The Problem with Atheists

Self-professed atheists think they have come to the conclusion that there is no god through a process of critical thinking and logical reasoning. They either make the positive intellectually-certain claim “there is no god” or what many believe to be the more “balanced”, “less radical” position of “I have absolutely no reason to believe in god but cannot rule his existence out altogether”. The problem with many atheists is that once they reach this position of god-denial, they think their reasoning is done, and become just as assured of their other positions as the theists they dislike so much, thinking of themselves as “rationalists”.

There is a difference between being an atheist and having a rational worldview though. Being an atheist just means you have taken a position on one particular matter of belief. Atheism is not a worldview or a belief system. It offers absolutely no other descriptive or prescriptive content apart from ‘this person doesn’t believe in god’. The problem with some atheists is that they do indeed think atheism is a worldview.

Atheism belongs only to the question of “god” – which is only one in the myriad field of questions, under the heading of belief. The problem with modern atheists is the same “problem” that plagues the worlds of philosophy and science. They tacitly or openly accept the notion that omniscience is necessary for absolute certainty. Philosophical scepticism permeates their worldview like a disease: we can never be sure of anything; our senses aren’t reliable; certainty is impossible; objectivity is naive; definite statements can’t be made in science; total knowledge is necessary for accurate claims. There is no greater exponent of this scepticism than the postmodern subjectivist with his diabolical multiculturalism. But the scientific community as well as the philosophical one as a rule accept this nihilism as the given.

As an example, how many times have you heard a theist say “you can’t call yourself an atheist – have you examined every part of the universe to see if god exists??” To which the atheist might respond: “I don’t need to examine the entire universe; there might be a god, but I see no reason to believe in one – and the burden of proof is on you.” The atheist is right that the burden of proof is on the theist – but he still cannot be 100% sure of his position, and he unwittingly accepts the philosophical scepticism that the theist smuggles into the question. In the same way that philosophical scepticism says that just because the sun rose yesterday doesn’t mean we can be sure it will rise tomorrow, the atheist who “is committed to reason and logic” refuses to rule out the supernatural, god, ghosts, vampires, goblins, elves, chi, astrology entirely – because he still accepts the nonsensical proposition that definite knowledge is impossible; that omniscience is necessary for certainty; that our senses can be fooling us one from minute to the next. So no matter how “rational” the atheist is, he still has to allow a modicum of irrationality in his worldview: that all the things he rejects might actually exist. But omniscience is not necessary to know that god is impossible and that the supernatural and paranormal are irrelevant anti-concepts that can be dismissed with 100% confidence.

Atheism is not a replacement for religion. That is why many deconvertees feel despondent and nihilistic when their worldview is shattered, as I once did. Religion is a complete worldview – it is an attempt to provide a complete philosophy, in that it attempts to account for knowledge, metaphysics, morality, politics, and aesthetics. It fails – but I think many atheists don’t realise how powerful religion is – it is powerful because it is important, and it is important because it represents a true human need: a philosophy for living. Religion doesn’t answer that need, because it is intellectually void and rejects reality – and places the primacy on consciousness and not existence itself. Atheism is not a worldview, and it is most certainly not a philosophy. The other “worldviews” that atheists turn to are not valid philosophies either. One example might be Humanism, a position that claims the universal value and worth of all people. However, Humanism does not give a definite objective definition of morality and it has no political agenda. Peter Singer as one example, a self-professioned Humanist, disagrees with many tenets of Humanism, such as the preferential treatment of human beings. Unfortunately, there is no way for Humanists to decide who is right on this issue. Secular Humanism has come to mean the rejection of religion in a political and moral setting, but it prescribes nothing objective in its place. For this, Humanists are free to discover any code of morality they choose, and are left to argue over what is right, morally and politically. Humanism has no objective definite positions on morality or politics, and what positions are generally accepted by humanists are usually based on some subjective collectivist notion of morality, such as utilitarianism – the idea that the whole is more important than any of its parts, and humans are cells in a superorganism that can and should be sacrificed for the good of the whole. In this respect, utilitarians merely substitute “god” for “society”. Atheists want religion gone, but offer nothing in its place that even resembles a proper philosophy and worldview.

The problem with some atheists is that, in their rush to displace religion and espouse all that religion traditionally rejects, they turn their lives into a quest to “make the world a better place” – and just like the religious, only their definition of better is allowed, and, just like the religious, they want their notions enforced politically. To take just one example: the fundamentalist wants a global theocracy. The modern-day atheist wants a global democracy. Most atheists idealise democracy almost religiously – an absolute to be unquestioned, “the best government we have or can have”; a “necessary evil”, they might say. It never even occurs to many to even question the idea of “universal good”, “making the world a better place (even by force)”, “democracy”. And this is because, just like the theist, many atheists steal the concepts of “good”, “better”, “freedom” from their necessary antecedents and apply them out of context, not realising they are contradicting themselves.

Want some examples?

Animal rights. “Rights” are a moral principle that define freedom of thought and action. Animals are not moral beings and have no conscious freedom of thought and action. They cannot therefore have rights.

Free Democracy. Democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the enforced demand of a majority that is necessarily at the expense of the minority. It holds the collective as the standard and purpose, and individuals as means to that end. As such, it cannot respect freedom, since freedom only applies to thought and action, and only an individual can think and act. “Free democracy” is an oxymoron.

Making the world a better place. This idealist notion holds other peoples’ lives and happiness as the purpose of one’s own. By this thinking, the only goal in your life should be to make other people happy or maximise happiness in general, even if at your own expense. If there is no one around to please or help, your life has no meanin therefore. What about those who don’t want your help? What about those you don’t subscribe to your collectivist mentality, an example of which is the redistribution of wealth? Do you take their property from them? Do you threaten to arrest them if they don’t share their wealth? “Well”, you rationalise to yourself, it’s for the “greater good”. Wrong. Again, more concept-stealing – how can you enforce a moral action?? It’s a contradiction in terms.

A perfect example of this Modern Atheist is the excellent Christopher Hitchens. I like Hitchens, and I love watching him speak and debate – but his idea of morality is evolved social behaviour. His political ideal is democracy (I believe he is still a socialist). His support of the invasion of Iraq is not grounded primarily on acting in American’s rational self-interest, viz, to remove a very real threat – but as an act of altruism to “save” the Iraqi people and make their lives better, even at the expense of thousands of American soldiers. When it came to justifying an objective epistemology and metaphysics based on atheism, Hitchens was put in the shade by the Dinesh D’Souza.

In a recent debate, I encountered several of these “New Atheists” who’d read a little Dawkins and Hitchens and considered themselves rational just because they rejected god. Being an atheist means NOTHING about having a rational worldview – it is only one possible corollary of having such a worldview. As theists love to point out, many atheists committed atrocities just like theists did. Many atheists like to fight on this issue, especially Hitchens and Dawkins, protesting “but they didn’t commit their crimes in the name of atheism! Who cares? Some of them actually did – the point is that it doesn’t matter: they were atheists, so in and of itself atheism says nothing about a person’s rationality. The war to fight is not theism vs atheism, it is irrationalism vs rationalism, subjectivity vs objectivity. And then, the war is there to fight only if it is of value to YOU. It is not a purpose in itself; not a campaign to spend your life selflessly pursuing.

There is one philosophy that I accept to the best of my knowledge. One that rejects philosophical scepticism; one that refuses to fight on the nihilistic grounds of the irrationalist; one that knows what its foundations are; one that has an objective account of reality and knowledge; one that has an objective morality; objective politics; and defines the proper values and virtues of human life. One that states that “the highest moral purpose man can pursue is his own happiness”; that life is an end in itself; that our lives are not sacrificial objects for the sakes of others – they our lives are our own and belong to us and no one else. A philosophy that states that reason is our primary means for survival – and every else flows from this. This is of course Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.

It’s not my purpose in life to “convert” people, and I don’t live to win people over to Objectivism or do their thinking for them; I don’t live to “make the world a better place” – each of us must make our lives as good as possible, and that includes caring for those we value. All I would like to point out is that many atheists these days are confused about their philosophical premises, even the “experts” like Dawkins and Hitchens. A person who honestly seeks a rational worldview would do well to study Objectivism, especially those “rational” atheists out there who despise religion so much yet cannot justify many of their own subjective notions.

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104 Responses to “The Problem with Atheists”

  1. Marcus Says:

    Most interesting. It did clear some misconceptions for me. Many thanks!

  2. raptor99 Says:

    You know, you make some pretty broad generalizaions here. Such as atheists all wanting a global democracy. I am an atheist, and I do NOT wnat a global democracy. I just want Christians to stop pushing their hokey superstitions on those of us with enough sense to pull our nose up from the Bible. All of your comments are driven by your faith. Keep in mind that as an atheist, I do not define myself by a lack of belief in your God. I define myself by a lack of belief in all gods.

    how can you, as a Christian say that your religion is right, and that all buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, and members of any other religion (including subsects of Christianity, at times) are going to go to hell because only your religion is right. how arrogant.

    You try to poke holes in atheism, and you slander us for disbelief, but there are myriad contradictions in the Bible. what is a Christian’s response when confronted with this? “it’s God’s plan, not for us to know….” Bull. literally translated, that means “I don’t know, and am too comfortable in my worldview with the idea that I am going to Heaven to question anything within my faith”.

    Don’t hate us because we saw through the propaganda. The Christian mythology borrows so heavily from previous religions that it is almost not even it’s own religion, but a religious mutt that you happen to have adopted.

  3. Postdiluvian Says:

    Raptor99, do you know how to read?

  4. Mark Says:

    Raptor99, evanescent is an atheist. The only information in your rant that was worth a damn to read is to be found in your first paragraph. As much as I disagree with evanescent, I wanted to come to his defense regarding the trash you’ve written. Sorry, try again.

  5. bluebart Says:

    I think what you have said here is very interesting and worth thinking over. The first thing I want to say isn’t a defence for your article or an attack against it. You define Atheism as someone who does not beleive in “god.” An Atheist should be someone who does not beleive in in the existence of any deity and most religious views. (not talking about the moral ones here)

    I might have other things to say eventually after I think about it for a while.

  6. evanescent Says:

    @ Marcus, thanks.

    @ Raptor, I’m an atheist – read the article article before you try to criticise next time.

    @ Postdiluvian: I don’t think he does!

    @ Mark: thanks for coming to my defence. By all means disagree with me, but don’t do a Raptor and scan-read the article!

    @ Bluebart: An atheist is of course someone who doesn’t believe in any deity. Most deities are defined in such a way as to make them a mass of contradictions and outside any field of human knowledge – as such we can dismiss them all as either impossible or unworthy of consideration. Indeed we can be absolutely certain that they don’t certain – omniscience is not required.

  7. raptor99 Says:

    You know, I re-read the article, and I do apologize. I was set off previously by someone else, ad I was out of line. I guess that is what I get for skimming through things when I am frustrated.

  8. evanescent Says:

    No worries Raptor – admitting you’re wrong is a sign of honesty, a very important virtue for a rational person. :)

  9. BlackSun Says:

    Evanescent, great post as usual. I share your distaste for “tyranny of the majority.” But have yet to figure out what to replace it with.

    So much evil has been done by well-intentioned people with too much power in the name of “the greater good.”

  10. Mark Says:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/childs1.html

    I don’t wish to get into a discussion about that, but what are your thoughts, evanescent?

  11. Eric Cope Says:

    replacing the tyranny of the majority with an elected constitutional republic with rights and liberties enumerated, and not clashed with previous sections. If our government followed the rules , that would describe us. Afghanistan is a perfect example of an elected anticonstitutional republic with its constitution only overruled by the Rule of Islam which nullifies most of its context…

  12. frodo441 Says:

    My impression is the problem that affronts some Christians about atheism is not so much the secularizing influences of Renaissance’s of all times (as much as this is what happens with scientific innovations) but the problem of society emmuring itself to a social “darwinism”. This is the most pressing question and fallacy. Suffice it to say, “if social darwinism were true, how infact do we all get there together with out ending up at qumram?”

  13. doubtingthomas426 Says:

    Evanescent, a well thought out opinion but one that provoked in me the irritating reminder of how we are all unfairly simplified by the labels assigned to us.

    A•the•ist (ā’thē-ĭst): noun, One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

    Chris•tian (krĭs’chən): noun, (1) One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. (2) One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

    Which of these labels define me? Which of these labels define you? Does the fact that I went to church and Private Christian School for the majority of my life define me a Christian? Does the fact that I no longer worship the god depicted in the bible or any other god define me as an Atheist? Can you be an Atheist and have doubts about the Theory of Evolution or the Big Bang? Is it possible to be a Christian and question the validity of the story of Noah and the Ark or whether or not there was ever an actual Garden of Eden? Just how accurately do our labels define us and who do they really exist for? Who do they benefit the most? Is it the person being labeled or the person doing the labeling? Clearly it depends on the label.

    People might be surprised by how many labels they carry. Are you pro-life? Pro-choice? Democrat? Republican? Christian? Catholic? Atheist? Feminist? Chauvinist? White? African American? Man? Woman? Parent? Child? Teenager? Upper-class? Middle-class? Experienced? Inexperienced? Employed? Unemployed? Blonde? Brunet? Bald? Obsessive Compulsive? Manic Depressive? Chemical Dependant? Drug Addict? Alcoholic? Anal? Neat Freak? Irresponsible? Punctual? Husband? Wife? Heterosexual? Homosexual? Vegan? Carnivore? Stubborn? Open Minded? Experienced? Inexperienced? Anorexic? Obese? Buff? Ugly? Beautiful? Plain? Victim? Criminal? Citizen? Immigrant? Doctor? Patient? Sweetheart? Asshole? Prude? Whore? Do any one of these labels truly describe who you are? Any combination of them describe you in your entirety? I would bet that if each and every one of us sat down with pen and paper and tried to list all the labels that we currently carry; first, none of our lists would be complete, and second, no matter how inclusive we may have managed to make our lists, the list still wouldn’t paint an accurate picture of who we are.

    Bill Gates, Penn Jillette, Sam Harris, Salman Rushdie, Diane Keaton, Warren Buffett, and Gore Vidal are all self described Atheists. However, none of them have the exact same beliefs about religion, the bible, Evolution or the origin of life. Just as an Evangelical Christian, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Presbyterian and the Amish don’t have the exact same belief about Christianity, the bible and the origin of life. All of us are far more complex than any label or combination of labels could ever hope to encapsulate. So again we must consider who it is that benefits most from a label’s simplification of a complex set of opinions, or a lifestyle, or a belief system, or a pattern of behavior, etc.? Certainly not those who find themselves constrained by the implied boundaries of whatever category they’ve been assigned. And yet, it isn’t unusual to find that someone has assigned themselves with one or more of these labels, often times embracing them. Clearly it takes a lot less effort to describe oneself using a single word rather than an entire paragraph but aren’t we slighting ourselves when we chose to do so? Aren’t we being slighted when someone else does the same? If my personal list of labels came to a total of twenty-three (and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head), how can being referred to by any one do me any favors? And what about those people who assign themselves a label they don’t deserve. How does the cop who plants the gun on the body of the pimp he mistakenly thought was armed warrant calling himself ‘just’. How does a Pope call for the assassination of the Queen of England and still call himself ‘pious’? How many teenage girls consider themselves ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ when they aren’t? How many of our self imposed labels are accurate?

    And then there are the labels, the uses of which have provoked some of mankind’s most shameful acts. In 1231, Pope Gregory IX instituted the papal inquisition for the apprehension and trial of Heretics, heresy being defined as a deliberate denial of an article of truth of the Catholic faith. The atrocities committed against those labeled as Heretics are legendary. And although many were reportedly killed long before this, as the result of a judicial sentence of an inquisitor, the first documented Witch (Hugues de Baniol) was burned to death in 1275 in Toulouse, France. Do I even need to mention the Salem Witch Trials? In many parts of the world women are still being assaulted and murdered as a result of being labeled a Witch. And to be labeled a Jew in 1940s Germany was the equivalent to being labeled a dog. Many were even forced to wear their label in the form of the Star of David, their own version of the scarlet letter. And, as we now know (holocaust deniers aside), millions of those labeled Jew were executed for this reason alone. Even being called a Christian or an Atheist was once a potential death sentence in certain parts of the world. Some could argue it still is.

    When something occupies a neat little category, we are comforted, believing that everything that resides in that category can be defined by it. This is rarely, if ever, the case. We must never forget this. If someone identifies themselves as an Atheist, it may mean that you can rightfully assume that they don’t believe in a god, but it doesn’t mean that you should assume you now know their feelings on religion, yours or anybody else’s. Nor can one assume they know who a person is simply because they call themselves a Christian. If history has taught us anything, it’s that many of those who have referred to themselves as Christians, if judged on actions alone, would not have been labeled as such by anyone else. No single label or collection of labels will ever be able to completely define any one of us. Our complexities are what individualize us. Even two of the most pro-life, vegan, P.E.T.A. supporting, Feminist, Texas native, Republican, Born Again Christians are going to find themselves on opposite sides of an issue at some point. If you were to dismiss someone, or even to accept someone, simply because they share the same label as you, inevitably you would find yourself with a disastrous mismatch.

    Sorry for the rant. Didn’t realize it would result in so many words.

    DoubtingThomas

    http://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/

  14. evanescent Says:

    @ Blacksun, thanks for the comment as always! As to what we replace democracy with…

    Eric Cope said:

    If our government followed the rules , that would describe us.

    Which is more or less true! The American Constitution is not perfect but it’s still very good. And if the government was totally prevented from infringing individual Rights, it would be the perfect system.

    There is nothing wrong with an elected Leader, or a Federal government – as long as neither can change the law of the land, and their job is merely to enact policy decisions, which is what a government (a body of legal and political and military experts) can be safely trusted to do.

    frodo441 said:

    but the problem of society emmuring itself to a social “darwinism”

    I don’t think this would ever happen, and anyone who understands evolution understands that it’s a theory that explains a fact of reality. It prescribes NOTHING about how human life should be lived or what is moral or immoral. The problem is that because Christians don’t understand evolution, the imagined social ramifications of it scare them.

    @ Doubting Thomas: I’m an atheist, and of course I don’t fit into the category of the atheists I described in my article – it wasn’t addressed to all atheists, so I wasn’t using “atheist” as a label to describe any particular group. I was using the term “New Atheist” to refer to a certain kind of atheist: the self-professed “rational person” or “critical thinker” that rejects god and religion but doesn’t realise how many other absurdities and irrationalities they still hold, and swallows everything Dawkins and Hitchens say, and clings to their other secular and “Humanist” notions without critically examining them. As two examples of this I gave: “love of democracy”, and “an evolutionary explanation of morality”, that not all, but many atheists cling to.

  15. Pete Says:

    Well done.

    Most people would rather be part of a larger group than to think for themselves as required by Objectivism. Reason, thinking, is undoubtedly our means of survival. It is unfortunate that many are too willing to allow others to do that for them.

  16. raptor99 Says:

    Pete:

    I believe that the need to belong to something higher is what drives society, and mankind as a whole to form into collective groups. Take religion for instance (not spceifically Christianity, but religions as a whole). theists are comforted by the ideals that their specific religion impart upon their daily lives, the rules for living and the basic premises that religions use to uphold their specific belief structures. People that believe in reincarnation, for instance, try to live the best lives possible lest they come back as a cockroach. Christians use similar moral principals to try to gain entrance into heaven. It is this strive for something greater, and this sense of belonging that make them feel they are right, and give them purpose.

    For me, I have the same calling, though not in search of heaven or reincarnation. I serve in the military, hoping and believing that the work I do gives me a sense of purpose, and allows me to sleep with a clearer conscious. My sense of belonging comes from serving with a group of similar minded individuals, all with the same goal (though sometimes viewed from different perspectives). My uniform gives me comfort, as I put it on every day and understand that this is about something larger than myself. I believe that this is similar to a Christian’s perspective that their faith gives them purpos eand their bible comfort. Justanother look at things, possibly off topic.

  17. evanescent Says:

    Hi Raptor, thanks for the comment.

    I think serving in the military can be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding career, although I have no experience of it myself.

    I think you’re right that religious people like the comfort and sense of purpose that comes with their religion, but their position is void for several reasons: 1. what they call comfort, I’d call laziness. If you’re deeply religious, odds are that all your thinking is done for you, you don’t need to think or contemplate or integrate information. 2. Their sense of purpose is also misguided because it cannot be realised – a purpose that cannot be realised is a fantasy; a waste of time; an evasion of reality. And as such, is immoral.

    As for your comments about ‘the collective’ driving society, or people, I disagree. I think rational people want to be the best they can, and there is no doubt that society is a huge benefit to individuals, but we must be careful not to use society as our standard, or our ideal, or our “greater good” that is more important than ourselves. There is nothing more important than individual purpose, because, no other purpose exists! What should really drive us all to be better is our own self-worth as human beings; as rational beings – to not just plod through life from one day to the next living on the spur of the moment like an animal, but thinking and planning longterm and exercising our minds and bodies to the best of their ability – self-esteem and happiness (our highest purpose) demand nothing less. Such virtues and purpose do not need the consent of anyone else or the approval of society.

    Edited to add:

    Mark said:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/childs1.html. I don’t wish to get into a discussion about that, but what are your thoughts, evanescent?

    I wouldn’t want to give my thoughts on any important issue without a proper discussion. But if you insist: after a brief perusal, I find the counter-argument lacking, and I do not see that the writer has really challenged anything Miss Rand said – I think her original arguments in themselves stand without need of my defence.

  18. Richard Cutts Says:

    Do you consider agnosticism to be a subset of atheism?

    I have for some time considered myself an agnostic in that I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever have absolute knowledge of the existence of a “God”. However, to say my knowledge on the subject is lacking would be an understatement.

  19. evanescent Says:

    Hi Richard – agnosticism properly understood means that one cannot know whether or not god exists.

    Agnosticism is not a valid position on the existence of god. There is only one truth here: either god exists or he doesn’t. If you have evidence to believe “god” exists then you are entitled to call yourself a theist. However, there is no valid evidence that god exists. The concept of god is outside all human knowledge – it is not related to anything in existence, and since all knowledge is interrelated and contextual, a concept (a mental integration of two or more existents) with no connection to reality, to existence, is no concept at all, it is a meaningless anticoncept. As such, the issue of god’s existence is not worthy of any consideration at all. One simply CANNOT consider ANY matter that is outside the scope of proof/disproof. Such a matter cannot be affirmed or denied even in principle, it must simply be ignored.

