IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 18th July 2007, 09:12 AM   #1
ksbluesfan
Graduate Poster
 
ksbluesfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,376
Atheists don't feed the poor, heal the sick...

I'm debating some friends about the charitable contributions of atheist based on the two articles below. A Christian friend stated that it's always the religious who go to Africa to treat AIDS patients. To me, that sounds similar to the "no atheists in foxholes" statement, but I'm having a difficult time supporting my case. Are there any medical doctors or others on this forum who take trips to other countries to help the sick or poor?

Quote:
What Atheists Can't Answer
By Michael Gerson
Friday, July 13, 2007; A17

British author G.K. Chesterton argued that every act of blasphemy is a kind of tribute to God, because it is based on belief. "If anyone doubts this," he wrote, "let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor."

By the evidence of the New York Times bestseller list, God has recently been bathed in such tributes. An irreverent trinity -- Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins -- has sold a lot of books accusing theism of fostering hatred, repressing sexuality and mutilating children (Hitchens doesn't approve of male circumcision). Every miracle is a fraud. Every mystic is a madman. And this atheism is presented as a war of liberation against centuries of spiritual tyranny.

Proving God's existence in 750 words or fewer would daunt even Thomas Aquinas. And I suspect that a certain kind of skeptic would remain skeptical even after a squadron of angels landed on his front lawn. So I merely want to pose a question: If the atheists are right, what would be the effect on human morality?

If God were dethroned as the arbiter of moral truth, it would not, of course, mean that everyone joins the Crips or reports to the Playboy mansion. On evidence found in every culture, human beings can be good without God. And Hitchens is himself part of the proof. I know him to be intellectually courageous and unfailingly kind, when not ruthlessly flaying opponents for taking minor exception to his arguments. There is something innate about morality that is distinct from theological conviction. This instinct may result from evolutionary biology, early childhood socialization or the chemistry of the brain, but human nature is somehow constructed for sympathy and cooperative purpose.

But there is a problem. Human nature, in other circumstances, is also clearly constructed for cruel exploitation, uncontrollable rage, icy selfishness and a range of other less desirable traits.

So the dilemma is this: How do we choose between good and bad instincts? Theism, for several millennia, has given one answer: We should cultivate the better angels of our nature because the God we love and respect requires it. While many of us fall tragically short, the ideal remains.

Atheism provides no answer to this dilemma. It cannot reply: "Obey your evolutionary instincts" because those instincts are conflicted. "Respect your brain chemistry" or "follow your mental wiring" don't seem very compelling either. It would be perfectly rational for someone to respond: "To hell with my wiring and your socialization, I'm going to do whatever I please." C.S. Lewis put the argument this way: "When all that says 'it is good' has been debunked, what says 'I want' remains."

Some argue that a careful determination of our long-term interests -- a fear of bad consequences -- will constrain our selfishness. But this is particularly absurd. Some people are very good at the self-centered exploitation of others. Many get away with it their whole lives. By exercising the will to power, they are maximizing one element of their human nature. In a purely material universe, what possible moral basis could exist to condemn them? Atheists can be good people; they just have no objective way to judge the conduct of those who are not.

The death of God has greater consequences than expanded golf time on Sunday mornings. And it is not simply religious fundamentalists who have recognized it. America's Founders embraced public neutrality on matters of religion, but they were not indifferent to the existence of religious faith. George Washington warned against the "supposition that morality can be maintained without religion." The Founders generally believed that the virtues necessary for self-government -- self-sacrifice, honesty, public spirit -- were strengthened by religious beliefs and institutions.

None of this amounts to proof of God's existence. But it clarifies a point of agreement -- which reveals an even deeper division. Atheists and theists seem to agree that human beings have an innate desire for morality and purpose. For the theist, this is perfectly understandable: We long for love, harmony and sympathy because we are intended by a Creator to find them. In a world without God, however, this desire for love and purpose is a cruel joke of nature -- imprinted by evolution, but destined for disappointment, just as we are destined for oblivion, on a planet that will be consumed by fire before the sun grows dim and cold.

