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SBGI >> Go see religulous!


10/4/08 10:27 PM
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Matt Thornton
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  Just finished seeing Religulous. . . great movie!

http://www.religulousmovie.net/

Maher is smart and funny as usual, but also does a great job at pointing out the absurdity and danger of religion. A must see.
10/31/08 9:39 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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I really do need to see this, my friends won't stop talking about it.
11/26/08 4:47 PM
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Mr Mike from NC
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Doesn't sound very interesting. Maher isn't very funny and, while intelligent, is more like a smart alec, patting himself on the back because he doesn't fall into the same trap as those stupid religious types. He can't make the same mistakes, blah, blah, blah. The Leninists, Stalinists, Nazis, Maoists, Khymer Rough and, anyone else with a materialist viewpoint made the same mistakes.
11/26/08 6:22 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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I find him very funny.
11/27/08 12:50 AM
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Matt Thornton
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Edited: 11/27/08 12:51 AM
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Nonsense, Hitler was a confirmed Catholic in good standing. And the entire Nazi movement was built on superstitious nonsense aka: religion (Thula cult, Aryan myth, etc). The Kymer Rouge was based on Taoism. And the fallacy regarding the old communist states was dealt with in depth by Christopher Hitchens "God is not great", which I would highly suggest. As an interesting side note, prior to becoming the head of state Stalin was studying in the priesthood.

The bottom line is that none of the above mentioned regimes suffered from too much rational, and critical thinking. Which is of course what intellgent people like Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins and Maher are suggesting.

And I couldnt agree with Kai more, I find Maher very funny. As does my wife, and most everyone I know. But then again, I have heard some people don't find Stewart, or Colbert funny, and some people dig this guy. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaeJ60Zazvk

So it takes all kinds.

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11/27/08 11:10 AM
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Kai Tremeche
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Hmm, seemed to have eaten the rest of my post. Sure he can be a smug smarmy bastard at points, but insight is was matters, and his (and his writers) is very keen.
11/29/08 1:20 AM
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Mr Mike from NC
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Hitler only went in for Cathicism at the very end of his life. Before that, it was for manipulation purposes. I studied this back in college. He agreed with many of the Nazi's (and German philosophers) that the Roman Church was the creation of weakness in the German mindset and, had to be replaced, albiet gradually. The Waffen SS would eventually replace the traditional Wermacht, but you can't get rid that kind of tradition overnight.

Also, Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins and Maher are men of words, not action. They're safe where they are, but try and keep youself in the intellectual mindset when your're in a revolution, or at the head of a nation.

The Nazi's were about much more that the "occult roots" shows you probably seen on the History channel. It was a humanist organization, based on the belief of racial superiority of the Teutonic race. Racism, of course, was popular with many educated and, critical thinbking people of that time. Today, we have the gift of hindsight.

All of those Marxist regimes were first and, formost athiest in their beginnings and, throughout their lifespans. Stalin left the priesthood. Pol Pot valuing Taoism over his understanding of Marx and, Mao sure, sure?
11/29/08 2:26 AM
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Matt Thornton
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"based on the belief of racial superiority of the Teutonic race"

Yes, that is the aryan myth. It is an idea taken from Teutonic mythology, ie religion. Regardless, I am not really interested in arguing nazi history with you mr Mike. I stand by my statement. Though I doubt Hitler took christianity very seriously, the nazi regime was well connected to the church.

Regardless, none of it matters in context of the broader point.

You stated:     "All of those Marxist regimes were first and, formost athiest in their beginnings"
 
Which is simply a funadamental misunderstnding of what athiesm actually is. A-thiesm is not a philosophy. It simply dentones a lack of belief in 'God', period, end of sentence. The destructive nature of all superstition, including of course religion, is really beyond dispute. Anyone sincerely looking at the evidence would be overwhelmed by the over all harm religion has had, and sadly continues to have. But athiesm is not some sort of philisophical counter-point. It's simply the statement of non-belief.

In the year 2008 we shouldn't need a term like athiesm any more then we should need a term like a-astrologist, or a-unicornology. I don't need to state my non belief in astology or unicorns because most intelligent folks already acknowledge it's nonsense. Of course religion is just as non-sensical, factually speaking anyway, as the belief in unicorns is, yet due to rampant ignorance the term a-theist is still quite useful.

