Link blog: atheism, christianity, religion, richard-dawkins

Dr. Marlene Winell speaks about indoctrination by authoritarian religion

Dr Winell speaks to Valeria Tarico. Winell's experiences and those of her clients were much more traumatic than mine, because their churches really did deserve the "fundamentalist" label, but it's still an interesting video on the psychology of leaving a religion. The part about how if something doesn't work for you it's your fault and you must try harder rang some bells. Via Debunking Christianity.
(tags: video religion valerie-tarico indoctrination hell rapture psychology fundamentalism christianity)

txt2re: headache relief for programmers :: regular expression generator

Generate regular expressions from some sample text by clicking on what you want to match. Neat toy.
(tags: programming software tools regexp regex)

‘An Apology’ by Richard Dawkins – RichardDawkins.net

Dawkins apologises for the forum drama: "I would like to start by apologising for our handling of this situation. We have not communicated well with our forum volunteers and users (for example in my insensitive 'Outrage' post, which was written in the heat of the moment). In the process we have caused unintended hurt and offence, and I am very sorry about that. In a classic case of a vicious circle, some of the responses to our announcement also caused considerable hurt and distress to us, and in the atmosphere of heightened emotion that followed, some of our subsequent actions went too far. I hope you will understand the human impulses that led to this, and accept my apology for them. I take full personal responsibility."
(tags: drama internet dawkins richard-dawkins atheism)

Fallacies on fallacies : Evolving Thoughts

"Appeal to authority is not fallacious, so long as the authority cited is relevant and reliable. A principle known as the division of cognitive labor (I think due to Hilary Putnam) suggests that we literally must rely on authorities in the absence of time, resources and cognitive capacities to rerun all experiments and observations since the beginnings of science and history."
(tags: logic fallacy appeal authority putnam philosophy rationality)

Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes | Martin Robbins | Science | guardian.co.uk

"A staggering one in four chiropractors in Britain are now under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements, according to figures from the General Chiropractic Council." Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
(tags: science simon-singh chiropractor guardian health pseudoscience quackery woo-woo libel legal law)

Photographic Height/Weight Chart

Self-submitted photographs of people, tabulated by weight and height. Interesting stuff. Via Metafilter.
(tags: health photos photography images height weight statistics photo biology)

Parchment and Pen ยป DO WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE THE BAD NEWS BEFORE THE GOOD NEWS?

Paul Copan has some sensible thoughts on how to do evangelism. On no account should Christians put any of them into practice.
(tags: evangelism religion christianity sin gospel)

Heresy Corner: A Reading from the Book of Dawk

This is hilarious: "And some of the disciples said, O Dawk, our anger is not mixed against thee, but against thy servant Josh, who hath offended us. But others said, Hath not the Dawk deserted us? Come, let us depart the land of Dawk and hearken unto some other prophet, for the Dawk loveth not his people."
(tags: richard-dawkins drama internet forum atheism funny parody dawkins)

9 thoughts on “Link blog: atheism, christianity, religion, richard-dawkins”

    1. Maybe Dawkins doesn’t consider himself part of any particular online community and didn’t see how people would get territorial about it. I’m surprised Josh didn’t realise that, though.

  1. DO WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE THE BAD NEWS BEFORE THE GOOD NEWS?

    It has always struck me as somewhat disingenuous when evangelists present both halves of the TWTL message – (a) you are a sinner and doomed to bad stuff, (b) by some effort you can get Jesus to save you – and call the whole lot “the good news”. If I already believed (a) on its own and then somebody convinced me of (b), that would be good news – “potentially not doomed after all” is better than “definitely doomed”. But if I believed neither, so I thought I was already not doomed, then the combined effect of (a) and (b) takes me from “not doomed” to “only not doomed if I put in the effort”, and that’s bad news!

    So I can kind of see why people want to present the bad news of (a) first and then wheel in (b): without that preparation, the “good news” isn’t.

    (Is there some large class of people targeted by evangelists who do believe (a) already, so that that usage of “the good news” is not a misnomer?)

    1. Well, as Lewis put it, nobody’s happy to be told about the cure as long as they can keep convincing themselves that they don’t need to see a doctor.

      S.

    2. Yeah, I agree.

      But the good news should be more than just “you can avoid being doomed”. I think evangelists who only talk about avoiding hell are Doing It Wrong.

      To stretch the analogy in S’s comment to breaking point: “You have a previously-undiagnosed terminal illness, but if you take these pills for the rest of your life you can avoid dying of it” doesn’t really sound like good news, but “You have a previously-undiagnosed terminal illness, but if you take these pills for the rest of your life you can avoid dying of it, and have loads of energy and a better physique and immunity from colds, and not die of anything else either” does.

      (where the other things are things like a future in Heaven with the creator of all pleasures and all good things; being a child of God; having someone to thank when things go well and turn to when things go badly; being a part of something bigger and more significant than yourself; and so on.)

    3. Is there some large class of people targeted by evangelists who do believe (a) already, so that that usage of “the good news” is not a misnomer?

      I think there’s a reasonably large class of people who suspect they’re bad and will respond to part (a) of TWTL with recognition. A previous comment thread on the entry I link to from my de-conversion essay has someone saying “When you realise how sinful you are, then you also realise how Jesus really is the only answer.”

      However, as Copan says, that sort of thing also turns people off, hence Keller’s approach of talking about idolatry and how only God can satisfy people (which again fails, I think, because most people are sensible enough to realise that most things they enjoy are fallible, and in fact that includes the Christian God, as some of us found). [Keller’s in town this weekend if you want to go and listen to him… I’m not sure I’ll bother: his book was good natured but not very convincing.]

    4. I did a course on effective sales back when I worked for ARM. The gist was that salespeople are much more effective if they scare the living crap out of the potential customer first, and then offer them salvation through their product. Apparently it works rather well with human psychology.

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