This form of "liberation" is like liberating a plant from the soil or a whale from the ocean. In this kind of freedom, something dies.
Quote:
An Atheist Responds
By Christopher Hitchens
Saturday, July 14, 2007; A17

It's uncommonly generous of Michael Gerson[" What Atheists Can't Answer," op-ed, July 13] to refer to me as "intellectually courageous and unfailingly kind," since (a) this might be taken as proof that he hardly knows me and (b) it was he who was so kind when I once rang him to check a scurrilous peacenik rumor that he was a secret convert from Judaism to Christian fundamentalism.

However, it is his own supposedly kindly religion that prevents him from seeing how insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship, which could read and condemn my thoughts and which could also consign me to eternal worshipful bliss (a somewhat hellish idea) or to an actual hell.

Implicit in this ancient chestnut of an argument is the further -- and equally disagreeable -- self-satisfaction that simply assumes, whether or not religion is metaphysically "true," that at least it stands for morality. Those of us who disbelieve in the heavenly dictatorship also reject many of its immoral teachings, which have at different times included the slaughter of other "tribes," the enslavement of the survivors, the mutilation of the genitalia of children, the burning of witches, the condemnation of sexual "deviants" and the eating of certain foods, the opposition to innovations in science and medicine, the mad doctrine of predestination, the deranged accusation against all Jews of the crime of "deicide," the absurdity of "Limbo," the horror of suicide-bombing and jihad, and the ethically dubious notion of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice.

Of course Gerson will -- and must -- cherry-pick this list (which is by no means exhaustive) and patter on about how one mustn't be too literal. But in doing this, he makes a huge concession to the ethical humanism to which he so loftily condescends. The game is given away by his own use of G.K. Chesterton's invocation of Thor. We laugh at this dead god, but were not Norse children told that without Valhalla there would be no courage and no moral example? Isn't it true that Louis Farrakhan's crackpot racist group gets young people off drugs? Doesn't Hamas claim to provide social services to the downtrodden? If you credit any one religion with motivating good deeds, how (without declaring yourself to be sectarian) can you avoid crediting them all? And is not endless warfare between the faiths to be added to the list of horrors I just mentioned? Just look at how the "faith-based" are behaving in today's Iraq.

Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can any reader of this column think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith? The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first -- I have been asking it for some time -- awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.

Essentially conceding that philosophy and secularism do not condemn their adherents to lives of unbridled selfishness, and that (say) the Jewish people did not get all the way to Mount Sinai under the impression that murder and theft and perjury were okay, and also that we could not have evolved unless human solidarity was in some way innate, Gerson ends weakly by posing what is a rather moving problem.

"In a world without God," he writes, "this desire for love and purpose is a cruel joke of nature -- imprinted by evolution but designed for disappointment." Again, he substitutes the wish for the thought. We very probably are, as he admits, not the designed objects of the Big Bang or of the process of natural selection. But this sober conclusion, objective as it is, is surely preferable to the delusion that we have been created diseased, by a capricious despot, and then abruptly commanded to be whole and well, on pain of terror and torture. That sick joke is one that we can cease to find impressive, that belongs in the infancy of our species, and gives a false picture of reality that we would do well to outgrow.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of "God Is Not Great."
ksbluesfan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:17 AM   #2
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Not me. I'm too busy feeding the poor here in America... oh, and I'm not a doctor.

I think your friend is full of crap, but how could you prove it? Since atheists don't really have special aid organizations, how would you track the charitable work of atheists?

I'm sure, for instance, that the money raised by the Salvation Army is credited to "Christian charity", but do they preform a religious test on the folks dropping change into the little pot?
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:25 AM   #3
ksbluesfan
Graduate Poster
 
ksbluesfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,376
I pointed out that agnostics such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Ted Turner are generous, but the response I received was "well, yeah, they can afford to be generous".
ksbluesfan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:28 AM   #4
Katana
Illuminator
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,812
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Not me. I'm too busy feeding the poor here in America... oh, and I'm not a doctor.

I think your friend is full of crap, but how could you prove it? Since atheists don't really have special aid organizations, how would you track the charitable work of atheists?

I'm sure, for instance, that the money raised by the Salvation Army is credited to "Christian charity", but do they preform a religious test on the folks dropping change into the little pot?
Not only that, but it seems contrary to my view of atheists for them to start a charitable organization that advertised that it was started by atheists. Why would they need to? What would their being atheists have to do with doing charitable work?

