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Atrocity, Religion, and Causality… Again

Rifqa Bary is a seventeen year old Christian nee Muslim who has apparently narrowly escaped being forcibly returned to her native Sri Lanka and killed.  After secretly converting to evangelical Christianity, Rifqa attempted to live a double life with her devout Muslim parents, but was found out.  She fled to Florida from her home in Ohio, and was taken in by a Christian minister.  In a startling display of dogmatic fervor, the Bary family quickly liquidated a jewelry business worth several hundred thousand dollars.  They then declared themselves indigent, got court appointed lawyers in Florida, and attempted to have Rifqa returned to them.  According to her court testimony, her father was clear with her — he intended to kill her.  It is unclear whether he intended to kill her on U.S. soil and then return to Sri Lanka (as a conquering hero) or take her to Sri Lanka to kill her in the presence of her extended family.   It is clear, though, that Muslim law was going to be upheld.

I’m reminded of a quote from Greta Christina:

Religion has the power to bend the moral compass to the point where people will defend or trivialize or explain away the horrific abuse of children — the literal, physical and sexual, institutional abuse of thousands of actual human children — and still decry putting a nail through a cracker as a vile offense against all that is right and good.

One of my readers is fond of attempting to use the burden of proof against atheists.  She claims (indirectly here, but directly on other forums) that in the absence of peer reviewed sociological or psychological studies that conclusively demonstrate a causal relationship between religion and psychological dysfunction, atheists must concede that there is no reason to believe such a relationship exists.

I contend that she is wrong, though many of her points are valid in and of themselves.  She claims — correctly — that the human psyche is incredibly complex, and that linking a single factor such as religion to a single act in any individual person is a wild goose chase.  There are just too many variables.  She further asserts — correctly — that it is impossible to know whether religion is the chicken or the egg.  Do crazy people flock to religion or does religion make people crazy?  It’s definitely hard to tell.

I believe Alison is missing the big picture.   For one thing, she’s coming at this as if there wasn’t any evidence outside of peer reviewed studies that demonstrates the relationship.  It’s difficult for me, having been raised by devout Christians, to understand why it’s difficult for her to see the relationship.   Christianity (and Islam) teach people from childhood that there are things which are true despite any and all evidence they might see.  In fact, they are often taught that if they succumb to the sin of doubt, they will be horrendously tortured for all of eternity.  Science, logic, and critical thinking are tricks of a magical and inscrutable evil being whose sole purpose in life is to capture the immortal soul of those who are foolish enough to believe their own observations.

Taking any particular religion out of the equation for a moment, there’s no need to search far for the proof that this kind of upbringing is psychologically damaging.  Any psychologist, given a dysfunctional adult who has been forcibly indoctrinated into bizarre, antisocial beliefs as a child, will quickly diagnose them with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or some other illness caused by mental abuse.  If Alison wishes to take on the entire Psychology establishment and claim that childhood indoctrination into bizarre beliefs is not causally related to adult dysfunction, I wish her well.

Going back to the story of Rifqa Barry, we must ask ourselves several pointed questions:

  • What belief structure convinced Mohammed Bary (Rifqa’s father) that it is a good idea to kill his daughter?
  • How did Mohammed come to his belief structure?
  • Is it plausible to suppose that if Mohammed was a material rationalist, he would be on a similar quest to kill his daughter for converting from Islam to Christianity?

We must admit, I believe, that the answers are clear.  Mohammed wants to kill his daughter because of religion.  There is no other plausible justification for his attitudes and actions.  Now, we can ask ourselves more questions:

  • Are there a substantial number of stories similar to this one?
  • Is religion a common denominator?
  • Have the people committing these atrocities been shown to have chemically caused mental illness such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia (as opposed to environmentally caused mental illness such as PTSD)?
  • Is there a set of similar stories involving the same kind of motivations and actions which occur devoid of religious indoctrination?
  • Is this set of stories comparable in size to those involving religion?

