since 1997 | by maryann johanson
Fri Jan 04 2008, 02:01pm | 6 comments
From CBC News (that’s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):
This is Part 1. Watch Part 2 and Part 3.
via Tennessee Guerilla Women
(Technorati tags: Spreading Atheism)
You know, I really think that the intrusive attempt to convert others from atheists is every bit as obnoxious as it is coming from Christians and Muslims. Used to be, the only atheists who acted this way (which bespeaks a radical, childish insecurity and need to be validated by society every bit as much as religion does) were Marxists. It’s both depressing and annoying to see it spread to the kind of atheists that don’t seem to need to replace one unwavering irrational doctrine with another.
Yelling that believers are stupid and evil (which I’m not saying you do, but which I have seen an awful lot of, especially among Christopher Hitchens fans) is not a good way to make the case that atheists are more rational. It comes across as little more than childish contrariness.
People will always be happier when committed to an ideal than when radically skeptical, doubting and disillusioned, regardless of whether that ideal is absolute faith in God absolute disbelief.
That said, on PBS tonight there was a very very interesting program called “A Brief History of Disbelief”, that explores these kind of issues for real, in depth, in a way that to me (and this is a statement of belief!) was truly sympathetic and humanistic and not at all hostile.
Atheism is not an “irrational doctrine”.
I like that in part 2, they mentioned 3 books.
“The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.
“God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens.
“Letter to A Christian Nation” by Sam Harris.
I moved from a being fairly certain of God to being an athiest after reading these books. I pride myself in being a rational, logical and intellectually curious person and i couldn’t not be convinced by their message.
I especially like Dawkins’ answer to “How can we be good without God?”
“This is a debate stopper. If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would commit robbery, rape and murder, you reveal yourself as an immoral person and we would be wise to steer clear of you. If, on the other hand, you admit that you would continue to be a good person even when not under devine surveillance, you have fatally undermined your claim that God is necessary for us to be good.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. :)
I really think that the intrusive attempt to convert others from atheists is every bit as obnoxious as it is coming from Christians and Muslims
Agreed. Fortunately, very few individuals atheists do attempt to convert, and there certainly is no mass movement by atheists to do so.
Also, it’s tough to “convert” people to atheism. We can’t threaten people with eterntal damnation if they don’t.
Whether an individual feels the need of God to be good, or not, isn’t relevant to whether God exists or not. And as for the old “show us the evidence” line so often trotted out, why assume that God is the same as physical matter, or that only what we can currently measure by scientific methods is real? “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Even on a physical plane, think of all the people whose lives left no physical or written record that now survives – there’s no evidence they ever existed. Would you therefore say they must not ever have lived?
I’m not a believer in any religion, but I get awfully sick of the “we’re so smart” type of atheism, the “brights” as Dawkins likes to label his fans. They’re just as fundamentalist as any religious nutter, and the desire Dawkins, Hitchens et al have expressed to do away with religion is just as intolerant and blinkered.
Even on a physical plane, think of all the people whose lives left no physical or written record that now survives – there’s no evidence they ever existed. Would you therefore say they must not ever have lived?
Well, as a group, we are proof that people have lived before us, because we are their descendants. And it’s hard for societies not to leave at least traces of their existence: graves, ruins, records of trade and exchange, etc, from which we can deduce things like how large the community was and how the people lived. As for specific individuals–if, say, a person was born two hundred years ago who left no records and no offspring, then it’s fair to doubt whether such a person existed.
And as for the old “show us the evidence” line so often trotted out, why assume that God is the same as physical matter, or that only what we can currently measure by scientific methods is real?
Because science is the only reliable way we have of determining what is real. It’s why we know that colds are caused by viruses rather than demons, because there’s good evidence for one and none for the other. Hypotheses which have not been proven by science may be interesting, and may be worth pursuing, but should be viewed with skepticism unless and until they are proven. There’s no scientific proof for God just as there is none for Zeus, Odin, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, dragons, a giant teacup orbiting Saturn, etc. The list of concepts and ideas for which we have no scientific proof is large and can be infinitely added to. It does not therefore follow that they must all be true.
They’re just as fundamentalist as any religious nutter
Not at all. Fundamentalists are those who cling to ideas despite overwhelming evidence against those ideas. Richard Dawkins is a scientist, and scientists (good ones anyway) are willing to admit error and revise their position when confronted with convincing evidence against their claims.
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