The new and improved atheism

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N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture
The new and improved atheism

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

quote:


“This is atheism’s moment.” That according to David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus Books LLC, which recently signed Christopher Hitchens to edit a book of atheist readings for publication this fall.

[url=http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=105&ItemID=13739]The New Atheism: A J Chien[/url]

There is still a lot of stigma attached to atheism. In the U.S., for example,

quote:

[b]Today, after the Gay Pride movement, 55% of Gallup respondents declare willingness to vote for a homosexual candidate:[/b] a lower percentage than those who would vote for a Catholic, African-American, woman, Mormon, or septuagenarian, but [b]higher than the 45% who would vote for an atheist.[/b]

Atheists have a long way to go.

There is an interesting reversal of the Argument by Design in this article. The author re-iterates an argument by Richard Dawkins against it to substantiate an argument that tries to [i]disprove the existence of God:[/i]

quote:

So the argument from design fails: true, it’s highly unlikely that organized complexity arose by chance, but it didn’t. This much only shows that God’s existence isn’t proven. But [b]Dawkins aims at more, to prove God’s non-existence, by varying the argument to apply to God. A being capable of making nature must have an organized complexity of its own, and it’s highly unlikely this could have arisen by chance. So God, at least a creative God such as the God of Abraham, probably does not exist.[/b] I think Dawkins is right that [color=red][b]there’s no good reply to this, because it exposes the double standard that’s essential to all versions of creationism or “intelligent design”: nature must be explained, but God not at all.[/b]

A good summary.

[ 10 September 2007: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

Fidel

I'll settle for "probably." It's not absolute but it's good enough. I knew someone would come out with refutable proof at some point. Saved myself $9.95 again. At this rate I'll be financially independent before the singularity happens.

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Fidel:
[b]I'll settle for "probably." It's not absolute but it's good enough. I knew someone would come out with refutable proof at some point. Saved myself $9.95 again. At this rate I'll be financially independent before the singularity happens.[/b]

I've been thinking about why (in the English speaking world, anyway) this is "atheism's moment", because it does seem to be. Anybody have any thoughts on this?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

If Cristopher Hitchens is to be the high priest of atheism, I am starting out on a journey to find God.

GOD

Here, let me make your journey a short one.

catherine-l

I'm not sure I agree it is atheism's moment. A couple decades ago, some key US evangelicals decided they had to start a movement to ensure their religious values were represented in government. They were extremely successful and US presidential candidates must be openly religious, even questioning evolution is not a negative; they managed to seriously roll back abortion rights, got funding for all sorts of "faith-based" initiatives, curtailed research, impeded teaching science in schools, etc. On this landscape, it is no surprise that scientists and others are fighting back. Some of them are writing books and, yes, they sell, but is anything really changing? What's changing is that it is spreading to Canada. Canada is less religious and somewhat more homogeneous than the US, but I wouldn't take anything for granted. People are people and an organized, wealthy and highly motived group can have an impact. Frankly, if atheism ever does has a moment, I hope it is a whole lot better than this one.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


Here, let me make your journey a short one.

Gee, thanks.

Dear God,

Please send Cristopher Hitchens to hell. And I could use with a lottery win if you know what I mean.

Your humble servant and new believer.

P.S. This is a little disappointing. I was hoping if not for a burning bush at least an immolated Cheney.

[ 10 September 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]

GOD

No need for the humble servant thing, really. My domestic staff is already quite sufficient. (none)

It always amuses me to see how people believe someone with the powers attributed to me would need all the grovelling and worshipping anyway.

Anyhoo, bad news. There's no such thing as hell. A concept as utterly barbaric as that could only be a human invention. Everyone makes it home by their own path, my friend. Even the irrepressable and somewhat troubled Mr. Hitchens.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Just like a supreme being to abdicate responsibility. You see, that is why ... until Hitchens anyway ... I was an atheist.

saga saga's picture

Frustrated Mess
If Cristopher Hitchens is to be the high priest of atheism, I am starting out on a journey to find God.

