Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Book Review: Why I Became An Atheist

When people ask me why I became an atheist, the answer is always the same - I was born that way. The truth is I've never believed in a god, and it's only through television, my peers and the oddly cultural-relativistic public school system in Australia that I even came to know god. When I was 9 I changed schools where I was asked what religion I was, I said Christian because I went to scripture at my old school. At further pressing they asked me if I was catholic or Anglican, I didn't know the difference and said catholic. Needless to say my Mother got me out of that nutty cult room pretty quickly. When I was 12 and finally old enough to understand the question, I rejected the concept of God and have since been an outspoken atheist. So why am I mentioning this? Because my background matters when reviewing John W. Loftus' book Why I Became An Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.

It matters for me to make the case for my atheism because unlike a lot of people in western society, I was not brought up Christian. In scripture at school, we weren't taught from the bible, but were taught of the nature of God and the power of faith through parables. It wasn't a literal reading, it was very liberal, very much about selling a personal relationship with Jesus. So to read a book criticising fundamentalism is not even attacking the Christianity I know, to me it's attacking the extreme right who have no basis in reality to begin with.

To me, a criticism of biblical literacy should begin and end with science. We know the world is more than 6000 years old, we know that life evolved - both these facts have been known for more than 100 years now. Yet there are still those who take mythic storytelling and think of it as history? No wonder my scripture teachers focused on the power of belief instead of trying to warn me of the dangers of talking snakes. That to want a personal relationship with Christ is better than selling children on the dangers of Hell.

I have been an avid reader of Loftus' blog, Debunking Christianity, for some time now and find him to be a reasonable and level-headed man. Which is why the first thing that shocked me about the book was the way he would talk about what he used to believe, that it is so obviously absurd. And as I went on through the book, what stood out was how poor the intellectual reconciliation between the modern understanding of the world and the bible actually is. The reconciliations take an absurdity and make it sound even more absurd. To preserve the notion that the bible is the word (in some sense) of an omniscient deity, the most asinine explanations are presented. The book didn't even need Loftus' debunking those claims - they could not stand up on their own.

This is not to say I hated the book, Loftus is an excellent writer and wrote a mostly engaging argument. I say mostly engaging because I found the excessive quoting of scripture to be tedious. But then again, I keep getting scripture quoted at me so it must mean something to somebody - I'm really not the target audience for this. There were some parts that made the book worth getting - the outsider test for faith is possibly the best argument against religion, and that goes for all religion. The philosophy and explanation of the control beliefs was also really thorough and well presented. And finally at the end, the way he tackled the idea of ultimate meaning was done very well.

I was asked if I were to recommend an atheist book to theists, would it be this or Dawkins' book The God Delusion. I answered this book, and I do thoroughly recommend it. But at the same time I found Dawkins' book to be a lot more intellectually satisfying. It gave reasons to do away with superstition, this book attacked what is in my mind a straw-man of Christianity. But what I've fast come to realise over the last 5 years or so, what I perceive as a straw-man is the intellectual and moral foundations for hundreds of millions of people. Apparently some people still believe we are magic dirt who ate some bad fruit on the advice of a talking snake. Thankfully it's now the 21st century and J.K. Rowling has written a much better tale warning of the dangers of listening to talking snakes, and we don't even have to believe that there's a platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station to heed this advice.

38 comments:

ZAROVE said...

I always chuckle at positive reviews for gibberish. I'm sorry to have to say that but, Dawkins was intellectually satisfying? Even Atheists who know a thing or two about the topic know his book to be rather poor. despite its reputation, it snot a Scientific condemnation of Religion, its just Dawkins making a fool of himself with ridiculous arguments that make no sense.

As to Loftus, his arguments are not really any better. Am I saying that all Christians make good and decent cases for heir beliefs? No. But neither do most Atheists I know. However, this doesn't mean Loftus's work really is that grand, and as you said its often an attack on Strawmen.

Lets look at the argument you found to be the most powerful, and inf act a good case against all Religion. The Outsiders test of Faith.

The trouble with the Outsiders Test is that it can be applied to Johns current religion as well as his past one. I realsie he's now an Atheist and the old clam that Ahtiests aren't' religious will come up, but I'll address that momentarily.


The Outsiders Test of Faith assumes that Atheists, like you and Loftus, do not have a Religion. Christians, like me, do. Our religion is silly and absurd but we stupid Christan don't relaise it. Meanwhile, we stupid Christians think Islam, and Hinduism, and Buddhism are silly. We hear what they believe, apply critical thinking and logic, and dismiss their claims of miracles and gods and demons. We simply refuse to look at our own Religion with the same critical eye.

Thus, Loftus's argument is that if we looked at our Religion as we do other peoples, n my case if I looked at Christianity form an outsiders perspective, I'd see it as just as silly as I see Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam.

ZAROVE said...

then I'd be forced to conclude that all Religions are ultimately silly, and then I'd give up Religion and become an Atheist.

The main problems with this are in the fact that not all people form one religion see all other religions as utterly absurd. I know that, as a Christian, I don't find Islam completely absurd. I disagree with some of its tenets, but find it overall Reasonable in many of its theological aspects. (this is not to get into the strict adherence to certain forms of Islam, as that'd take too long.)

I also don't find Buddhism absolutely absurd, and find no real difficulty in seeing it as rational. Again, I disagree with pats of Buddhism, but I don't think Buddhism is in and of itself something silly. I have no difficulties in understanding why people believe in it.


And there is the first problem I have with his "Outsiders Test of Faith". It rests entirely upon the idea that I should find everyone else's Religion as silly and absurd and should laugh that people believe that nonsense. As I don't find every Religion on earth except mine as nonsense, though, I have to wonder why John would assume I'd find my own absurd and silly and unbelievable should I look at it form the outside.

ZAROVE said...

In fact, I have looked are it from the outside and still find it reasonable. To John, this means I didn't really set aside my Christianity and look at it because, as with Dawkins, he assumes that if one doesn't arrive at the "Correct" conclusion, the one he has set out for us to arrive at, then we must not have properly examined our Religion critically.


Which brings me to the next spot of trouble i see in Loftus's idea. What about his Religion?

Despite claiming to be Non-Religious, Loftus does have a system of beliefs that one can say are analogous to Religion. He isn't JUST an Atheist, he has beliefs about the origin and nature of our world, and how that world operates. he has a systematic belief about how we exist and why, and where moral codes come from. He has a basic system of beliefs that enable him to relate to his world, and to interpret it in a way he can understand it.

And this is all Religion actually is. Religion isn't about belief in gods, if it where then Atheistic Religions like Zen Buddhism wouldn't be Religions. Religion isn't always about a higher power, or involve Supernatural events. All Religion is, in the end, is a Philosophical outlook on life. A Religion is just a worldview.

