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Arrogant Atheists


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I've just been watching Enemies of Reason by Richard Dawkins. I want to talk about something that I have seen quite a bit of. There seems to be many people turning towards atheism and I suspect they are doing it not because of any deep thought about the topic but for the same reason that many people turn to religion, i.e. identity, image, belonging, and authority.

 

In his documentary Enemies of Reason, Dawkins loves to go on about a war between reason and superstition. Creating in viewers' heads the idea of a war creates a distinction between good and evil. The next step is to characterize the good and the evil. Dawkins loves to talk to really bizarre psychics and people who speak in tongues, etc and then contrast this with men and women in white suits using high-tech equipment. This then creates imagery of what good and evil look like so that followers can easily identify, distinguish, and feel belonging through conformity. This is what religions do. Christianity creates an image of virtue, of the good Christian man or woman and then contrasts this to sinful things like drugs, gay sex, etc. Politicians do similar things when appealing to nationalism, creating flags to give physical manifestation to the state.

 

Many Christians are very comfortable with their beliefs, yet if they are introduced to the teachings of Scientology about aliens spirits hijacking the bodies of humans, they scoff as if this is absurd. Yet their own Christian beliefs are as supernatural whether it's transubstantiation or raising of the dead or the God who is three but one. It is obvious that these Christians didn't really think about it this way. The Scientology belief of aliens and thetans create imagery that is incompatible with the imagery they are conditioned to believe is good. Likewise, many atheists I'm sure will see something weird, e.g. people talking about strange forces and strange languages, and they happen to be wearing strange clothes, so then the imagery here is incompatible with the imagery of the silent men and women in white coats using high-tech machines and so instinctively they reject.

 

What I'm saying is that the criticism many give to Dawkins of being an evangelizer may be worth considering. Although most Christians may not admit it, I'm sure many of them like being Christians so they can act Christian, show other people they are Christian. It is a matter of image and pride, even though such prideful and vein behavior is sinful. Likewise, many of the followers of reason I fear may be flocking towards atheism not because of reason but because they are victims of their own irrationalities.

 

As evidence of my claim that Dawkins has adopted the elements of religion, look at his website where he sells t-shirts with A symbols on it. How is wearing this A around any different to a Christian wearing a crucifix necklace?

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I think people are turning to Atheism because it just seems logical. It compliments the lack of belief concerning anything that isn't verifiable by some reasonable form of evidence. It's consistent with most people's attitude and view of things outside of their personal faith-only based beliefs. The same people who believe in Feng Shui will commit their family member who claims to ride unicorns when everyone is asleep. That's selective application of evidence based belief.

 

There is no sin in atheism. There's no forgiveness. There's none of the typical religious "maintenance" with atheism. So, I don't see the logic to any claim that it's a religion. All the religions I've ever heard of require some kind of faith due to lack of evidence or even reason. There is no faith in atheism, it is simply god = we don't know, so therefore belief = no.

 

I think the negative reactions to this series more or less confirms for me how much of a problem it is. Even in a science forum people are turned off by relying on evidence and substance to support their beliefs. It's as if we're so conditioned to unsubstantiated beliefs that we our proud to rebel against Dawkins' ideas of evidence based belief.

 

Dawkins loves to talk to really bizarre psychics and people who speak in tongues, etc and then contrast this with men and women in white suits using high-tech equipment.

 

The hypocrisy in the statement just blows me away. "Really bizarre psychics"? How are they really bizarre while christianity isn't? Neither has a shred of evidence to prove their belief, yet you have decided that some psychics are really bizarre. And if you're not making a value judgement on "really bizarre psychics", then why did you use them as an example to contrast with men and women in white suits? You are guilty just as Dawkins.

 

One could have also made the case that the men and women in white suits are usually cast negatively in movies and TV while Psychics are almost always cast positively. That would seem to contradict Dawkins' supposed subconscious psycho trick attempt to stack the deck in favor of "good".

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Evangelising anything and wearing stupid T`shirts (unless it`s beer related) is just as "bad" as the other.

 

after all, I think many will agree it`s the Methodology employed that most folks despise, not the actual beliefs.

 

"believe what you like, just don`t try ram it down MY throat!" is My attitude.

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Personally I'm an atheist because I prefer to believe the evidence of my own eyes rather than the fairy tales told to me by a man in a dress.

 

I also think that evangelising the message "don't ask me to think for you" is rather less bad than the other evangelisms I have seen. (And I'm not sure it really counts as arrogant)

 

I wouldn't mind the idea of people believing ridiculous things if it didn't impact on me. On the other hand, as I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, I think that these daft beliefs are the pathway to an irrational outlook on life and that bothers me.

Accepting things as being true becomes a habit. Then, when you are asked to accept that, for example, the Jews were entirely responsible for the economic problems of Germany in the 30s, you are more likely to accept it. You just won't have had the practice at thinking for yourself.

