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Old 11-21-2014, 07:31 PM
 
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What do you think about Reza Aslan's thoughts on "new atheists"?

Reza Aslan: Sam Harris and “New Atheists” aren’t new, aren’t even atheists - Salon.com
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:00 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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I essentially agree with him that atheism and anti-theism are not synonymous, that anti-theism is basically reactionary, and that it fails to appreciate much of the nuanced realities of religion (although its failure to appreciate the claimed benefits of religion are in my view spot-on).

I don't agree with his citing Einstein concerning anti-theists being "unable to bear the music of the spheres". I would point to Carl Sagan for example as someone who very much appreciated that "music" not in spite of, but because of, his understanding of science and his commitment to scientific progress.

Sometimes I think that people confuse the introverted, heady, geeky tendencies of scientists with some sort of necessary and inseparable connection between science and a near-absence of subjective feelings. There is plenty of room for awe and wonder to arise apart from religious sentiment. We are just used to thinking religion has an exclusive lock on it just because they claim to -- as they claim to have an exclusive lock on morality and other positive things that would somehow vanish from the world without their benign influence.

Good things in the world arise from the healthy activities of good people, religious or not ... not from religion itself.

To me the main value of anti-theism or new atheism or whatever you want to call it is that, as even Aslan concedes, no belief system should be beyond criticism or open inquiry, including religious ones.
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
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I don't think you can draw a bright line between atheism and anti-theism, which seems to be the point of his article.

Do I care whether my neighbors go to church or not? Do I spend any effort trying to convince them not to go? Nope.

But when we have *two* people in congress who are self-proclaimed exorcists - and one is a serious presidential contender - you had better believe that I will vociferously oppose their "god" every chance I get.
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Old 11-22-2014, 04:41 AM
 
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There seems to be a bit of shimmying between anti -theism and anti -religionism. He sort of sees this himself

"One can certainly be both an atheist and an anti-theist. But the point is that the vast majority of atheists – 85 percent according to one poll – are not anti-theists"

I wonder whether the poll even knew what question it was asking? I consider myself a militant atheist in the sense that I am not just saying so loudly (which would make me a New Atheist) but working to reduce the influence of religion on society.

While I am anti -theism in that I am arguing against theism as a logical and credible belief -position I am not anti -it in that I have some kind of grudge against it. With religion, I am working to remove its influence on society. With anti -religion, one can be an anti -religious theist, and it seems that we have many here who are and in fact that leap in 'Nones' may be of that kind - not atheist or even agnostic, but non religious. They have a theist belief but are against organized religion.

The guy needs to do a bit more thinking and talking. I hope he is open to it and is not just intent on bashing and discrediting atheism rather than understand it.

(P.s ) I could not help notice the wagging about of the Soviet Union and Marxist China. They are nothing to do with atheism, new or Old and atheists, tending towards freedom of thought and non -dogmatism are as anti dogmatic totalitarian regimes as they are anti authoritarian and dogmatic religions.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 11-22-2014 at 05:10 AM..
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:29 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I consider myself a militant atheist in the sense that I am not just saying so loudly (which would make me a New Atheist) but working to reduce the influence of religion on society.
I'm an atheist too. However, I don't care much for these "anti-religion" crusaders. I think that we must ask ourselves, is organized religion really a bad thing for everyone? For example, a psychopath's belief in "Hell" or "the wrath of God" might be the only thing stopping him/her from going on a shooting spree. Another example, the "fear of God" has also stopped a lot of people from cheating on their spouses.

I think that for many people, deity worship is a good thing. It can "comfort them" and "provide guidance during difficult times in their lives." And if clergy make a living off of "tending to their flock's needs" that doesn't bother me much either (as long as the clerics aren't advocating violence). People make money from providing all sorts of services that are not technically necessary for continued existence (i.e. entertainment), but enhance people's lives at an emotional level. And that is all that organized religion really is.
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Old 11-30-2014, 05:40 AM
 
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For me, the bottom line is this - the Bible is false. The religious claims based on the Bible are false. The Churches founded on the Bible are false. The doctrines, opinion, views, authority and influence of the churches, based on the Bible are false.

