BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

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"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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Monday, April 02, 2007

TEN WARNING SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT BE IN A CULT

  1. The group claims to have received special instructions from one or more "messengers from the sky."
  2. The group uses a special set of rules that you must obey or be cast out.
  3. The group promises eternal life in a paradise if you obey its set of rules, and threatens eternal suffering if you do not obey its set of rules.
  4. The group demands that you give up as much of your assests and your yearly income to it as possible.
  5. The members of the group call each other "brother" and "sister," even when they aren't related at all.
  6. The group is led by a group of enlightened masters who wear strange clothes and speak in esoteric parables.
  7. The group demands that you accept its teachings without reservation, even when those teachings are in direct conflict with your understanding of basic scientific knowledge.
  8. The group demands that you select your spouse and your closest friends from its membership.
  9. The group demands that you place your children in its training program.
  10. The group teaches that giving up your life for the sake of the spiritual group may become necessary sometime in the future.

"One man's cult is another man's religion and one man's religion is another man's cult." - Me



Mind Control Cults


Link

79 Comments:

Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

beepbeep, sorry for my hyper response mode. i just really like the intelligence on this sight. i'm also avoiding my work and do this by going to many blogs and commenting. for some belly laughs, i recommend betty bowers blog. her wit is so relentless, it's exhausting. this post reminded me of her blog.

http://www.bettybowers.com/

2/4/07 12:09 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Re confused:

Any excuse for a break from work, would seem like a good one to me.

2/4/07 1:37 pm  
Anonymous mel said...

beep, this is sooooo disturbing. My experience in a cult informed me that a cult member rarely ever sees themselves as part of a cult no matter how many of the above indicators agree.

Your quote nails the fact that culthood is blind.

I'd add that there's a common misconception that cults are easily recognizable as strange and creepy ... but there are some very mainstream religions with a great deal of respectability which nevertheless have all the indicators of being cults. These are the ones that scare me the most.

2/4/07 1:48 pm  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

mel, you're right. My government suffers from what's on the cult list. Those mainstream cults you mention have been running the States for 6 years. It's been beyond weird here. I've never seen anything like this in the U.S. Our President's staff has recruited bereaucrats and attorneys from a few right, wing christian schools, scary schools that demand an inerrant christian approach to the bible and apply those teachings in our world. We have hundreds of these types filling our state department, our legal department and so on. The present spokeswoman for our president went to a very, very conservative, evangelical christian college and then to Regent's law school. Regent's was set up by Pat Robertson, who claimed the 9/11 was God's attack on us for permitting homosexual life in our midst. Even some republicans have started realizing the need for 'get out of the cult' triage. But for years, they didn't get it. Discussion virtually stopped in this country.

2/4/07 2:40 pm  
Blogger Daniel said...

I always wanted to be cultured. Which cult should I join?

Is George a member of a cult? I don't want to join that one, Olmert's cult either!

Religions are all cults but Buddhism is not a religion, it's really a philosophy, a way of looking at life, accepting that what is is.

P.S. Cultured pearls involve deception. Does that apply to all cults?

P.P.S. Cultivation involves ploughing and furrows. Isn't this naughty?

2/4/07 5:55 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

I have to admit, that does sound a lot like a church I used to belong to...

2/4/07 7:10 pm  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

Daniel, I disagree with you about Buddhism. But I don't define religion in terms of faith. In the west we tend to define religion as a mental acitivity, i.e. it's about belief or knowledge. But religious studies scholars tend to define it in terms of ritual and the sacred and the profane (ordinary.) From a ritualistic perspective that involves sacred spaces, Buddhism is a religion. Most traditions do not have a seperation between religion and philosophy, it's generally just those of of us in the Abrhamic world that have such a seperation.

2/4/07 10:02 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Eastern philosophies, according to my understanding, do not draw the same distinctions between that which is philosophy and that which is religion. Therefore it is difficult from a western tradition to be able to accurately assess that which is philosophy and that which is religion.

Westerners tend to view the eastern traditions through a western lens, so I would accept an eastern interpretation of buddhism, taoism and confucianism over a western interpretation of them.

In the western tradition, there is a tendency to separate these disciplines into discrete categories. (Either a philosophy or a religion) I am not convinced that this is necessarily the method employed from an eastern perpsective.

2/4/07 11:13 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

ted:

I tend to think that the major differnces between whether something is a cult or a religion is based upon basically 2 things. If it is culturally accepted, it is a religion and if it does not find cultural popularity, it is defined as a cult.

Cultural acceptance is probably based on popularity. So it is more of an appeal to popularity than anything else.

2/4/07 11:16 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

daniel:

I dunno. I have never been a "good cultist." If there was an atheist party, I wouldn't join that either.

2/4/07 11:17 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

Beep: Have to agree that popularity always helps, but a rose by any other name...

2/4/07 11:48 pm  
Anonymous Confuses, maybe not said...

beepbeepitsme said...
"ted:

I tend to think that the major differnces between whether something is a cult or a religion is based upon basically 2 things. If it is culturally accepted, it is a religion and if it does not find cultural popularity, it is defined as a cult.

Cultural acceptance is probably based on popularity. So it is more of an appeal to popularity than anything else."

Exactly, at least in my opinion.