 

The same lack of proper respect for evidence also leads to things like the MMR farce. That "story" should have died out before it got anywhere but (thanks partly to the media) it got credibility that it never deserved.

Again I think that if people were taught to think for themselves rather than to have "faith" this mistake wouldn't have happened.

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Again I think that if people were taught to think for themselves rather than to have "faith" this mistake wouldn't have happened.

 

Exactly. Your post nails the idea of habitual irrational, or at least unsubstantiated beliefs. This theme carries over in politics (warring over god or supposed morals derived from god), economics, philosophy, law..etc. This "faith only" theme is contagious and causes a lot of problems.

 

Look at how apathetic americans are toward their government and its policies. They have no interest. "They'll take care of it". I believe this whole intellectual laziness is a huge problem for my country as our people are being duped by opportunists that use this "disconnect" and total lack of knowledge to gain power. I don't think that would be the case if we were taught to think for ourselves.

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Paranoia,

 

Some excellent postings.

 

I couldn't agrree more with your:

 

"One could have also made the case that the men and women in white suits are usually cast negatively in movies and TV while Psychics are almost always cast positively."

 

 

I've noticed the same since I was a kid. The rational and scientific is somehow an obstacle to free thinking

 

'Gee, they won't believe me. ' Then we know the scientists, CIA etc. will all be shown up by some fellow, his girlfrind and a hero dog.

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I've noticed the same since I was a kid. The rational and scientific is somehow an obstacle to free thinking

 

Yeah, you just nailed it. An obstacle to free thinking...

 

I have a friend who seems incredibly intelligent, certainly has a great mind to work with, yet is immersed in different forms of spirituality. When I would debate with him on some of these, I'd ask why they can't be proven and tested and so forth and he would always respond with this overly pretentious teenage tone "look dude...this is beyond your numbers and your closed minded absolutes..." and would just go downhill from there.

 

I've known others as well. It's always disturbed me how open mindedness is abused to fool people into believing things.

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I've known others as well. It's always disturbed me how open mindedness is abused to fool people into believing things.

 

 

You see this a lot in politics, especially by the democrats.

 

Open mindedness to most Americans seems to only mean that you either agree with everything all the time, or that you avoid inconvenient topics or arguments. Its amazing how everybody is so afraid all the time.

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There seems to be many people turning towards atheism...

 

Or perhaps many of them are simply coming out of the closet. It seems in my real, physical life here in the Southern Baptist Bible Belt that I encounter few atheists. I suspect there are more than I meet but they remain in the closet because of the way they are treated here. The bible thumpers here are a vast majority and quite the condescending crowd. I suspect there are quite a numbers of atheists that would just as soon avoid the confrontation with them. OTOH, I enjoy a good argument and readily challenge their beliefs >:D

 

Many Christians are very comfortable with their beliefs, yet if they are introduced to the teachings of Scientology about aliens spirits hijacking the bodies of humans, they scoff as if this is absurd.

 

At least they recognize a good mental disorder when they see one...

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Dawkins is evangelizing athiesm and reason. He takes it a little farther than me, since I am agnostic toward the abstract creator God. We just don't know. But, people don't really argue for this God, only as a defense. This abstract God isn't the one that makes you feel important, hates homosexuality, created humans and takes you to heaven, etc. That is a specific God. That one, along with all the other fairy tales, I know does not exist.

 

Wearing a shirt with A would be similar to wearing the cross or a swastika, etc. You are showing your group identity. What matters is what the group believes, how it conducts itself, etc.

 

Watered down secular religon seems to be OK, but I have one issue. They do not update their books. They ignore vast amounts of it, but the texts remain for someone to bring up again and "return to the true roots" of the faith. A bit like science books having the sun circle the earth, with everyone ignoring it, but not changing it.

 

We already have difficulty keeping up with technology. Keeping these old books around with very little useful information and with some very dangerous stuff in them - just to belong to a group, will make it almost impossible.

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Evangelising anything and wearing stupid T`shirts (unless it`s beer related) is just as "bad" as the other.

 

after all, I think many will agree it`s the Methodology employed that most folks despise, not the actual beliefs.

 

"believe what you like, just don`t try ram it down MY throat!" is My attitude.

 

Live and let live is one of those mantras that sound nice in principle, but simply cannot work in practice. If you live in a democracy, then people with different beliefs from your own will vote, and this will necessarily have an impact on you and your lifestyle. I'm not suggesting that anyone with a different belief than me have their right to vote be taken away; rather there is a reason why we have freedom of speech, to encourage discussion/debate on these things so that perhaps others can come to see things your way, or you will come to see things their way, or otherwise reach some kind of compromise/consensus.