The falsity of all this has to be rolled back. I am not just talking about the attempts to shoehorn creationism into schools and university (1), deny the rights of gays, women or others on religious grounds, or put up gobsmacking imbeciles as presidential candidates because they believed that everything was made in six days, but the ongoing peddling of the contents of the Bible, New and Old T's as true.

People who want to believe it can if it makes them feel cozy, but it is high time that religion was reduced to the sort of social impotence (as well as in education and science) that astrology has. Almost none.

We have to do this; this is important. This matters.

(1) though I will swear that, if we took some of the advice we regularly hear, and shut up and did nothing, we'd have that even here in the UK
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Old 11-30-2014, 06:37 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,359,055 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lincoln Nebraska Native View Post
I'm an atheist too. However, I don't care much for these "anti-religion" crusaders. I think that we must ask ourselves, is organized religion really a bad thing for everyone? For example, a psychopath's belief in "Hell" or "the wrath of God" might be the only thing stopping him/her from going on a shooting spree. Another example, the "fear of God" has also stopped a lot of people from cheating on their spouses.

I think that for many people, deity worship is a good thing. It can "comfort them" and "provide guidance during difficult times in their lives." And if clergy make a living off of "tending to their flock's needs" that doesn't bother me much either (as long as the clerics aren't advocating violence). People make money from providing all sorts of services that are not technically necessary for continued existence (i.e. entertainment), but enhance people's lives at an emotional level. And that is all that organized religion really is.
If you think it doesn't matter if your beliefs are real and truthful, then sure, there's nothing wrong with religion, organized or not.

Why not believe in any old thing?

But as I've said before - what makes religion dangerous is its absolutism. This is why there is always so much violence, persecution, prejudice, bigotry, and tyranny wrapped up in organized religion. There simply isn't room enough on this planet for varying religions and their subsequent denominations to co-exist peacefully. Almost every major issue involving violence and bloodshed in the world today has religion at its core.

My God is better than your God. My prayers are more effective than your prayers. I'm going to heaven and you're not. Women should not be equal to men. Homosexuals should be denied their civil rights. Atheists are not US citizens and should be denied constitutional rights.

Religion, by its very nature, cannot compromise and sees itself (regardless of the religion) as superior. By default, believers in the superior religion are also superior to those who do not believe. My religion has the right to dominate. My religion has the right to decide for all what is moral.

The ramifications of organized religion on a societal or global level are not particularly good ones nor have they EVER been good ones.

Most of the bloodshed in our violent past had religion as the main catalyst. Much of this was because of the fear and phobias that religion naturally brings with it. God is angry. God is displeased. God is punishing us. But why? It's because of THOSE people over there. You know, the people who dress differently, speak in a strange accent, eat different foods, and above all, those who worship differently than we do. It's their fault. Thus we must do what God would want us to do. What followed has always been mass executions, false imprisonments, torture, witch burnings, cat killing, and even open warfare.

You still see it today - everything from hurricane Katrina to the Sandy Hook shootings to the Haitian earthquake have been blamed on God's anger. It's the fault of the gays, the feminists, the atheists, the liberals, the intellectuals, the people who took God out of our schools! I can't even imagine the carnage that would have resulted if we still lived in a theocracy that had no qualms about stoning people to death.

On perhaps a more pertinent point, all of this belief in magical gods and adherence to superstition stunts our growth as a technological, well-informed society. Today we have the sum of human knowledge right at our fingertips and yet we still run to our ancient holy books for an explanation to life's origins or how the universe began. There are too many science-deniers, too many purveyors of junk science, too many people who are trying to trade knowledge for comfort.

Why yes, believing in a god might comfort you, but how much of reality are you throwing away with that belief? How much superstition and fear are you willing to accept just to feel good? In that way, religion is very much like a drug - to exist in a realm of fantasy to maintain a spiritual high.

