Interesting commentary from ol' England

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Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Sat, 03/01/2008 - 6:31pm.

I love Pat Condell and I haven't seen any vids of his, yet, that I don't like. It's great to see someone from the U.K. with enough **you-know-what** to spout off about Islamic terrorism, the way he does.

Here's one of my favorites from Pat Condell:

Warning: muddle, don't watch this!


muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 7:57am.

Now, why wasn't I supposed to see this?

Let's see. Do a little deconstruction here. Set aside the intimidating (to some) brit accent and the confident smirk, and what do we really have?

A man who hates monotheistic religion as a "filthy lie" and so vents his spleen regarding it before a camera.

I know a gentleman in Oxford, Richard Swinburne, who is a professor of philosophy nd a Christian. Professor Swinburne also has an impeccable and intimidating Brit accent and is equally good with the confident smirks. But over and above these, he offers reasoned arguments.

The man assumes that naturalism has reality so taped that it is pointless to offer arguments against theism.

What makes this particularly funny to me is that I have just put down a book by Jaegwon Kim who is a splendid philosopher at Brown and a naturalist. His best known work is in philosophy of mind, as he has attempted to defend a coherent version of physicalism. He confesses that physicalism has an extraordinarily difficult time of accounting for consciousness. After all, how do you start with physical particles in space and put them together in a recipe such that conscious persons emerge from it?

Physicalists must either eliminate consciousness altogether from their view of the world, or attempt to posit two irreducibly different sorts of proerties, the physical and the mental, so that the difference between a brain and, say, a slab of granite is that, whereas the latter has only physical properties, the former has both physical and mental properties, or they attempt to reduce the mental to the physical so that mental properties just are (i.e., are identical to) physical properties. But the first option, eliminativism, is wildly implausible. The second option--call it property dualism--has been the great white hope of physicalists, as it makes room for something we all know to exist--our own consciousness. But, unfortunately, it simply doesn't work, as there is no way to account for mental causation--an obvious phenomenon. The outlook for the only other option, reductionism, is bleak, as mental properties do appear to be irreducibly mental in nature.

In sum, physicalism is in a serious funk these days.

So you have Colin McGinn, for instance, one of the chief writers in this field, saying, our options are these: eliminativism, which amounts to denying the undeniable, "miracles," which is to suggest that there is more to persons than the physical, or "noumenalism," which is to say that consciousness is a natural and physical phenomenon but we have no idea how or why. McGinn is so opposed to "wallowing in the supernatural" that he opts for noumenalism, and thus makes a monkish appeal to "mystery."

Now, I say all of this in the wake of watching this smug Brit, on YouTube of all places, offer no arguments whatsoever because he has such contempt for a theistic worldview that he doesn't want to legitimize it with rational debate.

What a hoot.

Wanna see another brilliant demonstration of people not interested in rational debate?

David Horowitz at Emory last October.

Ironically, Christopher Hitchens has come to Horowitz's defense, arguing that the term "Islamofascism" is accurate. He notes among other things that fascists detest the life of the mind. This also would seem to describe many of the people in the Emory audience. Don't like the speaker's (right-wing) message? Don't debate. Shout him down! That's the leftist strategy these days.

Don't like monotheism? Don't debate. Substitute insult for argument.

Richard Hobbs's picture
Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 1:01pm.

I know many on this blog make assumptions, I know I do.
So I'll step on some of those by saying that Pat's commentaries are more right than they are wrong.

His arguments regarding religion, whether Islamism or even Christianity, are well founded. He specifically even condemned, condescening atheists.

I think his arrogance, is his way of conveying, very simply, the ignorance of those that profess so much, and behave so badly.

I think religions have done so very much good in this world, in spite of their efforts.

Religions by far have caused more pain and suffering than any other single thing. I don't know about you, but when I am moved to exhibit truly selfless love for another, I do so not out of a fear of damnation; not out of a strict upbringing which included dogmatic sermons given by fire breathing preachers; not because I've been inspired by some awakening of conscience that I attribute to my God; no, when I do go for others, the act itself is truly its only and best reward.

