Sample clip of my debate with an
atheist on the issue of morality.
Find the whole debate at this link
Is Dan Barker Self Loathing?, part 1 of 2
I only imagined pondering the question due to the very fact that Dan Barker is that which he detests. He does not seem to recognize that he exhibits very same characteristics which he condemns in others.
Perhaps self loathing is too great an inference (even conceptually) yet, hypocritical and contradictory most certainly fit the bill. In order to be self loathing Barker would have to be consistent.
This point came across very clearly in an interview with Dan Barker by the Unitarian Universalist Infidels.[i]That he correlates religion to sexism and racism is merely Barkerian emotionalism. What is of interest is his continuous contradictions and illogicality.
The word "infidel" simply means "without faith.!!…Personally, since I am without faith, I can wear "infidel" as a badge of honor…For most of us who might embrace the label "infidel" (I sometimes wear an FFRF t-shirt with the word), it is not simply because we have discarded faith—although that would be enough in itself to recommend it, since faith can be dangerous—but because we also champion reason as its replacement, as the only viable tool of knowledge.
One things that many atheist do not seem to understand is that whatever worldview they have concocted on the premise of atheism it is ultimately metaphysical. This is because everyone holds to basic beliefs or axioms which, by necessity, as not evidenced or proven but assumed.
Here Dan Barker is, apparently, employing a fallacious atheist talking point which defines “faith” as belief without evidence. Yet, faith is “trust,” faith is the step that all of us take once we have followed reason and evidence as far as they can go. For example, positive atheists—those who affirm God’s non-existence—would claim that they know God does not exist, without being able to prove it, because they followed reason and evidence as far as they could go and then took the leap of faith to the conclusion that God does not exist.
Thus, it is a false dichotomy to juxtapose faith and reason. Note also that Dan Barker has faith in reason. How so? He declares it to be “the only viable tool of knowledge.” Apparently, he is reasoning to reason by reason—circular logic. Is the Bible God’s word because the Bible claims to be God’s words?[ii] Ask Barker to justify his reliance upon reason without appealing to reason. Clearly, au fond; we are all metaphysicians.
Dan Barker stated,
The Unitarian-Universalist association has a proud heritage of religious diversity and openness, welcoming people of all faiths and of no faith.
I am often privileged to perform or speak at UU fellowships, and in every single one I visit, I encounter a subset of atheists and agnostics, humanists and skeptics, mixing happily with the (mostly liberal) Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and other religious identities.
In some cases, these freethinkers comprise the majority of the fellowship. Certainly, "infidels" have always been a part of the rich fabric of Unitarian Universalism.
Dan Barker makes the same mistake in describing UU as the UU makes in describing themselves. The UU is one of the most rigidly dogmatic churches. They welcoming people of all faiths as long as those faiths are watered down to a level which the UU finds acceptable—the “mostly liberal” sort, and “mostly” is an understatement.
This is because you cannot commune with or become a minister in the UU if you contradict their dogma. Feel free to consult my research on Unitarian Universalism; the bottom line is that they exclude the exclusivists therefore becoming exclusivists themselves and thereby fall into illogical contradiction. They will not tolerate those whom they consider intolerant and therefore become intolerant themselves and thereby fall into illogical contradiction. Their dogma is that they lack dogma which is a dogma. If, for example, you believe that Jesus is God and they only way to salvation you are in conflict with UU dogma and will be shunned.
Dan Barker states that some people,
might try to broaden the word "religion" beyond what has been historically understood. But good luck. To my mind, the word "religion" seems stuck to the supernatural. And since we already have perfectly good natural terms for secular philosophies and moralities, why make things needlessly ambiguous with such a loaded term as "religion"?
Yet, there are atheists such as Michael Newdow who claim that atheism is a religion (think about it; he seeks to have “One Nation Under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and replaced with the god of atheism—nothing).
This lead to the interviewer asking:
Some religious leaders and theologians, like the Dalai Lama and George Fox, are calling for spirituality distinct from religion. The Dalai Lama, in fact, calls for a "secular spirituality" based on compassion and love, and on scientific research into matters like meditation. Do you separate religion from spirituality? Do you think the American public, in general, makes this distinction, or is it too nuanced?
I wondered about the reference to the Dalai Lama considering that we could ask the same question and simply replace “Dalai Lama” with “Sam Harris” (the atheist Buddhist mystic who does not like the terms “atheist,” “Buddhist” or “mystic”).
In any regard, Barker responded, in part, thusly:
Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams (August, 1820), saying: "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say, they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise." (This does not mean Jefferson was an atheist: as a deist, he conceived of God as a material being, or as nature itself.)…
When people like the Dalai Lama suggest that our values originate outside of ourselves--in some "spiritual" realm--they inadvertently insult our species, as if we are just too weak to figure things out on our own. I know he means his phrase as a compliment, and his motives may be truly humanistic, and I can join him in those activities I may deem to be truly moral and beautiful, but pretending to welcome us "secularists" as outsiders invited to his lofty "spiritual" table misses what it truly means to be human and moral.
