U.S. Supreme Court OK'd Atheist to Open NY Meeting

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Tag Cloud Tags:

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

GREECE, NY (Worthy News)-- An atheist is set to deliver the opening "prayer" before the town board of Greece, N.Y., the epicenter of the recent U.S. Supreme Court's case concerning public prayer, according to Cleveland.com.

Dan Courtney will open the July 15 Greece Town Board meeting with a prayer on the theme of inclusion, but to whom will this prayer be addressed as Courtney is a member of the Atheist Society of Rochester?

Two Greece residents have already lost challenges to the town's practice of prayer before meetings after they both claimed that Christian prayers made them "uncomfortable". But the Supreme Court upheld the practice, declaring such prayers in keeping with national traditions.

Greece officials said people of any religious denomination are welcome to deliver the opening prayer, but by giving the floor to an atheist, is the town board suggesting that atheism represents a belief in disbelief?

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54 thoughts on “U.S. Supreme Court OK'd Atheist to Open NY Meeting”

  1. They're formally referred to as "invocations." Just because you're unfamiliar with the idea of wishing people well without referencing deities doesn't mean it doesn't happen; it just means you need to get out of the echo chamber and meet different people. Cultural isolation leads to social maladjustment. Get to know people of different faiths and of no faith. You'd be surprised: they're human beings, too.

    • Invocation
      According to Merriam-Webster it's either a supplication to deity, or a magical incantation.
      So why would an atheist do either of the above?

      • I'm not one to get hung up on definitions, because definitions are necessarily subjective and change as usage changes. Nonetheless, the first definition I came across for "invocation" is: "the action of invoking something or someone for assistance or as an authority." I was simply invoking an idea. An idea, btw, that I've had virtually no disagreement with.

        Thinking that atheists should be excluded from the process by definition is not only wrong, it is clearly bigoted.

      • Again, according to my hard copy of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus, an invocation is either 1: SUPPLICATION; esp: a prayer at the beginning of a service or 2: a formula for conjuring: INCANTATION.

        I'm not excluding atheists from either of these, but my question is why a genuine atheist -- one who denies the existence of god(s) -- would "process" either one?

      • It's not what I need to update; it's what you refuse to address.

        Why would a genuine atheist — one who denies the existence of god(s) — want to publicly "process" a supplication, or an incantation?

      • Joe, it is no use arguing with them: the dictionaries are all being updated by the liberal fascists anyway. Just see what atrocities they have done to the definition of "marriage:"

        "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law: the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage ; the state of 3 or more numbskulls pretending to be united for their selfish human sexual desires which they wish to inflict on helpless children; the state of a NAMBLA orgy; the state of being united with a bridge; the state of being united with oneself when one cannot find a date; the state of uniting with one's pet in order to leave it a large inheritance; the state of New York, California, or Massachusetts "

        So, the moral to the story is this: keep your old hard copy dictionaries so that you can show your grandchildren what words meant before the advent of liberal fascism and word-ism.

      • Thanks WGC, but my dictionary's copyright is 2006, not 1896.

        And any new age notions of a secular prayer -- a contradiction in terms if there ever was one -- will never make King's English obsolete.

      • So, your 2006 edition is ad up-to-date and comprehensive as anybody would ever need? King's English, eh? How often do you discuss how you went to the haberdashery for pantaloons and then went to the chirurgeon to pick up your I'll mother?

      • Look it up on MW's website. It's more detailed. Also, notice that your definition says ESPECIALLY a prayer, meaning other things than prayers qualify as invocations. Knowing how a dictionary works helps eliminate confusion.

      • Look it up on MW's website. Learn for yourself. You're going to resist it from me, but if you read it yourself, you're seeing it come from the source, not the person you see as an opponent who must be countered. Go learn, or refuse to learn. Your choice.

      • So, you refuse to consult the most up-to-date and comprehensive version of your favored dictionary? What does "especially" mean in the context of the definition you shared?

      • How does the most up-to-date and comprehensive version of your favored dictionary define "secular prayer" without contradicting itself?

      • Why are you afraid of looking for yourself? Just look. And, you still haven't explained what "especially" means in that definition you provided. It's the key to your undoing, you know.

      • Why are you afraid to answer a simple question: How does the most up-to-date and comprehensive version of your favored dictionary define “secular prayer” without contradicting itself?

        And if you want to know what Merriam-Webster means by "especially" then look it up yourself.