 

The problem is, a lot of people are rendered uncomfortable by discussion. They view it as preaching/proselytizing/intolerance or whatever label they can give it to make it taboo, and now it's politically difficult to raise very basic issues, like here in the US, the Constitutionality of "Faith-based initiatives," and things of that sort. Anyone who raises issue with that sort of thing will likely be demonized the way Newdow was for taking issue with the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Oh come on... if I read all these responses, then most of you (not all) are as religious as all the others. Religion is about hope, about a better future. Your god is science. You expect all from science.

 

The problem is not science itself (actually, I think science is great and VERY interesting and I do science). The problem is that science is adored as a new secular god. Nothing new... old wine in new sacks.

 

Keep your eyes open, do you really think all those old religions have nothing to say? These old books really have very little useful information?? Throw away your roots and history... you also throw away your hope and future.

 

This does not mean that we should stop science. No, not at all. Let's put our best efforts in it and try to advance. But we should stop that adoring of this secular god. Its blinding us and in the long run it will even kill science itself.

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I couldn`t agree more Shadowacct!

 

AL: live and let live CAN work and indeed Has, look at the Animal kingdom (of which we are a part of I might add) they only attack when either Threatened or Hungry.

 

Humans being a Little (but not too much) more complex, have different ideas of Hunger (including Greed) and threat (perceived or otherwise).

 

remove that... Peace Reigns Supreme!

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Oh come on... if I read all these responses, then most of you (not all) are as religious as all the others. Religion is about hope, about a better future. Your god is science. You expect all from science.

 

Continued argument with no logical supporting information. It seems you want this to be true, so you can level the playing field with science, but you haven't presented any case that it is true. I know you really us to worship science like a god, but I see no evidence of it at all whatsoever.

 

Unless you're trying to make the case that "belief with evidence" is a religion. That ought to be interesting...

 

Keep your eyes open, do you really think all those old religions have nothing to say? These old books really have very little useful information?? Throw away your roots and history... you also throw away your hope and future.

 

Huge strawman here. Who said any of that? Hint: Nobody. Many religions have wonderful things to say, great philosophical lessons, positive messages and decent guides to the fundamentals of morality.

 

And America was founded by people with deep faith, and contrary to what some would like to believe religion found itself in our government and has been there in some limited capacity ever since. I'm proud of "In God We Trust" on our dollar bills and I always say "Under God" when I pledge allegiance because it has historical value in my mind and the tradition is worth it.

 

However, I'm a comfortable atheist and will not believe until I see evidence and I do believe it is dangerous to continue to promote unsubstantiated belief - not in tradition or history, but current belief.

 

Remember, we have bookstores with prolific fictional works that contain the same elements, yet we don't literally believe these stories are true events. They have value, but are not to be worshiped.

 

This does not mean that we should stop science. No, not at all. Let's put our best efforts in it and try to advance. But we should stop that adoring of this secular god. Its blinding us and in the long run it will even kill science itself.

 

Tell me how we're "adoring this secular god". I really want to understand this because so far it's faired to be little more than an emotionally defensive dig.

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Shaddowacct I'm puzzled by some of thepoints you raise.

"Religion is about hope, about a better future."

That's not a definition I had heard before. I though it was about faith; the antithesis of evidence. The "better future" bit generally kicks in after you are dead- that's remarkably useful in terms of finding dissatisfied customers comming back to complain

 

"Keep your eyes open, do you really think all those old religions have nothing to say?"

Not that can't be said more logically by other things.

"These old books really have very little useful information?? "

OK, what can I really learn from the bible that's not in, for example, Shakespeare?

OK the old languages might be an interesting study in linguistics but that's it; nothing deeper.

"Throw away your roots and history... you also throw away your hope and future."

I don't plan to throw away the history books. They do tell of mankind's past.

I don't have any problem with throwing out a book that tells me that the world was made so recently that I can disprove it by counting tree rings. Strictly, I wouldn't throw it out, I'd just recatalogue it as mythology.

 

I don't see what this secular God is that you talk about. I'm on about looking at things and beleiving the evidence. Not an act of worship. How can you possibly think that actually looking at the evidence will be the end of science?

 

 

Speaking of evidence.

 

"AL: live and let live CAN work and indeed Has, look at the Animal kingdom (of which we are a part of I might add) they only attack when either Threatened or Hungry."

Domestic cats are well fed but they still torture birds and small animals to death.

That's hardly a policy of live and let live, or are you saying that cats live in fear of small birds?

Anyway, as I said I don't mind living and letting live- provided that it doesn't foul things up for me.

Should I go about my business and let terrorists go about theirs?

 

I note that Paranoia and I must have written much the same thing at the same time.

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Domestic cats are well fed but they still torture birds and small animals to death.