2/4/07 11:53 pm  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

beeptbeep, i meant to praise you for the following post, not the one I just praised. Although, I think I agree with you on that one, too. But I need to think about it a little more.

beepbeepitsme said...
"Eastern philosophies, according to my understanding, do not draw the same distinctions between that which is philosophy and that which is religion. Therefore it is difficult from a western tradition to be able to accurately assess that which is philosophy and that which is religion.

Westerners tend to view the eastern traditions through a western lens, so I would accept an eastern interpretation of buddhism, taoism and confucianism over a western interpretation of them.

In the western tradition, there is a tendency to separate these disciplines into discrete categories. (Either a philosophy or a religion) I am not convinced that this is necessarily the method employed from an eastern perpsective. "

2/4/07 11:56 pm  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

How weak minded would you have to be to allow things like that to happen to you? Either weak minded or no self confidence.

3/4/07 12:15 am  
Anonymous Babychaos said...

Hello

Just wanted to say how interesting this site is. I know a lot of people who used to go to churches like that and say I wasn't a "proper" Christian because I didn't. Even so, they'd spout some crap, I'd counter with a different quote from a different part of the bible and they'd go "Uh... I have to ask the elders about that one." Ah what happened to free will and reason, independent thought...

I have a rule about this kind of stuff now... if they think they know the mind of god they're not a religious person, they're a member of a cult. Are you listening, Mr Bush? I do hope so.

Lots of people do great things because they believe something is wrong but if you notice the truly religious people seldom say "God wants you to..." or "God told me to" They say as an (insert religion here) I believe X Y or Z is wrong. I think the "god told me to do it" tends to be crowd control...

Great stuff, thought provoking and interesting, keep it coming!

Cheers

BC

3/4/07 12:57 am  
Blogger Sarah said...

Cults attract people with problems. They know how to target the weak, draw them in and convince them to stay. It's mind control.

I doubt many self-confident happy people get conned by cult life. They might go to have a look, but I doubt they would stay.

3/4/07 5:17 am  
Blogger Goader said...

Beep!, I don’t know where you came from, maybe the sky or the Ethernet, but I think you are right many times, maybe most. Thankfully, I am able to follow the rules of Web logging, which draws me back time and again. If eternal life is not possible, this here must be the next best thing.
I know when I am away I long to be back among the group. I certainly offer all I can afford, and look up to Brother Daniel, Coffee Messiah, Brother Ted, and Sister Sara for guidance to the logical path. Master Krystalline Apostate, Reverent Remy and Chris the Kind so eloquently explain life in logical terms that sometimes seem to ring with rhythmic melodies, all the while lounging in their imagined orange jump suits. I almost, no, I do believe gender characteristics are nothing more than anthropological bias, and I don’t care what science says. I even suggested to one of guys around here that we hang out sometime at one of the lefty blog malls. I have a dog that I know would love to come join in the fun and frolic at your summer camp. I feel like I could just die sometimes when I read some of comments offered here. Beep!?, do you think…. Naw…. Are you guys and gals trying to…. No way…. Right?, Beep!? ……. Beep! Beep! It’s YOU

3/4/07 6:54 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Haha goader, very funny. ;)

No, I don't think that "atheism" is a cult. And I think that even under extreme circumstances where even free thinkers agree strongly with a particular person's position, that it is most unlikely that they would be cultists.

There needs to be a strong sense of cohesion in a cult which is enforced by rules, regulations and dogma. There needs to be a charismatic leader who is prepared to enforce those rules regulations, dogma and doctrine. But most of all, a cult offers specific emotional or psychological benefits which atheists can never offer.

The "atheist mantra" of "Come join us, you won't live forever, you will die and become worm food" - doesn't seem to draw the same crowds. Or, "there is no daddy looking out for you are all times who is trying to correct your bad habits before he has to put you in time out for eternity." These sorts of things don't seem to draw membership.

What every successful cult leader knows is that you play on the fears of your target audience by promising them a way out from the prospect of death if they follow all your demands.

Successful cult leaders present their dogma as the only viable and valuable insurance policy which can be collected upon death. It is a great marketting concept which is why it has survived for thousands of years. There is NO money back guarantee, NO warranty period for unsatisfied customers, and NO return policy for faulty or non-existent goods.

"Atheism" can't compete with such a well thought out scam and it doesn't try to either. "Atheism" is not a solution and has never pretended to be. It is a response to theistic claims.

3/4/07 9:26 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Patricia

I think that one of our natural human qualities is fear. Fear of the unknown may be conducive to survival. (Not paralysing fear, of course, as that would be detrimental, but fear which leads to action.)

One of mankind's greatest fears is the fear of death. That we have been able to over the centuries, ameleorate this fear by harnessing it through various psychological mechanisms for our own benefit, shows what an adaptive and successful species we are.

The religious paradigm attempts to harness this fear for its own benefit. What it offers in return is a reduction in the level of fear that the indiviual or group may experience. (Just my thoughts on it anyway.)

3/4/07 10:21 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

babychaos:

Thanks for joining in. The bible, the quran, any of the "holy books" are basically the most successful pop songs ever.

They can be interpretated to fit the emotional or psychological needs and desires of whoever is reading or hearing it.

This idea can be summed up in the quote by Shaw.

"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means." - George Bernard Shaw

3/4/07 10:28 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

How weak minded would you have to be to allow things like that to happen to you? Either weak minded or no self confidence.

