Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:
We want religious believers to police their own.
We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.
So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?
I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.
I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.
And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.
And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.
Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.
So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.
Let us turn to this instead:
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.
We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.
In a previous blog entry, I showed via historical references that the definition of “atheist” as merely “lacking belief in a god” had no historical foundation, being a recent invention (we used the term “non-Theist” for that already). Critics of my position (that the only true Atheists are those who deny outright the existence of any god and that therefore Atheism should be classed as a dogma) assert that the meanings of words may change over time and that there is nothing wrong with this. I disagree and here is why:
In the Middle Ages, the term “gentleman” was defined only as a nobleman who owned land and it had no behavioral or moral references. If you said a man was or was not a gentleman, you were neither praising him nor insulting him, but merely giving information about his social status. But gentlemen were expected to maintain certain high standards of behavior, and over time people began to argue that the behavior of a man was more important than his social status. This is indeed an enlightened point of view, but the critical mistake made later was to start saying not only that a man who was not a gentleman acted like one anyway, but to actually call men of good behavior “gentlemen” even if they were not of the landed nobility. This was simply inaccurate, but that usage became so common as time went by and the nobility became less important to European societies that the original use of the term was dropped completely and the mistaken usage became the norm. Today, you cannot even refer to a man in the Middle Ages as a “gentleman” without an explanation as to its original meaning. This is a barrier to communication about historical issues, and so the word “gentleman” has been ruined and it would have been better to have discarded it completely and another term invented for men of good behavior.
It is the same with “agnostic”. Thomas Huxley invented that term precisely because the only definition of “atheist” that existed in his time was “denial of all gods”, which Huxley did not do. Thus, he classed himself and other agnostics as being neutral with regards to the Theism/Atheism question, something that today’s New Atheists deny. But if Atheist is indeed merely “lacking belief in any god”, then agnostic is a useless term, just as “gentleman” is now, since it is indeed impossible for anyone to KNOW whether or not there is a god; we merely choose to believe or disbelieve in gods. Therefore, EVERYONE may be classed as agnostic and the term can no longer be used for statistical purposes to define anyone’s beliefs, or lack thereof.
The New Atheists have a choice. They can either discard the term agnostic completely (and thus discard Huxley’s intellectual legacy), or they can reverse course and admit what we always have known, that it is indeed possible to be neutral on the issue of Theist/Atheist, that Atheism is a dogma and that agnosticism is something to be accepted on an equal level with Theism, non-Theism, and Atheism. The first choice, of course, will also disrupt communication about historical issues regarding atheists and agnostics in the past, so only the second choice is the viable one.
Read this story below:
Mark Cheney on April 8, 2012, 12:00 AM
What’s the Big Idea?
Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, created a stir when he recently declared that he was not an atheist after all, but an agnostic. The news, which came during a debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury last month, seemed at first to be a big get for God. However, in The God Delusion Dawkins was frank about his agnosticism.
So, how does Dawkins square his public persona with his lack of certitude? Easily. No matter how strongly Dawkins is associated with atheism, he is first and foremost a scientist. Therefore, ”the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other,” he claims.
Similarly, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title “scientist” above all other “ists.” And yet, Tyson says he is “constantly claimed by atheists.” So where does Tyson stand? He tells Big Think: “Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic.”
Uh, I thought the New Atheists defined atheism as “lacking belief in a god”. If so, then Dawkins IS an atheist. He even had his anti-religious book titled “The God Delusion”, not The Biblical Delusion, The Christian Delusion, or The Creationist Delusion. If you really think simply believing in a god is delusional, then you’d have to be asserting that there no god, or else your claim that Theists are delusional is pointless! Unless Dawkins actually repudiates his book, he is NOT agnostic!
In The God Delusion, Dawkins provides a seven point scale for scoring belief in God. Here it is:
Richard Dawkins’ Belief Scale Scoring Rubric
- Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
- De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
- Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
- Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
- Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
- De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
- Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.
I would rewrite these definitions as follows:
Dale Husband’s Belief Scale Scoring Rubric
- Dogmatic Theist: I do not question the existence of God.
