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"The New Atheist Movement is Destructive."

popculturepooka
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10/24/2011 4:31:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Says Julian Baggini, author of "Atheism: A Very Short Introduction".

http://fritanke.no...

Very, very interesting. ;D Thoughts?

Excerpt:

Julian Baggini wrote:

In short, the new atheism gets atheism wrong, gets religion wrong, and is counterproductive.

How does it get atheism wrong? When I wrote my own book on the subject, I believed that atheism was widely misunderstood as being primarily a negative attack on religious belief, on which it is parasitic.

But this can't be right. Imagine for one moment that atheism triumphs and belief in God is eradicated. On the view that atheism needs religion, then this victory would also be atheism's extinction. This is absurd.

It is only because of historical accident that atheism is not widely recognised as a world-view in its own right. This world view is essentially a very general form of naturalism, in which there are not two kinds of stuff, the natural and the supernatural, but one. The forces that govern this substance are also natural ones and there is no ultimate purpose or agency behind them. Human life is biological, and thus does not survive beyond biological death.

Such a worldview needs defending, and a special name, only because for various reasons, it is not the one that most humans have adopted. But the view itself is true whether or not there are people who disagree with it. In a totally atheist world, we may stop noticing that it is a view at all, in the same way that most people do not notice that they believe objects exist whether we perceive them or not. But it would still be a view.

So in my book, I tried to articulate the grounds for this view with as little reference to the religious alternative as possible. The new atheism, however, is characterised by its attacks on religion. "There is a logical path from religious faith to evil deeds," wrote Richard Dawkins, quite typically, quoting approvingly Stephen Weinberg, who said, "for good people to do evil things, it takes religion." Hitchens goes so far as to explicitly say that "I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist."

This antitheism is for me a backwards step. It reinforces what I believe is a myth, that an atheist without a bishop to bash is like a fish without water. Worse, it raises the possibility that as a matter of fact, for many atheists, they do indeed need an enemy to give them their identity.

A second feature of atheism is that it is committed to the appropriate use of reason and evidence. In order to occupy this intellectual high ground, it is important to recognise the limits of reason, and also to acknowledge that atheists have no monopoly on it. The new atheism, however, tends to claim reason as a decisive combatant on its side only. With its talk of "spells" and "delusions", it gives the impression that only through stupidity or crass disregard for reason could anyone be anything other than an atheist. "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence," says Dawkins, once again implying that reason and evidence are strangers to religion. This is arrogant, and attributes to reason a power it does not have.

This is most evident when you consider the poverty of the new atheism's "error theory", which is needed to explain why, if atheism is indeed the view evidence and reason demands, so many very bright people are still religious. The usual answers given to this are not good enough. They tend to stress psychological blind-spots and wishful thinking. For instance, Dawkins says "the meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry."

But if very intelligent people are so easily led astray by such things, then shouldn't the new atheists themselves be more sceptical about the role reason plays in their own belief formation? You cannot, on the one hand, put forward a view that says great intelligence is easily over-ridden by psychological delusions and, on the other, claim that one unique group of people can see clearly what reason demands and free themselves from such grips. Either many religious people are not as irrational as they seem, or atheists are not entitled to assume they are as rational as they seem to themselves.

I also think the new atheism tends to get religion wrong. The focus is always on the out-dated metaphysics of religion, its belief in personal creator gods, miracles, souls and so forth. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the religious do indeed believe in such things. Indeed, I'm on the record as accusing liberal theologians of hiding behind their less literalist interpretations, and pretending that matters of creed don't really matter at all.

However, there is much more to religion to the metaphysics. To give a non-exhaustive list, religion is also about trying to live sub specie aeternitatis; orienting oneself to the transcendent rather than the immanent; living in a moral community of shared practice or as part of a valuable tradition; cultivating certain attitudes, such as gratitude and humility; and so on. To say, as Sam Harris does, that "religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time" misses all this. The practices of religion may be more important then the narratives, even if people believe those narratives to be true.