As such labeling yourself, or someone else an athiest really tells you nothing other then the fact that you or they don't believe in that particular superstition. At least as it relates to a "god". You wont know someones political ideology, philisophical beliefs, values, or anything other then the fact that they don't beleive in a god. And there is a very good reason for that, because that this is all a-theism actually means.

So to blame 'athiesm' as a root cause of anything is absurd. One could be a free market atheist, I certainly believe in a regulated free market. One could be socialist, fascist, humanist, communist, etc. Religion on the other hand is clearly at the root of an enormous amount of suffering. Does anyone really believe that those muslims would have flown those  planes into the buildings on 9/11 if they didn't have a superstitious belief in Allah, an afterlife, and it's promised sexual offerings of virgins? If so, I have some swamp land to sell you.

Finally you stated this in your first post:

"and, anyone else with a materialist viewpoint made the same mistakes."

Have you really sat down and thought about what you are saying there when you use the term "materialst mindset"? After all, what would the other option be? A sky god based mindset? A Thor and Odin based mindset? An imaginary spirit based mindset? You see, the only thing we can actually measure with any kind of evidence is of course "material" in one sense or another. Even at the quantum level we are talking about particles and energy. So of course any mindset that is evidence based, that is rational, would by its very nature be "material". So a better way of saying that, and by better I mean more accurate, would be a reality based mindset, ie: material. And a fantasy based mindset, ie: all religion/superstition.

Think that over and it should become obvious.

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11/30/08 12:32 AM
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Mr Mike from NC
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The whole point of this discussion was about your comments on Mr. Maher's movie. He claims that religion is dangerous. It may be with some, but not with others. It's just a smart alec jab. Harris, Hitchens are part of the clique and, the things I've read and, heard from them seem to be the same.

Some problems are caused by religious people and, some are caused by those that see themselves as rational and, scientific. The 20th Century was filled with the latter more than the former.
11/30/08 2:46 AM
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Matt Thornton
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Nah, I really don't think the world is suffering from too much rational thinking. That's silly. And as I stated before, the evidence that religion and superstition in general is destructive is overwhelming. Factually speaking that is.

But regarding the movie, I make a point of seeing movies I disagree with (such as the goofy expelled) before I comment on them. Not everyone takes the same approach obviously. But as someone who has actually seen the movie I can say its no a smart alec jab. Though it certainly is smart. It actually has a very important and solid point. Not everyone will agree with his point, but anyone who actually watches the movie will know he does have one.
11/30/08 12:35 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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Edited: 11/30/08 12:34 PM
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Some problems are caused by religious people and, some are caused by those that see themselves as rational and, scientific. The 20th Century was filled with the latter more than the former.


Well, the above listed examples have already been dismissed as non-rational thinkers... So who is left?
12/7/08 6:20 PM
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Mr Mike from NC
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The above examples, especially the Communists, all thought of themselves as rational, logical and, scientific as, did their supporters. You see them with the benefit of hindsite.

Perhaps someday, people will see you as irrational? All that means is a difference of opinion.
12/7/08 7:11 PM
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Matt Thornton
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I certainly do hope my grandkids see our culture as a whole as less then rational. After all, a large population of Americans still believe noah took two of every animal on the ark, that mankind is 6000 years old, and that snakes can talk. . .yep, no doubt thats silly. The fact that the above is silly is not a difference of opinion. Its just a fact.

I would also agree that my grandkids will likely know far more about the nature of reality then we do now. And they may indeed look back on the a lot of what we think about the universe, and it may seem silly in retrospect. However I also know this, that progress in understanding will come as a result of the scientifc process. Not from superstitious books written 1500 years ago by people who knew less about the true nature of the universe then the average third grader does now.

The historical reality is that you can directly blame religious belief (faith) for a whole host of destructive attrocities. You cannot blame a lack of belief (faith) for anything. Communism is, and certainly was under Stalin a dogma. A-theism is simply a lack of belief in an imaginary figure.

The argument used by people like Ben Stein about communism is simply grasping at straws. Anyone who gives it much serious thought will quickly realize that there is nothing to it.
12/13/08 10:49 PM
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Mr Mike from NC
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Edited: 12/13/08 10:58 PM
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Then don't let your atheism become a dogma! As some of the folks you've mentioned earlier seem to be starting. Don't believe in the historical inevitability of your movement (whatever that may be) like those Communists did, who killed tens of millions. They most definitly started out thinking they were on the side of rationality and, science.