- Non-Dogmatic Theist: I am inclined to believe in God but I do not proclaim that belief as if it is fact.
- Non-theist Agnostic: I am neutral on whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical and live as if he does not.
- Non-Dogmatic Atheist: I am inclined to believe there is no God.
- Dogmatic Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God and assert such a position constantly.
For more details about this problem, see:
I wonder how disappointed BionicDance must be in Dawkins, assuming she knows of his recently stated position.
This has to be one of the most pathetic criticisms of the Atheist community I’ve ever seen. If it had been written by a Christian attacking Atheists, it could not have been worse.
Atheism is too often expensive.
Where are the picnics and hikes and movie screenings? We know that the demographics of the movement are diverse, and, therefore, it’s likely that the needs of the individuals are quite varied as well… so why is raising awareness about the historicity of Jesus (usually a ticketed event) always more important than delivering casseroles to the non-theist first-time parents? Where are the low-cost, easy-access events that tie us together as people, simply for us to get to know one another and organically create support networks?
We talk an awful big game about Christianity in particular, but ultimately religions have cornered the market on human emotional connection, and so far it seems that the atheist movement is content to ignore it altogether. A major reason it’s hard to leave the church is because of the wealth of social and emotional support you must leave behind. Learning about evolution and archeology are awesome, mind-opening opportunities that are great for everyone, but a lecture about evolution won’t pick your kids up from practice if your car breaks down. Or take you out for coffee if you’re having a rough week. Or play a pickup game of raquetball. Or come to your open mic night. Or whatever it is that you do. And the connections that make those interactions possible aren’t easy to create when you don’t have the money to join in.
I then commented there:
Indeed, that link should give a great solution to Amanda’s problem:
Atheism and Agnosticism: Theological Diversity in Unitarian Universalism
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.
Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.
Another non-theistic tradition is Humanism, which focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior.
Unless, of course, she is too bigoted to fellowship with anyone who is not an atheist. And that would only draw my contempt.
Is that a mosquito I hear?
Science is a methodology for studying the universe and everything in it, as well as the conclusions reached over time from repeated use of that methodology. That’s all it has ever been and ever should be.
The traditional view of God is of a Creator of the universe. He is not a part of the universe, otherwise he could not have been its Creator, therefore science can never study him. And what science cannot study, it has no business making judgements on.
That religion has wrongfully intruded on scientific matters with ancient creation myths means that science CAN rightfully debunk those myths. It does not follow, however, that Theism itself has been disproven by science, because science cannot do that. It can only show what dogmas in religion that relate to things in the universe are wrong, but not dogmas about anything outside the universe!
And that is why P Z Myers’ assertion here that “if you’re not an Atheist, you aren’t doing science right” is really a case of arrogant dogmatism on his part and need not be taken seriously by anyone who knows what the real conception of God by most theistic religions is.
One of the most militant atheists on YouTube is a lesbian who calls herself BionicDance. Here is one of her recent videos:
I questioned her position about atheism in order to get her to defend it in an empirical and non-dogmatic manner. She failed to do that.
The atheist community, of which Richard Dawkins has been seen as a leader for many years, has been rocked by this latest controversy which has shown, once and for all, that just because you are atheist doesn’t mean you leave behind all your outdated attitudes and become consistently rational. If anything, Dawkins’ blatant sexism has only made him and his atheism look worse.
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Talk about missing the point!
Others have denounced Dawkins and defended Rebecca on this, including Rebecca herself:
Dawkins is dead wrong about this! Indeed, he couldn’t be more wrong if he were to suddenly endorse Young Earth Creationism. And since his position is so repulsive, the only honorable thing for him to do at this point is for him to state, in a public forum or even on his own website: “I’m sorry, I was being sexist and hypocritical and I will never make such foolish statements again.” And then shut the hell up afterwards for a long time.
Until he does that, I will never listen to him again.
Take a look at this chart, a “Periodic Table of Atheists and Antitheists”:
One of my basic principles is Truth in Advertising, that whenever you illustrate something or state something, that depiction or statement must be as accurate as possible. This is one of those cases in which that principle has been violated.
