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Chris Hedges - I Don’t Believe in Atheists (merged)
Posted: 11 July 2008 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 421 ]
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qwistrod - 11 July 2008 12:11 PM

It seems to me that the arguments against the New Atheists are designed to induce paralysis and inaction.

I totally agree, qwistrod.  It seems to me that Hedges is engaged in an attempt to frame atheists as dangerous fundamentalists, just as conservative talk-show hosts try to frame liberals as “environmentalist whackos,” “femanazis,” and “tax-and-spenders.”  Essentially it boils down to ad hominem; but it is strategic in the way that language is used to manipulate the way people think without having to engage substantive reasons—a short-cut to thought. 

If you listen to Hedges positive proposals, it sounds like he advocates a form of moral relativism.  That view, I think, is one that leads to the sort of “paralysis and inaction” that you mention.

Dacey’s interviews as well as his recent book are informative here.  Dacey suggests that the atheist/secularist movement has been handcuffed (in part by itself) by a sort of political correctness run amok—creating a taboo on critiquing one another’s reasons regarding religious and spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) and their consequences.  It seems to me that Hedges is playing up this taboo.  Suggesting things like: “How dare you atheists try to tell others how to live.”  “It’s not the religious factor that plays the role in violent actions—it’s simply human nature.”  “It’s a dangerous utopian fantasy to think that combating irrational faith traditions will lead to a more peaceful society.”

Hogwash!  The atheist/secularist moral philosophy is simple.  It is a form of humanism: placing value on the here-and-now rather than the here-after.  It seems to me that the only form of moral belief that could possibly justify stoning an adulterer to death is one that is the reverse of humanism, one that places more value on the next life than on this life here and now.  Hedges totally misses this point, or he dishonestly attempts to muddy it by taking some of the most extreme comments by “new atheists” out of context and attempting to stoke fear with them.  In essence though, he is just justifying the status quo—a state of the world which permits inhuman atrocities in the name of a god.  For shame!

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Posted: 12 July 2008 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 422 ]
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That is an excellent point, qwistrod. I was confused about why “new” atheists were fighting religion until I got to the last part of The God Delusion. People say that many religious wars are not based on religion (which is sometimes true). But it is the religious labels that are used in these wars to decide who lives and dies.

BTW, PN - I see a cross in the middle of your avatar.  cool smile

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Posted: 12 July 2008 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 423 ]
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traveler - 12 July 2008 05:41 AM

BTW, PN - I see a cross in the middle of your avatar.  cool smile

ohh Great!  Thanks!  That ruins it for me.  Now I’ve got to change my avatar.

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Posted: 13 July 2008 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 424 ]
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I am an anti-theist: I hope that religion goes into the garbage can of history in a few centuries. It is the rationalist fallacy to suppose that with better education ,others would give up that and other superstitions: people use education to further their superstitions. I go further as a rationalist/naturalist in opposing the paranormal. I oppose religion as I support the truth [ provisional] as my chief goal but I also oppose it when others use it to harm others.
In my   posts and threads here and else where , I attempt to give philosophical arguments against natural theology. Some theists allege that why do that as they ignore natural theology in their faith, so such attempts are for naught; however, philosopers put forth new ways of the old arguments and some new arguments to justify natural theology and readers buy their books.
  Hedges is one of those sillly people who think that his religion is the Golden Mean between atheism and fundamentalism. Quite silly! We new atheists use reason ,not faith, for our arguments and we do not want to use the power of the state to infringe on liberty as so many fundamentalists do.
  Where is the beef for Hedges’s faith?  None, as all religion rests on faith, the we just say so of credulity! Science is acquired knowledge while , as the great naturallist Sydney Hook, points out, religion begs the question of being knowledge.
  Hedges, haughty John Haught and Alister McGrath are so shallow and on the level of Pat Robertson in their thinking!

[ Edited: 13 July 2008 06:12 AM by Carneades [ lord griggs1947] ]
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Posted: 13 July 2008 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 425 ]
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Pragmatic Naturalist - 12 July 2008 11:09 AM
traveler - 12 July 2008 05:41 AM

BTW, PN - I see a cross in the middle of your avatar.  cool smile

ohh Great!  Thanks!  That ruins it for me.  Now I’ve got to change my avatar.

Sorry about that! I do like your new avatar!

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Posted: 16 July 2008 02:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 426 ]
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On the other hand while reading reviews of ‘The Trouble with Atheism’ argument, I came across this argument. 

If you argue against religion, then it creates a vaccuum for possibly much worse ideologies.  So it is a case of better the devil you know. 

