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An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles 
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Post An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
Fiske

While surfing the web tonight I came across your Blog post on your site, FiskeMiles.com, about how you stepped down as discussion leader for The God Delusion here at BookTalk. This post is an open invitation for you to participate in the discussion even without holding the position of discussion leader. I'm not sure why you walked completely away from the discussion, but maybe your below comments will give us a better idea.

Quote:
I've also been surprised to find my sympathies (and arguments) primarily aligned with the theists, or at least agnostics, participating in the discussion. The dogmatic views expressed by many of the atheists are strident, intolerant, and simplistic in much the same way as views expressed by religious fundamentalists. Eagleton alludes to this militant atheist attitude in his review. When all is said and done, God's non-existence is no more subject to proof than His existence. Either position is a matter of belief, not knowledge, and ought best to be treated with a certain amount of skepticism and caution. At least that's what I think. People who believe God exists are no more deluded than people who believe He doesn't. And frankly, nothing has shaken my confidence in atheism more than discussing it with this group of atheists.
Fiske, just about everything that comes out of your mouth leads me to suspect that you're a closet theist masquerading as an atheist. When the day comes for you to "come out of the closet" what a powerful testimony it will be for the strength of the word of the lord. It got you to turn your back on the dogmatic ignorance and arrogance of atheism!

I might be wrong, but I've received numerous emails from members with the same prediction or theory about your game plan. And I do hope we're wrong because it'll make me feel like a gullible chump for getting sucked into the whole scheme. Not to mention that I do think you're a bright and articulate person. Having you in the atheist camp seems like an asset.

My experiences with atheists and atheism lead me to believe that you either didn't read The God Delusion in it's entirety or you went into the reading already extremely biased against Richard Dawkins and his agenda. Your arguments, in my opinion, lack sophistication, yet you do well at packaging them beautifully by the way you manipulate the English language. This is in some ways a compliment and in others a critique. It's a wonderful skill or talent to be able to sell yourself or your message to an audience, but when you're pushing a lemon it needs to be known.

I'm truly curious what essays or articles you've written about atheism. And I mean at any time in your life, not just on your current Blog. I'd love to read anything you've authored that defends atheism.

According to your Blog, located at FiskeMiles.com, your writing there is about...

1. astronomy
2. bird watching
3. reading
4. atheism

...but when we look at your index of articles, found on your site map page, you seem to skip over offering articles on atheism. I can't help but wonder why this is.

And this is what really makes me believe you're not an atheist:

Quote:
God's non-existence is no more subject to proof than His existence. Either position is a matter of belief, not knowledge, and ought best to be treated with a certain amount of skepticism and caution. At least that's what I think. People who believe God exists are no more deluded than people who believe He doesn't. And frankly, nothing has shaken my confidence in atheism more than discussing it with this group of atheists.
This line of reasoning is so ridiculous and unsophisticated that I'm bewildered you even made it to discussion leader status on BookTalk. To be honest I'm frustrated with myself and my screening process. So I appreciate you stepping down as discussion leader. I really do.

I suppose Dawkins failed to make his point with you about the celestial teapot. To you the position that the teapot doesn't exist is just as much a "belief" as the position that it does exist. What about basic probability? When the probability of a "belief" being true approaches 100% is it to be grouped into the same category as those beliefs with a .0000000001% probability of being true? I mean, heck, a belief is a belief is a belief. Right? Are people who believe the celestial teapot to be nonsense just as deluded as the people that worship the celestial teapot? You don't see a significant difference?

Fiske, you're either a theist and you lied to us or you're purposely hiding the true nature of your "atheism." I'd love to hear an explanation of your beliefs and like to see a few of your articles on atheism. Something tells me that they don't exist or that you'll have excuses for why you won't stoop to addressing this challenge.

Quote:
And frankly, nothing has shaken my confidence in atheism more than discussing it with this group of atheists.
This sounds like the first signs of labor pains as a Christian is about to be born again. How wonderful it will be to have your future blog posts talk of your conversion from atheism to theism. It is almost as if you are laying the foundation.

