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Atheism, Culture, philosophy, Religion

Response: War on Extremism

A reader sent me this article and asked for my opinion on it.  As always, I will try to quote extensively enough to avoid any potential mis-statement of his position, but I recommend reading the whole article before continuing with my commentary.

Don Miller begins by relating his shock and horror at discovering that he had been very close to what a terrorist believed was a bomb in the recent police sting in Portland Oregon.  He then offers the following:

I’ve not talked about Islam or terrorism on this site at all. But reading about the young man, and hearing the talking heads discuss the threat on the internet has me wondering what we are really up against. Is it Islam? I don’t think it is. I think it’s extremism.

I think it’s neither.  Yes, “extremist” is a name we give to people who do drastic things in the name of their particular ideology.  But “extremism” is not a cause.  It’s a symptom.  When we look across the spectrum of extremism, we notice something common to all of them — rigid ideology.  That is, a belief in the way the world is, or should be, which does not yield to either evidence or reasoned discussion.  Also common to extremists is a general lack of regard for anyone who falls into the category of “other.”  Only people who agree with an extremist are worthy of respect.

But it’s not even as simple as that.  What makes one Christian a moderate and one an abortion clinic bomber?  Why do some Muslims tolerate Christianity and others attempt to plant bombs in crowds of Christmas carolers?  I have an idea, but I’m going to save it for later.

I don’t think our enemy is specifically a religious enemy, though I do believe some religions are false. I think our enemy is extremism, extreme black and white thinking, an extreme belittling of other opinions, an extreme and insecure demonization of others, an extreme desire to control, and to make the mistake of thinking extremism is produced only in the Muslim community is ignorance. Extremism is a fall of man problem, a human problem, not just a religious problem. There are liberal extremists, conservative extremists, Calvinist extremists, humanitarian extremists and so on and so on.

I believe all religions are false, but I agree that our enemy is not specifically a religious enemy.  But I must ask Mr. Miller.  What is non-extreme black and white thinking? How can a thing be either black or white, but also subject to interpretation or relativism?  I think perhaps there’s a beam he needs to take care of before he starts picking out motes from other people’s eyes.

Miller’s inability to see the problem might very well stem from blindness to his own black-and-white thinking.  He believes some religions are false.  That’s an important point.  He also, by implication, believes some (one?) religions are true.  That’s… what is it called?  Black and white thinking.  And maybe he’s very nice about his belief, and doesn’t try to impose it on anyone else.  But that’s his personal moral choice, not a natural extension of the belief that some religions are true and some are false.

I should also say that extremism is not without it’s causes. Many Muslim extremists are reacting to the outright oppression of their people around the world, or the afore mentioned immorality around us here in the west. But where a normal person may have an objective view of such things, and perhaps choose appropriate channels to affect social change, an extremist wishes to eradicate the other view completely.

It’s a solid point.  Extremism often has real-world causes.  Without getting into politics, I think it’s fair to say that anyone who doesn’t understand this point is guilty of a kind of extremism of their own.  Perhaps it’s easier and more comforting to think of Muslims as evil, misguided people who are bent on the destruction of civilization.  But that’s simply not true.  They are people, just like us, who were born into a religious culture that shaped their perceptions of the universe in the same way that our Christian heritage shaped ours.  We are as evil to them as they are to us.  Our ways are as degraded and morally reprehensible to them as theirs are to us.

As a side-note, I’ll just say that the same thing goes for international politics, and only a great fool would think America completely without fault in creating the current state of affairs.

There’s something a little tricky in this paragraph, though.  What makes a “normal” person normal?  What makes “appropriate” channels for change the logical choice?  Or, conversely, what makes an “abnormal” person choose extremism?

I should also add there is plenty of extremism in the evangelical church. Whether it’s burning a Koran, or a pastor standing before his congregation belittling other pastors, we see heavy to light extremism in churches all over America every Sunday.

Yep.  And those of us outside the church can understand why.  We can see how you could mistake “extremism” for the enemy, and why you’d be extremely interested in eradicating it from your religion.  It’s a very noble, if misguided, goal.

But aren’t there Christian reasons for extremism? Absolutely. Biblical Christian extremism, though, looks very different. Biblical Christian extremism looks like being wrongly imprisoned without fighting it, or being stoned to death, or being crucified, or going hungry bringing food to the starving, or crossing a bridge in Selma, Alabama, or turning water into wine for a tipsy wedding party, or leaving your job to bring Christ to the hurting and so on and so on. Christian extremism is willing to die for people, not demonize them to validate their belittlement and oppression.

And now the full extent of the blinders is revealed.  No, Don Miller.  Christian extremism is exactly the same as Muslim extremism. The Muslims believe their moral justifications are just as noble and worthy as your Christian brethren believe theirs to be.  You disagree with them, and that’s fine, but in the end, you still fall back to the position that you are right and they are wrong. And the reason for that justification is your religious belief.  Your FAITH.

And Mr. Miller, they have just as much faith as you.  The ones who have a little more than you fly planes into buildings.  But your faith, and their faith, and the faith of all the Christians you hold in such high regard for having the decency to be moderates — That faith is the underpinning of extremism.

Shall we trot out the examples of Christian extremism in action?  Let’s go ahead and do it, just so the point is abundantly clear:

Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free. — Pat Buchanan.

The god of Judaism is the devil. The Jew will not be recognized by God as one of His chosen people until he abandons his demonic religion and returns to the faith of his fathers – the faith which embraces Jesus Christ and His Gospel. — The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (1984)

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war. — Ann Coulter

The long term goal [is] the execution of abortionists and parents who hire them.  If we argue that abortion is murder, then we must call for the death penalty. — Gary DeMar

I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One’s misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc. are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status. — Jerry Fallwell

If we are going to save America and evangelize the world, we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth. — Jerry Fallwell

If you don’t want a Christian nation, then go to one of the many nations that are heathen already, rather than perverting ours. — Jeff Fugate

Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody’s pseudo-right to worship an idol. —  Rev. Joseph Morecraft, Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, “Biblical Role of Civil Government” speech delivered on August 21, 1993 at the Biblical Worldview and Christian Education Conference.

