Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Another quick update

Mar 3rd, 2012 3:48 pm | By

I have 8 minutes on this computer and anyway it’s time for the banquet…

But it was a fun day. Outreach talk this morning – Jessica rocked the house.  A talk-lunch, lunch, at which I talked to Dave Silverman, and Ellenbeth - she and I share an online stalker. Seriously. Russell Blackford on secularism. Pat Schroeder!!! this afternoon. She too rocked the house.

Gotta go.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

News from Orlando

Mar 3rd, 2012 4:44 am | By

So I saw Dennett arriving and then I went on into the bar area and plugged in my notebook and posted that I’d just seen Dennett. That took fifteen minutes or so – it’s not my notebook after all, it’s the horrible connection, everyone says it’s horrible. Well that plus reading up on the latest exploits of the Harvard Humanists took about 15 minutes. Then I packed up and was about to go wander around a little to see if PZ had arrived when PZ turned up in front of me, having just arrived. We went over to the bar and joined Tom Flynn and Dennett and Liz Cornwell and Debbie Goddard to schmooze.

Lots of good talks yesterday. Ellenbeth Wachs on nightmare stuff in Polk County and the way they tried to shut her up. Dave Silverman on the importance of not losing law suits. Rita Swan on getting rid of religious exemptions to laws mandating medical care for children. Lionel Tiger on women ruining everything. Stephen Law on the evil god. Harry Kroto on lots of things – education, science, Murdoch – he’s terrific.

More later.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Mar 2nd, 2012 7:14 pm | By

I was just walking through the lobby and there was Daniel Dennett arriving. No one else around, just Dennett.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Mar 2nd, 2012 4:24 am | By

Reception thingy last night. I met Melody Hensley and Simon Davis, and Lauren Becker, and Ron Lindsay, and Jessica Ahlquist, and Russell Blackford and Jenny Blackford, and Stephen Law, and then after we’d been turfed out of the ballroom or whatever it is, Paul Fidalgo arrived after a delayed flight. All fun. Also Tom Flynn and Debbie Goddard, but I didn’t meet them, because I already had.

It’s slow work, typing on a tiny keyboard – I keep making typos because the keys are in unfamiliar places.

I will continue to be quite brief and boring for a few days. But I promise I’m being fascinating in real life!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Mar 1st, 2012 3:21 pm | By

So this little notebook laptop I got for emergencies and travel turns out to be deathly afraid of the internet; it either freezes in panic or faints dead away whenever I ask it to do anything. Therefore I have to proceed with caution, so posting will be mostly link-free for a few days.

I see where Rush Limbaugh called a college student who testified to Congress about the need for insurance to cover contraception a “slut” and a “prostitute.” I think it’s bad that he did that.

I don’t think much of Hemant Mehta’s post yesterday on how Chris Stedman is just misunderstood, but Rieux (in comments there) and Crommunist (on a post at his place) have said good things about that.

The sun will soon be setting here in Florida.

Orlando is very flat. The view from here is of flatness all around with a few tallish buildings visible on the edge of the frame, spaced widely apart (like, two due north, one northwest, none due west, etc – it looks quite random). It’s interesting. I’m not accustomed to flat. Where I live is very lumpy.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Window seat geekery

Mar 1st, 2012 9:00 am | By

Ok that’s a little better. The bar emptied out some so I have an armchair pulled up to a table, and there’s less noise of chatter.

The trip itself was interesting, I must say. I’ve never flown Seattle to Houston before, and it’s all mountains for a long long time. Very cool.

Also very puzzling in spots – weirdly geometrical in appearance in what appears to be mountainous wilderness – straight lines where straight lines make no sense. They don’t seem to be roads, because of the wilderness thing.

One item in particular has me absolutely stumped, and kind of fascinated – a set of rectangles abutting each other, like squares on a quilt. About six. Like farms, in farm country, but not in farm country and WAY too big to be farms – and above all, what separated them from each other was snow/no snow. Now I ask you – even if they were huge ranches of a rectangular form – how could one ranch be bare of snow while adjacent ones are not?!

Very weird. I’ll probably never know what they are.

Then in Texas (I think) – lots and lots of circles. Anybody know what those are? They look agricultural, but the sizes vary a lot, and anyway why circles? They’re certainly not in wilderness though, so they’re not mystifying the way the quilt is.

