many Christians and theists who question, and/or have doubts about their beliefs. And to portray all Christians as "cock-sure" about their beliefs and not at all open to any kind of criticism is, again, dishonest and disingenuous.

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  9. "Christians who believe that they, and they alone, are right. Everyone else is wrong. I find that odd, although I at one time accepted that as well. It's odd because there are so many things that we disagree with in a free, Democratic society..."

    Yeah, because we all disagree with each other on stuff, then no-one is allowed to be right? I suppose he thinks that the law of excluded middle is odd too?

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  10. Ok, that was prob a little harsh.

    John, can you clarify that point for me?

    Thanks.

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  11. Duane, I cannot say everything I know in a video. Maybe I'll stick to writing.

    Christians are usually absolutely confident about everything crucial or essential that they affirm, right? They believe they're absolutely correct about the trinity, atonement, resurrection and return of Jesus, along with the inspiration of the canonical books of the Bible AND that their particular interpretation of them is correct, and so on, as one big set of beliefs. The problem is that such a set of beliefs is a very large claim. If they're found wrong on any one of them their faith comes crashing down. Remember that the larger the claim the harder it is to defend. I make minimal claims.

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  12. Samuel Skinner, I understand you have subjective reasons for caring, but that still doesn't address my question.

    John, I don't think you should necessarily stop making videos, you just need to find a niche. I enjoyed responding specifically to atheists, and I got quite a response from youtubers, though it got to the point where I couldn't respond to critics of my videos anymore.

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