Schism Among Atheists

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I never said that either. I said that people who use their brains in that way are susceptible to being persuaded to accept falsehoods on faith, without evidence.

Fidel

N.Beltov wrote:

Those are non sequiters Spector. I doubt there is a person alive who, at some level and in some way, doesn't practice some sort of magical thinking, or believes in things without evidence, etc.. 

Ayn Rand and the art of positive thinking is said to have flourished in US business schools and circles of banking and finance since the 1990's or so. But did the rightwing black magic work though? For some I think it did. Hugely successful as in laughing all the way to the bank.

Even keel

hsfreethinkers wrote:

Even keel wrote:
I would prescribe more to agnosticism since it's much less fundamentalist than atheism. Atheism is after all is a leap of faith -- we don't really know if there is or isn't a god, there's no scientific evidence to suggest there isn't.

Atheism isn't something one can be fundamentalist about. There is no book of dogma to be fundamentalist about. You either believe there are god(s) or you don't. Consider "Can an atheist be a fundamentalist?" by A.C. Grayling: http://tinyurl.com/yffzsvo

Atheism isn't really a faith position either. Here is an excellent article by philosopher Stephen Law on that point: http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2007/02/atheism-faith-position.html

These articles don't convince me.  Why must you be so committed to your belief that there is no God?   I think the world would be better off if everyone backed off a bit on truth-claims. That's why I find agnosticism so much more appealing - it isn't a "belief" in so much as atheism is a belief that something doesn't exist; it's more a skeptical open-mindedness.  

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

How committed are you to your belief that there is no Santa Claus? Do you maintain a skeptical open-mindedness?

Snert Snert's picture

I could, possibly, consider being open-minded about the existence of God, if, in exchange, the various religions of the world would write it into their official canon that "God might be female, or possibly homosexual".

I mean, we should all keep our minds open to possibilities, yes?

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Agnosticism is an absolute system of belief also. It has greek roots A (not, no) GNOSIS (knowledge) and is an assertion that, given the nature of questions about "god", one CANNOT have knowledge as to the existence or non-existence of such a non-material configuration. It bugs me no end when people confuse being an agnostic with being a sceptic. If you are unsure, if you are doubting, if you think you could be convinced otherwise.... then you are sceptical. If you are an agnostic you are clearly stating that there is no way of resolving the question and therefore you say the question itself is essentially meaningless.

Thus speaketh the bagkitty... member of the provisional wing of the Alliance Against All Thing Holy (AAATH - provo)

And I am surprised no one has quoted Isaac Asimov yet.... so let me be the first:

 

Quote:
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.

 

RP.

(forget I said that)

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Even keel wrote:
These articles don't convince me.

Sorry, what is it they don't convince you of?

Even keel wrote:
Why must you be so committed to your belief that there is no God?

Well, to be honest I find the idea of God preposterous. You may as well ask me why I must be so committed to my belief that there are no magical fairies. I can't prove to you there are no fairies, but it is highly improbable that they exist. So improbable the possibility isn't worth entertaining and it's the same for God. People used to believe in fairies (some still do). I understand why the idea of God originated, but today we have better explanations from science. Our current knowledge doesn't leave much room for God. He's hiding behind the big bang or quantum mechanics I suppose.

Even keel wrote:
I think the world would be better off if everyone backed off a bit on truth-claims. That's why I find agnosticism so much more appealing - it isn't a "belief" in so much as atheism is a belief that something doesn't exist; it's more a skeptical open-mindedness.

Being an atheist means you don't believe in God. It doesn't mean you are not open-minded or not willing to consider evidence that might prove the existence of God (though I can't imagine what such evidence could be). By the way, I don't swear by the term atheist. I use it, but I also consider myself a freethinker, Humanist, and sometimes I don't label myself.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Being an atheist means you don't believe in God. It doesn't mean you are not open-minded or not willing to consider evidence that might prove the existence of God (though I can't imagine what such evidence could be).

 

To be fair, some atheists really do seem to promote the belief that there simply is not, and could never be, a God. I really don't mind seeing them wear the label of "fundamentalist", or some similar, to differentiate them from what I believe are most atheists, those who don't believe in God the same way they don't believe in five legged elephants (specifically, there's no compelling reason to).

