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The New Atheists; The Cult of Science?


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Earlier today I was listening to NPR and there was an interview with Chris Hedges. He has recently published a book, I Don't Believe in Atheists. Being a life long atheist I was intrigued by the intro and continued to listen. What followed was imo a off base depiction of those that don't have faith and what is representative of atheists.

 

One of the recurring themes in the interview was irrationality that science and technology can solve the world problems and that such a belief was cult-like. This seems at best incredibly short sighted if not completely wrong. Science and technology have made life immeasurably better. It is true that these forces have also caused some of the most horrific events even known to man; science has allowed us bigger rocks to throw at each other. Science has also helped remove many of the prime reasons people inherently fight. This interview seemed to impart that that there was some sort of "morality" in science. Fact is fact, it has no connotations outside of its sheer existence.

 

The last segment I listened to prior to having to return to work was Hedge's belief that atheists and the radical right were inevitable bedfellows. That the current atheist movement promoted violent methods (supported torture, genocide, etc.) an almost xenophobic existence. That the political aims of both groups were parallel.

 

These claims flabbergasted me. As I stated earlier I have grown-up god-less. Most of these ideas presented by Hedges ranged from mildly offensive to blatantly wrong. Has there been a shift from the atheist freethinker to the atheist fascist while I wasn't looking?

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Q - please put away the baseball bat and throttle back to normal font size. It's just rude - it's a small room and you're shouting real loud, and I've got a mean hangover.   I will not discuss this ma

I suppose in any system there are those that wish to take the lead and form it in their ideals and unfortunately too many willing and unquestioning parties that want to follow (Amazingly so if you are

A three year old talk which only seems to get better with age:     YouTube - Sam Harris at Idea CIty '05 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3YOIImOoYM

I have not read the book, but I've read several reviews from various quarters, and while his attitude and exposition is more than a little bit over the top, there's a grain of truth that he's trying to expose.

 

The "atheistic fascism" that's grown more visible in recent years has come from the shift of most atheists from having to spend time justifying an atheistic worldview, to actively promoting the concept that religion is "evil" and must be eliminated if man is to move forward or even survive.

 

Its this hostility that makes it "fascist" or at least subject to parallels with the neo-con desire to subversively transform the world to align with their worldview.

 

As one review I read pointed out, some of his targets--like Richard Dawkins--are certainly strident, but unfair targets, but others like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens might well be (while you'll have to sit through an ad if you're not a subscriber, there's an interesting interview with Chris Hedges in Salon.com this week).

 

As I've pointed out before on this general topic around here, attacking and demonizing religion is probably not going to prove to be a very effective tactic in promoting atheism, in fact, its probably going to be self-defeating. So while I think his delivery is obnoxious and nearly slanderous, I do agree at least in part with his message, even as someone who promotes atheism.

 

It really needs to be noted though that this kind of hostility actually is not as new as some would expect, its just gotten *popular*, that's all....

 

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the bible is filled, it would seem more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind, :)

Buffy

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The "atheistic fascism" that's grown more visible in recent years has come from the shift of most atheists from having to spend time justifying an atheistic worldview, to actively promoting the concept that religion is "evil" and must be eliminated if man is to move forward or even survive.

 

This is the dark side of atheism, which reflects its good side. This dark side doesn't produce anything useful, like the good side, but gains life at the expense of others. A good analogy was the McCarthy era, where he made everyone paranoid about Communists. This created nothing useful, but it did make a name for him, but only at the expense of many people. It is sort of like a human virus, that has no life of its own, until it can infect a cell and use the machinery of the cell, against the cell, so it can propagate.

 

The good side of atheism has led to science and a better standard of living. It also gives people the freedom to question things. This has become necessary because religion has become sort of a dime a dozen, with each little group their own self appointed authorities. Like it or not this is religion with an atheist flavor, made possible by the good atheists. In other words, each may differentiate its position, which is good, but many also bring to question the validity of other religious views, just like the atheists. The atheists do this 100% percent but these sub-religions may do it 90%. They could recruit atheist mercenaries to undermine the 90% they don't like to achieve the same affect.

 

Since the good side of atheism casts a shadow, which is irrational, it is not fully detached from religion. That is why this aspect needs some form of human sacrifice. Those with religion must be offered as sacrifices to the god of atheism. This will appease his anger allowing atheist heaven.

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Already I do not understand how one can want to promote atheism...it is an individual choice and it is not a cult in my view...

 

HydrogenBond, why do you say the good side of atheism has led to science? Science was there before atheism was something common and I do not how many scientists you find in the last few centuries who were atheists...

 

As to the connection from atheism to fascism, I think it is more a result of the view of some fanatic believers since they fail to see that it is possible to have moral standards even without religion. Actually, it seems to me that fascism comes more from religious views than not.