    That goes for arbitrary anti-concepts in general, however the concept “god” DOES allow us to take a position: the entire definition of god entails a mess of contradictions: a being to which “value” has no meaning, yet values. A being that is as far removed from humanness and human understanding as can be conceived, yet which acts and thinks like a human and is supposed to be understood by us; a being that demands love (a contradiction), a being that imposes morality at the point of a lightning bolt (a contradiction in terms); a being that demands faith and the rejection of reason and holds sacrifice as the highest moral purpose, all of which contradict the REALITY of man and his relationship to existence (which demands reason, egoism, and happiness). The entire “concept” is a contradiction, and contradictions do not obtain in reality, therefore god does not exist. There is no debate in the matter, and agnosticism is an invalid position.

    Here is a very good article you might find of interest: http://ergosum.wordpress.com/2006/10/25/dawkins-needs-objectivism/ From there: “To simply say, I am an atheist because I don’t believe in god(s) is merely to make a very subjective statement about one’s own beliefs without making any reference to objective reality, i.e., whether or not an entity such as God really exists out there.”

    Back to your initial question about agnosticism and to stress the point: real, pure agnosticism is an act of intellectual evasion. If there is a proposition that is outside the limits of human knowledge, it is arbitrary, meaningless. It is simply unworthy of consideration. Note: this is not the same as saying “I don’t know” because knowledge is insufficient.

  20. psiloiordinary Says:

    . . . and I just notice that Evan censored my last post on that other thread. A post in which I said I was going to leave it be. He also claimed that I only stopped posting because he blocked me. Telling lies now Evan?

    Come on Evan – I challenge you to put the text of my last comment on show here and tell us why you wanted it blocked.

    Wow – does make 2 and 2 equal six now – censorship of politely expressed dissenting views – chalk another one up for the cultometer.

  21. evanescent Says:

    Psi, censorship can only be performed by government. Every other forum is a matter of private choice and opinion, and since this is my blog, I and only I choose who can post on it and whether I allow the comment or not. “Censorship” does not mean “allowing each and every person to use your property as a forum to voice their warped political or moral opinions”. It is NOT censorship to NOT allow somebody to say whatever they want on your property. Unfortunately, as much as I liked you when I first encountered you, you have shown gross irrationality and emotionalism on my blog, and a desire to argue for the sake of arguing and attack Objectivism for no honest reason. This can be seen from your persistent accusations of “cult” – this is not the mark of someone seeking honest rational discussion or enlightenment. That’s why I blocked you, and why I’ve allowed your comment here to show people what I won’t tolerate. If I had something to hide I wouldn’t even do that. My articles stand and fall on their own merit. You have abused your privilege of commenting.

  22. evanescent Says:

    Just in case anyone is wondering, here is what Psi thinks and why his positions are irrational and why, despite explaining to him why his positions are flawed, he still continues. I don’t intend to pursue these issues in this thread, but merely expose the intellectually bankruptcy of his philosophy.

    Psi said:

    I encountered some of Evans views on his own blog and pointed out the unsupported assumptions and other problems in his examples i.e.

    There is a good deal of evidence to show that some animals are rational and moral. If this evidence is true then his conclusion is false.

    Animals are not rational. Being able to make a basic volitional action or solve a logic problem the way a machine does not make an animal rational. In any event, reason is MAN’s primary means of survival, not an animal’s.

    But, like I offered to Psi, if anyone would like to present a rational animal to me, the whole world and a Noble Prize awaits.

    Animals are definitely NOT moral. Morality, properly understood, means a freely chosen code of values with the existence of alternatives. Since animals do not rationally freely choose their values or understand their actions, they CANNOT be moral. The idea of evolutionary behaviour as moral is nonsense because it begs the question.

    I had asked him what he would suggest as an alternative to tax.

    Simple: a voluntary percentage of business agreed to between a company and the government, or any voluntary donation a free citizen chooses to give to ensure their rights are protected. 1. Whether Psi thinks this would work or not is irrelevant because otherwise he begs the question. 2. I didn’t give him this answer originally because he didn’t deserve it – because it’s actually irrelevant to what the proper role of government is – a simple point that he just couldn’t grasp. He wanted me to spoonfeed all the answers to him without having to do any thinking himself, whilst he still accepted his own self-contradictory notions of government.

    I also asked him what he would suggest as an alternative to democracy.

    Universal freedom with a government that protects individual rights – in which case no majority vote of any kind could affect any change in law that would violate individual rights. I said this about a dozen times to Psi but he didn’t get it, and get repeating himself.

    Anyone is welcome to read the original discussion for themselves and form their own conclusions:
    http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/the-role-of-government/
    http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/abolish-the-welfare-state/

  23. frodo441 Says:

    Social darwinism…definitely not with a consumer aesthetic…a little philosophical diatribe is good, but this is getting to make metaphysical Pythagoreans look very good…good job.

  24. erdormontnj Says:

    I don’t know. I think atheism has its points, just as any other religion does. Atheism uses science to disprove religion completely. Not only religion, but supernatural cases as well (ghosts, vampires, fantasty, magic). Show me an atheist that really believes in anything other than reality and truth without question.

    Agnostics..on the other hand have no idea what might be out there. They’re on the fence about particular issues, but they are skeptics when it comes to God.

    I think…this is my personal belief…that the Bible is a book of stories about social, moral and ethic values to be learned. Religious fanatics believe every last word of it completely literal. They believe that these “miracles” took place on Earth and will not and never be told otherwise. They are completely ignorant.

    But..you can same the same for atheists…they are also ignorant in the fact that science, although a more believable and much more reasonable way of looking at the creation of this earth, is the complete and just answer to everything.

    To me…believing in anything can help boost a person’s moral. But sometimes…things are taken way too far.

    The Bible is full of metaphors. It’s a shame that religious fanatics can’t see that.

  25. Ergo Says:

    This is besides the discussion (Evan, you can delete the comment if you like). Regarding Mark’s link to Child’s open letter written decades ago, just one principle is needed to be understood to blast his letter’s contradictions into the open:

    Human rights are not a commodity that can be placed on the free market to undergo processes of competition and efficient protection (whatever that may look like!). There’s no such thing as “better rights” or “more efficiently protected rights”. Human rights are an absolute: you either have it or it has been denied to you. You are either protected or you are not.
    If you grasp this fundamental principle that rights are not open to competition, then the whole point of having “competing governments” or competing agencies for security (the anarchist position) is moot. Is absurd!

    P.S. Next time, Mark, it is my suggestion that before you post links to such articles, offer some of your own thoughts as well; it seems awfully second-handed to just post links to other people’s ideas without any hint of your own contemplation on the issues raised.

  26. audaciousman Says:

    “Atheists want religion gone, but offer nothing in its place that even resembles a proper philosophy and worldview.”

    Yes. I find this troubling as well. I can honestly say I’m an atheist, I’m a theatre person and I’m a fan of chocolate chip cookie dough. But a humanist? I’m not so sure.

    I respect Dawkins and Hitchens, et al., and admire their work, but not without reservation on several fronts, so I dig what you’re talking about there, too.

    I’m trying to develop some sort of alternative to religion for myself and to share with others who I know only hang on to their theist habits out of fear of not knowing what to do with themselves if they let God go. Having had serious trouble with the question “What do I do if I’m not a believer?” I see a real need for an alternative. You’ve given me much to think on.

    I’ve noticed, too, that when I perform my one-person show, a comedy about the transition from theist to atheist, that some Christians are offended but most are totally appreciative. Some say they disagree with my perspective but see my point, while others think I’m nuts for being an atheist. So, yeah, not all Christians fall into the same category, as you said. I’ve seen this to be true.

    I’m wondering, though, isn’t a certain amount of skepticism healthy? And how can I honestly claim to have a completely objective picture of reality? Sounds religious in it’s certainty. I wonder, too, where compassion fits. Can you tell I’m new to the concept of objectivism? I’ve googled it, but any thoughts would be listened to carefully.

    ~Justin
    http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com

  27. cobus Says:

    Some interesting thoughts. I like randomly reading some posts, and foudn you on the dashboard.

    Let’s just start out with this, to get the playing ground even. Yes, I would call myself a Christian. I’ve tried narrowing it down, since I’m not comfortable with most views of Christianity, beautifully shown in the views protrayed in the post and comment. For example, how long would I need to defend evolution before Christianity and anti-evolution would no longer be equated? OK, but some have already pointed out that you find different kinds of Christians as well.

    Just a question. Why would the burden of proof be with theists? I mean, for most of the history of mankind most people have had believe in some form of deity of supernatural experience or something of the sort. Why suddenly when atheism came on the scene did it become the default position, and ask of everyone else to bring proof contradicting it?

    Now don’t get me wrong. I’d much rather ask for conversation, where both theists (which, I believe, won’t include all forms of world religions, but since this is the word used in the post, I’ll stick with it) and atheist bring their thoughts to the table, instead of putting the burden of proof on the other. Cause as I see it, it’s a struggle to prove the concept of g(G)od in any direction.

    Lately, I’m experiencing conversations with atheist friends basically like this.
    Theist: I believe
    Atheist: I don’t believe
    And everything that follows on this is simply footnotes to the main points of conviction:-)

    But thanks for the post and comments, especially your comment Doubting Thomas

  28. evanescent Says:

    Audaciousman said:

    I’m wondering, though, isn’t a certain amount of skepticism healthy? And how can I honestly claim to have a completely objective picture of reality? Sounds religious in it’s certainty. I wonder, too, where compassion fits. Can you tell I’m new to the concept of objectivism? I’ve googled it, but any thoughts would be listened to carefully.

    When I talk about scepticism here Audaciousman, I’m referring to philosophical scepticism, a position that critically questions what and if man can ever know – if anything. This isn’t the same as ordinary common sense scientific scepticism that reserves belief under sufficient evidence is presented. The latter is necessary, the former is irrelevant. Unfortunately, the former is rooted deep in most philosophies today, even science.

    Cobus said:

    Just a question. Why would the burden of proof be with theists? I mean, for most of the history of mankind most people have had believe in some form of deity of supernatural experience or something of the sort. Why suddenly when atheism came on the scene did it become the default position, and ask of everyone else to bring proof contradicting it?

    Cobus, atheism didn’t become the default position just by coming on the scene. Atheism is the default position because there is no evidence for god. Theism has ALWAYS had the burden of proof – the difference is that because it was so ubiquitous the existence of god was taken for granted. Only when the stranglehold of religion waned and people started thinking and questioning for themselves did the issue of god become a serious question – one that has NEVER been answered, simply because he doesn’t exist, and no matter how much the theist tries to resolve this dilemma, he can’t.

    The concept of god is such a contradiction is it not even necessary to reserve judgement – we can just ignore it.

  29. carlzblog Says:

    This is a new experience to engage in dialogue with other people out there, to test my concepts with them. In my Christian walk through life, I have concluded that all of us live by faith. None of us has a solid, “omniscient” base on which to make our choices. But our lives are built on our choices, and although we cannot objectively perceive the full meaning of reality, our lives will have their ultimate value in relation to what really exists. I see that many reject the Bible tradition because of many traditional interpretations of Biblical accounts, but a long inspection of the Bible takes me beyond many traditional interpretations and convinces me that there is a genuine truth about life there that enables us to be genuine human beings. I would like for people to choose to look for this truth in the Bible, which points to and affirms, for our well being, the New Testament’s Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  30. doubtingthomas426 Says:

    Evanescent, I was just about to respond to Corbus’s statement:

    “Why would the burden of proof be with theists? I mean, for most of the history of mankind most people have had believe in some form of deity of supernatural experience or something of the sort. Why suddenly when atheism came on the scene did it become the default position, and ask of everyone else to bring proof contradicting it?”

    …but then I read your response and realized you hit it on the head. Well put. The only thing I would add is in regards to the fact that, as Corbus stated, man has believed in some sort of god and/or supernatural experience since he first looked up and gave the sun a name. THIS, Corbus, THIS is why the burden of proof is on the theist. You see, Corbus, you believe that ALL of these gods and supernatural experiences were man made inventions. All but YOUR god. Your god was the ONE time man got it right. The fact that EVERY god man has ever worshiped was a fictional being is the reason why when YOU or any other theist claims that THEIR god is real, it is up to you to prove it. The only difference between you and I (an Atheist), Corbus, is that I dismiss just ONE additional god, yours.

    Also, erdormontnj said – “But…you can same the same for atheists…they are also ignorant in the fact that science, although a more believable and much more reasonable way of looking at the creation of this earth, is the complete and just answer to everything.” — I believe what you are saying is that Atheists believe that science has all the answers. I can honestly say that I have never met an Atheist who feels this way. I don’t believe science has all the answers, I just believe science is a better place to look for them. I guess I could go so far as to say I believe science will SOMEDAY have all the answers but we are FAR from that day.

    Keep up the good work, Evanescent. I’ll keep checking out your other posts.

    DoubtingThomas

    http://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/

  31. evanescent Says:

    Carlzblog said:

    In my Christian walk through life, I have concluded that all of us live by faith. None of us has a solid, “omniscient” base on which to make our choices.

    No one has an omniscient base for any knowledge, because omniscience is not a valid or possible base for knowledge. Knowledge is contextual and interrelated. But to go from this to “all of us live by faith” is a non-sequitor. There is another way to live: by reason. In fact, this is man’s ONLY way to live.

    But our lives are built on our choices, and although we cannot objectively perceive the full meaning of reality, our lives will have their ultimate value in relation to what really exists.

    I agree with the last part of this, in that our values arise because of our relationship with reality, which means we don’t need faith. You suggest that our values are objective but we cannot be aware of them because we cannot objectively perceive reality, but what makes you think we cannot objectively perceive reality? What would you class as “objectively perceiving reality” and what kind of being could do it in your opinion?

    I see that many reject the Bible tradition because of many traditional interpretations of Biblical accounts, but a long inspection of the Bible takes me beyond many traditional interpretations and convinces me that there is a genuine truth about life there that enables us to be genuine human beings.

    If there is a genuine truth about being a human being, which there is, we can discover this by reference to the type of being man is and his relationship to reality. In which case we don’t actually need the bible.

    I would like for people to choose to look for this truth in the Bible, which points to and affirms, for our well being, the New Testament’s Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Actually Carl, the “truth” that is to be found in the bible is not moral or practical advice for human beings. The standard of morality endorsed and encouraged by religion is self-sacrifice, self-denial, the rejection of reason, the primacy of consciousness, the embracing of the mystical, a world opposed to man, pride as a “sin”, etc etc. All of these notions are not just totally wrong – they are completely EVIL, because they are irrational to the core and fly in the face of every truth about man and reality – they stand in opposition to any objective truth about what is good or bad for a rational being and that makes them deeply immoral.

    Indeed, if one wishes to be a rational being, and therefore a moral honest being, they should reject the bible and all religion and discover through REASON what is good or bad for man and how to live life for its own sake, and not as a sacrificial object for others/god.

    @ DoubtingThomas: thanks for the comments as always!

  32. Ralph Says:

    The problem with many of my fellow atheists is that they reject the concept of god and christianity, but
    embrace the morals taught by christianity. You are your brothers keeper etc. They fail to understand that
    the independant thought that lead them to become atheists must carry forward to create a new set of morals
    based on logic and reason.

  33. evanescent Says:

    Brilliantly put Ralph!

  34. johan9 Says:

    I’ am an atheist, I am also from Belgium so don’t mind my English writing skills.

    Evanescent, come out of your bubble, and look at the logic! Has there been any proof there is something out there?

    You say the bibble? 2000 years ago people though they would die if they would go to far away from the coast because of sea monsters, so why would you believe in a book writen 2000 years ago. Because there are a lot of people believing in it too? So what? Lots of people believe in Boehisme or in something else. Because those other religions are false so this must be true? Those other religions believe the excact same thing. Its already been PROVEN that the big bang was real, by millions and millions of the world best scientists. They are all wrong? So you say that “Jesus” could make water into wine? I mean, really?

    What about heaven and hell an the stories of the people who almost died and said a bright light at the end of a tunnel? That is highly possibly just an biological reaction to your eyes when you die? What about seeing yourself when you are dieing? That isn’t real, its just your imagination from those stories, and the proof is there, that only “happens” to people who heared about those stories. Every person who almost dies should have had this experience, not those who heared about it. Because everyone according to you should see this.

    Just open your eyes! So I ask you again, did you ever see any proof? Now to open your eyes further, take out all things all people said about any religion and take out all things like the bibble and the koran and look at all the things you saw in life. And answer these questions:

    - Did you ever saw a man make wine out of water?
    - Did you ever saw a ghost? (Just answer, I know its not that important)
    - Did you ever saw heaven?
    - Did you ever saw hell?
    - Did you ever saw a miricle? (Not counting the times you saw Jesus’s face in a potato.)
    - Would you now take the leap of faith or the logical way out and survive?

  35. johan9 Says:

    I also forgot to say that, if you are the “good” person you think you are by believing in Christianity. You should have no problem if you ever chose to throw down your religion, to do the exact same things of the 10th commenments. Don’t steal, don’t kill, etc…

    If you think that people who don’t believe in those things are more likly to do those bad things, then you are mistaken. You can’t say that christians don’t do that because some do. In Midieval times rich people could kill someone and get away with it because they paid money to the Pope and got a proof they are sin free. Do you call that christianity? If so, you repulse more then when I read your so called “logic” thinking above.

  36. evanescent Says:

    Johan9, and anyone else who comments on my blog: the best advice I can give you is to READ an article in full before you comment on it.

    Johan: I am not a Christian. I AM AN ATHEIST. I’M AN ANTI-THEIST! Please go back and re-read my entire article in full and not just scan over it.

  37. johan9 Says:

    In that case I’m sorry, must have been my bad English, since I’ am using a big tekst translater.

    I repeat:
    Sorry

  38. evanescent Says:

    No worries – don’t feel bad about it. You’re the second person to make that mistake. It is a very provocative essay title – I guess I had it coming! :)

  39. johan9 Says:

    I do have to say, that I disagree with some and most things you believe that you said.

  40. johan9 Says:

    LOL, nah should have chosen a better translator.

  41. BobC Says:

    “I don’t need to examine the entire universe; there might be a god, but I see no reason to believe in one – and the burden of proof is on you.”

    Yuck. I would never say “there might be a god”. What a stupid thing to say. God is just another word for magic. Magic is a childish idea. Of course there’s no magic. A person would have to be idiot to say there might be magic.

    This is better: “I don’t need the examine the entire universe because your magic man only lives in your tiny brain, you bloody moron.”

  42. Db0 Says:

    Objectivism is not the only rational philosophy for an atheist. Not all of us have no philosophy in life as you mention. In the end, each of us finds his or her own purpose that gives his life meaning. Some get it by wanting to make the world a better place, others by amassing personal goods or power, and still others in helping their fellow man.

    What is your purpose in life? To spread objectivism?

  43. evanescent Says:

    each of us finds his or her own purpose that gives his life meaning

    Actually, most of us have only one ultimate purpose: happiness. It’s how we try to achieve it that determines if we’re rational and, ultimately, whether we’re able to succeed or not.

    My purpose in life is to be happy. My primary concern is not helping people, or making the world a better place, or trying to enlighten people to a rational philosophy. My purpose is to achieve my own happiness by selfishly realising MY values. That entails all the things and people I care about. To live my life for the sake of other people and “make the world a better place” would be an altruistic irrational act.

    In writing, I express my creativity, engage in honest debate, meet fellow intelligent people, increase my knowledge, and opefully make myself a better person. As a bonus, I might also inspire other rational people who are a potential value to me. If so, then excellent. As one example, consider Leitmotif on my blogroll – he didn’t set out to teach me Objectivism – he just runs his blog, and I asked questions and learned a lot from him – I have a lot to thank him for, but his purpose in life was most definitely not to “win me over” or “spread objectivism”.

  44. evanescent Says:

    Objectivism is not the only rational philosophy for an atheist.

    You’ve tried to present your own version db0, and all you came up with was a mass of subjective opinions.

  45. Db0 Says:

    Actually, most of us have only one ultimate purpose: happiness. It’s how we try to achieve it that determines if we’re rational and, ultimately, whether we’re able to succeed or not.

    Right, so helping others or making the world better is irrational. We’re back to square one :rolleyes:

    You’ve tried to present your own version db0, and all you came up with was a mass of subjective opinions.

    Your opinion is subjective as well. The only difference is that you think it’s objective.
    Furthermore, I didn’t “try” to present my version. I did present it and then you ignored me (I remind you that in the original discussion my last comment is still unanswered) and punted me to your mentor’s blog who subsequently banned me, to your and the rest of his troupe’s delight.

  46. evanescent Says:

    Right, so helping others or making the world better is irrational. We’re back to square one

    It is if it’s your primary concern in life – by primary I mean the most important thing – more important than your own values.

    People who live their lives just for the sake of other people become sacrifical animals. In effect, they allow others to parasitise off them, and since they have no purpose of their own in life, they become a parasite on other people.

    A rational moral self-respecting human being should care about his/her own values – and this will include other people: those he/she values. Not as a parasite or slave, but as people of equal value and worth – to each other.

    Your opinion is subjective as well. The only difference is that you think it’s objective.
    Furthermore, I didn’t “try” to present my version. I did present it and then you ignored me (I remind you that in the original discussion my last comment is still unanswered) and punted me to your mentor’s blog who subsequently banned me, to your and the rest of his troupe’s delight.

    You see db0, I don’t have to explain anything to you, not here and not on the other discussion. Why? You reject objectivity – so no rational discussion with you is possible. I could basically say “I’m right, because the moon is made of cheese”, and you would have to accept that as a valid argument. Except – ooops, as soon as we use the word “right” or “wrong” we’re implying objectivity, by presupposing a necessary truth external to ourselves to arbibrate – which is exactly what you reject.

    So, until you reject subjectivism any discussion with you is worse than pointless.

  47. db0 Says:

    Whatever. If you call this argumentation then I have nothing else to say. I just hope you don’t argue with theists the same way. “So, until you reject theism any discussion with you is worse than pointless.” Riiight…

    I explained to you why subjectivism is true and you can’t accept it. Other people did the same in the Atheists forum and you ended up calling them names on your blog. Fine then, continue living in your fantasy world…

    It is if it’s your primary concern in life – by primary I mean the most important thing – more important than your own values.

    Wait a minute. Isn’t happiness our primary concern anyway? You just said that it was yours…

    And no, helping others does not make you a parasite. Non sequitur.

  48. evanescent Says:

    Db0, it’s yourself who should avoid arguing with theists. On what grounds can you possibly disprove their arguments for god? On what grounds can you possibly condemn the morality of religion and the god of the bible?

    I explained to you why subjectivism is true and you can’t accept it.

    Hang on, subjectivism is “true”. What do you mean “true”? Based on what? What is your standard for right or wrong?

    In order to make any “true” or “false” call, you need OBJECTIVITY! You are stealing the concept.