Again, we must concede that it is remarkably difficult to find examples of people who have not been diagnosed with any clinical illnesses who nonetheless commit atrocious acts, particularly towards family members and loved ones.  In fact, we are faced with a remarkable dilemma:

  • IF religion does not cause people to commit this particular kind of atrocity, THEN we must concede that people who would commit such atrocities are highly likely to become religious.  This must be true because there are so few cases of this kind which are devoid of fanatic religiosity.
  • However, we observe that the vast majority of people who commit such atrocities have been indoctrinated into religion since early childhood.  If our theory is correct, and religion is not the cause of such atrocity, we should expect a proportionate number of non-indoctrinated people from non-religious cultures to convert to religion and then commit atrocities.  We do not see this phenomenon.

At this point, we might make the objection that there are plenty of cases of bizarre atrocity devoid of religion.  One need only look at Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China to see that non-religious people can and do commit atrocities, and often turn on their own family members for the sake of the state or a particular political ideology.

This objection answers itself.  If we return to our observation that childhood indoctrination into bizarre belief systems causes adult dysfunction, we see clearly that these two classes of action (political and religious atrocity) are the same, and they’re just hiding behind different kinds of bizarre and irrational ideologies.

At this point, we have a substantial body of evidence for our claim:  Across cultures, and throughout recorded history, the overwhelming majority of atrocities committed by families against their own seem to have been strongly correlated to an indoctrinated ideology.  There is a startling lack of atrocities against family members among cultures that do not subscribe to indoctrinated ideologies advocating atrocities against family members.

The logical position must be the belief that indoctrinated ideologies advocating atrocities against family members cause atrocities against family members.

At this point, the skeptic seems to have two choices:

  • Demonstrate that Christianity and Islam are not indoctrinated ideologies, and that they do not often advocate atrocities against family members.
  • Concede that Christianity and Islam, when practiced as indoctrinated ideologies, cause atrocities against family members.

Alternatively, she could demonstrate that there is a sizable occurrence of intra-family atrocity which occurs in non-indoctrinated families, such that there is no appreciable difference between religious and non-religious families.  I believe this is unlikely, since it would have to have been missed by sociologists and anthropologists the world over.

To be thorough, I suppose I should note that run-of-the-mill child abuse is not the same as genital mutilation or honor killing.  We are talking about two classes of behavior.  Atrocities are acts of extreme mutilation or murder.  Abuse is overly severe punishment, mental abuse, and similar behaviors that appear to be common to all cultures, regardless of ideological bent.

Next, I should address the form of the argument Alison has made.  She asserts, essentially, that in the absence of peer reviewed sociological studies, we should not believe that religion causes atrocity.  This argument contains a hidden premise which is simply not true — ONLY peer reviewed sociological papers are proof of any sociological phenomenon. This puts a horrible burden on sociologists.  Anything that they have not proven doesn’t exist!  Alison has very cleverly shifted the burden of proof.  By pointing out the complexity of human behavior and thought, she has also subtly insinuated that either religion is solely responsible for atrocity or it is not responsible at all.  Clearly, cause and effect in human behavior is not so linear, but there are factors which are crucial in causing a particular event.

I also wonder:  Is it possible that the reason nobody has bothered to prove that ideological indoctrination causes intra-family atrocity is because there is no good reason to believe otherwise?  Since we do not observe such atrocity in statistically significant portions of non-ideological cultures, why wouldn’t we assume that the ideology is the cause?

Since Alison is nothing if not thorough, I must attempt to anticipate her next possible objection.  I have attempted to draw a straight line from ideological indoctrination to one particular act of atrocity — intra-family atrocity.  Perhaps, even having argued convincingly for a causal relationship, I have not established the greater claim, that religion causes societal and personal dysfunction.

I will concede that at this point, this objection could be valid.  However, I believe a little more extrapolation will prove the larger point:

  • There is a class of acts — intra-family atrocity — which is causally linked to indoctrinated ideology.
  • There is a class of religion, including large swaths of Christianity and Islam, which is an indoctrinated ideology.
  • Intra-family atrocity is not the only act advocated by indoctrinated ideologies, including Christianity and Islam.
  • It is reasonable to conclude that since the causal relationship between intra-family violence and indoctrinated ideology is well established, it is very likely that other acts advocated by indoctrinated ideology would also be causally linked when we observe them in adherents.

