Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums
WIP

Texas Public School Bible Classes Teach Races Come from Noah’s Sons, B

Recommended Posts

Or they will often do nothing! For all of the problems of religion, it also has be recognized that religions have also developed ways of motivating people to show concern for things other than their own personal interests. One thing that secular humanism seems to have a lot of trouble doing is to motivate people to contribute either time or money to the group.[/Quote]There are tonnes of secular charities and service organizations. I believe that people joining secular community groups will continue to help others.

I believe in using facts as a guide too, but Harris is saying something more than using facts as a guide, he is claiming that moral judgments are scientific facts.
That's not what Harris is says in The Moral Landscape. Harris simply states that science should not be exempt from the pursuit of answers to moral questions. He believes that scientific investigation and advances in neuroscience can guide us in determining which values lead to the greatest human well being. It's a very good read, I highly recommend checking it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are tonnes of secular charities and service organizations. I believe that people joining secular community groups will continue to help others.

Are they doing enough? Or are atheists as generous as churches or any religiously-motivated communities? The anecdotes of my own experience certainly didn't convince me. I can agree that there is overwhelming evidence that evidence-based systems are less likely to go to fanatical extremes that can happen with faith-based systems, but I'm not so sure about the generosity question. It seems more likely to me that there are no perfect belief systems, and being religious/non-religious will both have advantages as well as disadvantages. And new atheism ma be putting so much at stake with claims that religions and religious beliefs are harmful on balance.....while living free of religion will make people act better and be happier with their lives.....that the possibility that there may be a down side to atheism is not given consideration.

I was wondering about this when I read a blog post last week by Tom Rees at Epiphenomena: Atheists lack empathy and understanding

He was examining a study that was trying to delve a little deeper into the findings that autistics are more likely to be atheists, which posited that the autistic's lack of development of a theory of other minds leads towards atheism, whereas most people's hyper ability to see minds in random forces and inanimate objects likely lead to a quick conclusion of minds or gods acting in the natural world.

The researchers also noted that autistics have a reduced capacity for empathy because of their problem understanding other minds, and noted that their lack of empathy correlated with lack of belief in God. And if the reverse is true for religious believers, are normal functioning, non-autistic atheists also motivated to some degree by less consideration of other minds and therefore less empathy for others also? Just asking the question seemed to have caused a bit of shit storm in his comments section! So, I have to wonder about how defensive some of his atheist readers are about these sorts of questions.

That's not what Harris is says in The Moral Landscape. Harris simply states that science should not be exempt from the pursuit of answers to moral questions. He believes that scientific investigation and advances in neuroscience can guide us in determining which values lead to the greatest human well being. It's a very good read, I highly recommend checking it out.

In his TED Talk lecture, Harris is very critical of David Hume for proposing that there is an is/ought problem for anyone trying to facts alone as the basis for determining the best moral choices.

And when Harris is proposing using scientific evidence and neuroscience in particular to determine "which values lead to the greatest human wellbeing" he is clearly setting up a moral system based on utilitarianism. And I doubt that there is a scientific way to decide whether utilitarianism is better than virtue ethics or some deontological rule-based system. That's more a matter of esthetics.

And even though utilitarian or consequentialist systems are very popular, there are weaknesses. First would be that there is no firm definition for what constitutes wellbeing. There are a lot of people who aren't interested in universal wellbeing in the first place....but just want to work for their own interests or at most the nation or race that they happen to belong to. And, how would we maximize wellbeing? Is maximizing wellbeing just about accumulating as much pleasure and as little pain for the greatest number of people possible? That gets to the question of whether maximizing wellbeing would be the best goal for morality. A few people at least may have noticed that western society is overdosing on pleasure already. Maximizing pleasure....or at least perceived pleasure, seems to play a big role in modern consumer culture that is using up the last of the planet's readily available resources to provide more products to maximize pleasure. That doesn't seem to be the best moral system to maximize long term viability for the human race.