In addition, most religious folks, the vast majority, have not commited atrocities and, religion has had a more benign effect on them.
12/14/08 1:36 AM
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Kai Tremeche
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In addition, most religious folks, the vast majority, have not commited atrocities and, religion has had a more benign effect on them.


[ Citation Needed ]
12/14/08 9:23 PM
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Matt Thornton
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I have no idea what you are really talking about Mr Mike, your not making sense. As I already explained, a lack of a belief in something is not a dogma or philosophy. I don't believe in the tooth fairy either (for the same reasons I don't believe in Apollo, Odin, Quezecoatal, or Jehovah), yet my non -belief in the tooth fairy does not constitute an "anti-tooth fairy" dogma. Simply the lack of belief in imaginary things.

In addition you stated: "As some of the folks you've mentioned earlier seem to be starting", again I have no idea what you are talking about here? Having read most all of the books from the authors I mentioned above, I am informed about the fact that none of them advocate a dogma. Instead they advocate the values of critical and rational thought. The values of doubt. So my best guess would be that like the movie this thread is about, you are trying to critique something you have not even seen. Or in this particular case, read. It's always better to see the movie, or read the book, before offering a firm opinion on it. Otherwise you end up being one of those people who posits silly arguments.

Regardless, Religulous (which is of course the subject of the thread) is great. I have seen it on several occasions now, with different groups of people. And everyone enjoyed it. I highly reccomend it. 
 

12/14/08 9:23 PM
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Mr Mike from NC
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Actually, I'm making lot's of sense, but apparently haven't explained it well enough, or misread, or read too much into some of your comments, which led to a misunderstanding on my part. I've lost interest in this debate, so good luck to you with your SBGI endeavors.

As for the citations request of Mr. Tremeche, well, look around you at reality, rather than what is in your mind. I do and, wouldn't be alive today if Christians were as atrocity driven as you seem to think.
12/14/08 9:41 PM
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Matt Thornton
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No worries, best to you as well Mr Mike.

And to be clear, I have no issue with Christians, anymore then I do Muslims, Scientoligists, Hindus, Mormons, etc. I have met kind people of all faiths, and of none. What I object to is superstition itself, not individual people. I don't think pretending to know answers to things that nobody truly knows answers to is healthy. I don't think labeling a young child a mormon (or any other such thing) makes anymore sense then labeling a child a conservative, or a liberal. And of course, I don't think we need religion in the year 2008 anymore then we need the belief in witches, or that Zues is the cause of lightening.

But none of that is an indictment against the potential kindness, or lack thereof of any person of any belief. There are many kind people who still hold to destructive, or at best false beliefs. The fact that they hold that belief doesn't by proxy mean that they won't be kind. And the fact that they are kind doesn't mean that the belief itself is not destructive. Some good common sense will tell you that.

Regardless, have a good holiday.
12/20/08 10:05 PM
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robc
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Interesting chat. Most non-religious folks I know haven't gotten to the point of calling themselves atheists as they aren't ready to definatively write off the idea that there is some sort of prime mover in the universe.

Matt, as a self identified atheist, do you look around and confidently think that all of this -- the earth and everything beyond it -- the entire universe and all that is in it -- started by chance, or do you make room for the idea that we do not really know how all this started, nor what or who may have existed before it, outside of it, or next to it? If the answer is the latter, does that in any way challenge the definition of atheism?

If there is some room for the idea of a prime mover, does it deserve our awe and wonder?
12/21/08 4:50 PM
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Matt Thornton
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"Matt, as a self identified atheist, do you look around and confidently think that all of this -- the earth and everything beyond it -- the entire universe and all that is in it -- started by chance, or do you make room for the idea that we do not really know how all this started."

I don't know of any rational thinker or legitimate scientist who claims to "know" how the Universe, or life as we know it on earth, first occured. What they do have is various theories and hypothesis. From what I read (and to be clear I am just a curious layman), they are getting closer all the time to answers. But real knowledge (aka: science) doesn't pretend to know things, it speculates and tests. Which is of course what seperates it from superstition/religion.