So, brand me however you want, I am what I am. I just know, as Pat comments reflect, that I have a difficulty with a Muslim/Judeo/Christian God that would be so very jealous, so very insecure, so very angry, that he would tempt and toy with Abraham such that he would order the sacrafice of his own son. (If this were to happen today, no one in the right mind, would think Abraham wasn't a looney.) But for some reason, cloaked in the Talmut, or Old Testament, or Koran, its given as some wonderful example of faith. As John Stossel states so wonderfully, "Give me a Break"

I am more comfortable arguing Politics. We generally don't kill and slaughter our enemies, literally, as the Bible tends to suggest for those that oppose God's chosen people, so I'll just slip back into my politics a bit and stay away from a topic, which, I suspect will cause many people to roll their eyes and wonder what got into me.

Oh, if you really want to study the differences in the physical qualities of physical objects, like a rock, verses the mental portion of our existence, as you suggest in your comments, then consider the quantum side of existence.

Below is a link to an animated version of the two slits theory. I know, Muddle has seen it, but some of you might not have been exposed to this, and I rather enjoyed it. I have to revisit it, from time to time, to remind myself of what it is that we all are.

So enjoy this if you can.

Two Slits Theory

When you are done with that, then we'll talk about the half life of radioactive isotope and whether Schroding's cat is alive or dead, or both.

Oh, and although I suspect Muddle's reply will not include biblical references, which I appreciate, I don't believe this forum is appropriate for a learned discussion on this very passionate discussion. Which makes me wonder, why I don't just hit delete and go back to my other chores.

So for you other bloggers, please don't respond angrily, or with fervent prayer to my "plight". Instead, if you want this discussion to really be explored, then come on over the fayette forums. Its a format that can better explore these issues.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 9:31am.

I say that as a monotheistic man who is a Christian. I believe fear and anger are better motivators than love when dealing with human minds. I also believe persuasive men and women know this and therefore use fear of "them" and anger of "infidels" to motivate their masses; be they catholic, muslim, protestant. In this regard, the Namaste crowd are one of the few masses not angry at anyone.

I also think many Christians try to whistle past the incredible jaw-dropping events in the Old Testament. It amazes me that people who think Harry Potter is dangerous literature are completely comfortable with the X begat Y stories of the Old Testament along with the mass killings of infants and adults alike. And this is certainly why I have always been an opponent of trying to integrate the Bible into our governance. Do we use the Old or New Testament? NIV or King James? Just the first five books of the Old Testament or the whole thing? Does the Q'aran get a vote?
You are right in noting that no minds will likely be changed here, or new laws written. With that, I'll tip toe back to the political side of the blogs where absolutely zero minds will be changed as well.


Kevin "Hack" King

Denise Conner's picture
Submitted by Denise Conner on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 7:46pm.

"Religions by far have caused more pain and suffering than any other single thing."

Do you really know that to be true?


Richard Hobbs's picture
Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 10:21pm.

(Sorry Denise, you asked, I answered, with little brevity.)
Actually, religion has caused a tremendous, if not the very most amount of pain and suffering that the world has known. Qualifying by what we mean by "religion" is important, though.

Earlier remnants of religion, were nothing more than tribalism expanding across the continents. The groups of peoples would become geographically distant from each other, and they began to adopt their own faiths predicated upon their "God" gene, --as is described by Time magazine. That many religions share bits and pieces of other's history, i.e. Adam and Eve, the Great Flood; should not be surprising.

With differences between nations and cultures, came wars and sacraments to appease the one real god. From the Mayans, torturing and then sacrificing their own people to the gods; to the crusades --both on the Christian and Muslim side; and even more Biblically, to the Jews --against dozens upon dozens of tribes and nations, for which the Jew's god, chose to crush and destroy.

Historically, most religions have two things in common, the superiority of their faith, and the justification for their violence.

The litany of examples goes on and on. From those I've mentioned, to the countless religions over the centuries,--most which have died out; one can not find a single other common denominator that has killed more people than religion.