 

And me, personally, I'd accept God appearing before all of us and performing a few miracles as proof of the existence of God. A few aplogies and explanations wouldn't be amiss either.

Tommy_Paine

I've kinda mellowed from my fundamentalist atheism to about where Oldgoat is in his thinking.  We seem to have arrived at a place from oposite ends.

I think what people miss about both Dawkins and Hitchens and others who are more strident is that this is a response to in your face religious zeolots trying, with some success, to take over not just the public discourse, but also our legislatures and our education systems. 

So, call me a fundementalist atheist on those issues if you like.  I've seen what happens to the timid and the accomodating in the face of religious totalitarianism. 

It leads to a condition called death.

So, it's a little galling to have atheists feet put to the fire when it comes to civil decorum in the public forum, but religious loonies get a podium when ever they like, few questions asked. It's like you go to a party, and all the religious people are crapping on the floor, and in walk Dawkins and Hitchens, who fart, and every one calls them pigs and asks them to leave.

So, instead of talking about improving public education, we have to entertain infantile arguments about creationism instead.  Or, we have to bar people of the same sex from solemnizing their vows, and enjoying the legal rights of marriage all because it offends the sensibilities of someone's self serving interpretation of some obscure passages in an old book.

Oh, but's it's the new atheists who are offensive.

Anyway.  Other than that kind of stuff, I don't really care what magic people choose to believe, as long as they don't try to kill me with it.

Like I said, I've mellowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

snert wrote:
To be fair, some atheists really do seem to promote the belief that there simply is not, and could never be, a God. I really don't mind seeing them wear the label of "fundamentalist", or some similar, to differentiate them from what I believe are most atheists, those who don't believe in God the same way they don't believe in five legged elephants (specifically, there's no compelling reason to).

I still think "fundamentalist" is a poor descriptor to associate with atheists, when really people who use it really mean "obnoxious". The difference amongst atheists is how confident they are in their belief. Some don't believe, but aren't confident in their belief or don't spend much time worrying about it. Others are very confident, even positive - as positive as they are about anything. We could all be hooked up to a machine like in The Matrix. The paragraph of yours brings to mind Stephen Law again. I wouldn't call him a fundamentalist, yet he wrote "The God of Eth":

"Can You Prove God Doesn't Exist?": http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2009/05/can-your-prove-god-doesnt-exist.html

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tommy_Paine wrote:

Anyway.  Other than that kind of stuff, I don't really care what magic people choose to believe, as long as they don't try to kill me with it.

But the thing is - some of them will.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Snert wrote:

To be fair, some atheists really do seem to promote the belief that there simply is not, and could never be, a God. I really don't mind seeing them wear the label of "fundamentalist", or some similar, to differentiate them from what I believe are most atheists, those who don't believe in God the same way they don't believe in five legged elephants (specifically, there's no compelling reason to).

I believe there is simply not, and never could be, an Easter Bunny. Most people would agree with me. Does that make us all fundamentalists?

There is more evidence for the Easter Bunny's existence than there is for God's.

Michelle

Hey Michael, would you mind just posting maybe the opening paragraph and linking to the rest?  Cutting and pasting huge long posts like that really disrupts the flow of conversation in threads.

Thanks!

Kaspar Hauser

I've posted this before, but it fits here, so I'm posting it again:

 

http://www.republic-news.org/archive/173-repub/173_nenonen_enlightenment.htm

"Hind argues that the central ethical conflict of our time is the struggle between the Open and Occult Enlightenments, between Enlightenment for the many and Enlightenment for the powerful few. The Occult Enlightenment supports state and corporate power, and it systematically undermines intellectual and political liberation. Thanks to the Occult Enlightenment, "We do not for the most part understand the world in which we live. Both the state and the corporation remain mysterious in themselves, and they generate misunderstanding and delusion on a vast scale. Trillions of dollars disappear from reckonings of government departments and the general population is routinely treated as an object to be manipulated. The private sector spends hundreds of billions of dollars making deception both palatable and ubiquitous. To the limited extent that we can grasp the facts in a given context, we find ourselves contradicted by the major media groups. In such circumstances we cannot reasonably claim to live in enlightened times."

