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
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.
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.