I saw some fantastic meanders (in rivers, you know) – twist twist twist – like a hairpin road. Also some thrillingly BIG rivers.

I’m a huge window geek.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Location location

Mar 1st, 2012 7:01 am | By

Now I’m at a different airport, the one in Orlando. Unfortunately my room is on the wrong side to get the airport Wifi, so I’m sitting in an armchair in the lobby when I would much prefer to be sitting at the desk in my room. Ho hum.

Anyway I’m here. I’ve seen Tom Flynn and said hello, and he says Stephen Law is around somewhere, and that’s all I know so far.

I want to join in the quarrel with Hemant Mehta, but I have to catch up with it first.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

This is the place where I am at the moment

Feb 29th, 2012 10:16 am | By

So here I am at the airport. I got nothin to say except that I’m at the airport.

I’m at SeaTac’s fancy sitting-area place, which faces a giant window – from the table where I am it’s acres of grey sky with a little scrim of airplanes and runways at the bottom. Quite nice.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The disease of education

Feb 29th, 2012 7:08 am | By

Lawrence Krauss says a necessary thing. He starts from a campaign argle-bargle by Rick Santorum saying that higher education is bad because it kills faith.

Mr. Santorum views this apparent facet of higher education as a danger, and his proposed solution is simple-less higher education and more faith.

As a faculty member at an institution of higher education, and as a scientist, however, I question the basic premise that loss of faith is a bad thing. If it is true that those who are more educated have a greater tendency to question their religious faith, shouldn’t we consider that this might be telling us more about religious faith than about how harmful getting a college degree can be?

Yes, we should. (more…)

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 29th, 2012 6:19 am | By

I’m off to Orlando in a couple of hours, to help with (or get in the way of, as the case may be) Moving Secularism Forward. I may do a pointless post from the airport, saying I am now at the airport.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More from Opinionista

Feb 28th, 2012 11:32 am | By

Opinionista has a fantastic post, reminiscent of Greta Christina’s reasons atheists are angry: “Over It” – The rant of an angry, Agnostic, British, Indo-Pakistani woman of Muslim heritage.

I am over the complete ignorance by Muslims and non Muslims (particularly UK politicians and media) alike of the fact that “Muslim communities” contain non religious, spiritual people like me, as well as Atheist people and Agnostic people.

I am over UK politicians thinking that they will find out what I want by speaking to only bearded self appointed “community leaders”, headscarf donning women (defined only by their modesty or “Muslimness”) or the Sayeeda Warsis of the world who are homophobic, misogynistic and anti-equality. I am not defined by the faith I was born into, nor am I represented by demagogues who wish to win support for their incompetent party leader.

I am over being told that my views are Islamophobic, particularly when I come from a Muslim family, have  a Muslim name and am profiled at the airport every time I fly because of it, regardless of the fact that I’m Agnostic.

I am over being told that my views are offensive. I’m offended by my community’s homophobia, misogyny and racism. This doesn’t mean that I have the right to start burning effigies or chanting “death to ______” or blowing stuff up. Yet people like ME are the ones being called “militant” secularists. When’s the last time a secularist blew stuff up? Secularists do not stunt critique by bursting into Mosques and telling DIY Imams to “be quiet because you’re offending me”. Even if we desperately wish that they would stop spewing their hate.

Read the whole thing!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

We mandate no belief

Feb 28th, 2012 11:19 am | By

Behold – what Ronald Reagan was able to say in 1984.

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson [of the Holocaust], for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

He also says we’re all of God and the like, slightly undercutting himself, but all the same – good luck finding a Republican talking like that now.

H/t Roger.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

What is belief

Feb 28th, 2012 7:19 am | By

A stack of interesting comments on the thread about getting it; about whether or not it took; about the feeling of belief. It’s interesting that they all converge, those by people like me who as far as they can tell never got it, and those by people who did get it at some point but then dropped it or flung it away. They all converge on how elusive and rare it is. Of course this isn’t a random sample, to put it mildly, and people who currently get it would produce very different comments. But the idea that this thing is elusive is interesting all the same.

It’s caused me to think that we mostly (we current non-believers) don’t really “believe” things much at all, not in the active, feeling sense that “getting it” is about. That’s not what we do with…what to call it: the furniture in our heads. Data; information; items received.