 

"The conflict between the Open and Occult Enlightenments is obscured by what Hind calls the Folk Enlightenment. The Folk Enlightenment can best be described as a kind of theatre in which people pretend to fight battles that were won long ago. These battles are typically portrayed as occurring between Enlightenment rationality and an irrational and dangerous "other." For example, proponents of the Folk Enlightenment continue to focus on the threat of religion, despite the fact that religious institutions possess barely a fraction of their former influence, and that science and technology, not theology, are what empower the oligarchies of the modern world."

Kaspar Hauser

Done!

And here's a good piece on the "New Atheism" by Chris Hedges:

 

http://www.alternet.org/rights/80449/

 

"These New Atheists, like all religious fundamentalists, fail to grasp the dark reality of human nature, our own capacity for evil and the morally neutral universe we inhabit. There is nothing in human nature or human history to support the idea that we are morally advancing as a species or that we will overcome the flaws of human nature. We progress technologically and scientifically, but not morally. We use the newest instruments of technological and scientific progress to create more efficient forms of killing, repression, economic exploitation and to accelerate environmental degradation as well as to nurture and sustain life. There is a good and a bad side to human progress. We are not moving towards a glorious utopia. We are not moving anywhere.

 

"The New Atheists misuse Darwin and evolutionary biology as egregiously as the Christian fundamentalists misuse the Bible. Darwinism, which pays homage to the final and complete mastery of our animal natures, never posits that human beings can transcend their natures and create a human paradise. It argues the opposite. The illusion of human progress, in the name of evolutionary biology, is actually anti-Darwinian. And in this the New Atheists are neither honest about science or Darwin. Science is used by them to supplant religion to provide meaning and hope. It is used to assuage these innate religious yearnings. Since scientific knowledge is cumulative, albeit morally neutral, it gives the illusion that human history and human progress is also cumulative. And in many ways science has simply replaced the faith our pre-modern ancestors had in God.

"But more ominously, the New Atheists ignore the wisdom of Original Sin, as well as studies in cognitive behavior, that illustrate that human nature is often irrational and flawed. We are all governed, even in our moments of greatest lucidity, by unconscious forces. This understanding, whether achieved through Augustine or Freud, has been our most potent check on schemes of human perfectibility and utopian visions. But the New Atheists, like all believers in myth, refuse to listen. They peddle the alluring and enticing fantasy of inevitable moral and material progress. This vision is not based on science, history or reason. It is an act of faith. It is a form of the occult. It is no more scientific legitimacy than alchemy."

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

I enjoy reading Chris Hedges, because he comes across as so defeatist / pessimistic that I feel positively cheerful in comparison. Anyway, there are a lot of straw men in that snippet.

Kaspar Hauser

The snippet is just that: a snippet of a larger argument, which itself was fleshed out in Hedges' book, I Don't Believe In Atheists. He provides enough evidence and well-constructed arguments in those works to demonstrate that he's attacking the guts of the New Atheists' positions, rather than jabbing at mere straw men. 

Unionist

RP. wrote:

(forget I said that)

(but I can't remember what you said) Frown

Even keel

hsfreethinkers wrote:

snert wrote:
To be fair, some atheists really do seem to promote the belief that there simply is not, and could never be, a God. I really don't mind seeing them wear the label of "fundamentalist", or some similar, to differentiate them from what I believe are most atheists, those who don't believe in God the same way they don't believe in five legged elephants (specifically, there's no compelling reason to).