That's pretty prideful and judgmental all in one.

I know some really smart, well rounded people that were once involved in the cult of Mormonism. These two people were niether weak minded nor lacked self confidence--they were just lied to and didn't know the depths of the cultish behavior until they were pretty much steeped in it.
At least they got out--which is more credit then you would ever give them and that's not fair.

3/4/07 10:43 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

goader:
Master Krystalline Apostate
Who? Moi? NAH!
Student once, student always.
all the while lounging in their imagined orange jump suits.
I'm too well-behaved to be sentenced to community service.

sadie:
At least they got out--which is more credit then you would ever give them and that's not fair.
Thus, it begs the question: why on earth they got involved in the 1st place?

3/4/07 10:57 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

KA--
"they were just lied to and didn't know the depths of the cultish behavior until they were pretty much steeped in it."

This is the same man I directed you to his blog--Pietyhill Press--Bo Salisbury. Smart guy. Ask him how it happened.

3/4/07 11:49 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I would suggest that the term "really smart" is somewhat negated by the fact that they joined a cult in the first place.

Really vulnerable is probably closer to the mark.

3/4/07 12:06 pm  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

SadieLou,

I don't think of Mormonism as a cult, although I distrust any tradition that does not allow me into its holy place of worship. I haven't studied cults in any substantive way, but I suspect beepbeep is right that they need a charismatic leader. Mormonism may have begun with a charismatic leader, but it is now beyond that. I also think of cults as seperating the individual from her or his family and providing one with a new family, the cult members. I don't think LDS do that.

3/4/07 1:31 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep & Confused,
Maybe after reading your comments, Mormonism isn't viewed as a cult? I can better argue my case for how easy it is to find yourself getting involved in a cult if I can prove to you how many major religions are, indeed, cultish in their practices?
May I?

3/4/07 2:06 pm  
Anonymous Confused, Maybe Not said...

sadie lou,
Sure. I bet I'll agree with you. I think of most voluntary religions as cultish, but I'm not as sure about involuntary traditions, tradtions that one is born into and involve geography, ethnic, lingusitic, perhaps racial features, (e.g. tribes in Africa), etc.

3/4/07 2:16 pm  
Anonymous Confused, Maybe Not said...

I need a film for tommorow on political witch hunts. Does any one here know of any gripping, political witch hunt film that is about 90 minutes long and contemporary?

3/4/07 2:20 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Confused,
It's been the Mormon church in the news recently as being responsible for young girls being kidnapped, raped, brainwashed and then married to older men. They most certainly are guilty of separating people from their families.
You might be interested in reading an exMormon's account of cultish practice--
I forget the actual web address but just put exmormon.org in the Google search engine and you'll find it. exmormon.org helps deconstruct the brainwashed Mormon and helps bring them back to normalcy.
It's not just the Mormons--The Watchtower, Promise Keepers, Seventh Day Adventest...there are a lot of mainstream cults. Most of time, everything looks smooth on the surface and when you actually get involved is when they trust you enough to show you the goods.
My husband and I let some Mormons in the house one time to talk. They seemed very traditional and "just like us".
It wasn't until we asked them some questions that our exMormon friend told us to ask--that they abruptly called the meeting short.
We have never been visited by another Mormon.

3/4/07 2:42 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

sadie:

My view is that all religions are cults. Some just have cultural approval and have more members.

3/4/07 2:47 pm  
Anonymous Confused, Maybe Not said...

Sadie Lou,
Thanks for the insights about this. I'll take a look at the site.

3/4/07 2:51 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep,
My view is that all religions are cults. Some just have cultural approval and have more members.

You're view is biased and wrong. But I have a feeling that even if I sat here for an hour to point by point take all the cult traits you published in your OP and compare them to my "religion"--you'd still hold that same view.
What do you think?

Sadie Lou,
Thanks for the insights about this. I'll take a look at the site.


Sure.
:)

3/4/07 2:59 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

*Your view, sorry

3/4/07 3:00 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Sadie: Read the list and explain to me how your religious belief doesn't fit.

3/4/07 3:06 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep,
Truth be told, I read them through your critical eye so that I could know how you would try to tell me I was wrong. I know that I could reasonably argue every, single one of them because I live my life but it's quite another thing to convince you of it. I'll just start with one:

The group is led by a group of enlightened masters who wear strange clothes and speak in esoteric parables.

Erm, no. Who defines strange clothes anyways? We don't have a dress code at our church. Come as you do.
Jeans & T-shirts.
Whatever--the "enlightened masters" wear the same stuff the rest of us wear. In what context are we meaning "enlightened masters"? Smarter Christians than the rest of us? More Holy? I would say that the 4 men that lead our church service have spent a lot of time in the Word and they have a calling/passion/gift to do studies and to teach.
Speak in esoteric parables?
No, sorry to disappoint. The men that do the Bible study every Sunday are really good speakers--energetic, prepared, clear, spontaneous...
It's a no, Beep.

3/4/07 3:23 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Sadie

Firstly, I am recognizing that you are a christian, but in order to be able to ascertain how the list may refer to your religion, it would seem necessary to know your particular chirstian faith.

3/4/07 3:26 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

"Esoteric parables" - gee, they don't quote from the bible?

