I understand the attitude from Apple users, Jeep owners, Democrats or Republicans, pro-life/pro-choice, vegetarians. Heck, as much as I despise it, I even understand religious militantism.
But what is the motivation of an atheist when s/he pushes the atheistic agenda unprovoked?.
Specially considering that I believe that there is a large majority that is simply indifferent to the matter and would call themselves agnostics just to avoid being bagged with the religious. Presenting a militant radical extreme atheism can only serve to push some of the indifferent mass to call themselves uncommitted religious just to avoid being bagged with the pro-atheists. It hurts the cause.
Once all the easy-to-shoot-down arguments of religion being the opium of the masses, a delusion, a fairy tale arguments are off the table, atheist fall back to the position of pointing out all the damage that has been done in the name of religion.
When was the last time we had a religious war? Are there any mainstream religions whose modern leaders are making calls against another religion? Who are not talking about peace and love and convergence?
We hear about the religious agenda in politics. Isn’t that an issue better addressed through the ballot box? Addressing specific initiatives and laws?
If the problem with religion is religious intolerance, how is the intolerance of religions in any way better or even different?
Could be any number of things. Probably the most common is insecurity. The person, for some reason, feels threatened that other people don’t agree with his point of view. Or, it could be the desire to prove how smart the person is and how stupid the other person is (and that might also be rooted in insecurity).
Easy-to-shoot-down? I think not. Most religions, in the way most people accept them, are fairy tales.
Well, there has been a lot of damage caused by religion. Lots of good, too, but that doesn’t erase the bad. Wars, literal witch-hunts, enslavement, destruction of cultures-- all done in the name of religion.
One that starts with “I” and ends in “m”. You get two guesses and the first doesn’t count.
I prefer the way we do it-- through a general rule in the constitution. Makes for a more tolerant society.
It isn’t any better when that intolerance is channeled thru forcible action instead of simple, civil debate.
Atheists are like other folk, except we can sleep in on Sundays: some of us are over strident and too aggressive, others aren’t. Militant atheism is like any kind of militan ‘ism’ and the militants have a lot in common with one another.
As for the lack of religous wars these days, you’re going to have to speak up over the car bombs and screaming.
Because people get unreasoningly enthusiastic about things they ‘really believe in’? I am of course not suggesting that athiesm is a belief, but rather it is a cause that can be believed in, same as environmentalism or feminism.
You see people like this in any movement. The environmentalists that go too far, the feminists that want too much, etc. You get people who aren’t satisfied to just hold a position, they want to get others to hold the position too. They aren’t really concerned about what other people think at that point, they just have to do something to get the word out.
Easy to shoot down? Right. This is part strawman part bullplop. I dont have to invoke religious wars to show that religion can be harmful.
You are presumably looking for two countries with state religions who are at war?
There have been a number of such conflicts in the Middle East in the last 50 years, between Israel and its neighbours.
There is constant violence in Palestine, and Israel recently attacked Lebanon.
It can be difficult to decide who the leader of a religion is. Who speaks for Islam?
Protestant Christians do not recognise the Pope.
Certainly there have been death threats against individuals for ‘dishonouring’ a religion (‘Satanic Verses’, cartoons of the Prophet’).
There are not many theocracies, so not many opportunities to declare war.
There have been decades of religious violence in Northern Ireland between Christians.
Well some Christians have described the Pope as the AntiChrist, called for abortion clinics to be bombed, refused to allow women priests or homosexual marriages and tried to prevent evolution being taught.
Some Muslims have stated that women must wear concealing clothes, cannot drive cars and must obey their husbands in all things.
I think you are firing a blunderbuss here, since there are certainly gentle tolerant members of all faiths, but there are centuries of religious conflict
For the record, I am not a religious man so I cannot speak in defense of religion.
Nor did I start this thread to take on all comers and refute them all to the ground. I want my ignorance fought, I am not planning on fighting yours (as glad as I will be to help, if it is whithin my possibilities).
That said, I call “pushing the atheist agenda unprovoked” the attempt to disrupt religious dialogue and activities. We see a bit of that in this MB but that is not what I am asking about. At least not exclusively. There was a fairly recent Wired magazine article on “the New Atheism”(*) where the proponents were advocating for an active, militant, proselytizing atheism.
I don’t understand how we should not hold to the same contempt this type of atheism as we do door-knocking JW, just for the example.