I still think "fundamentalist" is a poor descriptor to associate with atheists, when really people who use it really mean "obnoxious". The difference amongst atheists is how confident they are in their belief. Some don't believe, but aren't confident in their belief or don't spend much time worrying about it. Others are very confident, even positive - as positive as they are about anything. We could all be hooked up to a machine like in The Matrix. The paragraph of yours brings to mind Stephen Law again. I wouldn't call him a fundamentalist, yet he wrote "The God of Eth":

"Can You Prove God Doesn't Exist?": http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2009/05/can-your-prove-god-doesnt-exist.html

Right, and people who believe in God are confident in their belief. So we have two groups of people who are confident in their beliefs which contradict each other -- this I think is where a lot of the friction is being felt between the two camps and an impasse occurs. I think it would be better for atheists to take a more agnostic approach and say that, sure, there might be a God, but according to the evidence (or lack thereof), you choose not to believe in said God until evidence presents itself. I think that kind of example could do a lot for both atheists and even theists, especially when it comes to moral doctrines/dogmas.

 

 

Unionist

Even keel wrote:

I think it would be better for atheists to take a more agnostic approach and say that, sure, there might be a God, but according to the evidence (or lack thereof), you choose not to believe in said God until evidence presents itself.

Well, I think that would be worse.

You'll never catch God-followers making that mistake, will you?

Why don't you advise the God-worshippers to take a more agnostic approach and say:

"Sure, I believe in God, but it's quite possible evidence will come along which proves that there is no such Thing, at which time I will discard my belief in God."

Never heard a God-person say that, now, did you?

So please stop preaching doubt to atheists. Especially us fundamentalists. Or we'll start a Profane War or something.

 

Pundit

Quote:
has been a fan of Margaret Thatcher, then a NuLabour supporter

I can only imagine he was also both white and a caucasian.

The absurdity of the post above the above post is worthy of a hall of fame. Imagine, if you will, arguing that because one can't disprove the Great Spaghetti Monster, one ought to accept that the Great Spaghetti Monster may exist. And why should atheists be forced to go halfway alone? Where are the faith holders? In the absence of proof, should they not also declare themselves agnostics until such time as the evidenice of their deity's existence is made available? Then we'd all be agnostics and finally we could all get along.

My faher was a good Anglican and attended church every day of his life until he collapsed on the front steps of the parish hall after one last christmas turkey stuffing. "He always did enjoy his turkey," Mrs. Chamberlain, the church matron, said to me the day of the funeral. The old chap was a life long atheist but said one must do one's duty to community which in his case meant supporting the local church. I never really understood until much later in life when it occured to me that belonging to the church was also of social importance in a middle-class environment.

While I consider myself an atheist, I wouldn't care to "preach" to others. Atheism is something people must come to of their own volition.

 

 

 

 

Caissa

Let me be the first "God-follower" you hear say it Unionist:

"Sure, I believe in God, but it's quite possible evidence will come along which proves that there is no such Thing, at which time I will discard my belief in God."

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Might I ask which God you believe in, Caissa?

While it may be difficult to disprove the existence of some possible 'higher power', i believe it is rather easy to illustrate that any given 'god' of any major faith cannot exist as presented.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

This isn't proof, but it's very interesting nonetheless about the origins of the Universe. "'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

Caissa

I'm an Anglican, LTJ, but I am certainly not going to  discuss faith issues on Babble. It is no safer for these discussions than it at times appears to be for a myriad of other topics.

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

Let me be the first "God-follower" you hear say it Unionist:

"Sure, I believe in God, but it's quite possible evidence will come along which proves that there is no such Thing, at which time I will discard my belief in God."

Thanks, Caissa, I appreciate the spirit of inquiry, and I know it takes courage to be in a minority.

I respect agnostics too.

I personally will not believe in God even if s/he comes to me in a vision. If that happens, I'll head for the ER and take a number.

 

Caissa

I appreciate your perspective as well Unionist.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Caissa, what do you mean it isn't safe to discuss faith issues?

Caissa

I'd rather not answer this other than by saying the creation of the sex workers rights forum might provide you with a loosely analogous situation.

Tommy_Paine

Catchfire's snippet from "Blood Merridian" above is a passage amoung many in that book that stand out in my mind.  This argument aside, I would hope babblers will some day take the time to read, then re-read this book.  It's amazing.

Whether the Judge is Satan himself, or some conglomeration of characters playing Virgil to "The Kid"'s Dante is an interesting debate for readers of Blood Meridian.  But it's safe to say the Judge is a pretty good representation of what Hedges would call "occult enlightenment." 

