Do you like how Dawkins, Hitchens et al. represent atheists?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by francois, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Nicely put. Anyone who claims that those who disagree with his particular viewpoint are all idiots is nothing but a bigot. If we do not leave room for honest debate, we're not being rational.
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  3. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned


    Isn't that a biased term; one that assumes that believer is a default state.
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  5. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    Agreed. It might more appropriately be the other way around. Dis-atheism. Dis-anti-theism. That sounds pretty good. It really doesn't matter though.
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  7. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    Interesting. How long should we respect the dignity of those who believe that zeus still rules from his throne on olympus?

    Some viewpoints are, after filtering through honest adult introspection and investigation, idiotic. Absolute and without a doubt, and deserve to be labeled as such.

    Devout belief in the fairy tales of xianity, islam, judaism, etc. are idiotic.

    This has been debated and resolved for centuries. Just as the educated since the greeks knew that the earth was round (even to a good approximation of the true circumference) the common masses clung to the flat earth. It was beyond them. Just as abandoning the childish, completely unwarranted belief in the religious fairy tales of today is.

    I history is any guide, it's to be expected. People who make the decision to live a life of blind acceptance and ignorance deserve what they get.
  8. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I assume you believe the universe originated in a singularity that gave rise to the universe via the "big bang" or some such event. If so, what caused that singularity? Was it a random vacuum fluctuation? Perhaps the singularity was created in a super conducting supercolider in some pre-existing universe. Perhaps it was done on purpose, would this make the scientists from the pre-existing universe "God"?

    On the other hand, have you considered the Planck length or Planck time? The Planck length is the smallest possible length that can be measured in this universe. Planck time is the smallest possible unit of time. Quantum mechanics could be considered as limiting the resolution of the universe. That is bizarre. It almost suggests that we live in some kind of Matrix with a pixel size of 1.6 x 10-35 m and a capture rate of 10-43 seconds!

    What existed before the creation of the universe? What caused it to come into being? What is conciousness? What is life? There are many questions no one really knows the answer to. Religion offers one way of interpreting things. What is the truth? Who knows. To claim religion has nothing to offer is arrogance and close-mindedness.

    If nothing else, it provides comfort to millions of people in times of trouble. Yes, bad things have been done in its name. But that's just the nature of man. The communists in the last century did enough evil in the name of atheism to damned near catch up to evil inspired by religion throughout all human history.
  9. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Ha! I am always amused by the so called intelligentsia who cannot see beyond the faux news media they are bombarded with.

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    Particularly interesting to me how few of the so called "rationalists" here actually and in reality how inconsistently extend their thinking to what is.

    I personally believe the ability to consider what may be and imagine what is not yet known is what separates man from other animals. A lack of imagination is a step backward and apparently a limitation in the capacity to think broadly for many rationalists.
  10. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    1) The "singularity" you speak of is a myth. The observable universe was dense and hot at one time. That's all anyone can say about it. These's no reason to suspect that the cosmos (the whole shebang, of which our observable part is but an infinitesimal speck) was in this condition.

    2) Considered it all at one time or another and dismissed it.

    RIght on brotha! Testify!

    Wrong. At this stage in the history of mankind, an intelligent person claiming religion has nothing to offer is no different that claiming astrology and tarot readings have nothing to offer. It dosen't anymore than they do.

    So does an alchoholic binge on friday night. So what?



    This is either a lie or testament to your not thinking it through enough. Atrocities have indeed been committed in the very name of all manner of religious gods and prophets and such.

    But just because communists were atheists does not mean they did what they did "in the name of atheism". The very thought of that is absurd. They were just plain assholes. Atheism is not a distinguishing factor in that regard.

    "We claim this land and subjugate all of its inhabitants in the name of ATHEISM!"

    How rediculous. And just the kind of lame argument many theists use to make themselves feel better.
  11. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    If thinking broadly means accepting without reason, then I am glad to be more narrow than some people's expectations - although it is hard to judge given the absence of a definition of "broad thinking".
  12. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    That's funny! I think exactly the same thing of theists! Apparently you (as a supposed scientist) are not a rationalist?

    And the fact that you deride "rationalists" and categorize yourself, apparently, as a non-rationalist is funny too. So you appear to be proud of your irrationality!
  13. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    1) WTF does that have to do with this?

    2) Please give us your formula to "see beyond" the faux news media the way you do, O Wise and insightful one. Lead us to the truth.
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    First, you must accept the existence of a being whose existence cannot be proven. You must no accept any criticism of his messenger or the way in which the message translates into sociality and politics. Then you will see beyond "faux" reality.
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I can't think of much done by Stalin or Mao "in the name of atheism". Who did you have in mind?

    On the other hand, honest debate is not present everywhere it is claimed. Dishonesty in debate - ascribing beliefs or attitudes to others that they do not have, say, and demanding their acceptance as a condition for progress in discussion - is unfortunately quite commonly met with in overt theists.