    Don’t you see that you are just contradicting yourself? Your philosophical knowledge is so atrocious you can’t realise what a mess you are making of your own case. I can’t decide whether this is embarrassing or humorous.

    Other people did the same in the Atheists forum and you ended up calling them names on your blog.

    No I didn’t – your ability to read is almost as poor as your ability to form cogent arguments. Almost.

    Fine then, continue living in your fantasy world…

    Maybe living in a fantasy world is good FOR ME. Maybe raping is good FOR YOU. Maybe lying is good FOR ME. Maybe taking drugs is good FOR YOU. With subjectivism you have NO basis to make any decision or judgment call. That you still cannot see this speaks more towards your ignorance than to my explanatory skills.

    And no, helping others does not make you a parasite. Non sequitur.

    For the innocent reader reading this, let me clarify this point. I did explain it nicely above but since db0 misunderstood (again) it’s possible others did too. Having said that, db0 is a simpleton.

    If the primary concern in your life is how to please other people and make them happy, then without other people you would have no purpose in life. Therefore you are reliant on them to give your life meaning; you cannot do it for yourself. This is the same person that needs to be told what to think, how to act, who to love and who to hate – a sheep, a slave, a servant. This type of person is just as much a parasite as a dictator. One person being a sacrificial object for another is immoral, whether it’s others to you, or you to others.

    It takes a person with self-esteem, purpose, and reason OF THEIR OWN MAKING, to live his own life for its own sake – to pursue his own goals, to neither live off others or allow others to live off him, to demand only what he has earned, to hope and desire only what he can achieve through his own effort; to live according to a morality of egoism with rational principles, instead of the morality of altruism with irrational imperatives. With egoism, life is the standard of morality, your own life; with altruism, death is the standard.

    This is a noble and wonderful philosophy db0 that you don’t deserve, because its rationality escapes you. If you show any semblance of intelligence in future comments I’ll allow them. Until then, your substandard level of debate drags the quality of my blog down, so I’m blocking you.

  49. Shaun Connell Says:

    Very interesting. I’m mostly in agreement, once again. Atheists are typically incredibly irrational, with many simply becoming atheist due to a-rational reasons (sexual inticement, etc).

    Also, I completely agree that objectivity and objective moral codes are of course found through fairly basic rationality and analysis. Philosophical truth doesn’t change, God or no God.

  50. Laurence Says:

    You fall into your own trap there actually.

    You say that Atheism is only about whether or not someone believes in god, and that is completely correct – which is partly why it is stupid to bring up a lot of statistics involving Atheists, because with Atheists, you have to focus on their world view instead.

    But you later go on and group Atheists together as if it were a world view, when it clearly isn’t. I don’t hold and support the values of fellow Atheists, because Atheism doesn’t intrinsically have any values, beliefs or morals – it is up to the individual to choose.

  51. Favela Cranshaw Says:

    Outstanding article, Evanescent. Only Objectivists (some, anyway) get it. Supernatural means unnatural–which means impossible.

  52. Ergo Says:

    Laurence,

    You raise a good point: that being an atheist says nothing about your worldview other than that you reject supernaturalism (or atleast, a God, since there are some “atheists” who would reject god but accept “spirituality, higher consciousness, collective consciousness”, whatever that means).

    I think Evanescent is making the same point in his post; he, however, is additionally challenging the atheists who reject the religious morality and offer either nothing in place or just some naturalistic variant of the same religious moral code; for example, the communists replaced God with “State”, or “Community”, or the “Collective”, and served up the exact same moral code.

    Moreover, since so many atheists are in complete disarray with regard to their moral belief systems (take DbZero, above, as a prime example of atheist lunacy), it is easier for religious intellectuals like D’souza, Platinga, et al to point toward this moral bankruptcy and hint at the flaw in the underlying metaphysics. It gives credence to the bankrupt view that “without God, there is no morality and anything would be permissible.”

    Morality flows from epistemology, which flows from metaphysics. Atheists have the metaphysics right, for the most part; beyond that point, they all fall apart in widely disparate systems.

  53. Franklin Evans Says:

    In exploring my WordPress neighborhood, I came across this, and I just wanted to offer a bit of applause and a comment:

    As a man of faith, but also as a believer outside the mainstream — I am a pagan — I find that the primary issue is not conflicts of belief and unbelief. The primary issue is territoriality and ownership.

    My milieu is the US. It has been a Christian hegemony in the memory of everyone who lives here, and before. That hegemony is weakening slowly. We are experiencing the creation of a power vacuum, albeit in tortured slow-motion. Christians feel their power slipping away — below the conscious level, from my POV — and other groups who have long been on the outside looking in (and wishing for more than the scraps they’ve been getting) see their opportunity to rule the roost.

  54. evanescent Says:

    The thing to remember about the US is that it hasn’t always been as religious as it is now. It was founded as a secular constitutional federal republic – and many of the Founders were deists or atheists. Those that were religious did not transfer their personal beliefs to the establishment of this great nation. The United States was a country with freedom OF and FROM religion. It is only in the last century perhaps that the strength of the religious has increased, and a backwards superstitious attitude grown in popularity. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it has something to do with increased socialism; perhaps the collectivist altruist morality was never eradicated.

    I will say one thing: if the United States was a fully free republic instead of a democracy it would undoubtedly be far less religious than it is. Why do I think that? The election of leaders to affect law and policy which violates individual rights allows politicians to play the “religion” card and win votes just by appealing to the masses. In a fully free society, political leaders would merely make policy decisions that could never affect individual freedom – they would be limited to protecting Rights and elections would focus on who is best at doing THE JOB, instead of WHAT JOB a person decides to do. Issues such as “should abortion be allowed or not?” would not be left to the whim of an uneducated mob – in fact, there would be no such laws at all on matters of personal freedom.

    The primary issue, Franklin, is not belief vs unbelief, or territory or ownership, it is rationality vs irrationality.

  55. Franklin Evans Says:

    Evanescent:

    I don’t see us disagreeing; we are emphasizing differing aspects.

    I can’t respond to your “if”, though I will concede a certain reasonability to it. My POV on religion in the US is focused on the institutions of religion more than the professed religiousity of people at any given time. From the literature, I don’t think the US has changed much since the founding; what has changed is the evolution of religion from small, cohesive groups to large membership-oriented organizations with many of the markers (and ills) of bureaucracy… a close parallel to the evolution of our nation, IMO.

  56. Marcus Says:

    “But omniscience is not necessary to know that god is impossible and that the supernatural and paranormal are irrelevant anti-concepts that can be dismissed with 100% confidence.”

    I recently came across this concept while debating my peers, would you care to elaborate?

  57. martino Says:

    Interesting post.

    Self-professed atheists think they have come to the conclusion that there is no god through a process of critical thinking and logical reasoning. They either make the positive intellectually-certain claim “there is no god” or what many believe to be the more “balanced”, “less radical” position of “I have absolutely no reason to believe in god but cannot rule his existence out altogether”. The problem with many atheists is that once they reach this position of god-denial, they think their reasoning is done, and become just as assured of their other positions as the theists they dislike so much, thinking of themselves as “rationalists”.

    A highly dubious start. I would humbly suggest you look at George Smith’s “The Case Against God”. There are implicit atheists one who does not believe in god but has not explicitly been exposed to and rejected god. then there are explicit atheists who do reject belief in god. As Smith says there may be many psychological reasons for oe to come to this position but they have no philosophical value. The burden of proof is on the theist, “an atheist qua atheist does not beleive anything requiring demonstration”. Thats it. Your “balanced” atheist is an agnostic. One cane be an atheistic agnostic or a theistic agnostic but that is a different matter.

    There is a difference between being an atheist and having a rational worldview though. Being an atheist just means you have taken a position on one particular matter of belief. Atheism is not a worldview or a belief system. It offers absolutely no other descriptive or prescriptive content apart from ‘this person doesn’t believe in god’. The problem with some atheists is that they do indeed think atheism is a worldview.

    I agree with all the above except the last line. Most atheists I know do repeatedly assert that atheism is not a worldview. There may be some who claim as you assert but I have not come across them in the blogsphere. Wherever they are we agree that they are wrong.

    Atheism belongs only to the question of “god” – which is only one in the myriad field of questions, under the heading of belief. The problem with modern atheists is the same “problem” that plagues the worlds of philosophy and science. They tacitly or openly accept the notion that omniscience is necessary for absolute certainty. Philosophical scepticism permeates their worldview like a disease: we can never be sure of anything; our senses aren’t reliable; certainty is impossible; objectivity is naive; definite statements can’t be made in science; total knowledge is necessary for accurate claims. There is no greater exponent of this scepticism than the postmodern subjectivist with his diabolical multiculturalism. But the scientific community as well as the philosophical one as a rule accept this nihilism as the given.

    Now you are contradicting yourself.Having just made the correct case that atheism is not a worldview and most atheists know and assert this, you then proceed to assert highly dubious claims here about atheists. Again I don’t know anyone who thinks that omniscience is required for absolute certainty. Anyway you are criticizing that odd bunch of irrationalists we would both call post-modernists or relativists. Nothing specifically to do with atheism. You are committing the same error as right wing fundamentalists do confusing atheists with communists. Pretty much all the atheists I know are right of centre. Atheism is not a worldview so you cannot tell what their political viewpoint is from knowing they are an atheist. But you just said this yourself!

    As an example, how many times have you heard a theist say “you can’t call yourself an atheist – have you examined every part of the universe to see if god exists??” To which the atheist might respond: “I don’t need to examine the entire universe; there might be a god, but I see no reason to believe in one – and the burden of proof is on you.” The atheist is right that the burden of proof is on the theist – but he still cannot be 100% sure of his position, and he unwittingly accepts the philosophical scepticism that the theist smuggles into the question. In the same way that philosophical scepticism says that just because the sun rose yesterday doesn’t mean we can be sure it will rise tomorrow, the atheist who “is committed to reason and logic” refuses to rule out the supernatural, god, ghosts, vampires, goblins, elves, chi, astrology entirely – because he still accepts the nonsensical proposition that definite knowledge is impossible; that omniscience is necessary for certainty; that our senses can be fooling us one from minute to the next. So no matter how “rational” the atheist is, he still has to allow a modicum of irrationality in his worldview: that all the things he rejects might actually exist. But omniscience is not necessary to know that god is impossible and that the supernatural and paranormal are irrelevant anti-concepts that can be dismissed with 100% confidence.

    Again you cannot tell this position from someone being an atheist. Some do hold this view, some don’t. Looking scientifically you cannot make such a dogmatic claim. Methodological naturalism assume that supernature is irrelevant and is the most successful epistemological means of inquiry we have developed to date. Nonetheless it is a metaphysical claim to assert that the supernatural is non-existent. And again you cannot tell from someone being an atheist what their vie is on supernature. Many Buddhists are atheists but have supernatural beliefs. you are acribing views to your nominal atheist that you yourslef said should not be done, so why do it?

    Atheism is not a replacement for religion. That is why many deconvertees feel despondent and nihilistic when their worldview is shattered, as I once did. Religion is a complete worldview – it is an attempt to provide a complete philosophy, in that it attempts to account for knowledge, metaphysics, morality, politics, and aesthetics. It fails – but I think many atheists don’t realise how powerful religion is – it is powerful because it is important, and it is important because it represents a true human need: a philosophy for living. Religion doesn’t answer that need, because it is intellectually void and rejects reality – and places the primacy on consciousness and not existence itself. Atheism is not a worldview, and it is most certainly not a philosophy. The other “worldviews” that atheists turn to are not valid philosophies either. One example might be Humanism, a position that claims the universal value and worth of all people. However, Humanism does not give a definite objective definition of morality and it has no political agenda. Peter Singer as one example, a self-professioned Humanist, disagrees with many tenets of Humanism, such as the preferential treatment of human beings. Unfortunately, there is no way for Humanists to decide who is right on this issue. Secular Humanism has come to mean the rejection of religion in a political and moral setting, but it prescribes nothing objective in its place. For this, Humanists are free to discover any code of morality they choose, and are left to argue over what is right, morally and politically. Humanism has no objective definite positions on morality or politics, and what positions are generally accepted by humanists are usually based on some subjective collectivist notion of morality, such as utilitarianism – the idea that the whole is more important than any of its parts, and humans are cells in a superorganism that can and should be sacrificed for the good of the whole. In this respect, utilitarians merely substitute “god” for “society”. Atheists want religion gone, but offer nothing in its place that even resembles a proper philosophy and worldview.

    Then using Peter Singer here is an example of the “weak man” fallacy. Again just because someone is an atheist you do not know if they are a humanist and what type of humanist they are. You seem to making an argument for a replacement for religion when there may be no such need. As far as I can see you can substitute one religion for another, god being an optional component. Or one can drop the need for any type of religion that is what I advocate.

    The problem with some atheists is that, in their rush to displace religion and espouse all that religion traditionally rejects, they turn their lives into a quest to “make the world a better place” – and just like the religious, only their definition of better is allowed, and, just like the religious, they want their notions enforced politically. To take just one example: the fundamentalist wants a global theocracy. The modern-day atheist wants a global democracy. Most atheists idealise democracy almost religiously – an absolute to be unquestioned, “the best government we have or can have”; a “necessary evil”, they might say. It never even occurs to many to even question the idea of “universal good”, “making the world a better place (even by force)”, “democracy”. And this is because, just like the theist, many atheists steal the concepts of “good”, “better”, “freedom” from their necessary antecedents and apply them out of context, not realising they are contradicting themselves.

    At least you used the qualifier “some” in the first sentence above. This whole post would have made more sense if you hard targeted particular types of atheist with speific political viewpoints for example. Instead calling this “the Problem with Atheists” means you are all over the place and being almost as bad as when theists criticize a vague and false notion of atheism. On the one hand you complain that atheists are reluctant to make absolute assertions and then here you complain that they are making absolute assertions. This is all looks like very confused thinking. You complain that some atheist are not realising they are contradicting themselves, do you realize you are doing it here?

    Want some examples?

    Animal rights. “Rights” are a moral principle that define freedom of thought and action. Animals are not moral beings and have no conscious freedom of thought and action. They cannot therefore have rights.

    Rihts are nonsense built on stilts. :-)

    Free Democracy. Democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the enforced demand of a majority that is necessarily at the expense of the minority. It holds the collective as the standard and purpose, and individuals as means to that end. As such, it cannot respect freedom, since freedom only applies to thought and action, and only an individual can think and act. “Free democracy” is an oxymoron.

    Never heard the term free democracy before what is unfree democracy? Surely a republican system contrains and prevents the tyranny of the majority. Anyway I do not think most people are competent or rational enough to vote but that is another issue entirely :-)

    Making the world a better place. This idealist notion holds other peoples’ lives and happiness as the purpose of one’s own. By this thinking, the only goal in your life should be to make other people happy or maximise happiness in general, even if at your own expense. If there is no one around to please or help, your life has no meanin therefore. What about those who don’t want your help? What about those you don’t subscribe to your collectivist mentality, an example of which is the redistribution of wealth? Do you take their property from them? Do you threaten to arrest them if they don’t share their wealth? “Well”, you rationalise to yourself, it’s for the “greater good”. Wrong. Again, more concept-stealing – how can you enforce a moral action?? It’s a contradiction in terms.

    Again who are you talking about? Not atheists. Now you are talking about some form of hedonistic utilitarians? Why not target your complaint in the post against them then?

    In a recent debate, I encountered several of these “New Atheists” who’d read a little Dawkins and Hitchens and considered themselves rational just because they rejected god. Being an atheist means NOTHING about having a rational worldview – it is only one possible corollary of having such a worldview. As theists love to point out, many atheists committed atrocities just like theists did. Many atheists like to fight on this issue, especially Hitchens and Dawkins, protesting “but they didn’t commit their crimes in the name of atheism!” Who cares? Some of them actually did – the point is that it doesn’t matter: they were atheists, so in and of itself atheism says nothing about a person’s rationality. The war to fight is not theism vs atheism, it is irrationalism vs rationalism, subjectivity vs objectivity. And then, the war is there to fight only if it is of value to YOU. It is not a purpose in itself; not a campaign to spend your life selflessly pursuing.

    Well I agree here but not sure why this is relevant to your “problem wiht atheists”

    There is one philosophy that I accept to the best of my knowledge. One that rejects philosophical scepticism; one that refuses to fight on the nihilistic grounds of the irrationalist; one that knows what its foundations are; one that has an objective account of reality and knowledge; one that has an objective morality; objective politics; and defines the proper values and virtues of human life. One that states that “the highest moral purpose man can pursue is his own happiness”; that life is an end in itself; that our lives are not sacrificial objects for the sakes of others – they our lives are our own and belong to us and no one else. A philosophy that states that reason is our primary means for survival – and every else flows from this. This is of course Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.

    You call this a solution? Sorry cant see it.

    It’s not my purpose in life to “convert” people, and I don’t live to win people over to Objectivism or do their thinking for them; I don’t live to “make the world a better place” – each of us must make our lives as good as possible, and that includes caring for those we value. All I would like to point out is that many atheists these days are confused about their philosophical premises, even the “experts” like Dawkins and Hitchens. A person who honestly seeks a rational worldview would do well to study Objectivism, especially those “rational” atheists out there who despise religion so much yet cannot justify many of their own subjective notions.

  58. evanescent Says:

    martino said:

    A highly dubious start. I would humbly suggest you look at George Smith’s “The Case Against God”. There are implicit atheists one who does not believe in god but has not explicitly been exposed to and rejected god. then there are explicit atheists who do reject belief in god. As Smith says there may be many psychological reasons for oe to come to this position but they have no philosophical value. The burden of proof is on the theist, “an atheist qua atheist does not beleive anything requiring demonstration”. Thats it. Your “balanced” atheist is an agnostic. One cane be an atheistic agnostic or a theistic agnostic but that is a different matter.

    Martino, let me start off by saying that my article is self-evidently not addressed at ALL atheists. As to WHOM it is addressed to, that becomes clear when you read the article itself.

    You are right that an agnostic could be a theist or an atheist, but the position of agnostic is irrelevant – it is a redundant label. Either we can KNOW god exists or we can’t. If we simply can’t then the concept is meaningless – why even use the phrase? It would be like being agnostic about invisible fairies etc etc. On the other hand, if god is knowable then there is either evidence for him or there isn’t. If there is call yourself a theist, if there isn’t call yourself an atheist.

    Most atheists I know do repeatedly assert that atheism is not a worldview. There may be some who claim as you assert but I have not come across them in the blogsphere.

    Well like I said, the article was addressed to all atheists. The article’s title was just for brevity and impact.

    Now you are contradicting yourself.Having just made the correct case that atheism is not a worldview and most atheists know and assert this, you then proceed to assert highly dubious claims here about atheists. Again I don’t know anyone who thinks that omniscience is required for absolute certainty. Anyway you are criticizing that odd bunch of irrationalists we would both call post-modernists or relativists.

    Actually, the idea that omniscience is required for certainty is the current philosophical notion and you see it in science too. I think you’ve actually just overlooked the problem because of how I’ve phrased it. The majority of people do accept this philosophical skepticism today, that states that we cannot be sure of our senses; that we cannot be entirely certain of anything; that induction is an unsolvable problem; that science is based on unprovable theories. You only have to look at Richard Dawkins for an example of this. Despite being a scientist and calling himself an atheist, he refuses to rule out god completely. Why? Because he is not omniscient and feels such is necessary to make an absolutely certain claim – this is because of his dubious philosophical foundation.

    I can prove this by asking you: express as a percentage your certainty that god does not exist, and explain.

    Nothing specifically to do with atheism. You are committing the same error as right wing fundamentalists do confusing atheists with communists. Pretty much all the atheists I know are right of centre. Atheism is not a worldview so you cannot tell what their political viewpoint is from knowing they are an atheist. But you just said this yourself!

    You seem to be spending a lot of time on this issue: my article wasn’t addressed to ALL atheists. Get over it! Inasmuch as I highlight the flaws with the positions of some atheists, those are the people I’m talking about. Not all atheists hold the same views, not all atheists make the SAME mistakes – I am talking about ALL of these “New Atheists” that are philosophically bankrupt.

    Again you cannot tell this position from someone being an atheist. Some do hold this view, some don’t. Looking scientifically you cannot make such a dogmatic claim. Methodological naturalism assume that supernature is irrelevant and is the most successful epistemological means of inquiry we have developed to date. Nonetheless it is a metaphysical claim to assert that the supernatural is non-existent. And again you cannot tell from someone being an atheist what their vie is on supernature. Many Buddhists are atheists but have supernatural beliefs. you are acribing views to your nominal atheist that you yourslef said should not be done, so why do it?

    Again – the article wasn’t addressed to ALL atheists. Since I have explained this, I won’t repeat myself here.

    Methodological natural is indeed true, but incomplete. Most atheists do accept it as meaning that the supernatural is non-existent, some don’t. The supernatural is irrelevant because it is unreal – just like “god”. If you’re an atheist that thinks we cannot rule out the supernatural altogether, you are the sort of person I’m talking to in the article.

    Then using Peter Singer here is an example of the “weak man” fallacy. Again just because someone is an atheist you do not know if they are a humanist and what type of humanist they are. You seem to making an argument for a replacement for religion when there may be no such need. As far as I can see you can substitute one religion for another, god being an optional component. Or one can drop the need for any type of religion that is what I advocate.

    Again you criticise the article for fallacious reasons; already explained this.

    As for replacing religion, did you read the article? Religion does try to present a complete philosophy – it just fails. But man still needs this. Most atheists don’t try to fill the gap, or if they do they do so with subjective notions like Humanism – this is exactly the problem I am highlighting and you haven’t addressed it.

    At least you used the qualifier “some” in the first sentence above. This whole post would have made more sense if you hard targeted particular types of atheist with speific political viewpoints for example. Instead calling this “the Problem with Atheists” means you are all over the place and being almost as bad as when theists criticize a vague and false notion of atheism. On the one hand you complain that atheists are reluctant to make absolute assertions and then here you complain that they are making absolute assertions. This is all looks like very confused thinking. You complain that some atheist are not realising they are contradicting themselves, do you realize you are doing it here?

    I’m not contradicting myself. Your entire diatribe has been to criticise this ONE issue: “atheists” instead of “some atheists” – I think you wasted a lot of time here that would have been better spent addressing what I actually DID say instead of what you think I should have said. Let’s pretend the article was called “The Problem with Some Atheists” – there, that’s all your objections blown out the water.

    Rights are nonsense built on stilts. :-)

    No – rights are necessary principles that arise through human existence. They aren’t created.

    Never heard the term free democracy before what is unfree democracy? Surely a republican system contrains and prevents the tyranny of the majority. Anyway I do not think most people are competent or rational enough to vote but that is another issue entirely.

    Well I have heard people use the term “free democracy” all the time – not least of which the leaders of the United States.