GOD
Here, let me make your journey a short one.

***************************************************

FM and GOD ... That was hilarious! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Thx for the laugh.

I can never figure out why one would go to the trouble of being atheist when it is so much less trouble to just not take a position and not care. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Why oppose the possibility? [img]confused.gif" border="0[/img] [i]Frustrated Mess[/i]

[ 10 September 2007: Message edited by: saga ]

Erik Redburn

Guy I once knew used to explain his agnosticism by saying he's 'just playing it safe in case we don't get the whole picture during our short stay here, and if the athiests are right after all it wouldn't really matter afterwords'. I always thought that was better than insisting we Can't know one way or the other. Though OC if God is completely immaterial and only performs the odd miracle for believers then we truly can't.

Is nice to know that He/She's still comfortable dropping by Babble to enlighten and assure us now and then. Sometimes hard to get His/Her sense of humour when reading one of our local translations. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 10 September 2007: Message edited by: EriKtheHalfaRed ]

Geneva

Pascal's famous wager of faith used similar elements

abnormal

quote:


Pascal's famous wager of faith used similar elements

Unfortunately Pascal's wager is fatally flawed.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


Why oppose the possibility? Frustrated Mess

My objection to God is from a Euro-centric position. I appreciate there are religions and faiths quite different from those of which I have experience or knowledge. I also appreciate there is the concept of spirituality that could embrace any number of philosophies.

But I think the God of Abraham, the God that forms the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is a violent God promoting dangerous beliefs. One of them is infantalisim where humans surrender judgement to the will of God defined by others who may or may not hold ulterior motives.

Part of that belief system is placing the future into the hands of God as though the role we play on earth is inconsequential. It is all God's will. And there is the embracing of ignorance.

A fundamental part of JCI comes from Genesis and God giving man Dominion over all Earth's creatures. As though dad gave junior the car keys without any rules. And so with Dominion humans are granted permission to use and destroy the earth as they see fit and without concern because God will always provide unless he doesn't in which case it is God's will.

I think God is to the body of humanity what smoking is to the bodies of children. It has stunted our growth.

In as much as children must leave the home to begin the journey of adulthood, I think humanity must leave the church and simple answers to begin accepting responsibility for our actions and our future with one another and with the earth.

Perhaps from that a new spirituality will evolve. Perhaps, for some, a new relationship with God will arise.

But I am certain that we cannot and will not change our course until we cast off religions based on superstitions and childish beliefs of super powerful beings that will come to our rescue and save us all just in the nick of time if only we believe or wish upon a star or tap our heels three times.

[ 11 September 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

quote:


Despite this, many economists still think that electricity deregulation will work. A product is a product, they say, and competition always works better than state control.
"I believe in that premise as a matter of religious faith," said Philip J. Romero, dean of the business school at the University of Oregon and one of the architects of California's deregulation plan.
--New York Times, February 4, 2001

I got the quote from an essay by Thomas Frank, [i]The God That Sucked[/i]. A great read. I mention it because [b]I sometimes think that such "articles of faith" of market idolatry are more dangerous than most orthodox religious beliefs.[/b] Of course, the two often go together.

[ 11 September 2007: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

1234567

quote:


I think God is to the body of humanity what smoking is to the bodies of children. It has stunted our growth.

FM, that has to be the best explanation I've ever heard. Thank you and I plan on using that one!

jas

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Thomas Frank, [i]The God That Sucked[/i]

what a great title.

Geneva

quote:


Originally posted by abnormal:
[b]

Unfortunately Pascal's wager is fatally flawed.[/b]


How do you know ??? [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The phrase (The God that sucked) comes from the lead essay in the Spring 2001 (No. 14) issue of [i]The Baffler.[/i] I don't think the essay is online but you can see some samples of his work at [url=http://www.tcfrank.com/essays.html]Thomas Frank's essays.[/url] Apparently, he's working on a book that should come out in 2008.