The solution might be to argue that faith should be restricted to the private sphere and that decisions in the public sphere should not be based on faith.  Hence executions based on ‘God’s law’ would not be justified. 

But then parents could still tell their children that if they do not become Christians they will burn in hell forever.  So what about arguing that faith (and irrationality) should not be used to justify causing unnecessary suffering.

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Posted: 16 July 2008 05:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 427 ]
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qwistrod - 16 July 2008 02:48 AM

But then parents could still tell their children that if they do not become Christians they will burn in hell forever.  So what about arguing that faith (and irrationality) should not be used to justify causing unnecessary suffering.

That would be great, but theistic religion is based on burning in hell if you don’t do what I say. I’d like to see more concrete, definable measures. Allowing churches to thrive tax-free seems stupid. If a church has a charity function, then that function should be tax free and monitored like any other charitable organization - otherwise, they are a for profit organization!

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Posted: 17 July 2008 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 428 ]
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Of course this is the false choice of “faith-based” support by the government. “Oh we are just supporting their secular aims, not their religious ones” Except the moneys that would go to these secular causes from the religious side are now available to provide more religious support.

Unfortunately, this clause in the constitution is no longer true if you put “test” in quotes.
“...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”

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Posted: 28 July 2008 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 429 ]
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Hello.  I am Kenneth.  As I did not hear any argument re Hedges, I cannot quote from it.  However, I would like to make an observation about your own post.  This is the way I see the history of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions.  In the days of my youth when I was forced to read the Old Testament, I considered then, and I am still of the sme opinion, that it was nothing more than a war chronicle to inspire a nomadic people to rob; rape and murder their way across a continent, in the belief that some ruthless god was the Commanding Officer and they did as commanded or they too, could be penalised.  To my mind, the Bible is a ruthless document which has inspired much cruelty and murder—-and still does.

Then along came the myth of Christianity which was a concoction of stories from many pre-existing myths—-Jewish and Pagan.  The Old Testament had to be revered, even though it was only applicable to a foreign group of nomads, the Israeli tribes—-because the Christian farce was entirely dependent on a the mythical god producing a Messia for Isral.  The Jesus farce is born.  So Christianity had a ready made excuse to produce that Messia.  A little later, Islam came onto the scene, and that too, was modelled on The Old Testament, so the ruhless god of the Israel tribes, found its way into Islam, so it might appear.  I assume the latter from what people say, as I have never read their holy book.  I have only read the Old and New Testaments (under duress), and there is no doubt about the type of character that god portrays.

I believe we can assume, that the Old Testament has produced a very arrogant attitude in people who readily use the excuse of their Biblical God, to plunder any source they wish.  Of the three religions that were spawned by the Old Testament, I see Islam being the least warlike.  We must also remember that Christianity brought progress to a halt, whereby Islam brought a wide variety of enlightenment to the West.  History also shows that Islam was far more tolerant of other religions in the lands they ruled. 

How do we fit suicide bombers into this picture?  Before answering that question, I would appreciate your answer to this question.  Are you against Islam because you perceive them as lawless killers—-more so than the Christian or Israli groups, or is it because you believe they are inspired to commit suicide and western soldiers are not?  I would also ask you to consider that we cannot judge Islam by any fanatics that exist, as they too, are to be found in every religion and political group.  Thank you.  Kenneth.

Summer Seale - 03 May 2008 02:00 AM

First time poster, just to retaliate against Hedges. =)

What a pompous ass.

I have seen him debate Hitchens (I happen to agree with Hitchens - as an Atheist), and this is my fanatical take on it: he’s an apologist for terrorists. There’s no other way around it. He has covered those areas and has insight into their culture and has, unfortunately, gone completely native.

He’s also an idiot. 95% of suicide bombers are inspired by the Koran. I know the Tamil Tigers are also suicide bombers, but they are an exception to the rule. Most of suicide bombers are Muslim. Despair, poverty, occupation, war, lack of food and education do not make a suicide bomber. If that were so, the Congo would have more suicide bombers in the world per capita than anywhere else.

No, what makes a suicide bomber are the justifications in the Koran and Hadiths. That’s why there are no Shaheedi in the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tibet, or pretty much anywhere else outside of the Muslim world. His stance is completely moronic.

I’m not saying the Koran is the only book which has inspired it, but it’s the best known for a bloody good reason. Hedges is a fool and an apologist for the other side. He apologizes for the worst atrocities perpetrated by the terrorists and it is clear why in his statements: he thinks they have good reasons for it. Well, they don’t.