But, is "new atheism" occult enlightenment?   Well, if Dawkins is seen as an example of "new atheism" then we'd have to say deffinately not.  Dawkins, long before he started to answer religious nutbars in the debate concerning creationism, was doing his best to convey to lay people all the ideas particular to his field of study and expertise.

What's different about Dawkins is that he's more to the point and less patient than the more Socratic Carl Sagan on these subjects.

Webgear

When we speak of god, why do we refer to only the Judaism, Islam and Christianity beliefs?

There are many more religious organizations that have more interesting concepts of life and death.

Unionist

Webgear wrote:
When we speak of god, why do we refer to only the Judaism, Islam and Christianity beliefs? There are many more religious organizations that have more interesting concepts of life and death.

Name one which has a more accurate concept, and I'll give it a whirl.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Pundit wrote:

Imagine, if you will, arguing that because one can't disprove the Great Spaghetti Monster, one ought to accept that the Great Spaghetti Monster may exist.

Blasphemer! It's Flying Spaghetti Monster (pbuh)!

Fidel

Webgear wrote:
When we speak of god, why do we refer to only the Judaism, Islam and Christianity beliefs? There are many more religious organizations that have more interesting concepts of life and death.

What if all of the religions are part of the same truth with a few inconsistencies thrown in for fun?

It's either that or the seven religions are part of the same diabolical plot hatched by that notorious secret sect known as KAOS and whose purpose is to deceive humanity.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I'm an atheist who believes in things for which we have no sustainable evidence. Things like democracy, social justice and love. If I were scientist, I'd figure I would give up on such concepts as overwhelmingly improbable. And yet, la lutte continue. There are less tangible concpets I'd argue everyone needs to believe in. Kant called one of them immanence. I'd call it who we are in relation to the world.

I've been reading a lot about the vivisection debates of the late 1800s, when most of the scientific community, including Darwin, supported experimentation on live animals. Anti-vivisection activists caricatured such scientists as godless immorals, bent only on the advancement of science for its own purpose, slave to progress, unmoored from any shred of universal humanism. I don't see this position much different from Chris Hedges' "occult enlightenment," really. Not much has changed in the debate between what is human and what is science.

But I do think, as I alluded to in my McCarthy excerpt above, that there is a sinister undercurrent to the sentiment expressed by M. Spector above, namely, "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." This is the danger of enlightenment philosophers like Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer pointed to, who saw the worst of enlightenment theory in the fascist regimes of Europe from which they escaped. Their argument, that the enlightenment's goal of eliminating fear of the unknown and men replacing religion as master of the world, is rooted in myth, which itself was a way for humankind to explain and thus control nature. This narrative of domination, they argue, has become radicalized under modernity and has by no accident led to Nazism. Please don't read this paragraph as an argument comparing Dawkins to Hitler, or whatecer; I am saying, however, that there is something about this kind of scientific trajectory that is very unsettling, and hardly wholly in the interests of humanity. I am starting to suspect, however, that this new atheism is closely tied to neo-liberalism--the work that this strand of thought does is not really scientific, it's political: it's doing far more to justify wars in the Middle East than it is keeping creationism out of our schools.

I also think that some new atheists have made an idol of religion, abstracting it from the social experience with which it was created. In a Grayling article above, he defines the religious narrative thusly: "Do good, go to heaven. Don't to good, don't go to heaven." Talk about crude simplifications and caricatures. There is a thread in the anti-racism forum that critiques the anti-racism movement for this same abstraction: why not, the article argues, target specific social changes rather than create a mythical racism understood only by its apostles? So, I would ask, why not target the foolish and ignorant attempts to put religion in our classrooms and in our legislatures rather than target a metaphysical immanence you cannot possibly contract and atomize?