Carl Sagan is on the list, at the 11 position. So is Neil deGrasse Tyson, at position 3 and Charles Darwin at position 38. But all these are or were NOT atheists, but agnostics. To understand the difference, just look here:
But there are striking omissions from the table. Where is Ayn Rand??? By all accounts and appearances she WAS indeed an atheist. She should have been listed among the philosophers for her founding of the Objectivist movement. Likewise, there are no leaders of the Communist movement either, not even Karl Marx!
This chart is a lie and it needs to be taken down and replaced with a more accurate one!
This is the direct sequel to:
Once again, P Z Myers and Jerry Coyne have decided to push for the elimination of all mentioning of religion in scientific organizations, including the NCSE (National Center for Science Education, the American organization defending evolution) and the BCSE (British Centre for Science Education, the version of the NCSE in the United Kingdom).
Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE
Although we may diverge in our philosophies and actions toward religion, we share a common goal: the promulgation of good science education in Britain and America—indeed, throughout the world. Many of us, like myself and Richard Dawkins, spend a lot of time teaching evolution to the general public. There’s little doubt, in fact, that Dawkins is the preeminent teacher of evolution in the world. He has not only turned many people on to modern evolutionary biology, but has converted many evolution-deniers (most of them religious) to evolution-accepters.
Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists. This apparently comes from your idea that if evolutionists also espouse atheism, it will hurt the cause of science education and turn people away from evolution. I think this is misguided for several reasons, including a complete lack of evidence that your idea is true, but also your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.
The official policy of your organizations—certainly of the NCSE—is apparently to cozy up to religion. You have “faith projects,” you constantly tell us to shut up about religion, and you even espouse a kind of theology which claims that faith and science are compatible. Clearly you are going to continue with these activities, for you’ve done nothing to change them in the face of criticism. And your employees, past and present, will continue to heap invective on New Atheists and tar people like Richard Dawkins with undeserved opprobrium.
We will continue to answer the misguided attacks by people like Josh Rosenau, Roger Stanyard, and Nick Matzke so long as they keep mounting those attacks. I don’t expect them to abate, but I’d like your organizations to recognize this: you have lost many allies, including some prominent ones, in your attacks on atheism. And I doubt that those attacks have converted many Christians or Muslims to the cause of evolution. This is a shame, because we all recognize that the NCSE has done some great things in the past and, I hope, will—like the new BCSE—continue do great things in the future.
There is a double irony in this situation. First, your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists. Second, your assertion that only you have the requisite communication skills to promote evolution is belied by the observation that you have, by your own ham-handed communications, alienated many people who are on the side of good science and evolution. You have lost your natural allies. And this is not just speculation, for those allies were us, and we’re telling you so.
Let’s look at some excerpts from this open letter:
There’s little doubt, in fact, that Dawkins is the preeminent teacher of evolution in the world. He has not only turned many people on to modern evolutionary biology, but has converted many evolution-deniers (most of them religious) to evolution-accepters.
Note that Coyne does not specify that Dawkins has converted all these former evolution-deniers into atheists.
Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists.
How so? By not openly supporting atheism?
you have lost many allies, including some prominent ones, in your attacks on atheism.
HA HA HA HA HA HA! So not affirming atheism is the same as attacking it? REALLY?! Show me ONE official statement by the NCSE or the BCSE that attacks or denies atheism. Just one!
your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists.
Coyne, you are alienated only because you are so convinced that only atheism is true. But that has nothing to do with teaching science. The fact remains that many children from Christian backgrounds will be learning evolution in schools and if they see a conflict between evolution and the Bible, they will remain Creationists rather than give up their faith and accept evolution. The efforts at accommodation by the NCSE and the BCSE are intended to show that you can choose to be religious and deal with science as it is also. It is YOU that is being intolerant, Coyne! It is YOU that choose to be alienated. You can still advocate atheism on your blog while promoting evolution too. No one in the NCSE or the BCSE is saying you cannot. So what is the problem?
Then P Z says on his blog:
How often do we have to repeat ourselves? There is no goal of turning the NCSE or the BCSE into an atheist organization; we think having an organization that is honestly neutral on the religious issue is extremely useful in advancing the cause of good science education for all. We want the NCSE/BCSE to support neither atheism nor religion.