While we’re talking about Christian atrocity, let’s go ahead and bring up the past because it’s worth bringing up.  Shall we talk about Crusades, the genocide of the Native Americans, Witch hunts, Inquisitions, support of the Nazi Party, systematic exclusion of women, blacks, gays, and “heathens” based on passages of the Bible?  What about denying an abortion to a nine-year old rape victim?  Preaching that condoms cause AIDS?  How about Mother Teresa’s systematic promotion and institutionalization of poverty? Do you have any idea where the name for the Bloody Mary came from?  That would be the religious cleansing of Protestants at the hands of Queen Mary.  What about the IRA versus the Loyalists?

No, Mr. Miller, your religion is atrocious.  And I might add that I’m quite thrilled that at this particular juncture in history, enough of your fellow religionists have enough of a conscience not to engage in this kind of behavior.  But a century or two of relative peaceful coexistence — not without objection, as many of those quotes attest — does not absolve your religion of its violent, misogynistic, hateful roots, nor its core message of exclusion and divisiveness.

If I do not accept Jesus as my personal lord and savior, your god will cast me into the lake of fire for eternity.  If that isn’t an example of how a Christian ought to think of me and treat me, then for my life, I can’t imagine what could possibly count as one.  As I said, I’m glad you don’t (openly or consciously) think of me in that way, but I don’t attribute that position to a proper reading of the Bible.  I attribute it to your own conscience overriding your biblical mandate to be an extremist.

“For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man’s enemies will be the members of his own family.”

“… the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, and the father his child, … children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”

These are the words of your god.  If some of your flock take them literally, I can hardly blame them.  It’s right there in black and white.  And you, I imagine, take great pains to justify your position based on faith in the Bible.  Well, so do they.  And I can hardly choose between the two of you, since both of you pick and choose how you will interpret the words of your god.  Based on your own whims and sense of morality.

The problem is not extremism.  It’s a worldview in which facts, evidence, and reason are subservient to faith.  In which one religion is true and others are false.  In which people with good hearts like you can be blinded to the atrocity of your own beliefs through the vain hope that people with dichotomous religious beliefs can ever truly live in peace.

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Discussion

51 thoughts on “Response: War on Extremism

  1. With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    — Steven Weinberg

    Posted by LM | December 3, 2010, 8:06 pm
  2. “We approve this message”

    Signed,
    Stalin and Mao

    Posted by PG | December 3, 2010, 8:10 pm
  3. “We approve this message” Signed, Stalin and Mao

    You mean… those two guys with rigid political ideologies that refused evidence or reasoned dialog? I doubt they would approve this message.

    Aren’t you tired of playing this card yet?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 3, 2010, 8:13 pm
  4. That is like asking water if it is tired of being wet…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 3, 2010, 9:00 pm
  5. It may not come as a surprise, but I have alot to say about both your response and the original article. You seem to be overplaying the role of religion and he seems to be underplaying it.

    Since this is on your blog, I’ll start with my objections to your response.

    For starters,the snarky me would want to say that maybe the “evidence” the extremists use is that they say it’s “obvious and that the evidence is all around us that the Jews are trying to take over the world” which sounds a bit familar……

    Staying with the snarkiness, Sam Harris has expressed similar thoughts to Coulter (except the convert to Christianity part) in fact, he seems to try to get us to admit we`re at war with Islam.

    The less snarky me would go through this bit by bit.

    I think the problem could be exteremism to an extend, but not to the extend of Don asserts in his article, I also think the worldview is in play, but not to the extend you assert.

    I think extremism spreads more from people, than ideas. It`s highly doubtful that Hitler would of acted more like Tommy Douglas if he wasn`t Catholic or conversly Tommy Douglas would have been more like Hitler if he wasn`t Baptist.

    The more this goes through my hamster wheel as the role of idealogies in extermism (seeing as I`ve seen some rather rational and logical and moral ideas taken to the extreme) the more and more I get disconnect from the role of worldviews and the role of extremism.

    Another thing I`seem to be disconnect from is supporting the Wienberg quote without using circular logic and confirmation bias.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 3, 2010, 9:52 pm
  6. Is it ok if I just let this stand as read, Alison? I can’t think of a reason to respond to it again. But for what it’s worth, I’m happy to have you post the same thing every time I make such an argument. Maybe someday someone will come along and get it enough to explain it to me in a way that makes sense.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 3, 2010, 10:04 pm
  7. OK, Ill be civil. The idea of organizing an atheists utopian society with no religions, would scare the shit out of me if past history is any indicator of the future…

    Posted by PG | December 3, 2010, 10:11 pm
  8. hamby i don’t think i can explain more i just dont like your asertion that people can think better i just think people stupid and we are doomed

    you try to make world better but you go around in circles chasing ur tail

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 4, 2010, 1:08 am
  9. cptpineapple wrote: “Another thing I`seem to be disconnect from is supporting the Wienberg quote without using circular logic and confirmation bias.”

    Can you elaborate on this? I’m curious.

    Posted by LM | December 4, 2010, 12:57 pm
  10. LM, if a good atheist does an evil thing, did it take religion as stated by Wienberg?

    or is it simply good people doing evil things, thus negating the Wienberg quote?

    Posted by PG | December 4, 2010, 1:59 pm
  11. cptpineapple wrote: “Another thing I`seem to be disconnect from is supporting the Wienberg quote without using circular logic and confirmation bias.”

    Can you elaborate on this? I’m curious.

    Sure, first ignore PG’s answer.

    So we have two people: good and bad

    The good person will do good and the bad person will do bad regardless of religion. This is the first statement of the quote.

    The tricky part is the second part. That is, an ordinarly good person that does bad because of religion. Or is it a bad person doing a bad thing regardless of religion [the first part of the quote]?

    I alluded to this earlier about Hitler [bad] and Tommy Douglas [good]. Was Hitler a bad person, or a good person turned bad by Catholicism? The quote seems to offer no way to seperate the first half from the second.

    This is where circular logic comes in. The quote supports that Hitler was a good person turned bad by religion, and the fact that Hitler was a good person turned bad by religion supports the quote.