The new atheism has also, I think, created an unhelpful climate for atheism to flourish. When people think of atheists now, they think about men who look only to science for answers, are dismissive of religion and over-confident in their own rightness. Richard Dawkins, for example, presented a television programme on religion called The Root of all Evil and has as his website slogan "A clear thinking oasis". Where is the balance and modesty in such rhetoric?
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CosmicAlfonzo
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10/24/2011 4:35:21 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I am inclined to agree.
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inferno
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10/24/2011 4:36:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:31:57 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
Says Julian Baggini, author of "Atheism: A Very Short Introduction".

http://fritanke.no...

Very, very interesting. ;D Thoughts?

Excerpt:

Julian Baggini wrote:

In short, the new atheism gets atheism wrong, gets religion wrong, and is counterproductive.

How does it get atheism wrong? When I wrote my own book on the subject, I believed that atheism was widely misunderstood as being primarily a negative attack on religious belief, on which it is parasitic.

But this can't be right. Imagine for one moment that atheism triumphs and belief in God is eradicated. On the view that atheism needs religion, then this victory would also be atheism's extinction. This is absurd.

It is only because of historical accident that atheism is not widely recognised as a world-view in its own right. This world view is essentially a very general form of naturalism, in which there are not two kinds of stuff, the natural and the supernatural, but one. The forces that govern this substance are also natural ones and there is no ultimate purpose or agency behind them. Human life is biological, and thus does not survive beyond biological death.

Such a worldview needs defending, and a special name, only because for various reasons, it is not the one that most humans have adopted. But the view itself is true whether or not there are people who disagree with it. In a totally atheist world, we may stop noticing that it is a view at all, in the same way that most people do not notice that they believe objects exist whether we perceive them or not. But it would still be a view.

So in my book, I tried to articulate the grounds for this view with as little reference to the religious alternative as possible. The new atheism, however, is characterised by its attacks on religion. "There is a logical path from religious faith to evil deeds," wrote Richard Dawkins, quite typically, quoting approvingly Stephen Weinberg, who said, "for good people to do evil things, it takes religion." Hitchens goes so far as to explicitly say that "I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist."

This antitheism is for me a backwards step. It reinforces what I believe is a myth, that an atheist without a bishop to bash is like a fish without water. Worse, it raises the possibility that as a matter of fact, for many atheists, they do indeed need an enemy to give them their identity.

A second feature of atheism is that it is committed to the appropriate use of reason and evidence. In order to occupy this intellectual high ground, it is important to recognise the limits of reason, and also to acknowledge that atheists have no monopoly on it. The new atheism, however, tends to claim reason as a decisive combatant on its side only. With its talk of "spells" and "delusions", it gives the impression that only through stupidity or crass disregard for reason could anyone be anything other than an atheist. "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence," says Dawkins, once again implying that reason and evidence are strangers to religion. This is arrogant, and attributes to reason a power it does not have.

This is most evident when you consider the poverty of the new atheism's "error theory", which is needed to explain why, if atheism is indeed the view evidence and reason demands, so many very bright people are still religious. The usual answers given to this are not good enough. They tend to stress psychological blind-spots and wishful thinking. For instance, Dawkins says "the meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry."

But if very intelligent people are so easily led astray by such things, then shouldn't the new atheists themselves be more sceptical about the role reason plays in their own belief formation? You cannot, on the one hand, put forward a view that says great intelligence is easily over-ridden by psychological delusions and, on the other, claim that one unique group of people can see clearly what reason demands and free themselves from such grips. Either many religious people are not as irrational as they seem, or atheists are not entitled to assume they are as rational as they seem to themselves.

I also think the new atheism tends to get religion wrong. The focus is always on the out-dated metaphysics of religion, its belief in personal creator gods, miracles, souls and so forth. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the religious do indeed believe in such things. Indeed, I'm on the record as accusing liberal theologians of hiding behind their less literalist interpretations, and pretending that matters of creed don't really matter at all.

