The New Atheists: Aggressive or Brave?

February 16, 2011

It has been stated by both the religious and nonreligious that the New Atheists -- think Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- are aggressive in their approach to religious belief. But Ian Ravenscroft of Philosophy Now, writing about what it takes to be a philosopher, sees it differently:

Arguments -- rational derivations of conclusions from premises -- are central to philosophy. But arguments in another sense -- vigorous interchanges of ideas, either verbally or in writing -- are also very common in philosophy. Vigorous exchange is central to gaining the truth; and those who are shy of the truth tend to shy away from argument. It’s intriguing how often Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and other advocates of the New Atheism are accused of being aggressive. It would be more accurate to say that they’re not afraid of the rough-and-tumble of intellectual life. Those who accuse them of aggression are, I suspect, anxious to avoid strenuous public examination of their beliefs.

So be prepared for a bit of hard talking. It won’t kill you, and it may advance your understanding.

In fact, even if one does think the New Atheists are aggressive in presenting their views to the public, their counterparts on the religious right are just as aggressive. Should the New Atheists just sit back and watch?

Comments:

#51 Chuck (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 2:17pm

“But the plutocrats will make common cause with and support the theists as it suits their purposes.”

And that is why challenging emotionally held superstitions is important.

#52 Chuck (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 2:29pm

Well Daniel your assertion, “ID is no different in this regard. We too believe in laws, formulas and predictability,” Is contradicted by Michael Behe’s assertion that based on the concept of irreducible complexity the predictive definition of ID as science would allow astrology to be part of the same category.  I don’t see how you can attest to the parsimonious predictive abilities of a methodology that is linked to something like astrology.  What do you mean that there isn’t a wit of scientific evidence in support of naturalism?  That seems like a bald assertion and ignores the predictive nature divined from most biological sciences. 

The ID community and their obfuscation of Philip Johnson’s real aims of overturning freedom of religion protections in the 1st amendment helped me see that the insight claimed with Christian revelation is not what it seems to be.  ID is a political handle that seeks to institute a particular religious perspective as law.  It is not a scientific practice that anticipates any predictive truth.  The bacterium flagellum “motor” as irreducibly complex has been falsified in the identification of syringe functions within clostridium botulinum. 

If you wish to say your beliefs make you feel good in believing them then I will agree with you but if you wish to say that your beliefs are predictive of observed phenomenon I will say that I find your assertions insult my education and intelligence.

#53 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 3:21pm

Chuck,

Please don’t be insulted. Shouldn’t there be room for an alternative to naturalism—supernaturalism (ID). You don’t really want a monopoly on science, do you?

Getting back to formulas and the laws of physics—are they natural, independent, unintelligent and self-sustaining or do they find their origin, unity, uniformity, harmony and sustenance transcendentally, within the mind of God? I think the ID paradigm far more preferable.

#54 Chuck (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 3:52pm

Daniel, I can’t respond to you because your questions are nonsense.  It is as if you are asking me why can’t the color yellow weigh more than the key of F#.

#55 Michael De Dora on Friday February 18, 2011 at 4:24pm

@Val,

I think it would be a little disingenuous to criticize CFI for not focusing its gaze on issues rather unrelated to its mission. I agree that abortion access, the Tea Party/Koch Brothers, funding for public radio and TV, and campaign finance laws are all important issues (indeed, most of my blogging is about political topics, not atheism). However, only the first of those four explicitly relates to CFI’s mission—and, as such, CFI advocates on the matter. Thankfully, there are plenty of organizations who do focus on those other issues. Yet keep in mind they don’t focus on church-state, ethics, or science. We all have to draw lines somewhere.

#56 Michael De Dora on Friday February 18, 2011 at 4:29pm

I mean, concepts like “reason” and “humanist values” have far-reaching implications and applications. But it would be unreasonable to expect CFI to work on all of them, for two main reasons: our focused mission, and our work capacity.

