Limitation agreement

Vincent Bugliosi says something very nice around page 997 (aaargh) of his Reclaiming History. Namely, that as he has so far demonstrated with what can be said to be enough detail that Oswald shot at and killed Kennedy, and no-one else did, then any explanation, conspiracy or otherwise, must be such that it includes these facts.

Not that the conspiracy people agree.

It’s much the same with atheism and religion. If only there was some agreement over what’s settled about the matter! Or if there even were some “agreements” with, say, various churches about what both sides have been willing to agree on so far.

Something like this:



v. 3.1.1 (May 7, 2010)

  1. The Descriptive/Prescriptive Principle. It is agreed by both parties that the questions of “is religion true?” and “is religion/irreligion good for individuals/societies?” will not be confused, and arguments for or against one will not be used as arguments for or against the other.
  2. Per the previous point, the following subjects will not be raised in the usual way in discussions of the first (descriptivity) question: the Inquistion, the Crusades, John “the Mad Blood Pope” XXIV, 9/11, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Communism. Both sides pledge to refrain from mistaking emotion for real arguments under the penalty of immediate cold ridicule.
  3. Both parties agree to, in the case of a disagreement, to submit their differences to a Logic Arbitration Board. The LAB will render a verdict on the logical soundness of the arguments in question. Both parties agree to amend or withdraw their arguments if they are shown invalid by a report of the LAB. In a case where the LAB cannot reach a decision on the logical soundness of an idea, the idea will not be used to build up further inferences. (See Rules of Debate 666/b and Uncle John’s Big Book of Logic.)
  4. It is agreed, as set out by the Statistics and Mass Delusions Subgroup of the LAB, that neither party shall imply the correctness of its descriptive position by reference to (a) numerical majorities among general or special populations, whether Americans, prison inmates, Nobel winners or scientists; (b) references to individuals of special fame or notoriety and their real or reputed theological views, or by (c) references to anecdotes or other single events, whether verifiable or not.
  5. It is agreed by both parties that neither party supports Creationism, Intelligent Design, evolution denial, geocentrism, Last Thursdayism, the universal damnation of unbelievers, the culpability of Jews for deicide, the Miracles of Lourdes, the Shroud of Turin, the idea that the majority of atheists are such because of carnal or material desires otherwise forbidden, or the idea of “not one of them does any good”; and EAC shall not imply that CJMJ does.
  6. It is agreed by both parties that neither party supports the idea that a majority of religious people are stupid, dishonest, useless or cowards, or that religion is merely or mainly a scam, a conscious fraud or a method of crowd control; and CJMJ shall not imply EAC does.
  7. The theological “worldview” position of CJMJ is given in Appendix A. The parties agree to limit their discussions to establishing the truth or falsity of those propositions by whatever means possible. Both parties agree to treat the content of Appendix A as statements whose verity is decidable and debatable. CJMJ agrees to not rely in its argumentation on the assumed truth of any statements not in Appendix A or not immediately to be included therein, with the same decidability and debatability agreement as above, unless those statements are acceptable to the EAC.
  8. Both parties agree that the arguments for the existence of God in Appendix B and the arguments against the existence of God in Appendix C are invalid and shall not be invoked. (Updated in this revision to add the ontological argument to Appendix B.)
  9. The “Gish gallop” technique is outlawed. Both parties agree to present their points at a speed which allows response to and discussion about each.
  10. Both parties agree to kill, strangle and mutilate any interviewer or other media personality that tries to (a) bring them together for a debate or meeting of less than thirty minutes, (b) interrupt one in the middle of one’s point to turn to an unrelated subject, or (c) cut away to a commercial break without settling the current point first.
  11. Name-dropping. Both parties agree to never submit that a statement is true or even makes any sense merely because the person to which it is attributed is famous.
  12. Both parties agree to the genital humiliation penalty for any argument the Logic Arbitration Board decides is wilful, recalcitrant mysticism, obscurantism, rah-rahing or sloganeering.
  13. Both parties agree to never refer to any book, author or line of thought without also implicitly agreeing to source, present and defend that book, author or line of thought in an extension of the current debate. Neither side will use either the “You Ignorant Peasant!” attack or the “Courtier’s Reply”, that is, imply that smug withholding of information constitutes a victory, or that ignorance of fine detail or theorems matters if the initial statements and axioms are unsupported.
  14. It is agreed by both parties that they do not share the same moral values, or think their ideas or goals are in some fundamental way the same, or equally true; and it is further agreed that this agreement shall not be taken to mean anything more than a limitation of the apologetical and anti-apologetical weaponry so that already fought battles will not be engaged in again, and so that the truth, whatever it is, shall be closer to hand. Both sides pledge eternal debate until the other side or their own is convinced. This document will be amended as necessary.

Then again, one could argue that the reason there are no limitation agreements like this is religions would quickly find themselves without anything to defend themselves with, not having the recourse of teaching their flocks the same thousandfold debunked idiot arguments again and again. Ah well.

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