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J. J. Ramsey

Pig:

Argument ad naziam?

No he didn't. He compared people to Chamberlain, who wasn't a Nazi

Never mind that Chamberlain has a bad reputation not only because he appeased, but because of who he appeased.

Pig:

As to how it is scientifically dishonest: It is in essence a choice to silence how the science contradicts the book of Genesis ... Even the Catholic argument of "What is a day" cannot account for how while animals of say, the air were developing, speciation and evolution still happened in the sea.
There are far more options than the day-age argument, such as treating Genesis as some vague metaphor or just throwing out Genesis altogether, both of which avoid the difficulties that you mention.

Greta Christina

And yet another reminder to everyone: Please keep this debate civil. This is not Pharyngula: I expect a basic level of respect, courtesy, and non- personal- name- calling in my comments. The next person who uses a personal insult towards another guest in this blog will be disemvowelled.

(I'd like to ask you to keep it on topic as well, but I suppose that's a lost cause. Before you comment, however, I would like you to ask yourself what it is you're saying to the rest of the people reading this thread about what atheists are like as allies.)

Rieux
But OK, I would love to hear an explanation from either you, Rieux, or Pig about why namecalling is a reasonable thing to do....
Of course, that is not remotely the proposition at issue. Straw-man arguments get us nowhere.

Here's the first time that the term "Uncle Tom" came up in this thread--from yours truly:

First, the "Uncle Tom," the minority member who attacks or betrays his or her own kind in order to curry favor with the powerful majority, is not a new concept.
Which, on its face, is merely a statement that collaboration--the "Uncle Tom" phenomenon--is real. That it is a real-life phenomenon that educated observers should expect to encounter when a minority group finds itself oppressed by a majority.

As a result, the fact that a handful of members of an oppressed minority are (as Robin noticed) willing to join the ignorant/bigoted majority in bashing their fellow members of the minority fails to show that the in-group bashers are correct.

That collaboration exists is a simple fact, regardless of whether anyone in particular deems it acceptable to say so. Anyone who is actually interested in dealing with the problems that oppression causes will recognize that.


Then, to the "namecalling" trope, here's our hostess:

Just a reminder, people; Disagreement in these comments is fine. Personal insults and attacks are not. Please keep the tone civil. Thanks.
Clear: a plea for a particular tone in the comments thread of her own blog.

But then, here she is in the OP:

If you think an atheist or an atheist group is being intolerant, or bigoted, or close-minded, then by all means, say that they're being intolerant or bigoted or close-minded. But please, for the sweet love of all that is beautiful in this world, do not call them "fundamentalist atheists."
Now, goodness, wouldn't calling an atheist or an atheist group "intolerant, or bigoted, or close-minded" be name-calling? Of course it would--which suggests (as do the actual reasons she gave for her "no 'fundamentalist atheist'-calling" stance) that Greta's point is something other than the absurd "No name-calling EVAR" she has been straw-manned into.

The invocation of "Uncle Tom" here has not been simple name-calling, and Greta's position is not simple opposition to name-calling. It would be nice if this thread involved actual nuanced discussion of the real oppression Greta identified and the consequences it has, rather than bad-faith strawmen that serve only to distract attention from the issues she raised.

Pig

Ramsey

Would it have been better if he called them Mbekis?

Okay, if aren't follow events in Zimbabwe, you might miss the reference, but it amounts to the same thing.

Pig
There are far more options than the day-age argument, such as treating Genesis as some vague metaphor or just throwing out Genesis altogether, both of which avoid the difficulties that you mention.

Posted by: J. J. Ramsey

The first doesn't work due to how the Jesus myth* played out. The perfect man had to die for the perfect man's sins, which ties the OT to the NT, and dying for a strained metaphor doesn't cut it.

The second, makes the Bible fallible, thus not the word of God, and thus questionable in its authenticity as a whole.

*Okay, just to clarify, I figure there probably was a guy called Jesus who developed a following in that period who got crucified, however enough got added, subtracted, redacted, altered in translation, spun and victimised by poetic license to make his story more myth than fact. Besides, nobody is ever quite the way stories portray them.