    The only reason democratic countries in this world today maintain a modicum of individual rights is because OBJECTIVE laws are in place – but this makes no sense; either majority rule is right or it isn’t; either individual rights exist or they don’t. If they do, democracy is wrong.

    Martino, I appreciate the effort, but you gave me little to work with here, and I think you could have made a better effort with the typing.

    Marcus said:

    “But omniscience is not necessary to know that god is impossible and that the supernatural and paranormal are irrelevant anti-concepts that can be dismissed with 100% confidence.”

    I recently came across this concept while debating my peers, would you care to elaborate?

    Hi Marcus. Knowledge is contextual and interrelated. Omniscience is a non-applicable notion – it suggests knowing every single aspect of existence and all interrelations between all existents all at once. This is beyond the limits of human consciousness or any other – if one was omniscient, how would one know that one knew everything? And would this include knowledge of what “ignorance” was like?

    All concepts relate either to lower-level concepts or directly to existents. A concept that has no ultimate reference to existence is not a concept; it is not related to any other form of knowledge – remember all knowledge is contextual. Knowledge isolated, separated, in a bubble without any connection to existence is OUTSIDE of existence. But there is no such thing as “outside of existence” – there is only existence or non-existence. Therefore anything that cannot be known in principle is outside of existence; non-existent.

    Humans can have absolute knowledge, in a certain context. And anything that is impossible to human knowledge is totally irrelevant. It is arbitrary. Such notions should be neither accepted nor rejected, merely ignored.

  59. martino Says:

    Martino, I appreciate the effort, but you gave me little to work with here, and I think you could have made a better effort with the typing.

    If you add a preview function like pretyy much most other blogs have it would be a lot easier to get the typing right.

    If this post is about a select few or some atheists then why title it the way you did? Since I do not hold any of the positions you criticize there is nothing more for me to say except calling it as you did is still misleading and that is the only point I wanted to make. I did exactly the same as <a href=”http://www.callsinfinite.com/blog/2007/07/27/its-impossible-to-live-as-a-true-atheist/”here to a theist.

    Now to answer some subsidiary points that came up in your responses.

    No – rights are necessary principles that arise through human existence. They aren’t created.

    Where is the evidence and argument for this assertion?

    The only reason democratic countries in this world today maintain a modicum of individual rights is because OBJECTIVE laws are in place – but this makes no sense; either majority rule is right or it isn’t; either individual rights exist or they don’t. If they do, democracy is wrong.

    This does not follow. Individual rights and democracy are not incompatible. What is your argument? (That is not to say I agree with how they are currently implemented but that is another issue).

    As for replacing religion, did you read the article? Religion does try to present a complete philosophy – it just fails. But man still needs this. Most atheists don’t try to fill the gap, or if they do they do so with subjective notions like Humanism – this is exactly the problem I am highlighting and you haven’t addressed it.

    Actually, the idea that omniscience is required for certainty is the current philosophical notion and you see it in science too. I think you’ve actually just overlooked the problem because of how I’ve phrased it. The majority of people do accept this philosophical skepticism today, that states that we cannot be sure of our senses; that we cannot be entirely certain of anything; that induction is an unsolvable problem; that science is based on unprovable theories. You only have to look at Richard Dawkins for an example of this. Despite being a scientist and calling himself an atheist, he refuses to rule out god completely. Why? Because he is not omniscient and feels such is necessary to make an absolutely certain claim – this is because of his dubious philosophical foundation.

    Au contraire it looks like you are operating from dubious philosophical foundations. Since I disagree with Dawkins on a number of issues I cannot defend him here. Still I see nothing wrong with what you represented him as saying. I know, since I know him, that he, like you and me is metaphysically quite certain there is no god at all, but that is not a scientific argument and one he deliberately avoided in writing his book. I would instead go with what George Smith says, our senses are fallible but not inveterately fallible. And as Gould says “In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’ “. Science does not provide certainty that is the domain of religion, science provides the best answers possible given the evidence. Indeed the claim of absolute certainty is one of the key defining features of religion. I have nothing against anyone believing what they want but I am not interested in a substitute for traditional religion.

  60. evanescent Says:

    I said: “No – rights are necessary principles that arise through human existence. They aren’t created.”

    To which Martino said:

    Where is the evidence and argument for this assertion?

    Martino, since you even asked such the question, explain to me YOUR definition of rights and where YOU think they come from first.

    You can see the Objectivist position of rights here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/what-is-morality-and-what-are-%e2%80%98rights%e2%80%99/

    This does not follow. Individual rights and democracy are not incompatible. What is your argument? (That is not to say I agree with how they are currently implemented but that is another issue).

    Yes they are – for exactly the reasons I said. Democracy is unlimited majority rule – either that is right or it isn’t, and if it’s right then individual rights don’t exist – what matters is whatever the majority decides. In democratic countries today, the powers of the majority are limited by laws that partially protect individual rights. But this shows in practice why democracy is wrong: if it was right it should be applied across the board yet even the most pro-democratic person realises that this can’t be allowed to happen. Instead, we have a mix of partial freedom and partial democracy. Individual rights are non-negotiable, and since majority rule would necessarily infringe on rights by collective whim, majority rule cannot be proper, ergo democracy is wrong.

    I know, since I know him, that he, like you and me is metaphysically quite certain there is no god at all, but that is not a scientific argument and one he deliberately avoided in writing his book. I would instead go with what George Smith says, our senses are fallible but not inveterately fallible.

    And yet the validity of sense experience is an assumption you have to make in order to form any concept – in order to use any words. Whilst our perceptions can be deceived due to internal or external factors such as drug abuse or brain trauma, that implies a deviation from a true standard – a standard one presupposes we necessarily can achieve. Therefore our sense experience is valid.

    As to whether science can disprove the existence of god or not, that depends. Does science disprove the existence of square circles? If so, then science can also disprove the existence of god. Affirming that the unreal doesn’t exist hardly requires any special skill.

    And as Gould says “In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’

    So are you saying that it’s not a fact that the earth goes around the sun? Are all “facts” just higher degrees of confirmation, or are some “facts” more “facty” than others? Since knowledge is contextual, all facts can be properly considered facts, within a certain context. Which means, ‘in the context of our knowledge thus far, X is the undeniably the case.’

    Science does not provide certainty that is the domain of religion, science provides the best answers possible given the evidence.

    Is it a scientific certainty that the moon is not made of cheese?

    Indeed the claim of absolute certainty is one of the key defining features of religion. I have nothing against anyone believing what they want but I am not interested in a substitute for traditional religion.

    The claim of absolute certainty without reason is a feature of religion, it’s called faith. Absolute certainty is largely avoided in today’s philosophy because the “Intellectuals” tell us that it’s impossible, that nothing can be truly known – that everything is shades of probability. There is nothing wrong with claiming absolute certainty – there is a difference between this and omniscience. I am absolutely certain that I exist. I am absolutely certain that the earth orbits the sun. To pretend that omniscience is necessary in order to make any definite claim is a misuse of the word “knowledge”.

  61. Ergo Says:

    To concede the grounds of absolute certainty to religion and keep “degrees of confirmation” or “high levels of probability” as your grasp of truths and facts is to shamefully grant legitimacy to religious epistemology–that is, allow religion to have dominion over certainty, when in fact it is impossible for religious epistemology to ever achieve this.

    This is what is wrong with scientists and intellectuals today: they cripple themselves–willingly and with honor!

    They erect a false dichotomy between absolute certainty and reasonable skepticism, then concede the former to religion and embrace the latter. They offer “absolute certainty” as a package deal, by ignoring the legitimate epistemic means (reason) utilized in acquiring absolute certainty and accepting that only faith can make claims to absolute certainty.

    That existence exists is absolutely certain–a fact and a truth. This is not a statement of faith.

    That consciousness exists is absolutely certain–a fact and a truth. This is not a statement of faith.

    That I am a conscious being who exists with free will is an absolute fact and a truth. This is not a statement of faith.

    Religion has corrupted philosophy and science more than people are willing to acknowledge; and Kant–with his religious “rationalism”–has much to take credit for.

  62. martino Says:

    I said: “No – rights are necessary principles that arise through human existence. They aren’t created.”

    Where is the evidence and argument for this assertion?

    Martino, since you even asked such the question, explain to me YOUR definition of rights and where YOU think they come from first.

    Sorry you made the claim the burden of proof is on you to substantiate it,

    You can see the Objectivist position of rights here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/what-is-morality-and-what-are-%e2%80%98rights%e2%80%99/

    Fair enough, but this is outside the topic of this thread. If you discuss this in the future I will happily engage and debate you then.

    Yes they are – for exactly the reasons I said. Democracy is unlimited majority rule – either that is right or it isn’t, and if it’s right then individual rights don’t exist – what matters is whatever the majority decides. In democratic countries today, the powers of the majority are limited by laws that partially protect individual rights. But this shows in practice why democracy is wrong: if it was right it should be applied across the board yet even the most pro-democratic person realises that this can’t be allowed to happen. Instead, we have a mix of partial freedom and partial democracy. Individual rights are non-negotiable, and since majority rule would necessarily infringe on rights by collective whim, majority rule cannot be proper, ergo democracy is wrong.

    I think we are talking at cross purposes here. You already know I have a dubious view on democracy. I too am against the tyranny of the majority and only a democracy constrained by individual rights could possibly work (although what we have could do with considerable improvement – if you are on state benefits I do not think you have the right to vote etc.). If by a free democracy you mean one without the constraints of individual rights (however derived) then I am with you on that one except I do not know anyone who talks like that.

    And yet the validity of sense experience is an assumption you have to make in order to form any concept – in order to use any words. Whilst our perceptions can be deceived due to internal or external factors such as drug abuse or brain trauma, that implies a deviation from a true standard – a standard one presupposes we necessarily can achieve. Therefore our sense experience is valid.

    Duh! Thats what I said and why I quoted George Smith!

    As to whether science can disprove the existence of god or not, that depends. Does science disprove the existence of square circles? If so, then science can also disprove the existence of god. Affirming that the unreal doesn’t exist hardly requires any special skill.

    The xian theological god is incoherent and so logically impossible. And this is not a question of science since such an idea of god is not even wrong. To such conceptions one could be called an igtheist.

    However this does not apply to all conceptions of god. To those that are logically possible, based on everything we know god is naturally highly implausible. For the many specific claims based on such conceptions of god, science has repeatedly shown that these are false – as in the moon is not made of cheese. Science can be certain of falsehoods, it is truth that is at question here. Science cannot show that a moving target conception of god does not exist, only specific conceptions god with implications of this and to which it has been very successful in showing they are false.

    It is a metaphysical position to take that god does not exist and that is what I assert.

    So are you saying that it’s not a fact that the earth goes around the sun? Are all “facts” just higher degrees of confirmation, or are some “facts” more “facty” than others? Since knowledge is contextual, all facts can be properly considered facts, within a certain context. Which means, ‘in the context of our knowledge thus far, X is the undeniably the case.’

    Huh? This is quite consistent with the Gould quote. These are facts and it would be perverse given the evidence to assert otherwise but people still do claim a geocentric solar model or a flat earth. They are plain wrong.

    The claim of absolute certainty without reason is a feature of religion, it’s called faith. Absolute certainty is largely avoided in today’s philosophy because the “Intellectuals” tell us that it’s impossible, that nothing can be truly known – that everything is shades of probability. There is nothing wrong with claiming absolute certainty – there is a difference between this and omniscience. I am absolutely certain that I exist. I am absolutely certain that the earth orbits the sun. To pretend that omniscience is necessary in order to make any definite claim is a misuse of the word “knowledge”.

    You are listening to too many relativists I think. Just ignore them , they are a waste of time.

  63. evanescent Says:

    Martino said:

    Sorry you made the claim the burden of proof is on you to substantiate it,

    I did – I gave you a link to my article on it. Can you justify your concept of rights?

    Fair enough, but this is outside the topic of this thread. If you discuss this in the future I will happily engage and debate you then.

    You ask my to justify the Objectivist concept of Rights, so I give you a link to my article on it, and you say it is off-topic? We can discuss Rights in the thread I linked to if you want.

    I too am against the tyranny of the majority and only a democracy constrained by individual rights could possibly work (although what we have could do with considerable improvement – if you are on state benefits I do not think you have the right to vote etc.). If by a free democracy you mean one without the constraints of individual rights (however derived) then I am with you on that one except I do not know anyone who talks like that.

    A democracy constrained by individual rights is not a democracy. Democracy is majority rule, which means individual rights are not respected. If individual rights were totally respected, you would have a free society and a proper government, but it wouldn’t be a democracy, or anything else on earth at present for that matter.

    The xian theological god is incoherent and so logically impossible.

    So we agree that definite claims are possible.

    It is a metaphysical position to take that god does not exist and that is what I assert.

    It is also a metaphysical position that I exist. Metaphysics is the field of philosophy that studies the nature of existence, of reality. Since god is unreal, its nonexistence is a metaphysical fact. Just like the nonexistence of square circles is a metaphysical fact. That’s why I said if science denies square circles, it also denies god.

  64. martino Says:

    You ask my to justify the Objectivist concept of Rights, so I give you a link to my article on it, and you say it is off-topic? We can discuss Rights in the thread I linked to if you want.

    Yes I did not realize you were providing a link to another of your posts. I do not have the time nor current interest to pursue that further. If or when I do I will pursue it there.

    So we agree that definite claims are possible.

    Duh! Never said otherwise. The point I was making was over logical versus natural possibility.

    Since god is unreal, its nonexistence is a metaphysical fact.

    And your point is? Like I said “It is a metaphysical position to take that god does not exist and that is what I assert.”

    Just like the nonexistence of square circles is a metaphysical fact.

    No this is not a metaphysical fact.It is a logical impossibility.

    That’s why I said if science denies square circles, it also denies god

    Science does not deny square circles. They are logically impossible. There is nothing for science to consider let alone deny, since a square circle it is “not even wrong”. You seem to be confusing science and logic.

  65. evanescent Says:

    No this is not a metaphysical fact.It is a logical impossibility.

    By logic, you mean: is a contradiction of reality, which pertains to existence. Metaphysics deals with the nature of existence – therefore square circles are a metaphysical impossibility.

    You seem to be confusing science and logic.

    No I simply said that if science can deny one thing it can deny the other.

  66. martino Says:

    All I can say is you clearly are confused over the difference between logic, science and metaphysics.

  67. evanescent Says:

    No I don’t think so Martino.

  68. martino Says:

    The evidence of this thread indicates otherwise

  69. evanescent Says:

    No I just think you have some more reading to do, Martino. This is starting to resemble a tit-for-tat chat room conversation now so unless you have any worth discussing…

  70. Ergo Says:

    To claim that there’s some “difference” between logic, science, and metaphysics is argue for some incoherent confusion of categories.

    A logical contradiction *is* a metaphysical impossibility. Logic is the method and tool of rational thinking. The defining feature of rational thinking–which means, logical thinking–is non-contradictory identification–which is an epistemological identification of a metaphysical fact, i.e. grasping the fact that contradictions simply do not exist in reality.

    Science and metaphysics both require logic to make coherent and non-contradictory statements of truth.

    Martino, your concepts of science, logic, metaphysics, skepticism, absolute certainty, and more are woefully corrupted.

  71. martino Says:

    LOL! I don’t think you guys realize how funny you are sometimes ;-) There is clearly not point having a discussion with people who are quite certain they know they are right, disregarding facts and reason. Adios! :-)

  72. evanescent Says:

    What a wonderful way to sign off, without realising you’ve had your intellectual arse handed to you. Later!

  73. PirateFaafy Says:

    The problem with this is that I do truly believe that God does not, with certainty, exist. For, what defines “God”?

    Certainly, I can deny the gods of any known religion based on self-contradiction within such and obvious impossibilities contained by their respective scriptures or folklore.

    Let’s say that a god is Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent and Omniscient. But then I direct your attention to the Problem of Evil; Either they are not motivated to stop it, they can’t, or they don’t know it exists… or of course, they don’t adhere to the human concepts of benevolence. But then why call them God?

    We could say that God is something you can not see, you can not feel, but it influences you every day, you can feel its presence and it controls all that is within the universe and has (insofar as quantum physics isn’t truly random) a plan for everything. But, why bother calling that God? That’s misleading at best. We have a name for that and it most certainly exists. It’s called Causality.

    I can’t think of a definition of God that can exist other than that which we know exists already and have a name for.

  74. Tanya Says:

    I am wondering why so many athiest want to eradicate Christianity? Doesn’t that very intolerance make those particular athiest just as judgemental and intolerant as they claim the christians to be? If I don’t like a particular group, I just don’t join them. Our constitution gives us the right to religious freedom, it doesn’t say that if we disagree, we can stomp all over others rights.

  75. Ergo Says:

    Tanya,

    There is a difference between legal toleration and moral toleration of religion. In the former sense, I whole-heartedly agree with you that religion and irrationality must be tolerated by a political system (until they violate rights).

  76. Tanya Says:

    Interesting that you put religion and irrationality together Ergo. Personally, I believe that solely depending on science for answers is irrational. Science has consistently proven itself to be wrong about a great number of major ideas over the years and it seems the more we learn, the more we find out we don’t know. What is considered to be rational or irrational often takes on ones personal opinion.

    I wouldn’t attack someone on a personal level regardless of whether i agree or disagree with their views. Debate should be based on the subject and not an attack on a person or group. Persaonal attacks come from both sides when the people can’t defend their stand and feel there is no other way to win.

  77. evanescent Says:

    Personally, I believe that solely depending on science for answers is irrational.

    Answers to what? Science is the field that empirically studies the universe. Some questions precede science and are the remit of philosophy.

    Science has consistently proven itself to be wrong about a great number of major ideas over the years

    As oppose to religion which has been consistently accurate with every prediction ever made.

    What is considered to be rational or irrational often takes on ones personal opinion.

    You smuggle the concept of subjectivity in here Tanya. The determining factor in rationality is not opinion, but reality.

    I wouldn’t attack someone on a personal level regardless of whether i agree or disagree with their views. Debate should be based on the subject and not an attack on a person or group. Persaonal attacks come from both sides when the people can’t defend their stand and feel there is no other way to win.

    I think you can draw conclusions from a person’s personality based on the their view. However, their personality shouldn’t be used as a counter argument.

    Tanya, religion never ultimately references anything in reality, and belief is not ultimately based on reason, but faith. That is why is it irrational.

  78. Daniel Says:

    I realize I’m coming to this post very late, but I was wondering if evanescent has ever seen the site freedomainradio.com. They have a lengthy set of podcasts and books on secular morality and rationality that I think you would apprecate.

  79. evanescent Says:

    Thanks for the link, Daniel. The website seems to be interested but politically based on Libertarianism. Whilst this may appear similar to Objectivism to the untrained eye, Objectivism is not the same.

    Objectivism is a complete metaphysical worldview that accounts for all aspects of human life based on reality. Unlike all other alternatives which are isolated from reality and try to exist in a vacuum, Objectivism is a self-consistent and objective worldview.

    I just thought I’d make the distinction – but thanks for the comment.

  80. What is Objectivism? « evanescent Says:

    [...] The problem with these atheists is that they think calling themselves an atheist makes them rational; as if they have left the irrationality of religion behind and are now free rational beings.  Some of them then become so sure of their new-found “rationality” that they become obstinate to change and develop an emotional commitment to their new beliefs: do you think there is a difference in rationality between a fundamentalist Christian and a mixed-economist?  There isn’t.  Are Muslim terrorists more irrational than socialists?  Not necessarily.  All these positions are fundamentally irrational and immoral. [...]

  81. Metro State Atheists Says:

    I don’t think of myself as a rationalist. I think of myself as an empiricist.

  82. The Celtic Chimp Says:

    There is a difference between being an atheist and having a rational worldview though. Being an atheist just means you have taken a position on one particular matter of belief. Atheism is not a worldview or a belief system. It offers absolutely no other descriptive or prescriptive content apart from ‘this person doesn’t believe in god’. The problem with some atheists is that they do indeed think atheism is a worldview.

    You seem to doing exactly what you claim your “Atheists” are doing. You are drawing all manner of unjustified conclusions about what people think and believe armed with only one piece or sure information. They do not believe in God. That is all you can reliably say about an Atheist. Some by chance will fit your description but you seem to be suggesting a template that fits all Atheists to a degree.

    Objectivism, if you and Ergo are reasonably standard examples seems to me to be nothing more than presupposition and declarations. You define a term you want to come to a logical conclusion about in a way that suits you and then throw in a “therefore” like you are proving something. For example:

    Animal rights. “Rights” are a moral principle that define freedom of thought and action. Animals are not moral beings and have no conscious freedom of thought and action. They cannot therefore have rights.

    1.Rights are a moral principle that define freedom of thought and action.
    2.Animals are not moral beings – how do you know?
    3.Animals have no conscious freedom of thought and action? – how do you know?
    4.They cannot therefore have rights.

    Of 2 and 3 above, I can happily agree that animals are not in possession of these faculties to the same extent as humans. As usual with objectivism though there can be no half measures, no grey areas. Everything must be absolute. A mentally retarded person could easily meet the requirements you have outlined to be declared unworthy of rights.
    If I am more moral than you, if I think more clearly than you and therefore have more freedom of thought and action by virtue of unfettered thinking; am I better than you? Am I more deserving of rights than you?
    4. The great objectivist leap and the ubiquitous “therefore”
    Therefore, they cannot have rights. Judgement has been cast. You throw out a series of invented premises that are wholly unproven and then lash together the desired result with a “therefore”.
    1.This is the greatest flaw in the argument. This does not seem to be an accurate description of a “right” to me. Rights are not moral principles; they are legal protections or permissions.
    Where is the morality in the “right to bear arms”?
    You can’t just decide that something is X and not show it be so. People have rights not because there is some universal moral imperative; people have rights because they are granted them. Prisoners are as human as you and me but whilst you and I are granted the right to be free, the prisoner has had his rights amended. You can argue a moral dimension all you want the innocent man who is locked up in jail is going to get no freer for it. Your rights are changing even when you cross a state line in America.

    Free Democracy. Democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the enforced demand of a majority that is necessarily at the expense of the minority. It holds the collective as the standard and purpose, and individuals as means to that end. As such, it cannot respect freedom, since freedom only applies to thought and action, and only an individual can think and act. “Free democracy” is an oxymoron.