We can observe the truth of this reasoning in more mundane behaviors.  There are millions of Christians who genuinely believe that they need to pray over their food before they eat.  As far as I can tell, there are virtually no atheists who believe the same thing.  It is hard to argue that praying over food is not caused by religious belief.  It is also hard to argue that every Christian who prays over food is simply conforming to a social norm.  There are some, perhaps many or most, who truly believe that their prayer has a real effect on their food.  This behavior is dysfunctional in the strictest sense because it does not conform to observable reality.  Thinking a request to an unseen deity has never demonstrably changed the universe in any observable way, including removing pathogens from food.

While this observation may seem trite, I believe it is crucial to understanding why indoctrinated ideologies are most certainly the cause of societal dysfunction.  We have now seen that two types of behavior on opposite ends of the spectrum are both certainly causally linked to indoctrinated ideologies.  This observation allows us to make a strongly supported speculation:  Any dysfunctional act of any severity which is advocated by indoctrinated ideology is likely to be committed by adherents of that ideology.

Finally, then, we seem to have reached a reasonable conclusion.  Religion which falls in the class of indoctrinated ideology seems in all cases to advocate actions which are to some degree or another societally dysfunctional.  We have every reason to suppose that indoctrinated people will commit these actions more than their non-indoctrinated counterparts.  Regardless of the number or frequency of such acts, then, we can definitively say that Religion Causes Societal Dysfunction. Additionally, we can observe that the principle clinical measure of mental dysfunction is behavior.  Since atrocities are behaviors, and individuals commit them, it is already proven that religion causes personal mental dysfunction.  It seems irrelevant at this point to quibble over the question of how much dysfunction religious indoctrination causes.  If it causes any, then the claim is valid.  It would seem to be up to the skeptic to prove that most indoctrinated religious people do not have any degree of religiously caused dysfunction.  Otherwise, it seems clear that believing in an indoctrinated ideology of any kind causes dysfunction.

Finally, I suppose that it could be claimed that I’m reducing mental illness to behaviorism.  Some mentally ill people behave quite normally, and some sane people do very irrational things.  Behaviors are not a reliable indicator of true beliefs, since people can be coerced into behaviors they wouldn’t ordinarily do.  I suppose this objection is valid, but does it matter?  If we say that religious adherents are not mentally dysfunctional, and are being socially coerced into irrational behavior, is the end result any different than if they are mentally dysfunctional and committing irrational acts?  At this point, the difference is semantic.

People shape cultures by their beliefs.  If the cultures formed from these beliefs cause people to feel coerced into irrational behavior, are the beliefs not responsible for the behavior?  Whether religious indoctrination causes mental dysfunction which causes dysfunctional behavior or religion indoctrination causes cultural norms which coerce dysfunctional behavior, the end result is the same — dysfunctional behavior is caused by religion.


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Discussion

18 thoughts on “Atrocity, Religion, and Causality… Again

  1. Glad you wrote a blog about me, because I wrote one about you on the same subject.

    http://cptpineapple.blogspot.com/2009/08/atheist-double-standard.html

    Oh and speaking of blogs, here’s one from an atheist

    http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2009/06/talking-about-atheism-part-ii-evils-of.html

    I’ll go into more detail later, but some points that immediatly came to mind:

    I don’t know if quote tags work here

    [quote]
    I believe Alison is missing the big picture. For one thing, she’s coming at this as if there wasn’t any evidence outside of peer reviewed studies that demonstrates the relationship. It’s difficult for me, having been raised by devout Christians, to understand why it’s difficult for her to see the relationship. Christianity (and Islam) teach people from childhood that there are things which are true despite any and all evidence they might see. In fact, they are often taught that if they succumb to the sin of doubt, they will be horrendously tortured for all of eternity. Science, logic, and critical thinking are tricks of a magical and inscrutable evil being whose sole purpose in life is to capture the immortal soul of those who are foolish enough to believe their own observations.
    [/quote]

    So anecdotes it is then? You’re interaction with religion showing that religion does this or that is the same as Ray Comfort’s anecdotes about atheists [Kirk Cameron was a former atheist ya know!]

