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atheists oppose religion

atheists oppose religion

Here it is suggested (last question) that religious people figure stuff out and come to their views using, "fantasy, intuition, and tradition". Obviously using fantasy to inform your worldview would be bad, so this is a huge slander. On the other hand, tradition is very useful and important, and so is intuition, so this is revealing of atheists generally having the wrong approach to thought, and having it because they oppose any methods they associate with religion (yes it could go the other way. first they made a mistake about philosophy, then this caused them to oppose religion. that wouldn't make atheists any better though). (They would not put stuff in an introductory FAQ that was controversial. Especially not an FAQ designed to make atheism very inclusive by welcoming agnostics.)

At American Atheists, the frontpage currently has a news release that's pretty rabid about separation of church and state. basically they don't want Bush to be allowed to pray. He could write a book on why Satanism is great, and that would be free speech (to atheists), but if the president seems to support Christianity in public they get mad. If they were really indifferent to religion, they would care just as much as if the president endorsed hockey.

And here's what the American Atheists think is a good essay on morality without God. To start, it suggests life wasn't worse 2000 years ago. Then it calls Christian morality unsophisticated, which is pretty damn persuasive *cough*. And it continues to go downhill:

The behavior of Atheists is subject to the same rules of sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology that govern the behavior of all members of our species, religionists included. Moreover, despite protestations to the contrary, we may assert as a general rule that when religionists practice ethical behavior, it isn't really due to their fear of hell-fire and damnation, nor is it due to their hopes of heaven. Ethical behavior - regardless of who the practitioner may be - results always from the same causes and is regulated by the same forces, and has nothing to do with the presence or absence of religious belief. The nature of these causes and forces is the subject of this essay.

Hum, my behavior is subject to psychological rules? Sociolological? Well I'll wait until he expands on that to yell and scream, I guess. Saying "religionists" helps expose his anti-religion stance.

And then his argument here, umm, doesn't work. First he calls Christians liars, and then he declares human behavior is *entirely* regulated by certain non-religious things. Which would make religion ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT, which we all agree its not.

As human beings, we are social animals. Our sociality is the result of evolution, not choice. Natural selection has equipped us with nervous systems which are peculiarly sensitive to the emotional status of our fellows. Among our kind, emotions are contagious, and it is only the rare psychopathic mutants among us who can be happy in the midst of a sad society. It is in our nature to be happy in the midst of happiness, sad in the midst of sadness. It is in our nature, fortunately, to seek happiness for our fellows at the same time as we seek it for ourselves. Our happiness is greater when it is shared.

Oh dear God! OK I'm done with this essay. And this website. Except to suggest nature is his God.

this guy freely admits he spends time thinking of arguments against Christianity. also against other religious, but mostly christianity, b/c he knows more about christianity, and was raised catholic.

Look at this

A theist may study the human digestive system and marvel, "Surely something so elegant and complex must have been designed by God!" An atheist, on the other hand, might ask, "Why did God create tapeworms?" To an atheist, this thorny problem of a benevolent creator giving humanity the gift of parasites is evidence (though hardly proof) that he or she is correct in doubting the existence of God.

mmm hmm. and to a keen observer this atheist is spending quite a lot of time thinking about God. would someone who really didn't give a shit about God relate tapeworms to God?

here an atheist site gives the main reasons ppl become atheists:

1) contact with other religions. this doesn't make sense though. if the other one was persuasive, they'd convert not become an atheist.

2) bad experiences with religion

3) b/c of science, no longer need religion -- except religion's are full of *moral* content, so anyone replacing religion with science is totally fucked.

4) idiotic, entirely misconceived philosophical arguments

and 5) atheism, they claim, is the default position b/c ppl aren't born believing in God. this is no good. by that logic not walking is the default. any sense in which not walking is the "default" is a rather pointless sense though, huh? babies have no position on theism b/c they aren't even aware of it yet. better to look at an adult who has chosen theism or atheism. among adults, who have chosen, neither position can be sensibly called the "default" and given automatic priority, nor can the burden of proof be put on the other side b/c of some default status. sorry, no good, it just begs the question.