We can divide that into two big categories: things that other people know, that we learn on their authority, and things that we know from our own investigation. Items in the first category we don’t really actively “believe”; we accept them, depending on how reliable their sources are, while knowing that we don’t actually know them ourselves. Items in the second category we don’t really “believe” either; we know them, because we know how we got there.

In reality the two categories are a continuum; the more we know for ourselves the more the first evolves into the second. But neither really seems to involve any kind of feeling “belief”; it’s rather a question of more or less understanding. Once you know, belief becomes unnecessary, and before you know, belief is excessive. Belief is caught between the two, and disappears.

An example I thought of, a rather trivial one, is the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry. I don’t “believe” anyone else wrote his stuff, but that’s because I know some things, quite a number of small things. I know it’s not remarkable that there’s no record of his attendance at the Stratford grammar school (but I also know that there is no such record, so I know not to use his attendance as evidence that he wrote the plays and poetry, because in fact it’s the other way around – the plays and poetry are why it’s likely that he attended the school). I know there are written references to him dating from the early 1590s that name him as author of some of the plays, in particular one by a jealous angry university man who considered him a vulgar upstart. I know Ben Jonson said many things about him and that some were preserved by him or by other people, and that they are ambivalent; waspish and critical at one moment and awe-struck at another. I know his colleagues said things about him. I know a patchwork of little things like that, that make it silly to think that he didn’t write his stuff. So in a sense, yes, I don’t “believe” the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays, but “believe” isn’t really the right word.

This is a matter of cultural capital though, isn’t it. It’s bound to be. I’ve had opportunities to be schooled out of “belief” – or I was never schooled into “belief” in the first place, or both. That’s not true for everyone. I find this thought unnerving. Not surprising, but unnerving.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

You can’t win

Feb 27th, 2012 5:29 pm | By

Richard Dawkins has a very amusing piece about the journalistic take on his discussion with the archishop the other day. One stupid cliché after another, most of them derogatory. Dawkins is a charismatic preacher haw haw; bust-up; ardent atheist – and so on. There was no bust-up, so the audience was in despair – in the imagination of one of the reporters. Dawkins “confessed” to being an agnostic shock-horror; never mind that he said that in the book that triggered all these stupid witticisms.

It’s hard to resist a feeling of “You can’t win”. On the one hand we ‘horsemen’ and ‘new atheists’ are attacked, often aggressively and stridently, for being aggressive and strident. On the other hand, when journalists or religious apologists actually meet us and we turn out to be courteous and civilised, they accuse us of climbing down, “admitting” or “confessing” that we have changed, when actually we are behaving exactly as we always have. They seem to feel let down when they discover that the real people aren’t anything like the way they so relentlessly portray us; as if, since they’ve gone to the trouble of inventing extravagant caricatures of us, we should at least have the decency to live up to them in real life.

Quite. And what is the outrage that prompts all this caricaturing? Atheism. Not child-rape; not human trafficking; not “honour” killing; not selling tainted drugs; not skimping on equipment maintenance such that the Gulf of Mexico turns into an oil dump. Atheism. Not believing in a magic fella in the sky.

Natalie has a post on the same subject (but suggested by a different instantiation of it).

We were chatting in our top secret and amazingly awesome backchannel, full of such incredible wit and delightful banter that you shall never ever know, about how some folks over at an intelligent design website called Uncommon Descent decided to do a bit of a breakdown of the whole Loftus thing, propping it up (in act of unconcealed schadenfreude) as indicative of some kind of big rift or infighting amongst atheists.

Which is a bit tedious and uninformed in that it hasn’t exactly been much of a conflict or controversy at all. No battle lines actually got drawn, nobody was attacking anybody (except in Loftus’ imagination), and there was no grand battle.

Quite. I made a related point the other day when I posted about snide comments on Twitter about this supposed Big Rift. People were drawing big conclusions on the basis of pretty much nothing.