[ 11 September 2007: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

Tommy_Paine

I doubt that this is atheisms moment. But it is a point of view more listened to these days, and more atheists are coming out.

I've been out since before high school. A flamboyant atheist.

We're here, we're clear, get used to it.

[ 11 September 2007: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]

Aristotleded24

quote:


Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
[b]But I think the God of Abraham, the God that forms the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is a violent God promoting dangerous beliefs. One of them is infantalisim where humans surrender judgement to the will of God defined by others who may or may not hold ulterior motives.[/b]

The Christian understanding of God is one that has been evolving and changing, and is certainly not cast in stone from any point in time. While having been presented this way, this is by no means the only valid Christian interpretation of God and spiritual life. There are a number of Christian philosophies that see life not as a requirement of being right before an All Powerful God for eternal reward, but that see spiritual life as a journey. We don't know where this journey will lead us, but that's not the point. The point is to walk on this journey with God and to learn and grow as a person along the way, even if we don't know all the answers.

Marcus Borg has written a great deal on this subject that I've found illuminating (although I find he does tend to gloss over the more troubling aspects of Christian faith. John Shelby Spong, as vitriolic as he may be, at least does address these issues).

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by abnormal:
[b]

Unfortunately Pascal's wager is fatally flawed.[/b]


Ya wanna bet?

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]

I got the quote from an essay by Thomas Frank, [i]The God That Sucked[/i].[/b]


Surely, in tribute to His omnipotence, should not the title have read: [i]The God That Sucked And Blew[/i]?

1234567

quote:


A flamboyant atheist

Try being a Catholic atheist. I only went to church to eat the eurchurist(sp) for some reason I really liked the taste. Have never been able to find a snack that even comes close to that taste. Soylent Green....hmmmm.

aka Mycroft

quote:


Originally posted by 1234567:
[b]

Try being a Catholic atheist. I only went to church to eat the eurchurist(sp) for some reason I really liked the taste. Have never been able to find a snack that even comes close to that taste. Soylent Green....hmmmm.[/b]


That reminds me of the show Banzai! (very offensive but also very funny) where an altar boy tried to scarf down as many communion wafers as he could in 60 seconds with the two hosts laying bets as to how many he'd consume. The play-by-play included the commentary "Mmmm, God tastes good".

Unionist

There is a babbler whom I won't name from Saskatchewan who gets extremely upset when people spoof the Holy Communion, so I'm warning you right now to go snack somewhere else before he starts sniffing around.

saga saga's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
[b]

My objection to God is from a Euro-centric position. I appreciate there are religions and faiths quite different from those of which I have experience or knowledge. I also appreciate there is the concept of spirituality that could embrace any number of philosophies.
...
In as much as children must leave the home to begin the journey of adulthood, I think humanity must leave the church and simple answers to begin accepting responsibility for our actions and our future with one another and with the earth.
[/b]


Ok. I see the difference.

I always distinguish between God and organized religion. I don't think the moneychangers wasted ANY time in co-opting the churches to their purposes at all. Certainly it worked well for them in colonization: Religious zeal harnessed for genocide-for-land campaigns all over the world ... still. (Rwanda, for example.)

Organized religion and 'God' are totally separate things to me. Organized religions are just more corporations, herding the masses in the direction that will put the most money on their pockets.

I may agree with all that you have said about religion, but I am content to let other people make their own decisions about that, so I don't actively oppose religion on principle.

Given a particular reason at a particular time ... like exposing genocide in Canada, for example ... I wouldn't shy away from the churches either. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

But people can have whatever God(dess) works for them.

[img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

1234567

quote:


There is a babbler whom I won't name from Saskatchewan who gets extremely upset when people spoof the Holy Communion, so I'm warning you right now to go snack somewhere else before he starts sniffing around.

He hasn't seen Life of Brian then has he? Oh dear.

Unionist

Fwee Wodewick?

Tommy_Paine

I have a fwend in Wome, you know.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Seen in conservative Orange County, California yesterday, by a friend:     

Sven Sven's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

Seen in conservative Orange County, California yesterday, by a friend:     

Good stuff.

absentia

Tommy_Paine wrote:
I have a fwend in Wome, you know.