    [quote]
    Taking any particular religion out of the equation for a moment, there’s no need to search far for the proof that this kind of upbringing is psychologically damaging. Any psychologist, given a dysfunctional adult who has been forcibly indoctrinated into bizarre, antisocial beliefs as a child, will quickly diagnose them with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or some other illness caused by mental abuse. If Alison wishes to take on the entire Psychology establishment and claim that childhood indoctrination into bizarre beliefs is not causally related to adult dysfunction, I wish her well.
    [/quote]

    Anything taken to the extreme can cause psychological damage. My argument is that religion in of itself doesn’t however if taken to the fundamentalist level, it can.

    [quote]
    ONLY peer reviewed sociological papers are proof of any sociological phenomenon.
    [/quote]

    Strawman. If I have to supply Peer reviewed studies, than why don’t you?

    Is Peer review not part of the scientific process? YES it is absolutly crucial to it.

    I do recall you on the RRS boards asking me to show said studies about my thoughts on the nature of the universe.

    [quote]
    Alison has very cleverly shifted the burden of proof
    [/quote]

    Who’s making the positive claim here? YOU ARE.

    [quote]
    I also wonder: Is it possible that the reason nobody has bothered to prove that ideological indoctrination causes intra-family atrocity is because there is no good reason to believe otherwise?
    [/quote]

    Good point, why think of how animals evolve, when it’s obvious that the bactiral flagelium was designed.

    [quote]
    Since we do not observe such atrocity in statistically significant portions of non-ideological cultures, why wouldn’t we assume that the ideology is the cause?
    [/quote]

    Read the atheist ethicist blog, I think he makes a wonderful point on this. That is that evil people merely attribute their evilness to an ideology.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 4:02 pm
  2. Okay quote tags don’t work bah.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 4:03 pm
  3. I’ve been trying to figure out the quote tags for a while now. Maybe you could do italics for what you want to quote?

    Posted by hambydammit | August 26, 2009, 4:57 pm
  4. Can’t believe I missed this the first time

    However, we observe that the vast majority of people who commit such atrocities have been indoctrinated into religion since early childhood. If our theory is correct, and religion is not the cause of such atrocity, we should expect a proportionate number of non-indoctrinated people from non-religious cultures to convert to religion and then commit atrocities. We do not see this phenomenon.

    What you’re doing here is setting up an impossible burden. They don’t have to convert to religion then commit, they just have to commit the action. If they commit the action outside religion, then perhaps there is something else going on.

    The reason I point out the actions outside of religion is because of what I just said.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
  5. blockquote and /blockquote are the commands. Encase them in brackets.

    So anecdotes it is then? You’re interaction with religion showing that religion does this or that is the same as Ray Comfort’s anecdotes about atheists [Kirk Cameron was a former atheist ya know!]

    No. The personal anecdote was simply a lead-in to the argument, and a way of saying that I think your lack of personal experience with indoctrination has contributed to your inability to see the causal connection. I think if you read again, you will see that I have not used this anecdote anywhere else in the text, and never linked it with a “therefore” style of statement. Instead, I used it as an introduction to the actual argument, which follows.

    Anything taken to the extreme can cause psychological damage. My argument is that religion in of itself doesn’t however if taken to the fundamentalist level, it can.

    This statement is so general as to be useless. Anything taken to the extreme? What does that mean? Can moderation, taken to the extreme, cause psychological damage? Can good critical thinking, taken to the extreme, cause psychological damage? Clearly, you’re just being hyperbolic to try to lessen the impact of my argument. No, some things are, in and of themselves, “extreme” in the sense that they alter the way humans think and change their perception of reality to such a degree that they act irrationally and dysfunctionally. Ideologically indoctrinated religion is one of these things, and your denial is just that. A denial.

    Strawman. If I have to supply Peer reviewed studies, than why don’t you?

    Is Peer review not part of the scientific process? YES it is absolutly crucial to it.

    I do recall you on the RRS boards asking me to show said studies about my thoughts on the nature of the universe.