Edited by WIP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are they doing enough? Or are atheists as generous as churches or any religiously-motivated communities?[/Quote]I don't know the answer. On the flip-side can we accurately account for the so called charitable funds that are actually spent proselytizing, building churches, passing out bibles, etc?

The researchers also noted that autistics have a reduced capacity for empathy because of their problem understanding other minds, and noted that their lack of empathy correlated with lack of belief in God. And if the reverse is true for religious believers, are normal functioning, non-autistic atheists also motivated to some degree by less consideration of other minds and therefore less empathy for others also? Just asking the question seemed to have caused a bit of shit storm in his comments section! So, I have to wonder about how defensive some of his atheist readers are about these sorts of questions.[/QUote]Education (especially science learnin') is inversely correlated with belief. Has anyone checked if the educated are less empathetic or perhaps autistic, or at least somewhere on the spectrum?
In his TED Talk lecture, Harris is very critical of David Hume for proposing that there is an is/ought problem for anyone trying to facts alone as the basis for determining the best moral choices.

And when Harris is proposing using scientific evidence and neuroscience in particular to determine "which values lead to the greatest human wellbeing" he is clearly setting up a moral system based on utilitarianism. [/QUote]Read the book, it's right up your alley. I've watched the TED Talk as well and it reminds me of watching a movie after reading the novel. His statements are clear to me already being familiar with the full text, but I can see how you may perceive it differently without the background info. I started by listening to the audiobook on a drive, that Harris himself reads, but found I had to actually read it. Sam explains his intentions for the book to the point of annoyance. He is clearly stating that science should not be excluded from ethical problems, it should help guide the philosophy.

Edited by Mighty AC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the answer. On the flip-side can we accurately account for the so called charitable funds that are actually spent proselytizing, building churches, passing out bibles, etc?

Yes, a lot of charitable giving goes to religious proselytizing - like handing out bibles in Haiti after the earthquake. But, there still is an apparent gap in giving nevertheless. It could be emotional or theological blackmail....after all, even if you're not church member, when the plate gets passed around, there is small degree of coercion to follow suit. Or does the difficulty that atheists have in organizing reflect more selfish attitudes and lower levels of trust and responsibility to others?

To be specific, I don't know if you, or any other atheists who comment here frequently, have ever belonged to an atheist/humanist group, but of the two prominent organizations in Canada: 1. The Canadian Humanist Association collapsed in a financial scandal before I even had a chance to join, and 2. it was pretty much the same thing with the Ontario branch of Center For Inquiry around the time I quit because this new CFI branch did little or nothing outside the Toronto area, which left many suspicious that the leader was just collecting money and doing little if nothing else. But, that's for others to worry about; I already let my membership lapse by that time and gave up trying to help the local atheist/humanist meetup group gain traction.

So, maybe third time's a charm! But the anecdotal evidence would be that those who identify with atheism and humanism, are not only disinterested in belonging to real organizations, they're also stingier and less trustworthy. It wasn't just a money issue either! I got tired of broken promises from people who wanted times and locations of meetups changed, and then didn't bother showing up anyway! And I wasn't even the leader of the group. But I did understand why he effectively gave up on the group and didn't even bother with meetups himself.

Education (especially science learnin') is inversely correlated with belief. Has anyone checked if the educated are less empathetic or perhaps autistic, or at least somewhere on the spectrum?

Autistic people are less empathetic since in the extreme cases, they are unable to develop a theory of mind that allows them to be aware of other minds. Higher functioning autistics can learn to adapt to the social world, but there would still be an empathy gap. Worth noting that empathy isn't always used for good purposes. Many highly empathetic people use their understanding of others to manipulate them. And in some cases, some subjects are so highly empathetic that they suffer permanent depression because of their awareness of suffering of others never subsides.

Aside from the autistic spectrum disorders and education levels, a strong correlate between atheism...or at least abandoning organized religions and a high level of introspection is noted in a recent study that I read a couple of weeks ago and can't find right now. I tried a quick term search but I'm not coming up with anything. It seems to be a reasonable conclusion that someone who is introspective and prone to self-examination is also more likely to examine dogmas and core beliefs that they have been following, than the extravert who focuses outward and is less likely to examine their own motivations and beliefs.