3/4/07 3:27 pm  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Hey Beep, I really don't know too many religious people, these days, but I have this friend who's into Life Coaching.

She could benefit from a list like this.

Also, I had a few friends who got into Amway at Uni. Man, is that a cult.

3/4/07 9:22 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

dikki:

I had a cousin who was also involved in selling AMWAY. Went he finally got out of it, he felt like he had left a cult also.

3/4/07 9:43 pm  
Blogger Bruce said...

Re: cultists no knowing they are cultists, I think a Karl Popper quote is called for;

"No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude..."

Substitute man with person, and I think we have a winner ;-)

3/4/07 11:12 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Sadie

Firstly, I am recognizing that you are a christian, but in order to be able to ascertain how the list may refer to your religion, it would seem necessary to know your particular chirstian faith.

Non denominational Christian. Protestant--I guess would be close enough. Evangelical--In a sense that spreading the gospel is important to me but doesn't mean I'm a political "fundie". Missional? Yes, I believe i might one day serve in the mission field.


"Esoteric parables" - gee, they don't quote from the bible?

Jesus spoke in parables--little pictures from our lives so that we might understand a more complicated concept.
The quote from the list I took said "enlightened masters"--is that meaning Jesus or the guys that head up my church?

3/4/07 11:37 pm  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Bruce quoted Popper. He can come over and fuck my sister. :)

I, and I suspect that this is unsurprising to most folks by this time, think that pretty much all traditional religions are cults. Some members might not adopt a cultic attitude towards their religion, but the rules of that religion tend to strongly favor cultic behavior. And, of course, virtually all religions are lead by authoritarian figures claiming special knowledge in contradiction to basic reasoning skills, by promises of eternal life and threats of eternal condemnation and demands accepting it's teachings without reservation, demand training one's children as a member of the religion and fetishize giving one's life for the religion. Not all members accept these things (but that's true of cults, as well), but it's what they WANT.

4/4/07 3:15 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

I would also go on to say that Jesus' parables clear up nothing. Indeed, fairly large sections of the Gospels are taken up with Jesus explaining what he "really meant".

I GUESS we could talk about what a rich man has less chance of getting into the kingdom of god than a camel through the eye of a needle a while to demonstrate my point, but I also figure it's unnecessary. ;)

4/4/07 3:17 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE bruce:

I agree. No theist ever wants to believe that they are in a cult. Everyone else is in a cult except them.

It is always interesting to me how people can apply the rules to everyone else's organization except their own. There's a kind of blindness and cognitive dissidence associated with being a memeber of any of these organizations.

4/4/07 9:30 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep,
I'm starting to think that you can't fit me neatly into any Christian denomination that suits your mold so you aren't going to adress me anymore.
What's the point of you asking me specific questions if you're just going to compose your response in the form of an answer to someone else? Very frustrating.

4/4/07 9:36 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

chris:

RE:" but the rules of that religion tend to strongly favor cultic behavior. And, of course, virtually all religions are lead by authoritarian figures claiming special knowledge in contradiction to basic reasoning skills, by promises of eternal life and threats of eternal condemnation.."

Well, obviously I agree. Even the "watered down" versions betray the emphatic positions of their origin. The watering down has made them slightly more attractive to people of a more moderate disposition, or dare I say it, a more "liberal" disposition.

4/4/07 9:37 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Sorry sadie, I have just got up and I am in the process of repying. So hang onto your hat, (which you should be wearing in church, or at least a veil.)

RE: "The group is led by a group of enlightened masters who wear strange clothes and speak in esoteric parables."

"Enlightened masters" would include the central figure of the cult, in this case it would be the jesus figure, those who claimed special knowledge concerning this central figure and went on to express this special knowledge in the form of the bible, and those who claim to be able to have the special knowledge to interpret the book to others.

Now, the "strange clothes" part is well documented throughout history. The hierarchy of the christian church, whether it was catholic or protestant, always wore specific religious clothing associated with their status and to ennunciate to the rest of the group their position of "special knowledge."

The fact that the leaders of your church are now less overt in their demonstration of clothing, doesn't detract from the obvious history associated with the foundation of the christian church. But I suspect that they wear some symbol of rank during special days, to delineaate themselves from the hoi poli.

Now to the speaking in "esoteric parables."

Something is termed esoteric according to this definition.

ESOTERIC:
1.understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite: poetry full of esoteric allusions.
2. belonging to the select few.
3. private; secret; confidential.
4. (of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group

So knowledge which is supposedly esoteric is special knowledge that the group believes has been revealed to them. Usually this esoteric knowledge needs to be revealed through those who claim to have special powers of interpretation.

Quite often, though not mandatory, an initiation process is part of the process towards the accumulation of this "special knowledge."

For example: In the case of christianity, many christians will claim that one needs to read these "esoteric parables" in the spirit and then one can understand ther meaning and intent.

Therefore one needs to believe that "special powers" have been conferred upon them in order for them to be able to understand a book.

The understanding of any other books aparts from the so called religious ones, do NOT require these so called "special powers of the spirit." To be able to read and understand any other writing all that one needs is the ability to read and the ability to comprehend what is being read.

The ability to comprehend what is being read in these other circumstances, does not require "special spiritual powers", it requires a certain level of intelligence.