He thinks the West is Imperialist. Fine. We’re just as “Imperialist” as the other side. He’s chosen his side, I’ve chosen mine. He makes it utterly clear in this interview and his other writings exactly which side he is on.

I hope he reads this: Chris Hedges, you’re an utter tool. You say you hate Islamic extremism, but you go down on all fours for them. You pimp your brand of “moderation” and “understanding” for the worst dregs of humanity. I hate people like you. You’re the sort who call Hirsi Ayaan Ali a “fundamentalist” and mean it. You hem and haw when you’re asked about the left, and you never answer the question. It’s painfully obvious why you don’t answer the question: because you can’t answer the question. There’s a damned good reason that question was asked about why the neocons are the ones sheltering her - because the neocons, by and large with few exceptions, have been the ones to stand up for secular liberalism abroad. If it were for the likes of you, Hirsi would be dead, you’d point your finger and say “she did it to herself”, and for that I can’t help but virtually spit in your face.

Yeah, I’m an atheist, I’m a feminist, I’m a war hawk, and I will always defend these values to the death. Does that make me a fundamentalist? Well at least, unlike your friends, I’m not going to blow myself up in a cafeteria to justify my claims under any circumstances.

So take your righteous, pallid, subservient, tepid god to Allah and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. It’s the place that stinks as much as your apologetics in the face of Islamic atrocity.

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Posted: 29 July 2008 12:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 430 ]
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qwistrod - 11 July 2008 12:11 PM

A very logical post—-nice to see.  However, I would make the following observations.

I am not sure what Hedges means by “New Atheist”.  It implies that a a group, or organiation exists, to which an atheist belongs.  I know of no such organisation.  I am atheist—-I reject the notion of gods or supernatural entities.  I do not need to join a Club, to reinforce my views.  I am of the opinion that the reason so many atheists have become so vocal is, that extremist Christians have challenged the right of people to have no belief in their mythical gods and it has been seen a necessity to stop their overbearing attitudes.  If we did not make a stand against their weird ideas, they would return to imdoctrinating young minds again with the terrible consequeces of closed minds being available for the use by any unscrupulous person who may wish to take advantage of a naive mind.

Religion is not the cause of wars.  However, some religions, Christianity primarily, requires that their odd beliefs are propagated through missionaries.  Where this has been resisted, rightly so, war has erupted.  Christian societies have never baulked at spilling blood, in order to force their ideas on other people, and, of course, avail ourselves of the mineral wealth of the conquered countries, which, no doubt, they justify (per the Bible) that their God gave them the right to do so.

No rational person can condone the stoning of a woman, nor the severing of limbs.  Neither can we condone the incineration of innocent families or whole communities by Napalm or phosphor bombs—-but the Christian nations have been doing it ever since the end of WW2, under one pretext or another.  Some have even suggested that modern bombs be used to wipe out civilisations, in order to persue their ambitions.  We are also aware that over-population is contributing to the early demise of civilisation, as we currently know it.  Is there any rationale behind a religion that forbids its followers to use methods to reduce populations?  This ban has also led to the horribl slow deaths of numerous people through HIV/AIDS, but this does not stop the stupid ban.  Is that any more logical than stoning a person?  Let us not forget the utter cruelty of cutting the throat of a concious animal, as required by certain religious laws—-Jerwish Kosher meat and the meat for a Muslim, all in the name of religious beliefs.  Can we condone the killing of any animal just to satisfy our lust for carrion?  Kenneth.

 


One point that Chris Hedges makes is that the New Atheists put themselves on a higher moral plane when they criticise religion.  He says that religion is not the cause of evil.  Rather it is human nature that is the cause of evil and even if religion were vanquished the evil would very likely remain.  Finally he adds that secular rationalists are just as capable of evil.  Moreover the idea that you can eliminate evil by vanquishing religion is a utopian vision which combined with the use of violence is dangerous. 

Now consider an example of evil that I would like to prevent: the stoning of a woman for adultery.  The way I might go about it is to try and persuade those who want to stone a woman for adultery not to do so.  But when I do this the response I get is that the action is justified by God and they know this by their faith.  So then I target the idea of faith.  I try to promote the idea that it is not a good idea to rely on faith, because otherwise you could justify all kinds of evil such as the stoning of this woman.  But then I am campaigning against faith and therefore religion which according to Hedges is a Utopian vision and is basically a no no.  It is especially dangerous if I use violence to campaign against faith, although that is not my personal position.  Rather I would seek to persuade that faith is not a good idea.  But this still seems to be not the done thing.  So it seems to me we can never persuade people not to commit evil actions.  They can always bring up an excuse related to faith.  They could say: my religion tells me this is right and I have faith in my religion.  Now it may be that if we manage to persuade people that faith is not a good idea, people would still commit evil.  Then they would come up with a different excuse.  But then we would cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now the excuse that we are dealing with is faith. 