#57 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 5:05pm

Chuck,

Before you were feeling sorry for me; now you’re castigating me! What am I to do?


Michael,

Islam is a powerful threat to all of us. I just read that, in the “democracy-loving” nation of Egypt, 84% believe that those who turn from Islam should be put to death. This is part of the sharia law that is an inseparable part of Islam.

I don’t understand why atheists/secular humanists aren’t playing a greater role to expose this threat. What are your thoughts on this issue?

#58 Ophelia Benson on Friday February 18, 2011 at 6:24pm

Val, you seriously think belief in “God” has nothing to do with the fact that many women can’t get an abortion in the US? Really?

#59 Val Esman (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 6:56pm

No, I don’t think I’m being “disingenous”. Because while CFI debates, he Christian Right is daily taking action through their political blogs as well.  They don’t waste time debating but pushing through their anti-science, anti-education and anti-women agenda.  The Christian Right takes political action while CFI does not.  Asking members to support Rep. Stark’s proposed legislation to make Darwin’s birthday a holiday is an empty act of symbolism when they are prepared to kill funding for PBS, our nation’s foremost news organs for popular science and public education. This is science in action against superstitution.  Not an symbolic tribute to a deceased scientist.

I believe you/CFI creates a false dichotomy between politics, campaign financing of elections and science.  Since the recent United Citizen decision, you can draw a direct line between the New Republicans in Congress that have been funded by corporate monies and the votes against women’s healthcare, the cutting of Pell Grants, the cutting of monies for scientific research for the center of disease control, and more importantly for education of millions in our society.  This is the biggest gain for superstitution in our society that has ever taken place through the election of a slew of Republican congresspersons propelled forward by the Koch-funded Tea Party movement. 

There is not one issue in America today that is directly affected by lack of campaign finance reform and United Decisions.  There will be no progress on any issue, and in particular science, and the fight against superstition, until this issue is addressed.

As we speak, the defense budget continues at its obscene level while thousands of layoff notices have been sent to teachers throughout the nation.  This is due to the political priorities of the Republicans AND Blue Dog Democrats who gain most of their monies from the corporate sector through the United Citizens decision.

To deny this link, is in fact, to deny science.  CFI attempts to apply science in hypothetical and pure and limited realms of nature and the universe divorced from society and it’s application to the the social and political process.  But science applies everywhere and is used particularly in politics where it governs the statistics, polls and computer machinery that counts the votes.  It’s used in the production of TV ads to sway people’s emotions and in the framing of issues. The political process is honed by the application of political techniques honed by science.  It goes way beyond evolution and butterflies to how society develops and is governed and educated.  And eliminating education and scientific research and the elevation of superstitution is directly linked to the political process. Whether it’s the debate on evolution or global warming, this debate and discussion does not take place at an abstract level or in a political vaccum.  Perhaps CFI needs to go through some profound soul searching on how it can be a more effective organization and influence the process at its political roots by applying some “science” to its analysis of how best to counter superstitution and promote scientific inquiry.

#60 Val Esman (Guest) on Friday February 18, 2011 at 7:08pm

@ Ophelia.  Christians have been opposed to abortion for a long time.  But it was under the Republican Reagan administration that they gained ascendancy into the political process through Jerry Falwell’s support of Ronald Reagan in the political process.  They are a strong, organized political constiuency.  Belief in God has nothing to do with it.  It’s the power of those who wield their belief in God and opposition to the political process which is now dominated almost exclusively by corporate monies.  And this is how they impose both their religious and political views on others.  Until we reform and change our political system, they will be imposing more than just their religious beliefs on abortion.  Because today the Republicans in the House not only killed Planned Parenthood’s funding for abortion, but the work they do to provide testing for women’s cancer, for HIV, for contraception, and other healthcare needs that Planned Parenthood provides. And this same Republicans in Congress who are philosphically opposed to abortion are contemplating cuts to the Center for Disease Control which conducts much medical/scientific research in our country.  They wouldn’t be able to do this without the wealthy corporate elite the Koch Brothers funding the Tea Party and their political campaigns which enabled them to get into Congress and implement their religious and political views on the rest of us.