Read the book, it's right up your alley. I've watched the TED Talk as well and it reminds me of watching a movie after reading the novel. His statements are clear to me already being familiar with the full text, but I can see how you may perceive it differently without the background info. I started by listening to the audiobook on a drive, that Harris himself reads, but found I had to actually read it. Sam explains his intentions for the book to the point of annoyance. He is clearly stating that science should not be excluded from ethical problems, it should help guide the philosophy.

The problem I have with taking Sam Harris seriously is that when he speaks in hypotheticals, his ideas sound reasonable, but then when you look at how he, himself applies them to circumstances in real life, all his lofty reasoning crumbles! And he is using science to try to prove his pre-existing beliefs...not the other way around. I heard him admit this in an interview he did promoting the Moral Landscape, when he stated that he wanted to learn neuroscience to explain why people believe in gods and use science to refute some of the claims regarding the benefits of these beliefs.

Even back when he first appeared on the scene with The End Of Faith, he got a lot of buzz for some pretty extreme statements like his hypothetical justification for the use of torture and a nuclear first strike against any Muslim nation possessing ICBM's. I didn't even notice it the first time I read End of Faith, because of the way Harris dances around and drops his trail of breadcrumbs until it was pointed out in a Chris Hedges column in Truthdig, condemning Harris, Hitchens and other Neocon pro-Iraq War new atheists. And the battle still goes on....as of 2011, but for the moment I'll skip Hedges's article written after the Norway Massacre and go to Harris's rebuttal, since the original article is linked. But look at Harris's defense! All he does is restate the portion in his book and bold the lines that he wants to emphasize:

Below I present the only passage I have ever written on the subject of preventative nuclear war and the only passage that Hedges could be referring to in my work (“The End of Faith,” pages 128-129). I have taken the liberty of emphasizing some of the words that Hedges chose to ignore:

It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an
Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons
. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do
if
an
Islamist
regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise,
ever
acquires
long-range nuclear weaponry
? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival
may be
a nuclear first strike of our own.
Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime
—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it
may be
the only course of action available to us, given what
Islamists
believe. How would such an
unconscionable act
of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the
capacity to pose a nuclear threat
of its own. All of this is
perfectly insane
, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a
horrible absurdity
for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that
men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry
. The Muslim world in particular
must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it
. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.

I will let the reader judge whether this award-winning journalist has represented my views fairly.

Well, I guess we can thank him for letting the reader be the judge, because by restating what he has already written, he condemns himself a second time! For instance, should I give a rat's ass that he has bolded the portion: " may be . Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime " when he starts the sentence with "the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own." Does he really think adding qualifiers: may be and that it would be unthinkable excuse the fact that he clearly sets up the premise that Muslims are unreasonable, suicidal enemies and will not act rationally if they had nukes? I would say the opposite is the case! That anyone, religious or atheist who follows Harris's simple, ill-informed understanding of Islam and other religions, is the most dangerous nuclear threat out there! Aside from the qualifiers, it boils down to:

P1. We have nuclear weapons.

P2. Islamic country has nuclear weapons.

P3. Islamic country is not afraid to be nuked.

Conclusion: It would be logical to nuke them first.

The other thing I found disturbing about him and his simplistic, binary views on important issues is that the rebuttal reveals him to be petty and vindictive in the way he addresses the challenge from Hedges. Every time he mentions Chris Hedges by name he has to present the name with "the journalist" in some apparent shallow attempt to attack Hedges's credentials personally. Hedges was a long time foreign correspondent for the N.Y. Times....which, considering all the war zones and hot spots he reported from during those years, you would expect that this would provide a credential of experience all on its own - of someone who was actually in the middle of wars and civil strife rather than commenting on them from a university library! But Hedges also has degrees in theology and philosophy, and appears well read. I would say that, if you disagree with his opinions, you still have to take his writing seriously, rather than try to colour it with the impression that 'he's just a reporter, while I am a scientist.' When the battle first started between Hedges and Harris & Hitchens, I was not on his side. But Harris's rebuttal has to be one of the weakest, most idiotic written statements I ever read! It really lowered his credibility in my view and started me re-examining a lot of subjects and sources I was relying on. This is from Hedges's original article, and a better explanation of present day conflicts that are presented in a simplistic manner by most pundits from all sides:

The battle under way in America is not between religion and science. It is not between those who embrace the rational and those who believe in biblical myth. It is not between Western civilization and Islam. The blustering televangelists and the New Atheists, the television pundits and our vaunted Middle East specialists and experts, are all part of our vast, simplistic culture of mindless entertainment. They are in show business. They cannot afford complexity. Religion and science, facts and lies, truth and fiction, are the least of their concerns. They trade insults and clichés like cartoon characters. They don masks. One wears the mask of religion. One wears the mask of science. One wears the mask of journalism. One wears the mask of the terrorism expert. They jab back and forth in predictable sound bites. It is a sterile and useless debate between bizarre subsets of American culture. Some use the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior and rules for complex social and political systems, and others insist that the six-day creation story in Genesis is a factual account. The danger we face is not in the quarrel between religion advocates and evolution advocates, but in the widespread mental habit of
fundamentalism
itself.

We live in a fundamentalist culture. Our utopian visions of inevitable human progress, obsession with endless consumption, and fetish for power and unlimited growth are fed by illusions that are as dangerous as fantasies about the Second Coming. These beliefs are the newest exp
ression of the infatuation with the apocalypse, one first articulated to Western culture by the early church. This apocalyptic vision was as central to the murderous beliefs of the French Jacobins, the Russian Bolsheviks and the German fascists as it was to the early Christians. The historian Arnold Toynbee argues that racism in Anglo-American culture was given a special virulence after the publication of the King James Bible. The concept of “the chosen people” was quickly adopted, he wrote, by British and American imperialists. It fed the disease of white supremacy. It gave them the moral sanction to dominate and destroy other races, from the Native Americans to those on the subcontinent.

Our secular and religious fundamentalists come out of this twisted yearning for the apocalypse and belief in the “chosen people.” They advocate, in the language of religion and scientific rationalism, the divine right of our domination, the clash of civilizations. They assure us that we are headed into the broad, uplifting world of universal democracy and a global free market once we sign on for the subjugation and extermination of those who oppose us. They insist—as the fascists and the communists did—that this call for a new world is based on reason, factual evidence and science or divine will. But schemes for universal human advancement, no matter what language is used to justify them, are always mythic. They are designed to satisfy a yearning for meaning and purpose. They give the proponents of these myths the status of soothsayers and prophets. And, when acted upon, they fill the Earth with mass graves, bombed cities, widespread misery and penal colonies. The extent of this fundamentalism is evident in the strident utterances of the Christian right as well as those of the so-called New Atheists.

http://www.truthdig....ills_20110726//

Edited by WIP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To be specific, I don't know if you, or any other atheists who comment here frequently, have ever belonged to an atheist/humanist group, [/Quote]I belong to an atheist meetup group in which we talk over pints but also volunteer to various local causes. I do belong to a local service group of approximately 60 members. Just based on casual conversation I'd estimate that about half the members do not call themselves religious, four or five are devoted Christians and the rest are Christmas and Easter Christians. I also volunteer at the food bank and I coach three teams.

I'm an atheist and I participate in several service organizations that help people and none of them are focused on religion or opposing religion. Why should we segregate?

Below I present the only passage I have ever written on the subject of preventative nuclear war and the only passage that Hedges could be referring to in my work (“The End of Faith,” pages 128-129). I have taken the liberty of emphasizing some of the words that Hedges chose to ignore:

It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an
Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons
. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do
if
an
Islamist
regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise,
ever
acquires
long-range nuclear weaponry
? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival
may be
a nuclear first strike of our own.
Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime
—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it
may be
the only course of action available to us, given what
Islamists
believe. How would such an
unconscionable act
of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the
capacity to pose a nuclear threat
of its own. All of this is
perfectly insane
, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a
horrible absurdity
for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that
men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry
. The Muslim world in particular
must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it
. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.