        BTW, have you noticed that several of your derogatory posts on this thread have been "undone"?
        Or don't you know that your keyboard is the key to your own undoing.

      • So when you talk with your canine, does it make you feel like "dog" spelled backwards?
        But then how can a genuine atheist have godlike delusions of grandeur?

      • You score double points here, old boy! And THEY make fun of US for a talking donkey centuries ago?!?

        Give Dan some credit, Joe: I hear he really does have a smart dog. Besides monkeys (I mean, apes!) and dogs are closer (under his view in the evolutionary "tree") than humans and dogs, so the communication lines are shorter. God bless!

      • The great thing about my dog is that he doesn't care whether you're an atheist or a theist. He wags his tail and treats everyone the same. Someday humans will evolve to this level.

      • I think that the point Dan is making here, Joe, is that by asserting an upper bound limit of canine intelligence to your level of intelligence, Dan is "evolving" to where he "treats everyone the same." And, how refreshing that is! Some of us Christians were under the mistaken view that we were under attack for our non-non-religious beliefs. :-)

  2. Joe - I would have been happy to speak with you about my invocation so that your story could have been more accurate. Let me see if I can help after the fact.

    First let me note that Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, pointed to the Town's stated policy of allowing anyone (theist or non-theist) to provide the invocation as a mitigating factor in the question of whether the practice violated the first amendment. The opinion's wording on this issue is the basis for the right of a person of any faith (or no faith at all) to provide the invocations. Some may read your headline as saying that the Supreme Court specifically approved my invocation in this instance, which is not the case. My invocation simply comports with the general principle.

    Second, the terms prayer and invocation have been used interchangebly by many, including the Supreme Court. Past practice of the Town has been to use the term invocation, although Supervisor Reilich did use the term prayer at Tuesday's meeting. To me "prayer" has a closer link to the idea of communicating with a deity than "invocation", and thus I beleive invocation is more accurate. What I invoked was an idea from our country's founders, which I specifically chose so that all of us, theist and atheist alike, could find commonality in the message.

    Third - on a minor point - it's the Atheist Community of Rochester, not the Atheist Society of Rochester.

    Fourth, I can answer your question, "by giving the floor to an atheist, is the town board suggesting that atheism represents a belief in disbelief?" The Town has said on a number of occasions that people of any faith, or no faith at all, can provide the invocation. They do not (nor should they) provide commentary on the content of the invocator's beliefs or lack there of.

    That said, I will point out that despite the Town's stated policy of inclusion, they have denied at least two invocation requests from non-Christians. They have also contradicted themselves, as apparently the stated purpose for denying at least one of these requests was that the invocator was not a town resident. I'll point out that I have never been a resident of the town, and several other previous Christian invocators were not residents. The Town also made the case to the Supreme Court that they place no requirements on the invocators of any kind (content, duration, etc.). Yet prior to my invocation I was twice informed by the Town that my invocation was to be respectful and no more than one to two minutes. Finally, despite Justice Kennedy's contention that the invocations are primarily directed to the board, the podium has been (in every case that I am aware of) facing the public and away from the board. Yet at my invocation Tuesday evening, the podium was placed facing the board. Many news cameras at the board meeting had orginally set up behind the board so as to film me from the front, which would have (as with all other invocations) included an image of the town seal on the podium. But just prior to the meeting Town officials relocated the camera crews so that they could only film from the side or rear of the podium.

    Such are the pernicious means of a town intent on allying with one religion.

    Dan Courtney

  3. Since we're majoring on minors, I must point out that whatever your interpretation of headlines, they are usually written by layout editors, not writers.

    As for the two Greece residents who claimed that Christian prayers made them "uncomfortable," would that be comparable to the same discomfort atheists said they felt in the presence of the Ground Zero Cross?

    Some atheists claimed such severe symptoms of nausea and other ailments in the presence of that cross that they sounded more like "vampires". I already can't tell vamps from Goths, and now I can't tell either from atheists.

    And the last person I would ask for help with this story is someone with his own agenda.

  4. "Dear 'god that doesn't exist,' I am praying to you, even though you do not exist. I am really mad at you, even though you do not exist, because I had a bad relationship with my father or another authority figure. If I could, I would come up there and slap you in your face which does not exist. Can I use your knee which does not exist?