And we keep passing this nonsense down to our children - so that, while the rest of the world is being taught evolution, American kids are being taught how humans were created fully formed out of dirt and a rib by a magical daddy-god. How are they going to compete in the global marketplace if employers are going to assume American = primitive and thus they hire the Japanese kid instead?

Organized religion goes well beyond having a harmless security blanket to huggle every night when the world seems like such an ugly place.

What we believe ... matters. Because we tend to act on our beliefs. We vote based on our beliefs. We teach our children what we believe. If our beliefs are false - or based on nothing but faith, we're going to quickly lose our place on the world stage.
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Old 11-30-2014, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Type 0.7 Kardashev
10,577 posts, read 7,285,173 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lincoln Nebraska Native View Post
I'm an atheist too. However, I don't care much for these "anti-religion" crusaders. I think that we must ask ourselves, is organized religion really a bad thing for everyone? For example, a psychopath's belief in "Hell" or "the wrath of God" might be the only thing stopping him/her from going on a shooting spree. Another example, the "fear of God" has also stopped a lot of people from cheating on their spouses.

I think that for many people, deity worship is a good thing. It can "comfort them" and "provide guidance during difficult times in their lives." And if clergy make a living off of "tending to their flock's needs" that doesn't bother me much either (as long as the clerics aren't advocating violence). People make money from providing all sorts of services that are not technically necessary for continued existence (i.e. entertainment), but enhance people's lives at an emotional level. And that is all that organized religion really is.
Lots of presumptions there. Do you have any data to go along with those assumptions?

You're simply reworking the old chestnut that holds that in the absence of looming divine punishment, people will misbehave. Now, what would such a notion predict? Here's what it would predict: that behavior in less-religious places would be worse than in more-religious places. One measurable example of worse would be in violent crime. Let's have a look, shall we?

Q: Which of the four major regions of the United States has the highest rate of religiosity? (we can measure that by professed belief and church attendance)
A: The South

Q: Which of the four major regions of the United States has the highest violent crime rate?
A: The South
https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0308.pdf
http://religions.pewforum.org/maps

I won't do any further digging, but I have in the past - you can make the same comparison between the more-religious/more-violent United States and less-religious/less-violent Canada, or Europe, and come away with the same result where your ideas simply are not borne out by the evidence.

So how's your thesis holding up in the cold hard light of reality? Not very well.

Then there's the downsides. One example would be the systematic gutting of science curricula nationwide. And that's supposed to be offset by some horndog husbands keep their pants zipped out of fear of being struck down by heavenly lightning? Seriously? Other downsides include gunning down doctors at clinics, and the systematic oppression of gays that has still codified in law in many ways in many places. Did I mention that whole flying-airplanes-into-buildings thing? Seems to me that qualifies as one serious downside of religion.

I for one am darn sick of this notion that we need to treat the logical incoherence that is religion with respect and deference because it supposedly makes people behave - the preponderance of the evidence indicates no such thing.
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Old 11-30-2014, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE
84 posts, read 110,703 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unsettomati View Post
Q: Which of the four major regions of the United States has the highest rate of religiosity? (we can measure that by professed belief and church attendance)
A: The South

Q: Which of the four major regions of the United States has the highest violent crime rate?
A: The South
https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0308.pdf
http://religions.pewforum.org/maps
The problem is that you're thinking in a very religion-centric manner (the same is true for the other two that responded to me). That is, you're not taking into account other very important factors that influence human behavior (like economic conditions and nationality differences). And that is the key flaw with so-called "New Atheism" and much of the "atheist movement" -- they try blaming all of society's ills on one thing: religious beliefs. In doing so, they are -- ironically -- making religion appear to be a more powerful force in modern society than it actually is.
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Old 11-30-2014, 09:34 PM
 
Location: California
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I don't mind anti religion crusaders because they balance things out. I know where I am and what my beliefs are, what other people think only matters if it effects me or they get in my space uninvited with their blablabla.
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