No one needs to claim "special spiritual powers" in order to be able to read and understand "Alice in Wonderland." The book, its meanings, intent are open to anyone who claims to wishes to read it. That doesn't mean that everyone will understand it in the same way, but this doesn't make much difference unless the claim is made that it contains special messages from a supernatural being and that you need to be able to read it "in the spirit" to be able to understand it.

So, the claims of "special powers" which originally were the purvue of the initial hierarchy of the church, have now supposedly been claimed by those who are part of the religion.

This specific claim is that their book canot be understand and fully comprehended unless one reads it "in the spirit" and as anyone who isn't a member of their cult obviously ISN'T reading it "in the spirit", they do not have access to understanding it.

Cultish behaviour through and through.

4/4/07 10:20 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Yeah, okay. I get it. It really doesn't matter what I say because you already assume all kinds of stuff about me and the church that I go to based on whatever else other Christians are doing--even if they did it 50 years ago or 100 years ago and even if I don't suscribe to that "brand" of Christianity.
So I won't waste anymore time trying to enlighten you with my ignorant understanding of my *own* walk. You're going to sit back in your chair and *believe* I'm blissfully unaware of the fact that I'm in a cult.
*throwing hands up* So be it. I'll play on the next post but I'll wrap it up here.

The fact that the leaders of your church are now less overt in their demonstration of clothing, doesn't detract from the obvious history associated with the foundation of the christian church. But I suspect that they wear some symbol of rank during special days

Suspect away...

4/4/07 10:41 am  
Blogger Goader said...

This one's for you, Beep!, Krystalline, Ted, Chris, Sadie Lou (believer side)and Confused (on the fence) and anyone I missed who I have engaged in repartee.

Atheists Believe Too

4/4/07 10:42 am  
Anonymous remy said...

goader,
Dawkins deals with the NEED to believe. The God Delusion. If we have a belief it is in evidence, not in feeling.

4/4/07 11:17 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Goader:

Before I click on that link, I want you to be aware of something. The concept that "atheists believe too" is the fallacy of tu quoque. I thought this was explained in a previous post how the issue of finger pointing, that is, the fallacy of tu quoque, does not address the issues which are being discussed.

In case you forgot. I will post the article again.

The Tu Quoque Fallacy: Or Atheists Are Murdering, Homicidal Maniacs Too

http://beepbeepitsme.blogspot.com/2007/03/tu-quoque-fallacy-or-atheists-are.html

Complementary to that post, the word "atheist" does not describe what an atheist believes, it only describes what they do not.

4/4/07 11:25 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

sadie:

Do you believe that people can understand "god's word" if they are not in the spirit?

Simple question. A simple reply will suffice.

4/4/07 11:28 am  
Blogger L>T said...

Goader & sadie Christianity has had 2,000 years (give or take a few) to hone their arguments, with out much resistence, BTW. Too bad they've based everything on the words of a bunch of old white men with a hotline to God.(ha!)
It just ain't gonna wash anymore.
You Christian people need to get with the times. You aren't going to Bully us with guilt, piety, & all that other crap.

That's my word of prophecy.

4/4/07 11:40 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Goader,

I clicked your link but you lost me on the first sentence. Atheists don't believe in "nothing" in the same sense that religious folks believe in their gods. It's a canard, and not even a good one.

I don't know any atheist who would reject proof of divinity. Which is why most atheists are, in fact, some variant of scientific materialist -- because, y'know, you pray to your god and you get bupkiss, but you put your "faith" in science, and it delivers. As I often say, you pray to your god to get you to LA, and I'll take a plane, and we can see who gets there, first. And how many religious folks, when a loved one has been shot or taken a serious injury, pray before calling emergency? Day in and day out, humans put their trust in non-religious beliefs because they, in contradistinction to religion, work. And they improve, noticeably, demostrably, consistently. As opposed to religion, which does not work, not at all.

I'm sure you went on to blather on and on about the subject, but I didn't read it, hehe. When someone says something as frankly stupid as conflating religious belief with non-belief, my eyes glaze over.

Really! Religious people will cut hairs so fine you need a microscope to see them when discussing their own religions, but people go out of their way to try to say that atheism is like religion. It's stupid. Maybe if religious folks would say, say, Hinduism and Christianity are, really, the same thing you might begin to make a point -- but until then, saying that atheism is a "kind of religion" or any related argument is just juvenile.

4/4/07 2:41 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

sadie:

Do you believe that people can understand "god's word" if they are not in the spirit?

Simple question. A simple reply will suffice.


People can and do understand the word of God without being "in the spirit" as you say but their understanding is going to be totally limited and probably pointless without faith.
I can't imagine that someone reading the Scriptures without a God belief or faith in Him is going to walk away from the reading with something that they will directly apply to their lives.
But yes, I know that people have heard or read the word and were convicted or blessed or whatever, because they understood it.

5/4/07 4:42 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

You Christian people need to get with the times. You aren't going to Bully us with guilt, piety, & all that other crap.

That's my word of prophecy.


You should read my blog sometime.

5/4/07 4:43 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

People can and do understand the word of God without being "in the spirit" as you say but their understanding is going to be totally limited and probably pointless without faith.

Funny, I feel the exact opposite. I think that people reading religious books with "faith" engage in terrible distortion of the text to justify their religion. Like the Gospels -- the story gets told four different ways, but when you ask Christians to explain why the stories aren't the same they create a narrative that mixes up elements of all the Gospels, sorta forgetting, or not knowing, that the narrative that arises isn't in the Bible. And then they go on to say that this narrative is more true than what is actually in the Bible.