    It is most certainly not a strawman. Do you wish to argue that only that which has been peer reviewed exists? Do you have peer reviewed studies demonstrating that some fans at baseball games like to eat hot dogs? I suspect you don’t. Therefore, you have no reason to believe it, so it must be false. That is the kind of reasoning you are using, and it is faulty.

    With regard to your thoughts on the universe, I asked you to provide peer reviewed scientific research that leads you to believe the universe is the way you perceive it. You describe a universe containing some kind of living quantum computer. This kind of claim demands a plausible set of equations. That’s how cosmology works. When proposing a causal relationship in sociology, one need only show a correlation and then offer a plausible explanation using accepted principles of human psychology. I have done both of these things. Do you wish to dispute my claim that honor killings and female mutilation are correlated to religious ideology? Do you wish to dispute my reference to the accepted principle that childhood indoctrination causes adult dysfunction? Do you wish to dispute my claim that religious ideology being forced on children is ideological indoctrination? Those are the three pieces of the puzzle. With which do you disagree?

    If you agree with all three of these premises, what is your alternate explanation for the correlation?

    [quote]
    Alison has very cleverly shifted the burden of proof
    [/quote]

    Who’s making the positive claim here? YOU ARE.

    I am making a postive claim, of course. I am also supporting my claim with empirical observations and accepted principles of psychology. Let me explain again how you are shifting the burden of proof. I am not using peer reviewed sociological studies to demonstrate the causal relationship because there are other legitimate avenues for doing so. The method I’m using is combining readily available sociological data with well established principles of psychology in ways that are consistent with traditional accepted psychology. Your claim is that since I am not citing a study, my conclusion is false. That is simply not true. Things can be and are regularly demonstrated without studies.

    [quote]
    I also wonder: Is it possible that the reason nobody has bothered to prove that ideological indoctrination causes intra-family atrocity is because there is no good reason to believe otherwise?
    [/quote]

    Good point, why think of how animals evolve, when it’s obvious that the bactiral flagelium was designed.

    Again with the hyperbolic red herring. Do you plan on doing an intense sociological study of the causal link between caloric intake at baseball fields and the existence of food vendors? Is there a competing theory that I need to know about, or are you comfortable admitting that people eat at baseball games because there are food vendors selling food? Some things are so obvious that they don’t demand peer review. What part of this is not obvious? There are acts committed exclusively or almost exclusively by religious ideologues. These acts are commanded in the ideology. The ideological commands cause the actions.

    Read the atheist ethicist blog, I think he makes a wonderful point on this. That is that evil people merely attribute their evilness to an ideology.

    I disagree with his conclusion, but that’s another blog post. Honestly, I disagree with him on a lot of his ethical theory. Even so, if you wish to propose that religious people are evil… go ahead. 🙂

    Posted by hambydammit | August 26, 2009, 5:49 pm
  6. What you’re doing here is setting up an impossible burden. They don’t have to convert to religion then commit, they just have to commit the action. If they commit the action outside religion, then perhaps there is something else going on.

    The reason I point out the actions outside of religion is because of what I just said.

    What? I honestly don’t understand your point.

    Posted by hambydammit | August 26, 2009, 5:52 pm
  7. Let me clarify

    I have issues with this

    [blockquote]

    * IF religion does not cause people to commit this particular kind of atrocity, THEN we must concede that people who would commit such atrocities are highly likely to become religious. This must be true because there are so few cases of this kind which are devoid of fanatic religiosity.

    [/blockquote]

    and this

    [blockquote]

    * However, we observe that the vast majority of people who commit such atrocities have been indoctrinated into religion since early childhood. If our theory is correct, and religion is not the cause of such atrocity, we should expect a proportionate number of non-indoctrinated people from non-religious cultures to convert to religion and then commit atrocities. We do not see this phenomenon.

    [/blockquote]

    First of all, we do see psychos in non-religious countries [they did not convert to religion, but that’s not the point, and the condition that they must convert to religion is retarded considering the fact that the religious ones were born in a religious enviroment so it makes sense that they’re religious]

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

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Arkl%C3%B6v

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Eklund_(murderer)

    Second of all:

    Here’s the problem, religion is very wide spread: everybody in every category is highly are likely to be religious.

