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My CFI dilema
Posted: 20 December 2012 08:44 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi folks.  Somewhere along the line I ended up on the CFI’s mailing list, and despite having made no “Inquiry” into this organization, I haven’t taken myself off the list because I occasionally find the articles very interesting.  But more often than not, I find the vague mission statements about pursuing science, reason and civil rights to veil an undercurrent of strongly anti-religious sentiment.  Now, I’m not a professor of science, nor a candidate for sainthood, but I do identify as a Christian, and also consider myself to be a generally rational person (you will notice my screename is followed by a question mark, lest someone here disagrees).  I like the CFI in theory.  I don’t see anything wrong with inquiry, or fighting for the rights of atheists who are persecuted in direct violation of their constitutional rights.  My understanding of skepticism is that it describes people who question established beliefs, and don’t take what they are spoonfed without a just degree of personal evaluation.  I also understood that secularism was a neutral term describing a society without religious bias of any kind.  When then, did these terms become synonymous with what I call missionary atheism…people who hold steadfastly to a core of fundamental beliefs, and tireless try to influence legislation and win people over to their way of thinking (what is that if not a religion?).  I’ve had just as many people approach me attempting to disprove my belief in God as I have trying to convert me to theistic religions, if not more so.  Every now and then I’ll get an email from the CFI about trying to free a jailed atheist.  That, I can get behind.  But then I’ll receive something announcing the news (with unrestrained glee) that more people in the USA are without religious affiliation than ever before.  I don’t mind if people are without religious affiliation, but I do resent the implication that because I choose to affiliate myself, I cannot be a supporter of inquiry, constitutional rights, and rational thought.  What about enlightenment era Deists, our founding fathers and Sir Isaac Newton, for example, who devoted their lives to pursuing reason while still believing in the existence of God.  And then there are posts elsewhere on this board like “Religion: Is it good for anything?”  I don’t know, let’s ask Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I came very close to having myself removed from the mailing list, but then I thought, “No, I support many of the core goals of the CFI, why not try to engage in a discussion with them.”  I believe that people like me, who believe in God, but also have a healthy understanding of the separation of church and state, etc. have a right to a voice on this forum.  Are there any others like me here, or are you all embittered atheists?  am I in the wrong place?

[ Edited: 20 December 2012 08:50 PM by RationalBeliever? ]
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Posted: 20 December 2012 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hello Rational Believer, you’re not in the wrong place in regards to inquiry, there are some other theists that stop by for debate. Most here are some variety of non-theist, however. 

FWIW, I do agree that there is an anti-religious feeling among many skeptics.

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Posted: 20 December 2012 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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RationalBeliever? - 20 December 2012 08:44 PM

Are there any others like me here, or are you all embittered atheists?  am I in the wrong place?

What’s your definition of an “embittered atheist?”  Me, I’m an atheist who’s just a happy guy.  Not bitter about anything, except maybe the football team here in Detroit.  smile

I like hanging out with my family and my cats.  I do some charity work.  I don’t feel like I need the guiding hand of a god to tell me right from wrong.  My parents did a pretty good job of that.  And, at the end of the day, when I look in the mirror the guy lookin’ back at me is ME.  And I want to feel good about that guy.

Just my take, Chris

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Posted: 20 December 2012 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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To answer your question, I suppose what I mean by an embittered atheist is somebody who feels that traditional religion has hurt him or her so much that they unconsciously over-compensate by leaning too far in the other direction, and start to mirror the very antagonistic and alienating behaviors that drove them away from religion to begin with.  When I start getting emails from the president of an organization that purports to support free discourse and intellectual thought, and the email is basically saying “Good news guys, less people in this country are religious than ever before, but our work isn’t done as long as there are still believers in the world…donate some money to stamp out faith,” it just irks me a little.  I don’t go around trying to convert people to my way of thinking.  I don’t think that I have done anything to personally hurt others.  I’m sure I wouldn’t group you into this category, but I have encountered people (in college for example) who begin to challenge me the second they hear that I have something akin to a Judeo-Christian world view.  It could be something as simple as saying that I believed there was value in prayer, and suddenly somebody would be trying to rope me into a debate, when all I wanted to do was enjoy my dining-hall meatloaf.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I am like you, RationalBeliever, a Christian who greatly values critical thinking and science. And I was asking myself the same questions as you when I joined a couple of weeks ago.

There seem to be two types of secular humanists in this forum. One type seems greatly influenced by the doctrines of New Atheism. They feel vastly superior and they enjoy mocking people who don’t think like they do. They are also incapable of distinguishing between the belief in God and the belief in a tooth fairy. When I joined I was told by one forum user that I am not welcome.

But then there’s the second type who are nice and open-minded people who respect tolerant Christians and enjoy debating with them. They actually take humanism seriously which is about building a better world. I think they are the majority.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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What a load of nonsense, Dan. If you valued critical thinking, you would not be a Christian. BTW, I think you’ve failed to realize that this is a Center for Inquiry, not a Center for Humanism.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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What a load of nonsense, George. If you valued critical thinking, you wouldn’t mock people who don’t think like you do and rather learn to debate. BTW, I think you’ve failed to realize that this is a Center for Inquiry, not a Center for Mocking.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The only thing I’m embittered about is faith being used as a substitute for reason and evidence. Especially when evidence becomes uncomfortable.