Greta Christina
Now, goodness, wouldn't calling an atheist or an atheist group "intolerant, or bigoted, or close-minded" be name-calling?

There is a difference between criticizing actions and beliefs -- even harshly criticizing actions and beliefs -- and issuing personal insults. It is a line that has been crossed in some of the comments in this comment thread. I'm asking you all to please refrain from doing that, and to dial down the toxic tone.

The commenters in this blog are, of course, free to take and to foster whatever tone they like in their own blogs. But I try to maintain a basic tone of respect, civility, and cutting one another slack in my blog. Please respect that. Thank you.

Pig
But OK, I would love to hear an explanation from either you, Rieux, or Pig about why namecalling is a reasonable thing to do....

The use of a name can provide a form of shorthand if the meaning is clear, such that an argument that appears to bear the characteristics of being an "Uncle Tom" argument, can in fact be called as such.

Neville Chamberlain also serves such a function (Which is sort of the worst possible fate for a politician may I add) as he has come to symbolise appeasement at the expense of what is right.

Pig

Greta Christina

Sorry, I know I am one of the culprits.

Rieux

Quoth our hostess:

There is a difference between criticizing actions and beliefs -- even harshly criticizing actions and beliefs -- and issuing personal insults.
Absolutely--a big difference. A word like "name-calling" tends to bury that distinction.

J. J. Ramsey

Pig:

The first doesn't work due to how the Jesus myth* [i.e. the orthodox religious views of Jesus' life] played out. The perfect man had to die for the perfect man's sins, which ties the OT to the NT, and dying for a strained metaphor doesn't cut it.

The second, makes the Bible fallible, thus not the word of God, and thus questionable in its authenticity as a whole.

I think you'd be surprised at the, um, creativity of moderate/liberal theists in dealing with these issues. (You might also wonder why they bother with such creativity, but ...)

Anyway, trying to get back on topic ...

I think, Greta, that this has been your sticking point:

Don't divide us into "good atheists" and "bad atheists" based on how vocal or angry we are. Don't say things like, "Well, you seem reasonable -- but that Richard Dawkins and that Christopher Hitchens, they're just so mean and intolerant!"
I'm sure that you did NOT mean to send a message like this: "Your reasons for finding Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. are illegitimate and sinister and you should stifle your complaints about them." Unfortunately, that's pretty much what you ended up doing.

Hitchens, in his original edition of God Is Not Great, repeated the anti-Semitic canard about Orthodox Jews having sex through a sheet. I already mentioned Dawkins' encounters with the Hitler Zombie. Taner Edis has criticized Sam Harris for being atrociously bad at understanding the Muslims that he lambasts. Given that prominent atheists bring some pretty shoddy stuff to the table, it's pretty unreasonable for you to expect theists not to complain about this stuff and not to praise atheists who make a good faith effort to not be shoddy.

Furthermore, it looks like you are trying to minimize the real concerns of theists by saying that they are just a masked way to complain about atheists being more vocal. Sometimes it is a mask, but not always. Sometimes it's a case of atheists falling into the Gadfly Corollary trap and theists responding likewise.

J. J. Ramsey

Errm, the above should read "Your reasons for finding Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. 'mean and intolerant' are illegitimate and sinister ...."

Pig

Ramsey

I don't accept the Dawkins Hitler Zombie argument - Chamberlain wasn't a Nazi and isn't used simply to reference Nazis, but rather to reference the concept of appeasement.

That said:

Well, here is the issue:

Criticise them, fine.

But what I see Greta as saying is closer to this: don't lump very different atheists together, who are united in only on thing - how vocal they are as atheists - as bad atheists.

Don't make being a vocal atheist, what qualifies somebody as a bad atheist.

An atheist can be a bad person, just like any member of any minority can be a bad person, but being vocal isn't what makes them bad.

The RRS is an example of vocal atheists who have a lot wrong with them, but it isn't that they are vocal that makes them a problem, it is that they get their facts wrong and claim airs which they haven't earned yet.