If church-goers need to remind everyone of the good that they do in the name of their religion, then that's their issue. Meanwhile, perhaps atheists are simply doing charitable work for its own sake and not to forward any beliefs (or lack thereof).
Katana is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:31 AM   #5
Steven Howard
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,797
Originally Posted by ksbluesfan View Post
I pointed out that agnostics such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Ted Turner are generous, but the response I received was "well, yeah, they can afford to be generous".
The only response to this, assuming you want to keep these friends, is to say, "Now you're just being silly" and change the subject.
Steven Howard is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:40 AM   #6
tdn
Thinker
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 246
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
I'm sure, for instance, that the money raised by the Salvation Army is credited to "Christian charity", but do they preform a religious test on the folks dropping change into the little pot?
Exactly the point I was going to make. I occasionally give to charity. I often give change to the homeless. I have fed homeless veterans. In each case, I have noted that thee was no nearby Christian recording my good deed. I submit that the reason Christians are so visible in their charities is because they trumpet their accomplishments. One has to wonder if their good works are not so much motivated by good (which they are, an many cases, I'm sure), or if it's merely advertizing.

Let it be known, however, that I, an atheist, gave money to two homeless people yesterday. Write it down.
tdn is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 09:40 AM   #7
Miss Anthrope
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,575
Among the atheists I know, they volunteer at soup kitchens, food banks and domestic violence shelters. I know those who do the walk for breast cancer every year. I know atheists who donate a good deal to charity.

They do it for the sake of giving, not in the name of some god, or religion that "gives glory to god".

I know there have been surveys and studies indicating that the religious give more. I wonder how much of that is basic tithing and giving to missionaries and other donations to their church? If we took the tithing out, where would we stand?
Miss Anthrope is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:02 AM   #8
Mobyseven
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 5,671
My sister is (so far I as can tell the last time I checked) agnostic, and she spent 6 weeks in Uganda doing AIDS testing and building shelters. The kicker of course is that the organisation she worked with was an evangelical Christian organisation, but not all the people volunteering were evangelical Christians.

The point being anyway that my sister who is NOT religious volunteered to do this simply to help, not because it was expected or because it was praiseworthy, but out of the kindness of her heart. The man in charge of finances in Uganda (I'll keep organisation names and details out of this) was one of the most corrupt men my sister had ever met, and he was an evangelical Christian minister. I believe he's in jail now.
Mobyseven is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:23 AM   #9
Ryokan
Insert something funny here
 
Ryokan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 10,472
The world's biggest humanitarian organization is the Red Cross, which is a secular organization, not a religious one.

I personally do a lot of volunteer work for the Red Cross, and I'm an atheist.
Ryokan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:26 AM   #10
Lisa Simpson
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 22,353
I'm fairly certain Doctors Without Borders is also a secular organization.
Lisa Simpson is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:28 AM   #11
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
Exactly the point I was going to make. I occasionally give to charity. I often give change to the homeless. I have fed homeless veterans. In each case, I have noted that thee was no nearby Christian recording my good deed. I submit that the reason Christians are so visible in their charities is because they trumpet their accomplishments. One has to wonder if their good works are not so much motivated by good (which they are, an many cases, I'm sure), or if it's merely advertizing.

Let it be known, however, that I, an atheist, gave money to two homeless people yesterday. Write it down.
I swear, this year at Thanksgiving when I fill the trunk of my car with food and run it over to my friend who cooks meals for shut-ins, I'm writing "courtesy of an ATHEIST!!" on every turkey, can of veggies, and pumpkin pie.

Just because they should thank ME, instead of their imaginary friend!
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:29 AM   #12
tdn
Thinker
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 246
I should add that Gerson's column basically boils down to this: "Are atheists less moral? Well, no, not really. Yay God!"
tdn is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:30 AM   #13
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by Miss Anthrope View Post

I know there have been surveys and studies indicating that the religious give more. I wonder how much of that is basic tithing and giving to missionaries and other donations to their church? If we took the tithing out, where would we stand?
Yeah... paying to send your own kids to "Bible Basketball Camp" during the summer shouldn't count as "giving", but I'll bet it does.
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:30 AM   #14
Michael Redman
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 3,063
The UN has been known to do a little relief work.

As has the US government.

