Why atheism is irritating

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Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 02:02 am
I don't consider myself a religious person.

In fact I tend to avoid religion altogether.

In fact I consult the Skeptic's Annotated Bible pretty regularly.

In fact most of my middle school years were spent collecting arguments against creationists.

But I still find atheism irritating.

I find that atheism/materialism, or at least the Dawkins/Harris "I'm an infidel, nyah nyah nyah" brand of atheism that appears to be the most popular today, has some of the same characteristics that make fundamentalist preachers irritating.

The first is thinking in terms of binary opposites. Where the fiery Baptist preacher believes you are either among the flock or among the Hell-bound, the modern atheist believes (or appears to believe) you are either a scientific rationalist or a gibbering, superstitious idiot.

There are some who would argue that we make science our belief system because of its (undeniable) benefits to us, and that anything that isn't scientific is automatically bad.

That's B.S.

Math isn't scientific, by its very nature. Pretty much everyone benefits from math, directly or indirectly.

Ethics, and, generally speaking, any other commentary how to live your life, are unscientific. Nearly everyone believes in some form of these.

That is at least part of why the philosophy of life built up around modern atheism and materialism is so juvenile. They often tend to reject anything that isn't scientific, or doesn't have the veneer of being scientific (e.g., Singularitarianism), believing if not saying outright that anything which looks 'soft' is for crystal-wearing ****** and Jesus freaks. That often encompasses not only religion, but also anything that isn't a hard science or mathematical (which is ironic since, as I pointed out, math isn't science at all) ... philosophy, even the secular kind; history; sociology; psychology; pretty much anything involving other humanoids ... only idiots major in these subjects and we don't want to have anything to do them. So a lot of the philosophical trends in the firebrand atheist community, if I can call them philosophical, look like Popular Science on crack: tacky futurist prescriptions for all of our problems, like turning yourself into a Terminator unit to mitigate your failure to interface with female humanoids. It's a cancer on Western society, and, in effect, every other society which turns to us for inspiration. How is the developing world supposed to be brought into modernity when so much of our intelligentsia are glomming onto the "d00d, l37z tvrn 0vrs3lv3z 1n70 h4x0r-g0dz l0l" trend, becoming more focused on chasing the Singularity pipe dream (and time will tell us that it is a pipe dream) than real world problems? 'H+'? What the hell is that, some kind of new sports drink?

So, anyway, my point was that unscientific isn't synonymous with bad. Is belief in a dualist universe the same as believing in the proverbial 'pink unicorn'? Not necessarily. To be sure, I find popular conceptions of God and the afterlife disgustingly facile ... puffy white clouds, meeting every dead person you know on a rainbow bridge (which by the way was cribbed from the much more interesting original Norse mythology ... look up 'Bifrost' if you care), an abode of everlasting torment for everyone you don't like, God in the form of an anthropromorphic bearded dude. That is all crap, in my opinion.

But, while there is little in the way of deductive arguments for pink unicorns or leprechauns, there is plenty in the way of well thought-out deductive arguments for dualism, generally speaking, whether you agree with them or not. Comparison of belief in dualism in general with belief in arbitrary things like pink unicorns, Santa Claus or leprechauns is extremely dishonest. They're obviously not the same thing. That's like saying believing in Marxism is the same thing as believing in astrology. While I don't agree with Marxism, it certainly has real arguments for it, and sometimes Marxist economists have a point. But I'm digressing because I like economics so much, so, to sum up: please knock off the unicorn crap; it's just tired now. Guilt by association obviously doesn't work here.

The other issue I have with atheists is that their complaints are almost always specific to Abrahamic religions, and frequently specific to Christianity. Or actually a particularly rabid brand of Christianity. Whenever they trot out the "genocide, witch burning, oppression ..." litany, it's almost always being done in the name of the Abrahamic god, and even then, in the name of particular sects of his religions. I personally am not a huge fan of the Abrahamic religions and will admit to mild anti-Semitism (hey, I'm being honest) but recognize that not everyone who follows one of these religions is automatically a bloodthirsty zombie.

Even if it weren't somewhat fallacious to blame atrocities carried out in the names of these religions on them themselves, there are alternatives. The major ones are the Eastern belief systems: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. These religions/philosophies have generally had nutty qualities but they have overall better track records than their Abrahamic peers. They're compatible with modern science and not coercive, to be sure. With the possible exception of Taoism (and even this is iffy), none of them are really anti-intellectual. The worst atrocity I can attribute to them is the caste system. It was and is a travesty and I'm not going to gloss it over but, according to Vedic literature, caste was originally a function of conduct and profession rather than birth. It is, in my opinion, primarily an unfortunate social construct with unfortunate religious justification after the fact. But there again, reading about these kinds of things is for *******. Never mind.