    The conformation bias comes from trying to “prove” the quote from what the person in question said. For example Hitler said Jebus was his personal saviour etc and that’s used as support for Hitler’s action being caused by his Catholisism. However, Nelson Mendella thanked religion in his acceptance of the Nobel Peace prize so does that mean that Nelson was a bad person turned good by religion?

    Another way this is conformation bias, is why didn’t Catholicism turn JFK into a Jew hating maniac? So why did it turn Hitler evil, but did nothing to JFK? If you say JFK was a good person, why didn’t religion make him do bad things?

    Or what would Hitler have been like if he wasn’t Catholic? I have yet to see a rational answer to that.

    For the tl;dr version how do we know a good person turned bad by religion [second part of the quote] from a bad person doing bad regardless of religion[first part]? And the difference is illustrated using circular logic and conformation bias.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 4, 2010, 4:06 pm
  12. Yeah, ignore my answer because it exposes a truism:

    ‘ But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion”. – Steven Weinberg

    Therefore an inclusive logical conclusion is::
    “But for good Atheists to do evil things, that takes religion”.

    Hows that work for you atheists?.

    Posted by PG | December 4, 2010, 5:11 pm
  13. PG, your reply didn’t expose anything except your own ignorance and naivety

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 4, 2010, 10:14 pm
  14. Fuck you, CPT. History shows that when atheists have done evil, Its because of atheist religion.

    Posted by PG | December 5, 2010, 1:22 am
  15. Thanks cpt for your explanation. I have a few comments.

    cptpineapple wrote: “This is where circular logic comes in. The quote supports that Hitler was a good person turned bad by religion, and the fact that Hitler was a good person turned bad by religion supports the quote.”

    This is not what I understand about circular reasoning. A fact supporting a quote does not make it circular. An example is, “It’s raining outside”. I go outside and see that it is indeed raining, which confirms my proposition. A circular reasoning is when the conclusion is already present in the premise. Descartes’ famous, “I think, therefore I am” is a perfect example. In the “I think,” he had already implied “I am”.

    But I agree with your second part on confirmation bias that it is difficult to judge whether the good person was turned bad by religion.

    However your case on JFK does not apply. Weinberg statement does not say that every good person will do evil, but only if he does evil then it would be because of his religion. JFK did not do evil things so Weinberg statement doesn’t apply to him.

    However Weinberg statement applies perfectly to the 9/11 terrorists. They were polite, educated, “good” people by all those who met them and knew them. Yet, they were willing to kill thousands of innocent people in the name of their religion.

    Posted by LM | December 5, 2010, 7:48 am
  16. Thanks, LM. I agree with you on both counts. Cpt. Pineapple doesn’t seem to understand the Weinberg quote, and confirmation bias is a real bitch.

    In fairness, the quote really should be altered a bit to be more correct. It ought to read: “With or without worldviews promoting and even mandating belief in phenomena which defy logic, reason, or evidence, and which stubbornly refuse falsification or even intelligent discourse, good people would do good things and bad people would do bad things. For good people to do bad things and believe them to be good, that takes a worldview promoting and even mandating belief in phenomena which defy logic, reason, or evidence, and which stubbornly refuse falsification or even intelligent discourse.

    But it really doesn’t flow.

    And I’m still at a total loss to understand Pineapple’s broad point. I really don’t get what she’s hung up on. If everyone had a worldview based on evidence, reason, and so forth, then people would still do bad things. That’s part of the human condition, and is well explained by evolutionary theory. I don’t think anyone’s ever denied this.

    But the simple fact is, as we survey cultures now and through history, we discover that some cultures contain far more dysfunction than others. For instance, in America, as fucked up as we are in some ways, we don’t practice female genital mutilation, human sacrifices, rain dances on the White House lawn, exorcisms in hospitals, etc. Some societies have done so. And curiously, the ubiquitous element in societies which do such things is the worldview that such things represent reality.

    That’s ninety miles around my asshole to get to my elbow and say that in general, People do things in accordance with their belief about the nature of the universe, cause and effect, and causality. Not much rocket science, right?

    So… if people believe that God wants you to kill the second female child born in any family, then at least some families will obey god and kill their second female child. If nobody believes in God, then nobody does it.

    What is so flipping hard about this?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 5, 2010, 4:23 pm
  17. Hamby,
    I will tell you whats so hard about it. You completely ignore the evil and dysfunction caused by Atheists. I mean you love to trot out the canard that religion is responsible for evil and has harmed more people than it has helped, and has been at the root of many or most world conflicts, and yet fail to realize that In he absence of religion, far more people are murdered!

    Lets take a look at the facts:

    How many killed?
    Salem Witch Trials (25)
    Crusades (10,000 to 150,000)

    Atheism (>100 MILLION) – at the hands of the militant anti-religious atheists Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong.. More remarkable is the fact that it occurred during the last 100 years of a more “civilized” world..

    So if ever it coes to a point that nobody believes in God, then history shows us that millions of people will die..

    That’s ninety miles around my asshole to get to my elbow and say that in general, People do things in accordance with their belief about the nature of the universe, cause and effect, and causality…

    ..

    Posted by PG | December 5, 2010, 5:39 pm
  18. PG wrote: “Atheism (>100 MILLION) – at the hands of the militant anti-religious atheists Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong.. More remarkable is the fact that it occurred during the last 100 years of a more “civilized” world.”

    You would be right if Stalin and Mao had killed in the name of atheism, but they didn’t, no more than Hitler killed in the name of catholicism. And I don’t think that the Weinberg statement applies to these cases as religion was not a factor in their motivation to wipe out their opponents.

    Posted by LM | December 5, 2010, 8:56 pm
  19. LM, you’ve got stones for sure, trying to get this through PG’s head. It’s not as if every commenter on this blog hasn’t said it before. But just to reiterate:

    Yes, Stalin and Mao were atheists, and if you read their respective reasons for killing the people they killed, the cause was a rigid political ideology. One that is unyielding and intolerant of any dissent or intelligent discourse, and which is stubbornly resistant to evidence, reason, or critical thought.