You know what? The atheists in this argument have a crystal-clear understanding of the difference between atheism and secularism, and are saying that the science education organizations should be secular. It’s these sloppy accommodationists who have allowed liberal christianity to become their default position who have violated the distinction.
First, no one is asking Myers and other atheists to repeat themselves, so that is just rhetorical crap. Second, the NCSE has made clear its own religious neutrality.
What is NCSE’s religious position?
None. The National Center for Science Education is not affiliated with any religious organization or belief. We and our members enthusiastically support the right of every individual to hold, practice, and advocate their beliefs, religious or non-religious. Our members range from devout practitioners of several religions to atheists, with many shades of belief in between. What unites them is a conviction that science and the scientific method, and not any particular religious belief, should determine science curriculum. (Emphasis mine)
Sorry, but until atheists become the vast majority of American and British people, the screaming about accommodation by atheists is pointless. I just don’t accept it. If the atheists wish to have all science organizations never mention religions or treat any religious people with respect again, they can push for that. And once they get their way, the political support for scientific organizations will most likely dry up. And the only ones who gain from that would be Creationists. The atheist fanatics are giving them exactly the talking points they need to fight longer and harder the public relations war over science education!
Please support both the NCSE and the BCSE. Here are their websites:
Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, with about 2 billion followers all over the world. Islam is the second most popular religion, with over a billion followers. Part of the reason Christianity is larger is because it is older, since it is about 2000 years old, as compared with Islam being only 1400 years old.
Another reason Christianity is more popular is because of its association with imperialism. First, it took over the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, the religion continued as the dominant ideology of the Byzantine Empire, which was a direct offshoot of the Roman one. Later, the Arabs built a vast empire using Islam as their unifying force, challenging the Byzantines. Finally, the Turks, another Islamic power, destroyed the Byzantine Empire.
Then the European powers spread their empires all over the world, taking Christianity with them. Islam remained relatively weak until two things happened to make it more powerful: European imperialism fell apart and oil was discovered in most parts of the Middle East. Suddenly, the Arabs became extremely rich due to their oil revenues, and with that wealth came the ability to spread Islam around the world. But in Europe, Christianity declined as the people became increasingly secular. The tragic events of World War II probably did more to destroy Europeans’ faith than anything else. Today, the USA is the most powerful Christian dominated nation in the world, but it is still secular in its government. And even here, religious influence is slowly declining.
I suspect that within another generation, Islam will surpass Christianity as the most popular world religion, but its power cannot last long, because oil is a nonrenewable resource. And when that oil runs out, the economies of the Middle Eastern states that depend on oil will break down, and so will Islam.
What can freethinkers, atheists, and secular humanists do to overcome this situation? They must do everything possible to end the dependence on oil, and indeed all other fossil fuels, and establish societies based on renewable and sustainable sources of energy such as wind, water, the sun and geothermal sources. Once at least some parts of the world are free from needing resources that are doomed to run out, we will have even less need for religions like Christianity and Islam.
First, read this:
Japan’s most powerful earthquake since records began has struck the north-east coast, triggering a massive tsunami.
Cars, ships and buildings were swept away by a wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude tremor, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.
A state of emergency has been declared at a nuclear power plant, where pressure has exceeded normal levels.
Officials say 350 people are dead and about 500 missing, but it is feared the final death toll will be much higher.
In one ward alone in Sendai, a port city in Miyagi prefecture, 200 to 300 bodies were found.
The quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, said scientists.
Thousands of people living near the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been ordered to evacuate.
Japanese nuclear officials said pressure inside a boiling water reactor at the plant was running much higher than normal after the cooling system failed.
Ever ready to take advantage of opportunities to mislead the public with fallacious arguments, Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Creationist propaganda outlet, made this statement:
News stations worldwide are reeling at the devastation in Japan due to a massive earthquake—unequaled in the country’s recorded history—and the huge tsunami it produced, which has swept across cities and farmland leaving a trail of rubble and ruin in its wake. The death toll is still uncertain, but is expected to exceed 1,000.