Moderator Edit (Khethil): Obscenities removed.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 02:25 am
@odenskrigare,
Fundamentalist Atheists. Kinda strange isn't it? I don't generalize. I know there are many good folks out there who are atheists and do not care what another person believes. As in fundamentalist religion , where the extremist creates an image of intolerance, which gives birth to a general view, so also it is bred in Atheism. Let the extremists rant. Through time, it will play out. People will see the attitude and reject that attitude. Regardless of what they believe.
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 02:33 am
@odenskrigare,
Sure, there are exceptions to everything. I am ashamed to admit I only have anecdotes, but my perception from real life, radio news, magazines, the Internet, etc., is that the trends in atheism, at least in the West, are towards being irritatingly self-conscious and contrary, and towards a kind of rabid, pubescent "d00d, 4w3s0m3" attitude towards technology. It's not healthy. We did that in the 50's already.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 03:07 am
@Elmud,
YO!

Perhaps you forget what started this reactionary movement, religions assault on science and reason itself by denying evolution and forcing its way into the American classroom wishing to teach a creation myth in the science classroom. Christianity actively seeking political power is what brought this to a head, this reaction from the intellectual community is a political statement, that no you are not going to have all your way as in the past, a new day has dawned. Things like astrology deserve our disrespect and so does any number of fake sciences, including creationism and intelligent design. No one should give a dam what another man believes if it does not effect them, unfortunately ignoring Christianity seems only to make it more aggressive and its self-righteous politics are unbearable to a reasonable man. Ones general knowledge and common sense is enough to make one a atheist. If religion does not want to be assaulted it would be a great idea not to assault others first, and take care of its real business the spiritual life of its followers. Christianity drew first blood with its anti-intellectual stance, the majority claiming victumhood, not buying that today.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 05:31 am
@boagie,
Christianity is the opposite of anti-intellectual. I don't care if insane american puritans want to spit on the traditions of the mother church yet again by refusing to acknowlage reason. Reason is one of the central theological parts of Christianity- Aquinas would have hated the creationists had he lived today. I think that politics would benefit from the influence of rational, traditional and moral Christian infuluence- the loss of this influence has led to some of the most terrible atrocities humanity has ever seen.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 07:19 am
@avatar6v7,
Odenskrigare,

I hear ya and minus the obscenities, well enunciated too.

Extremists who argue from the same old cliches are irritating from any point of view. Close mindedness - the head that can't acknowledge divergent possibilities - is also tiresome. Over emphasis (or the Blinders-on Syndrome) on any method of inquiry will wear anyone out.

We all (read: All) need to break out of the extremist mindset that says everything is "this" or "that". It kills the free flow of communication and perpetuates stereotypes that impales productive cooperation. Ultimately, extremists of any sort end up doing their cause more damage than good, and I think this is particularly true of atheism.

Atheism has a lot to offer human-kind but when individuals take it to judgmental, derisive lengths they do it injustice.

Thanks
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 07:29 am
@Khethil,
We need the pendulum to swing wildly , we need the sharp tongue of atheists to hone our opinions .
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 07:29 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
YO!

Perhaps you forget what started this reactionary movement, religions assault on science and reason itself by denying evolution and forcing its way into the American classroom wishing to teach a creation myth in the science classroom. Christianity actively seeking political power is what brought this to a head, this reaction from the intellectual community is a political statement, that no you are not going to have all your way as in the past, a new day has dawned. Things like astrology deserve our disrespect and so does any number of fake sciences, including creationism and intelligent design. No one should give a dam what another man believes if it does not effect them, unfortunately ignoring Christianity seems only to make it more aggressive and its self-righteous politics are unbearable to a reasonable man. Ones general knowledge and common sense is enough to make one a atheist. If religion does not want to be assaulted it would be a great idea not to assault others first, and take care of its real business the spiritual life of its followers. Christianity drew first blood with its anti-intellectual stance, the majority claiming victumhood, not buying that today.


Good point Boagie. The Dawkins-led crusade is very much a counter-attack, which is why I can sympathise with it even if I'm slightly embarrassed by it. On the other hand, the OP seems to assume that Dawkinsism, if I may coin a phrase, is popular atheism simply because he (and his ilk, e.g. Hitchens) sell a lot of books and people are currently talking about those books. Dawkinsism is political and, as such, you can't generalise it to atheism. Atheists don't go out of their way to preach their lack of beliefs; theists do preach their beliefs. The two can't be made equivilent just because a couple of writers have gone off on one.