Actually, deists would tend to argue that God is neither a material being nor nature itself but that God is outside of nature and therefore not material and that God created and stepped away to let nature run its course.
It is fascinating to ponder that if Thomas Jefferson were alive today and, as he did, attended Christian worship services in the Capitol Building Dan Barker and his Freedom From Religion Foundation would file a lawsuit and seek to have him impeached—modern liberals think that they understand Jefferson better than Jefferson understood Jefferson.
But what of this talk of talk of immaterial existences as amounting to nothing? Jefferson was metaphysically relying on reason. May we likewise state that, for example, talk of the laws of logic amounts to nothing? Consider what we know today about the existence of more than four dimensions—which in Rabbi Nachmanides (1194-1270) inferred from reading Genesis ch. 1—it is surprising that Dan Barker would approve of an intangible opinion about intangible beings based on intangible reason.
As for the origination of values; why is it anymore insulting to assert that they proceed from “outside of ourselves” than it is to claim that they are wired into us via evolution, that there is “strict determinism” (to which Dan Barker holds, “We actually don’t have what we would call libertarian freewill”), or, as he stated it so very well during his debate with Paul Manata,
There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares….what happens to me or a piece of broccoli, it won’t [matter], the Sun is going to explode, we’re all gonna be gone. No one’s gonna care.
Yes, we can “figure things out on our own” (epistemologically) and come to any conclusion we please. Yet, on the Barkerian view there is no absolute premise upon which to base and build our conclusions (ontology). This is why Dan Barker can argues, as he does, that rape is not absolutely immoral. Thus, our proclamations amount to impotent assertions.
Here we encounter one instance of Barker simply turning the tables and doing that which he condemns. He can join the Dalai Lama “in those activities I may deem to be truly moral and beautiful…”
Let us pause here a moment to experience an of course moment; note that it is Barker who deems that which is “truly moral and beautiful.” The “I” is Barker who doeth bequeathed morality—actually Barker has stated, “Darwin has bequeathed what is good.” Does stating that it is Barker who doeth bequeathed morality sound like hyperbole? Nay. Consider where, under the guise of “Freethought” he draws the line between moral and immoral (though never absolutely so) from the FFRF “Nontract” #11 “What Is A Freethinker?”
Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of humanistic morality.
Within the limits which are bequeathed by the Barkerian sect of Freethought.
Let us continue as we note what he considers insulting, “pretending to welcome us ‘secularists’ as outsiders invited to his lofty ‘spiritual’ table misses what it truly means to be human and moral.” What does Dan Barker suggest should occur instead of this top (spiritual) down (secular) invitation? He promulgates a top (secular) down (spiritual) invitation. I may rephrasing his statement and turn it around on him,
When people like the Dan Barker suggest that we have no libertarian freewill and that our values originate from a nature which does not care—in some “material” realm—he inadvertently insult our species, as if we are just too weak to recognize freewill and that rape is absolutely immoral.
I know he means his phrases as compliments, and his motives may be truly humanistic, and I can join him in those activities I may deem to be truly moral and beautiful, but pretending to welcome us “theists” as outsiders invited to his lofty “secularist” table misses what it truly means to be human and moral.
Clearly, Barker is merely restating his paraphrase of the Dalai Lama and placing himself on top.
Dan Baker goes on to state:
Religion is one way (not the only way) to bring people together. A key component of religion is the sense of community it provides; but this can cut both ways. On the one hand, the clumping into groups can produce a dangerous “we versus them” mentality, as too often happens with fundamentalist and conservative religions. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with community. Many atheists and agnostics feel isolated in their (non) beliefs and long for an opportunity to socially interact with similarly open-minded individuals and join a group working for charitable, social and activist causes. We want to laugh, sing, learn, compare notes, and feel connected with the world.
The “religious tradition” of Unitarian Universalism--today a truly creedless religion--has consistently de-emphasized the polarizing and potential insular effects of community and re-emphasized the humanistic values that unite us all. For Unitarian Universalists, community means "open the gates and let everyone in," not “lock the doors and keep the evil ones out.”
Many atheists and agnostics who love being around people are comfortable, indeed happy with this tolerant attitude…
The hypocrisy is readily discernable as Barker has built his career upon instigating a “we versus them” mentality. He literally makes his living pushing a “we versus them” mentality. He gives lecture based on his “we versus them” mentality. He writes books based on his “we versus them” mentality. His organization is premised upon his “we versus them” mentality. He continuously files lawsuits based on his “we versus them” mentality. You saw this just above: “we” reasonable people versus “them” faith-filled people, “we” secularists versus “them” spiritual people. In fact, stating that religion causes a “we versus them” mentality is causing a “we versus them” mentality.
[i] Reprinted from Search of Reason, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Spring 2004 (apparently, an ongoing search)
[ii] I ask this because it is somewhat of a common misconception. In reality it is not circular logic because the Bible is not one book written by one author but is 66 books written by some 40 authors.
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