Greta Christina made a really interesting point, though, that got my brain pieces to start doing brain stuff. She pointed out how whenever there’s a disagreement within our community, no matter how minor, people will exploit it to make up stories about “rifts” and “infighting” and “drama”, how we’re a bunch of angry little kids who endlessly squabble amongst ourselves. And then when we do agree with one another, suddenly we’re a “hive mind”, an “echo chamber”, “preaching to the choir”, a “circle jerk”, “silencing dissent”. We’re mocked and attacked for disagreeing with each other, and mocked and attacked for agreeing with one another. A catch-22, no-win, damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.

Sometimes in the space of one tweet.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It never took

Feb 27th, 2012 11:00 am | By

Several of you replied to Julian’s claims about atheists’ deafness to religion by pointing out that most atheists were raised theist by theists so we’re not deaf at all, we’re familiar with the music. It’s a good point, but at the same time – I’m not sure it’s always true. I’m not sure that being raised theist is enough to make one not deaf to religion.

I was nominally raised as a theist, sort of, but it never took. I think I probably am deaf to religion in the sense that Julian had in mind - I think that’s what “it never took” means. I should add that I’m glad to be that kind of deaf, but still – I think Julian is probably right that people like me don’t “get” whatever it is that real believers do get.

I never really believed any of it. I can’t remember the faintest trace of feelings of love for or trust in “God.” Nothing. All sorts of tv cowboys and characters in novels were far more real to me than “God” ever was. This means that I don’t know what it’s like to really believe it. I probably can’t even properly imagine it, because the awareness that I don’t believe it gets in the way, like a filter.

If I’m right about that, though, it could be argued that what Julian is really talking about is credulity. I know, his point was that there’s more to religion than what-is-believed and that it’s the “more” that we’re deaf to – but I don’t think that works. I think if you don’t have the requisite credulity about god then the “more” doesn’t hook you in that way – that intense, felt way whose opposite is deafness.

That looks as if I’m paying myself a compliment for not having credulity, but I’m not, really. It may have been sheer shallowness that saved me. I just preferred the tv cowboys. I’m serious about that: my childhood was made up of pretending to be either tv heroes or characters from for instance The Secret Garden; fantasy all the way.

I did at least know it was fantasy though.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The majority has spoken

Feb 27th, 2012 8:44 am | By

A historian named Timothy Messer-Kruse has been doing research on the Haymarket riot and trial of 1886 for the past ten years. He was prompted by a student question about the orthodox version of the trial, which was that the prosecution did not offer evidence connecting any of the defendants with the bombing.

 One of my students raised her hand: “If the trial went on for six weeks and no evidence was presented, what did they talk about all those days?” I’ve been working to answer her question ever since.

I have not resolved all the mysteries that surround the bombing, but I have dug deeply enough to be sure that the claim that the trial was bereft of evidence is flatly wrong. One hundred and eighteen witnesses were called to testify, many of them unindicted co-conspirators who detailed secret meetings where plans to attack police stations were mapped out, coded messages were placed in radical newspapers, and bombs were assembled in one of the defendants’ rooms.

So “no evidence” turns out to mean the testimony of 118 witnesses. I’m reminded of theists like Nick Peters who claim that Dawkins simply makes assertions about theism, without defending them, when in fact there’s a whole thick book that defends them.

One day Messer-Kruse read the Wikipedia entry on Haymarket and found it repeating the orthodox version, so he made a correction.

I removed the line about there being “no evidence” and provided a full explanation in Wikipedia’s behind-the-scenes editing log. Within minutes my changes were reversed. The explanation: “You must provide reliable sources for your assertions to make changes along these lines to the article.”

That was curious, as I had cited the documents that proved my point, including verbatim testimony from the trial published online by the Library of Congress. I also noted one of my own peer-reviewed articles. One of the people who had assumed the role of keeper of this bit of history for Wikipedia quoted the Web site’s “undue weight” policy, which states that “articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views.” He then scolded me. “You should not delete information supported by the majority of sources to replace it with a minority view.”

There is something fascinating about that. I do get the reason – there are always going to be more cranks and monomaniacs wanting to publish their “original research” than there are genuine historians and people who know how to do original research, so Wikipedia errs on the side of caution - but it does mean that mistaken conventional wisdom trumps accurate new research.

The “undue weight” policy posed a problem. Scholars have been publishing the same ideas about the Haymarket case for more than a century. The last published bibliography of titles on the subject has 1,530 entries.