But the killing isn't the only thing. From the societal mores forced upon our culture, whether it was the obvious example of enslaving a people because of their sex or their race; religion has preyed upon the weakest, or, those in the minority. The "religion" of the "rule of the jungle", still infects most all religions. If you can't convert them, destroy them.

And need I remind you of the guilt that is impressed upon us all for obviously stupid things that we were taught in our youth, for which we even now, still ache. Whether it was working on the Sabbath, to having a drink of wine with your meal, to getting a divorce,--even from an abusive husband and father; our religious upbringings have tortured us mentally over the many years to follow some rule or logic that made no sense.

So yes, religion does do more harm, historically, than almost any other single thing. Exceptions? Certainly, the Buddhists often are rather placid. And certain Christians whose idea of their faith is focused upon Loving their God with all of their heart, mind and soul, and in truly treating their neighbor as they would have others do to them are the exceptions, sadly, and not the rule.

Do you not believe this to be the case? Do you really believe religion, in general, --not necessarily as you know it today here in Fayette, has been good for mankind? Do you really believe, over these past 50,000 years after man first began to become civilized, (or 6000 years from creation, --if we are to be forced to believe this as science), religion has brought more good to mankind, than it has caused harm?

I'm just trying to weigh the facts. From the burning of women, for being witches, to the sexual abuse children have suffered at the hands of the men of god, I'm just wondering how you could conclude anything different.

Again, religion may be part of our DNA, part of our natural desire to associate with people of similar characteristics and experiences. Almost a defensive mechanism for the weak. We align ourselves with those that confess to us, in some meaningful way. We are moved, apparently, by such behavior. The traditions and orchestra of a local synagogue, mosque, church or temple fills us with pride. Because we long to put closure to our wonderment over who we are, how we got here and where we are going, --once we are gone. Religion comforts us, and, torments us, with its unanswered questions. So that when it does reasonably answer one question or two, we are in awe and amazement. Couple this emotional amazement with a warm hug and smile, while hearing the song and sermon of others, is a major factor. We want to fit in, and it really feels good to learn of the mysterious ways in which our unknown and unseen God has communicated with us. Preach it loud and clear brother, sing for all to hear, and we are content in now believing that we have all the real answers that we "need" to know. Regardless of whether history and time, prove much of what we were taught is wrong. (I.E.,The universe revolving around the earth, bleeding the bad blood out of our bodies, voodoo dolls, and physically mutilating a child, as a sign of our pact with God, etc.)

But this gives us comfort to know that we are okay, that we are all going to be alright, and yet in a sordid, sad way, we look down upon the heathens who are too sinful to ever understand, and therefore will be punished accordingly. How could man have survived without collectively finding this common denominator, called religion, from which to procreate and prosper?

I don't know, but I think that maybe, just maybe, we might eventually realize that we are incapable of doing anything more than what we are already doing. Searching for those answers to the questions we have instinctively within us.

Where are we supposed to fit in, in this great big home we call our universe.

RE: the two links, that were hard to see at first, I'd suggest to you, that to some degree, communism, fascism, and socialism might not be construed as being religious, but they act and behave rather similarily. One man's vision of a god to worship, might be exactly what Marx saw in a Government to control the people. Which is one reason why I am a conservative. I strive to take away as many controls that the government has over us, so that we can truly become the very best of who and what we are. In effect, my religion is the belief and faith in the goodness of man, if left unencumbered by all of this drivel. Goodness is truly its only and very best reward and polluting it with mysticism, fear, hate, and the unknown, takes away from that goodness.

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 12:04pm.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Pat Condell video. I wasn't sure if anyone would appreciate the content, as I do, but I posted it regardless. You and I have been on opposite aisles of the political debate for months now, however, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your two posts on the topic of religion. I was surprised, to say the least, and found your words refreshing and eye-opening. Thank you for sharing.

And you are absolutely correct that we stereotype and wrongly define each other in THIS public forum, and in everyday life, based solely upon someone's party affiliation [or where they happen to live (Clayton vs. Fayette), or even how they look (black/white)].

