Thursday, September 13, 2007

Marian Paroo, another non-comprehending nit-wit leaves a comment on my blog

Marian Paroo left a comment on my post "Thank You, Mother Teresa...." that perfectly illustrates how theists try to force their frames on an argument to the point of ignoring what is actually said in my post.

Marian wrote:
For someone who is an doesn't believe in God, you sure have spent a whole bunch of time and space on God (or the lack thereof). I wonder why. If you don't believe-you don't believe. Frankly, how can one who doesn't believe in God even begin to discuss God? How does one disprove the existence of something that doesn't exist? Do you see my confusion here?

Marian apparently didn't bother to read the post she commented on. The existence of God is only one assertion made by theists. I even said in that very post that you can't disprove a nebulous and undefined conception of God. I also said in that very post that it is the least important assertion. It's not about whether something like a God exists; it's about whether you can make any claims to knowledge about God. It's those claims, many and varied as they are, that cause all the problems.

The confusion that I see is all yours, Marian. You seem to think I've written something about God. I haven't. I've written about people who believe in God, in that case, Mother Teresa. Do you think that believers have no effect on the lives of others, like they don't fly airplanes into skyscrapers, or start wars in Iraq, or blow up abortion clinics, or mess up our lives in all sorts of ways? You're a perfect illustration of how theists try to force their frames on us to the point of ignoring what is actually said in my post.

The very question Marian asked, "Frankly, how can one who doesn't believe in God even begin to discuss God?" was answered in that very post. You talk about the claims made by people who do believe in God and you examine the effects of those beliefs.

As an example, if Mother Teresa, as Greta Christina claims, believed that suffering would bring people closer to Jesus, and said; "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people." If she saw human suffering as a gift from Christ, something that would bring people closer to him, then those beliefs would effect how she acted. In this case having her hospitals and hospices offering grotesquely inadequate medical care, revoltingly unsanitary and even abusive conditions, and little or nothing in the way of pain relief, allowing the sick to suffer and the dying to die in terrible pain.

We can see and judge the effects of people's beliefs. That is what I'm writing about, not God, but the various affects of believing in various conceptions of God.

So, stop being an ignorant twit, Marian. Your frame doesn't work.

And that name, Marian Paroo, isn't that a fictional character from "The Music Man"? If fictional characters can leave comments on my blog that would seem to be evidence that we are indeed living in Nick Bostrom's simulated universe.


Marion Paroo said...

Well for heavens sake (pardon the pun) what a rant... all because I asked a few questions and quoted Shakespeare.

First off, I was named for the character in the Music Man. Clever of you to catch it. But that doesn't make me a fictional character. But of course that is the beauty of the Internet. One never really knows- do they? And here we are back at "belief", even with my name. Belief- A sticky wicket it would appears.

I must ask next- why do you assume I'm a theist? Because I said you confused me? Because I dared to question you and your stated beliefs? If you will re-read my response to you, you'll see that I never espouse being a believer in God. The point was- if you are so sure of your position, why go on about it at great length and with such passion? I, of course, did suggest that such fury might be the outward defense of someone not quite sure of his/her position. I can see that that might annoy you- but it is a real question. What do you BELIEVE? (Not "what do you not believe?")

Finally- I thought this site was about questioning belief systems. I was questioning yours. Are those reading the blog simply supposed to swallow whatever you write unquestioningly? See once again- that would be too ironic. Or is this really just a blog where we genuflect while you pontificate (gosh sorry- can't help it tonight it seems!)

Lastly- Questioning, is not always a sign of disagreement -Marion

normdoering said...

Marion Paroo wrote:
"…why do you assume I'm a theist? Because I said you confused me? "

Well, aren't you? Why don't you answer this question: Do you believe in God?

It's the nature of your confusion that makes me feel confident that you are a theist; you made a fundamental category error. You thought that when I talked about Mother T's ideas about God that I was actually talking about God. That's an error I expect a theist would make. It's like mistaking the menu for the meal or the map for the territory. It's the same category error that gave birth to man creating God in his own image.

You completely failed to see that your basic question is answered in the very post you commented on – and you still don't get it. You're still hung up on the very thing I explained you shouldn't get hung up on and that is vague questions about God and position(s). You still ask:

"… if you are so sure of your position, why go on about it at great length and with such passion?

Sure of what position? Name the position you want to question. I have a lot of positions, some of which I have more confidence in than others. You seem to think my position is a singular thing. And why would my surety of it matter to you? Do you base your confidence in an assertion based on someone else's confidence? In that very post I state that whether something that could be labeled "God" exists is irrelevant precisely because it's an empty concept lacking definition and you have to ignore the root concept and go after the concrete definitions and assertions (that's why I brought up Nick Bostrom's simulated universe. I can't be sure we aren't living in a simulation). You did not extract a concrete position or assertion that I made. You missed that and asked exactly the kind of nebulous, undefined and loaded question I would expect from a theist. You asked no questions about specific positions or assertions. In the post you commented on I directly say you can't be sure of anything like that. The term "God" is nebulous and empty unless other definitions and assertions are made about what God is.

I usually say, when asked whether I believe in God, "What do you mean by God?"

And my motive which you question is also in the post: It's because I want to change minds and help others change minds and because I think religious ideas often tend to be very dangerous and bad ideas and Mother Teresa is an example of what such beliefs do to people.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you've heard about confirmation bias. But have you heard about Conan bias?

A lot of this debate seems to be motivated not by a desire to change minds, but rather by a desire to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

It sparks a pleasure center in the brain when you denigrate them.

The Barefoot Bum said...

Anon: I think that criticism is bullshit.

A: I'm right, you're wrong!

B: No! You're wrong, I'm right! Here's why.

A: Ah, see, you're not concerned with right and wrong, but with winning. Therefore I'm right and you're wrong.

normdoering said...

Thanks for your defense, Larry. However, I take the idea of a "Conan bias" as more joke than argument.

At most I think Anonymous is arguing that in being as harsh as I was I might have failed to "change minds." I don't think this is true. If Marion Paroo doesn't read my posts and get them, then she either can't get them (like a slow 6th grader in a graduate level physics course) or she needs to be pushed into doing so. She obviously did not address any specific points in my post.

In the end, it's my blog and I will control the horizontal. I will control the vertical. I can change the focus to a soft blur of ambiguity, or sharpen it to crystal clarity of scientific specificity.

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