13/08/2007

Argument by Incredulous Substitution

I found today an article that I had missed in the Guardian in January. Apparently secular fundamentalists should now be the number one enemy of the politically correct crowd.

I agree that people should be free to believe what they want. But as the 'big three' religions in this country all advocate violence against against people who believe in other gods then some restrictions should be placed on them. Not 'advertising' by wearing religious jewelry is something that needs to be discussed, as it does not really harm anything, but veils and the like are a symbol of oppression rooted in the bronze age.

As for terrorism not being linked to religion: could there be religious extremists without religions?

There is also an example of what I call 'argument by incredulous substitution':

"Witness, for example, Mary Riddell's astonishing sentence in the Observer last month (try replacing "religion" with "homosexuality" to get the point): "secularists do not wish to harm religion or deny its great cultural influence. They simply want it to know its place." In other words: get back in the closet."

Religion is a set of beliefs, inconsistent across cultures, often internally inconsistent and generally mutual exclusive. Homosexuality is a sexual preference. We could insert a particular religion or even another belief system like racism or liberalism. We cannot insert homosexuality in the same way we cannot insert 'albinism' or 'animals'.

12 comments:

Aquinas Dad said...

Writing and mathematics are also relics of the Bronze Age - and before! Should we jettison them?

terrorism and religious extremism are not the same. Ask the victims of the Shining Path, or the Red Army Faction, or the dozens of other Atheist terror organizations that really got the ball rolling in the 1970's.

Here is a substitution even more apropos - 'Religious people do not wish to harm atheists or deny their influence - they just want atheists to know their place'. Much more elegant. Or, just a mild variation, how about 'secularists to not wish to harm Jews or deny Judaisms great cultural influence. they just want Jews to know their place.'

That isn't really much of a substitution for the original, is it? I dare you to repeat it in public, though.

Edward Baker said...

I would hardly call writing and mathematics relics in the same way as religion. Both writing and mathematics have grown in importance over the years.

Religious extremism is often terrorism, and I never said they were the same!

As for atheist terror organisations: they exist, but do they harm people on the scale of the religious G3?

Aquinas Dad said...

Mr. Baker,
Writing is more important now than, say, the 6th Century when it was the only form of mass communication? And you seem to imply religion is less important now, yet political scientists agree that the impact of religion on geopolitics has been increasing for at least 50 years. While the conflicts of the fitsy half of the 20th Century were largely about ideology, those of the last half of the 21st will probably be about religion.

Calling religion a 'relic' will not make that go away.

Your question "...do [atheist terror organizations] harm people on the scale of religious [terror organizations] reveals an ignorance of recent history that is shocking The Shining Path in Peru killed at least 50,000 people; the Sandanistas killed 30,000 - that means that two of the atheist terror groups of the last 20-30 years in South America alone killed over 80,000 people in 20 years!

Aquinas Dad said...

You know, I could have sworn I added a comment about how just two atheist terrorists groups in two South American nations killed at least 80,000 people in a a 20 year period, making either one of them far more lethal than the entire history of the Inquisition.

Edward Baker said...

80,000 is hardly anything compared to the total number of religion-related deaths.

Religion often also allows and encourgaes people to be terrorists.

Aquinas Dad said...

The Spanish Inquisition, which lasted more than 425 years, had a total number of executions (after trials, no less) of less than 8,000 (considered a 'certainly no greater than' number). Are you trying to tell me that the actions of the Shining Path - a single atheistic terror group - which caused the non-judicial deaths of innocent people at a rate 125 TIMES that of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition is "hardly anything"?! The various atheistic Communist terrorists in South America exceeded the death toll of the Albigensian Crusade in just 20 years - and that is a single continent. The actions of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (a staunchly atheist group) exceeded the death tolls of all crusades and Inquisitions combined many times over - and the Khmer Rouge ruled a small nation and for only 4 years!

The death tolls for Communist regimes (which are atheist) in the 20th Century are estimated to be 100 million people. Compared to that, the Wars of Religion, the crusades, and the Inquisitions all sorta' look a lot less like your image. Well, compared to the average death toll of 1 million people each and every year for a century racked up by atheist extremists.

Or do you think that is also "hardly anything"?

Edward Baker said...

Well first of all the Spanish Inquisition is just one act committed by one religion. Given the number of religions, and the number of acts it is easy to choose one that is less than Shining Path.