No, I can't get behind the idea that people of faith read religious works better or more meaningfully than those without faith. Quite the opposite.

5/4/07 6:28 am  
Blogger Goader said...

What can I say? Anyone who prejudges an essay after reading the first sentence and refuses to read the balance is clearly displaying bigotry. The final sentence in post succinctly addresses that issue.

I want to point out something you said, “[s]aying that atheism is a "kind of religion" or any related argument is just juvenile. Compare that to what you wrote, “I'm sure you went on to blather on and on about the subject, but I didn't read it, hehe.

The inconsistency of the two above statements illustrates how narrow thinking can cloud the imagination.

I am surprised to see that the atheist’s mind (editorial mind, not personal) is closed to alternative discussions of life. Prior to engaging in commenting here, I would not have guessed that to be the case. For some reason I pictured the theist would be the one to display intolerance to different ideas or thoughts. I imagine an objective observer would notice in these comments that both the atheist and the theist are equally stubborn in their respective beliefs.

5/4/07 6:43 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

For some reason I pictured the theist would be the one to display intolerance to different ideas or thoughts. I imagine an objective observer would notice in these comments that both the atheist and the theist are equally stubborn in their respective beliefs.

It's like communicating with a brick wall. You can't get through. It doesn't matter how hard we bang our fists or flex our knowledge or try to educate form a personal viewpoint--I mean, I live my Christian walk--I should be the expert on what I believe but this isn't so--many atheists will fancy to tell you what you believe and exactly how and why you believe it. Even if you refute their assumptions and tell them it isn't so, the brick wall remains and there is no hope of finding a bridge. My theory is that Christians are known to be called to love their neighbors and to be great communicators of their faith--so what better religion to focus all your objection?
Jesus didn't tell his followers to thumb their noses at the opposition or flip them the bird--and atheists know this. They know that they can write blog posts and make comments on our blogs and we're required to engage them--Jesus demands it. Go forth and spread the good news--right? So, here we are and it's damn frustrating but I love it--keeps me on my toes.
Funny.

5/4/07 7:17 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
Jesus didn't tell his followers to thumb their noses at the opposition or flip them the bird--and atheists know this. They know that they can write blog posts and make comments on our blogs and we're required to engage them--Jesus demands it. Go forth and spread the good news--right? So, here we are and it's damn frustrating but I love it--keeps me on my toes.
Funny.

When I 1st began blogging (you've probably heard this part before), I really was naive. I expected to build bridges, discuss facts, puncture some stereotypes, & maybe change the odd mind or 2. I fancied myself a grand old statesman, in the manner of Ingersoll. & I honestly DID expect more xtians to 'walk the talk' as you put it.
That went south fairly fast. I have by far seen more egregious, ugly crap spewed by xtians than atheists (though there's a few of those I've taken to task as well) - overall, I'm not a big fan of 'religion improves people', mostly because it doesn't seem to.
I tend to respect you a little more than most, as you make an actual effort as opposed to the multitudes paying lip service to an ideal.

goader:
I imagine an objective observer would notice in these comments that both the atheist and the theist are equally stubborn in their respective beliefs.
Well, I read the whole thing.
Honestly, I've read many, MANY posts that said very much the same thing. So it's no small wonder that most of us find that attitude objectionable, even risable. Most of us have gone the gauntlet, from "Look! Atheism means THIS, not what you say it means!" to the Tu quoque fallacy that BBIM's posted on.
Nuttin' personal, but claiming 'you're just like me!' is hardly salient. The commonality you claim is more of a gaping canyon than a quick jump across a creek.

5/4/07 7:39 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Goader,

Well, except you're wrong. An atheist only believes that there is no god.

And is very tedious to be accused of being closed-minded because I refuse to be drawn into wearisome discussions about topics I've dealt with before, again and again. I actually went and read your post, and this is probably the last bit I'll talk to you about anything unless you actually bring something new to the table.

First, you conflate atheists with scientific materialists. The only thing an atheist is a person that doesn't believe in a god, or feels the question is absurd, or irrelevant. It doesn't mean that all atheists are scientific materialists (tho' in America many are; many others have no really concrete epistemology, or are, say, Buddhists or Taoists and have other non-theistic belief systems in place).

You also say that scientific materialists don't move from their position once they hold them. Er, this is very, very wrong.

The history of science shows it to be the most rapidly changing epistemological system ever devised. Let's take the Big Bang. If what you say is true, then scientists' and scientific materialists' belief in the Big Bang should be as absolute as a Christian's belief in fiat lux. Alas, this is not true.

Big Bang is, itself, under serious critique from some in the physics community. Just a few of the critiques include . . . the horizon problem, the flatness problem, baryon asymmetry, magnetic monopoles, globular cluster age, dark matter and dark energy. This is a short list. So, you've just got it wrong. The Big Bang is being challenged -- viciously, brutally challenged -- by the very people YOU think just hold tight to something and never let go of it.

The same is true in every scientific field. The people most critical of scientific theories are scientists. Because science, itself, is a system of organized change -- scientific epistemology is a system through which scientific knowledge improves in accurate, use and scope over time. Change is built into the system.