    Even if you created everything, I would not believe in you, because you do not exist. And, I know you don't exist, because Carl Sagan used to say it all the time, and I never asked him to back up his claim, because he was once my god, I mean, the human that I once worshipped. And, you didn't create the universe because it created itself, wait no, it just magically popped into existence without your help, because you don't exist. And, that kind of thing happens to me all the time. One time a plateful of brownies appeared out of nowhere after I had been smoking some...

    And, you didn't create life because life just miraculously happened when a lightning bolt hit some mud. (Oh, sorry, 'god that doesn't exist,' I didn't meant to use the word 'miraculously.' I would apologize more, but you don't exist.) And you didn't create the mind, because the mind doesn't exist - at least not mine. And, I am an ape, too, not a monkey, so please tell your followers to stop calling me a monkey, and refer to me as an ape, 'god that doesn't exist.' (And don't let your followers know about the sudden Cambrian explosion of life, because I have to pretend it didn't happen in order to make me feel better about my ape-ness and my non-religious convictions.)

    I will never believe in you, 'god that doesn't exist,' because one of your followers was once mean to me, or my father left my mother when I was young, or he used to abuse me, or [insert problem I have with authority], and that would be all your fault (if you existed, which you don't), because you could have created people like robots and programmed everyone to be nice to one another. But, then I couldn't do this prayer, I guess - unless it was programmed in by you, which I guess it wouldn't be if you existed, which you do not.

    I pray all these things to you, even though you do not exist. And, is it OK if I keep making fun of you and your followers, if you do exist, which you don't? That makes me feel better about myself. Thank you! (if you exist, which you don't) And, can I keep visiting the websites of your followers to tell them all about how you don't exist, and to complain about your non-existence, and to show them how much smarter I am than they are by saying you don't exist, even though you don't exist?

    I would be thankful to you, if only you existed. So, I pray all these things to my freedom from religion, except I wish you hadn't invented freedom (if you existed, which you don't), because then everyone would be nice to each other, even though "nice" wouldn't mean anything anymore. A-theist!

    • No, I prefer to imitate the northern end of a southbound horse. :-) Ad hominem and name-calling - just what I expect from the New Atheists. We Old Atheists were a much higher breed of intellectual. Of course, we were in morbid fear of the Big Bang being true, and desperately clinging to eternal and/or oscillating universes. Your generation, sadly, has had that closed off to them, and has nothing (which created everything - yay, let's go insult some Christians for their lack of "rationality!") left to hang your hat on, so it is to be expected.

      Besides, I was just giving Dan some suggested material for his big moment in history. I'm glad you appreciated it. God bless you, Randy!

  5. It's a very unchristian thing to lie, but that wouldn't stop an atheist, or a Muslim practicing taqiyya.
    In fact the editor deleted three of your insulting posts, or are your fingers so busy on the keyboard that you didn't have time to count them all?

    • If it's so unChristian, why do you consistently do it? Go read the definition. You know why you won't do it. You refuse to let yourself see anything that would force you to admit you were wrong. Not very humble, and I thought humility was another of those virtues held dear by Christians. At least every Christian here can see the fear you exhibit regarding being shown to be wrong and having to apologize for your error. Sad.

      • Your baseless accusations are straw man arguments to avoid addressing why a real atheist would ever perform an invocation.
        And secular prayers are still a contradiction in terms.

      • Not baseless. You asked a question, supplied the answer you wished would be given, and then ridiculed him for the answer you provided. Also, you posted a definition, ignoring the inconvenient portions (lie of omission), and, when called on it and given the path to correction, you proclaim yourself right regardless of the facts. Haughtiness and dishonesty. Maybe you think God likes it as long as it's done to people you think he hates (according to the Bible, God says atheists do nk good things), but people find your practices objectionable. Well, except the moderators, but if they care more about people agreeing with them than facts, that's not entirely unpredictable

      • The only objectionable practices were the comments you posted, and they were removed by a third party.
        And your constant whining about that is not entirely unpredictable.

      • Joe, if a-theists re-directed their energies from whining to something productive, we would have a rather large colony on Mars by now. We would certainly be able to make low earth orbit. :-)

      • And, if creationists used their money for science instead of Noah's Ark Parks, we'd have a cure for AIDS and warp drives by now! Difference is, creationists aren't merely diverting their income to useless exploits; they're actively undermining the educational standards that are necessary for scientific progress. And, if Christians put their church donations into science, we'd have solved even more and bigger issues. Want to talk about supporting child rapists? Religion is the single biggest shield for child predators. More money has been spent in the last 50 years protecting child rapists and shutting up children who have been raped than some countries have as a GDP. But, I suppose it's more comfortable to make gay people a bogeyman than one's sectarian leadership. Not you in particular necessarily, but as a generality.