In case you haven't noticed this blog is called 'In Defence of Reason' and I would argue extreme communism is just as irrational as religion. But that point aside when we consider the amount that Christians, Muslism and Jews alone have fought against each other, in both organised wars and 'random' acts of violence it is a huge number!

And how many people did 'God' kill in the Bible?

Aquinas Dad said...

You asked

"As for atheist terror organizations: they exist, but do they harm people on the scale of the religious G3?"

I pointed out that atheist organizations' death toll in the 20th Century dwarfs *all* Inquisitions, all crusades, and all the wars of religions multiple times. I'm not even counting the Holocaust! Stalin alone equaled the death toll of *all* of the Protestant witch hunts in 3 months!

Three. Months.

I have no idea how you can claim that religion has killed more people than the atheist organizations of the 20th Century without appealing to ignorance.

Edward Baker said...

Well it's obviously not worth arguing with you as you just regurgitate the same old stuff over and over again.

But how many people have died because of atheism? How many murders have been committed by atheists because of their belief in no Gods?

Aquinas Dad said...

*I* "...just regurgitate the same old stuff over and over again"?! I have given you the names of organizations at their death tolls as determined by scholarship; I have directly compared one type of organization with another and demonstrated the differences with a variety of examples.

You, however, reply with "...Christians, Muslism and Jews alone have fought against each other... ...is a huge number!"

Yeah - but it isn't an UNKNOWN number. Scholars have been investigating this for a long time.

You ask,

"But how many people have died because of atheism?"

As I have said in this very comment thread - Communist organizations - which are atheist - killed about 100 million people in the 20th Century. That means that the death toll for atheism is at least 100 million people. This is pretty straightforward.

The total executions for all Inquisitions (which were, might I add, legal trials and executions at the time) is no more than 50,000. The death toll of the Crusades (all) is about 1.5 million people on all sides; the witch trials had a death toll of no more than 100,000; the Wars of Religion killed about 5 million people.

See, I am providing names and numbers - things that can be looked up, studied by scholars, and verified. When doing that, it appears that the death toll of religion that can be verified is about 6.7 million. Let us assume that every scholar is underestimating and that we can toss in a few random events that people missed and round that waaaaay up to 15 million. Heck, let's assume that THAT grossly inflated number doesn't account for all sorts of stuff and double THAT number to 30 million people.

That is still less than 1/3 of the minimum deaths attributable to atheism in a single century.

That means that your appeals to nebulously defined 'random violence' would have to account for an additional 70 million people to merely equal the minimum for atheists in the 20th - that's 10,000 dead a year, every year, for 7 centuries that scholars just sorta'... miss.

Again - I am naming events; I am giving scholarly estimates. I am asking you to justify your claims.

Edward Baker said...

But just because they were committed by people who don't believe in a god doesn't mean they're atheist! These acts weren't committed in the name of 'not having a god', they were cult killings. Atheism wasn't fundamental to the deaths of those people.

The people who committed those murders were deluded, they not kill because they were atheists.

Religious killings on the other hand often happen through instructions from scripture or more senior members of the religion.

Aquinas Dad said...

Now, where did you put those goal posts?

My favorite quote in this thread so far? This one,

"But just because they were committed by people who don't believe in a god doesn't mean they're atheist"

Beautiful. Of course, let us throw a bone to the question begging in the corner - doesn't this mean that just because crimes were committed by people who believe in God, that doesn't mean they were religious? If you want to point to crimes committed by religious people and claim that those crimes are solely the fault of religion (never mind the socio-economic pressures that were at least as important as the religious ones in everything from the Crusades to the Inquisition) then you cannot claim that 'just because someone doesn't believe in God that doesn't mean he's an atheist'.

Ever hear of the Spanish Civil War? Of the thousands of priests, nuns, and monks killed by Communists and Anarchists because the killers were atheists trying to 'free the proletariat of superstition'? How about the severe repression of churches in China because 'Proper Thought rejects superstition; religion has no place in the Revolution'?

Thus, when you write.

"Religious killings on the other hand often happen through instructions from scripture or more senior members of the religion."

With the implication that atheist writings and senior leaders never encourage the murder of religious people, I must conclude that your understanding of atheist thought and writing in history is rather more limited than mine.

If you want to start parsing the crimes committed by Atheists because some of them were for reasons not related to atheism, then you better start doing the same with your rather broad brush of religion! Just remember the huge advantage the atheists have in sheer numbers of dead....

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