In the face of such destruction, suffering, and death, many people question how a good and loving God could allow such evil to happen. However, this is just another painful reminder of how the curse of sin has affected our world. For biblical answers to this topic, please see the following resources:
- Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering?
- Why Is There Death and Suffering
- tSINami—lost without Genesis?
Please join us in praying for the victims of this disaster, as well as the families of those affected by it. Also, take this opportunity to share with others the reason for death and suffering, and the answer to the problem of sin—salvation through Jesus Christ.
Seeing this, I was suddenly reminded of this incident on P Z Myers’ blog, Pharyngula.
philos —- Being a demented fuckwit and world-class asshole —– In an unbelievable act of crass, vile smugness, this petty twerp rushed to my site after the fatal 35W bridge collapse to sneer at atheists. “Contemptible” isn’t a strong enough word for vermin like this, who use tragedy to push their lies on the bereaved. His kind are what make me despise religion.
- So that’s what a tsunami looks like [Pharyngula] (scienceblogs.com)
- Japan earthquake leads to state of emergency at Fukushima nuclear power plant (mirror.co.uk)
- Tsunami Hits Japan (hindu.com)
AAAS = The American Association for the Advancement of Science.
First, look at this:
Evangelicals, Science, and Policy: Toward a Constructive Engagement
Evangelical Christians constitute approximately 30 percent of the U.S. population, and their influence on public policy is considerable. As a community with major concerns regarding science, ethics, and national priorities, its impact on science policy has been particularly significant, as in the case of stem cell research. Around such controversial issues, communication between science and evangelical Christianity has been hampered by limited appreciation of both the scientific facts and each others’ concerns. On the other hand, new models of positive engagement between these communities around global issues such as climate change is encouraging awareness and leading to science policies that benefit both science and society as a whole. As science progresses in other disciplines, evangelicals will continue to play a significant role, but their positions on many of these issues have not yet been fully formed. The opportunity thus exists to anticipate concerns and to develop a positive understanding that will benefit scientific advancement. One example is neuroscience, which has implications for both policy-making and religious understanding. Speakers will discuss their experiences with stem cell and climate change policy and explore how these experiences can inform engagement between the scientific and evangelical communities to benefit policies relating both to neuroscience and to science more generally.
Do you see ANYTHING there that attacks atheism or says that atheists have no business doing science?
Responses to this by atheist fanatics have been less than rational. Here is Jerry Coyne’s take on it:
No—here are the real losers: abortion doctors who are shot by evangelical Christians, women forced to bear unwanted babies because abortion is seen as sinful, gays who are either marginalized or demonized because evangelicals consider their thoughts and behaviors as sinful, children who are terrorized—and infused with lifelong guilt—by the concepts of sin and hell, women who must accept their status as a second-class gender. Even believers like Francis Collins, surely on the liberal end of the evangelical Christian spectrum, hold profoundly antiscientific beliefs. Collins, for example, can’t see how morality could have either evolved or developed in society unless it was a creation of God, and considers the “Moral Law” as profound evidence for the existence of God. To anyone working in anthropology or neuroscience, that claim is simply embarrassing!
The sooner that religion goes away, the sooner these ills will abate. “Dialoguing” with evangelical Christians (and granted, not all of them hold the beliefs I’ve just mentioned) only enables superstition—a superstition that, one would think, would be resolutely opposed by a scientific organization like the AAAS. Remember that Leshner is the CEO of that organization and the executive publisher of one of the world’s two most prestigious scientific journals.
It is not evangelical Christianity that causes anyone to shoot abortion doctors, but the worst form of hypocrisy. That sort of hyperbole from Coyne is prejudicial and disturbing. Couldn’t it be possible that rather than corrupting science, the purpose of the conference is to inform evangelicals about how science can persuade them to moderate extreme positions they otherwise might have taken?
P Z Myers seems to be playing good cop to Jerry Coyle’s bad cop.