"If the answer is the latter, does that in any way challenge the definition of atheism?"

There is no challenge to atheism there. Because we don't know something yet, or because science hasn't reached a great consensus on a topic related to the universe yet, does not therefore mean we should then fallback and say that must mean Apollo, or Zues, or Jesus, or any other make believe god did it. That is the silly god of the gaps argument. When our anscestors didn't understand where rain came from they assumed it must be related to god. It's sad people still do this simply because the breadth of our questions has grown.

"If there is some room for the idea of a prime mover, does it deserve our awe and wonder?"

A couple of things to consider here. First of all a "prime mover", or a god, or an intelligence, is never a real answer to a question like 'where do we come from'. It is in reality a failure to answer the question. But only always. It is very similiar to people who say that aliens planted the seeds of life on earth. Though that may or may not be so (to be clear I don't believe there is evidence for that, but lets play along), it still begs the question, where did those aliens come from? To answer the question of where did intelligent life come from, by positing a greater form of intelligent life, be it aliens, god, or a prime mover, is simply to create a bigger problem. After all, where did that come from? So until such time as evidence for some 'prime mover' shows up, and to date I have yet to see any, its simply a failure to even attempt to answer the question.

And regards awe, I find the reality of what scientists tell us about our universe, which includes everything from black holes, to the real possibility of parallel universes and dimensions, to be Infinitely more awe inspiring then any creation myth I have ever read. Be that the one contained in genesis, or the idea that our planet rests on the back of a giant turtle. And to be clear, I suck at math and wont pretend that I can really even properly comprehend just how amazing our actual universe is. But I do know that the reality of it is much cooler then the made up fiction of religious belief.

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12/22/08 1:55 AM
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robc
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Your last point first: I share your awe of science and all it shows us as we peel back layer after layer. I don't see a conflict in admiring science's ability to tell the "how" of things and philosophy or religion's search to answer the "why".

Regarding a prime mover vs. an answer not yet found by science, I think each takes a leap of faith. You choose to speculate that science will someday find an answer to the start of all things and that that answer will not involve a prime mover in any way, shape or form. You eliminate any possibility of a prime mover out of hand. It would seem that a consistent answer should instead be "I do not know, and I cannot eliminate the possibility of a force beyond my comprehension. Though I think such a thing is improbable, still I cannot eliminate the possibility." Right?

To say belief in a prime mover begs a greater question of who created the creator. It is a not starter. I you believe in the possibility of a prime mover, accepting the idea that you cannot define its scope or origin is small potatoes. And the argument is a diversion from your own leap of faith in the impossibility of such a prime mover. Because I choose to speculate that something may have initiated all of this, and that its substance is beyond my comprehension, seems no more speculative than your belief that that cannot possibly be possible.

I don't find such speculation sad or silly, just open. And I don't see the openness as ignorance, just a humble acknowledgement of the possibility. I don't see it negating anything that science answers nor do I see it trivializing what science seeks. To the contrary, I find great inspiration in both, and pride in man's capacity and perseverance.

What I find somewhat puzzling is the definitive answer offered by atheists to the ultimate question. Again, it would seem more intellectually honest to say that without absolute evidence we cannot eliminate the idea of a prime mover.

I can comfortably say that you may be right, but that I choose to believe in the possibility that you are not. That is my leap of faith.

If you cannot comfortably say the same about my view, it would seem your position is the blind leap of faith.

Now, with all that said, I enjoy your thoughtful posts, and always look forward to these sorts of threads.

I don't believe dinosaurs roamed the earth playing with little baby humans, nor that the earth is 6000 years old, nor that a snake talked to our singularly perfect ancestors. Theology, mythology, whatever. I believe that the way you live your life is infinitely more consequential than the philosophy by which you live it.

But I do believe in the possibility, and for me that informs the way I live life.

