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Austin Cline

Forum Discussion: God and Ham Radio

By October 12, 2011

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I've never been involved with ham radio myself, but apparently the culture has been changing over the past few years. More and more operators are becoming more and more explicitly religious -- even to the point of dismissing basic facts and reality in favor of pointless prayers. What's happened to the community?

A forum member writes:

I've been a ham for 49 years. There seems to be a growing presence of evangelical Christians on the ham bands lately. About one time in five or so, the ham at the other end finishes with "God bless" or something similar.

On a "reflector" (an Internet forum on a particular ham topic) dedicated to a specific brand of amateur radio equipment, one of the members asked everyone to pray for him because of the wild fires in Texas. One person pointed out that Gov Perry stopped funding for many of the volunteer organizations that would have helped combat the fires.

The original poster responded by calling him a "knee-jerk liberal." Several others chimed in with the condemnation, and offered their prayers. I resisted the impulse, either to respond to that, or to point out that Perry is also a global-warming denier, and that contributed to the fires in the first place.

These same people, if their equipment stopped working, would follow a rational and scientific process to find out why and fix it. I'm dismayed that so many hams turn to mythology and superstition.

It's quite sad that people would dismiss the relevance of ending funding for fire services when there's a problem with too many fires. It's like people worrying about the levels of crime then denouncing someone for pointing out that the current government had cut funding for police, courts, and crime intervention -- how stupid would that be?

Well, it would be about as stupid and calling for prayers to beg a god to solve the crime problem instead of looking at whether the government has done things to create or exacerbate the problems and what people might be able to do to fix things. And that wouldn't be any less wise, intelligent, or sensible than praying to beg a god to solve a fire problem rather than look at what the government might have done to make the situation worse and what might be changed in the future to prevent such problems from happening again.

Is there something about Christianity in America today that makes people arrive at the most ridiculous, worthless, and unintelligent conclusions possible? Or is it perhaps just Americans themselves? Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.

Comments
October 12, 2011 at 11:18 am
(1) Blunderov says:

The chief offence of religion is to make cognitive dissonance a commonplace. The religious may quite easily, like the Red Queen, believe six impossible things before breakfast. No problem. And resistance is futile – in case you hadn’t noticed!

October 18, 2011 at 11:31 am
(2) James says:

I have an old friend that I first met because of our mutual love of electronics. Since we no longer live in the same state, I only correspond with him once a year or so. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve noticed his interest in HAM radio has become huge and I’ve noticed something else: His interest in fundamentalist Christianity has grown along with it. This guy was never religious before. Now, I hate to even talk to him, because I know I’m going to get a sermon. HAM operators are not the only ones getting more religious. As a lifelong musician, I’ve been exposed to nearly every kind of music. Even though there are musical styles that I myself am not interested in, I know people involved in nearly every genre. In Nashville, especially, country and bluegrass musicians have an unwritten law that the people playing this music must be fundamentalist Christians. Even if the song is on regular “secular” radio and the band doesn’t seem outwardly religious, you can bet that there is some reference to Christianity in the lyrics somewhere. Just another observation from the “Heartland”.

October 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm
(3) Tabasco says:

One of my hobbie’s used to be staying up half the night scanning the shortwave radio bands. But it got to the point that all I could pickup was religious related. One night I got so annoyed that just I turned my radios off..That was over two years ago..

October 20, 2011 at 11:30 am
(4) Marvin says:

Several things occurred to me as I read the article and the three comments so far, and I’d like to believe they’re all hopeful.

First, when I was a Christian, the “God bless you” phrase was as common and as meaningful as “How are you?” I doubt it’s much different today.

Second, the North America has gone through a number of “awakenings” or revivals since the 1600′s, and in every case I think it’s safe to say that religion came out of them weaker than it was. The one I’m most familiar with is the Penticostal revival of the early 1900′s that spawned the Assemblies of God, Foursquare, United Penticostal, and probably a number of others. I grew up in this movement, and when I was a child in the 40′s and 50′s, there was a long list of things we took great pride in NOT doing because we were holier than everyone else. But when evangelical Christianity began to be popular, almost all of those things dropped away. Now, except for their hysteria over gays and abortion, “under God” in the pledge and on soda cans, and “in God we trust” on coins and Indiana license plates, there’s little left. I think a big reason that much of it is gone is the fact a new generation studied the Bible and found nothing to support most of these prohibitions. I suspect that today’s younger generation of evangelicals will further moderate the list of taboos.