If you are going to criticise them, criticise them as individuals or as individual groups even, don't divide atheists into the "Good atheists" who keep schtum, and the "Bad atheists" who speak out.

Jim Robinson

J.J. Ramsey,

YOU are the one going on about Nazis, just saying.

Also, while I would not bring Nazis into it myself, I don't think you get to say for free that Nazis are somehow categorically more evil than creationists (or even moderate religionists.) When I follow your writing here I see you repeatedly and inaccurately restate other people's arguments and with each restatement make them seem more absurd.

This may be all well and good when the point is to win rather than arrive at some sort of truth or understanding. Otherwise it is just a pain in the ass.

Liz

I had a great experience in a social justice training where I shared my experience of exclusion as an atheist child in a very Christian community in the form of being silent during "under god" of the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward, a participant who is my colleague and also is a minister came to me and told me it had been a life-changing moment. He told me "I said to God 'God, I'm in the room with atheists.' And God said, 'You're right where you're supposed to be.'" And it really made me cry.

J. J. Ramsey

Jim Harrison, I'm going to give you the same sort of advice as I did Pig. If you want to claim that I "inaccurately restate other people's arguments," then show examples.

Indeed, some theists (and atheists) would look at the attempts by you and Jim Harrison to defuse the Neville Chamberlain analogy as downright desperate, especially since it wasn't a habitual Dawkins-basher who brought them up in the first place. It looks like an attempt to sweep real problems under the rug.

Pig: "But what I see Greta as saying is closer to this: don't lump very different atheists together, who are united in only on thing - how vocal they are as atheists - as bad atheists."

That may be what Greta is trying to say, but it comes across as saying, "You're not mad at the 'bad' atheists for actually being bad. You're just mad at them for being vocal." Again, it looks like an attempt to sweep real problems under the rug.

Jim Robinson

Jim Harrison, I'm going to give you the same sort of advice as I did Pig. If you want to claim that I "inaccurately restate other people's arguments," then show examples.

Gosh JJ, good point. Where to find examples ... oh, hey how about right here? My name is not Jim Harrison, you can check. A trivial but utterly unambiguous inaccuracy. I will count it against you because I believe it was you who were the first to cast a "fast and loose with the facts" stone. Or how about:

Indeed, some theists (and atheists) would look at the attempts by you and Jim Harrison to defuse the Neville Chamberlain analogy as downright desperate, especially since it wasn't a habitual Dawkins-basher who brought them up in the first place.

for two more. I have made no attempt (and more to the point, have no intent) to defuse the Champerlain analogy. I have simply pointed out that it is you who want to make it about Nazis. You then go on to make an irrelevant and fallacious argument from authority. Irrelevant because I have never argued for or against the validity of the Chamberlain analogy. Fallacious because it makes no difference to the validity of the Chamberlain analogy if "who brought them up in the first place" is "a habitual Dawkins-basher" or not.

Bonus observation: you also seem to cherry pick your "arguments" in a way that lets you avoid discussing anything of substance at all. e.g. While asserting that I have failed to meet some specious burden to "show some examples" (specious because, really, the examples are obviously right here already) you have failed to address my substantive critique. I'll restate it here:

Even if I grant your assertion that the Chamberlain analogy is an argument ad Naziem you must still go on to demonstrate that such an analogy is fatally flawed by distinguishing religionists from Nazis in a way that invalidates the analogy.

I'm not writing here to persuade you, JJ, because I have concluded that you are not really open to reasoned persuasion. I'm writing in the hopes of making it easier for others to see what hand waving and bad faith arguments look like and I thank you for providing such clear examples.

Pig

Ramsey

1: Whether the person who first came up with the argument was a Dawkins basher or not, it doesn't change my basic argument that it is not an argument ad Naziem, as Chamberlain, not being a Nazi, did not represent the Nazis.

The Nazis and Chamberlain don't even represent the same ideas in common usage. They represent opposing ends of the spectrum, Chamberlain being someone who tolerated something that shouldn't have been tolerated and the Nazis being warlike fascists.

It is closer to being an argument ad anti-Naziem.