As for the issue of religious wars, as much as Bush claimed he was under order of God to invade Iraq, that hardly makes it a religious war. A religious war is one where the leaders of an established religion call all its members to fight against another religion for the purpose of defending their religion.
A fanatic might believe that bombing a coffee shop will take him to heaven but that is not a religious act. It goes against the mainstream teachings of that religion which repudiates such acts. Extremism is not a valid manifestation of a religion just as PETA or Greenpeace are not valid standards of the environmental preservation movement.
Ditto for a radical christian bombing an abortion clinic. Christian teaching might be against abortion but is even more against bombing. Someone who bombs in the name of Jesus is acting against Him.
I would like to hear more concrete cases of religious wars in our time and the damages religion causes to humanity. I would prefer a case against religion in general, more than against particular religions. If it so happened that a particular religion is against the best interests of humanity, then we can squish that one and leave the rest alone.
Also, I would like modern cases. Slavery was really bad stuff but nobody is judging the US for it nowadays as that is an overcome stage.
As for the “easy to shoot down” other arguments. I mean they are easy to shoot down as cases for opposition to religiosity, not by themselves. Religion might be all fairy tales but so is Santa Claus, the Stork and Eragon. I don’t see too much of a campaign against those. What a person believes is a personal matter. If I want to believe that the hot water in my kitchen tap comes from a volcano in China, that’s my business.
(*) If someone could dig it out and link to it, that would be great. My connection is very sucky and it is painful for me to do good searches and browsings. It was a cover topic around november or so. The authors mentioned in the article are supposed to be fairly well known, anyways. Someone might know about them directly and provide better references to their work.
Who are “we”? I think the vast majority of us here do hold that behavior up to the same contempt. Perhaps the most famous public figure to take the stance you describe is Richard Dawkins, although I’d hardly say he is going door-to-door like some atheist version of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Since you want your ignorance fought, that particular claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It was reported second hand by someone in a Arab newspaper and appears to have been something “lost in translation”. Additionally it has been refuted by the guy who originally made the claim-- I think it was Abbas, the Palestinian politician.
What? Of course it’s a religious act. Just because it’s extremist or not everyone agrees with it doesn’t mean it isn’t religious. It could be that the suicide bomber is completely alone in his thoughts, and it’s still a religious act. It’s in the motivation, not the agreement with the majority of the religion. If he thinks he’s going to heaven cuz his religion told him he was, then it’s religious. It looks like you’re trying to use a variation on the No True Scotsman fallacy.
It doesn’t matter if you can point out doctrine which contradicts what the individual thinks, they are still acting in the name of religion. They can probably point out doctrine that supports their actions, religious texts tend to be like that. Religion is what motivated the action.
The problem is, and this is what tends to motivate activist athiests, is that religion is not a personal issue, and hasn’t been for a long time. Individual belief might be personal, but Religion is a widespread, very public, institution with connections to many facets of society. Religion is also attempting to break the wall set up by the people who wrote the Constitution by having laws favoring it passed, and athiests don’t want to sit still for that either.
Are there atheists going door-to-door or doing anything that annoying? Dawkins has been getting a lot of press lately, but I don’t see how he’s forcing his message on anybody. Nobody is forced to read his book or see his lectures, and he’s not barging his way into churches to disrupt their sermons.
Help me out here, and give a specific example of an atheist disrupting religious dialogue and activities.
Well, as I said, if some religions in particular are disruptive of the social order, then we can try to eradicate or marginalize them. The problem with those are not that they are religious, is that they are disruptive. If you want to put a bomb in my coffee, I will arrest you just the same no matter if you are doing it because your god told you to do it or because you didn’t like my red shirt. Motivation is irrelevant.
Very true. Religion should have no say in the way society conducts itself (unless we are talking about a theocracy, of course). There should be measures to stop all lobbies from taking too strong a hold of the government, be it religious, tobacco, oil, auto, airspace or whatever it is. Government should be independent of the interests of interested minorities.
But a failure of this is a failure of the government. Not a fault of religion.
I think some of the problem of militant atheism is one shared by gay people; any kind of normal behaviour tends to be seen by some people as trying to push it. It’s an image problem; we’re used to even very religious people appearing on TV or films and stating their views, so it’s normal. But if an athiest does it, it’s surprising and not normal enough that people are more likely to think of it as proseylatizing and pushing atheism into people’s faces. Another point is that when someone identifies themselves in the media as being atheist, it’s often to speak about being an athiest. The default assumption appears to be that they’re religious. So people watch TV and see yet another atheist talking about their views, and don’t realise that the lead actor in the drama before it might be atheist. We come across as though all we do is talk about atheism and religion.