Why are you an theist?

someone starts to answer: "What caused me to reject not only religion, but also belief in the existence of any gods?"

down a little more they admit many atheists think atheism=rationality and theism=irationality.

and ok i'm bored with this.

Elliot Temple on May 10, 2004

Comments (4)

you're all over the place there, but it was a fun read anyway.

I like this:

".. if the president seems to support Christianity in public they get mad. If they were really indifferent to religion, they would care just as much as if the president endorsed hockey."

This attitude of faux neutrality shows up in substantive issues too. Like last week I heard a radio host who was all mad that Bush seemed to support bringing freedom to Iraq on "theological" grounds (basically all he really did was mention God.. God gave us freedom, we have a responsibility to spread it, etc.) His point was he didsn't want Bush "using his religion" to advance some policy (because of how we're supposed to have separation of church and state etc). the Iraq policy was "based on" Bush's understanding of God-related-stuff and therefore automatically poisoned and infected and wrong.

But what is he really saying there? Like so it would've been ok w/the radio host if Bush had done all the same stuff re:Iraq, favored all the same policies, but on the grounds that his reading of Marx (or a roll of some dice, or a dream he had..) told him to? Bush's sin being, essentially, thoughtcrime (favoring a policy while thinking God had something to do with it)? Based on the radio guy's argument, apparently so. Which is idiotic. (And disingenuous. The radio guy totally opposed the Iraq war anyway, independent of Bush's thoughts on God...)

The lesson I walked away with is that if you're a Christian in public life and that informs how you come to some decision (as it must), you should hide it. It'll just be used against you and the policy in dishonest ways. Instead make up some bogus argument involving dialectics or historical inevitabilities or whatever, that way they can't use "you're violating separation of church and state" against your policy in the first place. No i don't *really* believe that's what Christians should do, but it was a logical conclusion to be drawn from the radio host's rant...

Blixa at 6:34 PM on May 10, 2004 | #934

although it may seem practical to hide being Christian, it's better not to lie to the people that matter most -- the good people on our side.

Elliot at 6:41 PM on May 10, 2004 | #935

look, i believe in god defanintley, not only becuase of the outragoes statistics against evolution, but becuase im also afraid of the meaningless existence of humanity

however when in the above "3) b/c of science, no longer need religion -- except religion's are full of *moral* content, so anyone replacing religion with science is totally fucked."

theirs no way in hell the bible is moral

the killing of thousands of egyptians with plauges is a fucked punishment for the pharoehs fuck-up

jonathan at 10:42 PM on May 14, 2004 | #936


>theirs no way in hell the bible is moral

To weigh up the morality of religious people you must judge them by their words and deeds, by their heroes, and by the leaders they choose, not necessarily by what's written in their holy book.

The moral content of religion is not all set out explicitly but consists mainly of traditions. These are ways of behaving and interacting that you pick up from other people, like parents and peers, and from culture generally. A lot of it you pick up unconsciously. To a skeptic this may initially sound conveniently vague and unempirical. However, *moral knowledge* is part of the explanation for why some groups and societies flourish and others do not. By flourish I mean they are diverse, creative, wealthy, full of consent, preferred by migrants, etc.

So why bother with holy books and far-fetched beliefs if morality is largely inexplicit? The answer is that scriptures, rituals and customs have united groups. Learning them gained you admittance into the flock, raising the psychological stakes. It enabled people to *identify* other members of the flock, and to shun outsiders. This maintained the integrity of the knowledge channel. (Customs of course can also be very practical and embody useful knowledge in their own right).

Religions are the means by which moral knowledge (upon which depends survival), has been transmitted through most of history. Which means that religious beliefs are powerful memes -- they are good at getting themselves copied from person to person. (Stuff that isn't good at spreading and persisting is quickly filtered out.) Some of the memes transmitted are false and harmful.

There are other channels now. I happen to think that TV and films are important. (Perhaps this is the reason some parents blame much bad stuff on TV). Secular schools are relevant too, but largely in a bad way.

Tom Robinson at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2004 | #937

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