Everyone has a Religion, and this includes John Loftus, and you.

I realise those who are Atheistic these days do not like me saying this and will disagree vehemently, as The word has been given a lot of Negative Baggage by those who have dedicated their lives to criticism of Christianity, and belief in God generally, but its still true.

ZAROVE said...

One shoudln't confuse "Religion" with "Theism", nor shoudl we assume Religion is a seperate thing that operates fundamentlaly differently than other forms of thought. Dawkins Mind Virus idiocy is just that, idiocy. All a Religion is is the way peopel see the world.

And this brigns me to my point. Wy can't we apply the Outsiders Test of Faith to John Loftus's claims?

Are we really to beleive that if we apply te Outsiders Test of Faith, we will all be atheists becaus we relaise all Relgiiosn are silly andhtus be exactly like John? Why can't we see Johns Ideas form the outside and fidn them absurd and ridiculous?

The claim that they can't be seen that way because he's not advocating anything, as he has no Religion to offer, is just foolish. Its clear he wants us to take on certain positive beliefs about things, and from an outsiders perspective those things should look just as silly and absurd as anything else in any other Religion.

ZAROVE said...

Of course you can also fall back on the idea that Johns beliefs are rooted in Logic and Reason, whereas Religion is rooted in Faith, which by definition is believing something even though you have no evidence.

Which is precisely why the New Atheism increases intellectual malaise.

Faith isn't actually belief without evidence. The word Faith actually means that one has confidence in a proposition, or loyalty to it. It is a synonym for trust.

Faith can actually emerge from knoweldge, and knowledge can increase Faith. Even though Jesse "The Body" Ventura said that if you knew you'd not need faith, and despite the "Brilliant" ,men like Harris and Dawkins et all saying Faith is beleif without evidence and hrus irrarional, its simply not true to see Faith as beleif without evidence. Certainly none of he Christian Thinkers odf old who are welle steemed did. Nor did the Jewish Rabbinical Tradition hold this position. I can find nothign in Ha-Islam that does.

Its eally just a Caracature.

Its also silly to beleive Reason leads automaticlaly to Atheism, and that Atheism is always linked ot a certian view on the owrd thats in line with modern Humanism.

One can be reaosnable and arrive at THeism. One can be an outsder and ocnvert to Christianity, as many have. One can apply the Outsiders Test of Faith and still end up beleivign what oen did before. And One canbe an Athiest and belifve radiclaly differenlty than John Loftus.

I can't fathom why peopel think this is a grand arugment. It sliek the Ultimate 747 of Dawkns, or the endless misquotation of the US Fnding Fathers, its a sueless argument.

It doenst even ask if these beleifs are true, it just asks us to ebelvie all Relgiiosu epoepl see all other relogiosn as silly but their ownand asusmes they'd see their own as silly if they saw it omr the outside, and asusmes Johns Ateism is not a Religion in and of itself and is the natural conclusion to rejectign the silliness of Religion.

COme now, thats not trelaly intellectually developed thinking.

ZAROVE said...

And sorry fo the multiple posts, but I didnt realsie the world limit until after Id written this, and didnt wantot just erare the whoel thing.

I'm also Dysleic, and dint spell check the full of this.

Kel said...

Thanks for the multitude of comments, I'll try over time to respond to them all.

Dawkins book is a good polemic against superstitious thought, against a liberal point of view that religion is something that deserves protection. In that he achieved success, it was similar to what Sam Harris wrote in The End OF Faith. If anyone was looking for a sophisticated argument against religion, then reading the likes of Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens is not the way to go. Like I said, I wouldn't recommend Dawkins' book to theists.

Whether atheists can make a decent case for their beliefs (well lack of belief which is all atheism is - just like someone who doesn't believe that the stars carry celestial messages for our species) is irrelevant. Atheism is the position that there isn't enough evidence to believe in a higher power, the burden is on any religious person to demonstrate their beliefs. If there's no credible evidence for believing in a higher power, then why believe at all?

As for the Outsider Test For Faith, just look at Christianity. The core of the Christian doctrine for over 1600 years has involved the trinity. That God is simultaenously one form and three forms. It is logically impossible. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 is absurd. The whole concept of Jesus being God-incarnate is absurd. And this is just one example. If you think that Christianity passes the outsider test for faith, please demonstrate so.


[more tonight]

ZAROVE said...

Kel, your makign the same errors I noted before. You make this a debate between Religious people and Atheists. Actually, though, one can be religious and an Atheist. And I've said before, I've never met a Non-Religious person. Religion isn't beleif int he SUpernatural (As John now wants us to beelive, and has posted on over at DC) its simply a Phiilosophy one beelives in.

That said, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens et all don't make a good case agaisnt Superstition beignprotected. For one thing,the very fact that you employ the word Superstition to apply to Religion, and seem to limit Religion to Theism, indicates that it actulaly does the oposite.

Dawkins basically advvocates that we unthinkignly reject Religion, which he also narrowly defines, and attack it mercilessly. Rather than simply arguing that we should allow critisism of Religion, he aruges that it ought ot be mocked until it becoems socially unacceptable and everyone becoems sensable and logical, which in Dawkisn mind means that everyone shoudl think just like him. You se, one cannot be intelegent and rational and disagree with Dawkins...

Its that sort of arrogance that prevents me from taking his words seriosuly and that are rather obviously employed by his Drones, and htis seems to include you, sadly.

Considering that Religious beleifs, particulalry Christianity, have already been subject to endless critisism over the last 200 years, Dawkins isn't even saying anythign new or bold. He just oretnds that soemhow he's breakign a Taboo, and that he's challenign society to finally look at Religion criticlaly. He's hwoever writtign in a time when Athiests have high level jobs in Parliment (We'll see hw many remain after the current scandal ends) have no toruble findign work in Universities and seem to not be bothere din life. He live sin a time when the BBC mocks Christianty in telvision comedies and in which Documentaries are released about "The real origins of CHristianity" in even America.

Yet you want to sit here with a straight face tellign me his messaege is that we shoudln't make religion soemthign hat can't be critisised? Thats nonsense, its already critiissed. Dawkisn is a moral and intllectual coward who simply sees it as a weakenign force and wants to pounce while its down.

As to the Outsiders Test of Faith, I fear you havent rea dmy words on it, but as I've said, I don't actually find all Religious beelifs form every other Religion in th world ridiculous, so I dont think Johns logic is solid. I also don't think I shoudl accept his Religion just because he says it snot a Relgiion. Why shoudl I asusme that Atheism is true because all the worlds religiosn are silly? WHy shoudkl we asusme that Johns beleifs are osmehow soimplety a "Lack of beelifs" and tht I'd be just liek him if I follow htis test? Are you really goign to tell me that his views aren't really vieews and cant be critisised?