I will let the reader judge whether this award-winning journalist has represented my views fairly.
I think the qualifiers are important and I'd have to agree with him here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I belong to an atheist meetup group in which we talk over pints but also volunteer to various local causes. I do belong to a local service group of approximately 60 members. Just based on casual conversation I'd estimate that about half the members do not call themselves religious, four or five are devoted Christians and the rest are Christmas and Easter Christians. I also volunteer at the food bank and I coach three teams.

So half of your 'Atheist Group' is Christians ? Something doesn't add up - why would half of an "Atheist" group be religious ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So half of your 'Atheist Group' is Christians ? Something doesn't add up - why would half of an "Atheist" group be religious ?

Instead of just praying, they decided to do something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I belong to an atheist meetup group in which we talk over pints but also volunteer to various local causes. I do belong to a local service group of approximately 60 members. Just based on casual conversation I'd estimate that about half the members do not call themselves religious, four or five are devoted Christians and the rest are Christmas and Easter Christians. I also volunteer at the food bank and I coach three teams.

I'm an atheist and I participate in several service organizations that help people and none of them are focused on religion or opposing religion. Why should we segregate?

I consider myself an atheist because I don't believe in putting even a weak supernatural stamp (purpose or intelligence designing the universe etc.) on the great existential questions.....sort of if I don't find an acceptable answer, I'll leave it blank until I find one. And, for the moment, I would say the apparent chaos and waste made apparent through cosmology (this is assuming that the purpose of a universe is to make life flourish) make me skeptical that the universe is designed.

That said, I became disenchanted with organizing around atheism in recent years. This has been one of the biggest shifts in my thinking in recent years. Setting up an atheist organization means bringing in people with radically different political and social ideas and trying to put them together in a group. The most successful atheist or freethought organizations I've found are in places where being an unbeliever or even a non-Christian is difficult. One group I visited was the Atlanta Freethought Society -- which I made a side trip to take in one of their meetings when my wife and I were visiting one of my cousins living in the Atlanta area. Atlanta Freethought is large enough to support their own headquarters, and a very active group.

I suspect a lot of the apparent harmony comes from the fact that the group is so similar: white, liberal, university graduates, mostly professionals -- they seem to have a lot more in common than just being atheists! Throw in a bunch of libertarians and a side dish of marxists and I'd like to see how well everything goes! And that is the problem, because if I compare my experiences locally with atheist/humanist freethought to attending the local Unitarian Church...which likely is about 25% atheist/agnostic, it's a completely different experience. Because to be a U.U., you can have just about any metaphysical belief there is, but it has to be in harmony with the Seven Principles that form the core of U.U. ideology.

Most religions have a combination of adherence to a metaphysical dogma and adherence to a moral code. The U.U.'s just have the moral code that's mandatory, while the new atheists are trying to form an organization with no set moral code, just a system structured around non-belief; and that's why I suspect the only situations where it works are groups like Atlanta Freethought and this large Atheist Community of Austin, which produces two or three regular podcasts and Youtube videos, where the group is persecuted or shunned by mostly fundamentalists and the group is in agreement on basic moral philosophy. Outside of these situations, the only way you keep a group together around atheism is being hyper-antireligion, like new atheist writers, bloggers, and online communities, where almost all the focus is on condemning religion...mostly Christianity and Islam, for anything and everything that's wrong in the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outside of these situations, the only way you keep a group together around atheism is being hyper-antireligion, like new atheist writers, bloggers, and online communities, where almost all the focus is on condemning religion...mostly Christianity and Islam, for anything and everything that's wrong in the world.

Which is where they go off the rails and since they practice this anti-religiosity religiously, they are accused of having a religion. So the question isn't "is atheism a religion", it clearly isn't, but is anti-religiosity a religion?