    Which is why, as you ignored earlier, I posted a more accurate but less “catchy” version of the Weinberg quote which I’m sure he would agree with if he saw it. It’s not about “religion.” It’s about the underlying foundation of both religion and dangerous political ideologies — things are THIS way, and nothing will change my mind.

    Which I could say about you, PG, but I honestly think you’re not smart enough to even understand what you’re arguing, which would make changing your mind contingent on gaining some understanding, which seems unlikely.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 5, 2010, 9:02 pm
  20. Hamby,

    I get your point and I actually agree to it to an extent. When I think of a Stalin, Hitler, or Mao, I dont think of a religion or political agenda, I just think of evil doing evil under a disguise of religion or politics.
    Can Politics and religion really be responsible for the actions of a few extremists, like for example, muslum terrorists. I think not. Its just human nature for us to broadstroke a religion or politcal agenda based on the actions of those few extremists, especially when we are trying to get a point across.

    Posted by PG | December 5, 2010, 9:35 pm
  21. This is not what I understand about circular reasoning. A fact supporting a quote does not make it circular.

    But how do you know that Hitler was turned bad by religion?

    For example:

    Joe: With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    Me: Proof?

    Joe: Well, look at Hitler [or evil Theist X]. He was turned bad by religion.

    Me: How do you know he was turned bad by religion?

    Joe: because with or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    That’s how the quote is used for circular logic.

    However your case on JFK does not apply. Weinberg statement does not say that every good person will do evil, but only if he does evil then it would be because of his religion. JFK did not do evil things so Weinberg statement doesn’t apply to him.

    I picked JFK for a specific reason. Let’s go back to the Cuban missile crisis. He had to make a split second decision under extreme circumstances.

    He managed to avoid a war, but let’s say he didn’t and ordered rockets to attack Moscow once the Soviets headed to Cuba.

    What do you think people would say about that decision? That his religion caused it or the extreme pressure and the very realistic possibility that the Soviets would of launched the missiles from Cuba to the US?

    He would have done a bad thing [killed Russian civilians and started an entire war], but what would have CAUSED his bad decision? His religion? That’s where it gets tricky.

    I would also like to add that focusing on the Theists that do bad things and ignoring those that don’t is a form conformation bias.

    While, I’m on that note, why does religion turn some people bad but not others? I have yet to see a rational answer to this.

    For good people to do bad things and believe them to be good, that takes a worldview promoting and even mandating belief in phenomena which defy logic, reason, or evidence, and which stubbornly refuse falsification or even intelligent discourse.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1291615735&sr=8-2

    .And I’m still at a total loss to understand Pineapple’s broad point. I really don’t get what she’s hung up on. If everyone had a worldview based on evidence, reason, and so forth, then people would still do bad things. That’s part of the human condition, and is well explained by evolutionary theory. I don’t think anyone’s ever denied this.

    Ok, I’ll bite, can you name a bad thing comitted by people that would have still happened even if the person[s] involved held a worldview based on reason and evidence?

    Do you think that PG would be the next great Socrates if he wasn’t a Theist? Ok, that’s obviously an exaggeration.

    I think you’re seeing the branches too much and missing the entire forest.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 6, 2010, 2:27 am
  22. But how do you know that Hitler was turned bad by religion?

    I don’t know if anyone would argue that Hitler was turned bad by religion. He’s an example of a bad person who will do bad things with or without religion.

    The problem is that religion enabled Hitler. It provided justification for following his authority, because within religion, what is “good” is defined by authority, rather than reason.

    Though it might be more accurate to say “dogmatism” rather than “religion;” I don’t know if Taoism or Sikhism would have favored Hitler. Nevertheless, the major religions we deal with in the western world are inherently dogmatic, so for practical purposes there’s no real distinction to draw between the two.

    Posted by Ian | December 6, 2010, 6:30 am
  23. The problem is that religion enabled Hitler. It provided justification for following his authority, because within religion, what is “good” is defined by authority, rather than reason.

    Ian, that’s a great observation. The problem was not necessarily that Hitler was a bad person. By himself, he could have maybe killed a few dozen Jews before someone caught up to him and ran him through with a bayonet. But when thousands and thousands of people believed him — based on rhetoric, authority, and blind hope — the “badness” of one man turned into horrifying genocide.

    I mention blind hope in this context as opposed to blind faith, although I think they’re two sides of the same coin. But it’s worth noting that most of the Germans who followed the Nazi regime were not bad people. They were desperate people. Germany was not well in the aftermath of World War I, and a lot of people hoped for a savior. Maybe not in the literal sense of a single person, but in any sense. Any turn of events that brought prosperity to the fatherland would have been welcomed with open arms. It turned out that Hitler filled that “gap of hope” very effectively.

    Hitler used a combination of tactics to win support. As I said, he preyed on blind hope. People were ready to follow anybody, so long as it was doing something, as opposed to just sitting in squalor. Second, he used the symbolism, history, and language of religion — specifically a version of Christianity. In doing so, he secured the support, or at least the non-intervention of the Catholic Church for much longer than he could have otherwise. He also gave the common man a sense of grand purpose, which is huge. Finally, he used patriotism and loyalty. The idea that people had a duty to god and country which could not be superceded by anything — including rational discourse, evidence, or logic. Because of course, anyone arguing against der Fuhrer was clearly an enemy and could not be trusted.

    Through a combination of these tactics — all of which fall outside the scope of “rational, evidence based discourse and critical thinking” — Hitler was able to convince and compel millions of people to do atrociously awful things. Good people doing bad.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 6, 2010, 10:53 am
  24. Pineapple,

    Have you ever considered trying to put your belief into a thesis statement? You spend so much time trying to argue against what I say, and I still really don’t know what you believe in the positive sense. I’ve tried to get you to distill it to a X, therefore Y, therefore Z kind of statement before, but you generally get caught back up in talking about the way things are NOT.