#61 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 4:54pm

Note this, folks, “New Atheists”, a phrase I’m constantly scolded for using, despite its being used over and over again by new atheists. 

You left out the possibility that the new atheists are about as brave as a hoard of frat boys roaming around a campus in a pack.

Val, you seriously think belief in “God” has nothing to do with the fact that many women can’t get an abortion in the US? Really?  Ophelia Benson

You should look up the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.  There are probably more Christians who support free choice than there are declared atheists.  I’m absolutely confident that there are more Christians who are in favor of freedom of choice than new atheists.

“Belief in God” is not a reliable predictor of opposition to women having free choice.  If it was, abortion wouldn’t be legal in the United States.

#62 Kevin J Dail (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 6:30pm

Anthony

I seriously challenge your statistics. You seriously think that a belief in god has nothing to do with the the insane fight against abortion? Really? Then you are blind and ignorant. Let’s see some proof of your wild claims, some numbers please.

#63 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 8:31pm

Kevin, what I said is that there were more supporters of a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion in the United States who believe in God than there are new atheists. If there weren’t, the law allowing safe abortion would be impossible to retain.  New atheists don’t comprise 26% of the population of the United States.  I’ve never seen any statistics that show numbers close to 20% for all atheists in the United States and I doubt new atheists reach even 5%, most of the atheists and virtually all of the agnostics I know aren’t thrilled to be mistaken for them.  Are you claiming that isn’t the case?  With the figures I’ve seen for all who don’t believe in God, 6% from Gallup and 9% from the BBC, there isn’t any way for the numbers to stack up for you.

I’m always so interested in the logic and math erudition of the new atheists.  But, then, it was the old CSICOP excuse, “I don’t know anything about statistics”, Dennis Rawlings, a pretty obnoxious atheist and a founding member of it, himself, was the one who pointed that out.

#64 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 9:05pm

“probably more Christians who support free choice than there are declared atheists”

Excuse me, I misread your statement. However, that statistic alone is meaningless. Of course there are more christians than atheists. What does that have to do with your argument?

“Belief in God” is not a reliable predictor of opposition to women having free choice.”
I challenge that one. Prove it.

As for all this blather about “new” atheists, this is all semantics. One is either an atheist or not. If they happen to be aggressive about it, they always get some kind of label. If the theists are offended by them, too damn bad. They have offended the intelligence of humanity for too long.

None of this is important. What is important is eradicating the virus called religion. We must defeat willful ignorance for the health of the human race. It is time to grow out of pre-civilized fairy stories.

#65 Val Esman (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 9:33pm

Kevin, some of us happen to think that religion is not the virus, that it’s only a parasite that travels along in the host body.  As the famous Karl Marx once wrote, “religion is the opiate of the people”.  It’s a tool like sports and other distractions that those in power use to divert and confuse people from the true issues which confront us in this country—like lack of political power, the erosion of our democracy, and global warming, which the Republican deniers also deny.  IMO, soon these issues will become so paramount that religion won’t even be a factor.  Don’t believe me?  Watch “The Age of Stupid” available on Netflix.  It has nothing to do with religion which has existed for centuries—it has to do with oil, one of the biggest factors behind war and global warming in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

You see, George W. Bush might have been a born again Christian, but he was an oil man first and foremost.

#66 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 9:58pm

I have to agree that the plutocrats are taking over the country and I protest about that as well. That does not mean that protesting this kind of ignorance is waste of time. We can’t give up any of our defiance of religion just because we have other fish to fry as well.

As for Bush, his religious views supported him in his plutocratic dreams of empire.