That said, there is certainly an extent to which atheists do actually proseylatize and are arrogant about their beliefs. Why do they do it? The same reason anyone else with strongly held views does, I suppose. To be fair to them, religion isn’t something that only affects the individual; without religion I imagine there would be big differences in terms of abortion law, stem cell research, and other subjects often debated between the religious and irreligious. And to say that there are no holy wars is just wrong; I don’t know if you’ve heard about the Troubles in Ireland, and there is of course the warfare in the Middle East. At least on this level I think militant athiests have a better reason to be militant than religious folk do; there isn’t a whole lot of fighting between people because of their atheism. On the religion in society issues like abortion, though, both sides have pretty much equally good reasons to go about the loudness of their disapproval (up until violence, of course).
As for the ballot box… American is a religious society. It’d dominated by the religious. Atheists know they have a much smaller chance of having their voices heard, so that would be one reason to shout a little louder.
I don’t get your point about religious intolerance vs. tolerance of religion. Which athiest is saying “You’re all wrong, so let’s kill 'em all”? Even the more inverterate athiests don’t want to *force * people to change their minds, or force their point of view on others - argument and protest, methods of convincing, are their method. The same cannot be said for some militant religious people.
As an aside, I don’t see why not being religious means you can’t speak in defence of religion. I’m an athiest, so obviously I see flaws in religion, but I see the good side, too.
Well there were plenty in USSR and China, but then again communism is almost a religion (the beleif in achieving a magical state where everyone helps everyone else, seems little different to a beleif inheaven or reincarnation, though slightly less unreasonable from a scientific point of view)…
I would be interested in any such atheist action in a democracy though. (and death metal nutters blowing up churches are not atheists.)
The problem is not religious intolerance, it’s belief that certain things are not open for discussion or review because they are sacred. This is something shared with Fascism and clannish war cries. The belief that the sacred text, nation, or family is inviolate.
That’s true, but only to a point. It isn’t always as obvious as a bomb in the coffee. Religion is trying to get its doctrine taught in the school as science, it’s trying to get its doctrine enforced on women’s wombs, it’s trying to get its doctrine enforced on gay people, etc. All of these things can be viewed as ‘disruptive’ by someone who is being opposed by religion.
Fear of religion, and hatred for it. I’ve said before that I regard it as the single greatest evil in history; do you really expect me not to speak against it ? Nor are atheists unprovoked; religion is all consuming, all controlling; it leaves nothing and no one alone. Simply by existing a religion is a danger and a provocation, because sooner or later it will harm me or something I care about; that is it’s nature.
And where are the “militant radical extreme atheists” ? The “religiously intolerant” ? Me ? Richard Dawkins ? When was the last time I or him or any atheist picketed someone’s funeral, or blew up a clinic, or beat someone until they are crippled or dead, or called for the religious to be outlawed or exterminated ? Never, that I recall - and in any event so rare that I’ve never heard of it. And no, Communism is not atheism. It’s disgusting how we are supposed to respect religion no matter how stupid or barbaric or unpleasant it’s followers are, but atheists are treated as rabid maniacs for taking a firm position.
How are they easy to shoot down when they are true ? And nothing has every stopped me from pointing that out and the harm religion has caused and is causing at the same time.
The fighting between Shiite and Shia in Iraq pops into mind. Or the Christian Nazis killing Jews, and wearing God is With Us on their belt buckles while being cheered on by the Pope. The fighting between Israel and it’s neighbors, between Israel and Pakistan, the list goes on and on.
“Peace and love and convergence” I must be imagining all the religious infighting over such thiungs as gays and women. Nor does it matter whether the leaders call for anything, good or bad; the true evil is the religion, not it’s human puppets.
How convienient, since that’s a contest the minority will always lose. The minority never wins by being silent. They don’t even get the satisfaction of saying “I told you so !” that way.
Most people in America already hold far more contempt for all types of atheism than they do for just about anything else. “You’ll be hated for it !” isn’t a good argument against militant atheism, or non militant atheism, because we are already hated just for existing.
Garbage. A religious war is one being fought for religious reasons, regardless of it’s leaders official stance or the “established” nature of a religion.