Also, do learn soething about the Trinity. When you say its been in Christendom for 1600 years, you seem to beleive the runnish that it was cfreated at Nicea. Dan Brown history is not real History. And the Trinity actulaly does make sense. Its not 1+1+1=1, and no matte rhow cute the sterotype, usign a catchprhase wont do.

The Trinity actulaly teaches they are three persons withone essence, not three distinct and compeltley seperate beigns who if you add them up equel one being.

Its rathe rlike a Science Ficiton show in which three bodies ar eoperated by a single mind.

Thats an analogy and not perfect, btu it gives you a better idea. Rather than the Trinity beign undertsood as three seperat ebeigns but oen God, its understood as one beign divided into three parts.

And I have given it thought, which is another sterotype we can do without.

Kel said...

What a broad definition of religion, so broad that the term becomes absolutely useless.

From wikipedia:
A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth.From the dictionary:
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.If you are going to define religion is such nebulous terms, then there is no point in using the word. It means nothing and distracts from actually having a point. So please, use a definition of religion that is at least allows for one to make a point.

Oh, and atheism is not a religion. It's simply the lack of belief in God. It's like calling not collecting stamps a hobby. Like calling starvation a meal. Like calling bald a hair colour. Again, please work in terms that actually are useful and relevant, otherwise you can't properly communicate.

Kel said...

Also, if you have some problem with John W Loftus' philosophical position, please take it up with him. I'm not here to defend anyone's philosophical position but my own. This blog is called Kelosophy for a reason - it's about how I see the world. If you have problems with my arguments, bring them up. But I'm not here to defend Loftus, Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris or anyone else for that matter.

So if you have a problem with arguments I've presented, go ahead and argue against them. I ask that you do so in a constructive manner, that is communicate in such a way that will allow for the facilitation of information exchange. i.e. use terms as close as possible to definitions that are part of the lexicon, it's important for communication.


As for your outsider test for faith, remember what the challenge is calling for - an outsider perspective. What does your religion look like to an outsider? It's not whether you can justify the beliefs as an insider, but what they would look like if you were explaining them to an alien who had never come across religion before. How would you explain your beliefs to someone who is well educated on how the universe works? How would you explain your beliefs to someone who doesn't know how the universe works, but has at his disposal a baloney detection kit? Does Christianity pass this test? I would say not anymore than any other world religion.

ZAROVE said...

Kel, your not really reaidng what I said, so Ill put it in Bullet format.

1: If you dont want me to make commentary on Dawkins, then downt mention him yourself. If your goign to prais ehim and his views, then you invite critiissm of the same. The same holds for Loftus and anyoen else you think had ideas that are good and want to present.

2: I get a lot of the itme that peoel say my deifnition is so broad it includes anythign and the deifnition is worhtless. However, my deifnition of Religion isnt that broad, it just doens't preclude Athwistic Philosophies. My deifnition is also what Socilogists see Religion as. Even Wikipedia, which is a bad soruce, mentions Religion as notoriosuly difficult to define.

Religion is just how youy see the world, a Philosophicla framework, and you certianly have htis.

3: Theism isn't a Religion.

I didnt say Ahtiesm was a Relgiion, but neither is THeism. Beleiving a god exists is not a Relgiion, but beleif in a gods existance can be a part of, even central to, a Religion. Atheism, in the same ay, cna be a part of, even central to, a Relgion.

As much as Athiesm is not a Religion in and of itself, it is still a part of a religious suystem when incoeproated into a Philosophy about how life works, which is all Religion is.

4: You also misse dmy point. The POutsiders Test of Faith doens't work because I have looked at it form the outsiders point of view and dotn find Christaintiy that unreasonable.

Just like I dont find all other Religiosn to be unreasonable either.

The "Baloney Detection Kit" may be a relalyneat thign picke dup from Sagan, but it doens't really work in this instance since you cna't relaly sow why I woudl think Christainity is Baloney if I was an outsider.

Many peopel dont think its all that irrational to be a Christian, even if they themselves aren't.

Kel said...

1. Have you even asked me what I liked about Dawkins book? No, I just mentioned the name so you went off on a tangent.

2. Pray-tell, what are atheist philosophies? Atheism is the not-theism. It is nothing more than the lack of belief in god. What that includes, it could be anything but using a supernatural explantion. See my most recent post non-astrologer if you disagree.

Wikipedia is a fine source for most things, I wouldn't use it as a source when doing a university paper but for general knowledge it represents a good starting point. I used it out of convenience.

3. Theism isn't necessarily a religion, but you'd be hard pressed to argue that any Christian theist is not religious. It's the nature of the doctrine, you wouldn't have the trinity but for an institution deciding for it to be that way.

4. If you think many religions pass the outsider test for faith, then so be it. Again, I do not think it passes the outsider test for faith, that there are too many things in the religion that make no sense at all. Start with the concept of God and then stem to pretty much everything that makes Christianity Christianity.

Kel said...

You've made 8 posts on here now, but have you even once asked what my philosophy is? You said earlier:
"Everyone has a Religion, and this includes John Loftus, and you."

So what is my religion? Come on, please tell me what religion I am. I'd be curious to know. But please pull a definition of religon that makes it distinguishable from worldview and from individual beliefs. Otherwise if religion is going to be synonymous with worldview, why use the word at all?



Also, is it too much to ask for a spell checker? Firefox has one built in.

ZAROVE said...

Kel, I never said I coudl tell you what your Religion was, only htat you have one. Thats because Religion isn't beleif in gods, or supernaturlaism. Religion is just a worldview one holds to, that tells one how the world works and oens role in it.

Everyone has that.

Now to the rest.

1. Have you even asked me what I liked about Dawkins book? No, I just mentioned the name so you went off on a tangent.My Tanent ties into the reat of the asusptions, such as Faith beign beleif without evidence or Atheists lacjing Religion, and yoyur praise of Dawkisn book was more than enough to tell me that you tacetly agreed with most of his premise.

Are you to tell me Im fully wrong here?

2. Pray-tell, what are atheist philosophies? Philosophies that are inheranlty Athistic, and that describe the state of the universe in terms of Ateism.

Exampels include all forms of Secular Humanism, which itsel fincludes SOviet OCmmunism.

Neitche was also foudner of an Athiestic Philosophy, so was Sartre.

So don't pretend this is impossible.



Atheism is the not-theism. It is nothing more than the lack of belief in god.But just saying thats what Atheism is doens't preclude the existance of Philosophies that incrproate Ateism, or ar ebased aroudn it, does it? You ac as if Atheistic Philosophies ar eipossible simply because Atiesm is a rejection fo theism.