Sorry Fiske, but I'm sounding annoyed only because I am. You've insulted our community and me indirectly. If you're an atheist I'd like to hear the reasons why. And if I've read you wrong I'll apologize with no reservations.

So let this stand as an invitation and challenge to explain your version of atheism and provide some of your articles on the subject of atheism.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 3/10/07 1:07 pm



Sat Mar 10, 2007 3:03 am
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Post Re: An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
I think the last straw was my turning around his thing about "the Queen" and "breathtaking" and applying it to his masturbatory fantasies about that review of the book. Fiske is a bit of a softie and seemingly cannot stand any heated coments...at least not those directed at him and not coming FROM him.

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Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:18 am
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Post Re: An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
Quote:
When all is said and done, God's non-existence is no more subject to proof than His existence. Either position is a matter of belief, not knowledge, and ought best to be treated with a certain amount of skepticism and caution. At least that's what I think. People who believe God exists are no more deluded than people who believe He doesn't. And frankly, nothing has shaken my confidence in atheism more than discussing it with this group of atheists.


This is from Fiskes diatribe on his blog. How is the statement that something exists NOT subject to proof and how can one provide proof that something does NOT exist. Of course the notion that god does not exist is NOT subject to proof, but the statement that god does exist gives anyone the authority to demand proof. We cannot tolerate people just making things up and then being forced to accept their fantasies without proof.

It is not a matter of BELIEF to say that something does not exist if no satisfactory evidence has been found to support it. This is where Unicorns and Teapots come in. "But that is not the same thing" the dupes will claim. Why?

WHY do we give religion a pass on what we otherwise write off as myth and fantasy?

I am sorry. People who believe in god are much more deluded than those who do not accept god based on the evidence. Would we consider someone deluded who believed that water was made up of 2 Helium atoms and one Oxygen atom? Yes, because we know from evidence that it is not so.

Now if someone 500 years ago suggested that water was made up of two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom, most people WOULD have thought he was deluded. But he would have had the benefit of provability on his side in the long run.

So what am I saying here. Is science always right and infallible? No. But the search for knowledge continues and continually modifies itself to reflect reality. Religion and god have NOT ONE shred of evidence or even innuendo to support it. It is wishful thinking gone awry.

I for one am glad that Fiske has been shaken a bit from his confidence in atheism, because with atheists like him, who needs theists?


Mr. P.


I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Mon Mar 12, 2007 9:02 am
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Post Re: An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
Probably the last thing Fiske needs around here is an endorsement from yours truly, but I will say, that if he's merely miming the part of an atheist in order to make some dramatic revelation of faith, he's being very thorough about it. Go back and read through Fiske's portions of the original Dawkins thread (the very long one that Chris moved to this forum when the reading period began). Fiske and I debated back and forth for a few weeks, and he ultimately ended up holding the party line, even if he and I managed to find some common ground on the matter of proof. Fiske also pointed me to an essay on the possibility of ethics without reference to a religious absolute, which ought to count towards Chris' demand that he provide some literature he's read on atheism.

Personally, I see no reason to doubt Fiske's sincerity. I could be entirely wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. But what it looks like to me is, that Fiske doesn't take as strong a line as some of you here, doesn't feel comfortable aligning himself with the Dawkins camp of evangelical atheists, and has invited your ire simply by virtue of not drawing the lines in the same places.

What's dismaying about the situation is, that despite having written at length about the need for unity in the atheist community, you two are drawing a further line, attempting to out Fiske as a closetted atheist rather than find some way to embrace a more moderate atheism. Even if Fiske is, as you've alleged, not an atheist at all, you've made an issue of moderate atheism by being so public in your denunciation. I can't see how atheists as a community do themselves any favors by accusing one another of being "soft" or challenging one another to prove their atheism.

I'm sure Fiske would appreciate an invitation. The challenge, though, should be yours.




Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:11 pm
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Post Re: An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
Well, I was just responding to Chris' post. I did not intend to invite, challenge or otherwise engage Fiske. I was ok with him being gone...and I offer the same statement to you.


Mr. P.


I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:30 pm
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Post Re: An invitation and challenge to Fiske Miles
I've no problems with moderate atheists, even though that isn't really a term used by atheists. Weak atheism or agnostic atheism is a more common descriptive. And just about every atheist I know personally or whom I admire from afar are weak or agnostic atheists. Richard Dawkins, despite what some theists may believe, is a weak or agnostic atheist. I am a weak or agnostic atheist.

Fiske, on the other hand, doesn't even appear to be an atheist at all. Then again I didn't read the entire massive 250+ post thread. And I shouldn't have to. Fiske expressed himself on his Blog and I responded. His logic is poor, in my opinion, and I pointed that out. To label me or the majority of us atheists as strong or dogmatic or fundamental atheists is just plain wrong. And it is offensive and a complete insult to everything we represent here at BookTalk. It is proper to demand evidence for a supernatural entity before professing belief. This is an extraordinary claim and we demand extraordinary evidence. All rational humans have the same rule of thumb. If you don't you aren't a very rational person.

To liken the belief in an extraordinary claim completely unsupported by any evidence whatsoever to the belief in a claim that appears highly probable, even an apparent certainty, is to demonstrate a severe lack of critical thinking skills. It doesn't matter how much you candy-coat your irrational beliefs under a fine layer of flowery and Zen-like word salad - if you believe in anything without evidence you're a shit thinker. To people like Fiske it appears that they think every event has an equal probability, much like flipping a perfectly designed and weighted penny. Either the result is a heads or tails. Plain and simple. But the existence of the Christian God, as defined and represented in the Christian Bible, is NOT so cut and dry. There is a MUCH higher probability that this extraordinary claim is false than true. So the fact that there is absolutely NO evidence whatsoever speaks volumes about those that opt to believe despite the lack of evidence.

Just because Dawkins doesn't respect bad logic doesn't mean he deserves to be labeled as closed-minded or a fundamentalist. He simply calls a spade a spade. He deserves credit for not pussyfooting around a subject that just about the entire world considers taboo. People are dying in by the millions because everyone is afraid to say the things Dawkins stands up and says. I applaud and admire Dawkins and am a bit defensive when someone attacks his approach. In my opinion it is Dawkins confrontational demeanor that stands the greatest chance of keeping the human species from plunging back into a form of dark ages again. Religion kills and always will. Religious belief is the opposite of belief formed by critical inquiry and freethought. Fiske insults us by grouping us in with those people that have little to no respect for critical thinking, which in my opinion and the opinion of most freethinkers I know, is mans only valid cognitive tool.




Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:48 pm
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Off-topic, almost, but I think that you may be confusing weak atheism and moderate atheism Chris. Agnostic atheists, or weak atheists like Dawkins or the likes of The Society of the Godless were far from moderate.

Dawkins wrote a book about religion and managed not to say single nice thing about it. That is the voice of a moderate. Dawkins would like to live in a world where a person who attempted to raise their child as a religious person would have that child taken away from them. That is far from moderate. In fact, it makes him a bit of a fascist.








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Post Re: --
Actually, Niall, his tone hasn't a thing to do with being a weak or strong atheist. The difference between the two is that a strong atheist says, 'There is no God or gods," while a weak or agnostic atheist says, "I don't believe there is a God or gods," and typically they will add something like, "...due to lack of evidence."

A weak or agnostic atheist can be a complete prick and mock and ridicule religion and faith in general. It just doesn't have any bearing on the subject.

Richard Dawkins doesn't claim to know that there isn't a God. He lacks the belief, as all rational people should, and he ridicules people that believe when there is no evidence whatsoever to support such belief. Richard Dawkins uses the "celestial teapot" analogy to demonstrate how none of us know for certain that certain extraordinary claims aren't true, but we can reject them as ludicrous based on insufficient evidence.