      • The only people diverting our income to useless exploits is Obama and his redistributionist Democrats.

      • There you go again, Randy, making objective moral assertions under a-theism. Totally unsupportable, according to Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse anyway. Next thing we know, you will be asserting that all the Christian charities are "evil" and that the a-theist (not secular, that doesn't count under a-theism) one is "good." (Is that one still on or not?)

        We already KNOW that you a-theists don't care, Randy, because the overwhelming majority of you are pro-abortion democrats, and democrats give very little of their own money (but lots of ours) to help others. Here's the secular data: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/is-giving-to-charity-more-rational-for-religious-people-or-atheists/
        Or you might prefer this one:

        Besides, Randy, the Noah's Ark parks are just a reminder for you to get onboard with Jesus. You never know when it's departing, after all. :-) (I know, I know, Jesus didn't exist, or He didn't say what He said or whatever. I'm surprised you didn't say that "wife" under the definition of "marriage" could include a man. Where's your skepticism on the definition of "wife" anyway?!? :-))

        God bless you, Randy - you are fun to play with!

  6. Randy, for what it's worth: I LOVED your horse comment! Further, in my "definition" of "marriage," I was merely pointing out the logical extension of what happens with language relativism - when we believe that we can make words mean whatever we desire them to mean. I suffered from this affliction, too, in those days when I was a comrade-in-arms with you, and both you and Dan have alluded, in your replies to Joe, to holding this view to some degree or another. It's a view that ultimately leads one to some form of absurdism or nihilism when it comes to language use, and it tends to make one look more than a little bit Clintonesque ("depends on what the definition of 'is' is"). I'm just giving you a heads-up on this, because I went down this path myself once - to no avail, and to lots of negative consequences in my personal life.

    I was NOT attempting to paint you, in any way whatsoever, as supporting child rape - merely that there is a slippery slope involved in language relativism, and that slope has consequences, and we are already seeing those consequences in the re-definition of "marriage" in the SSM movement (despite how we were promised they would NEVER happen). I LOVE all of my former comrades-in-arms, you and Dan included, and I would love for you to be able to see that faux outrage over some Christians praying before a meeting is NOT your "Normandy:" you have much more important and manly battles to fight, and Christianity offers the only view in which to do so, IMO. (since it is impossible to ground objective moral values and duties under a-theism, at least according to Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse, and they have good reasons for holding this view).

    Even Bertrand Russell, one of my all-time fave a-theists said it: "Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” Yes, I am appealing to authority here, but a pretty good one at that - and he has good reasons for having believed it, and I have yet to hear a satisfactory reply to it - other than some variation of "I can invent a purpose myself and pretend I really DO have a purpose when I really don't." Well, it didn't work for me - money, degrees, career, family, sports - none of those things worked. I am praying for you and Dan to find your "Normandy," because you guys are both smart enough, witty enough (love the horse - keep it coming!), and searching hard enough to find it. God bless you both. Sincerely.

    • If you object to redefining the word "marriage," which redefinition do you support? Allowing races to mix? Allowing religions to mix? Disallowing polygamy? You can't cry about marriage being redefined when what you know as marriage has been redefined multiple times in the past. And, seriously, as long as religious institutions are not compelled to perform the ceremonies, what difference does it make? I mean, it's not like allowing it will increase homosexuality. There is no correlation between rates of homosexuality and legalized same-sex marriage. There is no evidence to support claims that it would decrease heterosexual marriage rates (except the small percentage that are for show because of familial or professional pressures). Nor is there evidence that homosexuals abuse children at higher rates than heterosexual couples. In fact, the main harms befalling children in same-sex parental homes is the same harm that befell children of mixed race couples when that was controversial. Nothing more than abuse by bigots and the children they've taught to hate. Civilizations don't fall because of homosexuals being allowed to marry, any more than from allowing races to mix. And, if the arguments are economic, there is no right that is denied by law on the grounds that it would somehow affect governmental expenditures. That's such a slippery slope, you'd never be able to get back up it. Barring religious reasons (which are irrelevant) and "icky," is there any compelling secular good served via denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples?