I, myself, have some very serious reservations about the scientific enterprise. I think that much of the training of scientists is classist, sexist and racist. I think that the funding of science is controlled by people with agendas, and I think that in science that money equates to truth (because science takes money, and the people who fund science are looking for very specific things) which is being used to manipulate, suppress and control various groups of people. So, as you can now see, I do challenge scientific assumptions, techniques and knowledge.

However, what you said isn't very interesting or original, in addition to being wrong. You're trying to engage in a conversation about which you know next to nothing, and are accusing me of being close-minded because I'm not favoring your simplistic and wrong ideas about scientific materialists holding onto their belief systems.

(I don't even want to get into what you said about genetic "encoding". You might want to learn the difference between a genotype and a phenotype, however. Even if a person has a particular genetic disposition for something, it is possible to control the expression of that gene. Saying we're "wired for belief" is untrue (indeed, it is also quite unproven that we have a genetic disposition for belief in higher powers, but like I said, I'm not gonna get into it).)

In short, I've heard it before. I don't need to read every poorly thought out critique of science, scientific materialism and atheism to dismiss most of them. When a person opens up saying the belief in nothing is akin to belief in a higher power, I stop because I've been there, done that.

5/4/07 7:43 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

There is no evidence to suggest that we are "wired to believe" specific concepts. None that I am aware of anyway. Most of us are born with the ability to learn many concepts. God belief is one of those concepts. So is hygiene for that matter.

5/4/07 8:30 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

When I 1st began blogging (you've probably heard this part before), I really was naive. I expected to build bridges, discuss facts, puncture some stereotypes, & maybe change the odd mind or 2. I fancied myself a grand old statesman, in the manner of Ingersoll. & I honestly DID expect more xtians to 'walk the talk' as you put it.

That's awesome! I'm bummed you were disappointed. Maybe you can humor me a bit and not be too jaded? It would be fun to pretend that we both have the power to change each other's odd minds--even if in reality, we don't.

That went south fairly fast. I have by far seen more egregious, ugly crap spewed by xtians than atheists (though there's a few of those I've taken to task as well) - overall, I'm not a big fan of 'religion improves people', mostly because it doesn't seem to.

Yeah. That pretty much sucks. I've met some really freaked out Christians back when I used to get my jollies by debating other Christians on pet doctrines. It got old real fast and I got booted off of Christianity.com
(HA!)
I tend to respect you a little more than most, as you make an actual effort as opposed to the multitudes paying lip service to an ideal.

Sweet. I respect anyone who can get down to brass tacks without being an a-hole.

5/4/07 8:57 am  
Blogger Goader said...

Well, I’m going to have to go with Sadie on this one. It seems to me (only opinions so don’t get you underpants in a wad) that an air of condescension wafts about. I am interested in engaging in banter and repartee, which may or may not lead to a revealing point. I further do not object to a bit of wise cracking and sarcasm, even goading at times just for fun. However, I cannot help but feel (oh god not feelings again) an arrogance that I am not sure is warranted. I am sorry you feel so put upon by religious people, but I am not here to shove dogma down anyone’s throat. Sure, it feels good when someone agrees with you or you have made a convincing argument. I assure you though I am not interested in preaching.

I am sorry if cannot wax as eloquently as you, but should my thoughts be dismissed so? You are weary to have to listen to another thought that you have dispensed with.

Joke with me to your heart’s content. You may josh and kid till the cows come home. Goad me to get a rise. Throw an insult my way and I’ll manage to come back with my own rib. However, I do not understand the nastiness with which you seem in need of displaying to someone, you perceive as an opponent.

I realize I am the guest here and I hope I have added to the conversation, but it is just a bloody debate not a revival meeting.

5/4/07 9:17 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

goader:
Ummm...you talkin' to me? (in the voice of Robert Deniro.) Or Chris? You kinda lost me there, since you didn't really address someone specifically.
Which is why I always preface my posts w/a [name]:

5/4/07 10:17 am  
Anonymous Confused, Maybe not said...

Sadie Lou and Goader,
I like your posts. You both seem to be gentle and kind. And Goader, thank you for your thoughtful essay posted on your blog. My question is for Sadie Lou, but may also apply to Goader, what do you mean by spreading the Gospels or Good News?

5/4/07 11:03 am  
Anonymous Confused, Maybe not said...

SadieLou,

I looked up the stuff you suggested. Those you accuse of being in a cult are not part of the Church of Latter Day Saints. They are heretical groups according to the Church. In other words, they not considered part of the Mormon Church, even though these groups call themselves Mormon.

5/4/07 1:14 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "I realize I am the guest here and I hope I have added to the conversation, but it is just a bloody debate not a revival meeting."

Everyone is welcome and all opinions are welcomed (except ones which directly threaten someone with physical harm.)

But, having said that, it certainly doesn't mean that I will, or everyone else will, agree with what is said.

5/4/07 3:14 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Confused,
Have you heard about the "good news" or the "gospel" and you're asking what it means when Christians say they are to spread it? Or are you asking me to tell you what the "good news" is?

Those you accuse of being in a cult are not part of the Church of Latter Day Saints. They are heretical groups according to the Church

You mean the ones that kidnap little girls?