I’m not as hopeful as some that religion will ever die away, but I feel sure it will continue to become less and less central in the lives of believers. Unfortunately, there’s still likely to be occasional awakenings that have an unfortunate tendency to destroy lives and lead to violence.

January 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm
(5) Matthew Spangler says:

I am a Licensed amateur, electronics hobbyist, hacker, and computer programmer.

The writer of these few paragraphs says that he sees rational, smart, skilled amateurs “turn to mythology and superstition”, obviously assuming that Theism, or more specifically Christian Theism, is ridiculous, worthless, and unintelligent. The truth is very different.

Belief in Christian Theism is actually more rational than Atheism. How is it more rational? Because Christian theism explains things that atheists, and even other religions such as Islam have no explanation for.

Take for instance the laws of logic… such as the law of non-contradiction, the law of identity, and the law of excluded middle. The atheist’s worldview has no explanation for the existence for any of these laws other than saying than they are conventions of mankind. But if they are conventions, then why do all cultures have the same laws of logic? And if we live in a Godless, constantly changing, universe of matter, energy, and motion, how can atheists explain why these laws stay the same throughout all time (the uniformity of nature)? The Christian Theistic view is the only rational explanation of this problem; the laws of logic reflect the mind of God, and since God doesn’t change, neither do the laws of logic. This is probably the best evidence for God that exists.

In short, I am glad to see the growing presence of evangelic Christian amateurs coming to the hobby. And nothing is more important in a hobby dedicated to emergencies, than praying for safety in times of trouble.

-GBU

January 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

Belief in Christian Theism is actually more rational than Atheism.

You don’t even know what atheism is, which renders any assertion you make about it rather meaningless.

How is it more rational? Because Christian theism explains things that atheists, and even other religions such as Islam have no explanation for.

OK, prove it. Don’t just assert that Christianity “explains” something like logic whereas nothing else does, demonstrate it.

obviously assuming that Theism, or more specifically Christian Theism, is ridiculous, worthless, and unintelligent.

Assuming? No, it’s a conclusion derived from posts like yours.

January 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm
(7) Matthew Spangler says:

You put red herrings in place of a real answer. I have examined the Atheist worldview, and it cannot account for the laws of logic, whereas Christianity can.

“You don’t even know what atheism is, which renders any assertion you make about it rather meaningless.”

Atheism is basically the rejection of any deity. And the atheist’s worldview is one that explains the universe from the point of view that there is no God. Atheism is not rational because it cannot account for the laws of logic, nature, (and although very debatable) morality.

“OK, prove it. Don’t just assert that Christianity “explains” something like logic whereas nothing else does, demonstrate it.”

Atheists obviously don’t explain it.

Muslims believe that nothing is like unto Allah (Surah Ikhlas 112:1-4, Surah Shura 42:11), and their doctrines say nowhere that logic is a reflection of the mind of God.

Mormons believe that there are many Gods, and that you can become as God, therefore ruling out the possibility of one changeless, transcendental God.

The Christian’s explanation is that God is transcendent, changeless and immaterial. The full view can be found here: http://carm.org/christian-worldview-atheist-worldview-and-logic

“Assuming? No, it’s a conclusion derived from posts like yours.”
Okay, it’s a conclusion. My question still stands unanswered.

Once again, atheists will use logic to try and disprove God’s existence, but in so doing they are assuming absolute laws of logic and borrowing from the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview maintains that the laws of logic are absolute and changeless because they come from God, who is Himself absolute and changeless. But the atheist worldview does not have an absolute God. How can an atheist with a naturalistic presupposition account for the existence of logical absolutes when logical absolutes are conceptual by nature and not physical, energy, or motion?

January 8, 2012 at 8:14 am
(8) Austin Cline says:

You put red herrings in place of a real answer.

A red herring is a very specific kind of logical fallacy. So I challenge you to point out specifically where and how I committed that fallacy. Especially since you are so knowledgable about logic, right?