    The plane full of Red Cross volunteers flying to Lebanon are highly likely to be religious

    The people buying hotdogs at the baseball game are highly likely to be religious.

    Does that mean that being highly religious causes you to volunteer for the Red Cross or buy hotdogs?

    You see hamby, the issue I have is the double standard. I know you attribute Martian Luther King’s action to something other than religion despite his speeches clearly mention God/religion.

    Hell, you even use similar arguments I use against you

    And then you do an about face on the psychotic person who caps their family.

    You even said it in the blog, I have not seen a single case of “religious motivated family killings” happening outside of mental patients. [For the record, it’s almost always neurological disorders rather than enviromental]

    But if religion causes them, we SHOULD see otherwise sane people pull the trigger, but we don’t. Everytime, the police report shows that they have had a history of mental illness.

    As for your comments on peer-review, it’s obvious to me that God exists, so why should I get data to back it up? I mean it’s obvious right?

    Seriously, they have sociology and psychology journals for a reason and I don’t think “well it’s obvious” is going to cut it.

    In fact, using psychology and what it has to say about bias, I can say with authority that “it’s so obvious” is an absolutly horrible way to “prove” something and only acts as an excuse not to provide data.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 6:34 pm
  8. I think I put the wrong brackets

    This is a test

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 6:34 pm
  9. Since I screwed up the quotes

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/18338

    So feel free to clean the comments here at your discretion.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 7:39 pm
  10. [blockquote]some things are, in and of themselves, “extreme”[/blockquote]

    Hell Yeah some things are!

    😛

    [blockquote]Strawman. If I have to supply Peer reviewed studies, than why don’t you?

    Is Peer review not part of the scientific process? YES it is absolutly crucial to it.

    I do recall you on the RRS boards asking me to show said studies about my thoughts on the nature of the universe.[/blockquote]

    …Hamby’s article does not say, ‘Peer review is an unimportant part of science.’

    In any case, even if it did, that would not be a strawman fallacy. It would just be incorrect.

    Is it possible to do science without having a peer review panel or a journal to publish your finding in? Yes, it is. I don’t think anyone (including yourself) would argue against that. Peer review is just another tool for weeding out mistakes and poorly done research and/or research methods.

    As Hamby said, some things are so obvious (or, at the very least, so obvious in contemporary times) that they preclude requiring peer reviewed study or publication. I’m reading a lot of Szilard at the moment, so one good example would be explosive nuclear fission and the military applications thereof. The Manhatten Project was not public (for obvious enough reasons), and thereby, none of it’s research was peer reviewed or published in a journal – but the success of the science involved is self-evident.

    Maybe you meant to say that you don’t think that Hamby’s argument is correct? Well, fine, but why can’t you just say that? Why does it always have to be such a drama show with you?

    Moreover, if that’s the case, why is Hamby wrong? You haven’t produced any of your own arguments here – you just got flabbergasted and linked to another blog. Why can’t you just write something concisely and elegantly, as Hamby has already gone to the trouble of doing, explaining your own position?

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | August 26, 2009, 9:18 pm
  11. Kevin let’s take it to the RRS boards k?

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 9:31 pm
  12. I don’t go to the RRS boards anymore, Alison. It was fun while it lasted, but I’ve got other things on my plate.

    By the way, scariest smile you’ll ever see?

    9:39

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | August 26, 2009, 9:42 pm
  13. Fair enough Kevin, Here is the response I posted

    As Hamby said, some things are so obvious (or, at the very least, so obvious in contemporary times) that they preclude requiring peer reviewed study or publication. I’m reading a lot of Szilard at the moment, so one good example would be explosive nuclear fission and the military applications thereof. The Manhatten Project was not public (for obvious enough reasons), and thereby, none of it’s research was peer reviewed or published in a journal – but the success of the science involved is self-evident.

    Okay God is so obvious I don’t need proof! neener neener!

    As for the Manhanten project, yeah it was peer reviewed, by the other scientisits working on the project.

    Moreover, if that’s the case, why is Hamby wrong?

    He needs data to back it up. I’m sorry, he doesn’t get a free pass.