However, there is much more to religion to the metaphysics. To give a non-exhaustive list, religion is also about trying to live sub specie aeternitatis; orienting oneself to the transcendent rather than the immanent; living in a moral community of shared practice or as part of a valuable tradition; cultivating certain attitudes, such as gratitude and humility; and so on. To say, as Sam Harris does, that "religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time" misses all this. The practices of religion may be more important then the narratives, even if people believe those narratives to be true.

The new atheism has also, I think, created an unhelpful climate for atheism to flourish. When people think of atheists now, they think about men who look only to science for answers, are dismissive of religion and over-confident in their own rightness. Richard Dawkins, for example, presented a television programme on religion called The Root of all Evil and has as his website slogan "A clear thinking oasis". Where is the balance and modesty in such rhetoric?

I have been saying this for years now. Thanks for the post dear.
popculturepooka
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10/24/2011 4:37:19 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:36:03 PM, inferno wrote:

I have been saying this for years now. Thanks for the post dear.

? O_o
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
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inferno
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10/24/2011 4:45:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:37:19 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2011 4:36:03 PM, inferno wrote:

I have been saying this for years now. Thanks for the post dear.

? O_o

Actually I was talking to the young Woman in the photo. Not you.
Danielle
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10/24/2011 4:59:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I don't really see the merit in these broad generalizations. Certainly not every theist is a fundamentalist mo-mo, and likewise not every atheist is an anti-theist. Singling out the militant ones by citing an arrogant Dawkins quote or whatever is not really profound. I don't see any problems with atheism when you take it simply for what it is - a lack of belief in God.

This guy writes, "On the view that atheism needs religion, then this victory would also be atheism's extinction. This is absurd." Who cares if atheism dies with theism? I don't think an atheist would care; atheism is the default position. If nobody believed in God and nobody NOT believed in God, then atheism (a lack of belief in God) would still be there even if nobody called it "atheism."

Also, this guy says (about atheism and naturalism) "The forces that govern this substance are also natural ones and there is no ultimate purpose or agency behind them. Human life is biological, and thus does not survive beyond biological death." You can believe in a purpose and not be a theist. You may also be able to believe in life beyond death and not be a theist. What about people who believe we're living in a virtual reality? (They exist.) Some people believe we are the products of aliens, not God.

I agree that many militant atheists are as close-minded as many theists, but pointing this out isn't really helpful. I thought that was obvious.
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Raisor
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10/24/2011 5:42:29 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:59:17 PM, Danielle wrote:

I agree that many militant atheists are as close-minded as many theists, but pointing this out isn't really helpful. I thought that was obvious.

Unfortunately it really isnt obvious. For a lot of people, Dawkins (or PZ or someone equally outspoken) IS the atheist movement. I definitely think it is worthwhile to repeatedly point out that not all atheists are the same or have the same beliefs.

But yeah this article is pretty terrible.
popculturepooka
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10/24/2011 5:55:59 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:45:18 PM, inferno wrote:
At 10/24/2011 4:37:19 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2011 4:36:03 PM, inferno wrote:

I have been saying this for years now. Thanks for the post dear.

? O_o

Actually I was talking to the young Woman in the photo. Not you.

You were talking to my avatar? O_o
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
wiploc
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10/24/2011 6:10:15 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Julian Baggini wrote:

In short, the new atheism gets atheism wrong, gets religion wrong, and is counterproductive.

How does it get atheism wrong? When I wrote my own book on the subject, I believed that atheism was widely misunderstood as being primarily a negative attack on religious belief, on which it is parasitic.

But this can't be right. Imagine for one moment that atheism triumphs and belief in God is eradicated. On the view that atheism needs religion, then this victory would also be atheism's extinction. This is absurd.

He's the one who gets atheism wrong. Atheism consists exactly of not believing that gods exist. We don't need religion for that.