I acknowladge that religion can be a source of happiness to people and I wouldn’t want to deny that to anybody. However, the really BIG problem with religion….ANY religion and not just Christianity…is that having accepted a number of propositions as true based on faith alone and without ANY supporting evidence to back up any of it, the believer is really no longer free to evaluate or judge any of those propositions and beliefs by the evidence.

It’s a trap. it may be lined with honey, but it’s still a trap. It may be comforting but the comfort is based on an illusion. It’s not real.

You can have reason or you can have faith, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, you can’t really have both.

As to some atheists being angry, you might want to try reading what Greta Christina has to say about that at http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html

It’s hard not to realize after reading all of that that she has a completely valid point.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dansmith62 - 21 December 2012 09:07 AM

What a load of nonsense, George. If you valued critical thinking, you wouldn’t mock people who don’t think like you do and rather learn to debate. BTW, I think you’ve failed to realize that this is a Center for Inquiry, not a Center for Mocking.

I see no problem in valuing critical thinking and, at the same time, mocking the idea of believing that somebody who has been dead for three days can become alive again. You, OTOH, have to choose. It’s either critical thinking, in which case you would have to accept that Christ couldn’t have become alive after being dead, or it’s Christianity.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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dansmith62 - 21 December 2012 09:07 AM

What a load of nonsense, George. If you valued critical thinking, you wouldn’t mock people who don’t think like you do and rather learn to debate. BTW, I think you’ve failed to realize that this is a Center for Inquiry, not a Center for Mocking.

First of all, I think most embittered atheists wouldn’t be so if the likes of Jerry Falwell had never come to such prominence in the political sphere.  Once Christians try to affect laws that regulate non-Christians all bets are off.  I don’t know about other countries but the christians in the US are the most unChrist-like I can imagine.  Therefore they deserve to be mocked. And my guess is, if Jesus were alive today he’d join the mocking, especially because of all the evil Christians have done and continue to do in his name.

Also, there isn’t this silly equivalence where anything goes under the guise of “being tolerant of all belief systems”. If some group wants to believe it’s ok to kill doctors who don’t agree with their beliefs on womens choice and womens right for example, I think it’s perfectly ok to not be tolerant with such a group.

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Posted: 21 December 2012 10:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Also, there isn’t this silly equivalence where anything goes under the guise of “being tolerant of all belief systems”. If some group wants to believe it’s ok to kill doctors who don’t agree with their beliefs on womens choice and womens right for example, I think it’s perfectly ok to not be tolerant with such a group.

To put it in simpler language, I draw the line at evil.

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Posted: 22 December 2012 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Rationalbeliever,
When then, did these terms become synonymous with what I call missionary atheism…people who hold steadfastly to a core of fundamental beliefs, and tireless try to influence legislation and win people over to their way of thinking (what is that if not a religion?).  I’ve had just as many people approach me attempting to disprove my belief in God as I have trying to convert me to theistic religions, if not more so.

Oh really?  Where are these atheist missions and missionaries?  Where are these (infidels/non-believers)) who are introducing legislation that favors atheism?  You ar looking in the mirror my friend and ascribing theist practices to atheists.

Of course atheists will defend legislation FROM theist influences. We have a special clause in the Constitution to PROTECT people from the “establishment of religion”, which is constantly being eroded by theist introduction of legislation that favors theism.
I don’t give a hoot in what “false god” you believe. IMO they are all false.  But if I speak up it is against people like you who accuse me of being in your face.  As I shall do so now. Not because I want you to be an atheist, but because I don’t like your attitude.

YOU ARE IN MY FACE MAN,  with you false accusations. “Thou shalt not bear false witness”, remember.

[ Edited: 22 December 2012 04:52 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 22 December 2012 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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dansmith62 - 21 December 2012 09:07 AM

What a load of nonsense, George. If you valued critical thinking, you wouldn’t mock people who don’t think like you do and rather learn to debate. BTW, I think you’ve failed to realize that this is a Center for Inquiry, not a Center for Mocking.

So, in other words you want non-theists to accept your Christian meta-physics - despite the fact that these meta-physics crumble under scientific investigation.

And if people don’t accept them, then you’re being mocked? blank stare

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Posted: 22 December 2012 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon,
As to some atheists being angry, you might want to try reading what Greta Christina has to say about that,

And on that point: I get angry when Christians in the United States—members of the single most powerful and influential religious group in the country, in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world—act like beleaguered victims, martyrs being thrown to the lions all over again, whenever anyone criticizes them or they don’t get their way.

http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html

And that pretty well answers the question of the OP.

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Posted: 22 December 2012 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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All that seems to have been accomplished here is that people have put forth some very direct assumptions about what I believe, based on the fact that I used certain buzz worlds like “Christian,” “God,” and “Theism.”  Would anybody care to be just direct enough to tell me exactly what it is I do believe?  I’ll let you know if you’re on the mark or not.  The article from Greta Christina was interesting, but once again, I do not think that I personally am guilty of the things that have angered her and other atheists…and I do identify myself as a believer, in God at least.

And I think certain people on this board should consult their dictionaries as to the definition of inquiry.

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Posted: 22 December 2012 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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In fact, what I’ve encountered here is exactly what I might expect if I logged onto an Evangelical Christian site and posted that I don’t believe that God exists.

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