“I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” Killing people you disagree with is very Christian; millions upon millions of Christians have done just that. Christianity has achieved it’s religious preminence over much of the world upon a mountain of corpses. By genocide and torture and slavery.
How many examples do you want ? And as for a case against religion in general instead of examples involving specific religions - they are the same thing. If religion after religion after religion inflicts harm, then it’s reasonable to assume that religion in general is harmful. Do I have to show you every type of rock there is before you admit that rocks tend to be hard ?
As for modern examples; there’s the infighting in Iraq, there’s the crusade against gays and gay rights ( often violent ), there are children beaten because the Bible says “spare the rod spoil the child”; there’s religiously motivated oppression and abuse of women; hatred of Jews by people who call them “Christ killers”; abortion clinic bombings; the attempt to outlaw abortion; the fight against stem cell research; the national hatred towards atheists; the fight against sex education; American prudery in general; the Catholic Church’s discouragement of antiaging research; the American willingness to commmit any atrocity against any population or group that was leftist because they were fighting godless Communism; the Catholic Churches lies about condoms in Africa;the Catholic/Protestant fighting in Ireland; the attempt to push Creationism in schools; the attempt to ignore AIDS and call it God’s Wrath on gays; the list goes on and on.
Because people aren’t killed over most of those - and you are wrong about the stork; plenty of people are fighting a for campaign sex education.
That’s just silly. Motivation is important, because some things are much more likely to encourage bad behavior than others. And religion has a loooong history of promoting destructive behavior
I think **Revenant ** made an excellent case with the gays analogy. When one is the new oppressed minority in town, one is always in salesman mode. Atheists are, in fact, the new “them” everybody loves to hate. And an atheist who is firm in his beliefs must be always in apologist mode. Fair enough.
Pliny, I don’t see the problem with the religious holding something sacred and being unwilling to discuss it. Every group, religious or not, has a core set of beliefs that are non-negotiable. “We do not negotiate with terrorists”, “Give me freedom or give me death”, “Germany, germany over all”, “All men are created equal”, “Our father who are in Heaven”.
Wok, the cases you cite are issues of religious intrusion in the government. As I said, that’s a failure of government. There are many governments in traditionally christian countries whose ethics are completely secular while maintaining religious freedom (i.e. most of Europe). It can be done. That the christian lobby has hijacked the government (and not quite exclusively, IMO) is a failure of our democracy. The tyranny of the majority.
DT, Although I could probably nitpick a minor detail or two of your post, I have no true objections to the whole of it. That said, it seems to me that you are judging religion as a whole based on the Abrahamic religions. I will grant you that, although there are just 3 of them (with all their flavours, of course) vs however many others might be (let’s say 20 to keep it simple), Abrahamic religions encompass over half of the world population (*) and cover most of the globe.
Still, you are questioning the majority of religions based on a few. Although my personal beliefs are what I call “christian compatible”, I do not consider myself a christian and I resent being bundled with them. My beliefs are not hurting anybody. Ditto for the rest of the Dharmic and spiritist religions.
(*) And once you consider that the vast majority of people who are considered associated with these Abrahamic religions consider religion to be an unimportant aspect of their lives, you end up with these problem religions being a minority. They do hold a disproportionate amount of power in some countries but, again, that is a failure of those government when they impose the will of a minority on the majority.
And with no data to support it, I will contend that the vast majority of the few who consider religion important, are better people for it. These are the old ladies who go to church, mosque or temple and pray for their diseased relatives, cook for 20 and generally mind their own business.
In the end, the “problematic religious” are a very small minority. They sure as hell make a lot of noise, but judging religion by them is like judging black people by OJ Simpson.
Religion is mostly a harmless thing that keeps the majority of people quiet. It may be used by a few to do untold harm under its cover, but that is no reason to want them gone. Fixed, sure, the ones that give trouble but not the whole lot gone.
I see a potentially huge problem in that, whether it’s in regards to religion, politics, or anything. If you hold something so sacred that you cannot question it or look upon it rationally, then there’s no safety. There’s nothing to guarantee that this is worthy or safe. If an idea can’t stand up to scrutiny, it isn’t an idea worth having.
The equality of all men is a good example of this, as this is something that has been discussed and picked apart a great deal over the years. I think we’re all quite happy that how we see it now is far, far different from it’s original intention. We’ve gone from, “All (landholding, white) men are created equal” to, “All human beings are created equal.” Isn’t that a commendable thing?