Also, we don't need to eradicate religion. Not on the agenda. Not only does atheism not have an agenda (think of all the different and conflicting goals that are held by those who don't believe in gods) but many of us are religious. Communists, many reformed Jews, many Buddhists, and others.

It is only because of historical accident that atheism is not widely recognised as a world-view in its own right.

Our repression has been accidental? I'm so relieved to learn this.

This world view is essentially a very general form of naturalism, in which there are not two kinds of stuff, the natural and the supernatural, but one.

Nonsense. Some atheists are naturalists, but that doesn't make atheism a form of naturalism. No more than some dogs being schnauzers makes dogdom into a form of schnauzerdom.

The forces that govern this substance are also natural ones and there is no ultimate purpose or agency behind them. Human life is biological, and thus does not survive beyond biological death.

You don't have to be an atheist to believe that, and you can be an atheist without believing that.

Such a worldview needs defending,

But, apparently, according to this guy, not by fighting back.

and a special name,

He's describing naturalism.

...

But the view itself is true whether or not there are people who disagree with it. In a totally atheist world, we may stop noticing that it is a view at all, in the same way that most people do not notice that they believe objects exist whether we perceive them or not. But it would still be a view.

Again with the worry about a totally atheist world. Does he think it's imminent?

So in my book, I tried to articulate the grounds for this view with as little reference to the religious alternative as possible. The new atheism, however, is characterised by its attacks on religion.

Fighting back instead of lying there and getting kicked.

"There is a logical path from religious faith to evil deeds," wrote Richard Dawkins, quite typically, quoting approvingly Stephen Weinberg, who said, "for good people to do evil things, it takes religion." Hitchens goes so far as to explicitly say that "I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist."

This antitheism is for me a backwards step. It reinforces what I believe is a myth, that an atheist without a bishop to bash is like a fish without water. Worse, it raises the possibility that as a matter of fact, for many atheists, they do indeed need an enemy to give them their identity.

Buncha horseshit. Go ask the Anti Jewish Defamation League whether hey do that just because they think Jews can't get along without enemies.

A second feature of atheism is that it is committed to the appropriate use of reason and evidence.

Neither atheism nor naturalism answers to that description. If this guy wants to start a club that does answer to it, he'll need another name altogether. The Rational Naturalist Club, perhaps.

In order to occupy this intellectual high ground, it is important to recognise the limits of reason, and also to acknowledge that atheists have no monopoly on it.

Recognized and acknowledged.

The new atheism, however, tends to claim reason as a decisive combatant on its side only.

Reason is the club that the new atheists hit people with. No reason to try to hide that fact.

Remember when liberals were ascendant, and it was hard to hold your head up as a conservative. Rush Limbaugh came along and introduced arrogant conservatism. I have to tell you, it was a breath of fresh air. Now Rush is no role model, and, given what he reveals about conservatism, I am no conservative. But the point remains that the downtrodden have a right to speak out for themselves. It is time for a little arrogant atheism. I breathe easier because of the new atheists.

=== possibly continued.
wiploc
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10/24/2011 6:19:22 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Julian Baggini wrote:
...
The new atheism has also, I think, created an unhelpful climate for atheism to flourish.

New atheism is a response to an unhelpful climate.

When people think of atheists now, they think about men who look only to science for answers, are dismissive of religion and over-confident in their own rightness. Richard Dawkins, for example, presented a television programme on religion called The Root of all Evil and has as his website slogan "A clear thinking oasis".

When I was young, Madalyn Murray O'Hair was the only other atheist that I knew of. I felt I had to pretend to be a Christian just to get by. Atheism was so well repressed that atheists were thought to be a hateful and vanishingly small minority. Coming out as an atheist got my headlights smashed and thirteen tires slashed.

The atmosphere under the new atheists is better.

Where is the balance and modesty in such rhetoric?