If thats so, then Theistic Philosophies are equelly imposisble, and CHristainiy isnt theistic.

Its just daft.



What that includes, it could be anything but using a supernatural explantion. See my most recent post non-astrologer if you disagree.Your post abotu "Non-Astrolegers" doens't relaly addres shwat Im dsaying. Im not saygn Athiem is in and of itself a Philosophy any mro ehtan Im sayign its in and of itself a Religion. Im sayign that Relgiion is philosophy and there are Philosophies rooted in Ahtism.

There is a signifigant difference.

I dont knwo why you find this IMPOSISBLE to fathom,. but there are Philosophies whose core assumptiosn include Atheism.

They are Athisgic Philosophies.

As much as Ahtiesm alone isnt a Philosophy, it still serves as a componant of,and often the core componnat of, many Philosophies ont he market.



Wikipedia is a fine source for most things, I wouldn't use it as a source when doing a university paper but for general knowledge it represents a good starting point. I used it out of convenience.no, Wikipedia oftnegets its facts wrong. But Im not here ot discuss it. It doesnt matter as Wikipedia agreed wiht me that Relgion is not limited to Theistic beelifs or SUpernaturlaism.

It just proved my point. I just dotn use it out of principle.


3. Theism isn't necessarily a religion, but you'd be hard pressed to argue that any Christian theist is not religious. It's the nature of the doctrine, you wouldn't have the trinity but for an institution deciding for it to be that way.Which is the same for Athisstic Philosophies. Spare me the tommyrot that Ahtiesm is just non-theism and the bit abotu non-astrologiers, you know full well by now I mean Philosophies groudned in Atheism as a foundatiinal assumption.

Those Philosopheius are themselves Relgiions, which in turn demonstrate why I say Atheistss have a Religion even if atheism itslef is not a Religion.

Its not that complicaed.

ZAROVE said...

4. If you think many religions pass the outsider test for faith, then so be it. Again, I do not think it passes the outsider test for faith, that there are too many things in the religion that make no sense at all.But this may be because of where you are strgin from. If you start form your own Athiestic Religion ( No Ahtiesm isnt a religion but yournot just an Athist) and just compar ehwo the claism lien up then of ocurse not. THe real question is, have you applied the Outdsiders Test of Faith to what you yourself beelive? Hiding behidn the dodge that yours is rellay nonbeleif wont work.




Start with the concept of God and then stem to pretty much everything that makes Christianity Christianity.I have, but non of its irraitonal nonsense. Thats the point. Have you never read Des Carte?

Andrew said...

The problem with the Loftus book is that it is superficial.

He deals with over 40 or so arguments in some 400 pages, leaving no room for even an attempt at a discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of a given argument. A dozen or so pages for the resurrection? Or the existence of Jesus (which Loftus accepts)?

Anyone relying on this book is going to have a superficial view of the arguments no matter which side you are on.

I am suprised at all the praise and recommendations heaped on it by people like Geisler...it may be that he is actually setting Loftus up.

Kel said...

Thats because Religion isn't beleif in gods, or supernaturlaism. Religion is just a worldview one holds to, that tells one how the world works and oens role in it.And I still contend that if religion and worldview are synonymous then there is no point in having two words. That religion is distinguished from worldview by many factors and this can be seen in the way the media, the general population and in academic circles the world is used. Everyone has a worldview, not everyone has a religion.

Are you to tell me Im fully wrong here?
I'm telling you that your criticisms of Dawkins were completely misguided. As you probably have established by now, I don't care about religion. I know, there's the r word again that you are so desperately trying to say "is just a worldview." When there is debate within academic circles about whether Buddhism is a religion, why aren't you there to solve the problem? After all, being a Democrat or an Environmentalist is a religion by your definition. You don't know what I got out of that book and why I liked it, and the criticisms you made of the book suggest that you don't have psychic powers or access to an omniscient deity because you got it completely wrong.

So don't pretend this is impossible.Are there philosophies that have non-belief in them? Of course. But again, I feel you are defining terms here. Communism and humanism are inherently atheistic, but I would argue that there are not atheist philosophies. If you are going to call communism an atheist philosophy, why not capitalism? After all, the only god in capitalism is money. It says nothing of the supernatural - it only dictates behaviour between natural agents.

Spare me the tommyrot that Ahtiesm is just non-theism and the bit abotu non-astrologiers, you know full well by now I mean Philosophies groudned in Atheism as a foundatiinal assumption.I disagree. Atheism is non-theism, that's all atheism is. This is why Sam Harris argues that the word shouldn't exist.

Kel said...

If you start form your own Athiestic Religion ( No Ahtiesm isnt a religion but yournot just an Athist) and just compar ehwo the claism lien up then of ocurse not. THe real question is, have you applied the Outdsiders Test of Faith to what you yourself beelive?Again, please stop using the word religion that way. I don't come from a preconception that there is no higher power. I just haven't seen anything that actually demonstrates that there is a higher power. Again, I refer to the non-astrologer post. How I came to be an atheist was I was born. I didn't have any beliefs then (as beliefs are acquired) and I now have beliefs that say that God is a silly concept, all supernatural is. So why do I say this?

I say that science has killed religion. That through understanding reality, we have made the concept of God obsolete. But that's okay, God was a placeholder for the unknown by tribes who didn't have the tools as we do now. Earthquakes aren't caused by Egyptian men having gay sex, they are caused by forces under the earth that have no interest in the human race. Floods are not because of original sin, but again by naturalistic forces that have no interest in human affairs. In short, religion is anthropomorphising the universe.

So would I call my belief in science a faith? I would not for two reasons. Science works in uncertainty, seeks to improve and change where it is lacking in explanation. Secondly, we can see that science works every second of every hour of every day. This computer I'm sitting on can do more calculations per second than the entire human population combined. Recently I flew halfway around the world on a small piece of flying metal. I have meat sitting in a deep freezer that I bought months ago.

I don't have to pray to the god of electromagnetism in order for my computer to turn on. When there is a source of electricity coming into my house, then the computer will turn on at the touch of a button. When I turn on a tap and have running water, I know that if it comes out at water then it will stay as water, no matter how much I wish it would turn to wine.

My worldview is that the universe is governed by a series of forces, blind forces that have all permutations of mankind in the universe. Radioactive substances will decay at a constant rate, non-radioactive substances will hold their form unless subject to nucleosysthesis like that in a star. The mind is a product of the body, that one needs a body in order to have a mind.

Of course, all these points can be falsified. If my water were to miraculously turn into vodka, or that the lead in the house were miraculously able to turn into gold, or even if we could show that the mind and body are separate, I would say that my worldview is falsified. And given that every religion (in the classical use of the word) has these kinds of miracles in them - it is only in our knowledge of how the world actually works that such challenges may seem unfair. But hey, if God can cook a sacrificial bull through the power of prayer...