And the government of almost every other non-theocratic state.

People who help out other people for reasons other than to spread their religion do not need to organize their efforts under the umbrella of an ideology. They're OK with helping people even without the opportunity to pressure the needy into changing their beliefs. Religious organizations are more visibly doing relief work because that visibility itself is a major reason they're doing it.
Michael Redman is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:34 AM   #15
Mercutio
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 16,274
Atheist Blood Drive, as a counterpoint to National Prayer Day.
Mercutio is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:44 AM   #16
ImaginalDisc
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,219
Did someone say something about atheists not being charitable? Sorry, I was busy donating blood and helping my little sister, also free of the disease of religion, use her graduation gift money to set up a charitable organization to buy bee hives for Third World farmers and couldn't make out the lies and deceptions clearly.

ImaginalDisc is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:49 AM   #17
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Yeah... paying to send your own kids to "Bible Basketball Camp" during the summer shouldn't count as "giving", but I'll bet it does.
Your cynicism is admirable, but I doubt you have the data to back that up. According to Arthur Brooks's survey of several studies, the religious give more across the board, including to secular charities.

Quote:
There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.
Source (looking for a better one; I'd rather have the numbers than the general statemnt, but that's a start)
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:51 AM   #18
ImaginalDisc
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,219
Originally Posted by Marquis de Carabas View Post
Your cynicism is admirable, but I doubt you have the data to back that up. According to Arthur Brooks's survey of several studies, the religious give more across the board, including to secular charities.



Source (looking for a better one; I'd rather have the numbers than the general statemnt, but that's a start)
Quote:
They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.
Did they actually study those behaviors, or is this just more BS?
ImaginalDisc is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:52 AM   #19
strathmeyer
Master Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,380
Originally Posted by ksbluesfan View Post
I'm debating some friends about the charitable contributions of atheist based on the two articles below. A Christian friend stated that it's always the religious who go to Africa to treat AIDS patients. To me, that sounds similar to the "no atheists in foxholes" statement, but I'm having a difficult time supporting my case. Are there any medical doctors or others on this forum who take trips to other countries to help the sick or poor?
Well, what are their examples of religious charitable organizations?
strathmeyer is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:54 AM   #20
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Really, that is no start at all. Brooks is one of those right-wing goofballs... strike one.

I mean, really... "behaving honestly"?
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 10:57 AM   #21
Miss Anthrope
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,575
Originally Posted by ImaginalDisc View Post
Did someone say something about atheists not being charitable? Sorry, I was busy donating blood and helping my little sister, also free of the disease of religion, use her graduation gift money to set up a charitable organization to buy bee hives for Third World farmers and couldn't make out the lies and deceptions clearly.

Hey, now that's a really great idea for a charity. Seriously.
Make sure you let us all know when she's up and running.
Miss Anthrope is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:00 AM   #22
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Really, that is no start at all. Brooks is one of those right-wing goofballs... strike one.
Ad hom.

Quote:
I mean, really... "behaving honestly"?
Yeah, bugger the "behaving honesty" part, I agree.

But about the giving...

Quote:
“Nowhere is the divide in values more on display than in religion, the frontline in our so-called ‘culture war,’” Brooks wrote. “And the relationship between religion and charity is nothing short of extraordinary.... These religious folks also give nearly four times more dollars per year than secularists, on average, and volunteer more than twice as frequently.

“It is not the case that these enormous differences are due simply to religious people giving to their churches,” he added. “Religious people are more charitable with all sorts of nonreligious causes as well. ... On average, people of faith give more than 50 percent more money each year to non-church social welfare organizations than secularists do.” [emphasis mine]
Source.