    Ah, here is the point where the objectivist not only abandons anything resembling good argument but throws their common sense out the window too. Correct me if I am wrong but objectivism suggests a complete laissez faire system. This ignores of course some basic realities about human nature. Everything in human society is ultimately a matter of coercion. Most of the things that make up modern life simply would not function in a laissez faire system. Suppose I am a doctor. I have agreed to perform surgery on you as you are dying of a soon to be fatal condition. At the last moment I decide I am not going to perform the surgery any more because I don’t feel like it. You will die. Or maybe I decide I won’t perform the surgery unless your wife agrees to have sex with me or unless you give me your house. It is not like you have legal recourse. I have not threatened you with harm; I am just renegotiating my price.
    Take it or leave it.
    Suppose I perform the surgery but I am lazy and incompetent and leave you with lasting health problems. Tough luck. I guess you should have found someone better. Oh well, next patient please…..

    Suppose I have built a road and am charging a toll to use it. I have used my superior wealth to gain a monopoly on routes to and from a major city. I can now hold the city to ransom for any amount I choose. Yeay. Unlimited wealth for me.

    Freedom in the sense of everyone acting only in accordance with what they want is utterly simplistic nonsense. I think most children know enough about the world to know better. What democracy tries to do is provide the most amount freedom to the largest amount of people and maintain a functioning society. If objectivists had there way, anarchy would reign so fast it would make your head spin. Objectivists espouse the virtue of selfishness and hold it up as the great universal regulator. They seem to miss the rather obvious fact that people generally do act selfishly in almost all things. We make laws to stop that selfishness from harming others and to maintain a semblance of order in society.

    If I have badly misrepresented objectivism here (and I may have) I invite you to hand my ass to me as unpleasantly as you see fit. I admit I was put off objectivism very early in my investigations of it and may not have given it a fair hearing. I am badly mistaken, you may feel free to give me both barrels….

  83. evanescent Says:

    Celtic Chimp, everything you have said is a misrepresentation of Objectivism. Given your admission that you have investigated Objectivism and then given up on it I am not thoroughly inclined to justify everything I have written here. I would instead encourage you to go back and try and understand the philosophy to yourself; this is always more effective than having someone explain it to you. However I will pick up on just one scenario you propose:

    Most of the things that make up modern life simply would not function in a laissez faire system. Suppose I am a doctor. I have agreed to perform surgery on you as you are dying of a soon to be fatal condition.

    I assume by “agreed to perform” you mean that we have entered into a legally binding contract and money has been exchanged.

    At the last moment I decide I am not going to perform the surgery any more because I don’t feel like it.

    Making anything decision because you “feel like it” is irrational, but let’s continue the scenario…

    You will die. Or maybe I decide I won’t perform the surgery unless your wife agrees to have sex with me or unless you give me your house. It is not like you have legal recourse. I have not threatened you with harm; I am just renegotiating my price.

    Attempting to change the terms of an agreement AFTER the agreement has become legally binding is an act of fraud. This is against the law now, and would be so under a laissez-faire system. Fraud is actually a form of force.

    Take it or leave it. Suppose I perform the surgery but I am lazy and incompetent and leave you with lasting health problems. Tough luck. I guess you should have found someone better. Oh well, next patient please…..

    What is the difference between the consequences for this doctor under our current political setup and why do you imagine it would be any different under laissez-faire capitalism? You are aware that capitalism is not libertarianism are you not? In a free society, people are still legally bound by contract, and force and fraud are still objective grounds to criminalise you in the eyes of the law.

    Freedom in the sense of everyone acting only in accordance with what they want is utterly simplistic nonsense. I think most children know enough about the world to know better. What democracy tries to do is provide the most amount freedom to the largest amount of people and maintain a functioning society. If objectivists had there way, anarchy would reign so fast it would make your head spin. Objectivists espouse the virtue of selfishness and hold it up as the great universal regulator. They seem to miss the rather obvious fact that people generally do act selfishly in almost all things. We make laws to stop that selfishness from harming others and to maintain a semblance of order in society.

    This paragraph belies a complete misunderstanding of Objectivism.

    I find it curious that you wrote so much denouncing Objectivism and then virtually take it all back in your last paragraph by admitting that you might have misrepresented the philosophy and invite me to “hand your ass to you”. That’s not how it works. Do you know what you’re talking about or don’t you? This is like me accusing evolutionists of believing that fish turn into monkeys and inviting them to prove me wrong.

    And, like many utilitarian subjectivists, you propose hypothetical extreme scenarios with no context in reality. Take the road example: how did you get the road in the first place? How much can you realistically charge? How much you expect to be paid if no one can pay? How do you propose to prevent other people building roads to compete with yours? How do you expect to get people to stop using the other road in favour of yours? Do you lower your price to compete, for example? Do you offer better service? Etc etc. That is why these fantastic drastic dilemmas are not worth the effort to rebut: they bear no relation to reality because the questioner always drops the context.

    You are attacking a position that bears no resemblance to Objectivism, and therefore you’ve left me with nothing to defend.

  84. evanescent Says:

    I’ve re-read Chimp’s comments again and feel the need to add: notice the certainty and disdain with which he slams down Objectivism and makes sweeping generalisations about the philosophy and how its adherents act, as if he has a longtime acquintance and understanding of it.

    Then he admits to not knowing much about it and admits the likelihood that he has misunderstood it. This is a prime example of hit and run tactics. It is poor debating strategy and sets oneself up for an embarassing fall.

    Here is an insight into the mind of a collectivist:

    Everything in human society is ultimately a matter of coercion.

    We’re all exploiters, looking to get one over on each other if we can, and we’re all feeding off each other in order to survive.

    In other words, men ultimately must always resort to physical force to accomplish anything. This is the mentality of a barbarian, of a Hitler, of a Ghengis Khan.

    Rational men realise that their life in a free society depends on their recognition of Rights, which entails that they do the same to others. This excludes physical force, and means that men can only interact as TRADERS, as EQUALS, voluntarily.

    Since this concept is alien to the collectivist, he foresees only one alternative: force. Whether it be us “forcing” the doctor to see us, or the government forcing us to support the lives of others, or forcing private companies to charge specific prices, or forcing people to restrain their freedom of speech in case others might be offended etc etc.

    The idea that men can deal with each other in a rational and non-sacrificial manner doesnt occur to the collectivist, since individuals are irrelevant to him, only one thing matters: the greater “good”; as long as someone is being sacrificed to someone else, then it’s ok.

    Lastly, I have a challenge for anyone who denies that animals have no rational capacity: show an animal that does and not only will you have proven me wrong, you will be world famous and rich beyond your dreams.

  85. The Celtic Chimp Says:

    Evenesent,

    First off, I need to know absolutely NOTHING about objectivism to recognise terrible reasoning. You and Ergo indulge in baseless assertion so much it is bording on offensive that you consider your thinking logical and rational. You have in the above piece made countless assertions which expect the reader to simply agree are facts.

    Your poor thinking is most obviously evident with you critisism of my suggestion that everything in human society is a matter of coercion. How you can manage not to see that is beyond me. You even bang on about legal contracts in your laissez-faire system. What do you think a legal contract is? What happens if you break it? Punishment? Human societies are based on laws. Laws are inherently coersive. Coersion by the way need not be physical violence. Consider for a moment a society without any laws.

    It is nice that you decided to have a go at a collectivist, but labelling me something and having a crack at it is not the same as telling what I am getting wrong about objectivism.

    “Doing something because you feel like it is irrational”

    That is hilarious. Human are first and foremost emotive beings. Almost everything a person does is to satisfy a desire of somekind. Desire is an emotional motivation.

    I noticed that you sidestepped my example of the wealthy person buying up all the routes into a major city and then charging whatever he felt like for their use. This is not a breach of any contract. Just good ole laissez-faire capitalism. Charge what the market will bare. When the market will bear will rise sharply when the market is running out of food and provisions :)

    You seem to want the best of all worlds without considering why we have the systems today that we do have. Lessons learned perhaps?

  86. evanescent Says:

    First off, I need to know absolutely NOTHING about objectivism to recognise terrible reasoning.

    But you DO need to know something about Objectivism to attempt to criticise it.

    Your poor thinking is most obviously evident with you critisism of my suggestion that everything in human society is a matter of coercion. How you can manage not to see that is beyond me. You even bang on about legal contracts in your laissez-faire system. What do you think a legal contract is? What happens if you break it? Punishment? Human societies are based on laws. Laws are inherently coersive. Coersion by the way need not be physical violence. Consider for a moment a society without any laws.

    This paragraph belies a complete lack of understanding of freedom and the use of physical force. If you PUNISH someone for violating someone else’s rights, i.e.: a criminal, you are NOT using coercion. The use of physical force is BANNED in a free society, and the only ones who can expect to have it used against them are criminals. Therefore, in a free society, coercion is not the basis of it, trade is.

    Consider for a moment a society without any laws.

    Irrelevant. A free society would still have laws. That you fail to realise this is your ignorance showing through once again. This isn’t my problem to defend as it’s a strawman.

    That is hilarious. Human are first and foremost emotive beings. Almost everything a person does is to satisfy a desire of somekind. Desire is an emotional motivation.

    Notice how you equate desire with emotion as if they are one and the same? They aren’t. Emotions are the instantaneous psychological reactions to our values being realised or frustrated. They are the RESULT of our experiences, not the guide to them. Humans, to be rational beings, must primarily act through reason and logic, and therefore attain happiness. It doesn’t work the other way around.

    Chimp, if you think humans are “first and foremost emotive beings”, I would like you to PROVE this statement. That should be easy enough, huh? Hang on, you can’t PROVE anything without establishing a rational chain of argument based on logic and a process of reason. Therefore, in order to make ANY statement, you must presuppose that you have the capability of reason and rational thought, which means rationality is a prerequisite to any statement of knowledge. So to say that humans are primary emotive beings is blatantly false, and self-contradictory.

    In real life “what if” terms, for the utilitarians out there, imagine you are aroused and want to have sex. An emotive man rapes the first girl he sees. A rational man doesn’t. Why? Which one are you?

    QED.

    I noticed that you sidestepped my example of the wealthy person buying up all the routes into a major city and then charging whatever he felt like for their use. This is not a breach of any contract. Just good ole laissez-faire capitalism. Charge what the market will bare. When the market will bear will rise sharply when the market is running out of food and provisions

    Wow, you actually didn’t bother to read my reply at all did you? As I plainly and clearly stated, your example is totally divorced to the context of reality. Expecting someone to answer a question that has no relation to reality is a sign of dishonest tactics.

    You ask me to grant that somebody somewhere, magically, has the money and business and power and influence to buy, what, every road around a city? How? Where? Why? Who agrees to sell it to him? How does he make his money if people REFUSE to use it? What stops competitors building other roads? How did he get to be such a business genius with an irrational senseless mentality as this? In the REAL world, this would never happen. And the free market would find a way around it, as it has every other commercial “problem” it has faced.

    When the market will bear will rise sharply when the market is running out of food and provisions

    More nonsense. Market prices are dictated by the law of supply and demand; a customer can’t pay less than a seller needs to make a profit, and a seller can’t charge more than what a competitor is prepared to offer, or what the buyer is prepared to pay, prices are not arbitrary floating whims, unlike your morality. (See my latest article on Socialism for more info. (But given that you have barely read this one, I don’t think that is likely.))

    You seem to want the best of all worlds without considering why we have the systems today that we do have. Lessons learned perhaps?

    Now this is hilarious. A free market has NEVER fully existed, so what lessons do you propose we have learned? The millions of people who were systematically starved to death in Soviet Russia? Oh wait, that was socialism/communism, not capitalism. Mass inflation and credit crunches in the Great Depression, post WWI Germany, the modern day Western World…oh hang on, they are mixed socialised/mixed economies caused by government spending and mass production of worthless paper money…

    Perhaps you’re referring to 19th century America, that was a close as we’ve come to a free market…where the trade, wealth, power, freedom, happiness, and invention of the USA exploded, and it became (and still is) the greatest nation on earth? Perhaps you’re referring to the markets in this world that ARE still (for the time being) left free, like: mobile phones, private healthcare, shoes, laser vision surgery, computers, clothes, etc etc… all markets that cater for EVERY user from scrimper to big spender, at every level, with open competition. What do we see in EVERY one of these markets? Standards rise, quality increases, availability soars, and prices DROP. Now compare this to socialised markets, and spot the difference.

    Going back to something you said earlier: you can now consider your arse well and truly handed to you. You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you endeavour to reply to this, I expect a vast improvement, otherwise don’t waste my time or yours.

  87. The Celtic Chimp Says:

    But you DO need to know something about Objectivism to attempt to criticise it.

    Reading comprehension is not your strong suit is it? I have already conceded in my original post that I may be misrepresenting objectivism. Fair Enough. What I was saying above is that your reasoning is completely independent of objectivism and can be criticised for what it is. Bad reasoning is bad reasoning no matter the subject. Let me try to illustrate where I see a problem with your logic/reasoning.

    You suggest that punishing a criminal is not coercion? Really. If you kill a criminal are they not really dead either. It is coercion. They are only a criminal because society has branded them one. There may not even be a tangible moral dimension to any given case. A person who J-walks is technically a “criminal” as they have violated the law. Even if I were to grant you that it is not coercion to punish a criminal per se, it is still coercion. The message is clear. Follow the rules or you will be branded a criminal and treated badly. Do I need to point out AGAIN that coercion is not limited to physical force. A legal contract is a form of coercion. Coercion is also employed to make sure people don’t become criminals by acting in pure self-interest. Let me put it this way. If I have negotiated a contract with you. I have agreed to build you a state of the art hotel in exchange for 100 million dollars. I require you to make an upfront payment of 10 million. What is my motivation for not just taking the 10 million and running off. It would be much easier than building the hotel? My motivation is that I won’t get away with it without consequences. Those consequences are implicit in the legal contract. That is a form of coercion. The legal contract is a statement of what must be done by each party with the implication that violation of the contract could lead to legal penalties. The ultimate possible end point for violation of any form of legal contract is jail in a free society. Are you suggesting that the threat of having your freedom taken away is not coercion? Laws are inherently coercive. If they were not they would not be laws, they would be optional suggestions. You are forced to drive on a particular side of the road or not exceed a particular speed in a particular area. These things are forced on you regardless of you want. You will obey these laws or face consequences. All free societies are built on coercion. The citizens of that country are not asked if they agree to the laws in place. They are subject to them regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Not even being unaware of a particular law is deemed a worthy defence.

    Consider for a moment a society without any laws.

    Irrelevant. A free society would still have laws. That you fail to realise this is your ignorance showing through once again. This isn’t my problem to defend as it’s a strawman.

    This was not supposed to be a suggestion that objectivism desires a lawless society. It was meant to illustrate the point about how people tend to behave without constraining laws. I thought that was obvious on context.

    Notice how you equate desire with emotion as if they are one and the same? They aren’t. Emotions are the instantaneous psychological reactions to our values being realised or frustrated. They are the RESULT of our experiences, not the guide to them. Humans, to be rational beings, must primarily act through reason and logic, and therefore attain happiness. It doesn’t work the other way around.

    Chimp, if you think humans are “first and foremost emotive beings”, I would like you to PROVE this statement. That should be easy enough, huh? Hang on, you can’t PROVE anything without establishing a rational chain of argument based on logic and a process of reason. Therefore, in order to make ANY statement, you must presuppose that you have the capability of reason and rational thought, which means rationality is a prerequisite to any statement of knowledge. So to say that humans are primary emotive beings is blatantly false, and self-contradictory.

    I notice very well how I equate desire with emotion. Desire is an emotion. By your horrible reasoning above a baby that is crying for food is acting through a process of reason and logic to attain happiness.

    The paragraph about “prove that humans are first and foremost emotive beings” is a really good example of the terrible process of blinkered logic you employ. You are reasoning your way to the conclusion you want rather than letting your reasoning determine the conclusion. You can’t prove anything without establishing a rational chain or argument based on logic and a process of reason. A true sceptic would suggest you can’t prove anything but I am willing to agree with this with one caveat: Logic and reason are presuppositions on you part, or can you prove to me that logic is coherent without using logic? You and I just sort of know it makes sense. We can’t PROVE it but that is ok. We have to make some presupposition or we’ll wind up like Descartes. We know logic works so we don’t question it. You LEAP from that to in order to make ANY statement, you must presuppose that you have the capability of reason and rational thought, which means rationality is a prerequisite to any statement of knowledge. For that statement to be true these ones must also be true:
    “A non-rational and unreasoning entity cannot make any statements.”
    “Every human who ever made or ever will make any statement was/is/will be rational and reasonable”
    “All statements are rational and reasonable”
    The Statement “I believe is God” is rational and reasonable.
    The Statement “I do not believe in God” is rational and reasonable.

    If you are implying a completely trivial meaning of “rational” and “reasonable” as in meaning something like “can cognate” or something similarly basic then animals and indeed sophisticated artificial neural networks might be said to be reasonable and rational. It is based on that logic that you deem it blatantly false and self-contradictory to say that humans are first and foremost emotive beings. I am seriously unconvinced.

    If desires were the result of logic and reason, that would necessarily entail that any desire you felt is one you decided to feel so when you next see a beautiful woman and feel a sudden and intense desire for her congratulate yourself on some speedy and efficient decision making. When an alcoholic whose liver is all but clapped out decides to go on a drinking binge despite the fact that it might very well kill him, he is never the less acting on a rational and reasonable thought process. He rationalised and reasoned that it would be better to break his promise to his loved ones, endanger his life and possibly loose his job than forego those drinks he doesn’t yet desire. In response to this, he then desires a drink or ten. What kind of bizarre reasoning must the homosexual be employing. He had concluded that it is somehow in his best interests to suffer prejudice, possibly be ostracised and in all likelihood ensure they he have no children and then he develops the desire for other men?

    If you are not suggesting that this is how it works I would like you to clearly state the mechanism you are proposing.

    I suggest humans operate as follows. Our desires are the mechanism by which we attribute value to things. When you first put you hand out to a fire you have no rational or emotional bias about it one way or the other. When you burn your hand you feel pain. You don’t like pain. This is not a rational response. It is an emotional one. In a purely rational and logical realm, nothing would have greater or lesser value than anything else. For instance, is being alive better than being dead? Explain to me in purely logical and rational terms why you think it is. Ultimately you must return to an emotive starting point. It is how you feel about being alive that makes life valuable. We employ our reason and logic to attain our desires.

    In real life “what if” terms, for the utilitarians out there, imagine you are aroused and want to have sex. An emotive man rapes the first girl he sees. A rational man doesn’t. Why? Which one are you?

    QED.

    Firstly, you are assuming in this example that an emotive man is necessarily not rational. This is another logical leap. How did you arrive at the conclusion that an emotive man cannot be rational? He desires sex but he has many motivations not to commit rape. I am both emotional and rational. I want to have sex. This is the emotional predicate. The rational part of my brain is then engaged.
    “I want to have sex”. “Ok, how can I get sex?”
    It is worth noting too that some men (quite a few actually) do commit rape. They are acting rationally?

    QED? Again I am unconvinced.

    You next suggest that my hypothetical example was so removed from reality that it was both dishonest and hardly worthy of a response. I wonder then if you have ever come across the term Monopoly. That is was I was describing. Monopolies have existed. They are not fictional ideas. A monopolist usually maximises profits by restricting supply. Being in total control of the supply, the monopolist can control the price. Yes there are boundaries but these are well beyond what most people would consider a fair price. Consider John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. It had a monopoly or near monopoly. This was despite legislation designed to stop monopolisation being already present in law. Ultimately, the Supreme Court was forced to break up Standard Oil as it was deemed illegal. This kind of legislation is designed to ensure that market forces set the price not price determining the market. Consider it this way. If I own most or all of something. It is in my best interested to charge as high a price as some people are willing to pay, thereby ensuring that the commodity I am in possession of remains scarce and therefore in high demand and that I retain most of the commodity I wish to control. Monopolies are not some kind of fantasy construct divorced from reality. Even Microsoft was taken to court on charges or monopoly in fairly recent history. These are monopolies that existed even with the restrictions. You seem to believe for some reason they would not or could not exist with less restriction.

    A free market has NEVER existed. I guess way back when people were bartering their home made wares there was a regulatory body in place to oversee it? We started with a truly free market. As trade developed, the people of the day realised that a completely free market was not the best idea. The largest suppliers of certain goods could simply withhold them until the demand rose to a point they liked, or more often, a group of suppliers band together to control supply (oligopoly). While this was beneficial to the individuals involved in the oligopoly, it was disastrous for the economy in general. Other goods that required the commodity being controlled would also rise in price. Inflation could easily run out of control if the commodities being controlled were essentials. Governments (whatever their form) realised that competition was vital to market health and stability. The very first regulations would work their way into the system. A lesson learned. The reason there are no completely free markets around now is that no-one is dumb enough to think it would actually work. There is plenty of historical evidence that it leads to monopoly, duopoly or oligopoly and a lack of competition. Microsoft, IBM, AT&T are all recent examples or monopolies or near monopolies. These are companies working with restrictions. Do you think they would operate more ethically and fairly without the restrictions? Even where competing products are available for very low prices or even free, the market can still be forced to buy the overpriced products from the monopoly. All legally too. An example is the Linux operating system. If you were starting up a company, would you use Linux or Microsoft? Why? One is free the other costs money? There is nothing stopping you or me from entering the market with Microsoft. Even if we could make a much better operating system and charge less for it we would still not stand a chance. I am going to credit you with enough sense to see why that is.

    When the market will bear will rise sharply when the market is running out of food and provisions

    More nonsense. Market prices are dictated by the law of supply and demand

    The sentence above was supposed to read “What the market will bear…”
    I assume you guessed. As should be obvious from above, supply can be controlled in a monopoly. That is how a monopolist exerts control over price. The point was that the market forces are not setting the price, the monopolist is.

    Perhaps you’re referring to the markets in this world that ARE still (for the time being) left free, like: mobile phones, private healthcare, shoes, laser vision surgery, computers, clothes, etc etc… all markets that cater for EVERY user from scrimper to big spender, at every level, with open competition. What do we see in EVERY one of these markets? Standards rise, quality increases, availability soars, and prices DROP. Now compare this to socialised markets, and spot the difference.
    These markets are not free, or are you suggesting we currently have a free market right now? They operate within the limits that ALL markets are subject to. Anti-trust legislation etc.

    One last thing, America is the greatest nation on Earth? Really? Is that because Americans think it is? The greatest economically, militaristically, socially, morally?
    I think it is statements like that, that are the major reason why most Europeans dislike Americans. The arrogance of it.

    Going back to something you said earlier: you can now consider your arse well and truly handed to you.

    I’m just not feeling it….

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you endeavour to reply to this, I expect a vast improvement, otherwise don’t waste my time or yours.

    Oh for fuck sake you have got to be kidding me!…..

    Waste your time or don’t but I’d be very careful about demanding improvement.

    I do apologise though for the length of this response. There was a lot to cover. I also apologise for the many spelling and grammar error that the above most likely contains! :)

  88. evanescent Says:

    ”But you DO need to know something about Objectivism to attempt to criticise it.”