      • Randy, why all the anger when I showed you the love? :-) The prior dictionary definition of "marriage" has always been between one man and one woman (husband and wife). (I have actually had SSM supporters say to me "well, the wife COULD be a man" - another example of language relativism. I pray you aren't going to go in that direction, but there is no reason you shouldn't, on your view anyway.) This definition, based on natural law had stood the test of time until VERY recently. Makes you wonder how all of the great thinkers of the past, Christian and secular, got it wrong for thousands of years, doesn't it? I know: they weren't "progressive" enough. :-)

        It has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of inter-racial marriages, which were never excluded definitionally and certainly not Biblically (as there were, necessarily, plenty of those in the Bible). Of course, you are surely aware of women marrying themselves, a woman marrying a bridge (as an engineer, I can attest to the fact that the bridge she married IS quite spectacular), the argument for polygamy from SSM, polyamorous "marriages," etc. So, the slippery slope charge not only remains, but has been confirmed by fact and has been admitted to by all but the most militant supporters of SSM. Finally, the charge of language relativism stands and your postings (and Dan's) confirm that you both believe in it.

        As for the secular case against SSM, which is a little off topic here, I generally use the following approach: bad for the individuals, bad for children, and bad for society as a whole. Here is a summary link: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/a-secular-case-against-same-sex-marriage/ It's not a perfect argument, partly because the results from Australia (not included) have been openly cooked for political correctness - by allowing SSM "parents" - another re-definition - to self-report the happiness of their 1-4 year olds. But, don't forget: when you initiate an experiment that involves children (and millions upon millions of them), the burden of proof is actually on you to show that they will NOT be harmed by it. (If you don't understand this, then please read "The Challenger Launch Decision," which shows how the burden of proof was actually reversed - and with catastrophic results.)

        I love gay people, Randy, so the bigot charge is more than a bit unhinged. I love them so much that I am getting a little tired of reading the obituaries of 45 year old men who were "active in the LGBTQWXYZ community." (Just the fact that your side's acronym keeps growing in length should be enough to convince you of the relativistic nature of the "cause.") Under the Christian view, and most solid secular ethics views, it is NOT loving to encourage those we care about to enter into destructive lifestyles. And, it is quite delusional to do so under the continuously fluid redefinition of "marriage."

        And, if you do not think that NAMBLA is licking it's collective chops these days, you are particularly naïve. Those "men" love their 8 year old boys, and they assure me that those 8 year old boys "love" them right back. And, yes, it is the secular side (ACLU) which supports them in their "love." Shouldn't two people who "love" each other be allowed to get married, and who says that 8 year olds cannot consent anyway?!? (After all, they can "consent" to be euthanized in Belgium. :-() "Let's make words mean what they don't mean. so that everyone can be 'happy' - including the 8 year olds."

        Finally, do you REALLY believe that a non-invocation to a non-god is going to fulfill you in any sense of the word? Do you really imagine that this (and SSM) is your 60's moment?!? My goodness: the prior generations won WWII and sent a man to the moon! Is this the ultimate accomplishment for the New Atheists?!? Pretty pathetic, no? God bless you, Randy!

      • I didn't call you a bigot. I wasn't angry or insulting. Your preferred redefinition (remember, dictionaries REFLECT usage; they don't DICTATE usage) of marriage is fine, but there has to be a compelling secular good served by withholding a right from someone. In places that have allowed same-sex couples to adopt, children are statistically indistinguishable from those raised by heterosexual couples. The burden of proof regarding children in such homes with married same-sex parents is no different, and has been met equally with states and nations allowing it with no adverse effects. Natural law was the same argument for antimiscegenation. Natural law says men should be fertilizing as many women as possible. While polygamy is irrelevant, it has not been shown to be inherently detrimental, any more than gay parents or mixed race parents in the 1960's. Child rapists enjoy nobody's support (other than the occasional free speech ruling, which is a question of rights rather than content). Please, show us someone who supports separation of church and state (which you do, too, yes?) who says legal consent and contracts can be had by grade schoolers. Just one. You made the wacky nonsense claim. Support it with evidence. Show us where the ACLU, or anybody else, said what you have asserted. I am not willing to just take your word for it. I am not swayed by emotion-stirring accusations. It's evidence or nothing. This concept might be new to you, but it's the root of skepticism, and skepticism leads to atheism, so it's not surprising that you prefer thinking everybody to be wide-eyed and credulous. Not me. If you say it and can't prove it, either retract it and apologize or admit that all you're doing is relying on style rather than substance, using scare tactics instead of facts. Your approach works on many religious because they compartmentalize their skepticism and abject gullibility, and apply the latter for religion and the former, hopefully, ever. Skeptics apply skepticism to all things. I don't care how deeply you believe X or how much emotional fervor you've whipped yourself into about X; if you have no evidence, you're spreading lies or, at best, engaging in wishful thinking.