#67 Val Esman (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 10:22pm

@Kevin, empire has been Bush’s family background from his great grandfather Prescott who did business with the Third Reich until ordered not to by the government of this country.  And it’s the Saudi’s who have backed the Bush family forture these past decades.  Failed family businesses like Bush’s Harkin Energy.  He repaid them by flying 47 members of the royal Saudi family out of US after 9/11 so they could not be questioned about another royal family member, Osama bin laden.

#68 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 10:50pm

Okay, I get it. You seem to have said your piece. It is valid, however, this discussion was not about your politics. You have dismissed our discussion as unimportant.

I believe you need to address this topic or move on:)

#69 Val Esman (Guest) on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 11:35pm

@ Kevin, I plead guilty.  The new aethists will be brave only when they stand up for their views by marching in the streets just like the religious crowd does rather than engaging in genteel “campus debates” as someone else said. But I think ya’ll prefer respectability too much over fighting for your views by demonstrating in the streets like the workers in Wisconsin. 

But some folks would have everyone believe being an aethist and debating with religious people down South is the most courageous thing on earth a person can do. I say the Freedom Marchers who went down South and got arrested and shot at and killed standing up for civil rights were braver. And that they were the courageous ones because they put their values into practice.

And that’s what the Christian Right does.  And yes, they are far more aggressive and courageous and serious.  And that’s why they are winning. 

I’ll stop here now. No use making things relevant.  It’s obvious this organization likes to divert people into safer, cooler, nicer smelling areas like the philosphical realm.

#70 Michael De Dora on Saturday February 19, 2011 at 11:57pm

Perhaps “brave” was a poor word choice. But I’m enjoying this discussion.

#71 Val Esman (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 12:20am

Michael, what’s interesting to me tonite is how many comments I’m reading about the worker protest in Madison on my favorite newspaper site and how many against the striking workers on the blog I’m reading are invoking religious terms and “God” into their arguments.  In the article I just read they said there was even someone with a sign between the demonstrating groups that stated “I pray we can just all get along”.

What I’d like to see is a group of secular humanist out there too saying I hope we can all just get along and God has nothing to do with this!  And that God didn’t bus in the opposition today.  ( I read the Koch Brothers paid for the bus of Tea Partiers).

What I’m trying to say is that there is a class divide in this whole religious issue too.  When you look at the religious documentaries, whether it’s black folks or white folks, it’s obvious that religion and depending on God HAS become very important in America today for regular working class people.  That without their belief in God that they have a hard time hanging on through hard times.  There is no denying that and even I wouldn’t try. Even when it comes to drug or alcohol rehabilitation, it’s all the 12 step religious program.  There is a bible rehab facility a few blocks from where I live in a residential neighborhood that rehabs people of all colors.  Again, this is another area the secular humanists could move into.

My point is secular humanists or aethists got “to do” and be in all the places where the religious people in this country are at too and on all the blogs commenting where they are on.

#72 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 1:04am

@all on uncivility:

Sure, go to PZ’s website. Many of the “Pharyngulacs” treat him like a guru, or a Rush-type dittomaster. And atheists who object to the NewAthiest party line, such as pointing out how PZ, Sam Harris and Vic Stenger, among others, engage in scientism, get attacked.

#73 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 4:01am

Val, I basically agree with you but I tire of your snide innuendos. I never even heard of a “New Atheist” before I read this article.

I do my best to be active in all areas that are important to me.

“There is no denying that and even I wouldn’t try.”

Then you have given up a useful approach to fulfilling your goals.

#74 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 5:29am

Kevin, you do realize that Michael De Dora’s post begins with the words “The New Atheists”, you did notice that, didn’t you.  Though I’m prepared to believe you didn’t.  I use the term because a lot of the atheists I know don’t want to be associated with the new atheists.  It’s a courtesy to non-fundamentalist atheists that I acknowledge not all atheists are bigots and hypocrites.