    Can you make a positive statement about what a faith-based-worldview does? Assuming that you believe it to be a part of our environment (how could you argue against this!?) and assuming you believe it has some effect on our consciousness by virtue of being {that which we perceive}, what do you believe it does?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 6, 2010, 12:10 pm
  25. Wow, Hamby,
    Not one mention of Social Dawinism and the eugenic fantasies of the Third Reich. Its simply breathtaking the lengths Atheists will maneuver to protect Social Darwinsim.

    To not mention Saint Darwin’s idea that evolution means “the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life” as playing the major role in theJewish Holocaust, AND THE MURDER OF IMPERFECT GERMANS, to create Hitler’s Superior Aryan race is simply engaging in intillectual dishonesty, revisionism, and is quite pathetic.

    Posted by PG | December 6, 2010, 12:33 pm
  26. PG, if you’ll kindly share with me the element of the theory of evolution which leads to “Social Darwinism,” I’ll be happy to consider it. I’ve studied evolution at some length, and have yet to see any support for the concept.

    I think if you do some digging, you’ll find that Social Darwinism was a blind-faith kind of dogma that was accepted without reference to actual evolutionary theory.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 6, 2010, 12:45 pm
  27. Although in truth, PG, I can understand why you could confuse the two. After all, if it’s the same word, it must be the same concept, right?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 6, 2010, 12:46 pm
  28. Let me respond with a question:

    What scientific theory of human evolution is responsible for future scientists and politicians to extrapolate and further develop the theory of eugenics and ultimately social darwinism?

    Posted by PG | December 6, 2010, 7:33 pm
  29. One things I would like to point out is that Milgram did his famous experiments because he wanted to know how ordinary Germans can follow such atrocious orders during the holocaust.

    I also doubt that the participants held a worldview that it’s ok to deliver a lethal shock to somebody who doesn’t memorize a sequence of words.

    Having said that, I don’t think that worldviews are inert I bet I can point to some of my behaviours that can be attributed to environment/worldview.

    As for a positive thesis of what roles I think worldviews play,I’m not too sure I have one as I still haven’t figured out exactly how they fit in the giant tangle fuck of human cognition. I just don’t find other thesis of worldviews all that convincing.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 7, 2010, 2:25 am
  30. “I also doubt that the participants held a worldview that it’s ok to deliver a lethal shock to somebody who doesn’t memorize a sequence of words.”

    Did they hold a worldview that the appropriate consequence for disobeying authority is to be tortured forever and ever without end? Did they come from a culture whose morality is informed by this belief?

    Posted by Ian | December 7, 2010, 6:49 am
  31. Ian,

    If it helps you any, Think of the idea of heaven and hell being the process of natural selection with those humans who are more evolved being selected for advancement while those less evolved are simply selected for extinction…
    He He He

    Posted by PG | December 7, 2010, 11:33 am
  32. Pineapple, it seems like you are saying something like this:

    “Milgram demonstrated that people will follow authority figures. Therefore, faith doesn’t do anything.”

    I have a hard time figuring out how that follows. To put it another way, what you seem to be saying is “Milgram causes bad behavior. Therefore, nothing can enhance or detract from the Milgram effect.”

    That’s a very odd claim, if that’s what you mean to say.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 7, 2010, 5:32 pm
  33. Ian, the point was that if you asked the participants on the street before they did it if they would have delivered a lethal shock to somebody who couldn’t remember a sequence of words, they would have said “no, that would be atrocious!”

    Hamby, I’m not saying that faith doesn’t do anything, I just think that you are overplaying it’s effect and that you’re focusing too narrowly on it and missing the broader picture.

    I do think worldviews matter, which is why I make the arguments I do.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 8, 2010, 3:49 am
  34. @cptpineapple: You’re right, I could be completely off on that. I just wonder how an experiment like that would work with participants whose worldview was based on “rational, evidence based discourse and critical thinking.” Would they be as likely to let authority overrule conscience?

    Posted by Ian | December 8, 2010, 9:38 am
  35. Hamby wrote:

    Through a combination of these tactics — all of which fall outside the scope of “rational, evidence based discourse and critical thinking” — Hitler was able to convince and compel millions of people to do atrociously awful things.

    You know, I’ve been thinking over some of the recurrent themes on your blog–poor design, problem of evil, morality–and I’ve come up with the following:

    Religion has been called a theory of everything–our first attempt to make sense of the world–and I’m wondering whether the unifying concept that ties it all together isn’t teleology. That religion is essentially the theory of teleology, arrived at by a pre-scientific, authoritarian “methodology.”

    The claim is that the universe exists due to both the purposeful action and authority of a teleological agent, and we exist for the same reasons. The agent’s purpose defines what our purpose must be. We believe this on the authority of people who claim to be revealing his purpose to us, and who appeal to the authority of the agent to justify their authority.

    Poor design and the problem of evil are both evidence against the theory of teleology, which the Abrahamic religions explain away by saying we deserve to suffer due to original sin.

    Thus there are three problems with it: the claims it makes, how it gets to those claims, and the hacks it uses to prop it up in the face of contrary evidence.

    As you said, Hitler gave people a purpose and justified it by authority. His purpose was completely evil, but also completely consistent with teleological principles.

    Thus the conflict is about theism versus atheism, and also teleology versus teleonomy. A conflict between the belief that some force of providence or destiny is at work–in the universe, human history, and one’s own life–and the understanding that there is no purpose.

    There is instead a target, defined by the laws of nature and self-evident principles. Whatever happens to hit the target will have the qualities that cause it to hit the target. And our intelligence and goal-oriented behavior could be understood as a recursive teleonomical process; an internalization of the processes that have exerted selection pressure on us.

    Anyhow, this is just some stuff that’s been buzzing through my head lately. Teleology is the unifying principle at the center of theism’s conceptual framework. If you disprove teleology–which I think teleonomy does–then you disprove theism.

    Posted by Ian | December 8, 2010, 12:15 pm
  36. Pineapple, let me make sure I’m getting this straight. All the snark and vitriol you’ve thrown my way since I started this blog is because you think I’m right on the money in saying that faith does do something, but I’m exaggerating its effects?

    Would you please point me in the direction of your peer reviewed evidence that your claim is true? Or would you like to admit that it’s just your gut feeling and you’re going on as much intuition as you accuse me of doing?