    Reading comprehension is not your strong suit is it?

    Rational thought clearly isn’t yours.

    I have already conceded in my original post that I may be misrepresenting objectivism. Fair Enough. What I was saying above is that your reasoning is completely independent of objectivism and can be criticised for what it is. Bad reasoning is bad reasoning no matter the subject. Let me try to illustrate where I see a problem with your logic/reasoning.

    You suggest that punishing a criminal is not coercion? Really. If you kill a criminal are they not really dead either. It is coercion. They are only a criminal because society has branded them one. There may not even be a tangible moral dimension to any given case.

    This is true only if one assumes that a political and judicial system is independent of morality.

    However, a judicial system is based on the most fundamental moral principle in social settings: a man has a Right to his own life.

    A judicial system should exist to protect men’s Rights. If you violate these Rights, you are a criminal. Otherwise you are not.

    A person who J-walks is technically a “criminal” as they have violated the law.

    If roads were privately owned, then the violation of another’s property is a crime, no matter how innocuous you believe the action.

    Even if I were to grant you that it is not coercion to punish a criminal per se, it is still coercion. The message is clear. Follow the rules or you will be branded a criminal and treated badly.

    Yes. Obey the law and don’t violate other peoples’ Rights. Otherwise you’re a criminal. If you are, you have initiated force against other people and must be punished. You are not being coerced, because coercion implies that you are being forced to do something you do not wish, BUT, as a criminal, you no longer have the Right to claim this freedom. So the term “coercion” is inapplicable.

    Coerce (verb)

    1. To restrain by force, especially by law or authority; to repress; to curb.
    2. (transitive) to use force, threat, fraud, or intimidation in attempt to compel one to act against his will.

    Do I need to point out AGAIN that coercion is not limited to physical force. A legal contract is a form of coercion.

    That is blatantly false. Check the dictionary definition of coercion. If you freely sign a legal contract, you were not coerced; rather, you voluntarily agreed to the terms and conditions within.

    See the definition of coercion above. We will assume for this argument that the law properly respects individual Rights and doesn’t violate them, therefore the second definition is the one I will use.

    Coercion is also employed to make sure people don’t become criminals by acting in pure self-interest. Let me put it this way. If I have negotiated a contract with you. I have agreed to build you a state of the art hotel in exchange for 100 million dollars. I require you to make an upfront payment of 10 million. What is my motivation for not just taking the 10 million and running off. It would be much easier than building the hotel? My motivation is that I won’t get away with it without consequences. Those consequences are implicit in the legal contract. That is a form of coercion. The legal contract is a statement of what must be done by each party with the implication that violation of the contract could lead to legal penalties. The ultimate possible end point for violation of any form of legal contract is jail in a free society.

    Yes, and so it should be. What is your point? That is exactly why Rights exist, to protect us in society, and prevent criminal action. If you feel “coerced” not to run off with other peoples’ money because of the law, then you have a very warped notion of freedom.

    Incidentally, you are also very wrong with your suggestion that “running off” with my $10m is “easier”. You’re also wrong that claiming that laws PREVENT us from acting in pure self-interest.

    Once again, your thought experiments are divorced from reality because you drop the context of your settings. How did you manage to convince ANYBODY that YOU could build them a state of the art hotel and get them to advance $10m to you in the first place?! Did you turn up in a suit and just say “oh I can build you that nice hotel. Sign here please.”

    Do you have any clue about the business world?

    You would have to have a vast established business with a reputation for quality and delivering on your promises. You would have to have financial references and no criminal record. If you were this massive and successful in business to be able to build a hotel, you simply could not run off with $10m. You would lose everything, including your business, and end up making no money in prison, instead of continuing to be a wealthy millionaire with a successful construction operation.

    As a human being you have Rights. To violate another’s Rights is to deny that you have any. It is NEVER in your interest to deny your own Rights, therefore it is never in your self-interest to violate others’.

    Are you suggesting that the threat of having your freedom taken away is not coercion?

    Yes. Because UNTIL you do become a criminal you are totally free to do whatever you want. And after that point you cannot claim freedom from coercion.

    Laws are inherently coercive. If they were not they would not be laws, they would be optional suggestions.

    Laws do not force you TO DO anything (in a free society, which isn’t necessarily what we live. They keep you FROM being a criminal.

    Rights (and therefore laws) apply a negative obligation on you only: DO NOT violate my rights. Laws should not FORCE you to act in a certain way and therefore violate your freedom. A law that forces you to pay for other people is wrong. A law that prevents other people stealing your money is moral, and not coercion.

    You are forced to drive on a particular side of the road or not exceed a particular speed in a particular area. These things are forced on you regardless of you want. You will obey these laws or face consequences.

    But you are FREE not to drive! Freedom is not a primary and your Right to do whatever you want doesn’t trump the Right of the road-owner who can set the terms and conditions of its use. If you don’t like the rules for road using, don’t drive. That’s your tough luck, as you have no Right to other peoples’ property.

    Note: this is in a free society, where Roads are privately owned. A government enforced “side of the road” and “national speed limit” are not proper uses of government force. That is another discussion.

    All free societies are built on coercion. The citizens of that country are not asked if they agree to the laws in place. They are subject to them regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Not even being unaware of a particular law is deemed a worthy defence.

    You are using a completely wrong and improper definition of coercion, and I will not argue this further as if you have a point. It is embarrassing to see you try to stretch the definition of coercion to breaking point, where it means whatever you want it to me mean, regardless of context.

    “Consider for a moment a society without any laws.”

    “Irrelevant. A free society would still have laws. That you fail to realise this is your ignorance showing through once again. This isn’t my problem to defend as it’s a strawman.”

    This was not supposed to be a suggestion that objectivism desires a lawless society. It was meant to illustrate the point about how people tend to behave without constraining laws. I thought that was obvious on context.

    I disagree that human beings “tend” to violate each other’s Rights. My view of myself and other people is not so cynical. Unfortunately, there is a criminal minority that exploits free people, and they must be prevented from doing so.

    “Notice how you equate desire with emotion as if they are one and the same? They aren’t. Emotions are the instantaneous psychological reactions to our values being realised or frustrated. They are the RESULT of our experiences, not the guide to them. Humans, to be rational beings, must primarily act through reason and logic, and therefore attain happiness. It doesn’t work the other way around.”

    Chimp, if you think humans are “first and foremost emotive beings”, I would like you to PROVE this statement. That should be easy enough, huh? Hang on, you can’t PROVE anything without establishing a rational chain of argument based on logic and a process of reason. Therefore, in order to make ANY statement, you must presuppose that you have the capability of reason and rational thought, which means rationality is a prerequisite to any statement of knowledge. So to say that humans are primary emotive beings is blatantly false, and self-contradictory.

    I notice very well how I equate desire with emotion. Desire is an emotion. By your horrible reasoning above a baby that is crying for food is acting through a process of reason and logic to attain happiness.

    Desire not an emotion. Desire is quite simply WANTING something. There could be many reasons why. I desire food when I’m hungry. Is hunger an emotion?

    Very often there is an emotional source to desire, and ONLY an emotional source: “I did it, because I felt like it.” But most of the time the source of desire is reason: “I will not steal that money, even though I need it, because it’s wrong.”

    The paragraph about “prove that humans are first and foremost emotive beings” is a really good example of the terrible process of blinkered logic you employ. You are reasoning your way to the conclusion you want rather than letting your reasoning determine the conclusion.

    Ok. I take that as an inability to provide the proof I requested.

    “You can’t prove anything without establishing a rational chain or argument based on logic and a process of reason.”

    A true sceptic would suggest you can’t prove anything but I am willing to agree with this with one caveat:

    And I would say to the “true sceptic”: how can you prove that you can’t prove anything? Blank out. Scepticism is self-refuting.

    Logic and reason are presuppositions on you part, or can you prove to me that logic is coherent without using logic? You and I just sort of know it makes sense. We can’t PROVE it but that is ok.

    Logic and reason can’t be proven; proof requires them. Logic and reason are the conscious acknowledgement of the most fundamental metaphysical axiom: existence exists.

    Logic is the law of identity, and reason is the mental faculty that integrates sensory data into knowledge via logic.

    Objectivism is necessarily right on this, because any denial of these axioms must involve their use.

    We don’t “sort of know” this – as if this knowledge is mystically in us (a claim that theists tend to make). We don’t “feel” that we’re right. We ARE necessarily Right, because existence exists, A = A, logic is logic, fact is fact, truth is truth.

    We have to make some presupposition or we’ll wind up like Descartes. We know logic works so we don’t question it.

    Actually, we know BECAUSE logic works. If logic didn’t exist, it is IMPOSSIBLE to know anything.

    You LEAP from that to in order to make ANY statement, you must presuppose that you have the capability of reason and rational thought, which means rationality is a prerequisite to any statement of knowledge. For that statement to be true these ones must also be true:
    “A non-rational and unreasoning entity cannot make any statements.”
    “Every human who ever made or ever will make any statement was/is/will be rational and reasonable”
    “All statements are rational and reasonable”
    The Statement “I believe is God” is rational and reasonable.
    The Statement “I do not believe in God” is rational and reasonable.

    This is absolute nonsense. You have missed the point so clearly it is staggering. I am not sure why I should carry on if my reasoning is so depressingly missed by you.

    You seem to think that the truth of “any statement or claim of fact presupposes that one is capable of reason and rational thought”, means that ANY statement ever made is factual and rational!! Oh dear.

    What I meant was: even if you are WRONG, the very act of you making a statement that you believe to be true, PRESUPPSOSES that you are trying to use reason and logic.

    If you are implying a completely trivial meaning of “rational” and “reasonable” as in meaning something like “can cognate” or something similarly basic then animals and indeed sophisticated artificial neural networks might be said to be reasonable and rational. It is based on that logic that you deem it blatantly false and self-contradictory to say that humans are first and foremost emotive beings. I am seriously unconvinced.

    Well, given your poor reasoning thus far, I am not really concerned about convincing you; this debate is for the benefit of readers.

    You cannot deny this: “any statement or claim of fact presupposes that one is capable of reason and rational thought”. Since I have asked you to prove your statement that we first and foremost emotive beings, you must presuppose your rational and logical capacity FIRST, to make this flawed statement.

    If desires were the result of logic and reason, that would necessarily entail that any desire you felt is one you decided to feel so when you next see a beautiful woman and feel a sudden and intense desire for her congratulate yourself on some speedy and efficient decision making. When an alcoholic whose liver is all but clapped out decides to go on a drinking binge despite the fact that it might very well kill him, he is never the less acting on a rational and reasonable thought process. He rationalised and reasoned that it would be better to break his promise to his loved ones, endanger his life and possibly loose his job than forego those drinks he doesn’t yet desire. In response to this, he then desires a drink or ten. What kind of bizarre reasoning must the homosexual be employing. He had concluded that it is somehow in his best interests to suffer prejudice, possibly be ostracised and in all likelihood ensure they he have no children and then he develops the desire for other men?

    If you are not suggesting that this is how it works I would like you to clearly state the mechanism you are proposing.

    I guess I will have to clearly state it for you, since relying on your reasoning so far was a mistake on my part:

    Can you point out where I said that ALL desires are the result of logic and reason? Can you point out where I said that ALL desires are the result of emotion?

    No. You can’t, because you are seeing words I never wrote, and attacking claims I have never made. This is because your “argument” is so fundamentally wrong and you haven’t got a leg to stand on, you are twisting my words into something you think you can attack.

    Let me be even more clear: desire could be based on emotion, or it could be based on rational thought.

    Now, if we are truly rational, our emotions are trained by our rational process. A truly rational person never acts on emotion ALONE. He trains his emotions (his responses) to also be rational. He enjoys his emotions, but he does not let them rule him.

    I suggest humans operate as follows. Our desires are the mechanism by which we attribute value to things.

    I don’t deny that some people who act irrationally pretend to pick their values based on what they feel. However, that is not where values come from.

    Suppose you “feel like” drinking a drink, but it’s poisoned. Whether you know it’s poisoned or not doesn’t matter. Is the drink a value to you?

    I assume you answer: no. Correct. But why? Because value is not based on emotion. Poison is not a value to you whether you want to have it or not.

    A Value is that which one acts to keep or gain.

    This presupposes the following: of value to whom? And why?

    When you first put you hand out to a fire you have no rational or emotional bias about it one way or the other. When you burn your hand you feel pain. You don’t like pain. This is not a rational response. It is an emotional one.

    You seem to want to equate any biological impulse with emotion. This is like saying your heart has a desire to beat, or you have an emotion about breathing.

    Instantaneous subconscious reactions can still be rational, because you can programme your subconscious to react. For example: suppose you had the inability to feel pain in your hand. Would you STILL put your hand in the fire? Of course not! You don’t want to damage your skin and nerves and impair your movement and perhaps lose your hand altogether.

    In a purely rational and logical realm, nothing would have greater or lesser value than anything else. For instance, is being alive better than being dead? Explain to me in purely logical and rational terms why you think it is.

    You are so incredibly wrong I must highlight this to readers: THIS is the result of bad philosophy. This is the result of non-objective emotionalism, and PRECISELY the reason I wrote this article, because atheists are no better than theists in this regard. Actually, at least the theist pretends to have a moral objective consistent worldview. This atheist just gives up on the idea altogether. To the theist, we’re slaves to god. To Chimp, we’re animalistic slaves to emotion.

    Life simply is. Life is your ultimate value; it is the value that makes all other values possible, and the value towards which all other values are directed. Life is the value which provides the standard for which all other values (or non-values) are measured.

    Because human beings are beings of a certain nature in a certain world, there are things that are objectively beneficial or detrimental to us, as rational beings. This is true whether you WANT it to be or not. Poison is not a value to you. Food is. Your enemy is not a value to you. Your lover is. Stealing is not a value to you. Honesty is.

    As rational beings, we must IDENTIFY those values that are objective in life, and pursue them. We can do this by observing reality, observing ourselves, and acting consistently.

    In fact, without reason, value would be meaningless, because “value” would be replaced by “whim”. Chimp thinks value is whatever you feel like going after. Is your rape victim a value to you? Sure, why not. Is your neighbour’s car, or that stranger’s wallet a value to you? Absolutely, says Chimp.

    What Chimp does is divorce the concept ‘value’ from its antecedent: life; a contradiction.
    It is impossible to act to gain or keep anything without reason. It is impossible to identify value without reason. How else could you know what is objectively of value to your life? According to Chimp: emotion. In other words: whim, guesswork, blind chance, luck. Chimp sees humans as animals, scratching around in the dark hoping to stumble across something of value to us.

    “In real life “what if” terms, for the utilitarians out there, imagine you are aroused and want to have sex. An emotive man rapes the first girl he sees. A rational man doesn’t. Why? Which one are you?

    QED.”

    Firstly, you are assuming in this example that an emotive man is necessarily not rational. This is another logical leap. How did you arrive at the conclusion that an emotive man cannot be rational? He desires sex but he has many motivations not to commit rape. I am both emotional and rational. I want to have sex. This is the emotional predicate. The rational part of my brain is then engaged.
    “I want to have sex”. “Ok, how can I get sex?”
    It is worth noting too that some men (quite a few actually) do commit rape. They are acting rationally?

    Again, you totally miss the point. You said that men are “FIRST AND FOREMOST” emotive beings. Your words! The rational man might have many rational motivations for NOT raping, but that doesn’t matter! He WANTS to have sex, and he is first and foremost an emotive being, so he acts on his emotion, which according to you is the same as desire.

    You next suggest that my hypothetical example was so removed from reality that it was both dishonest and hardly worthy of a response. I wonder then if you have ever come across the term Monopoly. That is was I was describing. Monopolies have existed. They are not fictional ideas. A monopolist usually maximises profits by restricting supply. Being in total control of the supply, the monopolist can control the price.

    Wrong. A monopolist maximises profit by outdoing his competitors in quality and price. Consider Microsoft, a company that SHOULD be a monopoly: are they trying to restrict their product, or do they try and make it as widely used as possible??

    Also, a monopolist might be in total control of the supply, or he might not. He cannot stop other people competing with him, if they are good enough. What he is NOT in control of is the DEMAND. Which means consumers are free to boycott his products or choose something else, or demand a lower price.

    He cannot “control” prices in a vacuum – price is determined by supply and demand.

    Yes there are boundaries but these are well beyond what most people would consider a fair price. Consider John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. It had a monopoly or near monopoly. This was despite legislation designed to stop monopolisation being already present in law. Ultimately, the Supreme Court was forced to break up Standard Oil as it was deemed illegal. This kind of legislation is designed to ensure that market forces set the price not price determining the market.

    Again, this is simply not true. Price does NOT determine the market in a free market! The market determines the price! Nobody is forced to use a product. And a company that over-charges will be undercut. A company that under-charges will eventually go out of business. Again, prices don’t exist in a vacuum.

    The only way to violate the law of supply and demand is by force, in other words, government involvement in the market, which artificially fixes prices, encourages stagnation, punishes success, rewards the uncreative, and is the source of inflation.

    Consider it this way. If I own most or all of something. It is in my best interested to charge as high a price as some people are willing to pay, thereby ensuring that the commodity I am in possession of remains scarce and therefore in high demand and that I retain most of the commodity I wish to control. Monopolies are not some kind of fantasy construct divorced from reality. Even Microsoft was taken to court on charges or monopoly in fairly recent history. These are monopolies that existed even with the restrictions. You seem to believe for some reason they would not or could not exist with less restriction.

    I would like to see your definition of monopoly.

    You are right about one thing though: it is in your interest to charge as high a price as people are willing to pay. And so you should. Why should you be stopped from doing this? It’s YOUR product, YOUR property. People don’t have a right to it, so if they want it, they should pay whatever you deem is appropriate.

    Let’s say you are so good at what you do, and you keep your prices high but low enough so that other people can’t beat you, eventually 95% of the market uses your product. Is that a monopoly? Yes. It is coercive? No. You haven’t got there by force or blackmail. You have got there by being the best! Tell me, why should you be punished for that.

    As soon as people choose another product or another company comes along to compete with you (if it can), competition ensues and prices drop. Supply and demand.

    All restrictions on business should be removed. Having most or all of a market because you have earned it should not be punished. Only the altruist/collectivist would consider this “damages” – and therein lies the problem.

    A free market has NEVER existed. I guess way back when people were bartering their home made wares there was a regulatory body in place to oversee it? We started with a truly free market. As trade developed, the people of the day realised that a completely free market was not the best idea. The largest suppliers of certain goods could simply withhold them until the demand rose to a point they liked, or more often, a group of suppliers band together to control supply (oligopoly). While this was beneficial to the individuals involved in the oligopoly, it was disastrous for the economy in general. Other goods that required the commodity being controlled would also rise in price. Inflation could easily run out of control if the commodities being controlled were essentials. Governments (whatever their form) realised that competition was vital to market health and stability.

    I’m not going to labour this point any longer. Inflation is caused by government, no one else. Read my latest articles for more on this.

    Competition does not mean the right to have a place reserved for you in business, at the expense of successful companies that have earned their right to be there. Competition does not mean government force to stop you growing and expanding.

    If people are free, they can compete. The only way competition can be truly eradicated is by government force. Example: healthcare, water, power.

    “More nonsense. Market prices are dictated by the law of supply and demand “

    The sentence above was supposed to read “What the market will bear…”
    I assume you guessed. As should be obvious from above, supply can be controlled in a monopoly. That is how a monopolist exerts control over price. The point was that the market forces are not setting the price, the monopolist is.

    Yes, and the supplier WANTS people to use his product! The more he sells, the more money he makes. He might control his own supply, but he cannot control demand! And it takes BOTH to set a price.

    <“Perhaps you’re referring to the markets in this world that ARE still (for the time being) left free, like: mobile phones, private healthcare, shoes, laser vision surgery, computers, clothes, etc etc… all markets that cater for EVERY user from scrimper to big spender, at every level, with open competition. What do we see in EVERY one of these markets? Standards rise, quality increases, availability soars, and prices DROP. Now compare this to socialised markets, and spot the difference.”

    These markets are not free, or are you suggesting we currently have a free market right now? They operate within the limits that ALL markets are subject to. Anti-trust legislation etc.

    They are more FREE than any others, such as healthcare etc which, in the UK, is mostly socialised. And in Canada it is totally socialised.

    As I proved here, the fewer government restrictions, the greater the benefits for everyone, supplier and consumer.

    Again, compare the freer healthcare around the world to the more socialised ones. Consider the awful service and standard in the NHS and Canada etc, to the more free healthcare in America. Of course, American has become more and more socialised, and what is the result: massive debt, waiting lists increase, service declines etc etc.

    One last thing, America is the greatest nation on Earth? Really? Is that because Americans think it is? The greatest economically, militaristically, socially, morally?
    I think it is statements like that, that are the major reason why most Europeans dislike Americans. The arrogance of it.

    Funnily enough Chimp, I an English. I don’t speak as an American, but I can admire their principles and their history. Far better than I can admire the deplorable socialistic government of England, and a history of Imperialism, slavery, and bloodshed.

    America was founded on a truly great principle: the freedom of man. It’s a shame it has lost its way.

    “Oh for fuck sake you have got to be kidding me!…..

    Waste your time or don’t but I’d be very careful about demanding improvement.

    I do apologise though for the length of this response. There was a lot to cover. I also apologise for the many spelling and grammar error that the above most likely contains!”

    As any reader of this (very long) response can see, I have addressed every point you have made and refuted all of them totally. Your arguments are incoherent and contradictory, and you argue from an undefined subjective philosophical basis (again, like most internet atheists).

    Your attacking of strawmen and consistent evasion of my arguments is clear. And I think you show a profound misunderstanding of philosophy, law, morality, and politics.

    Without wanting to sound arrogant, I think I have done you a favour by taking the time to explain as much as I have done to you in such detail, and I think you would benefit by really reading what I’ve written in detail and trying to understand what I have said and why, instead of just desperately trying to disagree with everything I’ve said without even understanding it, just to avoid having to admit you’re wrong.

  89. The Celtic Chimp Says:

    Given the length of the response, if I were to respond to each point, my response would be even longer and so on until we would have written a fairly impressive book. I think we are trying to have to many arguments at once, each of us drawing from our conclusions leading to massive entries where neither side is properly addressing individual issues
    Let’s tackle some things in isolation. I would like to know why YOU (that’s you now evanescent not Rand) come to some of the conclusions you do. You present your opinion to me as a counter argument and then pat yourself on the back for being logical.