Kel said...

The problem with the Loftus book is that it is superficial.

He deals with over 40 or so arguments in some 400 pages, leaving no room for even an attempt at a discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of a given argument. A dozen or so pages for the resurrection? Or the existence of Jesus (which Loftus accepts)?
Yeah, it's superficial. It has to be, you aren't going to get a book like that which tries to tackle everything and not have it be somewhat abbreviated.

Where I found it lacking was when he was trying to describe the age of the universe. To me fundamental christianity is falsified the minute they talk about creationism or a young earth / universe. Why? because the plethora of evidence suggests that live evolved, the earth is around 4.55 billion years old and the universe is somewhere between 13 and 15 billion years old. It doesn't matter what the bible says because the bible is so obviously wrong when it comes to describing our "creation."

Though when he was covering the different points of view, what stood out for me was how absurd the arguments were. The arguments trying to reconcile genesis with modern scientific findings were especially absurd. It may be superficial, but just look at the arguments that are being presented as reconciliation. So many have a very superficial understanding of science or the natural world at their core - if it had any grounding in reality at all. It was absurdity after absurdity, which to me suggested that Christianity should just cut it's losses and focus on the J-man instead of arguing by genesis.

ZAROVE said...

Kel, you just proived you where Religious, because you have basiclaly begun to spout a systematic religious beleif system that includes a praise of Sicne, whe you say Sicnece has killed Religion. You also prove that, in your mind, Religion is Synonymosu with theism.

Yo u think that through Sicnece we have ganed an undertsndign of Reality and made God obsolete, so thus Sicnece has killed Religion. But as I noted elsewhere, Religion is not the same hting as theism, nor does one have to be THeistic to be Religious.

This is the toruble iwht Athiest sliek you. You soemhow conflate terms, and htink you are intellegent for doing so.

In fact, you now want to claim that there is a debate in Academia over rather or not Buddhism is a Religion. There isn't. Everyoen agrees that it is. Buddhists even admit Buddhism is a Religion. If you study Buddhism in Univesity they will tell you its a Religion. The only lace I've seen Buddhism described as not a Reliigion is on the Internet, where the previalign attitude is that Buddhism is this cool philosohy abotu us gettign alogn and stuff, and thus is way better thsn CHristianity, and becauase we odnt have a problem with it it must not really be a Religion.

But most of the peopel who think that way also have littel to no undertsnaing of Buddhism.

Those wo do undertsand it know it is a Religion. Rather or not you wan tto admit this painful reality is irrelevant. Buddhism is a Religion and there really is no debat eon it.

Just liek Religion isnt theism, despite your unnessisary and erroneous claims.

By the way, many Sicnetists are Theistic, so if THeism has been discredite dby Sicnece, how do you explain them? If you borrow the Dawkisn or Harris modle and saythe are ocmpartmentalising, then I'd ask you the samehtign I ask all Dawkisn CDrones, how do you know?

You seem to be parrotign another Religiosu tenet, that beleif in God existed onky to epxplain the unknowable and we dont need God ow because of Sicnece. But, since many peopel beliv in Both Sicnece and Gods existance, your enture premise is false.

Especially since God sint used in most gheologies to elain rianstorms or grass growing.

By the way, thats only one of the irraitonal things you've said.

Heres another.

"And I still contend that if religion and worldview are synonymous then there is no point in having two words."

Is this even an argument? There are pelnty of word sin English that are identical in meanign to other words. Take a look at the English word "Sea", for example.

Di you knwo that the word "Sea" and the word "Ocean" mean the same thing?

Well, what if I told you they didnt mean the same thing, and contended the Ocean andthe Sea where different? Woudl you beleiv me? Woudl you beleive me if I used the same logic you used on why a Religion and a worldview aren the same? Woudl you beleive me if I said that we'd not need two words for the same hting, so thus the Ocean and the Sea cant be the same?

Of coruse you lciam that Religion and Worldview are sperate dby "Many factors" , but so far, you havent listed any. THeoly thing you seem to have done is to conflate Religion wth THeism when you said Sicnece had kileld Religion ebcause God is obsolete nwo that we have explanatiosn fofor Natural Phoenomenon, which prive snly that you have a poor grasp of what Religion is, and try to force it to mean Theism.

ZAROVE said...

You also use the tired old bro,mide that my deifnition of Relgiion (WHich someone peopel think actulaly is mien as if I invented it) means that beign a Democrat or an Environe,mntalist is a Religion. Actually, no they arne't. The reaosn is because they dont invovle any real metaphysical assessemnt about how the world works. BEign a Democrat is beign afifliated with a Political party, which thus has a platofrm for social order, unelss by Democrat you mean "One who advocates Democracy', and even then you are confornted wiht the fac thtat this is soley political. Its not a worldview ina nd of itself, as it foesnt tell you hwo the world works and yor relationship to it.

Beign an NEnvironemtnalist is also not a Religion becuase it snot a worldview inand of itself for the sme reaosns. Beign an environemtnalist means only that you htink we shoudl protect the Environmnt, it doesnt supply meanign and value to the Environemnt, or determien your rolwe in it, or relationship to it. \
Both Environmentalism and Democratic leanings are contengent on worldivew, but are nto themselves worldviews.

So, no, they arne't Religiosn acpcrdign to what Ive said Religiosn are.

But Humanism is, becaue unlike Environemtnalism or beign a Democrat, Humanism includes a dicussion about the role of Humanity in their environemnt and provides a way to unerstand hwo the world came abotu and works,a nd as a basis for unerstandign our relationship to the rest of the world arudn us.

Im sorry that you dont see the difference, btu then you htink sagn things like "Non-Astorlogiers " makes sense.

Also, COmmunism, as understood by the Marxist varitety, acutlaly shoudln't be distinguished form Hmansim liek you did, when you said "Communism and Humanism". THe COmmunists actulaly viewed hemselves as Hmanists,a nd if you read SOviet Literature, its cler they acutlly where Humanists.

But to go furhter and clai Capitolism an Ahtisstic Philosophy you make yourself sound even more out of touch with what Im saying. Communism is an Ahttsoc Philosohy because it makes a positive assertion that no god exists. Read Marx. Read Lennin. Read Stalin. They go out of their ay to make this painfully obvious. The way the Soviet is to udnertand the word is by following Hmanist and naturlaistic principles. The SOviet Union, in fact, had soemthign called Ideological correctness, in which all idea had to conform to the Ideology of IDialetic Mateiralism.

Communism wa sinherantly Ahtistic, and htis cant be reaosnabley argued.

But to argue that capitalism is an Ahtistic philosophy, even though no Capitolist writer links Capitolism with Ahtiesm, which includes an Atheist like Ayn Rand who was herslef a Capitolist, then you have no basis for the claim.