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I recently purchased the book and though I have yet to read it, I fully intend on doing so. I got his book merely to see how others were veiwing the "new" athiests and get a feel for whatever they could throw at us.

 

I've been hearing a lot about "good" and "bad" athiests and to be quite honest I don't know what would qualify for a "bad" one. I'm an athiest, one quite concerned about how religions lies distort the world and undermine society. People turn to religion for moral and ethic value when society should have done that in the first place, therefore furthering the lies.

 

I guess I need someone to categorize what a "good" or "bad" athiest would look like.

 

If anyones interested in hearing what people have to say about non-believers and athiests, I'd also suggest reading "The Language of God" which is about the leader of the human genome project and his arguement for God. Blah if you ask me. :hihi:

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Dawkins said that we don't need religion to appreciate the glories of a sunset - on that I'd disagree because I believe that the enjoyment of anything is in fact a kind of worship of it. Atheism is dispassionate and is appropriate to science for this reason as any emotion belongs to art, religion etc. Logic dictates this.

 

As for right wing atheism - this is more an anti-something stance ('Let's destroy it, so it can't plague us with its existence!'), than scientific neutrality ('If it exists, it is up to it, to prove it - like a defendant in a court case or the prosecution).

 

This I hope clarifies the difference and unmasks our old 'friend' ([email protected]%***+!) pre-judice (pre-judgement) as the villain of the piece, aka GI Joe (General Issues, Joe).:hihi:

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I suppose in any system there are those that wish to take the lead and form it in their ideals and unfortunately too many willing and unquestioning parties that want to follow (Amazingly so if you are espousing hate of some sort). This occurs even in a system based upon examination, introspection, and logical deduction. Some wish to take the short cut and let others do their thinking.

 

It did seem a bit odd that Hedges's was questioning Dawkins' critique and explanation of origins of religions through memes as outside Dawkins' field.

 

Perhaps there is some resurgence of social Darwinism in these circles.

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I suppose in any system there are those that wish to take the lead and form it in their ideals and unfortunately too many willing and unquestioning parties that want to follow (Amazingly so if you are espousing hate of some sort). This occurs even in a system based upon examination, introspection, and logical deduction. Some wish to take the short cut and let others do their thinking.

 

Perhaps there is some resurgence of social Darwinism in these circles.

 

Impatient people always want to create short cuts - 'We're all going to die, so lets get there quicker by killing everybody now!' The patient aren't such pessimists and never jump the gun (productionism/ growth i.e. letting things be versus reductionism/ destruction i.e. interference patterns). It's easier to kill (stop things now) than have the patience (courage) to just stand and await developments: The former is the political answer - the latter, science (study and learn from versus eradicate and remain ignorant of, the existence of).

 

Positivism builds (religion/art/healing), negativity destroys (politics) and neutrality observes, and learns the truth (science/philosophy).:lol::eek::hihi:

 

Long live logic! (versus short lived irrationality:doh:)

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Excellent thread!

 

The base argument as I understand it is that atheists, having no religion to find comfort in, turn to materialism in the form of technology and medicine in order to find relief from the hardships of life.

 

Maybe so. The problem, as I see it, and which has been touched upon before here at Hypo, is that atheists are simply not a "group" of people. Atheists are not amoral people, either. They either have a reason for their atheism (often making them agnosticists), or they are, like the OP (and myself), born and raised outside of religion and thus have no faith.

 

Therefore, atheists can't be blamed as a group. I am not aware of a single organisation that uses atheism as grounds for, say, humanitarian causes. Rather, you have non-religious groups doing this (often state funded or private foundations like the Red Cross).

 

In fact, I'd argue that the use of science and technology to promote ideology and oppression (as is the case in Holland right now, with a right-wing party fighting Islam using Internet videos) is more often than not done by *religious* people or groups.

 

There is as far as I can tell no reason to equate atheism with scientific progress. While I accept that many scientists are atheists, we all know very well that many are religious, to various degrees. Placing the blame for the results of scientific advance on atheism is bad logic.

 

Or...how many TV channels are 100% atheist? How many are religious? Give me the tally. :Glasses:

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  • 4 months later...

Kind of hard to define atheism...

 

Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods,[1] or the rejection of theism.[2] It is also[3] defined more broadly as synonymous with any form of nontheism, including the simple absence of belief in deities.[4][5][6][7]

 

Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism[8] and naturalism,[9] there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere;[10] and some religions, such as Jainism and Theravada Buddhism, do not require belief in a personal god....

 

Writers disagree how best to define and classify atheism,[27] contesting what supernatural entities it applies to, whether it is an assertion in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection. A variety of categories have been proposed to try to distinguish the different forms of atheism, most of which treat atheism as "absence of belief in deities" in order to explore the varieties of this nontheism.

 

Atheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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