      • "Skeptics apply skepticism to all things." Not quite, actually: are you skeptical about your skepticism, or is it merely a presupposition that you have adopted? Your view of skepticism is as self-refuting as are the views of those who argue for absurdism and nihilism. You should be more careful about making self-refuting statements. I could bring up horses here, but that was your line. :-)

        You claim that I have no evidence, but I certainly DID supply a wealth of secular evidence in my previous posting and link! Since you did not refute the ones that I provided, which included mostly secular (and hostile to the traditional view) sources, such as the CDC, USDOJ, Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, and since you provided no offsetting evidence, it is actually YOU, Randy, who are showing your emotions and making unwarranted assertions. The charge stands that SSM is bad for the individuals involved, children, and society as a whole.

        You make many moral claims in your postings on this site. So that we can all see the direction and reliability of your moral compass, please provide evidence for:

        1. Your grounding of objective moral values and duties under a-theism. Bonus: please refute Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse views on same, and explain how they get it wrong: https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/an-atheist-explains-the-real-consequences-of-adopting-an-atheistic-worldview/#comment-101449
        Otherwise, you are just another absurdist babbling away about nonsense, and cannot even so much as condemn child rape.

        2. Please provide your definition of "right" in a non-relativistic sense. Bonus: explain how the "right" of a mother to murder her unborn baby, found in Roe and Doe, is "moral" under your objective system established in 1. Double Bonus: please show how SSM is not just another invented "right" based on language relativism, which I think Joe skunked you on elsewhere in this posting on the definition of "invocation." Thus far, you have convinced no one that you are not just another language relativist. Dan at least had the courage to admit it. In which case, the NAMBLA scenario most certainly stands as the definition of "marriage" is subject to more revision.

        3. Please provide positive scientific, logical, and philosophical evidence for the relative plausibility of a-theism over theism, so that we may know that you are not just another gullible, brainwashed, anti-science hater of the God that you don't believe in.

        God bless you, Randy! (PS. I tried absurdism on for awhile. But, then I graduated high school. It's really not a great place for a responsible productive adult to find oneself.)

      • Willing to go down this road? Let's! :)

        Yes, I'm skeptical about my skepticism. I am always trying to make sure I'm not falling for confirmation bias or other faulty reasoning. To do less would not be honest. Other than a link that I have not clicked, what evidence did you present? Argument from consequences, appeal to emotion. None of that is evidence. Show me a study that has withstood peer review scrutiny and been published. What is the compelling secular good served by denying same-sex couples the right to marry? States and nations have adopted it. Show the evidence of harm and the causal link to same-sex marriage. Should be easy enough to find. A decade in MA has gone by. What's happened there as a result? Anything? Even so much as a stubbed toe that can be attributed to it? Show me data, not worries. I already addressed how dictionaries are descriptive, not proscriptive. As for morality, search YouTube for "superiority of secular morality." Matt Dillahunty has already said all I would have said. Rights are granted by people to people. You then need to define "person." Under the legal definition as it stands, a fetus is not a person, thus is devoid of the right to occupy any space within any person. It is there solely at the discretion of whoever it's in. Should you be legally compelled to donate a kidney to your child if it would save his or her life after both of their kidneys have failed? If children don't have any right to any part of a parent's body after birth, why do they have special rights before that point?

      • a. No positive evidence for the self-refuting nature of total skepticism. Basic sophomore level logic shows it to be self-refuting, not merely implausible. Charge stands that total skepticism is self-refuting and therefore absurd and irrational.
        b. No refutation of secular CDC, USDOJ, Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census data provided in link. Point stands.
        c. No grounding of objective moral values and duties under a-theism. No refutation of Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse. Therefore, charge remains that you cannot make objective moral claims under a-theism, pure skepticism, absurdism, and nihilism. You certainly cannot say that Christians are immoral - for the same reason.
        d. No definition of "right" under pure skepticism and language relativism. Charge stands that SSM is another invention of "rights."
        e. On abortion, please do not attempt to de-humanize the baby in the womb by referring to her as a fetus. That's merely a human being in an earlier stage of development within the womb, and de-humanizing her is what your political party did to black people and what your type did to the Jews in Nazi Germany. Please answer the following 2 questions:

        1. Do human beings have intrinsic moral value, in and of themselves, and regardless of what someone else (like Hitler or the plantation owners) thinks?
        2. Is what is located within the womb, following conception, a human being?