If you have comepting stats, or valid reasons for disputing these, let's hear them.
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:08 AM   #23
Michael Redman
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 3,063
Personally, I'm in favor of using government to help out people in need, so I don't exactly credit religious people for trying to dismantle social programs and giving money to proselytizing charities instead. They may give more money to private charities, but that doesn't mean they're willing to sacrifice more for the benefit of their fellow man than others are.
Michael Redman is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:09 AM   #24
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by Marquis de Carabas View Post

If you have comepting stats, or valid reasons for disputing these, let's hear them.
Why don't you come up with stats first? And, please, consider the source... you can claim "ad hom" until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't change the general level of dishonesty of a certain political group.
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:12 AM   #25
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
Personally, I'm in favor of using government to help out people in need, so I don't exactly credit religious people for trying to dismantle social programs and giving money to proselytizing charities instead. They may give more money to private charities, but that doesn't mean they're willing to sacrifice more for the benefit of their fellow man than others are.
More importantly, the forces interested in dismantling social programs have a vested interest in skewing the data to claim that they give more... and then to come to the completely bogus conclusion that social programs make their supporters less likely to be decent people.
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:15 AM   #26
tdn
Thinker
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 246
What I'd like to know is how the data was collected. As had been stated by myself and others, when I give, I am asked neither my religion not my political affiliation. If this data is voluntary self-reporting, we have to wonder who is likely to volunteer. But let's assume the data are correct. Is it really surprising that people who belong to organizations that encourage giving, are doing more giving?
tdn is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:16 AM   #27
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Hey, let's talk about some of that charity:

Quote:
In 2003 Majority Leader [Tom] DeLay set up a charity for abused and neglected children, with part of the funds going to the 2004 GOP convention. The New York Times described it as "aides to Mr. DeLay... acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises. ... "They are using the idea of helping children as a blatant cover for financing activities in connection with a convention with huge unlimited, undisclosed, unregulated contributions," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws."
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:17 AM   #28
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Why don't you come up with stats first? And, please, consider the source... you can claim "ad hom" until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't change the general level of dishonesty of a certain political group.
Stats such as "four times more money each year" or "50 percent more money each year to non-church social welfare organizations"?

Read this thread. Really, read it. Now, imagine this thread were the opposite. Imagine if someone had said the religious don't give to charity, and this thread was then filled with a religious people talking about how much they give. Who among us would not be shouting "Anecdote!"? That's all that is here. I want Brooks to be wrong just as much as you do, but as we are so fond of reminding the woos, this isn't about what we want to be true.

So, again, can you refute Brooks or are you stuck with stereotyping him?
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:19 AM   #29
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
What I'd like to know is how the data was collected. As had been stated by myself and others, when I give, I am asked neither my religion not my political affiliation. If this data is voluntary self-reporting, we have to wonder who is likely to volunteer. But let's assume the data are correct. Is it really surprising that people who belong to organizations that encourage giving, are doing more giving?
It is no surprise at all. The conclusions drawn from it, however, are pretty specious.

And, as you said, we'd all like to see the numbers. Are political donations counted too?
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:21 AM   #30
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
What I'd like to know is how the data was collected. As had been stated by myself and others, when I give, I am asked neither my religion not my political affiliation. If this data is voluntary self-reporting, we have to wonder who is likely to volunteer. But let's assume the data are correct. Is it really surprising that people who belong to organizations that encourage giving, are doing more giving?
The data is not based on people who report their religious beliefs upon giving. It is taken from separate surveys that study charitable giving and include questions about religious belief.

Brooks's sources (copied from my first link above):

Quote:
2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey
2001, 2003 Panel Study of Income Dynamics
1996-2004 General Social Survey
1998-2001 International Social Survey Programme
2004 Maxwell Poll
2000 Giving and Volunteering Survey
2001 America Gives Survey
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Hey, let's talk about some of that charity:
OK. Evidence that this is typical of the charities and the charitable giving surveyed?
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:24 AM   #31
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Originally Posted by Marquis de Carabas View Post
Stats such as "four times more money each year" or "50 percent more money each year to non-church social welfare organizations"?

Read this thread. Really, read it. Now, imagine this thread were the opposite. Imagine if someone had said the religious don't give to charity, and this thread was then filled with a religious people talking about how much they give. Who among us would not be shouting "Anecdote!"? That's all that is here. I want Brooks to be wrong just as much as you do, but as we are so fond of reminding the woos, this isn't about what we want to be true.

So, again, can you refute Brooks or are you stuck with stereotyping him?
You haven't provided anything to refute. None of your links show the actual data, let alone how it was arrived at. It isn't about "wanting Brooks to be wrong", because I know he's wrong in his conclusions. What I want is some hard data, not claims about the data that cannot be confirmed or denied.

ETA: I guess you did while I was posting this. I'll get back to you.