Atheists coming together by what they are not, surrounded by hostile or dominant majorities, we can all understand that. It sounds so...Canadian.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So half of your 'Atheist Group' is Christians ? Something doesn't add up - why would half of an "Atheist" group be religious ?

It wasn't clear from my text, but the 60 member local service group is separate from the atheist meetup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which is where they go off the rails and since they practice this anti-religiosity religiously, they are accused of having a religion. So the question isn't "is atheism a religion", it clearly isn't, but is anti-religiosity a religion?

Atheists coming together by what they are not, surrounded by hostile or dominant majorities, we can all understand that. It sounds so...Canadian.

A lot of what is classed as anti-religious is simply the correcting of mistakes and misconceptions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of what is classed as anti-religious is simply the correcting of mistakes and misconceptions.

If you get carried away doing those corrections, you start looking mighty zealous. The religious would say the same about what someone like Dawkins might claim about religion - ie he sets up strawmen.

It's one thing to react when the religious try to impose their views on say the school system. It's another if a person feels bound to argue with them about their beliefs for no real reason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would they join an "Atheist" group specifically then ?

What does it matter? If the group has good intentions without the need for religious overtones, why can't people just get together to help their fellow man?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What does it matter? If the group has good intentions without the need for religious overtones, why can't people just get together to help their fellow man?

Secular groups certainly can but their are far more religious groups which provide aid than their are secular ones. Perhaps once this imbalance is corrected then we can rely less on religious aid groups.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Secular groups certainly can but their are far more religious groups which provide aid than their are secular ones. Perhaps once this imbalance is corrected then we can rely less on religious aid groups.

I don't know why we rely on any aid, government or private, since we all know that poor people just choose to be poor. Why interfere, just let them make their choices. All they need to do is get an education or skill, and they'd be set. No more poor, except those who choose to work at McD's or clean toilets and such. If that's what they like, let em have it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you get carried away doing those corrections, you start looking mighty zealous. The religious would say the same about what someone like Dawkins might claim about religion - ie he sets up strawmen.

It's one thing to react when the religious try to impose their views on say the school system. It's another if a person feels bound to argue with them about their beliefs for no real reason.

We have no problem discussing or countering any other ideas; but, religion has a protective cultural cocoon that is supposed to shield it from scrutiny. We wouldn't feel the need to tiptoe around someone's opposition to vaccinations or love of the Maple Leafs, so why should we grant religious belief special status?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the story didn't really make sense, and has since been corrected.

WIP shared his belief that a decline in religion could lead to a decline in charity. He mentioned that he tried to join to atheist organizations and both folded. I was simply pointing out that I am an atheist who belongs to several charitable groups and only one has an atheist focus. People will lend a hand regardless of their belief systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which is where they go off the rails and since they practice this anti-religiosity religiously, they are accused of having a religion. So the question isn't "is atheism a religion", it clearly isn't, but is anti-religiosity a religion?

If any belief system can be called a religion then antitheism can be a religion. My problem with atheist movements promoting atheism is that it is packaged with the humanist tradition that we are making the world a better place as time goes on. The evidence today is that our world is more polluted, with more people, and less resources that would be needed to support a sustainable civilized world. But new atheists are overwhelmingly techno-optimists and cannot even rationally consider a future with declining returns that will unwind much if not most of what we have developed. In order to present a vision that everyone will be happier once they have thrown off the shackles of their religious beliefs, the new atheists have to present a humanist utopia that is becoming more unlikely as the years go by. Realistic atheists who see hard times ahead, say 'go with whatever gets you through the night,' and refrain from passing judgment on what others believe unless those beliefs present clear examples of harm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WIP shared his belief that a decline in religion could lead to a decline in charity. He mentioned that he tried to join to atheist organizations and both folded. I was simply pointing out that I am an atheist who belongs to several charitable groups and only one has an atheist focus. People will lend a hand regardless of their belief systems.