Dawkins is a "passionate" agnostic atheist who doesn't suffer fools. Unlike Fiske Miles, who throws his hands up in the air and says, "you just never know," Dawkins says, "It is rational to reject any and all extraordinary claims when insufficient evidence exists to support them."

Dawkins, like me, is a strong atheist with regards to specific or precisely defined gods. When a Christian argues that the God they believe in can be defined as having X, Y and Z characteristics, I can then make the affirmative claim that that God, as just defined by the Christian, cannot and does not exist as defined. So one can be an agnostic atheist with regards to the overall God concept, but a strong atheist with the regards to specific or precisely defined deities. Typically, the agnostic atheist moves from being agnostic to "one who professes to know" the moment the theist opens their mouth and assigns a scientifically testable, repeatable and verifiable criterion to their deity. But the blanket belief statement of "I believe in some sort of god" cannot really be refuted or challenged. All we can do is try to get the mystical thinking person to tell us enough about their god or belief in order to rip it apart....which is precisely why educated theists, such as MadArchitect (sorry Mad), will avoid defining their God, gods, or beliefs at all costs.




Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:21 pm
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Post Re: --
Quote:
Actually, Niall, his tone hasn't a thing to do with being a weak or strong atheist. The difference between the two is that a strong atheist says, 'There is no God or gods," while a weak or agnostic atheist says, "I don't believe there is a God or gods," and typically they will add something like, "...due to lack of evidence."


Yes, I know the difference between the two, and I appreciate that Dawkins is what people like to term a 'weak atheist'.

I was responding to this particular statement:

Quote:
I've no problems with moderate atheists, even though that isn't really a term used by atheists. Weak atheism or agnostic atheism is a more common descriptive. And just about every atheist I know personally or whom I admire from afar are weak or agnostic atheists. Richard Dawkins, despite what some theists may believe, is a weak or agnostic atheist. I am a weak or agnostic atheist.


Given that this seemed to be in response to Mad's comment that

Quote:
Even if Fiske is, as you've alleged, not an atheist at all, you've made an issue of moderate atheism by being so public in your denunciation. I can't see how atheists as a community do themselves any favors by accusing one another of being "soft" or challenging one another to prove their atheism.


It seemed to me that you were making a link between weak atheism and moderate atheism. I was pointing out that being a "weak atheist" like Dawkins does not automatically make you a moderate.

Quote:
Dawkins is a "passionate" agnostic atheist who doesn't suffer fools. Unlike Fiske Miles, who throws his hands up in the air and says, "you just never know," Dawkins says, "It is rational to reject any and all extraordinary claims when insufficient evidence exists to support them."


But of course, few actually agree with his definition of what constitutes evidence. Dawkins just assumes that we should all agree with him without ever explaining why we should adopt his criteria. Dogma?

Quote:
Typically, the agnostic atheist moves from being agnostic to "one who professes to know" the moment the theist opens their mouth and assigns a scientifically testable, repeatable and verifiable criterion to their deity


But of course, few agree with Dawkins when it comes to defining the limits of science. We are talking about a man who thinks that you can somehow examine the claim that a supernatural god created the universe, using a technique that has been specifically designed to examine that universe.

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Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:52 pm
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Post Re: --
Quote:
I was pointing out that being a "weak atheist" like Dawkins does not automatically make you a moderate.
Oh, I completely agree. Dawkins is definitely no moderate. And neither am I. But we are both, by definition, agnostic atheists.




Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:25 am
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Post Re: --
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But of course, few actually agree with his definition of what constitutes evidence. Dawkins just assumes that we should all agree with him without ever explaining why we should adopt his criteria. Dogma?
I'd venture to say that the majority of the science community thinks Dawkins is an outstanding scientist who understands what constitutes "evidence" very clearly. Yes, few agree with his definition - but only when you are looking at the general population. But in this same group of scientifically illiterate people about 75% believe in angels. Just about all of the science community concurs with Dawkins, and this holds more weight than the uneducated opinion of the masses.




Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:29 am
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