Cheers,

Rob
12/22/08 5:41 AM
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Matt Thornton
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"You choose to speculate that science will someday find an answer to the start of all things and that that answer will not involve a prime mover in any way, shape or form"  . . . . . . . "Again, it would seem more intellectually honest to say that without absolute evidence we cannot eliminate the idea of a prime mover. . "

What I stated was that to date I have seen absolutley no evidence to suggest a 'prime mover', a god, or anything of that sort. Let me try and be very clear here. I don't really know of any atheists who do absolutely rule out the possibility of some sort of god absolutley, or as you prefer to say 'prime mover'. Even Richard Dawkins prefers to use a scale when speaking about this. As an example, 10 being absolute certainty that no god exists, and 1 being that one does. Most athiests I am aware of would rate themselves a 9, Dawkins included. Just because there is as of now no evidence or logic behind the idea of something, does not of course mean we can absolutley rule it out completely. This is the same for the tooth fairy, and santa claus. I cannot absolutley rule out the possibility that a tooth fairy exists. In the sense that the evidence absolutley proving the non existence of the tooth fairy is not absolute. Yes that is very true. However, I would not call myself a 'tooth fairy agnostic', for the same reason that I do not refer to myself as a Quezecoatal -agnostic, or a Thor agnostic, or a Jesus agnostic. Bertrand Rusell's tea pot analogy answered this question for me sometime ago. I understand that others with similiar views may still prefer the term 'agnostic', but for reasons of clarity as it refers to the common use of language I myself find atheist much more accurate.

". . .Again, it would seem more intellectually honest to say that without absolute evidence we cannot eliminate the idea of a prime mover."

See above, this argument can also be said for santa claus, or the tooth fairy. And I am a tooth fairy atheist in the same sense that I am a Allah or Jesus atheist. But you are quite right in that I cannot rule out the possibility absolutley that the tooth fairy is real. As you stated above. . "Though I think such a thing is improbable, still I cannot eliminate the possibility."   That stated, I don't consider non belief in the tooth fairy to be a question of faith, anymore then I consider the belief that if I throw an object in the air gravity will cause it to fall back down to be a question of faith. And I certainly wouldn't ever equate it to the sort of faith people who believe in a personal god claim to hold. Those are two very different things, factually speaking.

And as I stated previously, the attempt to answer a question like "where did life come from" with something like God, an intelligence, aliens, or a "prime mover", is not actually an answer. It is in truth, the failure to even seek an answer. When you attempt to answer the question, 'where did intelligent life come from', by positing an even greater form of intelligent life, you only compound the problem. Surely you can see that?

And if you add to it that this intelligence is 'a force beyond my comprehension', all you do is relegate the question itself to a position beyond science. A position beyond testing, argument, or the tools of rational inquiry. This is what mankind has always done with questions they felt no answer was available for at the time. The majority handed it over to the clerics and witchdoctors, and instead of true knowledge mankind got superstition aka: religion.

What if Darwin had said simply "God made it, and God is a force beyond our comprehension". That was after all the common paradigm at the time. Where then would modern biology be? God, the force, aliens, the flying speggetti monster, Jesus, Krishna, the prime mover, whatever name you want to insert, is not an answer to the queston of life, it is simply a failure to seek further human understanding of our universe.
 
In that sense Monty Python was quite correct, science class would consist of a short one line sentence to all of life's great puzzles. . ."god (the prime mover) did it".

If evidence where to arise that pointed to some form of great intelligence which designed the universe, I'd love to see it and be very interested in it, to say the least. But in the absence of such evidence I see no more reason to posit a belief in some sort of personal creator diety, especially one with a cultural name such as Odin, Alah, Jesus, or Thor, then I do to posit the belief in the tooth fairy. And I certainly see the destructive nature of such beliefs systems posing a great threat to the future survival of our species. Each believing it holds the answers from the one 'true' prime mover, and each holding an equal amount of evidence for that said belief. Which is to say, none.
 

12/22/08 11:11 AM
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robc
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Thanks for clarifying your position. It is perfectly reasonable and defensable.
12/28/08 8:05 PM
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TSMontana
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Just saw the film. I don't know if God exists, but the film makes a strong argument for organized religion being more of a harmful than helpful influence in modern times.
12/28/08 9:04 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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Edited: 12/28/08 9:05 PM
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Matt Thornton -  But you are quite right in that I cannot rule out the possibility absolutley that the tooth fairy is real. As you stated above. . "Though I think such a thing is improbable, still I cannot eliminate the possibility."  


The problem is, that in the matter of debate and logic, the argument 'It's true because you can't prove that it ISN'T true' is an ignorance fallacy.

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

It's not a defensible position, as you stated.

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