EDIT: As a measure of what I've said, look how many unprovoked anti-atheist threads there have been on this forum and check against how many unprovoked anti-theist threads there've been. (I say unprovoked as some atheists have often retaliated with anti-theists threads because of anti-atheist threads.) Atheists don't really do agressive because the battleground simply doesn't exist for them.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 09:45 am
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare wrote:
There are some who would argue that we make science our belief system because of its (undeniable) benefits to us, and that anything that isn't scientific is automatically bad.

That's B.S.
I think you're committing a little BS yourself.

Art is not particularly scientific - I have yet to hear from any atheist who believes art is bad.

Moral philosophy is a belief system that isn't based on scientific enquiry - I have never heard of an atheist damn moral philosophy.

Can you cite a source? Which atheists are you actually talking about?
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:05 am
@Dave Allen,
avatar6v7 wrote:
Christianity is the opposite of anti-intellectual. I don't care if insane american puritans want to spit on the traditions of the mother church yet again by refusing to acknowlage reason. Reason is one of the central theological parts of Christianity- Aquinas would have hated the creationists had he lived today. I think that politics would benefit from the influence of rational, traditional and moral Christian infuluence- the loss of this influence has led to some of the most terrible atrocities humanity has ever seen.


Avatar:)

Like the bush adminstration? You cannot interpret the modern world through a two thousand year old text that is composed of hearsay, two thousand year old hear say. If one needs an example of what a theologically run country would look like, you have Afghanistan or many other Muslim countries, where to be a disbeliever is to sign your own death warrant. In this day and age to think that a god wrote a book is quite literally insane. The bible as moral guide perhaps, but there is much in the bible like the Koran dealing with justified injustice, stoning, stoning an individaul for picking up sticks on a Saturday and genocide. No this is not a time for reasonable men/women to remain silent, and silence is what is desired by the faithful reguarding the atheist, reasonable men/women stand in the way of fanatism without checks and balances all would be lost. Even here at this philosophy site, if it were not for believers pushing their own theologies we might get on with philosophy, just look at this place, its a bloody god forum. Talk philosophy without theology and there would be no conflict between the faithful and the atheist here, the conflict is obviously to some extent desired. One could easily talk moral philosophy without theology.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:42 am
@boagie,
For every radical atheist there are a thousand fundamentalist nutters trying to keep the world non secular.Religion has had a free ride for much too long, anything an atheist has said does not ever weigh against the violence the believers have inflicted on us heathens.Pile the wood high the stakes ready.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 02:55 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
For every radical atheist there are a thousand fundamentalist nutters trying to keep the world non secular.Religion has had a free ride for much too long, anything an atheist has said does not ever weigh against the violence the believers have inflicted on us heathens.Pile the wood high the stakes ready.


Are people really trying to claim atheist persecution? Have atheists been officially added to the KKK hate list or something? Do you have a dream? Are you going to have to stage a pacifist rebellion or something, be beaten by the man, cover yourself in gas and light yourself on fire? This thread started as a rational comparison of the two extremes of this issue. Granted it was an opinion but heck, has it really devolved into another X-religion is persecuting me thread?
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 03:55 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
Are people really trying to claim atheist persecution? Have atheists been officially added to the KKK hate list or something? Do you have a dream? Are you going to have to stage a pacifist rebellion or something, be beaten by the man, cover yourself in gas and light yourself on fire? This thread started as a rational comparison of the two extremes of this issue. Granted it was an opinion but heck, has it really devolved into another X-religion is persecuting me thread?
I was merely stating the historic faith driven savagery by the religious bigots.Have you ever heard of atheists driven to tie a christians to a stake and burn them .
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 04:14 pm
@odenskrigare,
Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin and Stalin almost certainly persecuted and repressed religious people inspired by atheistic reasoning along the lines espoused by Marx. So whilst atheists probably rarely carried out the burning of Christians at the stake, to suggest no atheist movement ever persecuted a religious minority/majority is a lie, I feel.

Better to face the fact that both religious and secular thinking have inspired atrocity and admit that it's pretty irrelevant to the debate about whether or not religion reveals truth or whether or not God exists.

That said, I hardly think this thread started out as "a rational comparison of the two extremes of this issue" - it started out as a lot of perjorative ranting peppered with a number of lies and rather silly generalisations.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 04:41 pm
@xris,
xris;51849 wrote:
I was merely stating the historic faith driven savagery by the religious bigots.Have you ever heard of atheists driven to tie a christians to a stake and burn them .