—Excuse me, I misread your statement. However, that statistic alone is meaningless. Of course there are more christians than atheists. What does that have to do with your argument?  Kevin Dail

Here we see one of the common tactics of the new atheists and pseudo-skeptics when confronted with irrefutable refutation, they declare it “meaningless”, though anyone who was interested in meaning instead of polemics would see that the refutation meant that the NA, the ever frenzied Ophelia Benson, in this case, is spouting nonsense.

—“Belief in God” is not a reliable predictor of opposition to women having free choice.”
I challenge that one. Prove it.  Kevin Dail

If there are more Christians who support womens’ right to control her body than there are atheists - who don’t uniformly support a woman’s right to choose, Nat Hentoff, for example, that fact alone proves that merely because someone believes in God doesn’t tell you anything about their position on having abortion being a safe, legal choice. 

Kevin, I’m not surprised that a new atheist is unable to navigate that simple an argument in refutation of an article of their faith, new atheists operate at a level of intellectual activity common to fundamentalists of all kind.

#75 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 5:37am

Val, comparing the new atheists to black people who were living under American apartheid is an obscene stretch.  Especially due to the FACT that the Civil Rights Act,  passed largely through the efforts of such groups as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, COVERS ATHEISTS.  Atheists have been a covered group under federal law since the mid-60s, they are hardly an oppressed minority in the way that GLBT folks are today.  Which is why there will NEVER be an organized movement of atheists agitating for their rights, which they’ve got due to the hard work of other people now.

I expect someone to pull out the “Americas won’t make an atheist president” stuff.  Well, they’re not about to elect a Hindu, a Jain, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, a Pagan, a vegetarian, or an openly GLBT person either.  I don’t think they’re going to elect a genuine follower of Jesus either, though they’ve elected a host of dedicated Mammonists, who can’t serve God due to their preferred deity.

#76 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 7:53am

You don’t read very well. I said that before I read the article above “The New Atheists: Aggressive or Brave?”, I had never heard the term before. You have twisted that to mean something else. Believe what you want, you obviously will anyway:)

You are a very poor reader. The statistic was meaningless in light of the discussion, which you had already twisted in circles.

You are appear dense. “there are more Christians who support a woman’s right to control her body than there are atheists support it” has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a christian is in favor of abortion or not, and therefore a predictor.

But none of that is germane to the discussion at hand. If being an aggressive atheist is a being a “New Atheist”, then I am one. If that offends ANY of you, then you can sit and spin:)

#77 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 8:02am

Oh, and let me add, you are pretty offensive yourself, are you a theist in disguise? You don’t sound like any kind of atheist to me.

#78 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 9:30am

Kevin, I guess you’re a complete neophyte in matters atheistic on the blogs if you’ve never encountered “new atheist” before.  Though I’m skeptical that you’re being honest about that. 

—- “there are more Christians who support a woman’s right to control her body than there are atheists support it” has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a christian is in favor of abortion or not, and therefore a predictor.  KD


So many points, some ironic, that could be made, so little time.  Kevin, young chum, no matter how important you would think it was, no matter how much stock you put in “predicting” if someone held either position on abortion, the fact is that their religious belief is not a reliable factor in allowing you to make that speculation.  A person who favors womens’ right to make that decision for herself, holds that position.  It is a fact that most of the people in the United States who favor a woman’s right to choose believe in God, most of them Christians.  That is a plain, hard fact, no matter how much you don’t like it. 

In a likely futile attempt to make you understand, let’s try it the other way round.  Consider the set of all citizens of the U. S. who are pro-choice. You take a person who is in the universe of all U. S. citizens who favor a woman’s right to choose to have a safe, legal abortion.  You try to guess whether or not that person is an atheist. Your chances of correctly guessing that that person is a Christian is far higher than it would be if you guessed that they are a professed atheist.  If you went through every member of that set and guessed, every time, that they are Christians, you would have far more correct guesses than you would if you guessed that all of them were atheists.  But for the ones you were wrong about would not depend on statistics or your decision of how to guess.  The two variables are not absolutely related. 