    It is also possible to be idiotic in disagreement, and theists often are in matters common on this forum (evolutionary theory, foundations of morality) - for example, a simultaneously omnipotent, benevolent, and omniscient God clearly does not exist, as is proven by certain awful childhood diseases etc (the words would have no meaning).

    And in a thread off on such a dubious foot, about how some writer like Dawkins "represents" atheists, the characteristic faults of theistic worldviews are going to be on parade, in a sense.
  16. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    The communists did all they could to obliterate religion. In my opinion, it's part of the reason they lasted as long as they did.

    They wanted no one around with the moral authority to question the government. This gave the governments much greater latitude to do whatever the fuck it wanted to do. Fascist governments, which don't do this, never seem to last as long as communist ones.

    Since the communists were so aggressively atheistic, I do claim theit actions as being "in the name of atheism". But even if you believe this to be a stretch, their actions clearly illustrate mankind does not need religion to commit atrocities.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I have no problem with acknowledging non-religious atrocity, but it's not quite that clear in this example - those of us who recognise the possibility of atheistic religion have long suspected that the alleged "communism" of Russia at least, if not China, qualified.

    It certainly had little to do with communes, or worker ownership of the means of production, or any of that, in reality. The same disconnect was visible that we see in other faith based systems - where we see lawyers and bankers solemnly espousing faith in a creed that clearly ascribes inevitable evil and corruption to lawyering and banking, say.

    Even as a theistic religion: As an exercise, try rewriting translations of Stalin's speeches with the word 'history" replaced by the word "god", mutatis mutandum.

    That would explain the otherwise mysterious hostility toward Christianity and Judaism, as well (rather than their cooption into the program) - competition.
  18. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    There are a couple of ways to interpret what you're saying. One is to simply see that you just like to call things that are bad "religions", even ideologies that overtly profess no belief in any deity.

    The other is to note that the human mind, by its nature, is prone to religious interpretation of events. In the absence of a real religion, it turns anything, even communism, into a religion.

    As the old saying goes,
    You've got to stand for somethin', or you're gonna fall for anythin'​

    Look at all these bonehead celebrities who believe in Scientology. A religion invented by a SciFi writer who said inventing a religion would be an easy way to get rich just before he invented one!
  19. The Devil Inside Banned Banned

    says you. interesting that you pretty much only address christianity with your senseless statement.

    why dont you tell me what i believe, and how it affects you, if you are so smart about all things spiritual and all people who follow them.
    (and try not to include any ad homs, eh?
  20. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    Humans are prone to group think. And the craving for dogmatic certainty. My suspicion is that this was necessary for social cohesion in an evolutionary past where the greatest danger came from rival groups of humans. It is good for a certain percentage of the population to be independent thinkers; but if too many are, social structure could break down. Aldous Huxley brought this up in Brave New World, when John Savage asked why they didn't just make everyone Alpha Double Pluses. When all were geniuses, chaos ensued.

    A good education teaches humans to suspend judgment in the absence of adequate evidence. But lacking a good education, or sometimes in spite of one, many humans demand certainty, and will not settle for anything less. They will never be satisfied with the ambiguity of scientific answers, even though the theists only offer a mirage of certain truth. The mirage is enough, and allows them to consider the matter settled, and go on about their daily lives of screwing over other humans.

    But does the fact that it's useful for many humans outweigh the damage that religion causes? Many horrible things have some positive benefits. Plagues that kill millions help stave off global overpopulation. That hardly makes me a fan of infectious diseases. Maybe their are better ways of controlling the total number of humans. And maybe there are better ways for humans to live in some form of harmony than believing in some sort of anthropomorphic super being.
  21. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    "I agree with your argument against your hallucination of my view"
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    This I basically agree with, except:

    it doesn't work with anything, and "communism" (Russian version, anyway) was not so much turned into a religion as set up as one (as was Scientology)

    and it's not a "religious interpretation of events" so much as a "religious organization of society".

    We are talking politics, not philosophy, science, or engineering, in other words.

    The Russian "communism" was set up specifically to take over from the standing religio/politico setup. It was a replacement religion, and designed to be so, in the service of power's immediate needs. The question is not whether humans can or should simply give up religion (unlikely), but whether humans can adopt - more or less on purpose, it would have to be - a kind that has more benevolent political attributes.

    And those of us who worry about such things note that the fundie Abrahamic religions are not politically benevolent - that the coerced or habituated belief in nonsense sets a political pattern with almost inevitable bad consequences. When faith and morality and even "truth" no longer answer to reason, neither does power.
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    But we have only reached that conclusion by diligent application of the scientific method. Belief in gods is based on hearsay rather than empirical observation; it is derived from faith rather than logical reasoning; it is not a falsifiable theory; it is a more complex explanation proposed before the simpler ones have been disproven; it is an extraordinary assertion unaccompanied by extraordinary substantiation. The scientific method tells us that we are therefore not obliged to take it seriously.

    People who have not received the education necessary to understand and use the scientific method are not idiots. Nor are the scholars who question its universal applicability on philosophical grounds. Nor are the skeptics who suspect that fraudulent--or at least poorly prepared--theories have been integrated into the canon of science. Nor are the laymen who in good faith have been deceived by crackpots and outright frauds speaking the language of science.