ZAROVE said...

Unless Capitolism explicirly denies the eixstance of a god, or unless you have to be Athistic in order to follwo Capitolism, it snot an Ahtitsic Philsophy. TO be a Soviet you had to be an Athiest. To be a Captilosy you simply have to say that the aquisition of profit form a free maket economy is the best way to run an economy.

As to your claim of beign Born an Ahtisst and how all supernaturalclaism are islly, you seem to havenot rlaly studied the topic. Not everyoeneven sees God as Supernatural.

And no oen is Born an Athist, this much is priven, btu veen if you whre, it means nothing ot what Im sayignhre Given that your Non-Astorlager post misses what we've been sayign who disagree, Ill repeat it.

I nevr said Atheism ina nd of itself was a Relgiion, but no Ahtist is just an Ahtiest, and their Atheism is simply a componant of the overall worldivew they hodl to. The worldivewin totlal is a Religion.

Its not that difficult.

And this is why I cant stop usign the word Relgiion the way I do. Yoru Religious beelfis tell you no god exists, which is a positive assertion, even if you dney it. Your Religion also informs your views on everyhtign else,beign a naturlaist, for example.

This sint limied ot just the proposition of a gods existance, btu everythgin else thta connects to that.

Butthen, how edicsted can you be when you write htis...

"I say that science has killed religion. That through understanding reality, we have made the concept of God obsolete. But that's okay, God was a placeholder for the unknown by tribes who didn't have the tools as we do now. Earthquakes aren't caused by Egyptian men having gay sex, they are caused by forces under the earth that have no interest in the human race. Floods are not because of original sin, but again by naturalistic forces that have no interest in human affairs. In short, religion is anthropomorphising the universe."I know it spopular to think of God as a Placeholder like you did, as an explanaiton for those unknowns that SIcnece nwo tels us ar enatural phoenomenon, but consierign that an awful lot of THeology agrees that htose are Nstural Phoenomenon, and thta thelogy gos back much farthet than Sicnece tellign us this, your case is base don an ignorant preusmptin that God was created to epxlzin the unknown. You have no acutal proof that God was cfeate dby primitive tribes to explain earthwuakes and thunderstorms, do you?

COnsiderign that Modern Sicnece emrged from Christianity, because CHristaisn thoguth that the Natual world ioperate don natural laws established by Gid, your case is moot. THe Early Christaisn didnt think God direclty caused thunderstorms until they discovered the truth. THeydidnt htink Gay se xin Egypt caused Earhtwuakes. They always beleived those thign shad natural epxlanations.

The idea that God was just a palceholder till we had sicnetific knwoeldge may be comforting yoto you, btu its not an accurate view of how God is thouth of, nor do you have nay evidence that God was just a placeholder.

But the Irony is, by claimign Gid was just a palceholder invented by tribes to explain pheoneomenon, you move beyidn "Non-Theism" in that you siply se no evidence to makign a positive assertion thatGod doesnt actually exist, and was just invente dby Primitive man to epxlain the unknown. How is htis reconcilable to your ealrier claims of it jus being "I see no evidence"? You lcelary have a positive view htat God doest exist, and a positive viw to accoutn for why peepl beeliv ein GOd, which invaidates your other cliams that you dont have such.

Incidentllay yournot bign very Sicnetific sicne youbeleive God was just a palceholder for htos htings, and say this as if its a proven fact.

You dotn beeliv ein Sicnece, you be,eive in the Religion of Humanism, which you beleiv ein withotu any evidence at all. You just hide behidn Sicnece.

Kel said...

Kel, you just proived you where Religious, because you have basiclaly begun to spout a systematic religious beleif system that includes a praise of Sicne, whe you say Sicnece has killed Religion. You also prove that, in your mind, Religion is Synonymosu with theism.But I only use science in my understanding of the natural world. When it comes to politics, when it comes to morality and ethics, when it comes to social interactions, I don't use science. Science is a tool in understanding the world, it's not a religion and you are doing some bad equivocation there.

Its not a worldview ina nd of itself, as it foesnt tell you hwo the world works and yor relationship to it.It forms as part of a worldview. My worldview is heavily shaped by the society around me, partly by science, partly by politics, partly by thinkers. It is part of my worldview, just as science is, just as secular ethics is. This is why your definition fails, it's impractical and an unnecessary means to label people. And why would you want to take individuality away?

In fact, you now want to claim that there is a debate in Academia over rather or not Buddhism is a Religion. There isn't. Everyoen agrees that it is.Everyone? That's being a bit presumptuous. I've had a student studying religion chastise me for me calling Buddhism a religion.



While I appreciate your input, it's really hard to read your posts when there are so many spelling errors. I'm having to put more effort into decoding you than what you write. Please get a spell checker, I understand that you are dyslexic but surely you can appreciate the value of proper communication and having a little red line highlighting mistakes surely could aid you towards that.

Kel said...

The idea that God was just a palceholder till we had sicnetific knwoeldge may be comforting yoto you, btu its not an accurate view of how God is thouth of, nor do you have nay evidence that God was just a placeholder.Sure I do. Read Genesis, tell me that the creation story was anything more than a tribe who didn't understand trying to make sense of the world.

It's not comforting for me to say that, it's what I've derived from reading holy books and talking to believers. God is a god of the gaps, if you think this is incorrect then demonstrate that God exists through experiment rather than as an explanation for the unknown. Come on, show that God is anything more than a placeholder for the absence of information. Surely you can demonstrate this.

Kel said...

It's got to the stage now where I think this is as far as we can go. I'm not going to accept your definition for religion - it seems that you are calling religion a worldview and I don't even know why. Why do you need to say I have a religion? What does it do? Does it make any of my arguments any more or less valid? I think not, it's a label and nothing more.

What interests me is whether you can demonstrate God's existence. If you can't then I have no reason for believing and will remain an atheist. If you can, then great. But please don't try to play a game of trip up the atheist, I'm not interesting in playing wordgames - especially when you are defining words for your own convenience.


If you want to argue against any point I made, I have over 100 posts on here on various topics. If you can show me where my logic is wrong, then go ahead. But trying to play wordgames is not going to get you anywhere, especially when I have to decode your dyslexic output. The fact is, while you give definitions that are contrary to how I see the words used, then you aren't going to change my mind. Argue the core of the argument, don't get hung up on whether God can be supernatural or not. Don't get hung up on whether I have a religion or not. Argue the points, not the semantics.

ZAROVE said...

kEL-


But I only use science in my understanding of the natural world. When it comes to politics, when it comes to morality and ethics, when it comes to social interactions, I don't use science. Science is a tool in understanding the world, it's not a religion and you are doing some bad equivocation there.except I didnt equicvocate Science with religion, you did.