That would be my husband, Magnus Alienus. Nor do we find this risible.

On the main topic -  which keeps on being timely, doesn't it?  - this has to be atheism's moment, because it's not getting another chance. Secular culture has been under such vicious attack by the so-called Christian (oh, all right, Xtian) extremist right that it's fighting for its very survival. The religious/ fascist factions will settle for nothing less than pre-Reneissance - crusades, torture, blashpemy laws, witch-burning, plague, total subjugation of women, serfdom and all.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Hitchens,Dawkins,Maher,blah,blah,blah...

I don't need books or a 'leader' to influence my beliefs.

On the bright side,Christianity is crumbling...Mark Twain said you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a church in this town..

Thankfully,they are now all but empty.

knownothing knownothing's picture

Chris Hedges tackles the New Atheists better than anybody:

http://vimeo.com/7830290

Tommy_Paine

"I don't believe in Atheists" (he said in a high pitched, mocking voice) 

The point about new atheists having similarities to evangelical fundamentalism is because new atheism came about as a result of evangelical fundamentalism.  So it should not be surprising that there are similarities in tone and tactics.

It's just people who refused to be silenced, marginalized, demonized by people who have things horribly, horribly wrong.

And they seem to be blamed a lot for the weakness of their opponent's arguments. That ain't their fault.

abnormal

Geneva wrote:

quote:


Originally posted by abnormal:

Unfortunately Pascal's wager is fatally flawed.


How do you know ??? [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Basic logic.

contrarianna

Quote:
The religious/ fascist factions will settle for nothing less than pre-Reneissance - crusades, torture...

You could easily substitute names of notable "new atheists"  here for the word "religious" and it would still be accurate.

I don't really care what stimulents or soparifics people use to get them throught the night-- as long as they don't get up to find a pool of someone elses blood and a knife in their hand.
Many of the so-called new atheists are far guiltier of atavistic tribal crusades than many religious people..

Tommy_Paine

Steady on old chap.

contrarianna

More specifically, to name a few: Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and now Dawkins,  who I once had more respect for, comes up with crap like this:

Quote:
Support Christian missions in Africa? No, but . . .

Richard Dawkins's Avatar By RICHARD DAWKINS
Added: Sat, 07 May 2011 09:27:47 UTC

Given that Islam is such an unmitigated evil, and looking at the map supplied by this Christian site, should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? My answer is still no, but I thought it was worth raising the question. Given that atheism hasn't any chance in Africa for the foreseeable future, could our enemy's enemy be our friend?...

http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/624093-support-christian-missions-...

absentia

contrarianna wrote:

Many of the so-called new atheists are far guiltier of atavistic tribal crusades than many religious people..

  

Which ones? In what organization, faction, army, or mob? Names, dates, actions, exhortations, speeches, documents, emails....

Any evidence at all?

I've heard Hitchens dislikes Islam even more than Christianity, and has become American, gods help him, but that's pretty much it. Maybe i'm out of touch with the "mainstream" of "so called" "new" "atheists". The freethinkers i know tend toward peace and co-operation.

Oh, I see. Advising people not to to give money to missions amounts to a crusade?

contrarianna

absentia wrote:

Oh, I see. Advising people not to to give money to missions amounts to a crusade?

Give me a break and actually read it.

Dawkins equivocates and finally says "no", after suggesting that it is something to be considered because "Islam is such an unmitigated evil".  A phrase that could have popped out of the most repulsive right-wing Christian fundie site.  

"Freethinkers", I like and most of the people I admire happen to be non-believers, so what?

Hitchens is not is a "freethinker", despite his friend Dawkins giving him the Dawkins 2011 freethinkers award . He is a  neocon ideologue warmonger who selectively uses atheism in his anti-Islamic rhetoric to justify his imperial agenda (crusade if you will).