“Explain to me, then, how a ‘minority’ source with facts on its side would ever appear against a wrong ‘majority’ one?” I asked the Wiki-gatekeeper. He responded, “You’re more than welcome to discuss reliable sources here, that’s what the talk page is for. However, you might want to have a quick look at Wikipedia’s civility policy.”

I tried to edit the page again. Within 10 seconds I was informed that my citations to the primary documents were insufficient, as Wikipedia requires its contributors to rely on secondary sources, or, as my critic informed me, “published books.” Another editor cheerfully tutored me in what this means: “Wikipedia is not ‘truth,’ Wikipedia is ‘verifiability’ of reliable sources. Hence, if most secondary sources which are taken as reliable happen to repeat a flawed account or description of something, Wikipedia will echo that.”

Again, you can understand the reasoning – not everyone knows how to use primary sources, and academic secondary sources have been peer-reviewed. The result however is that what you get at Wikipedia is the existing conventional wisdom, and not the new research that corrects or expands it. We knew that, but the example is interesting.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Oh they’re all like that

Feb 26th, 2012 5:44 pm | By

Mark Jones has an excellent post on Julian’s tone piece.

A snippet:

As often when it comes to this sort of accusation, no evidence is linked to support Baggini’s position. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the occasional atheist might make a tone-deaf pronouncement. I object that atheists are characterised as a group with this clumsy stereotype, and I object that the four horsemen, and gnus, are too.)

Yep. Atheists are this, the new atheists are that, the online atheists are the other. And as for the new online atheist bloggers – ! No stereotype can be too stale or too general or too wild for them. They must be destroyed.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Will he never arrive?

Feb 26th, 2012 10:40 am | By

Via Ericmore of Julian’s interminable Heathen’s Progress. This one is about tone: not just the tone that “new atheists” use but the allegation that they (we) are tone deaf to religion. Religion is comparable to poetry and pop music. Some people don’t “get” poetry, or pop music, or both. They can’t say anything interesting about either one, because they don’t get them. They’re tone deaf to them. It’s the same with religion.

Right, except that it isn’t. Poetry doesn’t tell everyone what to do. Poetry doesn’t have a billion or more “members” or “believers” or other kinds of belongers. Poetry doesn’t have dogma. Poetry doesn’t have a single “sacred” book that many believers take as god-inspired or god-made, and authoritative, and not-to-be-disobeyed. Poetry doesn’t treat rules invented by a few pastoral men 3 thousand years ago as binding on all of humanity still and forever.

I could go on. I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s all very well, all this “yes but you’re missing the music” line of chat, but religion makes claims on us, huge claims, and that makes mollifying talk about its music 1) beside the point and 2) a dangerous side-track.

But anyway it’s bullshit. It’s like saying that religion is like everything good that humans do - art and sport and wonder and imagination – and that therefore atheists should just stop being atheist in public or else art and sport and wonder and imagination will disappear!!1!

…to say that an abrasive tone is not constructive is to say more than something about a person’s manner of speech. It’s not constructive because it is rooted in a one-dimensional understanding of the phenomenon under discussion. Atheistic tone-deafness misses many of the things I’ve talked about in this series, such as placing mystery at the heart of life, and living with the aid of beneficial rituals and practices. The abrasiveness is not some kind of independent, wilful rudeness that could be smoothed over while keeping the message intact. We talk about people who are rude as being ignorant and more often than not, when someone comes over as too hostile to religion, ignorance is at the root of it, not simply an absence of good manners.

What’s at the root of it when someone comes across as too friendly to religion? What’s at the root of Julian’s tortured back-and-forth yes-but friendliness to religion? I don’t know; I leave it to your artful speculation.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

What price the golden rule eh?

Feb 26th, 2012 9:16 am | By

Another truculent Christian who plans to go to the Reason Rally in order to interfere with other people’s event.

Richard Dawkins will be one of the  main speakers, which tells us about all we need to know. Richard Dawkins of course is the leading horseman of the new atheism with his book “The God Delusion.” This book has practically become a Bible for most online atheists today with a new fundamentalism that says “Richard says it! I believe it! That settles it!” Dawkins has spoken. The case is closed.

Never mind that Dawkins has ran with his tail between his legs from William Lane Craig and most recently has done so from a clergyman who interviewed him. In reality, most of us who are in the field of Christian apologetics would love a chance to debate the horseman.