    You haven’t produced any of your own arguments here – you just got flabbergasted and linked to another blog. Why can’t you just write something concisely and elegantly, as Hamby has already gone to the trouble of doing, explaining your own position?

    Maybe I will express my views on religion and society [which are irrelevant to whether Hamby is correct], but in a different topic.

    As for my views, I may have them up tomorrow, or so and will post a link here most likely to my blog and one on the RRS boards.

    Posted by Alison | August 26, 2009, 10:41 pm
  14. Okay God is so obvious I don’t need proof! neener neener

    …Why do I bother?

    Why do you insist on this kind of discourse, Alison? It’s what gets me so pissed at you. This is what comes to your mind when you think of academic discussion? ‘HA HA! HERE’S MY EMOTIONAL OUTBURST!’

    You’d do well as a conservative radio host.

    First, deities are not obvious. Second, are you saying that some things are not so obvious as to preclude serious scientific study in contemporary times? You’re a physics student – how many articles do you think you can dig up in the peer reviewed literature specifically dealing with whether or not swinging a wooden baseball bat into someone’s knee with enough force will dislocate it?

    My money would be on zero.

    As for the Manhanten project, yeah it was peer reviewed, by the other scientisits working on the project.

    Actually, it was so poorly understood that only one physicist who worked on the project had an accurate idea of the blast yield (I. I. Rabi), and there was some concern among those involved that the weapon might ignite the atmosphere.

    You’re also stretching the definition of peer review. Obviously, within the context of the discussion, we’re talking about a formal board that would review research intended for public disclosure. The sort of thing it is reasonable to cite as evidence.

    He needs data to back it up. I’m sorry, he doesn’t get a free pass.

    Don’t deflect; he’s just done his own research and made his own arguments. It’s armchair research, sure, but it’s still all right there. Why is he wrong? If you think he has made inaccurate statements, fine – point them out, and tell us why he is wrong. If he was just making empty claims or saying, ‘There’s X studies that support me,’ yes, you’re right – he should have to provide those studies or tell us how he reached his conclusions.

    But that’s not what is happening here. Hamby is not simply regurgitating someone else’s arguments; he’s making his own arguments. He is doing science – if in a limited capacity. If you’re going to be a dissenter, for pity’s sake – DISSENT already! Pretend that you are Johannas Kepler if you’re so sure that you’re the lone blossom of truth in a garden of lies. He’s shown you his model, and I’m being his bulldog – so show us your model. Clue us in to that evasive ellipse.

    Maybe I will express my views on religion and society [which are irrelevant to whether Hamby is correct], but in a different topic.

    As for my views, I may have them up tomorrow, or so and will post a link here most likely to my blog and one on the RRS boards

    This is such a copout. ‘Maybe’ you’ll show us this enigmatic view of yours? Snake-oil salesmanship at it’s finest.

    If you actually had the goods, you wouldn’t be afraid of showing them off.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | August 27, 2009, 12:03 am
  15. So, here’s a question: Where in contemporary times, in North America, other than at specifically a Christian or a Muslim house of worship, would we ever hear this type of vitriol, and have it go championed & unchallenged? Would you have ever heard this at the Democratic National Conventional? The Republican National Convention? How about the ACLU? Fox News? CNN News? MSNBC? Would you hear it on The View? One of the national spelling Bs? Would we hear it at a TED Talk? The Oprah Winfrey Show?

    Alison stated earlier that ‘anything taken to an extreme’ can lead to this type of vitriol, yet almost exclusively this vitriol is housed within church walls – and plenty of the information / meme vehicles I mentioned go to an awful lot of different extremes at times.

    Frankly, Alison is wrong. She is dead wrong. Religions are breeding grounds for these horrific memes, where they then are vectored into the public by the pious. Some denominations are, in recognition of the damage they do, leaving these memes behind, and I applaud them for that. I’ll even applaud a tad harder than Hamby does, because they are even going so far as to bend to one of Mr. Harris’s primary complaints: they are beginning to fail/refuse to shield the intolerant assholes who share their faith in the same deity.