You could also take the universe of all atheists in the U. S. and make a guess that they all supported free choice on abortion and you’d not have 100% success. 

As to my tone, I don’t let new atheists hold me to a standard of behavior that they exempt themselves from, I won’t allow them to subject me to a double standard that favors them.

#79 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 10:20am

Yes, I am new to the blogs. However, I am probably older than you are:)

So you are a theist. No wonder you don’t like the new atheists, or any atheists at all I imagine.

You would seem to be a christian troll. So I will say, you are a willfully ignorant fool, and not worth much of an effort at all:)

#80 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 11:40am

Kevin, if you’ve managed to avoid the phrase “new atheist” in print for the past five years, you can’t read much.

As for me being “a willfully ignorant fool”.  Well, I can understand that fraction of 6-9% of the population which constitutes the new atheism, willfully and on the basis of ignorance and stereotypes antagonizing the large majority of the population is volunteering to be of increasingly marginal influence in a democracy.  I am not distraught to be called an ignorant fool by someone who believes the new atheist program is a bright idea. 

I don’t happen to be a Christian.  I like some atheists I know, I don’t especially like any of the new atheists I’ve encountered.  That’s something I share with a lot of atheists, as I mentioned earlier.

#81 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 12:09pm

You are pedantic and pretentious. I can see that no-one can ever defeat your sense of superiority over anyone who might dare to think you could ever be wrong.

Sorry, oh great and powerful asshole, but you bore me. Talk to yourself so you can be sure to win your argument, I am through wasting my time on you. I am sure you will see this as a victory, but you clearly live in your own world. You sure act like a believer… in your own self-importance;)

I’m sorry Michael, but there is no-one left to discuss this with. Thank you for an interesting piece of reading. I hope to see more of your stuff in the future:)

#82 Val Esman (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 12:56pm

@ Anthony.  I wasn’t comparing the New Aethists to those who marched down South for civil rights.  What I was stating was that I felt that was my definition of courage and that the new aethists are not “courageous”.

In my book the new aethists are different from the old ones in that they are more interested in their own comfort and in debating forums than they are in seeing secular visions implemented in the real world.  They are the newly converted who want to run around confronting everyone else’s belief systems.  I don’t happen to believe you can confront people’s belief systems, particularly religious folks belief systems because they come from a deep emotional place and need.

Also, I feel there is a class divide in all of this.  The new aethists just want to feel personally comfortable with their beliefs.  They are not trying to hang on for dear life like many working class people for whom their religion helps them make it through they day or week.  For the new aethists their belief systems are just a matter of personal comfort in a religious world.  For the old aethists, I believe we tend to be more tolerant in our views and are not interested in prosletizing people to conform to our belief systems.  I also happen to believe that the old aethists are more political and the new aethists are not.  Some of us are activists who have worked with progressive religious people in our political lives and still do.  Religion is not something we want to spend time splitting hairs on.  And that’s what all these debates are—needless and useless splitting of hairs for the most part, IMO.

#83 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 1:15pm

Val,

I think you are making huge jumps of faith when you make such a general statement.

I guess I would say, in general, that the old atheists (I have been an atheist for 55 years so “newly converted” is a joke to me) like you, grew up with the stigma of atheism, the general notion that being any kind of atheist is wrong and offensive. So you have been very nice when you argue against religion. It has made you seem so weak and ignorable to the theists.

This is has nothing to do with my “personal comfort”. I think it is time to teach the truth about religion… even if it offends someone! The world is mired in religious ignorance. This is not splitting hairs. This is a fact. I am glad you have been active etc., but your assumptions about the “New Atheists” do not seem to be based on fact, but just your opinion.

And all atheists are “courageous”, because they are entirely outnumbered by the enemy; ignorance.

