August 16, 2007

Critical/Flawed Thinker Out To Lunch About Atheists

I was browsing through one of my favorite new resources, POPURLS, when I came across a post named Atheists vs. Agnostics vs. Religionists- Or Are They All The Same?

The post is full of flawed premises, half truths, and revisionist history. The blog writer of Duly Consider prides himself on being a Critical Thinker. He even taught Critical Thinking abroad. This self acclaimed intellectual calls atheism a religion. He is apparently an expert Flawed Thinker. But he invents meanings for words, so maybe critical=flawed to him just like atheism= a religion to him.

Without slaughtering the post line by line (the Hippie movement for example may not have been churchgoing, but they were all about "God Is Love; not Pacifist atheists for the most part), I've decided to just explain why atheism has gained popularity of late.

Up until recently, few would dare state they were atheist. Rob Reiner's character (Mike Stivic), was probably the first TV atheist, though very little story line revolved around it. Back then more than now, atheists tended to use the rejection of the God in the bible as a defense. Personally, I don't bother with that stuff, because as more evidence comes out due to scientific breakthroughs and archaeological discoveries, not only do all the bibles have nonsensical contradictions, but most of the events that supposedly took place could never have the Ark and the Exodus. The word of God is just the word of man written hundreds of years after the "fact."

TV was full of religious programs on Sunday mornings in the 60's. God was everywhere (though rarely mentioned in popular sitcoms like Gilligan's Island, Batman, Bewitched, etc.) How come they never prayed to get off the Island? OK, I'm getting off topic.

It was really television and real science that has created today's atheist movement.
Star Trek got everyone thinking about life on other planets and the size of the universe, and really the meaning of everything. In fact, for me, I can say that Marvin the Martian got me thinking too. As a kid, it got me wondering why is religion needed, what miracles did God perform on Mars? What church did Marvin go to?

Lets not forget that the Big Bang, is a fairly new theory that came about in the early 60's. Shows like Nova constantly contradicted the idea of any biblical God. As all the facts came about, including all discoveries that confirmed evolution throughout the 70's and 80's, more and more atheists were being created (I was probably agnostic until I hit my early 30's). I became an atheist because of information.

Atheists actually had evidence versus lack of evidence to make them feel more comfortable about their overall gut feeling about the bibles being fiction.

The Christian Right started to offend a more defiant group of non believers. The more they stated evolution didn't happen, the more I personally read about evolution, and the more sure I became that THEY ARE JUST PLAIN WRONG. And when they want to push their nonsense into schools and other public places, the more offensive they became.

The thing is that ATHEISTS KNOW THEY (me included) ARE RIGHT.

The article states that the religious war (Christians versus Muslims) Iraq war caused angry atheists to become outspoken today. Wrong. I'm an atheist, and I realize that the war with Iraq is not a religious one, but a cultural one. It was inevitable that the West was going to fight a Muslim country, just like it was inevitable that someone was going to use the A-bomb when it was discovered.

The reason atheists have become outspoken today is because of the internet. The internet has given us a platform to point out views, and the flaws of religious thought and most importantly, action.


  1. How come they never prayed to get off the Island?

    That is because The Professor was their deity and consequently they had no need to leave. As ridiculous as that sounds, I once heard someone try to argue that point.

  2. I think it is because "the creator" Sherwood Schwartz didn't want to offend anyone over which God they were supposed to pray to.

  3. Interesting. Do you think the current neo-atheism is a result of the Internet or just a bunch of guys like Dawkins & Co. publishing around the same time and building on each other?

  4. Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene in 1976 and the Blind Watchmaker in 1986. But atheism related books have become very popular because of three things mainly: scientific discovery (DNA was a biggie lately), the internet which has made it OK to be an obnoxious atheist:), and a realization of the extreme dangers of religion (mostly Islam thanks to terrorism), but the gay marriage issue can also be included in this category as well as the ID movement.
    The atheist market is bigger than it ever was, so why not publish books?

  5. The article conflates two different axes: level of confrontation and level of certainty. It says, "Meanwhile, now there is a resurgence among atheists who separate themselves from the extremists among them by calling themselves 'agnostic' (not-knowing)." But agnosticism means simply a refusal or inability to decide on the question of a deity; it has nothing to do with whether one prefers to challenge religion strongly or take a milder approach.