    Lets start with this:

    You are so incredibly wrong I must highlight this to readers: THIS is the result of bad philosophy. This is the result of non-objective emotionalism, and PRECISELY the reason I wrote this article, because atheists are no better than theists in this regard. Actually, at least the theist pretends to have a moral objective consistent worldview. This atheist just gives up on the idea altogether. To the theist, we’re slaves to god. To Chimp, we’re animalistic slaves to emotion.

    Life simply is. Life is your ultimate value; it is the value that makes all other values possible, and the value towards which all other values are directed. Life is the value which provides the standard for which all other values (or non-values) are measured.

    So here you have thrown a hissy-fit about how immeasurably wrong I am. Ok fair enough. I was thinking to myself reading that “This guy must have some really good reasons and evidence to be handing out that spanking, this should be good!!”
    and what did I get. I got a Randian pronouncement. An opinion. I feel very unsatisfied.

    Your conclusion from what I wrote above apparently is that I said we are slaves to emotion. That of course is not at all what I said. Why is it that everything is an all or nothing proposition with you? I suggested (I thought fairly clearly) that emotion is our prime motivator. That does not mean we cannot exercise choice, make decisions or overrule our emotions. In fairness though, we usually don’t. We have the ability to act against our emotional drives. That doesn’t mean they are not our main motivators. I could be a whine on about strawmen but being a normal person I expect some things to be misunderstood from time to time. Should I also claim here that you are deliberately twisting what I am saying so it something you can attack?

    On the point of desire being a want. I agree, I think the two are essentially the same thing. WANTING is an emotional state. You can’t logically want anything. You are always motivated by an emotional desire. You claim to have addressed my points. I asked you logically why being alive is better than being dead. I don’t see a clear response to that and I think this is central to the core of this debate.

    Life simply is!…..so? A vacuous statement and largely irrelevant. So we are alive. That says exactly nothing about what is valuable to us.

    Life is your ultimate value; – Why? Is the following meant to be an explaination of that great big assertion:

    it is the value that makes all other values possible, and the value towards which all other values are directed. Life is the value which provides the standard for which all other values (or non-values) are measured.

    First off, as you say yourself: Life simply is and makes other values possibble (why does that make it a value)
    Energy makes all life possible. Energy must be the ultimate form of life then and the ultimate value??????

    Life is NOT the value? to which all other values are directed. If this were true suicide would be impossible.
    Life provides the standard for which all other vlaues are measured. (oh even non-values)
    What does that even mean? We judge values by the amount they enhance life or reduce it or what? What kind of life are we talking about, human life, plant life?

    That whole paragraph is at best confused and definitely not backed up in any way.
    I really hope this is not you superior thinking at work.
    Lets see some reasoning here!

    Convince me that life in and of itself is the ultimate value or a value at all for that matter. We can go from there.

    For the sake of argument I’ll not respond in kind to the sickening display of you fellating yourself at the end of your response except to say this.
    You seem to think that you saying you are right and you being right are the same thing.

  90. evanescent Says:

    Given the length of the response, if I were to respond to each point, my response would be even longer and so on until we would have written a fairly impressive book. I think we are trying to have to many arguments at once, each of us drawing from our conclusions leading to massive entries where neither side is properly addressing individual issues

    I disagree with the last part. I am properly addressing all issues.

    Lets start with this:

    You are so incredibly wrong I must highlight this to readers: THIS is the result of bad philosophy. This is the result of non-objective emotionalism, and PRECISELY the reason I wrote this article, because atheists are no better than theists in this regard. Actually, at least the theist pretends to have a moral objective consistent worldview. This atheist just gives up on the idea altogether. To the theist, we’re slaves to god. To Chimp, we’re animalistic slaves to emotion.

    Life simply is. Life is your ultimate value; it is the value that makes all other values possible, and the value towards which all other values are directed. Life is the value which provides the standard for which all other values (or non-values) are measured.

    So here you have thrown a hissy-fit about how immeasurably wrong I am. Ok fair enough. I was thinking to myself reading that “This guy must have some really good reasons and evidence to be handing out that spanking, this should be good!!”
    and what did I get. I got a Randian pronouncement. An opinion. I feel very unsatisfied.

    Your conclusion from what I wrote above apparently is that I said we are slaves to emotion. That of course is not at all what I said. Why is it that everything is an all or nothing proposition with you? I suggested (I thought fairly clearly) that emotion is our prime motivator. That does not mean we cannot exercise choice, make decisions or overrule our emotions. In fairness though, we usually don’t.

    Speak for yourself. I can’t speak to the rational health of every person on the planet, and neither can you. But what you also can’t do is claim that we are primarily emotional beings, which IS what you are saying. This is necessarily FALSE, for the reasons explained above.

    We have the ability to act against our emotional drives. That doesn’t mean they are not our main motivators. I could be a whine on about strawmen but being a normal person I expect some things to be misunderstood from time to time. Should I also claim here that you are deliberately twisting what I am saying so it something you can attack?

    If you think I’ve misrepresented you, by all means point this out. If we are claiming that we are primarily emotional beings, then reason must come secondary to this. In other words, a human being that chooses to use reason over emotion is the exception not the rule, and we are still basically savages with the occasional flirt with reason.

    On the point of desire being a want. I agree, I think the two are essentially the same thing. WANTING is an emotional state. You can’t logically want anything. You are always motivated by an emotional desire. You claim to have addressed my points. I asked you logically why being alive is better than being dead. I don’t see a clear response to that and I think this is central to the core of this debate.

    And again, you are simply wrong. Although one tends to feel an emotion whilst wanting something, it is not the case that the source of that want is the emotion itself. Emotion is the end-result, the EFFECT of wanting something. But as WHY one wants, or desires, the source is, or should be: reason.

    I don’t deny that some people desire based purely on emotion. I do claim that those people are irrational.

    Now, why is alive better than being dead? Life makes value possible. Think of all the things you value and ask yourself if you are better with them than without them. Life is the context by which your values are evaluated. If life is no better than death, then inject heroin, kill your wife, rape your kids, drive your car off a cliff. In fact, you should immediately kill yourself.

    “Life simply is!…..so?” A vacuous statement and largely irrelevant. So we are alive. That says exactly nothing about what is valuable to us.

    Exactly. We do not automatically know what is of value to us, and we do not automatically pursue our values (like animals do). I’m glad you realise this, because it contradicts a point you made earlier about us choosing values based on emotion.

    It is precisely because we don’t instinctively know what is of value to us or not, that we must identify these values through a process of reason. NO OTHER PROCESS IS ACCEPTABLE, because only reason can identify the nature of man, the nature of existence, and figure out how the two can harmonise for one’s life to be maintained and flourish.

    Doing “whatever you feel like” will not work.

    I take it this case is closed now: values should be rationally chosen, not emotionally. In fact, emotion is the physiological RESPONSE to our values. Your original error was to put the cart before the horse.

    “Life is your ultimate value”; – Why? Is the following meant to be an explaination of that great big assertion:

    http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/life-as-the-ultimate-value/

    First off, as you say yourself: Life simply is and makes other values possibble (why does that make it a value)

    Because a value is defined as “that which one acts to keep and / or gain” – do you act to keep and or gain your life? Yes. Is there anything higher you can pursue? No. Therefore it’s the ultimate. See the link above.

    Energy makes all life possible. Energy must be the ultimate form of life then and the ultimate value??????

    What kind of rubbish is this?

    The term value is meaningless except in relation to life. Life gives rise to the concept ‘value’.

    Life is NOT the value to which all other values are directed. If this were true suicide would be impossible.

    I can’t make any sense of that.

    “Life provides the standard for which all other vlaues are measured. (oh even non-values)”

    What does that even mean? We judge values by the amount they enhance life or reduce it or what? What kind of life are we talking about, human life, plant life?

    In answer to your second question: yes.

    In answer to your third: for this discussion: human life. Only human beings have volition over their values. Animals and plants don’t.

    I really hope this is not you superior thinking at work.
    Lets see some reasoning here!

    Your attempt as sarcasm is embarrassing considering you are so painfully wrong.

    Convince me that life in and of itself is the ultimate value or a value at all for that matter. We can go from there.

    Are you for real? Don’t you criticise theists for irrationality, just because they believe in god? I’d get off that high horse of yours if I were you and look in the mirror: you sound like a theist, and even worse; desperately scratching around for a counter argument to maintain your faith.

    Is your life not a value to you, Chimp? Well why are we even having this discussion? I expect to see your name in the obituaries tomorrow morning.

    If on the other hand you DO value your life and wish to maintain it at least a few more hours, see the link to my article above.

    “For the sake of argument I’ll not respond in kind to the sickening display of you fellating yourself at the end of your response except to say this.
    You seem to think that you saying you are right and you being right are the same thing.

    Well, I am right. I expect a certain level of intellectual honesty from those I debate with. Just as I will, and have, admitted my errors many times in the past when shown why I am wrong, I expect the same from others. I don’t expect to have to couch my words in affectionate language just to win you over, or feign respect for you without it being earned. If you’re honest, you’ll see that I’m right, regardless of what you think of how I phrase things. Remember it was YOUR arrogant snubbing of objectivism that set you off on the wrong foot, and you’ve given me no reason to readdress my opinion of you so far.

    I think if you read back some of the stuff you’ve written so far, you would cringe with embarrassment. Life not a value? Value from emotion? Like I said before, this is your philosophical nihilism showing through, a common trait of New Age Atheists. It’s EASY to ridicule religion and shoot down “god” isn’t it? But try to step outside your comfort zone and have a philosophical debate and the ice cracks doesn’t it? That’s not necessarily your fault; it’s a result of today’s society’s bad philosophy. What is your fault is how you react to rational argument.

  91. The Celtic Chimp Says:

    I really don’t think you actually know what a rational argument is. To you it is any assertion that you believe to be correct. Anyone who disagrees is automatically wrong. Reasoning badly is no great crime but be so ridiculously pompous and smug about it is sickening.

    Speak for yourself. I can’t speak to the rational health of every person on the planet, and neither can you. But what you also can’t do is claim that we are primarily emotional beings, which IS what you are saying.

    I make the claim on the basis of the evidence. It is my opinion that people act in accordance with their emotional desires. How do you explain religion if you think they don’t?

    This is necessarily FALSE, for the reasons explained above.

    oh my. You explained nothing. you just made statements.

    In other words, a human being that chooses to use reason over emotion is the exception not the rule, and we are still basically savages with the occasional flirt with reason.

    Have you watched world news lately? I wouldn’t go so far to say that mainly rational people are the exception but I would say they seem to be on the rarer side of things. I don’t think a purely rational exists at all. I have never said and indeed would never say that people are primarily rational. I have found that people have a much higher tendency to be irrational emotive beings. You think religious people believe all the shit they do on the basis of the evidence or an emotional need? You tell me. It might be worth baring in mind that majority of the human race is religious. A majority by a huge margin.

    I asked you logically why being alive is better than being dead. I don’t see a clear response to that and I think this is central to the core of this debate.

    Your response:
    Now, why is alive better than being dead? Life makes value possible. Think of all the things you value and ask yourself if you are better with them than without them. Life is the context by which your values are evaluated. If life is no better than death, then inject heroin, kill your wife, rape your kids, drive your car off a cliff. In fact, you should immediately kill yourself.

    Let’s ignore the false dichotomy (yet again) (I don’t regard life as better than death so I should therefore rape my kids….maybe this makes sense to objectivists but I’m at a loss)

    Are you not understanding the question? LOGICALLY, why is life better than death.
    To help you, as you are obviously struggling with this question, lets expand it a little. Logically, why would any value make me “better”? Better according to who or in what context. Why is it better to not kill than to kill or to live rather than die. I ask you to explain logically why one is better than the other. I am not asking you for the reason why values exist, I am asking to shown me how with the absence of our emotional attachment to it how life has value. In a purely logical sense, is it better to be alive than dead? The answer of course is that neither is ‘better’. Better is meaningless here. Only though emotional involvement does living become better than being dead. If you disagree I ask you to show me though unemotional reason that life is better than death.

    Life is NOT the value to which all other values are directed. If this were true suicide would be impossible.

    I can’t make any sense of that.

    A person who commits suicide obviously holds something other than life to be more valuable than life. Cessation of pain or something else. Obviously the action of killing yourself cannot be argued to be for the ultimate end of life.

    Convince me that life in and of itself is the ultimate value or a value at all for that matter. We can go from there.

    Are you for real? Don’t you criticise theists for irrationality, just because they believe in god? I’d get off that high horse of yours if I were you and look in the mirror: you sound like a theist, and even worse; desperately scratching around for a counter argument to maintain your faith.

    Is your life not a value to you, Chimp? Well why are we even having this discussion? I expect to see your name in the obituaries tomorrow morning.

    A the good old false dichotomy. You commit this fallacy so often I’ve included a helpful link for you
    http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/98-99/logic/falsedichotomy.html

    Why must not holding life to be the ultimate value mean that I must not only find it of no value but MUST find it to be of negative value to the point of immediately killing myself?

    Strangely enough, it was remarked to me recently by a friend when I mentioned objectivism to him that he has always found objectivists to be theistic in their argumentation. He reckoned that they don’t really argue they just recite dogma. Judging by your complete lack of argument beyond your insistence that you are right, I am inclined to think he was spot on.

    My life is of value to me only as a means to an end. I don’t enjoy my heart beating or my lungs exchanging oxygen and CO2. I don’t get a thrill from digesting my food. I enjoy eating it, which is why my meals tend to be chosen according to what I think tastes good rather than the foods which will fuel my body the best. I have a terrible diet, one I know will probably shorten my life. I’m ok with that though. To me enjoying my food is worth more than living to be 80 instead of 70. In fact, I engage in many activities and recreations that I know are harmful to my health. You will insist of course that these actions must be irrational. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you must be irrational; after all you start of with presumption that you are correct and go from there. Many people thought-out history have engaged in activities they knew were likely to end their lives. They obviously considered these things of a higher value than their lives. Even in the realm of pure entertainment people take huge risks with their lives, often this risk is part of the enjoyment. Around 15 people are killed every year base-jumping. Base-jumping is attractive to those who do it in part because it might be fatal. The element of risk increases their enjoyment. If you knew for a fact that you would never again enjoy anything, for the rest of your life, would your life have value to you anymore? Speaking for me I would say not. It is the pleasure of satisfying our emotional desires that motivate people. Take that away and there is no value in just being alive. Life, like any means to an end is only valuable so long as it can still perform the function of being a means to an end. You argue that life is the ultimate end, worse you argue that this should be obvious by injecting an utterly irrelevant hierarchy onto values. It is to say something like “This is required for that, therefore this is more important than that!” Why so?

    Energy makes all life possible. Energy must be the ultimate form of life then and the ultimate value??????

    What kind of rubbish is this?

    The term value is meaningless except in relation to life. Life gives rise to the concept ‘value’.

    Yes, but how can life exist without energy? Energy gives rise to life. By your reasoning, because energy facilitates life and life facilitates value then energy facilitates value and furthermore must be the ultimate value because it is higher up in the hierarchy. Also, because you feel the need to insist (without an argument) that life being the origin of other values must make it the ultimate value. Well, life cannot exist unless energy is present first. I’m hoping you don’t disagree with that. Life is required for values. Energy is required for life. Both are true and both are irrelevant to establishing our set of values. You have managed to misunderstand this point once already as you illustrate below

    “Life simply is!…..so?” A vacuous statement and largely irrelevant. So we are alive. That says exactly nothing about what is valuable to us.

    Exactly. We do not automatically know what is of value to us, and we do not automatically pursue our values (like animals do). I’m glad you realise this, because it contradicts a point you made earlier about us choosing values based on emotion.

    I’ll give the opportunity to re-read the above and find the problem in your response on your own first. I’ll give you the benefit of the considerable doubt and assume you can figure it out on your own, if you can’t let me know and I’ll explain it to you.

    It is precisely because we don’t instinctively know what is of value to us or not, that we must identify these values through a process of reason.
    We don’t instinctively know what is of value? So a hungry child reasons their way to wanting food. A child though a process of reason concludes that it doesn’t like the taste of broccoli. It is though reason and rationality that I discovered that I was heterosexual and that I desired sex?

    NO OTHER PROCESS IS ACCEPTABLE, because only reason can identify the nature of man, the nature of existence, and figure out how the two can harmonise for one’s life to be maintained and flourish.

    this is just flowery bullshit. Sounds almost…theistic doesn’t it?

    I take it this case is closed now: values should be rationally chosen, not emotionally. In fact, emotion is the physiological RESPONSE to our values. Your original error was to put the cart before the horse.

    Oh please! Once again a proclamation of victory. After the weak and baseless nonsense you excreted above this should be embarrassing to you

    Life is valuable to me only because it facilitates the things that are truly valuable to me in their own right. If I were offered the choice between being kept alive but never being able to do anything, not only would my life lose all its value to me, it would be a burden I would seek to get rid off. Life just facilitates my engaging my wants (emotions) It might be offered that the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate value(goal). The fact that such a pursuit requires you to be alive is incidental. I love scuba diving. Scuba diving requires that I have a tank of compressed air. Without compressed are there can be no scuba diving. Therefore compressed air is what I am really pursuing when I go scuba diving?

    Because a value is defined as “that which one acts to keep and / or gain”

    This is what Rand says a value is. The dictionary defines Value as:

    Main Entry: 1val·ue
    Pronunciation: \ˈval-(ˌ)yü\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, worth, high quality, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *valuta, from feminine of *valutus, past participle of Latin valēre to be of worth, be strong — more at wield
    Date: 14th century
    1: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
    2: the monetary worth of something : market price
    3: relative worth, utility, or importance
    4: a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement

    5: the relative duration of a musical note
    6 a: relative lightness or darkness of a color : luminosity b: the relation of one part in a picture to another with respect to lightness and darkness
    7: something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable <sought material values instead of human values — W. H. Jones

    I think 7 speaks to our usage here.

    If we take Rand’s definition to be accurate (and there is no reason we should) then the domination of other people is a value. Many humans have gone to extreme lengths to keep or gain it have they not? Often risking their lives to do so. Religious faith is a value too by this definition. How many martyrs have given their lives rather than renounce their faith?

    do you act to keep and or gain your life? Yes. Is there anything higher you can pursue? No. Therefore it’s the ultimate.

    As I have already stated, many people believe there are concepts that are more worthy of pursuit than life. There are many things that people would accept death sooner than living with.

    By the way, you realise that if I define all the terms in a statement to suit me, I will always be right. The statement might have no bearing on reality at all but I’ll still be right by my terms. Not that even this definition makes Rand other assertions correct.

    Well, I am right. I expect a certain level of intellectual honesty from those I debate with. Just as I will, and have, admitted my errors many times in the past when shown why I am wrong, I expect the same from others. I don’t expect to have to couch my words in affectionate language just to win you over, or feign respect for you without it being earned. If you’re honest, you’ll see that I’m right, regardless of what you think of how I phrase things. Remember it was YOUR arrogant snubbing of objectivism that set you off on the wrong foot, and you’ve given me no reason to readdress my opinion of you so far.
    I think if you read back some of the stuff you’ve written so far, you would cringe with embarrassment. Life not a value? Value from emotion? Like I said before, this is your philosophical nihilism showing through, a common trait of New Age Atheists. It’s EASY to ridicule religion and shoot down “god” isn’t it? But try to step outside your comfort zone and have a philosophical debate and the ice cracks doesn’t it? That’s not necessarily your fault; it’s a result of today’s society’s bad philosophy. What is your fault is how you react to rational argument.

    Holy shit, you do admire yourself don’t you. This whole segment is cringeworthy. I should clarify something for you. I am not objecting in the slightest to you showing me a lack of respect. I honestly don’t mind if you don’t. I am objecting to your smug self-agrandising delusional claims to having won the argument. It is just plain irritating. You are obviously not that bright and I suspect not all that accustomed to philosophical debate. I offer thought experiments, you whine about them not being true to life examples. I ask you to prove that life has value and is the ‘ultimate’ value, in other words I was asking you to show your work and you leap to the conclusion I am a philosophical nihilist. Contrary to your belief, this is not the first philosophical debate I have engaged in, I don’t have a “comfort zone” that I am aware of. I am glad to say though that my opponents have been more skilled and less up their own asses than you. If you have a brain and I’m not just debating with a Rand quoting machine, I invite you to use it. Having looked at how you responded to others on this topic though, I don’t expect much. You seem to believe that if you repeat yourself often enough you will become right.

  92. evanescent Says:

    I really don’t think you actually know what a rational argument is. To you it is any assertion that you believe to be correct. Anyone who disagrees is automatically wrong. Reasoning badly is no great crime but be so ridiculously pompous and smug about it is sickening.

    No, Chimp. Being pompous and smug:

    1. attacking a position you don’t understand
    2. making derogatory claims about a philosophy, then not having the guts to even be sure you are attacking the right philosophy
    3. pretending to know what you’re talking about when engaging in a philosophical debate
    4. not being able to recognise the absurdity of your own position after it has been clearly explained to you time and again
    5. insulting someone who has spent more than you deserve trying to reason with you

    “Speak for yourself. I can’t speak to the rational health of every person on the planet, and neither can you. But what you also can’t do is claim that we are primarily emotional beings, which IS what you are saying.”

    I make the claim on the basis of the evidence. It is my opinion that people act in accordance with their emotional desires. How do you explain religion if you think they don’t?

    I notice how you say “emotional desires”, instead of just desires. Didn’t you earlier say that desire is an emotion? So what you just said is like saying “emotional happiness” or “emotional sadness”; it makes no sense. But you must qualify the word “desire” with “emotional” because you realise (now) apparently that desires have sources. Desires from emotion can still have a rational source (they usually do), because reason can shape our emotions.

    You originally claimed that desires are emotions, and that humans PRIMARILY act on emotion.

    “This is necessarily FALSE, for the reasons explained above.”

    oh my. You explained nothing. you just made statements.

    No, you just didn’t understand.

    “In other words, a human being that chooses to use reason over emotion is the exception not the rule, and we are still basically savages with the occasional flirt with reason.”

    Have you watched world news lately? I wouldn’t go so far to say that mainly rational people are the exception but I would say they seem to be on the rarer side of things. I don’t think a purely rational person exists at all. I have never said and indeed would never say that people are primarily rational.

    I am not going to get into an argument over your opinion of the human race.

    I am not claiming that all people are rational in every aspect of their life.

    Precisely because human beings, as a metaphysical rule, do not act on instinct and automatically possess knowledge to survive (like animals), we need reason to live. From the very basic act of forming a hunting weapon out of a branch, or building a mud hut to live in, or driving to work every day, we must use our minds to THINK in every task.

    The fact that some people do not reason, or choose to switch off their reason in certain aspects (like theists), is granted, but does not negate this principle.

    In fact, is this NOT the sort of argument you have made to theists yourself in the past?