        If you answer both of these questions "yes," then please have the courage to admit you were wrong about abortion and have a severely damaged and unreliable moral compass. If you answer "no" to the first question, shame on you! (In which case, please explain what differentiates you from Hitler with the Jews or plantation owners with blacks.) if you answer "no" to the second question, please learn basic human biology. This isn't the 1950's after all.

        God bless you, Randy!

      • Randy, while I might not agree with your adjective (except when applied to me, of course :-)), I do agree with you in principle. The reason that God does not respond to a-theists is because a-theists are not praying to God: they are praying to themselves. :-) God bless you!

      • And, they're not praying at all, as they're not calling upon the intervention of some supernatural being. They're just saying that people have the necessary tools to perform their duties, and that people should and must to work together for the common good. A request for people to recognize these truths I as much a prayer as is "it's raining" or "I like cake." Your definition of "prayer" renders the tee meaningless. So, congratulations. In your quest to equivocate, you've just destroyed a central practice of your own religion. Gotta watch out for reality...it'll get you every time!

      • "In your quest to equivocate, you've just destroyed a central practice of your own religion."

        How so, Randy? I always like to hear an a-theist explain their view of a "central practice" of Christianity. It's always so - "straw man." :-)

        You are just upset because you didn't like the fact that I recognized that a-theists are their own "god." :-) If it's any help, I used to be my own "god" too! Then, I stopped believing that the universe miraculously popped into existence uncaused ex nihilo, that life magically arose from non-life when lightning hit some mud, that mind arose from non-mind, and that the Cambrian explosion of life could actually be explained by "punctuated equilibrium," otherwise known as the "then a miracle occurs" strategy of naturalistic a-theism. C'mon, Randy, don't be too rough on me because I no longer had enough blind faith to be an a-theist. :-)

        As for "They're just saying that people have the necessary tools to perform their duties..." you and I both know that, under a-theism, there are no objective moral duties. It's just an illusion with which your molecules-to-man self deludes you, or perhaps was passed down to you from your ape ancestors as a required religious ritual you must perform. (At least according to Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse anyway. Talk about 'central practice!")

        I'm praying for you, Randy! (And not to myself. :-)) God bless!

      • Well, Randy, I mustn't be TOO ignorant of science since I have 4 technical degrees - 3 in engineering and 1 in mathematics. There are currently 2 rather large spacecraft in orbit around our lovely, perfectly designed planet, that I was blessed by God to have played roles in designing safety critical systems on. And, really, I usually find that it is quite often the a-theist who has set aside good science for the sake of "just so" dogmatism. (See Carl Sagan, e.g.) That is why I gave several examples of the blind faith dogma invoked by a-theists in my previous post. This blind faith worked for me for 42 years, and then I came to my senses, when I realized that I had no empirical or philosophical-logical grounding for believing in the fairy tales of a-theism.

        I came of age when one could still (sort of) rationally believe that eternal or oscillating universes were reasonably plausible. While Big Bang data was obviously out there, there was not a clear case to close off those other options. (We were actually taught all 3 in school.) Thus, I clung desperately to the possibility that premise 2 of Kalam could be refuted. (As a serious engineer, I never would have considered discounting premise 1 - I would have had to give up my engineering career because my co-workers would have died from laughter.) But, now with Big Bang the go-to theory and with BGV also strongly supporting the universe having a beginning, my heart goes out to the New A-theists, because they really have to go after premise 1, which naturally leads to some level of scientific nihilism or absurdism.

        So, how do you explain "why there is something rather than nothing," Randy? I mean, that is a basic question that all humans ask at one time or another, assuming they live to be of an age where basic philosophy can be conducted. The evidence overwhelmingly supports the veracity of Kalam, which at least should bring you to theism, if not Christian theism. Why are you so upset with the God you don't believe in? Bad experience with your dad or some other authority figure? Like me, you would not be the first. And, what basis do you have for being so entrenched in a-theism? You must be a pretty nice guy to hang out on Christian sites; and in order to engage with them, you must be at least reasonably open-minded. And, to this day, I really do brag about you and your horse joke - sincerely! It was soo funny! How can I not love a feisty humorous guy like you?!?