#84 Val Esman (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 1:33pm

Kevin, I have a different idea than you of whom and what constitutes the “enemy”.  Because I find that new aethists are ignorant too in their own way.  Ignorant and often arrogant of what it is they don’t know.  My comments are not directed towards yourself personally.  And yes, they are based on my interactions with new aethists.  That is all I can go by.  And see of these new aethists, recent converts, bring all the baggage and class politics of their Christian backgrounds and upbringing.  To them aethism is really just an intellectual position and that’s it.  The only ignorance they are really interested in challenging in the world is an ignorance of science and revolution—not an ignorance of the larger forces in our lives which are creating the ignorance by the tons.  And yes, that goes to my politics.  Because there is no way I can see that a person can divorce religion from politics when the right and Plutocrats have made common cause with the Christian Right in their agenda to destroy all that is good and reasonable in our society.

And as long as persons like yourself speak of ignorance in general and as being solely derived from religion and ignore the larger picture, IMO you are tilting at windmills as I’ve stated previously.

When I was young and growing up in a Catholic town I couldn’t tell my classmates I was an aethist either.  That’s life.  I grew up and moved away and ended up in another religious town—Oakland California that was progressive and liberal, but still very religious and suffocating intellectually.  And believe me, you CANNOT question the god belief of many people.  Nor the power of the leaders of the God people.  Politics and religion have become intertwined in our society.

#85 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 1:54pm

You are pedantic and pretentious. I can see that no-one can ever defeat your sense of superiority over anyone who might dare to think you could ever be wrong.
Kevin Dail

Since the math I used hardly reaches what I’d think was 7th grade level, I wonder what would happen if someone really went after your inconsistencies. I guess to you “pedantic” means “hard”, as in that favorite whine of college Freshmen, “But that’s haaarrrrd” when they get their first serious reading assignment. 

Good Lord, I guess it’s just as well we didn’t get into anything that was difficult.

As to pretentious, I made reasoned arguments on the basis of numbers.  There was nothing pretend about it.

Val, the new atheists are a lower middle-brow clique who aren’t especially good with evidence or logical consistency.  That it took hold just as literacy and critical thinking are plummeting probably isn’t surprising.  Most of the ones I’ve interacted in think they’re masters of logic on the basis of reading Carl Sagan, philosophy from reading Dennett, Western history from Dawkins and poly sci from Hitchens.  Most of them think Douglas Adams is a font of wisdom instead of a one-trick pony whose family has been endlessly redoing his one claim to fame.

#86 Kevin Dail (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 1:55pm

“And as long as persons like yourself speak of ignorance in general and as being solely derived from religion and ignore the larger picture, IMO you are tilting at windmills as I’ve stated previously.”

Nowhere did I ever state this; you are jumping to another unfounded conclusion. There are too many reasons for ignorance to count. That does not mean that I should not attack religion as one of the major sources of ignorance, and willful ignorance, on this planet.

“Politics and religion have become intertwined in our society. ” And therefore it is vital that we try and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. You sound as if you are just giving up. And it sounds as if we really agree upon the enemies, just differ on how to approach them.

“And believe me, you CANNOT question the god belief of many people.”
Oh yes you can. The fact that they are too willfully ignorant to learn better, does not mean we don’t have to fight them, tooth and nail, for our freedoms.

#87 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Sunday February 20, 2011 at 2:36pm

The only thing to be done about religion informing peoples’ political decisions when they vote is to encourage religions that value a free, secular government that ensures equal rights and informed choice.  If you don’t do that, you might as well forget it because people aren’t giving up their core religious belief. 

“fight them, tooth and nail, for our freedoms.

Well, as I said on another of the CFI blogs yesterday, atheists are a covered class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, overwhelmingly due to the fact that religious people included them.  So atheists already have the freedoms that are covered in that.  GLBT folks, for example, aren’t so covered.  You’d never guess it from the whining and pouting new atheists that’s the case.  Though I’m prepared to believe that most of them never heard of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so it could just be ignorance.

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