    Faith itself is still a big problem, but meh – I’ll give it a pass so long as the religions themselves begin shaping-up. Maybe if we encourage that kind of positive progress we might eventually even see people deciding that the sacred codices themselves need to be modernized.

    That idea thrills me more than the idea of having them entirely abolished as taboos, honestly.

    In the meantime, though, it is just plain foolish and harmful to refuse to acknowledge the harm that is being done by these ideas & the institutes that birth them. If we want to see less violence on our world, we need to seriously consider taking away Pastor Stephen’s free pass when it comes to these sort of memes.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | August 27, 2009, 12:25 am
  16. First, deities are not obvious. Second, are you saying that some things are not so obvious as to preclude serious scientific study in contemporary times? You’re a physics student – how many articles do you think you can dig up in the peer reviewed literature specifically dealing with whether or not swinging a wooden baseball bat into someone’s knee with enough force will dislocate it?

    Consider this Kevin:

    Every time you hit my knee with a baseball bat, it will most likely dislocate it.

    If your assertion is as obvious as that, then everytime we expose somebody to religion, they should do what Hamby says it does, kill people etc…

    Too bad we don’t.

    Don’t deflect; he’s just done his own research and made his own arguments. It’s armchair research, sure, but it’s still all right there. Why is he wrong? If you think he has made inaccurate statements, fine – point them out, and tell us why he is wrong. If he was just making empty claims or saying, ‘There’s X studies that support me,’ yes, you’re right – he should have to provide those studies or tell us how he reached his conclusions.

    For the last time, it’s up to him to prove it, not me to disprove it.

    But that’s not what is happening here. Hamby is not simply regurgitating someone else’s arguments; he’s making his own arguments. He is doing science – if in a limited capacity. If you’re going to be a dissenter, for pity’s sake – DISSENT already! Pretend that you are Johannas Kepler if you’re so sure that you’re the lone blossom of truth in a garden of lies. He’s shown you his model, and I’m being his bulldog – so show us your model. Clue us in to that evasive ellipse.

    Once again, my views on religion and society are irrelevant.

    Have you ever taken a science class? You don’t have to propose an alternative explanation to show that a model doesn’t have lots of support.

    If I said that God initiated the Big Bang, you don’t have to have an alternate theory to say that it has little support.

    As for “free pass”, I’ve argued with religious people before Kevin.

    Posted by Alison | August 27, 2009, 5:49 am
  17. What’s at the heart of Rigqa’s father’s dilemma is the notion of honor killing, a practice that predates the arrival of Islam. Arab society places a high value on honor, that its worthy of even a family members death if its disgraced.

    Your problem hamy boy, is that you’re a product of a post-christian magical thinking, you believe in a mythical construct called called a “moral compass”, whatever that means. As if human attachments have some sort of divine direction tightly woven, and far from frail, rather than understanding that human attachment is multifaceted, that we are capable of being of having affection for things more so than our families….think of all the dead beat dads, those who abandon their families for work, for flings, and other pursuits.

    Rifqa father values, something of high currency in Arab society, something of high value through out heroic societies through out the world, the notion of “honor”, and being violently repulsed by the notion of disgrace. I also belong to a culture were the family name is notion of high esteem, so high that an evangelical christian friend of mine was forced to have a secret abortion to not disgrace the family name in their community.

    Secondly, pointing out religion as a common denominator, in world were religious individuals compose the vast majority, is like pointing out that the common denominator is having two arms.

    The common denominator is that Rifqa parents are members of a culture that value honor killings, now if you could point out individuals who are not a part of culture, such as african american converts to Islam who have done or condone the same sort of practices, you might have some sort of case that the Muslim religious component is the viable factor here.

    Culture is a far more powerful scultuter of human values than religion, as a product of an ethnic culture, and a religion not indeginous to it, I can attest to this. It’s difficult for this religious community to abandon their cultural sculpting that favors light skinned individuals over dark skinned individuals, a construct of the hindu caste system, even though they don’t belong to that structuring of life anymore. Families have even threatened to disown their children, if they married an individuals of their own ethnicity just because they have dark skin.

    Posted by aloysha | August 27, 2009, 2:55 pm

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