I have examined the Atheist worldview, and it cannot account for the laws of logic, whereas Christianity can.

No, you haven’t, because there is no such thing as “the Atheist worldview”. There is no single worldviews, philosophy, ideology, or religion common to all atheists. You don’t even know enough about atheism to realize that the word isn’t a proper noun and thus shouldn’t be capitalized. Your ignorance of atheism is thus nearly total.

Once again, atheists will use logic to try and disprove God’s existence, but in so doing they are assuming absolute laws of logic and borrowing from the Christian worldview.

If the use of logic “borrows” from Christianity, then we wouldn’t see logic before or in the absence of Christianity. Yet logic was clearly developed both before Christianity existed and in areas where Christianity hadn’t been introduced. The independence of logic from Christianity is thus demonstrated unambiguously by the historical record.

How can an atheist with a naturalistic presupposition account for the existence of logical absolutes when logical absolutes are conceptual by nature and not physical, energy, or motion?

Because an absence of belief in gods does not entail an absence of mental abstractions – which is all logic is, an abstraction of how the world works. It’s an abstraction in the same way that mathematics is an abstraction; 1+1=2 is true not because of any gods, but because one apple and one apple makes two apples, one stick and one stick make two sticks, one dog and one dog make two dogs, and so on. Our “1+1=2″ is an abstraction of all that. Our “laws of logic” are an abstraction of other observations.

And you never answered my challenge. You have failed to even try to demonstrate that Christianity explains the existence of logic whereas no other worldview anywhere manages. A link to somewhere else where it’s allegedly done doesn’t suffice. Listing two religions and briefly asserting that they don’t explain logic doesn’t suffice. Quite a bit more is needed and you don’t provide it. What’s more, I’m sure you can’t – I think you read this somewhere, believed it, and now parrot it whenever you get the chance but without fully understanding it or even being able to support it. And that’s why you simply cannot be taken seriously. You literally have idea what you’re talking about.

February 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm
(9) Matthew says:

“Because an absence of belief in gods does not entail an absence of mental abstractions – which is all logic is, an abstraction of how the world works. It’s an abstraction in the same way that mathematics is an abstraction; 1+1=2 is true not because of any gods, but because one apple and one apple makes two apples, one stick and one stick make two sticks, one dog and one dog make two dogs, and so on. Our “1+1=2″ is an abstraction of all that. Our “laws of logic” are an abstraction of other observations.”

You say that 1+1=2… Why? Because 1+1=2. How do you know that for sure? Just because one and one apples equals two apples? This is the same as saying “1+1=2 just because it does.” Why does it? Why does nature behave according to certain laws? Why does logic exist?

In response to your challenge to prove that no other religion explains logic, I propose this: how about you show me one religion that DOES.

Once I capitalized “atheist’s worldview”, the time before I didn’t. It was clearly a typo… Grammar accusations take us nowhere.

When I say that Atheism borrows logic from Christianity, I mean that Atheism cannot account for logic wheras Christianity can.

February 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm
(10) Austin Cline says:

In response to your challenge to prove that no other religion explains logic, I propose this

No, you don’t get to “propose” anything. You made an assertion and it’s your obligation to support it. You can’t weasel out of it by making your own challenges in the hope that no one will notice that you can’t answer simple questions and clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

So either answer the challenge put to you or admit that you have no answer to offer. Those are your only choices because anything else won’t be published here.

Once I capitalized “atheist’s worldview”, the time before I didn’t. It was clearly a typo…

If it were a typo, you wouldn’t keep doing it.

Grammar accusations take us nowhere.

It’s not a “grammar accusation,” it’s an ignorance accusation. I accuse you of gross ignorance: capitalizing atheism says that you think atheism is a proper noun, which means you think atheism is a philosophy, ideology, religion, or something similar. Saying that atheism “borrows” anything or should be able to “account” for something says the same thing.

And so long as you have no idea what atheism is, you’re in no position to make any claims about it.

What’s more, if you can’t understand something as simple as atheism, I’m quite sure that you don’t have any comprehension of any of those religions you say can’t account for logic.

February 21, 2012 at 10:18 am
(11) Roy Mooney says:

Nothing new I,m afraid. Just repeating something atheists already know….. Thank god I,m an atheist.