    And no… I will not accept a number of studies pointing to cognitive mechanisms, nor will I accept cherry-picked evidence that atheists do the same things as theists. Because neither of those address my argument at all. Which I’ve said before. And which you’ve ignored.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 8, 2010, 4:57 pm
  37. Ian, there’s a lot in your post, and I’m not sure I can do it all justice with a comment. But I like the direction you’re going. I think I take issue with your idea that teleonomy disproves teleology. Maybe it depends on what you mean by “prove,” but In the end, I think teleology can always claim — with some validity — to be un-disprovable. And yes, I know that doesn’t give it any truth value. It makes it a useless premise. But ultimately, I don’t see how you could disprove it.

    The flip side of it is that as we humans gain knowledge, teleonomy certainly gains more and more credibility as an explanation of purpose, both individual and “cosmic.” And I like your metaphor of a target, particularly because it is quite similar to the more archaic “literal” beliefs in things like perfection — platonic perfection, moral perfection, the “ultimate plan.” All of these seem to be misplacements of attribution, very much like the “spirit,” which is a physical misattribution of a process.

    Please, don’t be afraid to think aloud on this subject. I like where you’re going.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 8, 2010, 5:09 pm
  38. Maybe it depends on what you mean by “prove,” but In the end, I think teleology can always claim — with some validity — to be un-disprovable.

    You’re right, “prove” is too strong. What I’m thinking is “more credible, more consistent with evidence.”

    Interesting point about the category error; I wonder if that’s why a literal interpretation of the bible is so important to some people. Perhaps what want is to have a tangible object which is truth.

    Posted by Ian | December 8, 2010, 9:56 pm
  39. Would you please point me in the direction of your peer reviewed evidence that your claim is true?

    First of all why do I have to give you peer reviewed evidence that your claim is false rather than you provide the peer reviewed evidence that it’s true?

    I know what it’s like to rely on intuition and then ask people to prove you wrong, I’ve been there with my theism.

    Second of all

    I will not accept a number of studies pointing to cognitive mechanisms, nor will I accept cherry-picked evidence that atheists do the same things as theists. Because neither of those address my argument at all. Which I’ve said before. And which you’ve ignored.

    What DO you want then? Give me a coherent checklist of what you want. Do you want a comparison of people who hold worldview that it’s not ok to do X and see if they do X?

    I’m sure you can dig up the twins studies where monozygotic twins were brought up in completly different enviroments but showed remarkably similar behaviour. (similar occupation, similar traits in spouse etc….)

    Or you can even do this:

    Ask around, your friends, and random people if it’s ok to drive when you’re drunk. Chart down how many people say “yes” vs “no”. Then go into FBI crime statistics and look at how many DUIs occured in your city.

    I can think of other things similar. Such as if it’s ok to cheat on your wife, then look at big football/basketball stars who cheat on their wives.

    But I suggest you read The Hidden Brain, which cites some very interesting studies of how the unconcious mind plays it’s role

    http://www.amazon.ca/Hidden-Brain-Unconscious-Presidents-Control/dp/0385525214/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1291860013&sr=8-2

    Also Mistakes were made but not by ME

    http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1291863338&sr=8-2

    will bear you fruit of just how much our unconcious influences us independent of worldview.

    Or would you like to admit that it’s just your gut feeling and you’re going on as much intuition as you accuse me of doing?

    If you think intuition is so reliable, why would you reject mine? But that aside, I don’t think intuition is reliable and I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” when it comes to what the world will look like without religion.

    I put your claims that we would be better off without religion in the same category as I put we would be better off without violent videogames. It’s naive, no proof, misses the point completly, and serves as a band-aid while missing the real issue.

    Say we want to reduce drunk driving, how do we do it? Do we promote the idea that drunk driving is bad? But it already is promoted!

    You see Hamby, I do think worldviews do things. I think the worldview of many in the atheist movement is naive and dangerous. I think the the worldview of many in the Theist movement is naive and dangerous and both in the same ways.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 8, 2010, 10:59 pm
  40. Let me elaborate on the drunk driving bit:

    I’m not saying that the worldview of it’s bad to drive drunk doesn’t matter, what I’m saying is that it’s not the ONLY thing going on here. Clearly there are other issues at hand, and those need to be addressed in conjuction with the worldview that drunk driving is bad, whereas if we go soley with fixing the worldview, then we get nowhere.

    Which is why I’m a snarky vitriol bitch towards your worldview that by fixing the worldview is enough.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 8, 2010, 11:07 pm
  41. I put your claims that we would be better off without religion in the same category as I put we would be better off without violent videogames. It’s naive, no proof, misses the point completly, and serves as a band-aid while missing the real issue.

    You’re missing the glaring point: No one (at least not by the hundreds or thousands) has killed, degraded, or demonized people in the name of their violent video game of choice.

    If people did this in large groups, I’d be willing to look into if violent video games were really a problem…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 9, 2010, 12:42 pm
  42. You’re missing the glaring point: No one (at least not by the hundreds or thousands) has killed, degraded, or demonized people in the name of their violent video game of choice.

    If people did this in large groups, I’d be willing to look into if violent video games were really a problem…

    The reason I reject the video game argument is because there are no studies backing it up.

    If videogames, don’t do yah for, then what about socialism? You know how many radical left wing groups killed? FARC, PFLP, LTTE, SNSP, IRA etc…

    same “argument” same “evidence”

    Which is why I think Hamby’s worldview is so dangerous.

    It wasn’t a flippant/snarky remark when I asked Hamby why he wants studies disproving his theory, rather than him provide studies that prove it. I’ve been asking for 3 years for such studies and haven’t recieved them. You remember what it’s called when you hold a view, but don’t have peer review studies to back them up [a view lacking evidence]? He’s basically been jumping through hoops all these years in an extremely complicated and lengthy process that boils down to a clever way of shifting the burden of proof.

    he may say it’s obvious and the evidence is all around us, that sounds rather familar to my Theist days where I used that as a justification and he busted my chops for it, so excuse me if I’m a little pissy about this.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 9, 2010, 8:00 pm
  43. Which is why I think Hamby’s worldview is so dangerous.

