Purpose of atheist activism?
Posted: 24 May 2018 01:59 AM   [ Ignore ]
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When i spoke with some believers in Slovakia i realized that, even when evangelism of american style are slowly gaining some popularity, most of the believers here are still anchored in the catholicism or “old school” christianity.

I had a discussion with one of the well educated catholics, who opposed a ... simple minded priest in an article, and i found him well educated about his own church. Thats quite uncommon thing to start with.

In some less productive debates with believers in Slovakia, when I stated my atheism, i wasnt accused of being in league with Satan, actually i was asked about the meaning of such statement. I usually answered in a manner that it was good to profess it for the purposes of activism against cultural discrimination i do. However i was asked again about more wider context of my statement, and fact that I actively started to learn about humanism and atheism. Religion or church isnt just “belief in a god”. Members of churches clearly do share culture, common morals and other stances they derive from their core belief.

First step was of course to refuse that atheism is a form of belief, and i am sure all people on this forum have been through it. Second was to answer the question “then whats the purpose?” or “do you want to destroy all organized religion, or to make other people to not believe?”

I realized that neither of the two is true.

Claiming that “its just a lack of belief in gods” clearly felt flat when attempting to explain why there are books and conventions which dabble with either atheism or skepticism, and it would not explain my motivation on challenging religious agenda. What could follow was “well you have religion of your own, you meet, you praise science”. There is a common theme among all atheists to have very positive relation to knowledge, and doubts about beliefs or impressions and a will to spread ability to think critically about everything. There is nothing holy.

I certainly dont want to destroy all the religions (many atheists would like to make it happen), and I certainly cannot inspect inside of mind of others if they do believe, or do not believe. In the end i dont think that a belief in a supernatural beings is itself harmful. What I do think is that gullibility, and its subsequent exploitation is the main problem.

I found myself in a battle for fact checking against hoaxes on social media, in struggle for making scientific explanations more popular, and on occasion in disputes with illogical religious claims. Also I realized that i applied to my thinking and decision-making philosophy of positivism, while I found it most useful in the current age of mis-information.

The gullibility does not have just religious element in it. Even when there is a lot of people who “wish to be a slave” to a greater good, while submitting themselves to a religious hierarchy, there are people who believe in non-religious “greater good” and submit themselves to political and social myths. And i have to stress the word “believe”.

Amid the Migration Crisis almost no refugee entered Slovakia (except 40 Syrian christians), yet local politicians were happy to announce that “government will not take any action which would lead to creation of muslim community in Slovakia”. This well-worded statement, could not be prosecuted as itself its a “declaration of pasivity”. First of all it came up late, because Slovakia already had a small muslim community - about 5000 people. When spoke amid migration crisis the message was clear. No refugees or migrants would be allowed into our country, regardless they were in fact heading for Germany and further to the west. So all the politics which gave a rise to far-right in our country of “protection” are in fact pure illusion. “I dont have any knowledge of Syrian refugees in Slovakia, but I do believe they are here.”

Knowledge and belief are commonly mistaken.

I am not proposing new definition for atheism, yet it appears to me that questions from believers are actually not asking for that definition. They are making an assumption that atheists are a society, quite similar to their church congregation, while what they are actually asking for is “What is your motivation?”. Well… my motivation is to make people more independent in their ability to search and process information.

[ Edited: 24 May 2018 02:01 AM by Offler ]
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Posted: 25 May 2018 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I would say first don’t use the term atheist. It’s like saying Theists are right, and you’re not one of them. Secular Humanist is better IMO. And if you’re asked what you believe in, say you believe in them as people, valuable in and of themselves without reference to anything outside ourselves.

And then regarding science, if they try the old science versus religion thing, ask them if they believe in science. If they say no, then ask them to stop using cars, phones, the internet, medicine, and on and on.

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Posted: 26 May 2018 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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CuthbertJ - 25 May 2018 10:27 AM

I would say first don’t use the term atheist. It’s like saying Theists are right, and you’re not one of them. Secular Humanist is better IMO. And if you’re asked what you believe in, say you believe in them as people, valuable in and of themselves without reference to anything outside ourselves.

And then regarding science, if they try the old science versus religion thing, ask them if they believe in science. If they say no, then ask them to stop using cars, phones, the internet, medicine, and on and on.

Maybe thats specific about Central Europe compared to USA.

Even believers dont challenge science, what is more common is they challenge certain civic rights, if not used accordingly to their religion. They dont see secular humanism as an oponnent, they attempt to make it an ally using pseudo-secular argumentation (an ideas rooted deeply in catholilic dogmas, but presented as a moral statements instead of pointing their origin or to the idea of sin.