I don’t think Nick Matzke can even imagine what a group of secularists would find useful at AAAS — he’s projecting quite a bit, and presuming that such a session would be as one-sided and blinkered as these sessions the evangelical Christians are running. They wouldn’t. I’m as antagonistic to religion as Coyne is, maybe more so (hey, there’s another session possibility: “Atheists Roast Christianity,” where we all vie with each other to insult religion the most), but unlike what the Matzkes of the world assume, we are actually aware of the political situation.
If I were in charge of organizing such a beast, here’s what I’d look for. I’d want to have an honest religionist or philosopher/historian of religion there to give a talk on key doctrinal conflicts: what are they? How do modern Christians and Muslims and Jews resolve them? They are there, of course: there are major points like teleology in the universe and mind-body dualism that are unsupported or even contradicted by science. He wouldn’t have to endorse or oppose any of those points, but simply, clearly, explain where the conflicts lie.
I’d want someone to discuss secular approaches to school and public education. These do NOT involve teaching atheism in the schools. I’m a big fat noisy atheist myself, but when I get into the classroom to teach one of those controversial topics like evolution, my atheism is not an issue, and I don’t tell the students they have to abandon their gods to be a scientist. What the attendees at AAAS do not need is someone telling them how wonderful Christianity is; what would be useful is someone explaining how to teach honest, evidence-based science without compromising their principles, no matter what they are.
I’d want someone with political and legal expertise to discuss what the law actually says about science education. The perfect person would be someone like Barry Lynn, or Sean Faircloth, or Eddie Tabash — a person who could lay out exactly what kind of political tack scientists should take with legislators to keep the taint of religious bias out of support for science.
Actually, the atheist-run version of such a session would be what a science organization should want: instead of some half-assed stab at rapprochement with clearly unscientific, irrational, traditional metaphysics, and instead of the tribal war council the accommodationists imagine, it would be a rational discussion of how secular scientists (which would include religious scientists who are committed to keeping their beliefs out of the lab and classroom) can get their jobs done in a crazily religious country. As long as these pious zealots are left in charge, though, that’s not what we’re getting.
I can go to atheist meetings to get my rah-rah on for godlessness; people like Leshner, the organizer of the currently planned come-to-Jebus meeting, can go to church and get their idiot-ology affirmed there. An AAAS symposium ought to be actually accomplishing something for all of the members of the organization, not just the atheists and especially not just the deluded apologists under loyalty oaths who want to Christianize science.
It would seem that the only thing atheists like Coyne and Myers want with the AAAS is for religion to be mentioned only to highlight its flaws. But that’s not what science is about! Science, in its pure form, ignores all religions and their beliefs. The problem is that scientists do not practice science in its pure form and indeed, no one does…..because they are human. A person who does science and nothing else wouldn’t be human at all, but a robot with no emotions or sense of appreciation for anything non-scientific.
Religion is non-scientific, but only some expressions of religion are anti-scientific. That Coyne and Myers do not seem to understand that distinction and paint anything non-scientific as unworthy of serious discussion in major science organizations only shows their prejudice. I’d hate to see them in an art museum.
Sometimes, I see a fellow blogger make a statement so simple and so brilliant that I have to make a note of it and adopt it for myself. That’s exactly what I saw on the Blag Hag blog, made by Jen McCreight.
A YouTube non-theist and feminist known as ScouseCaspaXS decided to investigate Islam.
Myers said the following here:
I think I’m beginning to figure David B. Hart out. I’ve been totally mystified about why anyone would consider him a credible or interesting thinker since reading his essay belittling the New Atheists, which was dreary and wearying — I compared his prose style to that of Eeyore. But note: one of his central points in that essay was that these New Atheists aren’t as smart and brave as the Old Atheists, an idea that comes up again in a new essay.
Hart has now written a column praising Julian the Apostate, of all people. Julian was a very interesting person in history, a 4th century Roman emperor who resisted the Christianization of the empire begun by Constantine by openly rejecting Christianity and endorsing a revitalization of paganism. He’s something of a mixed bag for atheists: he’s a hero for opposing the dour old monotheism that was spreading through the culture, but also a bit of a flake for encouraging the old classical religions — he was not an atheist by any means. The novel by Gore Vidal, Julian, is an excellent introduction to the doomed rebellion against Christianity.