    So your position is that the dangerous worldview is the one where people debate the things they disagree on instead of the one that allows no criticism and is quite frequently cited as the reason for violence?

    You’ve got to take a step back as not everything can be studied with a peer reviewed paper. Some times we have to make a decision on the obvious merits of things. And yes, that means we some times make mistakes.

    In this case, any worldview that is used as justification for violence is probably a problem. This includes fringe groups on both the left and the right (politically) and religious groups (atheist may be on the left typically but atheism is not the reason used for violence, politics is).

    Again, let’s be careful throwing out words like dangerous, when we’re talking about people who do incite violence, quite frequently.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 10, 2010, 9:35 am
  44. Thanks, Alex.

    Yes, I think it’s really bizarre to suggest that the “dangerous” worldview is one in which we do not accept non-scientific standards for morality, sexuality, or human interaction in general, at least not for anything legally binding. Where we strive to accept anyone who isn’t trying to force their beliefs on anyone else, and who isn’t causing demonstrable harm to another person.

    Dangerous stuff, indeed.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 10, 2010, 3:24 pm
  45. Alison, we’ve been here before. There are studies that point in the direction of my position, and they’ve come under considerable fire from… gee… people like you, but nobody’s refuted them. Only suggested tweaks to the numbers and better ways of analyzing the data in future studies.

    I don’t know that anyone’s done a controlled study trying to isolate faith-based worldview as an independent variable, partly because we need better scales for even quantifying such worldviews. It’s very tricky to pin down as a quantifiable variable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real, or that it doesn’t have a real effect. It just means it’s really difficult to study.

    As an aside, I’ve been reading up on the study of gambling addiction as a way to better grasp religious beliefs. It may seem a little odd on the surface, but problem gambling has a lot in common with religious belief — both the religious zealot and the problem gambler have distorted views of the world, where they believe they have special privileges, better understanding of the way things work, etc. Both are largely blind to the way they’re perceived by non-gamblers/religious. Both are largely oblivious to the harm their practices cause, both to themselves and loved ones. Both seem to have firm roots in the neuro-physiology. And interestingly, both tend to be susceptible to hypnotic techniques and suggestion. If you’ve ever been to a casino, you understand what I mean.

    The ultimate goal is to figure out a way to design something akin to the RWA scale, in which a person’s level of trust in “that which is contradicted by the evidence” is put on some kind of likert style scale. But there are just tons of problems.

    Having said all that, Alison, I’ll return to the original point — that you don’t like when I say it’s obvious that faith does something. Unlike your claims that it was “obvious” that there’s some kind of universal quantum intelligence, the claim that it’s obvious faith does something is clearly defined and has clearly definable parameters. I can point to very obvious things — which I have — like faith healings. People who don’t believe in god don’t waste time and money on faith healers. Prayer. Non-believers don’t pray. Exorcism. Non-believers don’t send their mentally ill children to exorcists. They send them to scientists.

    In short, there are easily quantifiable behaviors that only religious people do. When questioned, virtually every believer will justify their behaviors by citing faith. This would be enough on any study to prove that believers believe that they have faith. While this isn’t precisely the same as saying that they really do have something different than non-believers, it’s damn sure good enough for a reasonable and provisional conclusion that faith is real and does something.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 10, 2010, 3:39 pm
  46. Alex, no that’s not the worldview I’m critisizing.

    What I’m critisizing is the worldview where “It’s obvious and the evidence is all around us” as justification for your views.

    Like this:

    You’ve got to take a step back as not everything can be studied with a peer reviewed paper. Some times we have to make a decision on the obvious merits of things. And yes, that means we some times make mistakes.

    So the claim of the effects of religion is beyond study with peer reviewed papers? So it can’t be studied?

    If you think “obvious” is a good way to come to conclusions you might want to read this:

    http://www.amazon.ca/Invisible-Gorilla-Other-Intuitions-Deceive/dp/0307459659/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292010051&sr=8-1

    THAT’S the dangerous part of your worldview.

    If a theist came on here and said that the existence of God is obvious and that the question of God is beyond study in peer reviewed papers, they’re views will get rejected and rightly so.

    But then when the atheist movement does it, all of a sudden “obvious” is the new “scientifically demostrated” In other words, you are accepting non scientific standards for human interaction and morality.

    If the atheist movement was 2/3 as rational as it claims to be, 84% of it’s claims would have been laughed out of existence a long time ago.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 10, 2010, 3:48 pm
  47. Oh and the invisible gorilla has an entire chapter on the illusion of cause. A must read.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 10, 2010, 3:49 pm
  48. Hamby, you posted your response, as I was typing mine, so I didn’t see it until I posted mine.

    So I’ll address that now

    Alison, we’ve been here before. There are studies that point in the direction of my position, and they’ve come under considerable fire from… gee… people like you, but nobody’s refuted them. Only suggested tweaks to the numbers and better ways of analyzing the data in future studies.

    The only studies I saw is the Gregory Paul studies. Unfortunatly those only establish a correlation, not a causation.

    It’s perfectly rational to accept them as evidence that rejecting religion won’t bring the moral apocolypse of society, and irrational to suggest a causation considering that the first study, literally on the first page

    This is not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health

    The other studies I’ve seen cited are the Robert Altermier studies on RWA, but it show that religious fundamentalism is the religious manifestation of RWA, not that religion makes you more or less likely to be RWA or enhance your assholeness if you are RWA.

    I don’t know that anyone’s done a controlled study trying to isolate faith-based worldview as an independent variable, partly because we need better scales for even quantifying such worldviews. It’s very tricky to pin down as a quantifiable variable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real, or that it doesn’t have a real effect. It just means it’s really difficult to study.

    This is what the study I posted did. It measured devotion to faith based worldview, as religiousisty and divine devotion.

    What the study did, was take people of roughly the same coalitional attitude and then let the religiousisty vary.

    If you are right, then it shouldn’t have mattered what variable we controlled for, the religious should have came out on top. If we controlled for different variables, the amount of difference between the religious and non-religious in non-desiriable traits may vary, but the religious should still come out on the top.