Interesting is that attemps in argument like “its a sin” or “its not according the Bible” are automatically disregarded as made from fundamentalist point of view, without any regard of current state of society. The reason for that is quite peculiar. In 1918 most monarchies in Europe collapsed. All of them were connected with religion, as it was usually a bishop or archbishop tasked with putting a crown on a head.

As Europeans now perceive monarchies and aristocracy as an anachronism, so is perceived organized religion.

Only recently I noticed that its not like that in UK and not in USA. I do understand reasons why its like that in UK, I am bit puzzled what caused a rise of religion in country as secular as USA is, at least when it comes to its constitution.

Catholics and other educated people of faith here, would not trust to “faith healers” in USA and when such phenomenon started to show up here, they were quick to dismiss it as a superstition. Those educated catholics certanly and clearly “believe in belief” as its stated by Daniel Dennett. A “concept of God” as they are not clearly and swift to point to the Bible, they themselves are asking “which god?”. In further conversation it became very clear that they speak about morals, principles or emotions as sort of unified concept.

[ Edited: 26 May 2018 05:29 AM by Offler ]
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Posted: 26 May 2018 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Offler - 24 May 2018 01:59 AM

In the end i dont think that a belief in a supernatural beings is itself harmful. What I do think is that gullibility, and its subsequent exploitation is the main problem.

I would suggest the bigger problem is taking one’s religious belief TOO seriously.
The totalitarian absolutism of many who profess religious faith is the problem.
The religious faithful making enemies out of people who simply think and believe differently is the problem.

Offler - 24 May 2018 01:59 AM

I am not proposing new definition for atheism, yet it appears to me that questions from believers are actually not asking for that definition. They are making an assumption that atheists are a society, quite similar to their church congregation, while what they are actually asking for is “What is your motivation?”. Well… my motivation is to make people more independent in their ability to search and process information.

“Perhaps not a new definition for atheism.”  Okay, perhaps a better definition?
Or perhaps better answers for why we think objective thinking about reality is superior to superstitious thinking.

It’s a good topic to chew on.

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Posted: 26 May 2018 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 26 May 2018 09:06 AM
Offler - 24 May 2018 01:59 AM

In the end i dont think that a belief in a supernatural beings is itself harmful. What I do think is that gullibility, and its subsequent exploitation is the main problem.

I would suggest the bigger problem is taking one’s religious belief TOO seriously.
The totalitarian absolutism of many who profess religious faith is the problem.
The religious faithful making enemies out of people who simply think and believe differently is the problem.

Well, its sort of a burden in a post-communnist society. On one hand we dont have here religions nuts like Jerry Falwell, even when some such are slowly appearing. If they attempt any illogical or non-factual argumentation, they are shredded to pieces and not taken seriously… BUT ... because of free of speech, free of religion and post-communist guilt vs religions they are allowed to profess whatever they want. If its religion they are allowed to go do few steps which would cause public outrage in USA without any response, because of oppression which was done to them in past regime.

Also 80% of people here dont take religion too seriously, and when they do its considered a personal thing. Secularism is quite strong here, but its getting few challenges, when christian dogmas or beliefs are presented as a moral pseudo-secular statement.

In most cases believers are not advocating totalitarian absolutism, in some cases they really consider someone to be an enemy because of different religious faith. But this goes hand-in-hand with specific form of xenophobia in our country (quite a lot of people are convinced that “Slovakia is full of slovaks who are also catholics”).

“Perhaps not a new definition for atheism.”  Okay, perhaps a better definition?
Or perhaps better answers for why we think objective thinking about reality is superior to superstitious thinking.

It’s a good topic to chew on.

Well…The definition is OK, if its answered “we simply dont believe in gods” its also OK, but thats in fact not what they are asking about… What I am actually being asked is “well if its nothing, why are you here and speaking to me about it, or acting upon it?” I met one religious nut who concluded it with “god of gaps” fallacy, claiming that my motivations to certain actions have to be work of god.

It is a very comlex question they are trying to ask, but they dont know how to do it, and on the other hand we dont know how to answer it.

If I would somehow to narrow it down imagine a situation where two believers of two completely different religions meet and are asking each other about it. And it goes like “you worship god named so and so”, “it represents these and these human traits” and “these are the religious practices you do”. Now if you compare that with atheism, and there is literally nothing to talk about. The idea is so alien to them, that they cannot understand it. Later they start to fill the void with assumptions like “you worship science” or “you have meetings, so its like having a congregation and rituals”. Once you turn it to discussion about secular humanism - strange scary words - it wont do much help.

What they are actually right about, but are asking using their language is “what rules you do follow”.

[ Edited: 28 May 2018 08:39 AM by Offler ]
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