At the end of the interview D J Grothe asks what Hedges would advise atheists to do to create a better world.  The response seemed to be that atheists should be self-critical and look at preventing themselves from committing evil actions.  Yes this could be done.  But is it the only thing that could be done?  After all, if we follow Hedge’s advice, this woman I am talking about is going to die a cruel death.  Can’t we do anything to prevent that?  Moreover it seems to me that atheists like me do not particularly want to be seen to be on a high moral plane.  We just want things like for example this woman not to be stoned to death.  So if we must respect people’s faith how can we campaign against the violation of human rights that is said to be justified by faith?  It seems to me that the arguments against the New Atheists are designed to induce paralysis and inaction.

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Posted: 02 August 2008 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 431 ]
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Hi Kenneth

I think the term ‘New Atheists’ refers to atheists who have recently published books that are outspokenly vocal against religion starting with Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ and including Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett.  It does not refer to any organisation.

You mentioned further problems associated with religion such as discouraging birth control to keep the population down and I do find such things just as irrational and immoral as stoning a woman.  The rituals associated with making meat halal seem unnecessary cruelty to animals.  My point is that it is easy enough to argue against secular evils such as police torture or battery hens but religious evils seem to be protected by faith.  For example, to argue against the halal rituals or the Catholic birth control ban, one comes up against the response that God says these things are right and this is a matter of faith.  And you are not supposed to argue someone out of their faith.  So thus people of faith cannot be persuaded to give up their beliefs and hence activities relating for instance to halal rituals or birth control bans. 

Chris Hedges does not believe in the idea of moral progress but I think that holding such a position could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If people take such a position then they are not motivated to try and encourage moral progress.  But I am not sure how we can encourage moral progress in religious matters if we are not allowed to criticise the idea of faith.

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Posted: 16 August 2008 01:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 432 ]
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Summer Seale - 03 May 2008 04:39 AM

Oh yea, and one more thing:

Hedges really showed he’s a complete idiot when he claimed several times that being against Islam is “racist”. Islam isn’t a frigging race. It’s a religion. It’s an ideology. This has nothing to do with racism. This isn’t like saying somebody is against Jews, as Jews are regarded, by and large, as a people. Muslims aren’t “a people”. Anyone who says that being against Islam is “racist” is a total and complete moron and should be taken to task.

So, Hedges: you’re a moron for that too. Honestly, I’d love to spit in your face, only I wouldn’t want to dirty my spit.

==================================

Gosh, you sure do like spitting into people’s faces.
You know, you sound just like those fanatics you hate so much.
Bet, if you were in their shoes you’d be acting just like them.


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Posted: 18 August 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 433 ]
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Completely unimpressed with Hedges, from beginning to end of this interview, he was a constant stream of logical fallacy and self contradiction.

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Posted: 18 August 2008 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 434 ]
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traveler - 12 July 2008 05:41 AM

That is an excellent point, qwistrod. I was confused about why “new” atheists were fighting religion until I got to the last part of The God Delusion. People say that many religious wars are not based on religion (which is sometimes true). But it is the religious labels that are used in these wars to decide who lives and dies.

BTW, PN - I see a cross in the middle of your avatar.  cool smile

I think it’s always them and us, what ever the labels happen to be.

I think the aim needs to be an all inclusive we. (don’t know if this is just a pipe dream)

Stephen

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Posted: 23 August 2008 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 435 ]
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I’ve just had the dubious pleasure of listening to DJ interviewing that bumptious Chis Hedges, and I have to say I truly admire DJ’s self-restraint and professionalism.  There were quite a number of times I felt like throwing something at (my own) computer, because of the tosh Hedges was spewing!

His arguments (such as they were) were typical examples of where the left and liberals have gone wrong, and why the field has been left wide open to the so-called neo-cons. 

Hedges kept saying he lived in a Muslism country for seven number of years and he spoke Arabic fluently (and made repeated references to his years of reporting from the ‘war zones’ - no doubt from the safety of some 5-star hotel paid for by NYT).  Anyway, so what?

I was born into a Muslim family, lived in Iran for the first 16 years of my life, and speak Persian fluently…and I still think Chris Hedges is full of sh*t!  Why don’t you just go and live in one of those wonderfully tolerant Muslim countries for the rest of your wretched life?

I hope nobody buys his awful book.

[ Edited: 23 August 2008 09:00 AM by Mehran ]
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