Because all Mormons take secret oaths they don't tell outsiders to the faith about.
That was one of the questions my husband and I asked some Mormons when they came witnessing to our home.
They sat down and they sounded like average Christians and then my husband asked "Are there any oaths we'll have to take to be allowed to worship in your temple?"
The Bible says not to take oaths.

They got really nervous and said they would have to come back with an elder of the church.

5/4/07 11:36 pm  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

The Bible also says to stone adulterers, and no one seems hip to doing that one, anymore, hehe.

6/4/07 3:13 am  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

SadieLou,
Thanks for your responses.

I know all types of Christians and what they mean by spreading the Gospel varies. I was curious what you mean. To be honest, I struggle with any tradition that feels a need to spiritually save others on behalf of a "belief" in something that is understood to be the truth. Although, I do try to exercise the principle of discussion; discussion should never cease. Thus, I will argue with others to ensure discussion. I always find myself prickly when I perceive one trying to own the discussion or the evidence. I worry that when discussion ceases, socially and politically speaking, we often find fascism. This exposes my worries with traditions that exercise spiritual saving on a behalf of belief held to be universally true.

I equally struggle with movements that have secret codes, but that doesn't make them a cult from my perspective, although I find it somewhat cultish, but not because the Bible commands otherwise. But in all honesty, for me, I don't see a secret oath for Mormons, assuming they have one, as substantively that different from those who believe one is going to hell if one does not accept Jesus as the Christ into one's heart. I know many Christians who do not think one is going to hell if one does not accept Jesus as the Christ, but I know many who do. The former type of Christians, I find, do not usually believe in Hell.

6/4/07 4:10 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The word "cult" seems to have a derogatory meaning when applied to one's own group.

Definition of CULT

1.a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult

According to the definition, all religions could fullfill these descriptions. The issue for most people who belong to a religion is number 6, as they will always believe that their religion or sect is NOT false, but that possibly every other religion or sect is.

Consequently, people in what I would see as a cult, spend a lot of time believing that everyone else is in a cult except them.

6/4/07 8:15 am  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

beepbeep,
Thank you for the definition. But in our ordinary speech, which you imply in your opening statement, doesn't cult have a different (even though technically incorrect) meaning than the definition you have presented? (I like the definition.) Also, if every religion is a cult, doesn't that make our use of cult meaningless? Unless, of course you are against all religions. If so, are you against devotional practices by the Zulus? Or, are devotional practices outside the scope of your critique? This is not a rhetorical question. I ask sincerely.
p.s. I'm off to the playground.

6/4/07 11:32 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Also, if every religion is a cult, doesn't that make our use of cult meaningless? Unless, of course you are against all religions."

It means our use of the word "cult" has cutural and religious bias.

I can't say I am "against" all religions, as I am not sure what you mean by that. I support people's rights to be religious. I do not support people's supposed rights to inflict their religion upon others through government support.

That I think that religions are basically manmade political parties which claim a supernatural authority - no doubt in my mind at all.

6/4/07 11:48 am  
Blogger L>T said...

hey sadie I did check out your blog. You do seem like a nice anough person. I don't have any problem with that. I was speaking in general, although I did address you & goader.

But, I think I'm right that it isn't going to wash any more. I do respect you & goader for even debating, because I know alot of Christians who won't even do that. & guess who they mainly are? Authority figures in churches. & you what's funny, after I got out of the Church & acually did research about things like when the books of the Bible were written & who wrote them & even Christian history after New Testement times, I realized I had been fed so much BS. By people that didn't know anymore about it then I did. & if they did they weren't telling the rest of us. What I'm saying is Christianity has relied on using Guilt, piety, & other forms of bullying, long anough.

You gotta admit the religious powers that were at one time, were wrong about whether or not the Earth revolved around the Sun at one point...Why was that? Because it didn't fit into their Theology.

If Christianity is worth it's salt. It can stand up to some criticism.

That's what I'm saying

6/4/07 2:06 pm  
Blogger Goader said...

Religious powers of virtually all religions have used religion for violent and self-serving ways--Christian’s powers are at the top of the list.

Apparently, Jesus was disgusted with what the religiously powerful were doing in the name of Judaism, his religion of birth. It was Jesus’ response to the moneychangers, which lead me to believe he was a darn decent dude—he had balls too. I too am sickened by what I see happening in the name of various religions. It is notable though that he did not tear down the Temple; rather he chastised the wicked elements.

Do you have any idea what assholes people can be? People are kind, gentle, sweet, charitable, helpful, sympathetic, thoughtful, and endlessly benevolent—and every one of them can be an asshole at drop of the wrong hat. That is who and what humans are: mostly darlings, sometimes dicks.

7/4/07 12:24 am  
Anonymous Confused, maybe not said...

beepbeep,

Agreed.

7/4/07 2:08 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep said...
do not support people's supposed rights to inflict their religion upon others through government support.

Niether do I. I am thankful we live in a pluralistic society. I think Christians that try to impose Christianity through political channels better knock it off.
Frankly.

If Christianity is worth it's salt. It can stand up to some criticism.

That's what I'm saying


True enough.
:)

7/4/07 2:41 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

goader:

RE: "That is who and what humans are: mostly darlings, sometimes dicks."

And people who believe that what they are doing is for the benefit of all mankind, have the tendency to be the biggest dicks.

That is when they are not fighting over which sky fairy has the biggest dick.

11/4/07 8:11 am  

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