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The Future of Atheism: Beyond the Question of God
Posted: 06 December 2010 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I’ll repost this later. Too tired to reply just yet.

[ Edited: 06 December 2010 07:49 AM by ExMachina ]
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Posted: 06 December 2010 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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ya lets do

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Posted: 06 December 2010 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Bruce Gorton - 06 December 2010 07:20 AM

On the original topic:

There is no future of atheism beyond the question of God, and nor should there be. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods, so once that’s settled the issue goes the way of all victorious civil rights movements - irrelevance.

If only it would be that simple.  The success of any hegemony is the fact that it rules by fear where even the most mundane behavior may be forbidden and punishable in the name of State, Royalty, God, Hell.
Atheism does not provide for such “guidance”, other than secular law and a humanist approach to one’s environment. Unfortunately, there is no Book to which all can refer for “guidance”. How do we replace Scripture as a basic teaching tool? A comprehensive Book of Humanist Values seems necessary to replace the good ole Bible. The problem is that people believe religion is a good thing, not a dangerous practice that lends itself to abuse and Holy wars.
I realize that Atheism itself is not required to provide such a basic cultural teaching tool, but if we were to outlaw scripture, many people would be very confused and unsure of their place on earth and what’s more, their place in “heaven”.
How to bridge this gap is the question.

[ Edited: 06 December 2010 03:44 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 December 2010 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Mooney brings absolutely nothing to these debates. He sanctimoniously tells us to shut up and has absolutely incoherent reasons for telling us to do so. If he wants atheists to stop telling the truth or be honest, then if anyone should shut up, it’s him.

It’s completely laughable to think that The God Delusion created more believers than it did non-believers. That book has done wonders for the position of atheism and critical thinking. Any book that says why false ideas are false and why we should value critical thought over superstition will only HELP our cause and people like Mooney are part of the problem we are facing - that we should be in the closet and fear being biten. No way!

Mooney is an annoying shill to Templeton. I just wish they would get it over with and give him the Templeton prize and maybe then he’ll stop being so irritating after getting what he so obviously covets.

[ Edited: 06 December 2010 04:08 PM by kennykjc ]
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Posted: 06 December 2010 09:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Mooney and Jennifer Michael Hecht are on the same side. Hecht made an unbelievable claim in a ‘debate’ against PZ Meyers on POI. She insisted that after all the work she did to turn theists into a-theists, one glance at those dread activist atheists caused them to run cowering back to their churches, and she had to deconvert them once again. Silly.

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Posted: 06 December 2010 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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asanta - 06 December 2010 09:13 PM

Mooney and Jennifer Michael Hecht are on the same side. Hecht made an unbelievable claim in a ‘debate’ against PZ Meyers on POI. She insisted that after all the work she did to turn theists into a-theists, one glance at those dread activist atheists caused them to run cowering back to their churches, and she had to deconvert them once again. Silly.

It’s difficult to tell if she was just dealing with “skeptics” who are theists just complaining about atheists or that she was just making it all up to bolster her argument… but I agree, it was definetly a poster moment for the accomodationalist bullcrap we’ve been seeing over the last year.

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Posted: 07 December 2010 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Write4U - 06 December 2010 03:24 PM
Bruce Gorton - 06 December 2010 07:20 AM

On the original topic:

There is no future of atheism beyond the question of God, and nor should there be. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods, so once that’s settled the issue goes the way of all victorious civil rights movements - irrelevance.

If only it would be that simple.  The success of any hegemony is the fact that it rules by fear where even the most mundane behavior may be forbidden and punishable in the name of State, Royalty, God, Hell.

Yes, like that evil hegonomy of a-unicornists. The issue of whether there is or isn’t a god being for all intents and purposes has no settled has no real bearing on anything else.

Atheism does not provide for such “guidance”, other than secular law and a humanist approach to one’s environment. Unfortunately, there is no Book to which all can refer for “guidance”. How do we replace Scripture as a basic teaching tool?