THink about it for a minuet.

You have claimed here that Religion came into existance because we needed an explanation for natural phoenomenon. Humanity seeks ot have an undertanding of why things work, and Religion was created t fill the gap. If this is true, and if you are correct, then Science must be a Religion as it too exosts to fill in our understanding of hwo the world works.

If all Religion existed for was to tell us how natural phoenomenon arose and how our world functioned, and if our old Religious beelifs have been superceded by Science, which offers us a better, mroe elaborate undersxtanding based on the Scientific Method, then Science has simply served as our new Religion, because it fulfills the same function that Religion serves.

That is, if Religion relaly is all about tellign us why THunderstorms happen and why Earthquakes occur.

In what way is Science not a Religion, under this claim?

You may say it snto a Religion becuae its not theistic, but I'll remidn you that Theism is not a synonym for Religion, even though you seem to think it is. Religion is also not "Faith based" as Harris and Dakins misdefine the word. And accordign to you, its all abotu explainign our world.

So, since Science explains our world, it is a Religion.


Incidentlaly, my actual point was that you made a Religiosu statement about Religion when you claimed it was obsolete, and thenprocceeded to claim that we can know htings through sicnece. THis is ultimaltey a Philosophical ideology, and thus a Religious statment.

ZAROVE said...

It forms as part of a worldview. My worldview is heavily shaped by the society around me, partly by science, partly by politics, partly by thinkers. It is part of my worldview, just as science is, just as secular ethics is. This is why your definition fails, it's impractical and an unnecessary means to label people. And why would you want to take individuality away?I didn't take individuality away, nor do I even udnerstand how defining Religion as worldview acutlaly removed Individuality.

Incidentllay, you haven't hsown how my deifnition of Relgiion Fails by sayign your worldview is shaped by many thigns and incliding Secular Ethics and politics and suchlike.

Since Religion is actually just how we see the world aroudn us, and since you certianly have a philosophical framework form which you interpet the world, you are Religious. THis doens't impede your individuality, it merley means that your philosophical framework which defines the way you understand your world funcitons int he same way my Religion does to me, and thus I see no real difference in the Mechanism, andno need ot make a distinction.

It doenst prevent us form seeign the world differnetly or possessing radiclaly different personalities, it just means mine isnt "Religion' while yours is "NonReligion". They ar eboth the same thing, as they are both Philosophical modles we use to understand the world aroudn us.

In what way are they different outside of spacific teachings?

ZAROVE said...

Everyone? That's being a bit presumptuous. I've had a student studying religion chastise me for me calling Buddhism a religion.I feel sorry for said student then.


It is a Religion.

Sure I do. Read Genesis, tell me that the creation story was anything more than a tribe who didn't understand trying to make sense of the world.You mean, read the openign two chapters of Genesis. I doubt you mean read the ortiosn about Abraham.

And, I dont get that at all from Genesis.

Much less do I get it for the enture concept of God in total.

Why shoudl I htink God was create dby primitive tribes as a catchall explanation for all phoenomenon? What actual proof do you have of that spacific claim?

ZAROVE said...

Last night th log woudlnt allow me to post.

But I did want to say that Im not surprised that you dont understand why I'd see you as Religious. I wlltell you its not because I think it invalidates your arguments. In fact, since I am religious, how would you beong religious make your cliams less true. However, it wouldprevent you from seeing my claims as untrue because they are religious.

But the reason is really more simple than this. Its because when you stop and htink about what Religion is, you realise its just what people htink of as true. I don't beleive in God in a mystical sense, but in an actual sense. I think God actually exists, just like rocks, or trees, or other people. When I think of the moral and ethicla onsiderations from Christianity, I think of them in terms of rpactical, livable morls and ethics based upon and applicable to dialy life.

In this way I can see no difference between my approahc ot my religion and yoru approach to what you think is a nonreligious philosophy. I see no difference betwee how my religion functiosn in my life and how your nonreligious philosophy functins.

I see, functionally, no difference between the two, and have to wonder why mine is religious and yirus not.

I'd say yurs is also a religion, as it does the same htigns mien does, and is that really too hard to understand?

Kel said...

Give it up Zarove. I'm not going to suddenly use your definition of religion, I'm not going to respond to straw-man arguments against my position and I'm not going to try to decode your badly-typed English. If you can't type without making spelling mistakes, and if you can't argue without using your own definitions, then don't bother at all. I won't respond.

ZAROVE said...

Kel, Im dyslexicx.

That said, your an intellectual coward. MYou act like my deifnition of Religion is osme unique, private one, when in fact its from Sociology textbooks.

The problem with you is that you want Religion to be a sperrate hting from Athiesm, to the poitn where no Atheist can be undertsood ot be Religious. You thus ignore anythign that contradicts your views.

My "Straw man arugments" arne't straw men at all.

I still say you cna't rellay tell me why a Religion is not the same thing as a worldview. You have decreed that a worldview is not a Religion, but you supplied no reason why its not.

And, from where I sit, there is no difference. Why shoudl I see one set of beelifs about how the word works as a Religion, whislt another set of beelifs bout how the world worlks as not religion?

WHat is the difference, exaclty?

If my arugnenrs are all strawmen, then by all means tell us what make sosmehtign a religion, and why it precludes you, and other Atiests.

I'll wait.

Though I suspect you wont answr this, because its easier to sya my arugments are stramen and filled with logical fallacies and Im just plain wrong wihtitu offeirng any logical reaosn.

After all, you want Relgiion to be SUperstituious myth repsnsible for all the bad in the world, and surly your not Religiosu because your reasonable and intellegent et all.

( And this is meant as an exageration.)

I'm sorry Kel, but just declarign me wrong and logicllay flawed fdoesnt mean I am.

Kel said...

This is the last time...

When I use a word in a context, you respond to MY context - otherwise you build a strawman of your opponents arguments. By using your definition of religion against the usage in which I used the word, you misrepresented what I was saying. Is that so hard to comprehend?

And as for wanting to blame religion for all the evil? Again you are misrepresenting my position and arguments. Hardly surprising after you tried to tie one criticism of religious belief (my usage of the word religion) to an emotional appeal by me. Again you don't argue by misrepresenting your opponent - all you are doing is creating a straw-man by doing so.


The difference between one set of beliefs and another is the way they are transmitted. What we call religion is very much a social construct, the difference is that anyone can be an atheist for whatever reason (see non-astrologer) but to be a Christian it requires memetic transfer. If you think I'm wrong, show me someone who came to believe that Jesus is God without ever hearing the word of the gospels.