    Having said, that I do agree that it can be a rather tricky process of studying worldviews, which is why I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” when it comes to things that we still need to iron out details in order to study properly.

    Just because it might be tricky testing String Theory, that doesn’t excuse the people who support String Theory of coughing up evidence for it.

    As an aside, I’ve been reading up on the study of gambling addiction as a way to better grasp religious beliefs. It may seem a little odd on the surface, but problem gambling has a lot in common with religious belief — both the religious zealot and the problem gambler have distorted views of the world, where they believe they have special privileges, better understanding of the way things work, etc. Both are largely blind to the way they’re perceived by non-gamblers/religious. Both are largely oblivious to the harm their practices cause, both to themselves and loved ones. Both seem to have firm roots in the neuro-physiology. And interestingly, both tend to be susceptible to hypnotic techniques and suggestion. If you’ve ever been to a casino, you understand what I mean.

    I actually think that gambling and religion is not a bad analogy.

    Though gambling can be harmful, I don’t think gambling in of itself is harmful, just a misinformed decision.

    Just like religion.

    Having said all that, Alison, I’ll return to the original point — that you don’t like when I say it’s obvious that faith does something. Unlike your claims that it was “obvious” that there’s some kind of universal quantum intelligence, the claim that it’s obvious faith does something is clearly defined and has clearly definable parameters. I can point to very obvious things — which I have — like faith healings. People who don’t believe in god don’t waste time and money on faith healers. Prayer. Non-believers don’t pray. Exorcism. Non-believers don’t send their mentally ill children to exorcists. They send them to scientists.

    Religion is steadly declining in Europe, however, nonsense isn’t.

    41% of Europeans think astrology is scientific and 33% think that of homeopahy.

    http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_224_report_en.pdf

    In other words, or celebration on the religious decline in Europe may be premature.

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 10, 2010, 4:29 pm
  49. I know you’ve probably moved past this but:

    Doesn’t the fact that rigid political ideology seems to cause at least as much damage as religion point to religion not being the most dangerous meme around?

    To tie this into the article, if we line up every example of extremism causing harm to humans how many will be religious and how many will be based on other things?

    I guess what confuses me is how we, as atheists, can say Stalin and Mao did what they did because of political ideology and then turn around and say religion is the most dangerous and caustic idea around. If anything, wouldn’t these arguments bring us to political extremism and the general meme of ‘us versus them’ be the most dangerous thing?

    Alison isn’t trying to say religion isn’t bad or virulent, she’s just asking for what evidence points to religion as being worse than other destructive and virulent ideas.

    As for my opinion, I think, based purely on numbers and history, political extremism is the most dangerous acute meme and religion is the most virulent meme…religion is bad because it spreads so quickly and holds so tightly…but it isn’t as directly damaging in an immediate sense.

    An analogy: political extremism is more like a poison, religion is more like a virus.

    Posted by mellestad | December 17, 2010, 12:38 pm
  50. Doesn’t the fact that rigid political ideology seems to cause at least as much damage as religion point to religion not being the most dangerous meme around?

    Seems to cause? How are we measuring this? In terms of death, perhaps? It’s possible that non-religious political ideology has killed more people than religious ideology, but it seems unlikely, since non-religious political ideology has been largely confined to the past couple of centuries.

    On the other hand, it seems like we would be foolish to arbitrarily separate religion and political ideology, since so many of the awful things in history were accomplished through a combination of the two.

    This is why I don’t separate them. I include rigid political ideology and religious ideology in exactly the same category. Which makes the whole question moot.

    To tie this into the article, if we line up every example of extremism causing harm to humans how many will be religious and how many will be based on other things?

    I have no doubt the vast majority of them would be politico-religious. Since religion has been either identical to or intertwined with government since… well… the Edict of Milan, at least. And that’s just talking about the Christian West. But since religion and political ideology are two sides of the same coin, the distinction is somewhat irrelevant. Which was the point of my whole article.

    Alison isn’t trying to say religion isn’t bad or virulent, she’s just asking for what evidence points to religion as being worse than other destructive and virulent ideas.

    And I’ve repeatedly and consistently said that I don’t put religion in a unique category. I put faith-based thinking in a unique category, and faith based thinking leads to both political ideology and religion. So the point is still moot.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 17, 2010, 3:17 pm
  51. Hamby, in the spirit of your latest article, I think we are speaking two different languages here. The word in question here is religion.

    When I hear “religion” I think of the supernatural. Such as some supernatural force acting on the universe.

    Which is why I don’t think Communism is, or even like a religion.

    For example, if FARC thinks Colombia would be better of under Marxism and blows up a few government buildings, I wouldn’t consider that religous or like a religion, because it doesn’t invoke the supernatural. For the life of me I can’t think of the supernatural element to “We should get rid of classes and distrubite the wealth among everyone.” I don’t think this will work, and it goes against human nature, but I don’t see anything supernatural about it. It’s not supernatural, it’s just wrong.

    You seem to equate religion with being wrong. Such as Stalin was factually wrong that Communism worked and was the best option for the motherland therefore Communism is a religion.

    Or you seem to think religion as a blind devotion to something, such as Stalin’s devotion to Communism despite evidence it made the motherland a bad place to live in.

    However, I still wouldn’t clasify that as a religion or think it’s similar to religion because it doesn’t invoke the supernatural.

    Kinda like Joe cheers for the Dallas Cowboys religiously or Sarah listens to Taylor Swift religiously. It would of course be absurd to think being a football fan or listening to T Swift is a religion.

    To keep on mellestad’s point I think the reason atheists might be behind of Theists in terms of body count, is because atheists are just starting to form. In the past an atheist and secular ideologies were rare, and now that they are becoming more and more common, I think the body count at hands of atheists and secular ideologies will continue to rise.

    As religion declines, secular ideologies like the Ba’ath party and Marxist/nationalist groups will play catchup

    So in otherwords, you would have to come up with a consisntent definition of religion

    Posted by cptpineapple | December 17, 2010, 7:00 pm

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