As to how Greta seems to come across to you, well that's because you aren't trying to understand what people are actually saying, you are trying to find nits to pick so you can come across as "reasonable".

J. J. Ramsey

Jim Robinson: "My name is not Jim Harrison"

Sorry about that.

Jim Robinson: "While asserting that I have failed to meet some specious burden to 'show some examples' ..."

Asking for evidence is never specious. However, using my absent-mindedness to avoid giving them is.

Jim Robinson: "Even if I grant your assertion that the Chamberlain analogy is an argument ad Naziem you must still go on to demonstrate that such an analogy is fatally flawed by distinguishing religionists from Nazis in a way that invalidates the analogy."

I'd already pointed out to Pig that the so-called appeasers haven't done much in the way of actual appeasing. As for the idea that I should point out how "Nazis are somehow categorically more evil than creationists (or even moderate religionists)," well, I suppose that's only fair, although I'm a bit surprised that it isn't blindingly obvious to you. We certainly don't generally have creationists advocating mass murder, for example.

Robin Edgar

:Robin Edgar, "Atheist Supremacist" is an over-the-top way of likening an atheist to white power rangers (to borrow a turn of phrase from Orac's Respectful Insolence).

Some Atheist Supremacists make White Power Rangers look like Boy Scouts J.J. Even if that was not the case the fact remains that Richard Dawkins and other like-minded atheists believe that atheists are superior human beings to what they call "Faith-heads" and that makes them Atheist Supremacists even if they do not attempt to use violence to impose their Atheist Supremacist ideology on other people.

:How does that put you any less in "Hitler Zombie" territory than Dawkins' Neville Chamberlain comments? This is not good.

Surely that question is much better addressed to Rieux regarding his "Uncle Tom(s)" comments. . .


Pig

Robin

Reading what you just posted I can only conclude that you are a bigot.

There is no other word for it. You are a bigot. This is why you got slammed in the UU. This is why you get called names from both sides.

You are a bigot. You are a bigot because ultimately while playing the victim you refuse to see the difference between people just coming out and saying "We don't agree with you" or even "We think our ideas are right, and are better than yours" and people who threaten with violence for not agreeing with them.

You are the precise reason why I say the softly-softly approach to handling religious bigots has not worked.

You are the precise reason we need the Dawkinses and the Harrisses, because you preach a line which is basically hatespeech - and you do it, while whining about what a victim you are.

And you are the precise reason why J.J. gets called an uncle Tom, because his line of reasoning ultimately is there to try and shield you from the scorn and condemnation you would recieve if you had said the same thing about blacks, the same thing about Jews, the same thing about gays, the same thing about any other minority.

J. J. Ramsey

Robin Edgar:

Some Atheist Supremacists make White Power Rangers look like Boy Scouts J.J.
White Power Rangers are the sort of people who'd pound my head into the sidewalk if they knew my mother was Jewish ... and they might do it even if they didn't know. The worst that so-called "Atheist Supremacists," to borrow your turn of phrase, would do is pile fallacy upon fallacy, which is annoying but hardly life-threatening.

Pig:

And you are the precise reason why J.J. gets called an uncle Tom, because his line of reasoning ultimately is there to try and shield you from the scorn and condemnation you would recieve if you had said the same thing about blacks, the same thing about Jews, the same thing about gays, the same thing about any other minority.
Pig, you are making no sense here, especially since I was hardly shielding Robin Edgar. My line of reasoning is straightforward: Crappy argument and bigotry don't get a pass, no matter who they are from. If anything, atheists ought to be especially careful about making sure their arguments make sense, since traditionally they have not merely advocated against belief in God but for reason and skepticism. As pointed out in the Bad Idea Blog, "anyone claiming to defend reason as a method is going to come under especially close scrutiny as to their own usage of it: being fun and flippant isn’t going to come off well."

Greta Christina

I'm sorry, everybody -- but I'm pulling the plug on this thread. It has, in my opinion, become irredeemably toxic, and is clearly going nowhere. It's too bad -- the actual topic of the post is one on which I would like to hear people's comments -- but the thread has clearly gone completely and unsalvagably off-topic, so I am closing the comments.

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