Skip to comments.Atheism's Army Of The Smug
Posted on 12/23/2006 7:01:57 AM PST by Clive
This time of year makes atheists especially cranky; O Little Town of Bethlehem, played in a shopping mall, does nothing to lift the spirits of an unbeliever. But even by seasonal standards, the letters attracted by my column last week on The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, demonstrate astonishing vehemence. They leave the impression that atheists are sensitive about their non belief and easily hurt by criticism.
A friend of mine, who used to run a radio program about religion, noted recently that "militant atheists were our most intolerant and angry listeners." The atheists I've lately heard from bring such passion to their hatred of religion that they can be fairly classed as religious fanatics.
Dawkins and people like him pour ridicule on believers. But, as evolutionists, they can't credibly explain why hundreds of different civilizations across the globe have felt the need to believe in a divine force. Billions of people have accepted what Dawkins considers are stupid, easily refutable and harmful ideas. How did those beliefs evolve? Were they an evolutionary advantage?
Dawkins thinks they may be the result of a misfiring or by-product similar to the reason moths immolate themselves in candles. Over eons, moths evolved a system of navigation based on light from the moon; this still usually works, but sometimes light from a candle (or another source) fatally tricks them. In the same way, Dawkins suggests, humans evolved a system of thought that has led them astray.
Children who obey adults have a "selective advantage" in evolution. They are more likely than disobedient children to survive because they won't have to learn on their own that, for instance, crocodile- infested rivers are dangerous. "Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them." But this valuable quality can go wrong, allowing parents to pass on their crazy religious ideas to the young. Dawkins has more trouble explaining how, in each civilization, the first wave of parents acquires religious convictions.
Atheists (my atheists, anyway) think that if you do not accept atheism outright then you're likely to accept the Bible literally -- which hasn't been true, in the case of most Christians and Jews, for generations. One reader demands to know whether I believe human life began 6,000 years ago when God created the first man and woman. No, I don't, and I hardly know anyone who does.
Atheists are arguing against a literalism that has never been accepted by anyone who is likely even to hear of Richard Dawkins. One reader demands I ask myself why I'm so sure of my beliefs. But I'm not. In fact, my beliefs hardly deserve the word "beliefs" and I'm certainly not religious in any traditional sense. My strongest belief is that a gigantic mystery still dominates this entire realm of thought.
Dawkins, and apparently most militant atheists, don't seem even slightly interested in the fact that something almost inconceivably mysterious happened at the birth of the universe. As a result, they can bring little of interest to any conversation about the origins of life.
Last March, astronomers (working with data from a NASA satellite circling the Earth since 2001) concluded that time began 13.7 billion years ago, a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. At that instant the universe (as a New York Times writer put it) expanded "from submicroscopic to astronomical size in the blink of an eye." Why would it want to do that?
I have no idea, but we now know that at least one planet that developed in the universe, Earth, would develop elements of genetic material that would make life possible though not, of course, inevitable.
Thomas Nagel, the philosopher, recently pointed out that if we are to believe evolutionary explanations, and therefore that the necessary seed material existed at the time of the Big Bang, we have to realize that there is no scientific explanation for the existence of that material in the first place. A complete understanding of evolution would involve answering a question as complex as evolution itself: "How did such a thing come into existence?" We have done nothing but push the problem one step back.
Or, as Stephen Hawking put it, "Why does the universe go to the bother of existing?" On that point we are all ignorant -- and only a little closer to knowledge than our ancestors who believed that sacrificing a goat would bring good crops. The profound intellectual failure of atheists lies in their fundamentalist-like aversion to the words, "We don't know."
I can't see that it's even any form of syllogism. It's simply a statement, and an incorrect one at that unless you very vaguely define "higher power."
The very concept of rights is also founded in religion.
Since the enlightened person is freed from any superstitions about some "God," they are free from having to worry about "rights." Only raw power counts and humans are just meat puppets for the powerful...
Morality is an esoteric ideal, no more real than those hobgoblins that seem to appear before us in a dream.
Returning to Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates advanced the argument that piety to the gods is impossible if the gods all want different things...
Morality is impossible, because all humans have different morals... Claims of morality is sophistry without some higher power defining what it is.
Morality and all of its associated ideals are rooted entirely in the presupposition some higher power defines what is correct for human behavior.
