Thank you, #CaptainPants aka #JacobKramer (?), for setting me straight on my recent #AtheistConnect article.

(This is long with no “more” tags.) The article you can find here and under the Articles page to the right. (My oft-appearing tone to the contrary, I assure everyone that my “thank you” is sincere, NOT sarcastic.) After posting this yesterday, I got the following as a comment:

“Nope, Anthony. It wasn’t published because I felt it was a debate of semantics.

“But, no, we would never publish a argument between two contributors that devolved into insults or bickering. I didn’t feel this
conversation between you and Keight did this at all, but I also just didn’t feel it offered to much to reflect upon. You are a great writer and we are elated to have you as a part of the team, but one thing you should know now:

“I don’t lie or mince my words, I try not to play favorites. I was worried when it was first brought to my attention (I wasn’t the assigned editor for that piece) that it was n mean-spirited argument and not a discussion. I felt it was more a discussion, but I didn’t think it merited publishing.

“I will tell you that if we had thought it worth publishing, we would have sought Keight’s permission as a professional courtesy.

“Additionally, every editor considered it, and we came to a quick and unanimous decision on the matter. No, hidden agendas here. If we had not wanted to publish it due to the reasons you assert here, rest assured I respect you and myself enough to tell you the truth.”

–Captain Pants

The only correction I have to make is that my name’s “Anton”, not “Anthony”, but that’s really all. 🙂

I’ve sure had to eat my words a lot lately. Today is no different. 🙂 (Too many smileys??)

To the good Captain’s first point. His and BionicDance’s assertion is my discussion with her was ultimately one of semantics. I disagree. This is why. To claim that the 9/11 attacks were caused by religion, which is exactly what Bionic claimed, is to assert a direct causal relationship, a relationship that ignores any other possible causes, at least one of which I’d quoted bin Laden to have. In my article and in my later discussion on the Support Atheism forum, I never once suggested that religion had nothing to do with the attacks, didn’t motivate them at all. All I was saying about the issue was that to assert a direct causual relationship is fallacious. And not only do I stand by that criticism, but I challenge anyone to, er, challenge it.

To suggest that A caused B and to suggest that A motivated B mean two very different things. And this isn’t “two very different things” like Granny Smiths and Sweet Delicious are two different kinds of apples. This is closer to “I destroy the apple” and “I eat the apple” mean completely different things. Yes, the apple no longer exists in either scenario, but each scenario has a completely different meaning and connotation.

Let’s get more specific. Al Qaeda and bin Laden seem to at least have a surface mandate of expanding the Muslim world as they see it, at most destroying all infidels. One can find quotes to support this. America, being primarily a Christian-populated country, certainly does fit the description of “infidel.”

But wait a minute.

Sweden, which I cite because bin Laden did as well, is one of the most secular nations in the world. That means that they’re predominantly populated by people who identify as having no religion (or they simply don’t give a shit one way or the other). That means if we’re to compare America and Sweden on each level of infidelity, we’d have to at least admit that there is a comparison to be made, and more likely that Sweden is the more infidel because rather than being a wrong “fidel”, it is an IN-fidel. So if we’re to claim that religion–>9/11 and we’re to point out that Islam carries with it a mandate to kill infidels, and we’re to take al Qaeda at its word that it definitely wants to kill infidels, then we must take into account not only countries like Swden, but also the fact that never, not once, has al Qaeda attacked them.

Why?

Most likely because they’re not a massive, empire-like, economic, military, and cultural threat to al Qaeda’s world as al Qaeda sees it.

Wait a minute.

Am I suggesting that Country A, a rich, militaristic, economically superior, infidel country was attacked when Country B, a poorer, non-militaristic, economically inferior, infidel country was not?

Yes.

Once we remove the asserted primary motivating factor of religion, we reveal some more likely reasons behind the 9/11 attacks. Am I suggesting that religion had nothing to do with the attacks? No. I’m suggesting that it did not have a direct, causal relationship. And to suggest that my argument was “only” a debate on semantics is to ignore all of the above. How is that possibly responsible? If we were to change the issue to a less controversial one and apply the same reasoning that BionicDance did, how would that not be scrutinized and criticized as I did her reasoning on the attacks?

To assert a direct causal relationship where there are additional obvious factors is to commit logical fallacy. BionicDance can deny this. So can the good Captain. But the logic, reason, and evidence stand on their own.

“…didn’t offer too much to reflect upon.”

So are you suggesting, Captain, that either 1. atheists NEVER use logical fallacy nor rely on the popular community sentiment that religion is bad and so they can say whatever they like or 2. that such a practice isn’t worth discussing? If either is true, then how intellectually honest can you claim yourself to be? Are you critical of fallacious reasoning only when it suits you? Only when it’s convenient? Only when it’s about the evils of religion? As I said in the forum, as atheists, we must hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than the religious we criticize, otherwise, how, truly, are we any different? I guess you disagree.

“I don’t lie or mince words…”

I appreciate that. I really do. And if the killing of my story at SA truly had nothing to do with one contributor attacking the fallacious argument of the other and trying to raise awareness of such fallacious arguments within the atheist community, then I sit corrected and thus the title of this post.

I suggested otherwise because of the flurry of anti-me comments that flooded the SA forum within minutes of my submission, most of which not only ignored my point, but also threw in their own batch of fallacies and irrelevancies. Oh, and then there was the vehement defense of Bionic. A little hard to claim a lack of “playing favorites” there.

“…elated…”

Oops. Skipped this. Sorry. Thank you. I absolutely appreciate that. 😀

“…professional courtesy.”

I can certainly appreciate that, but as she accused me of being “butthurt“, I think it can be argued that she hardly displayed the maturity of being able to take honest and fair constructive criticism, and I suggest that the piece would’ve been killed anyway.

“…every editor considered it…”

That’s all fine and good except that I know at least one editor who pretty much liked it the way it was (though I can’t speak for the alluded-to editor), agreed with my criticism of Bionic’s fallacious argument, and supported my notion that such fallacious arguments should never be tolerated within the community, no matter how popular the video makers who make those arguments may be.

The article’s up on AC. It’s up on here. I’ve said what I needed to say. As far as I’m concerned, this is settled. So until I hear otherwise, I’ll consider it so.

One Response to “Thank you, #CaptainPants aka #JacobKramer (?), for setting me straight on my recent #AtheistConnect article.”

  1. […] (Jacob Kramer?) of Support Atheism when I tried to have my article published there. Here’s what I had to say to him about […]

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