February 24, 2012 at 5:46 am
(12) Grandpa_In_The_East says:

Roy, I have always felt a wee bit of a chill come over me when I hear the phrase “Thank god I am an atheist.”

There is always some idiot out there in cyber space who will respond, “See, he really does, deep down, believe in God, he’s just in rebellion,”

Never understimate the power of ignorance.

Grandpa

Quote: “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby”.
— H L Mencken

February 24, 2012 at 7:18 am
(13) OZAtheist says:

Matthew’s contributions put me in mind of a line spoken by Abraham Lincoln –

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”

February 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm
(14) Matthew says:

I cannot show that the religions “don’t account for logic”, because the simple fact is, they DON’T. To show you their “not doing something” I would have to read out the entirety of the religious texts showing that it is not accounted for. There is no fragment in any religious book (except the Bible) that explains anything about the existence of transcendent, absolute logic. I cannot show you this, because there is none! This only changes if you find some fragment in some rarer religious text I have not examined. The simple fact is, none of them account for the laws of logic, it’s simply a topic they don’t effectively tackle.

What’s more, most of the religions have doctrines that are anti-absolute transcendent logic. Many doctrines go against the law of excluded middle (which states that a statement is either true or false), saying that statements can be “either”, “or”, “both”, “unknowable”, etc. Yet again some religions deny the existence of immaterial things… but logic is immaterial.

But I ask you, does atheism explain logic? Logic is immaterial but atheism says that the world is merely material.

“Which means you think atheism is a philosophy, ideology, religion, or something similar.”

Atheism is exactly that. If you are going to deny God, you must have a view of how everything works without God. Am I right? What about the changeless, transcendent, absolute, immaterial laws of logic?

You say I don’t know what atheism is. I hold to this definition found on a common online dictionary:

1. The doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

How do atheists account for transcendent, absolute, changeless, immaterial, conceptual, laws of logic without the existence of God? (If you do not agree with transcendent, absolute, changeless, immaterial and conceptual view the very strong argument for all of them here: http://carm.org/transcendental-argument)

February 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm
(15) Austin Cline says:

I cannot show that the religions “don’t account for logic”

If you cannot support a claim, don’t make it.

There is no fragment in any religious book (except the Bible) that explains anything about the existence of transcendent, absolute logic.

Prove it.

Logic is immaterial

Prove it.

You say I don’t know what atheism is. I hold to this definition found on a common online dictionary:

And that definition doesn’t qualify as a philosophy, ideology, or worldview. The narrow definition of “doctrine” cannot qualify because no single doctrine can be an entire philosophy or ideology. the broad definition of “disbelief” qualifies even less because the absence of a belief is even less like an ideology.

So if you know what atheism is, but still think that it’s an ideology, then the problem is that your basic reasoning capability is broken.

If you are going to deny God, you must have a view of how everything works without God. Am I right?

No. A person doesn’t need to know the answer to a question to recognize that one proposed answer is incorrect.

May 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm
(16) Matthew says:
January 17, 2013 at 8:04 am
(17) James says:

Wow, this sure got away from ham radio.
As to all the commentary about “denying (any) god” or “atheist doctrine” or “atheistic worldview,” sorry, you don’t get your own facts.
The fact of atheism is that it does not state anything about what you know. It states what you (do not) believe, that is, gods, without empirical evidence for their existence.
It is as much a worldview as not collecting coins is numismatics.
And of course, “I don’t know” is always an acceptable answer in a question of scientific endeavour. I don’t know is fatal to religious belief, religion must be certain, or it is irrelevant. Thus “God dunnit” is the equivalent religious phrase to “I don’t know,” except it is not intellectually honest, and actually solves nothing.
— —
To the question of the pernicious creep of religious apologetics, even unto ham radio, perhaps it is time we atheistic radio amateurs started an atheistic ham net. Of course, since it would be a ham net, perhaps we could talk about ham radio instead of religion. (A conversation of I don’t believe, me neither wouldn’t go very far, though one could also use such a net to hone answers to the standard less-than-adequate apologetics answers. But we get enough of that in life, at least a little break in the world of ham might be nice.)

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