One thing Julian also was not is a friend to Catholicism, so it’s odd to see a Catholic writer heaping praise on him. But then you discover that Hart doesn’t admire him for his views or his intelligence or his cause (although he acknowledges them), it’s because Hart has the conservative disease of believing everything was better in the past, that there was a Golden Age, and that we’re living in an era of decline and defeat right now. To these cranky old farts of stodginess, we’re always living in perpetual decline. Julian is to be admired because he also thought the generations before him were better than the one he was living in.
As a scientist, one would think he would value accuracy over merely bashing religion for the fun of it. But he made a mistake and got busted for it!
This is the direct sequel to http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/
Prior to the 1990s, it was clear to me what atheism, atheists, agnosticism, agnostics, dogma, and fanaticism were. That’s because we had clear and logically consistent definitions of those words. They were found in reliable dictionaries like Webster’s New World Dictionary. Here are the definitions I found in the 1975 edition, which I still own and use.
atheism: “the belief that there is no God”. (That’s the ONLY definition in the book.)
agnostic: “a person who beleives that one cannot know whether or not there is a God or an ultimate cause, or anything beyond material phenomena.” (The ONLY definition in the book.)
dogma: “a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion.” (One of several definitions, and it is not implied that dogmas must always be religious in nature.)
fanaticism: “excessive and unreasonable zeal” (Again, it is not specified that only religion can produce fanatics.)
Take a look at this stupid video by a guy calling himself “shockofgod”:
What incompetence! I found the video he was referring to:
Clearly, people like shockofgod are losing the debate. And ZJemptv eventually busted him:
I recently had a long argument with an atheist who not only openly disagreed with all religions, but insisted that all religious people were delusional, stupid, even insane, while totally denying that he was himself promoting an unproven belief of his own.
What is atheism? There appear to be two kinds:
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
By the first definition, I am indeed an atheist, but I reject that term for myself because I know that people assume that atheism is about outright denial of God’s existence (the second definition) and nothing else. By contrast, I question God’s existence and do not deny it at all. My position is a neutral one regarding that specific issue.
And that is why Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century coined the term agnostic to describe himself and his beliefs, or lack thereof.
Take a look at this nonsense that was published on NaturalNews.com. I’m going to copy the libelous words of the writer in red and then my direct responses in blue:
What ‘skeptics’ really believe about vaccines, medicine, consciousness and the universe
Sunday, January 24, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com
First, read this blog entry from Pharyngula:
Can you bear yet another poll today? The initial results of this one, before all of you readers get to work and use your magic clicky fingers, is mildly interesting. The readership of Christianity Today consists primarily of scientific illiterates and wishful dreamers, split between people who seriously believe the earth is 6000 years old, those who think the Bible is a science text and are willing to stretch a metaphor, and fuzzy thinkers who want a god to have guided natural processes.
I imagine the readership here can rock their little world.
Young-earth creationism 29%
Old-earth creationism 28%
Theistic evolution 26%
Naturalistic evolution 4%
I don’t know 7%
None of the above 6%
The opponents in this confrontation were gogreen18 (Laci) and The AmazingAtheist (TJ). Watch these videos and decide for yourself who was right.
These are Laci’s two YouTube channels:
This is TJ’s channel:
In my opinion, Laci was expressing her honest revulsion at the sexist comments TJ made and it’s clear that as a young woman, she takes it very much to heart any attacks made against women which refer to their body parts. Why should anyone in a debate do that, no matter how offensive the woman’s opinions may be? I might call a woman like Ann Coulter a bitch, but I wouldn’t make specific reference to her breasts or suggest that she should only go shopping. But the fact that Laci used foul language to get her point across as much as TJ did weakens her case against him. Finally, anyone who refers to himself as an “Amazing Atheist” and is not James Randi needs to have his ego smashed. I was repulsed by this guy’s attitude as soon as I started watching his videos. An intellecual, this bozo is NOT!
This was taken from an anti-Creationist website:
One of the most popular creationist attacks upon evolution theory (and science in general) is the moral attack. As the argument goes, science, evolution theory, and atheists are immoral, so they must all be wrong. This is a bizarre and logically indefensible argument; there are a lot of things about nature which are brutal and which may strike us as immoral, but that doesn’t change the fact that they exist!