A recent example of his brand of "rational humanism" is commented on here:

Quote:
But more importantly, Ms. Fair takes umbrage at the reduction of Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, to a “barbarous people,” the majority of whom revel in honor killings.

Getting the U.S.-Pakistan relationship back on track is hard enough, Ms. Fair argues. “However, accounts like that of Hitchens and others here and in Pakistan, dims the prospects for salvaging a relationship that is extremely important for the United States if not for Pakistan,” she adds. “And one has to wonder if that’s not the very goal of such fact-free musings.”

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/06/22/hitchens-pakistan-polemic-...

contrarianna

For the proximity of the more homocidal side of fundementalist psychology, whether religious or non-religious, I recomend this excellent well documented article from 2005 on Hitchens:

 

Quote:
The Genocidal Imagination of Christopher Hitchens
by Richard Seymour
The Lighter Side of Mass Murder

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2005/seymour261105.html

absentia

They talk; they write, they side with fundamentalist christians and the US administration on certain international issues. All both of them.

It's an army they lack. Power. Authority.

See, two mouthy Brits not only can't amount to a crusade; they don't even represent or lead anybody. Run their half dozen books up one flagpole, the Bibles and Qorans, encyclicals and calls to jihad, on the other, and count how many armed thugs salute.

contrarianna

absentia wrote:

It's an army they lack. Power. Authority.

Not so.

Hitchens arguably  is *the*  leading "intellectual" propagandist for neoconservative imperialism--extremely prolific; constantly cited.
And words, contrary your contention, are essential for any war. (Hitchens Slate column is appropriately titled"Fighting Words")

More directly, Hitchens through his friend and fellow neocon ideologue, Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, was able to more directly make his pro-war pitch to the Bush White House.

Dawkins, a fine and clear writer on evolution, was not in favour of the Iraq war at the time, though I suspect his feeble grasp on political realities and his comrades like Hitchens or Harris in the "new atheism" ratbag have led him more toward the "war of civilizations" mentality.

Sven Sven's picture

Of the prominent atheists, most of the vitriolic criticism that I've seen from the Left appears to be primarily directed at Christopher Hitchens.  But, that's a burden suffered by most prominent apostates.

Look, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. would be terrible diplomats, therapists, politicians, or camp counselors (you won't catch them singing [a securlar version of] kumbaya while everyone holds hands around a campfire).  They are not nicey-nice in their critiques of anti-intellectual beliefs in the supernatural, particularly when those beliefs are espoused in the context of organized religion.  And that turns a lot of people off, particularly those with fragile egos.  But, while some atheists may be uncomfortable with how those writeres deliver their messages, it's hard to argue with much of the substance of what they say on the subject of atheism.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Except, of course, when they put unity on atheism higher than other sorts of unity that are more important. Like unity against a predatory war. Like unity in support of human, or labour, or women's rights.

Then they're just wrong.

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

Except, of course, when they put unity on atheism higher than other sorts of unity that are more important.

Are they saying that atheism is more important or critical than any other subject?  No.  But, they are clearly arguing that atheism is critical to good thinking, whatever the politics of that thinking may be.

contrarianna

Quote:
Look, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. would be terrible diplomats, therapists, politicians, or camp counselors (you won't catch them singing [a securlar version of] kumbaya while everyone holds hands around a campfire).

Thanks, Sven, I didn't know what "muscular" no-nonsense, truth-tellin' atheists I was dealin' with.
Ignore everything I said, its just that Hitchens is an "apostate" and not "nicey-nice" and nothing to do with his dishonest, anti-rational, polemic.

Sven Sven's picture

contrarianna wrote:

...anti-rational...

If Harris, et. al. are "anti-rational," then rational thinking does not exist.

You may disagree with much of the political views espoused by Hitchens, but that doesn't make him "anti-rational" (or "dishonest," for that matter).  As to the others (Dennett, Harris, Dawkins, etc.), I don't even know how your general (political) critique even applies to them.  The burr under the saddle is clearly the apostate Hitchens...and the others get besmirched merely by their association with him.

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