    In any case only a minority of us are qualified to apply the scientific method rigorously, to peer review controversial theories, or to validate the chain of credentials of the integrators of the canon of science. How many of us here have those qualifications? Even if we are members of that elite, for us to call billions of our brethren "idiots" just because they accept an unscientific theory is... well it's elitism. Even here in a community that tries its best to induct only people of a scientific bent, it's not playing well. But more to the point, it's hyperbolic. They're not idiots. I'm sure you personally know a bunch of them, much better than we know each other on SciForums, and you would grudgingly admit that they're not all idiots.

    To dismiss religion in this way does not help solve the problem. To do so in public and be branded an elitist only makes it worse.
    You are only halfway to the truth to call religion "childish." More properly, it is instinctive. I have written of archetypes many times and defined religion as a collection of archetypes--synapses that are pre-wired from instincts, things almost all of us are born "knowing" without observing or learning them. Based upon our history, overcoming an instinct by reason and learning is only somewhat faster than waiting for it to happen by physiological evolution. It has taken our species twelve thousand years to overcome its pack-social instinct and become recognizably more herd-social, faced with daily empirical evidence that villages, cities, states, nations and ultimately regional confederations provide a better life than nomadic bands of a few dozen hunter-gatherers. How much more difficult is it to override the instinct to believe in the supernatural, when there is no evidence against it, and in fact the only reason we as scientists can call it "false beyond a reasonable doubt" is that there is no evidence for it?
    The old Cosmic Watchmaker Theory. It makes for entertaining sci-fi but it's not very appealing to old-fashioned religionists. It demystifies their notion of a celestial plane by stating that the universe is simply much larger than we suspected, and that the beings they thought were all-powerful and supernatural are merely acting within a superset of natural laws. As my wife puts it, "Men invent religions so you never have to answer a question with 'I don't know'. " If your child asks you why we're here and you give him the Cosmic Watchmaker Theory as an answer, you will be pestered with unanswerable questions until he leaves home.

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    I've posted my own model of the universe a few times. Time has an Abolute Zero like temperature. To ask what happened before the Big Bang is as meaningless as to ask how molecules behave when they get colder than zero Kelvin. Graph time on a log scale. Not only does it start to look this way, but it also conveniently expands that first femtosecond of the Big Bang, making it easier to study.
    Science and logic provide some pretty good answers to those questions. You'll have to try harder than this to win a debate, but it doesn't invalidate your point.
    Communism is an offshoot of Christian morality: An economy can function without people's incomes having to correlate with their production, because God will intervene and make up the difference. Can you imagine a Confucian coming up with this absurd doctrine? The communists probably hastened their downfall by marginalizing religion. When a second or third generation of proletariat had nothing but reasoning and empirical observation to use in deciding the merits of communism, at the point where its fairytale negative-surplus economic model had dissipated the pre-existing surplus of their ancestors and of their hapless annexed neighbors, they had no faith to fall back on and the whole thing collapsed.
    You don't understand religion, at least not Christianity and Islam. To them, their entire span of years in mortal existence is so short as to be inconsequential because the eternity that comes after is more important. This life must be lived by God's rules so that you will earn entrance to the happy, popular eternal afterlife, not that other one where the Rolling Stones are the house band.

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    If that involves enduring some suffering in order to test your faith, what God is doing is precisely analogous to you forcing your own children to gag down their broccoli, do sit-ups, turn off their videogames and sit through several hours of boredom and bullying in school every day, so that the rest of their lives will be healthy and prosperous.

    We just have to understand this. To true believers in the Abrahamic fairytale, life as we know it is ephemeral, and is only an entrance exam into the far more important life that awaits us. Not only do children dying of dysentery not matter on this cosmic timescale, but on our own timescale they are actually better off than we are because they get to heaven first--before they've had a chance to "sin" and blow their chance at it!
    As I have stated somewhere about twenty pages back in this thread-that-won't-die-and-is-now-recycling-itself, religion may have provided "some form of harmony" that helped us overcome our Stone Age instincts... in the Stone Age. Religious communities are clearly larger than Mesolithic clans and even Neolithic villages. But religion--the Abrahamic variety, which is what we members of Euro-American culture are really talking about since we know very little about the others--only helped us rise up to the level of a tribe, and then it stalled. Christianity and especially Islam have not made the next upgrade, to the nation, very smoothly. (It's too hard to evaluate the Jews. Since they are not evangelical there are not billions of them trying to get along with each other.) Truly large communities of Christians or Muslims are not models of harmony. Wherever you find a really large nation of Christians not trying to kill each other off, you'll find highly advanced secularization. Islam has arguably not even gotten that far.

    My thesis is that monotheistic religion, with its inherent model of uniformity and lack of diversity, is a relic of our tribal stage that must be transcended before we can make this emerging global civilization successful. It may be many things, but it is absolutely not a resource any more.

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