      • Remember how I knew you were an engineer when you referred to having "science-based degrees?" Didn't that strike you as at all interesting? How did I know you were an engineer without you saying it explicitly? Look, just because you use scientific principles doesn't mean you aren't ignorant about various aspects of how the universe works. You're trying to say your engineering and math qualify you, without having done a precious lick of actual research, to overturn the entire field of biology, along with cosmology, astrophysics, organic chemistry, geology, and nuclear physics. You surely aren't stupid or arrogant enough to honestly believe this. But, if you are, I recommend you look up "Dunning-Kruger effect." How many biologists are arrogant enough to tell you how to do engineering? How many astrophysicists tell you how to design a building or an airplane or an electrical system or whatever it is you work on? How much actual work have you done in the fields you're overturning? How many peer-reviews articles have you had published in the pertinent fields? How many have you read? And, I don't mean the quotemined bits that AiG or ICR mentions, but the entire actual article? Can you name five biology-focused peer-reviewed scientific journals without looking them up? Long story short, repeating your ignorance of science isn't evidence that your God exists. Oh, and if you think Kalam is a winner, I recommend you watch William Lane Craig's multi-day debate series with Lawrence Krauss. Not only is Kalam dismantled, but Craig is exposed as a liar. Apologetics are lies you tell to cover up the Bible's inaccuracies so you won't notice them as much. The next time you claim superior knowledge of scientific fields in which you are not an authority, remember that you are lying to yourself before you start lying to me.

      • Wow, Randy, you really ARE the angry a-theist today! How many technical degrees do you have, Randy? :-) Methinks your replies are remarkably self-refuting. :-)

        OK, once again, let's see what you have besides your rant: no argument for the plausibility of a-theism. No answer to the naturalistic "miracles" that you believe in, as listed in my previous replies. No answer to Kalam - just a reference to a debate in which a "scientist" (Larry Krauss) concocts a mixture of a QM vacuum with matter and anti-matter and then disingenuously (delusionally?) dubs it "nothing." And no answer to the long-standing concession by Dawkins, Provine, and Ruse that a-theists cannot ground objective moral values and duties. You do SO let others do your debating for you. :-) Where's all of the good a-theistic stuff on premise 1 or 2 of Kalam? Where's all that so-called a-theistic "logic" and "philosophy?"

        Here's one of your more interesting self-refuting assertions: "Apologetics are lies..." Uhm, Randy, you DO realize that you are using a-theistic apologetics (and poor ones at that) in an attempt to refute my theistic apologetics, don't you?!? Apologetics comes from the Greek word "apologia," which merely means "defense." It is not restricted to Christianity (it IS, however, found in 1 Peter 3:15!), but can apply to any worldview. So, in calling such intellectual arguments "lies," you are actually saying you are a liar when you argue for a-theism or even against Christianity. Nice job stepping into it there, Randy. What was your joke about a horse again?!? :-)

        C'mon, Randy, if all you have is assertions and rants, then maybe it IS time for you to stop believing in the fairy tale of a-theism, where everything comes from nothing without cause. We will be nice to you over here: all of the Christians I met when I first switched over from a-theism were nice to me! God bless you, Randy!

      • One other thing: I have no explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. I don't claim to know everything about the universe. My ignorance about the universe isn't evidence that your God exists. The argument from ignorance logical fallacy is your favorite, but it will only ever fail. Your heavy reliance upon it is telling.

      • Randy, it is actually YOU who have made the argument from ignorance. I have given you Kalam, the Moral argument, teleology, etc backed by irrefutable logic, scientific evidences such as Big Bang and the BVG Theorem, as well as the intellectual absurdity of believing the many fairy tales of a-theism. All of these are powerful arguments for the plausibility of theism.

        You have replied with "nothing." Not only have you not even attempted to refute my arguments, but you have clung to the desperate belief that the universe sprang miraculously into existence uncaused from "nothing." And you sole assertion regarding the "power" of "nothing" is Larry Krauss' magical filling of "nothing" with QM vacuums, matter, and anti-matter - which is a whole lot of "something" to be called "nothing."

        Randy, even you have to find Krauss' delusions to be laughable and pathetic. So, in summary, I have provided scientific, philosophical, and logical evidences for the plausibility of theism, and not can you not refute those, but you offer "nothing" to support the implausibility of a-theism. You have no basis for your worldview, but you desperately cling to it. Just because your dad was mean to you doesn't mean your Creator will be. God bless you, Randy!

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