Why would we want to? There are plenty of atheist parents who educate their kids fine - in fact rates of atheism positively corrolate to people attaining higher levels of education - scripture as a teaching tool strikes me as more inhibiting rather than promoting it.

A comprehensive Book of Humanist Values seems necessary to replace the good ole Bible.

I don’t think so. I think what is needed is to encourage people to explore moral issues themselves and come to their own conclusions. Besides this is more “Where to next for humanism?”

The problem is that people believe religion is a good thing, not a dangerous practice that lends itself to abuse and Holy wars.

I think the problem isn’t so much with religion as authoritarianism, which religion is a province of. There isn’t much difference between the Spanish inquisition and a communist state’s secret police.

I think we need to move on to the point where we have a sort of mental anarchism - no authorities simply people who are willing to squabble about their positions, to be taken up or rejected by individuals based on who makes most sense.

Or at least that is my take.

I realize that Atheism itself is not required to provide such a basic cultural teaching tool, but if we were to outlaw scripture, many people would be very confused and unsure of their place on earth and what’s more, their place in “heaven”.
How to bridge this gap is the question.

This isn’t about banning ideas, but rather the long process of ideas falling out of favour to the point where they cease to be taken seriously. A bit like Flat Earthers - it doesn’t take legislation to make them look silly.

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Posted: 07 December 2010 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Excellent points Bruce. Very Clear. Again and again we keep seeing this issue brought up about where atheism is going, or how can atheism successfully replace religion….argghhh!
Unfortunately this leads people to start creating new labels like “new atheists” or “militant atheists”.
I think if we really got to the bottom of this we would see that these question posers are at heart agnostic, or are people who still are searching for meaning or some internal order. An internal order not unlike the same one that is the impetus for faith in deities.
Sorry…but I think that is the case. I mean we have tons of threads here where the participants are clamoring and philosophizing away trying to find some meaning, some other matrix…morals, values, free-will, spirituality etc, humanist manifestos, or science based morality!
Come on!

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Posted: 08 December 2010 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Really good podcast Chris—thanks for using this debate.  I am only to the “3rd question” but the give & take discussion flows very well.

I wish “to God” that something like this had been on my campus when I was in college.  It sounds like all the speakers were atheists from a young age and I don’t know how typical that is.  I was still a better-than-Catholic Episcopalian when I was in college and I wish there had been this information then.

A personal thing about this podcast for me is that my little sister went to Pomona College (where they did this debate), and she walked to church with me when I was in junior high and she was upper elementary.  If I had “straightened things out”  by the time she could to college,  I think her life would have been much different, probably better. 

We talked about this on other threads—do you think a family member would appreciate reality-based truth, or would it really hurt them.

Anyway back to the debate—good production with excellent sound,  everyone participating. We know Chris’s voice but it is kind of easy to confuse the other two—I think it might help a little for people to address each other by name for the 1st 5 minutes or so.

I actually think the two issues of stem-cell research and gay rights are easy to sell to responsible Republicans as well as Democrats— as we recall Barry Goldwater was both Republican and strong church-state separation advocate.

Thanks again both for the podcast and for doing something like this on campus.

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Posted: 09 December 2010 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I got a chance to listen to this debate yesterday—I found myself almost entirely in agreement with Hemant Mehta.

I found David Silverman’s claim that there are 50-60 million atheists in the United States to be highly implausible. A close look at the demographics of the “nones” (as well as the atheists in organized religions—those who self-identify as members of a major religion yet answer “no” when asked if they believe in God) suggests to me that he’s greatly overstating the number.

And even though many atheists want to define “atheism” to mean mere “lack of belief in gods” (as opposed to “disbelief in gods”), most agnostics will continue to disagree and not self-identify as atheists.

The Pew Forum’s stats:  http://pewforum.org/Not-All-Nonbelievers-Call-Themselves-Atheists.aspx

Of those who say they do not believe in God,
24% identify as atheist
15% identify as agnostic
35% identify as nothing in particular
14% identify as Christian
10% identify as other faiths
2% don’t know/refused to answer

The total of all of those amount to 5% of the population, or about 17.5 million.  So 4.2 million who don’t believe in God self-identify as atheists.