I'm sorry Kel, but just declarign me wrong and logicllay flawed fdoesnt mean I am.Do you want me to go through all your posts one by one and show where you
a) used your own definition of a word to call an argument with my definition absurd?
b) where you made an unsupported assertion?
c) where you tried to tie my arguments to a personal belief?

I can do this if you want, show every little logical fallacy and stupid thing you said. If I do this though, you'll be no longer welcome to post on here. I understand you are dyslexic, but this medium is a text-based medium. It pays to be understood. If you were using broken english and being barely comprehensible, having english as your 2nd language is no excuse - it's all about communication.



Anyway, your choice. either walk away now, or I spend a lot of time and effort debunking your nonsense which will mean I have no patience for you in the future.

ZAROVE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZAROVE said...

Kel, I id say I was exagerating.

And, Also,for soemone who continualy blkmes me with misrepresenting you, you misrepresent me a lot.

Ill repeat, I never said Atheism itself was a Religion. But Theism isnt a Religion either.

What I actually argued was that Atheists don't lack religion. All Atheists have a Religion or anther. THis sint the samehtign as sayign "Ahtiesm is a Religion".

However,if you are a Secular Humanist, Secular Humanism is your Religion. The fact that a Secular Humanist is also an Atheist doens't really mean he is not Religious.

The fact that Christianity differs form Athiesm in that Ahtiems is simply lack of beleif in a god and Chistiantiy invovles a good deal more than just beleif about Gods eixstance proves that you dont really repsond to what Im saying.Im acutally saying that your not just an Atheist, and that yor Atheism contians doctriens just as compelxeas Christianity sayign Jesus is God or the Trinity.

So to repeat, ascmuch as Atheism itself is not a Religion, atheists are not non-religious. You are Religious, Kel, because you accept a set of ideas about how the world works. This includes Atheism, but Athiesmis just one idea,not a set.

By the way,Memes themselves are a Religiosu concept,even in your definition fo Religion. Its not like they are proven to exist.In fact,they exist only in the imaginations of Richard Dawkisn and his followrs.

Memetic Transfer is a fantasy, really,its just not how Informaiton really transfers.

Memes themselves dont really exist.

ZAROVE said...

oH AND FOR THE FIRTS TIME, i REMOVED A POST.IT WAS A REPEAT OF THE ONE BELOW. noneed for two.

Kel said...

"You are Religious, Kel, because you accept a set of ideas about how the world works. This includes Atheism, but Athiesmis just one idea,not a set."
I tentatively accept ideas about how the world works.


And I think you are missing the point. Even if I'm religious under your definition, it doesn't matter one little bit to my arguments. I'm not trying to paint all religion as evil, nor am I trying to point to religion as the only evil in the world. If you can find anywhere on my blog where I even suggest such a thing (there are over 100 posts to choose from) then I'll eat my hat.

You are the first person ever to get upset at my use of the word religion - after talking to many theists and many atheists, you are the first one to complain. Why? It's so irrelevant. Worse still is that you are trying to get me to play semantic word-games where you are trying to get me to swap my definitions whereby the meaning is lost. Like saying "some theists think God is natural so supernaturalism doesn't apply." Of course they do, I wasn't denying that. But you were pushing me to use another definition for whatever reason.

I'll say this as clear as fucking possible. No idea should be sacred, every idea should come under scrutiny. Organised religion has a way of protecting itself from criticism which means that when bad things happen within, people are going to be outspoken. Do I want organised religion eradicated? No. I would like to see extremism minimised and that the moderates do a better job marginalising the fundamentalists. I would like to see dogma shunned where it conflicts with secular reasoning, that creationism would go away - it has been demonstrated to be wrong time and time again. But I don't want to take religion as the source of evil, and speaking out on religion doesn't mean I want to eradicate it.

Kel said...

As for memes, they are an analogy - a way of expressing the transfer of cultural information as opposed to genetic information. We are not the only species to pass down information culturally, yet this cultural information is vital for our survival.

Again, I wouldn't say things like:
In fact,they exist only in the imaginations of Richard Dawkisn and his followrs.Why do that again? Why do you argue this way?

ZAROVE said...

Kel, Im not upset, Im making a point.

By defining this as a debate between Religious people and Atheists, it creates a false picture of hje talks. We no longer are talkign abotu sdoacific ideas, we are talking abitu "Religion' and Nonreligiosu peolel dont want or need religion so will just ignroe it merrily... its not abotu scrutiny of ideas, its abotu setitng up batle lines and pintign pretty mental pictures.

After all, I've een Atheists use not only "Non-Religious" as a synonym for themselves, but Freethinker and Rationalist as well.

Being that Im a Rationalist, woudln't it be rather poitnless to have a debate agaisnt the value of intrinsic reason with me? But many Athiests think Religion and reaosn cannto go togather because f how they udnerstand, not Rekigion, but Athiesm.

What you fail to udnerstand is that we are, in the end, relaly just talkign abitu ideas and sets of beleifs and philosophicla modles, and they arne't fundamentlaly different. Your "Nonreligious" beleifs are exacltyt he same as "Religious" ones. In fact, they are Religion in how Religion is actually understood sociologiclaly.

As to your claim that Orignised Relgiions sheild themselves from Critisism and try to prevent quesitoning, and the usual tlak of the need ot let all ideas be callenged, this is just not true.

For one thing, Orginised Religions acutlaly do allow critiissm of their teachings and beleifs by and large. IE, the Presbyterian Church has acadmeics routinely chllenge the general synod based on their intepretation of either the bIble or current events, and the same canbe said of hte United Methodist Church. The United Church of Christ allows comlltye open dialouge aboutthese matters as well.

The claim may be part of the hwole iamge of why Religion is wrong an why we need mroe Atheism, but its not an accurate picture of what happens in Orginised Religions at all.

Worse, the New Athiests, like Dawkins and Harrias, really don't want us to examien all idea sunder scrutiny. They want us ot be Hypersceptical of Religiosu beleifs, and to embrace their spacific brand of Atheism, which goes well beyidn lakc of beelif in a god and includes an enture naturalistic worldview roote din Humanist assumptions.

Humanist asusmptions, I may add, tat they not only never quesiton but refuse to allow others to question.

They wont even allow us to wuestion rather or not their vieews consittute a Relgiion, becaus htey want th term to be used on everyoen elses beleifs to shwo them as evil.

I never said you personally thought all Relgiions where evil, though, and your now misrepresentign me.

However, I do think the idea htta we need ot allow all ideas ot be Scrutinised is a good one, but so long as we make these arificial divisions, we wont.

How often do you scrutinise your "Nonreligious" beleifs anyway, Kel?

By the wya, I know the excuse that Memes ar ejust allegories, but Dawkisn seldom treats them as such, nor do his followrs. That canard is broguth about mainly in order to sheild his idea form Critisism, because he knows it wont stand up.