    When Sam Harris talks about killing people for their beliefs, I'm not at all pleased with him. But that doesn't mean I'm less atheistic than he is.

  6. Gary, that is just another glaring mistake in the "critical thinker's" post. Atheist does not go hand in hand with being confrontational, but many more atheists are confrontational today than they were 10 years ago.

  7. "ATHEISTS KNOW THEY ARE RIGHT"? Bull. Whether you believe in God or not, no-one KNOWS they are right on the issue. But it is interesting that as much as they complain about "religion" causing so many problems, many atheists (including those who proclaim loudly that "ATHEISTS KNOW THEY ARE RIGHT) are just as dogmatic as the if-you-don't-believe-in-God-Jesus-or-Allah-you'll go-to-hell type believer.

  8. Twenex: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you must think that atheists think that there is 100% proof that God doesn't exist.
    We don't.
    Most, like me, will state that there is absolutely no evidence that God exists. That is where we are right.

    We are also right about an ancient earth and evolution, though it isn't part of the definition of atheist, I would say that every atheist I know knows these to be true. Many theists of course know evolution and an ancient earth to be true as well.

    What exactly is the atheist dogma?

  9. I agree that the post in question was a rambling piece of nonsense which hardly made any valid points at all. I suspect the author wanted to point out the dangers of a militant atheism which seeks certitude in exactly the same way as its theist counterpart does. Therein lays a risk: that atheism, or at least its more militant expression, starts behaving like a faith and not the evidence-based form of thinking it started out as. There is no question in my mind that some atheists bandy around emotive ideas regarding the "moral superiority of atheism" and the "perfidity" of Islam without a solid evidentiary basis. Doubt, scrutiny, corroboration and self-criticism are all essential parts of being an evidence-based thinker but these attributes are often gladly thrown overboard by the more jingoistic part of atheists.

    But your own conclusion regarding the rise of atheism being due to the Internet is in my view largely nonsense. The Internet is a logical, technological evolution of other forms of publishing, in the same way that the A-bomb is the logical, technological evolutionary extension of the bow and arrow.

    The Internet may greatly increase the speed with which information can be made available but the sheer volume of self-publishing presents in itself a drawback: the haystack grows exponentially every day, making finding relevant but non-mainstream information actually more difficult. I don't expect more than a handful of people will ever read what I'm typing here.

    No, the rise of atheism is a steady one and about as old as the three Monotheisms themselves. Ever since science has been debunking the "mysteries" of the world and the Universe, increasing numbers of people have begun to have doubts regarding the validity of the holy texts and the existence of G-d. Religion of course fights back, as it has much to lose. Its rearguard fight will always slow down the advance of reason. And not everyone who turns their back on traditional religion turns to reason as an alternative: beliefs in other irrational belief systems, whether they be "new religions", esoterism, "spirituality", alternative medicine, cold reading, etc are also strongly on the rise.

    Perhaps atheism is today reaching something you could call "critical mass" and people are now less afraid of being ostracised (and in the past far worse than just that) for "coming out". Hence the success of "the New Atheists" but again religion and religionists will always fight back, see also the complete and utter nonsense that is constantly being peddled with regards to Dawkins (and to a lesser extent, Hitchens). One religious blogger I came across recently wrote that "Richard Dawkins should apologise to the victims of the Nazi concentration camps".

    I'm not even sure whether natural eradication (extinction, if you prefer) of religion would solve all that much. Hitchens somewhere called the demise of religion a "necessary but not sufficient condition" to arrive at a better world. The South Park episode in which three Atheist Alliances go to war over what constitutes the "right form of atheism" illustrates this in a brilliantly comical way. Simply put, if we weren't arguing about religion, we'd be arguing over something else. Most "religious wars" are indeed cultural and much more about power, land and resources that about actual religion (although it plays an important role in rallying the cannon-fodder).

    You assert:

    "It was inevitable that the West was going to fight a Muslim country, just like it was inevitable that someone was going to use the A-bomb when it was discovered."

    This explains nothing at all and your example of the use of the A-bomb was particularly badly chosen: the motives for their use were clear and defensible. Nothing arises out of a vacuum.