Last edited by JoeEllison; 18th July 2007 at 11:30 AM.
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:26 AM   #32
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
It isn't about "wanting Brooks to be wrong", because I know he's wrong in his conclusions.
I'm nominating you for skeptic of the year.
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:26 AM   #33
ksbluesfan
Graduate Poster
 
ksbluesfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,376
Originally Posted by strathmeyer View Post
Well, what are their examples of religious charitable organizations?
The Salvation Army, for one.
ksbluesfan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:31 AM   #34
Steven Howard
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,797
Originally Posted by Marquis de Carabas View Post
Source.

If you have comepting stats, or valid reasons for disputing these, let's hear them.
I'll dispute those "stats" on the grounds that I haven't seen them and neither have you. You've linked to a press release selling the same book as the one being sold in the interview that The Atheist linked to when he started this thread back in January. All we've got is "Arthur Brooks says this in his book" and "Arthur Brooks wrote this in the Wall Street Journal, while trying to sell his book." Presumably, in the book itself Brooks details his research methods and explains how he reached these conclusions, but so far I haven't seen it.
Steven Howard is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:33 AM   #35
ImaginalDisc
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,219
Originally Posted by Miss Anthrope View Post
Hey, now that's a really great idea for a charity. Seriously.
Make sure you let us all know when she's up and running.
Her idea involves using cute graphics on items like racey undergarments and condoms to raise money for Heifer International. More later, she had all four wisdom teeth removed earlier in the week, so she's a bit under the weather.
ImaginalDisc is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:38 AM   #36
JoeEllison
Cuddly Like a Koala Bear
 
JoeEllison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,270
Anyhoo, Brooks is a wackjob. Let's move on.
JoeEllison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:40 AM   #37
ponderingturtle
Orthogonal Vector
 
ponderingturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 51,477
Originally Posted by ksbluesfan View Post
I pointed out that agnostics such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Ted Turner are generous, but the response I received was "well, yeah, they can afford to be generous".
Aren't the waltons very christian and famously not generous?
__________________
Sufficiently advanced Woo is indistinguishable from Parody
"There shall be no *poofing* in science" Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
Force ***** on reasons back" Ben Franklin
ponderingturtle is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:41 AM   #38
Mercutio
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 16,274
Dude, we're doing our part here in NH.
Quote:
11/7/2005 CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has orchestrated and co-sponsored a new research study that reveals New England donations for secular causes exceed the average US levels. Findings of widespread New England generosity shed new light on commonly reported figures that purport to show that people in some other regions of the nation give more than New Englanders do.

The new research shows:
*Many more New Englanders give to charity than in other regions of the country.
*New England households are much more likely to give, and give more on average, to secular or non-religious causes than their national counterparts.
*Higher levels of religious giving elsewhere in the U.S tend to drive total giving figures.
Mercutio is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:41 AM   #39
tsg
Philosopher
 
tsg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,771
Originally Posted by Marquis de Carabas View Post
Source.

If you have comepting stats, or valid reasons for disputing these, let's hear them.
Claims without evidence? "News with a Christian Perspective" claiming "religious folks also give four times more dollars per year than secularists" with no data to back it up. There's nothing to refute here.

ETA: here is a link critical of the apparent source of that claim.
__________________
Being offended by someone questioning your beliefs is a sign that you should be questioning them.

In the beginning there was nothing. And the Lord said "Let There Be Light!" And still there was nothing, but at least now you could see it.

Last edited by tsg; 18th July 2007 at 11:44 AM.
tsg is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th July 2007, 11:42 AM   #40
Marquis de Carabas
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 27,051
Originally Posted by Steven Howard View Post
I'll dispute those "stats" on the grounds that I haven't seen them and neither have you. You've linked to a press release selling the same book as the one being sold in the interview that The Atheist linked to when he started this thread back in January. All we've got is "Arthur Brooks says this in his book" and "Arthur Brooks wrote this in the Wall Street Journal, while trying to sell his book." Presumably, in the book itself Brooks details his research methods and explains how he reached these conclusions, but so far I haven't seen it.
Granted. I should have said "conclusions" rather than "stats", but it's a bit late for that now. I may have to end up checking the book out at the library, as my google-fu is apparently to weak to produce them online.
Marquis de Carabas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:23 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.