Why doesn't he ask balance and modesty of the theists? If we took, "In god we trust," off the money, and replaced it with, "Smile, there is no Hell," then he could ask us for balance.
popculturepooka
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10/24/2011 6:20:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 4:59:17 PM, Danielle wrote:
I don't really see the merit in these broad generalizations. Certainly not every theist is a fundamentalist mo-mo, and likewise not every atheist is an anti-theist.

He's talking about a very specific sub-set of atheists who seem to characterize their atheism in terms of anti-religion. I don't see what the problem is. It'd be like person A writing an article on fundamentalists and then person B coming around to object that not all theists are fundamentalists. Well, yeah. But A wasn't even addressing the non-fundamentalist theists nor did A's argument imply that A was addressing all theists.

Singling out the militant ones by citing an arrogant Dawkins quote or whatever is not really profound. I don't see any problems with atheism when you take it simply for what it is - a lack of belief in God.

I'm not seeing what your objection is. I'm not sure that he's trying to say anything particularly profound but just saying some stuff that bears repeating. And I'm sure he'd agree with you if he was talking about atheism as construed that way but he's not; he's talking about atheism as construed by the so-called "new" atheists.

This guy writes, "On the view that atheism needs religion, then this victory would also be atheism's extinction. This is absurd." Who cares if atheism dies with theism? I don't think an atheist would care; atheism is the default position.

If nobody believed in God and nobody NOT believed in God, then atheism (a lack of belief in God) would still be there even if nobody called it "atheism."

Sure an atheist wouldn't care if we were talking about atheism as you mean it...but he's not talking about it that way and he's reductio ad absurdum'ing atheism as meant by the new atheists.

Also, this guy says (about atheism and naturalism) "The forces that govern this substance are also natural ones and there is no ultimate purpose or agency behind them. Human life is biological, and thus does not survive beyond biological death." You can believe in a purpose and not be a theist. You may also be able to believe in life beyond death and not be a theist. What about people who believe we're living in a virtual reality? (They exist.) Some people believe we are the products of aliens, not God.


It's rather hard to be a ontological naturalist and believe in ultimate purpose and life beyond death. I don't think he's denying that you have you can be a non-theist and believe in life after death and/or ultimate purpose(s) in life. He's talking about atheism as construed by him as just a component of naturalism.

I agree that many militant atheists are as close-minded as many theists, but pointing this out isn't really helpful. I thought that was obvious.

Doesn't the obvious bear repeating sometimes?
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popculturepooka
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10/24/2011 6:36:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/24/2011 6:19:22 PM, wiploc wrote:
Julian Baggini wrote:
...
The new atheism has also, I think, created an unhelpful climate for atheism to flourish.

New atheism is a response to an unhelpful climate.


That doesn't mean it's the correct response, though. Surely as a person who values reason so much you should be incredibly concerned with whether or not it is the correct response to an unhelpful climate or is the wrong response that is only creating an even more unhelpful climate.

When people think of atheists now, they think about men who look only to science for answers, are dismissive of religion and over-confident in their own rightness. Richard Dawkins, for example, presented a television programme on religion called The Root of all Evil and has as his website slogan "A clear thinking oasis".

When I was young, Madalyn Murray O'Hair was the only other atheist that I knew of. I felt I had to pretend to be a Christian just to get by. Atheism was so well repressed that atheists were thought to be a hateful and vanishingly small minority. Coming out as an atheist got my headlights smashed and thirteen tires slashed.


Sorry to hear that.

The atmosphere under the new atheists is better.


I doubt it if finding out the truth about the matter is your goal.

Where is the balance and modesty in such rhetoric?

Why doesn't he ask balance and modesty of the theists?

Uh, how do you know he doesn't in other things he has written? Actually, I have read some of his other work and he does, so....
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Cerebral_Narcissist
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10/24/2011 7:15:01 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Didn't read the whole thing but I am in broad agreement, this militant new atheism falls into many errors.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.