  10. Gert, I am trying to make sense of the rise in open atheism over the last 3 or 4 years. I say it is mostly due to the internet.
    The post I'm addressing blames it on the Christian crusade war in Iraq, which I think has nothing to do with it. Neither do I believe the Iraq war to be a Christian crusade.

    My guess is at least 50 people will read your comment, and considering all the atheist blogs in the atheist blogroll alone, many people are viewing similar comments daily.

    Also, on Youtube, there are many theists who painfully watch atheist videos, and many theists get loads of comments on their own videos. Who knows how many lurkers are watching?

    I know there will always be conflict, and it is unrealistic to think that the world will become atheists. People will fight over territory and political idealism regardless of spiritual belief.

    My example of the A bomb is that it was developed and it wouldn't have sit there until now if Japan would have called it quits in time. Because it was used then, it wasn't used during the Cold War.

    Radical Islam was only getting worse, and the threats were becoming more frequent and real.
    If radical Islam was the other side in the Cold War, they for sure, would have used the bomb. It is hard not to argue with this because of the mentality of getting rewarded for blowing up infidels.

  11. Another speculation, just one factor, as to the rise in atheist vocalness is academic indoctrination (pro-atheism, secular humanism). Decades ago the Princeton, Harvard, Duke type formerly religious schools went liberal, practically secular, and now the grads with their MAs, PhDs, are entrenched into their respective professions and spreading their ideologies. And of course on the public school level, the NEA has brainwashed generations with their secular humanism. They control the grant money, ability to get published, etc. In today's busy lifestyle, parents abdicate more than ever child-rearing to schools, and so of course many are going to come out atheists. I say atheism is a religion, because the atheist is basically exalting and trusting in man. Man is the atheist's god.

  12. Orde,
    Pro atheism? You mean facts?
    You mean not considering supernatural fairy tales?

    What is your definition of religion? The same as Websters?

    I don't worship man. Man is the most intelligent life form here on earth, but most likely not even close in the entire universe. And I don't worship whoever they are either.

  13. If you look at page 3 here, I was amazed that only 2% of Americans deny any sort of supernatural being/s. In Ireland, religion is declining quite quickly. However, when the Pope does things such as abolishing Limbo, the old hardliners start to wonder why they bother. It is quite hard nowadays to believe all of Catholic theology without having a serious headache.

  14. Islamists and other fundamentalists, have opened up the eyes of moderate believers, that religious skepticism has some legitimacy.

    If you support something as gay marriage for secular reasons, it can lead to questioning the foundations of religion.

    Now liberal politicians are pandering about religion as much if not more than conservatives.

  15. Not much to add besides that this is a very interesting discussion. My own understanding is that the new atheist movement stems, in part, from mankind's inborn reactionary reflex; the atheists who, for the longest time, kept to themselves are a) finding a larger group they can identify with thanks to improved means of networking and communication and b) speaking out in reaction to the growing religious current which openly contradicts what rational scientific inquiry has determined to be either entirely factual or at least a reasonable facsimile of the facts.

    It is our inability to tolerate what appears to be absurd which drives both the hardline religious current and outraged atheist movement to gain momentum.

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  17. beaj,
    Good point you raise, about definition of terms, specifically "religion." My brain is a bit fried now and I know it appears contradictory that I speak of pro-atheism at the same time I accuse atheists of being religious, that they don't profess belief in a deity, yet practically they live as if man is their deity. Courts have ruled that to be deemed a "religion" a belief system or world view doesn't require belief in a deity. Also, I remember way back reading the Secular Humanist Manifesto (can't remember if it was I or II) and I'm pretty sure even it said that secular humanism was a religion or should be made to be one.

    Yeah, probably most religions, such as faith in evolution, are "myths," but trusting in the God of the Bible really does check out, the book has built-in ways to authenticate itself as being supernatural, and even the atypical miracle stuff isn't necessarily counterfactual, just atypical and supernatural, that's all.

  18. Orde, atheists live as if there is NO deity. Simple. Generally we appreciate science and nature, but we don't worship science and nature, though if someone did that wouldn't preclude them from being an atheist.
    The court ruling that atheism is a religion on pertains to equal civil rights when comparing an atheist's rights to a theist's rights.

    There is no faith in knowing evolution is true. It is fact.

    Trusting God in the bible? There is absolutely no evidence that any God exists........anywhere, anytime. The bibles were written and edited by man for man.