You said (in response to a post asking if anyone else has had the influence that Christ has):
Well, Mohammed, and to a lesser extent Buddha. And that Princip fellow who shot Archduke Ferdinand is pretty much singularly responsible for the current geo-political situation...
The world, not part of it, but all of it, says that we are living in the year 2006.... A.D. The influence of Christ's life is so pervasive that every day testament is given to it simply by writing down the year in which we are living. In the year of Our Lord. Older dates are referred to as B.C. (forgetting for a moment those PC efforts at calling this the "Common Era" and prior to Christ as BCE (before the common era)-- even those terms center, without saying so, around Christ as the center of time itself).
I readily, and happily, concede that what I believe, I believe by faith. Nevertheless, there is a lot of historical evidence for the life and influence of Jesus Christ. To mention Joseph Smith or Jim Jones in the same paragraph is to elevate them beyond their worth.
I respect the right of those who live without faith to do so, and I also respect their integrity in not simply saying that they believe when they do not. That said, I do hope that those who do not believe in God can looking outside of themselves as well as within themselves to see and feel that there is more than our observable existence to this world.
I posit to you that morals were invented by societies as they started banning those things that were found to detrimental to the society, and promoting things that were found to be beneficial. They later ascribed these rules to their god for enforcement.
And even if a higher power defines morality and rights, they are always subject to interpretation by humans, and therefore a completely fluid concepts. Whatever the book says, society will interpret it to their current mores, just as it conceived of those morals in the first place. For example, the Catholic Church used to freely endorse the death penalty based on scripture, but society has changed, so the Church no longer endorses it.
And you still haven't shown how that is a bullet proof syllogism that works in truth tables. Or is that just some apologetics you read without verifying it for yourself?
Do it yourself... it is very easy... of course, that would require you to know what you are talking about... it only takes one side of a sheet of paper...
GET AN EDUCATION, then come back...
Might makes right... anything else is religion...
Oh, here try this syllogism...
So long as someone is willing to pay, there will always be someone willing to collect...
Also not a syllogism. A truism maybe, but not a syllogism.
Going very basic here, a syllogism has three parts. Yours didn't even have that.
Oh ye of little education (and probably a government school education at that). Much of the world uses different calendars:
You are learning... keep trying...
I don't have to learn. Your statement was simply not a syllogism.
On the contrary, your counterargument is so stupid it's surprising to see it presented seriously. You should have given a moment's thought to your examples; you didn't, because you haven't even considered the original argument. Here's a clue: it's not simply "they died for it, so it's true". For what it is, you could try reading. Or just go on making a fool of yourself; your choice, really.
Joseph Smith never recanted even when faced with death by an angry mob.
He went to his death shooting and shouting the Masonic distress call, and the crowd never offered the chance to recant anyway.
Why did Jim Jones kill himself, when he knew that all he had been preaching was false?
And how do you know he did? More relevantly, if every single follower had known he was preaching falsehood, how do you suppose it would have went?
The Waco Branch Davidians died believing David Koresh to be the next Messiah
What about the early Muslims who volunteered to die in Muhammad's cause (i.e. The Battle of the Trench), according to your logic they wouldn't have if they knew that Muhammad had not been visited by Gabriel
Now explain how they would have known.
No, don't. Just throw up some more non sequiturs.
... caused by atheists like Hitler, Mao and Stalin, ...
Hitler was a Catholic.
He does that to some people ...
I do know of those calendars, and I receive mail from a fair number of Jewish folks (I confess my mail from Islamists and Buddhists has been light of late) and they use the same dats as well. I know those calendars exist, but they are not used with great frequency. I wonder what dates newspapers in Israel use, for example? If those calendars are used to a great extent, they are yet further examples of the influence of religion (and thus God, of one sort or another) in the daily lives of most people. I apologize if I came across as xenophobic.
Not really. Just addressing your (faux) point 'that abolition was led my Christians'.
The Christians were deeply divided over slavery and only a subset (Congregationalists, Quakers, Mennonites, Free Methodists , Unitarians, etc) were actively involved in freeing slaves and getting them to safety.
... Lots of writing, none of which addresses that fact that Atheists regimes have slaughtered more people than all others combined.
One of Communism's hallmarks in the Soviet Union and China was its aggressive and violent suppression of other religions. Communism was "anti-religious" only in the sense that it forcibly suppressed all religions other than itself.
> atheists like Hitler, Mao and Stalin, than all religionists combined, they'd rush to outlaw atheism instead.
So you'd like to 'outlaw atheism'?
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