Personally, I don't really get upset when I see Hitchens, Dawkins et al. do their talking outside of their fields (Like Terry Eagleton has said, how does Dawkins like it when metaphysical philosophers start talking about evolution without a proper scientific background?), because my thinking outlined above is not certain in my mind, and I hate the fact that there is a separate school board in Ontario, and that homophobia (and, effectively, pedophilia) gets a pass if it comes from the mouth of a priest. I don't really like it when people bring out the FSM as if they're clever, or start harping about how silly the big bearded man in white is, but lately I just let it go. I will always support taking the Christmas tree out of Parliament, just as I support taking O Canada out of our schools. I'm as suspicious of religion as I am of patriotism--and the most fanatical kinds of both are odious--but when someone's patriotism consists of a belief in tolerance, social justice, democracy and hockey...well, I don't see the point in having it out with them. But maybe I'm just too meek. I've heard that's good though...

Tommy_Paine

The measure of tollerance isn't found in how you treat people you agree with.  It's measured by the way you treat people you dissagree with, jerkface.*

 

*"jerkface" of course, was meant in complete jest.

Unionist

Only two things bother me about religion:

1. That it sometimes provides "explanations" for natural phenomena as a substitute for (or as postiive opposition to) continuing empirical inquiry.

2. Far worse than #1: that it sustains a culture of people sticking to "their own" and being xenophobic towards others.

The personal faith part of it doesn't both me in the slightest, unless and to the extent that it leads to #1 or #2.

That's why I have trouble with Dawkins and the rest. They pay attention to #1 (and sometimes, it is true, in simplistic ways), but rarely deal with #2 in a satisfactory way. Or when they do broach it, they tend (like Sam Harris) to do so in a biased fashion, thereby revealing their own xenophobia.

 

Caissa

#1 is a result of literalists who seem unable to recognize myth and allegory when they read it.

#2 is also present in other organizations to varying degrees and is not exclusive nore emblematic of religion.

Tommy_Paine

This is the danger of enlightenment philosophers like Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer pointed to, who saw the worst of enlightenment theory in the fascist regimes of Europe from which they escaped. Their argument, that the enlightenment's goal of eliminating fear of the unknown and men replacing religion as master of the world, is rooted in myth, which itself was a way for humankind to explain and thus control nature. This narrative of domination, they argue, has become radicalized under modernity and has by no accident led to Nazism. Please don't read this paragraph as an argument comparing Dawkins to Hitler, or whatecer; I am saying, however, that there is something about this kind of scientific trajectory that is very unsettling, and hardly wholly in the interests of humanity. I am starting to suspect, however, that this new atheism is closely tied to neo-liberalism--the work that this strand of thought does is not really scientific, it's political: it's doing far more to justify wars in the Middle East than it is keeping creationism out of our schools.

And, Micheal Nenonen has differentiated between this "occult" enlightenment, where knowledge is kept hidden, from "open" enlightenment where knowledge is shared.  Post Modernism is the rejection of all enlightenment in reaction to the occult, or hidden enlightenment. 

However, the danger in that is what we are experiencing today, where anything can be "true".  Where Newton's laws are a construct of white male european privelege, as if a person of Chinese ancestory might have a different outcome than mine if we didn't wear a seatbelt in a car accident.

And, the post modernist rejection of science, or the open enlightenment figures very much in neo liberal economics,  and it lends distructive creedence to all manner of dangerous claims.

 

 

 

 

 

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

#2 is also present in other organizations to varying degrees and is not exclusive nore emblematic of religion.

Example: What other "mainstream" organizations frown upon "intermarriage"? I'm not saying all religions do - just those that represent the overwhelming majority of religious people on this planet.

ETA: Sorry, just realized I should have added #3, which is as bad as #2:

3. Use their "divine authority" to dictate codes of behaviour that are opposite to social progress (racism, misogyny, homophobia, ageism, etc. etc.) This is related to #2 but not identical. Justifying warmongering and genocide, for example, fall under both.

 

Fidel

I am not a bible thumper, don't go to church and never initiate conversations about religion. What would be the point? But I've sometimes wondered at the wisdom of the Bible that so many people agree is full of contradictions and filled with stories of human rights abuse. I agree, the bible is filled with stories of murder, infidelity, misogyny, slavery etc. But I have to agree with certain parts of the Bible as US economist Michael Hudson has described about it on the internet. The debt crisis of the western world today and collapse of the monetarist monetary system could have been avoided if they'd accepted biblical advice(as well as Persian and other historical experiences with debt) to wipe the slate clean every so often in order to avoid the scenario where debts grow in excess of the economy's ability to repay them. And there is more good advice in the bible, like letting fields lay fallow for so many years before replanting etc. It is an old book that is out of date wrt most things today, for sure for sure.