I wouldn't say all religions bring out the best in people, but those that do have the advantage of combining tradition, ritual and even the subtle coercion of being part of the group, to motivate people towards a stronger commitment than just talking about doing good deeds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the answer. On the flip-side can we accurately account for the so called charitable funds that are actually spent proselytizing, building churches, passing out bibles, etc?

What a silly judgemental attitude....

Why do you begrudge charity that has Christians proselytizing and passing Bibles?

It's easy for you to sit infront of your hi-tech computer judging, criticizing, and shallowly dismissing the charitable acts being performed by Christians in dangerous places - when you're so far removed from the realism of the horrific conditions a lot of people face in other parts of the world. If there would be a job position offered you to go in the midst of those dangerous places, I wonder if you'd willingly take on the job and leave the security and comforts of your current surroundings. I, myself, don't think I'm brave enough to volunteer to those places....

Furthermore, have you ever thought what real despair means? These poor people have nothing! You know what having nothing truly entails?

You think it's enough to feed people - to put food in their bellies - nothing more like pets in your household? Does it make you feel so much better thinking you've done your so-called humanist duty when you send in your donation like scraps thrown to your cats and dogs? Even though you know most of the pennies you give through your government or your so-called humanist organizations don't actually go to the people in need! There - I've given something to feed you. I can forget about you and carry on with my pleasures - without any guilt.

Have you ever thought what proselytizing Christians actually show - through their courageous example - to these people? These proselytizing Christians are actually right there with them - facing danger alongside them - risking their lives (and their families') for these people! These proselytizing Christians, WALK THE TALK!

Have you ever thought the kind of courage the Bible gives to people in despair - the hope - these people would have springing in their hearts? What more when they see these Christians showing examples of courage and faith?

What do you offer?

How can some of us manage to think deeper when we surround ourselves with, and bask in shallow things. When all we can think about is, "what's in it for ME?"

Edited by betsy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some places, they cannot freely hand out Bibles. Bibles had to be smuggled in....and they could get killed when caught.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why do you begrudge charity that has Christians proselytizing and passing Bibles?

It's easy for you to sit infront of your hi-tech computer judging, criticizing, and shallowly dismissing the charitable acts being performed by Christians in dangerous places - when you're so far removed from the realism of the horrific conditions a lot of people face in other parts of the world. If there would be a job position offered you to go in the midst of those dangerous places, I wonder if you'd willingly take on the job and leave the security and comforts of your current surroundings. I, myself, don't think I'm brave enough to volunteer to those places....[/Quote]Religious charities count the funds spent spreading religion as charity and I don't consider it so. In fact, I think a lot of donors would redirect their funds if they knew how they were being spent.

Have you ever thought what proselytizing Christians actually show - through their courageous example - to these people? These proselytizing Christians are actually right there with them - facing danger alongside them - risking their lives (and their families') for these people! These proselytizing Christians, WALK THE TALK![/Quote]So do Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, etc. I am also willing to bet that the impoverished could benefit more if those courageous individuals spent all of their available charitable funds and time helping instead of preaching, building churches and passing out Bibles.
Have you ever thought the kind of courage the Bible gives to people in despair - the hope - these people would have springing in their hearts? What more when they see these Christians showing examples of courage and faith?[/Quote]A group like Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders (DWB) show the same courage without wasting resources selling religion. I'm sure those in despair would rather receive food and medical attention over a Bible lesson. Imagine if DWB vaccinated 1,000 fewer people each month so they could build a Mosque or print 50,000 copies of The Book of Mormon. That's the trade off I have a problem with.
What do you offer?

How can some of us manage to think deeper when we surround ourselves with, and bask in shallow things. When all we can think about is, "what's in it for ME?"

I give significant amounts of my time and money to several charitable causes. However, I do avoid organizations that believe selling their religion is a charitable act.

I remember reading a piece by a journalist who spent time in South America. He commented on a group of displaced natives that were Christians one month, Muslims the next and whatever they needed to be to please the mission that was in town. One of them told the journalist that it is beneficial to play along when missionaries are around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...