Even if we were to accept the nonsensical argument that a scientific theory can be judged by the morality of its proponents, would the “moral argument” hold water? In order to for it to hold water, one would have to first show that atheists are immoral, and not only have creationists never produced a shred of evidence, but they’ve never even tried. As far as they’re concerned, it’s an unquestionable truth and no evidence is required.
In “1984″, George Orwell’s totalitarian state altered the language and created “NewSpeak” because its leaders understood that if you can control the language, you can control the way people think. Did Orwell invent that idea? Hardly. Any student of the English language can see that this is precisely how religionists have been subtly influencing people’s thinking for centuries. The growth of the English language has taken place under the care of evangelical Christians, and it should come as no surprise that it was deliberately designed to glorify religion and vilify rationalism. The word “materialism” refers to the idea that the material universe is all that exists (ie- the atheist viewpoint), but it is also synonymous with greed and selfishness. The word “faith” describes religion, but the word “faithful” describes trustworthiness and loyalty. In other words, the English language itself subtly reinforces the idea that religion is virtuous and atheism is immoral!
The English word “atheism” has a literal meaning, which is simply non-theism. Therefore, it is defined in most dictionaries as the absence of theism, or the refusal to believe in a God or gods. However, the Third Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (copyright 1992,1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company) still retains an older definition which happens to be quite convenient for the fundamentalist hate-mongers:
- Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
- The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
- Godlessness; immorality.
Did you notice the third definition? According to the American Heritage Dictionary as of 1996, atheism is immorality! What is it about America that breeds Christian fundamentalism? Why should it surprise no one that the “American Heritage” dictionary still shows the ancient 18th century definition of atheism as “immorality”? Whatever the reasons, America is a land of overt hostility towards atheism, and the continued use of the above definition is only a minor symptom. Perhaps the Minnesota Atheists put it best:
“Religionists regularly slander atheists as immoral and it goes far beyond a difference of opinion. Because of our supposed immorality, for which no evidence is ever given, we are barred from admission to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the VFW and the American Legion. We are insulted publicly by clergy of all faiths, who seem to consider us unworthy to be citizens of the United States. A climate of opinion is created in which the chances of a known atheist being elected to office, no matter how ethical and well qualified, are slim to none.”
They aren’t exaggerating. In the 2000 federal election, both prospective leaders loudly and repeatedly bragged about their piety, in an obvious attempt to court the religious bigot vote. Newsweek magazine commented that it doesn’t matter which religion a candidate belongs to, as long as he is religious. The notion that “religious piety = moral fortitude” is deeply ingrained into the public consciousness, and no one ever stops to consider how hateful its consequences are: if piety is morality, then a lack of piety (ie- atheism) must be immorality! And with that, millions of Americans are instantly slandered as immoral, perverse degenerates who are unfit to hold public office. In fact, the state of Texas is one of several states which has even enshrined this bigoted policy into law: its state constitution bars anyone from public office if he does not acknowledge the “existence of a Supreme Being”.
Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever for religionists’ bizarre assumption that atheists are immoral, and while it would be considered hateful to make similar attacks upon Jews or Muslims, no one raises an eyebrow at this continued, public mistreatment of atheists. These pages were written with the goal of explaining, in some detail, the following points:
- Christians have been systematically rewriting history in order to pretend that Christianity versus Atheism is symbolic of Good versus Evil. We are never allowed to forget evil atheists (eg. Stalin), but evil Christians receive a distinctly different treatment. Their crimes are minimized or forgotten, and their religious affiliations are either concealed or misrepresented as atheism.
- You don’t need faith in God in order to be moral.
- Humanist morality is universal, while Biblical morality is not.
- Humanist sexual liberation is not the assault on family values that the fundamentalists seem to think it is.
- Humanists are no more likely to commit immoral acts than Christians.
Personal note by Dale Husband: My own experiences tend to support this. Athiests, as well as Christians, can be either enlightened or bigoted, and religious affiliation, or the lack thereof, seems to have nothing to do with one’s moral character.