Caissa

I feel like you are moving the goalposts, Unionist. You are moving from the general to the specific.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

This is timely, "The secularist case against "Atheism 3.0" " by Austin Dacey (his book The Secular Conscience is excellent by the way): http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/10/the_secul...

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

I feel like you are moving the goalposts, Unionist. You are moving from the general to the specific.

Well Caissa, if you suggest that organized religions are really not much different than other organizations in fomenting an "us" vs. "them" mentality, I'd like to seriously challenge that. I gave an example of intermarriage - but I can broaden it if you like, to people of the same faith:

  • living in the same neighbourhoods
  • attending the same schools
  • socializing together
  • worshipping together
  • getting married together
  • getting buried in cemeteries together
  • shopping in the same approved food outlets
  • eating in the same restaurants
  • wearing the same kinds of clothes
  • etc. etc. etc.

- are their other "mainstream" organizations which build such strong communities of interest, and create such all-embracing differences between "us" and "them", that they (IMO) divide people in every aspect of their lives?

Caissa

Not my point, Unionist. I was referring  to your phrase "sticking to their own and being xenophobic..." I'd rather not begin enumerating other groups that fall under this rubric. I was disputing your argument as much as saying it's not exclusive to religions. Hey, maybe I'll go out on a limb and suggest some religious people and maybe even religions are left-wing.

Even keel

Unionist wrote:

Caissa wrote:

I feel like you are moving the goalposts, Unionist. You are moving from the general to the specific.

Well Caissa, if you suggest that organized religions are really not much different than other organizations in fomenting an "us" vs. "them" mentality, I'd like to seriously challenge that. I gave an example of intermarriage - but I can broaden it if you like, to people of the same faith:

  • living in the same neighbourhoods
  • attending the same schools
  • socializing together
  • worshipping together
  • getting married together
  • getting buried in cemeteries together
  • shopping in the same approved food outlets
  • eating in the same restaurants
  • wearing the same kinds of clothes
  • etc. etc. etc.

- are their other "mainstream" organizations which build such strong communities of interest, and create such all-embracing differences between "us" and "them", that they (IMO) divide people in every aspect of their lives?

Uh, yeah, it happens all the time. Gay villages, immigrant neighbourhoods, minority language communities (Westmount hello?). In fact these organizations, or groups, prescribe much more to an "us" and "them" mentality when they feel others are hostile towards them. So maybe if we were ALL be a little bit more accommodating we could break down some of that us and them stuff.

Fidel

I think religions in general tend to foment a sense of "us" in terms of a collective humanity, whereas the religion of free market capitalism can only try to pretend to share the same goals and objectives as the rest of humanity. 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Oh, dear. As I recall, the latest major war in the mid-east was begun by two "men of God", one of whom had actually received messages from His highest of the highs and who was widely supported by anti-intellectual self-described christians. While it may be true some such similarily self-described atheists such as Christopher Hitchens has supported "the war of civilizations", he speaks for all humanists on war to the same extent the Pope speaks for all christians on condoms.

To me, God represents a very simple answer to a host of very complex questions where the truth, as we disover it, is a great deal more wonderous and awe inspiring as anything so trite as God did it. The universe existed long before we humans set a foot upon this earth and it will exist long after the last of our footprints have faded. The concept of God is entirely determinate on the existence of humans whereas the universe and all of its mystery and wonder is not.  

Unionist

Even keel wrote:

Uh, yeah, it happens all the time. Gay villages, immigrant neighbourhoods, minority language communities (Westmount hello?). In fact these organizations, or groups, prescribe much more to an "us" and "them" mentality when they feel others are hostile towards them. So maybe if we were ALL be a little bit more accommodating we could break down some of that us and them stuff.

Thanks for your reply. But you know what - I was talking about organizations which promote social exclusion of "others". Do you know of any outside the various churches?

 

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