Great posts, Richard.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 5:36pm.

Hi, Richard.

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

But, still, I wonder what is really there after close scrutiny. A man who does not like monotheistic religious belierf and thus hurls a few insults.


I do not like your garden-variety naturalism. I find it to be very implausible. But I recognize the obligation to do more than express my discontent with such a worldview. I owe people an argument for why I think it is false.

I offer no defense of religious people whose lives do not conform to their beliefs. Why should I?

And, as you might have gathered from some of my earlier posts, I am currently in a state of self-imposed "exile" so far as church involvement is concerned. I do not care at all to defend any particular instantiation of religious belief. Rather, I do wish to argue that our YouTube friend smugly overstates his case while relying upon a consensus against institutional religion.

Richard Hobbs's picture
Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 8:31pm.

Granted Muddle, I can see how you would interpret his comments, about monotheistic religions, as being somewhat emotional. He is giving us his minority opinion in a very unique fashion.

His arrogance, may turn some people off, which I surmise, is perfectly alright to him. He is literally indifferent as to what religion a person hails from or professes, he just objects to having to have their morals and mores effect him, which arguably it does.

He lives in Britain, a government who is about 30 years more progressively liberal than the U.S. States, and he is seeing first hand of the effects that religion is having on him personally.

He points out many very stupid rules, laws, and societal mores that are changing merely to accommodate the Muslims. He tries to be fair and suggest that his disdain for the Muslims is equal to that of all other similar religions who attempt to impose their will on his life.

So, maybe since he is living in country whose political correctness has destroyed his own civil liberties by catering to these religions, he might be internalizing his anger a bit. Then again, if you could pick yourself up right now, to open your eyes to America in 2040, I suspect you would be rather, how did he say it, "takin' a piss?"

I know that when I hear of some of the silly rules that we have to endure to prevent offending some ignorant culture due to political correctness, I get a bit agitated myself. Doing complete body searches of 80 year old women in wheel chairs, while letting the young Arab Muslims, get through security without half a peek, is rather bothersome.

Or maybe, since I'm a bit more annoyed from what I'm already seeing in America's growing culture of fascism, wherein the government is considered our mother, who will care for us from cradle to grave, then I might be somewhat biased. . . . nah!

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 11:32am.

"Now, why wasn't I supposed to see this?"

To be quite honest, I thought you might find him and the video offensive, and although you and I differ on religious and political ideology, I like you.

That's all.

btw - I do believe that we HAVE met before, and may meet again in the future, at a similar function.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 5:27pm.

This sort of thing is what I spend most of my time with. How could I be offended? I am no more offended than I am impressed. Eye-wink

It takes a lot really to offend me.


So maybe you were sitting there at Ray's kitchen table at the one meeting that I made after all?

I had good intentions that evening. Then the shi--you-know=what hit the fan days later, with health (cancer) worries, a death in the family, etc. I never got back to Ray and the Guitars program.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Sat, 03/01/2008 - 6:36pm.

Pat Condell articulates the atheist position very well. I give him credit, he is against Islam as much as he is against Christianity.

I did think one quote of his hit home: "Once you become aware of the gulf between what people profess to believe and how they actually behave, it’s hard to take any of it seriously."

Words to ponder!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 8:36am.

Once you become aware of the gulf between what people profess to believe and how they actually behave, it’s hard to take any of it seriously

Yes, unfortunately and far too often there is such a gulf between profession and practice.

But this would seem to presuppose some moral standard to which Condell looks to assess such practice. Else, what is the complaint?

Why aren't moral standards themselves equally called into question because of the gulf between professing moralists and actual practice? That gulf between is and ought exists whether morality is religiously grounded or secular.

But, then, consider the resulting statement:

"Once you become aware of the gulf between what people profess to believe about morality and how they actually behave, it’s hard to take the idea of objective morality seriously."

That would be a silly argument. And so it is in its original context.

I always think of Chesterton's satirical remark: "A Confucian has stolen my hairbrush! Down with Confucianism!"

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