    And if you think the stories that are reported on the news are the natural everyday norm for human life, you have a very dire depressing cynical view of the universe. Again, that is not surprising; malevolent universe premise is another symptom of a subjectivist philosophy.

    It is no wonder theists are happy to remain in their fantasy world, when the alternative offered by you New Age Atheists is so nihilistic. And again, another brilliant example of why I wrote this article.

    I have found that people have a much higher tendency to be irrational emotive beings. You think religious people believe all the shit they do on the basis of the evidence or an emotional need? You tell me. It might be worth baring in mind that majority of the human race is religious. A majority by a huge margin.

    I don’t deny this. The majority of the human race compartmentalises their rationality when it comes to religion. Just like you do when it comes to your irrational notions. Do you consider yourself more rational than a theist? I don’t think you are.

    This doesn’t disprove the fact that they must use reason to survive. As I proved earlier, any claim to truth or knowledge PRESUPPOSES reason. A human being tacitly accepts that reason is necessary in order to make any statement.

    A person who claims to know something purely on the basis of emotion has already conceded that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about; e.g.: theists.

    I asked you logically why being alive is better than being dead. I don’t see a clear response to that and I think this is central to the core of this debate.

    Your response:

    “Now, why is alive better than being dead? Life makes value possible. Think of all the things you value and ask yourself if you are better with them than without them. Life is the context by which your values are evaluated. If life is no better than death, then inject heroin, kill your wife, rape your kids, drive your car off a cliff. In fact, you should immediately kill yourself.”

    Let’s ignore the false dichotomy (yet again) (I don’t regard life as better than death so I should therefore rape my kids….maybe this makes sense to objectivists but I’m at a loss)

    False dichotomy? What alternatives are there between life and death?!

    The primary reason you don’t rape and kill people and take drugs is because it isn’t in YOUR best interest to do so. If you had no value for your life, you couldn’t have value for anyone else’s, because every other value you have is only a value in the context of your life; your wife is a value to YOU, your kids are a value to YOU. Your standing in society and freedom and mental health are values to YOU. Without valuing your own life, you would be worse than a psychotic.

    Are you not understanding the question? LOGICALLY, why is life better than death.
    To help you, as you are obviously struggling with this question, lets expand it a little. Logically, why would any value make me “better”? Better according to who or in what context. Why is it better to not kill than to kill or to live rather than die. I ask you to explain logically why one is better than the other. I am not asking you for the reason why values exist, I am asking to shown me how with the absence of our emotional attachment to it how life has value. In a purely logical sense, is it better to be alive than dead? The answer of course is that neither is ‘better’. Better is meaningless here. Only though emotional involvement does living become better than being dead. If you disagree I ask you to show me though unemotional reason that life is better than death.

    You are stealing the concept, Chimp. This is a fallacy that Ayn Rand identifies when one attempts to use a concept out of context without regard to the antecedents that make it possible.

    Why is life better than death? By using the word “better”, you are asking me to make a value judgement. But value is meaningless except in relation to life! By what standard are you asking me to judge life over non-life? It is only because life exists that you can even ask that question.

    Now do you understand why I earlier said : “life simply is” ?

    You are asking me to step outside of life and evaluate which is “better” between life and death by some external intrinsic standard; but there is no other standard for value external to life.

    Now do you realise the absurdity of your question?

    This is Philosophy 101, Chimp.

    Life is NOT the value to which all other values are directed. If this were true suicide would be impossible.

    “I can’t make any sense of that.”

    A person who commits suicide obviously holds something other than life to be more valuable than life. Cessation of pain or something else. Obviously the action of killing yourself cannot be argued to be for the ultimate end of life.

    Actually it can. To live as a human being is not to survive from one moment to the next like an animal, without purpose, without hope, without happiness. To maintain existence without truly living like a human being is not a celebration of life, but a celebration of death.

    If for example a prisoner (who we will assume to be innocent) decides death is the only alternative to torture or spending the rest of his life chained up; is the only way out, he is fully justified morally in ending his life.

    Objectivism is fully consistent with euthanasia and suicide, in the right context.

    Convince me that life in and of itself is the ultimate value or a value at all for that matter. We can go from there.

    “Are you for real? Don’t you criticise theists for irrationality, just because they believe in god? I’d get off that high horse of yours if I were you and look in the mirror: you sound like a theist, and even worse; desperately scratching around for a counter argument to maintain your faith.

    Is your life not a value to you, Chimp? Well why are we even having this discussion? I expect to see your name in the obituaries tomorrow morning.”

    A the good old false dichotomy. You commit this fallacy so often I’ve included a helpful link for you

    http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/98-99/logic/falsedichotomy.html

    Chimp, if you are going to try and identify logical fallacies, you might want to check that someone actually committed a fallacy first, otherwise you end up looking silly.

    There is only alternative to life: death. If life is not the ultimate value, then there must be something else to which all others values and goals are measured, but if all other values and goals are not directed towards life, what else are they directed to?? What other option is there?? Blank out.

    Why must not holding life to be the ultimate value mean that I must not only find it of no value but MUST find it to be of negative value to the point of immediately killing myself?

    Because every single action you take or don’t take is judged in relation to the betterment of your life. If you deny this, and you reject that life is your standard, you should cease and desist from ANY and ALL life-affirming action. In other words, die.

    Strangely enough, it was remarked to me recently by a friend when I mentioned objectivism to him that he has always found objectivists to be theistic in their argumentation. He reckoned that they don’t really argue they just recite dogma. Judging by your complete lack of argument beyond your insistence that you are right, I am inclined to think he was spot on.

    I don’t care what you or your friend think of Objectivism or me.

    As for your rather long paragraph, I can address it all by picking out one statement:

    My life is of value to me only as a means to an end.

    What end? To what end external to your life is your life directed? Blank out. This claim is nonsensical. Did you read my article on Life Being the Ultimate Value? I’m guessing not.

    Funnily enough, the idea that our lives are not ends in themselves but merely means to OTHER external ends is a tenet of theism. To the theist, God is the end to which our lives are directed. To the socialist, society is the end to which our lives are directed. To you, the “end” is doing whatever you feel like, judging by your examples below. What you ignore is that eating pleasant food, and engaging in sports, and travelling and sampling different exploits is LIFE AFFIRMING action. If one doesn’t value one’s life, these things become meaningless.

    Taking risks with your life for pure adrenaline rushes is irrational. Taking risks by being a police officer or fire fighter isn’t. I’ll leave you to figure out the difference why.

    I don’t enjoy my heart beating or my lungs exchanging oxygen and CO2. I don’t get a thrill from digesting my food. I enjoy eating it, which is why my meals tend to be chosen according to what I think tastes good rather than the foods which will fuel my body the best. I have a terrible diet, one I know will probably shorten my life. I’m ok with that though. To me enjoying my food is worth more than living to be 80 instead of 70. In fact, I engage in many activities and recreations that I know are harmful to my health. You will insist of course that these actions must be irrational. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you must be irrational; after all you start of with presumption that you are correct and go from there. Many people thought-out history have engaged in activities they knew were likely to end their lives. They obviously considered these things of a higher value than their lives. Even in the realm of pure entertainment people take huge risks with their lives, often this risk is part of the enjoyment. Around 15 people are killed every year base-jumping. Base-jumping is attractive to those who do it in part because it might be fatal. The element of risk increases their enjoyment. If you knew for a fact that you would never again enjoy anything, for the rest of your life, would your life have value to you anymore? Speaking for me I would say not. It is the pleasure of satisfying our emotional desires that motivate people. Take that away and there is no value in just being alive. Life, like any means to an end is only valuable so long as it can still perform the function of being a means to an end. You argue that life is the ultimate end, worse you argue that this should be obvious by injecting an utterly irrelevant hierarchy onto values. It is to say something like “This is required for that, therefore this is more important than that!” Why so?

    See above.

    Yes, but how can life exist without energy? Energy gives rise to life. By your reasoning, because energy facilitates life and life facilitates value then energy facilitates value and furthermore must be the ultimate value because it is higher up in the hierarchy. Also, because you feel the need to insist (without an argument) that life being the origin of other values must make it the ultimate value. Well, life cannot exist unless energy is present first. I’m hoping you don’t disagree with that. Life is required for values. Energy is required for life. Both are true and both are irrelevant to establishing our set of values. You have managed to misunderstand this point once already as you illustrate below

    Energy gives rise to life. Energy is a physical component of existence; there are many things in existence that give rise to life. To say that energy gives rise to life is like saying that the universe gives rise to life. But our life is existence. Wow.

    Life cannot exist without a great many things, but energy is part of the universe and the universe already exists, it is taken for granted, it is the metaphysically given. The universe exists, and life may or may not. But it is only life that gives rise to values. The concept value depends on the concept life.

    If anything is a value, energy, heat, food, light, it is a value TO LIFE. Without life, energy is not a value to anyone or anything!

    And you say that I have misunderstood! Hilarious.

    “Exactly. We do not automatically know what is of value to us, and we do not automatically pursue our values (like animals do). I’m glad you realise this, because it contradicts a point you made earlier about us choosing values based on emotion.”

    I’ll give the opportunity to re-read the above and find the problem in your response on your own first. I’ll give you the benefit of the considerable doubt and assume you can figure it out on your own, if you can’t let me know and I’ll explain it to you.

    After this statement, you should refrain from making any slights on my supposed arrogance, Chimp. You are clueless and out of your depth here. You are only embarrassing yourself further.

    We don’t instinctively know what is of value? So a hungry child reasons their way to wanting food. A child though a process of reason concludes that it doesn’t like the taste of broccoli. It is though reason and rationality that I discovered that I was heterosexual and that I desired sex?

    No, a hungry child feels the biological need for food. Does it know the difference between food and poison? Does it know how to acquire its food?

    Does a human being mindlessly fashion tools and build houses? Does a human being automatically collect food in the summer and hibernate in the winter? Does a human being defecate wherever and whenever it feels like? (Present company excluded).

    “NO OTHER PROCESS IS ACCEPTABLE, because only reason can identify the nature of man, the nature of existence, and figure out how the two can harmonise for one’s life to be maintained and flourish.”

    this is just flowery bullshit. Sounds almost…theistic doesn’t it?

    I feel like I’m talking to a mindless yobbish little boy who thinks he is cleverer that what he is. I imagine all those blogs insulting theists makes you feel pretty big, Chimp. But when you talk to someone who knows that they’re talking about, and can expose your lack of intelligence and knowledge, you resort to swearing and emotionalism.

    Again, the only person coming out of this debate with any credit is me.

    I notice that you didn’t bother to address the point, but rather insulted me. Because of course, if you had to identify a process other than reason to live, you would fail.

    Of course, Chimp will go back to his anti-theist blog and rant about how theists should be more rational and reasonable! Obviously Chimp will insist on anything just to avoid admitting he’s wrong.

    “I take it this case is closed now: values should be rationally chosen, not emotionally. In fact, emotion is the physiological RESPONSE to our values. Your original error was to put the cart before the horse. “

    Oh please! Once again a proclamation of victory. After the weak and baseless nonsense you excreted above this should be embarrassing to you.

    Look at my statement. Now look at Chimp’s. Look how coherently and reasonably I talk and bring my premises to a conclusion. Now look at Chimp’s emotional desperate response. This says it all.

    Life is valuable to me only because it facilitates the things that are truly valuable to me in their own right.

    In what right? So you’re saying the things you value are values in and of themselves? That is probably one of the most absurd things you’ve said, which is saying something.

    So you value your job. Why? Is it because you need it to sustain your home, your family, your life?? You value your wife. Are you saying she is a value, but NOT to you? You value food. Are you saying that food is a value, but that you consume it for some reason external to your life or pleasure in your life?

    I shouldn’t need to spell this out anymore. Your persistence on this issue is shocking.

    If I were offered the choice between being kept alive but never being able to do anything, not only would my life lose all its value to me, it would be a burden I would seek to get rid off.

    Well, there you go then! All the things you enjoy are a value to your life. You don’t live in order to value, you value in order to live!

    Happiness is the ultimate goal, but happiness is the joy that comes from realising the things you value.

    The fact that such a pursuit requires you to be alive is incidental. I love scuba diving.

    Excuse me for one second…

    HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Incidental?? As if being alive was just an after thought. It is life itself that gives rise to values. You wouldn’t be very good at scuba diving if you were dead, and you certainly couldn’t love it unless you were alive.

    Scuba diving requires that I have a tank of compressed air. Without compressed are there can be no scuba diving. Therefore compressed air is what I am really pursuing when I go scuba diving?

    This is poor, Chimp. Even for you, this is awful.

    Because a value is defined as “that which one acts to keep and / or gain”

    This is what Rand says a value is. The dictionary defines Value as:

    7: something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable <sought material values instead of human values — W. H. Jones

    I think 7 speaks to our usage here.

    If we take Rand’s definition to be accurate (and there is no reason we should) then the domination of other people is a value. Many humans have gone to extreme lengths to keep or gain it have they not? Often risking their lives to do so. Religious faith is a value too by this definition. How many martyrs have given their lives rather than renounce their faith?

    The dictionary definition is actually partly wrong, philosophically. There is no such thing as intrinsic values; values exist in the context of life. There is no value external or intrinsic in the universe, except in regard to life.

    As for why it is NOT a value for you to dominate other people, that is another discussion, one that I have no intention of getting into with you.

    As I have already stated, many people believe there are concepts that are more worthy of pursuit than life. There are many things that people would accept death sooner than living with.

    Yes, many people believe that. So what? I didn’t dispute that. People who pursue immoral irrational goals like slavery, religion, socialism, communism etc are not pursuing life.

    Holy shit, you do admire yourself don’t you. This whole segment is cringeworthy. I should clarify something for you. I am not objecting in the slightest to you showing me a lack of respect. I honestly don’t mind if you don’t. I am objecting to your smug self-agrandising delusional claims to having won the argument.

    More language. Did you type this drunk?

    It is just plain irritating.

    That’s because you won’t admit that you’re wrong.

    You are obviously not that bright and I suspect not all that accustomed to philosophical debate.

    My irony meter just exploded.

    Chimp, as my blog shows, and as I have shown here, I know exactly what I’m talking about, and you are a foul-mouthed cretin. I have destroyed your “arguments” time and again, and justified every statement I have made from my objective philosophy.

    I could compare the merits of my blog to yours, our writing style, my rationale, etc, but there is no need. I judge myself against excellence, not dire bilge.

    Contrary to your belief, this is not the first philosophical debate I have engaged in, I don’t have a “comfort zone” that I am aware of.

    And who do you usually argue with, Chimp? Your run of the mill Christian fundamentalist? Perhaps some new age post modernist who thinks he’s a philosophy expert because he asks “how do we know we can know anything?”.

    You’re out of your depth. Seeing you attempt to argue with me is pathetic and embarrassing.

    To you that sounds arrogant. To other people reading, it’s just true. I’m sure you’ve provided some comedy value to my intelligent readers but after a point it just gets tiresome. You clearly have no interest in honest debate, but in desperately trying to avoid admitting you’re wrong. If I had the desire to further your nonsense on my blog, I’d see what further mental contortions you’d go to get out of the knots I’ve tied you up in again here, but I don’t.

    Also, your laughable remarks and foul language drag down the quality of my blog, and make it appear that I will give the time of day to any old Joe Atheist who fancies himself an intellectual. Your comments are now blocked.

  93. Nabeel M Sher Says:

    lengthy debate evanescent … mostly just auto repeat … a kind of repertoire … circling around lexicons that you derive from other atheists ….

    the fallacy of atheism is thus listed :

    1)matter gained consciousness by random acts of particles over billion of years??? just like pizza got made when i kept its ingredients in the kitchen for a hundred year

    2)time is the ultimate reality .. outside this earth the time doesnt exist …

    3)the life has no purpose but happiness … while happiness is only an intrinsic value that is rarely truly achieved …

    4)that there is no GOD ….

    now tell me , dont you worship anything ? man is created to worship something or the other … do you not worship your desires and act upon them exhuberantly ? dont you worship your happiness and value it more than any other thing ?

    what originality do you have that you believe did not existed before you … what new ideas have you generated in the plethorra of words you have just written above ?

    you believe yourself that atheism hasnt offered anything new and yet you stick to it

    your understanding of nature is warped …. your learning process has just been reading and reading random man written books …. (you are beyond the point that i might suggest you read Bible or Quran) but try observing nature around you that you can empirically see , feel , hear , taste , smell ….

    look at the nature of things with an unbiased mind and heart ….

    dont try reading a theory on sociology but observe the people and how they act along with each other

    dont just read a book on geography but observe the planet around you

    dont just read a book on botany but observe the plants around you

    do people choose atheism just to be different and sound cooler ? is it the new fashion amongst the university going people ? like teen sex ?

  94. evanescent Says:

    Nabeel, your comment was worthless and filled with nonsense, however for benefit of other readers I will address one point:

    “the life has no purpose but happiness … while happiness is only an intrinsic value that is rarely truly achieved …

    Nowhere is any thought like this mentioned in any article of mine. The highest moral purpose man can pursue is indeed his own happiness, but “instrinsic values” are a contradiction in terms. No value is intrinsic. Values arise from life and are only valid in that context. A value for a man is what he identifies as objectively beneficial for his existence. There is no value to man external to his life.

    “your understanding of nature is warped …. your learning process has just been reading and reading random man written books …. (you are beyond the point that i might suggest you read Bible or Quran) but try observing nature around you that you can empirically see , feel , hear , taste , smell …. “

    Is this condemnation of my character taken from a detailed reading of all my articles, or years of knowing me, or through personal interaction with me? No. Just like the rest of your post, it’s pure trash.

    “dont try reading a theory on sociology but observe the people and how they act along with each other

    dont just read a book on geography but observe the planet around you

    dont just read a book on botany but observe the plants around you

    do people choose atheism just to be different and sound cooler ? is it the new fashion amongst the university going people ? like teen sex ?”

    Do people think writing disjointed quasi-mystical sentences of drivel without correct punctuation or capital letters make them look cooler, or more spiritual, or more intelligent? Who knows.

  95. Nabeel M Sher Says:

    any point that contradict yours is treated as worthless would you impugn me for my punctuation and not my message ?

    you havent tried answering any single of my questions rather you have taken the grammatical flaws and the spelling mistakes , as if you are an examiner marking an assignment .

    You do understand what i said , and you have no answers rather than to revert to a straight forward denial and finding flaws in my grammar .

    If i say that nothing exists and do not use the prized word “nihilism” would i not mean the same ?

    is this maturity ?

    answer my straight forward questions ….

    why is language evolving ,
    why does life ends ,
    why are there pairs amongst every creature you see ,
    what is the mystery of male and female ,
    why are your features distinct from every other person from your family ,
    why is maturity and wisdom culminated in the humans rather than the animals who live with their instincts

    how did the matter gain consciousness ?

  96. evanescent Says:

    Nabeel, you are not presenting a unified coherent position for me to attack or critique. You are presenting a series of inane, abstract, and irrelevant questions for me to answer, as if my failure to give you the answer you want will indicate a failure on my point.

    Look at my articles. See how I make a point, explain it, defend it, rationalise it, support it by reference to reality, and show that any arguments against it will fail.

    Now, what is your point? What are you trying to say? What position are you attempting to defend? What precisely do you disagree with about what I said, and why (provide a quote)?

    Looking at your comments though, you don’t seem altogether in touch with reality, and if that offends you, that’s your fault. I didn’t ask you to come to my blog and call me arrogant because I don’t believe in your invisible friend. I didn’t ask you to give me a list of pointless questions that have no bearing on my article or anything else I’ve written.

    Look at your questions:

    “why is language evolving ,
    why does life ends ,
    why are there pairs amongst every creature you see,”

    What does this have to do with anything? In what way are these three questions related to each other or any overriding theme? How does me answering these questions relate to whatever point or topic you wish to address? Do you even have a point?

    You’re not talking to a typical internet atheist, and I don’t care about what you believe. I am not here to be converted or be preached to. If all you have is vacant mystical ramblings that you personally think somehow prove your “god” exists, then you’re wasting both our time.

  97. Ayn Rand discusses Christmas. Appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas? - Page 7 - Politics.ie Says:

    [...] Originally Posted by Conor Why do you hate Ireland? I don't 'hate Ireland'. I do think there is an inconsistency between your support for Rands neo-Rationalism philosophy and your desire, or whim as she would put it, to embrace the Irish language. A friend of mine went a few fairly typical rounds with Objectivists :- The Celtic Chimp: Evanescent and objectivism. and spilling into: The Celtic Chimp: The origin of values Orginal Objectivist blog here :- The Problem with Atheists evanescent [...]

  98. Wes Says:

    The problem I have with this article is that, like everyone else I’ve heard talking about the subject, it states opinion as fact.

    One example of this is, “The atheist is right that the burden of proof is on the theist”.

    This is a BELIEF. I disagree. I believe that the burden of proof is on both the Theist and the Atheist. But neither can prove their points, because they are both only a belief.

    Just as Theists cannot prove their position, Atheists cannot prove theirs. Atheists cannot prove that God didn’t make everything. Atheists cannot prove that God is evil. Atheists cannot even prove that there is no God.

    It’s like being in a darkened room you’re unfamiliar with and trying to walk out the doorway. This person starts out by turning away from the door, instead of towards the door. Then this person continues to walk in as straight a line as possible, their every step taking them further away. This person finally bumps into a wall and concludes that there is no doorway.

    Is this any different from what Religion does? No, both state their beliefs as fact to reach a conclusion they cannot prove. In my opinion, all Atheists have done is form their own Religion.

  99. evanescent Says:

    So say that atheists have their own religion is disingenious, if not downright underhanded. Anyone who has no belief in any number of mythical supernatural fairies in the sky could be called an atheist. Since they aren’t making a positive claim there is nothing to believe in or defend.

    Having said that, those who positively identify themselves as atheists SHOULD explain their position clearly and defend it. They should say “There is no such thing as god or gods, because the axioms of existence preclude the possibility of magical beings. By definition, god cannot exist.”

  100. Are you selfish or selfless? « e v a n e s c e n t Says:

    [...] selflessness deemed to be good. It’s interesting that this is the moral code of religion which atheists have blindly adopted too, but that’s another discussion. Selfishness is taken to mean acting [...]

  101. Sacrificing Others, Sacrificing Self, and Ayn Rand’s Third Way – Non-Sacrifice « Rogue Operator Says:

    [...] selflessness deemed to be good. It’s interesting that this is the moral code of religion which atheists have blindly adopted too, but that’s another discussion. Selfishness is taken to mean acting [...]

  102. led lighting|led lights|led bulbs|led wholesale Says:

    led lighting|led lights|led bulbs|led wholesale…

    [...]The Problem with Atheists « e v a n e s c e n t[...]…

  103. magic seo Says:

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