That's hardly a policy of live and let live, or are you saying that cats live in fear of small birds?

Anyway, as I said I don't mind living and letting live- provided that it doesn't foul things up for me.

Should I go about my business and let terrorists go about theirs?

 

ewww that arg is SOoooo sucky on so many different points it`s hard to choose Where to start!

 

Cats (domestic) will do that sometimes, quite true, and not because of hunger for Food, but hunger for Skill Prowess, Wild cats will not do this!

 

the terrorist thing is at best an Extremely pathetic Strawman, and easily dissembled by the statement violation of "live and let live" if they Complied with this, it wouldn`t be an issue now would it?

and it`s Also counter to what I said about the instincts (if you`ve forgotten or neglected to read) :

 

"They only attack when either Threatened or Hungry.

 

Humans being a Little (but not too much) more complex, have different ideas of Hunger (including Greed) and threat (perceived or otherwise)."

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Oh come on... if I read all these responses, then most of you (not all) are as religious as all the others. Religion is about hope, about a better future. Your god is science. You expect all from science.

 

I expect that science will continue to bring a better understanding of our universe and a better standard of living for humanity. Religion is about hope and a better future? Well, maybe some, but some have hope in the end of this world, that humanity cannot bring anything but death and destruction.

 

The problem is not science itself (actually, I think science is great and VERY interesting and I do science). The problem is that science is adored as a new secular god. Nothing new... old wine in new sacks.

 

You can adore a puppy or a baby. You can also adore an imaginary friend. Is that the same thing?

 

Keep your eyes open, do you really think all those old religions have nothing to say? These old books really have very little useful information?? Throw away your roots and history... you also throw away your hope and future.

 

Religions have some basic tenants that are useful. Philosophy can update and improve on these. Our roots and history are varied and can be known much better in secular history and anthropology. And they can actually be the same for all of humanity, not just certain tribes or groups

 

This does not mean that we should stop science. No, not at all. Let's put our best efforts in it and try to advance. But we should stop that adoring of this secular god. Its blinding us and in the long run it will even kill science itself.

 

Stop adoring the pursuit of knowledge. OK

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"the terrorist thing is at best an Extremely pathetic Strawman, and easily dissembled by the statement violation of "live and let live" if they Complied with this, it wouldn`t be an issue now would it?"

If they did then it would be a strawman. You seem to overlook the fact that they don't comply with it. Should I just let them get on with it?

 

The whole point is that we are talking about groups with different outlooks-those who trust what they are told by priests of some sort and those who don't.

 

If the other side won't let you live, then you cannot live and let live.

 

"and it`s Also counter to what I said about the instincts (if you`ve forgotten or neglected to read) :

 

"They only attack when either Threatened or Hungry.

 

Humans being a Little (but not too much) more complex, have different ideas of Hunger (including Greed) and threat (perceived or otherwise)."

 

That quote is the second use of the word instincts on this page. It's tricky to read what you said about instincts when you didn't actually write about it.

If you are refering to the idea that I might be perceived to be a threat by someone because their preacher tells them so, then that's another good reason to prefer the evidence (ie that I'm not a threat) rather than the fairy tale. It's also a reason why I shouldn't tollerate that preacher. He might well persuade that person to attack me in the belief that it's a pre-emptive strike against an enemy. If the guy were in the habit of thinking for himself and gathering evidence he would spot that I'm not a threat.

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"the terrorist thing is at best an Extremely pathetic Strawman, and easily dissembled by the statement violation of "live and let live" if they Complied with this, it wouldn`t be an issue now would it?"

If they did then it would be a strawman. You seem to overlook the fact that they don't comply with it. Should I just let them get on with it?

 

The whole point is that we are talking about groups with different outlooks-those who trust what they are told by priests of some sort and those who don't.

 

If the other side won't let you live, then you cannot live and let live.

 

"and it`s Also counter to what I said about the instincts (if you`ve forgotten or neglected to read) :

 

"They only attack when either Threatened or Hungry.

 

Humans being a Little (but not too much) more complex, have different ideas of Hunger (including Greed) and threat (perceived or otherwise)."

 

That quote is the second use of the word instincts on this page. It's tricky to read what you said about instincts when you didn't actually write about it.

If you are refering to the idea that I might be perceived to be a threat by someone because their preacher tells them so, then that's another good reason to prefer the evidence (ie that I'm not a threat) rather than the fairy tale. It's also a reason why I shouldn't tollerate that preacher. He might well persuade that person to attack me in the belief that it's a pre-emptive strike against an enemy. If the guy were in the habit of thinking for himself and gathering evidence he would spot that I'm not a threat.

 

FTW!???

 

now you`re putting words in my mouth, as Another Strawman attempt.

tsk tsk tsk, Naughty!

 

I`m disappointed in you, I know you can do better than That! ;)

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