Yes of course they would! It would be great for them. For Dawkins, not so much; he’s a busy fella with a lot to do, so he chooses how he spends his time. For him it makes a good deal more sense to debate the archbishop of Canterbury than it does to debate Craig. That’s not “running” (much less with tail between legs), it’s allocating time wisely.

Dawkins proclaims himself as a champion of science and reason, as if not believing in God automatically means you are a person of reason. Obviously anyone who is a Christian or a believer in any sort of deity has sold themselves out to delusion and abandoned reason. This assertion is not defended. It is just asserted.

That’s just a falsehood. Of course the assertion is defended; it’s defended in a book and many articles, talks, debates, and the like. Nick Peters could say it’s not well defended, if he chose, but it’s just mendacious to say it’s not defended period.

Let us keep in mind the saying of Chesterton. “There are two kinds of people in the world, the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.” Chesterton would see the Reason Rally as an example. While the new atheist crowd wishes to speak against dogma, they simply take one dogma and replace it with another.

Dogma is one of those terms not really understood. In reality, we all have some dogmas. We all hold some beliefs in high honor that we wish others to hold. The difference between myself and the new atheists is that I know I am dogmatic. The new atheists do not know it and in turn end up pushing their dogma the most.

Ah no, that’s not right at all. Dogma is not a belief we hold in high honor and want others to hold. No no no. It’s a truth claim from authority that must not be questioned. Makes a difference, doesn’t it.

Why not try to make a presence at Reason Rally, as I hope to do…I will be doing what I can to be there and I’d love to see you there. Let’s be there to argue not against reasoning, which we should all love, but to argue against bad reasoning. Let us replace the reason of Dawkins with what Ratio Christi is named for, the Reason of Christ.

It’s just as he admitted (apparently without realizing he’d admitted anything) – “most of us who are in the field of Christian apologetics would love a chance to debate the horseman.” They’re all excited about the treat, and not the least bit concerned about intruding on people who don’t want to be intruded on. Do unto others chiz chiz.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More “confronting with love”

Feb 25th, 2012 11:40 am | By

From “the Thinking Christian” (they do love to pretend it’s all perfectly reasonable, don’t they).

In the meantime I’ve joined up with a handful of Christian thinkers and leaders planning to bring Christians to the Reason Rally for the purpose of sharing quiet conversations with Reason Rally attendees, offering bottles of water to the thirsty, and letting them know of a new book that will take an extended look at atheism, Christianity, and reason.

I’ve joined up with some Christians for the purpose of harassing Reason Rally attendees because we think that what we think gets to trump what they think.

It’s fascinating to me how the New Atheists have chosen reason as their main brand image. It’s clear that they have…

Over the next several weeks we’ll have opportunity to look at how well that fits the New Atheist reality, and whether they have chosen wisely in taking that name up as their brand. I have my doubts about it.

Uh huh. Tell them that at the rally. Tell them what Jesus thinks about it.

Please notice that we are not planning this as a counter-demonstration, but rather as a quiet presence. We don’t think there will be any need to raise our voices, and we have no desire to disrupt their program or proceedings. We want to share a few things with those who want to talk, and we won’t press ourselves upon anyone else.

Have it both ways why don’t you. Eat your cake and have it why don’t you. You’re going there to set people straight, but you plan to be a “quiet presence.” Quiet? Talking in a lowered voice is being a quiet presence? Bullshit. You’re going there to intrude and impose, so don’t pretend you’re not.

From “Apologetics Guy”:

I just learned that some of my brothers and sisters from around the world—people who believe that Christianity is a reasonable worldview—also plan to gather in D.C. on March 24 to “demonstrate a humble, loving and thoughtful response to the Reason Rally.” They’re mobilizing people via a Web site called

It’s so odd that they just can’t see it – that it can’t be considered humble and loving to intrude on someone else’s rally that way…

Well no come to think of it it’s not odd. That’s the wrong word. What it is is deceitful – of themselves most of all, probably. It’s a sop to cognitive dissonance. They probably half-realize that it’s an aggressive intrusive thing to do – so they squelch that realization by summoning all the adjectives they can think of that re-describe it as the opposite of aggressive and intrusive.

More later.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)