Besides the fact that many of those burned at the stake were themselves Christians who violated Church law, anyone who thinks religion was the cause of those burnings is just plain ignorant.

The culprits were always power, superstition, fear, and ignorance . . . get rid of religion and it will still be a serious problem for the human race. Atheists Stalin and Mao were responsible for millions of deaths, was atheism the "cause"? There's a news story out of severe abuse of primates in science studies ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Employees Claim 'Horrific' Treatment of Primates at Lab . . . is science the evil? The truly stupid (and fallacious) argument that "blank" causes evil because the two are found together (Correlation does not imply causation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) is beneath the intelligence of anyone claiming to love philosophy.

Everyone is sick of fundamentalism, self-righteousness, and spin designed to make it seem some group or belief system has the truth . . . and that applies equally to atheists, reiigionists, and scientism devotees (yes, it is an actual term Scientism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) or any other excuse we devise to act superior or persecute.

If everyone were truly honest, we'd admit that no knows what caused creation; of course, that doesn't stop a lot of people from staking claim to the secrets of creation.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 04:48 pm
@LWSleeth,
Smile
Let try not to get off on a tangent. I think the point is that the faithful would like the atheist to shut up, but as long as the faithful have political amitions that effect the athesit that is not going to happen.


God is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that.
Joseph Campbell
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 05:29 pm
@boagie,
boagie;51857 wrote:
Let not try to get off on a tangent. I think the point is that the faithful would like the atheist to shut up, but as long as the faithful have political amitions that effect the athesit that is not going to happen.


SOME religious want atheists to shut up, but no more than a some atheists want the religious to shut up. There are a great many quiet, humble religious who want religion kept out of government and schools, and who treat their faith as a very, very personal issue (e.g. Hillary Clinton?). And then there are big mouths who attract so much attention.

There are atheists who are quiet and humble about what is a very personal issue. And then there are big mouths who spread hate . . . know anyone like that? Yes, I wish all big mouths would shut up, especially those so ignorant they wouldn't know a fallacious argument if it bit them in their tiny brain, but who wouldn't care anyway that it's fallacious as long as it serves their purpose of spreading hate.

Me, I'm neither religious nor atheist, I resist everybody trying to lay claim to the truth, or make an entire group the bad guy.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 05:40 pm
@LWSleeth,
There are two sides to the coin, as long as on side takes the stage the others side will critique, the fence is apparently to you the moral high ground. No need for name calling just state your case.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 06:57 pm
@boagie,
boagie;51867 wrote:
There are two sides to the coin, as long as on side takes the stage the others side will critique, the fence is apparently to you the moral high ground. No need for name calling just state your case.


It isn't a sitting on the fence to resist gross generalizations, people claiming a cause they don't know is true, spreading hatred, being generally ignorant of all that's involved in a situation, and, worst of all, not really caring if one is guilty of all that.

If an atheist does it, I resist that. If a Christian does it, I resist that. Buddhist, capitalist, misogynist, amethyst . . . what difference does it make who preaches intolerance? It should be resisted by all humans who value fairness and openness and understanding our fellow human beings. What the new breed of atheistic, scientism-worshipping oppressors don't realize is if they topple the religious with the same sort of tactics the religious have used to tyrannize, we will still have exactly the same evil, just with a different name.

I must add that, you sir are just about the sloppiest thinker I've ever seen at a philosophy forum. In fact, some of the stuff you've said (e.g., F**K Allah) would have gotten you thrown out of every site where I've debated. Your posts are one fallacious argument after another, and when called on it, you gleefully ignore it and just keep it up; that along with your incessant slick sophistries (like calling me a fence sitter) have me convinced you are Senator McCarthy reborn.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 10:38 pm
@odenskrigare,
Guys........

Is this not version 1000 of the same thread that's come up again and again and again for the last few months?

Everyone has valid points, and nearly everyone is guilty of inflating the virtues of their own side and extrapolating from the extremes of the opposite side.

Both Christianity and atheism are categories of belief systems. They cannot be said to be belief systems unto themselves, because they are too broad. Yes, the Scholastics and Aquinas brought rational philosophy into Christianity, but the contemporaries Hildegard of Bingen and other mystics did the exact opposite. Yes, some atheists are militant advocates of science and logic above any inherited tradition, but some are New Agey nature worshippers who couldn't care less about logic.

And there's everything in between.

So stop picking fights about this. All you do is prove to yourself that the other side is irritating, without realizing that it's your instigation that makes them appear so.

Sheesh....
 
 

 
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