When you look at it the other way—first ask who self-identifies as atheist or agnostic—you get more agnostics than atheists (2.4% vs. 1.6%).  See http://religions.pewforum.org/affiliations, the “unaffiliated” consist of those two groups plus 12.4% of the population who self-identify as “nothing in particular.”  But of those so-called “atheists,” 21% answer “yes” to the question, “do you believe in God or a higher power,” as does an even larger percentage of the agnostics.

On that survey, 2.4% of the population self-identify as atheists (even if they believe in God), or about 8.4 million people.  If you substract those “atheists” who say they believe in God, you get about 6.6 million (which doesn’t quite match the 4.2 million from the other survey).

But there’s no way you get anywhere close to 50-60 million, even if you could all who self-identify as atheist and all who answer “no” to the question of whether they don’t believe in “God or a higher power.”

Another way to look at it—what’s the membership of American Atheists?  Or even the sum of membership of all U.S. atheist groups (which would involve a lot of multiple-counting, since many people are members of multiple atheist groups)?

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Posted: 09 December 2010 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Why is Chris Mooney employed by the Center For Inquiry?  In this discussion, he was at best overwhelming negative about a whole variety of issues that I thought CFI considers incredibly important and worthwhile.  I say “at best,” because I actually thought he was straight-up *against* them rather than merely pessimistic about them, but that could just be my own bias against him creeping in.

Do CFI people listen to these podcasts?  If so, do they ever comment on these boards, or should I consider contacting them directly?

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Posted: 09 December 2010 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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I finished it today.  Still think it was a better-than-average podcast.

The word which was occurring to me that Mooney and the others might have used is “strident”—

I think that it doesn’t make 100% sense to talk about scientists who believe in evolution but also that God intervenes in “undetectable” ways in evolution.
I agree with Chris Mooney that there is some common ground but there is at the same time a gap.

It’s not clear whether they don’t really believe in evolution, and don’t know it, or whether they don’t really believe in God, and don’t know it.


Rather than saying “recently at Pomona College”, I would like to see the CFI intro document the exact date (Nov 11)
Here are some comments on one of the Pomona webpages:
http://tsl.pomona.edu/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1583&Itemid=67

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Posted: 09 December 2010 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Why do we speak of theistic, pro-evolution people as though we need to reconcile with them? They’re ipso facto not in the fight over evolution that concerns atheists or science educators, so I don’t know why we’re dwelling on them in connection with evolution. Such people already *are* allies in the real-world context of the disputes over textbooks, cirriculum decisions, etc.

The more important question concerning our relationship with theistic, pro-evolution types is whether, over the next horizon, they’ll swing the same way: the next time scientific evidence challenges one of their supernaturalist, faith-based beliefs, will they side with the findings of the scientific method or will they decide to wall off reality because their identity is wrapped up in the faith-based position?

The dispute isn’t over evolution, but over the broader matter of what counts as a legitimate basis of belief. Faith, assertion, whatever makes one feel good —or— the scientific method? Which yields reliable answers?

Re: conversion—Mooney has a very expansive idea of what “conversion” means. He seems to use it as a catch-all that includes both going door-to-door to attempt to persuade others to adopt new beliefs (a thing that religious people do, but atheists do not do) and simply adducing arguments and evidence against religious propositions. Adducing arguments and evidence is, I suppose, a form of “conversion” if you squint hard enough, but using that word as a synonym for advancing arguments is an extremely unhelpful and clouding use of a loaded word in the context.

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Posted: 10 December 2010 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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I begin to think that Chris Mooney should found a new group: Atheists for Religion.

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Posted: 10 December 2010 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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eplommer - 10 December 2010 07:47 AM

I begin to think that Chris Mooney should found a new group: Atheists for Religion.

With S.E.Cupp??

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