Extremist Response Squad?

kellym78's picture

This was a post on our messageboards talking about the frequent characterization of the RRS as "extremists", "fanatics", or "militant." I found it to be a clearly elucidated argument for the reasons why we are none of the aforementioned and am reposting it here, with his permission, of course.

Mr. Atheist wrote:

It’s not very uncommon for the Rational Response Squad to be accused by both theist and atheists alike of being equal to extremist or fundamentalist theist groups. Their aggressive and vocal nature draws a reaction and a number of people feel this is positive, while others feel that it is negative. I would like to take a moment to seriously consider if this is an appropriate correlation.

Extremist or Fundamentalist groups are credited with taking their religious devotion to a level that would involve killing people as well as sacrificing themselves for their cause. Killing innocent people, bombing schools, market places, hospitals, as well as car bombing busy streets. Assassinating opposing religious and political figures, as well are things attributed to religious extremists and fundamentalists.

The crusades, thirty years war, milhemet mitzvah, jihad, saxon wars: all of these things, and of course countless others, were wars of religion that invoked fundamentalist and extremist faiths. People executing their faith to murder doctors that perform abortions or killing their roommates for being atheists are smaller scale localized representations of the type of things caused by extremist and fundamentalism.

As I feel the things that we talk about when talking about these two words are generally accepted on the theistic side, I would like to evaluate the corresponding things that the Rational Response Squad has done that apparently gets put on par with these act.

The Blasphemy Challenge: Through use of videos the RRS asked people both of faith and not of faith to post a video where they deny the existence of something that they already do not believe in. No one was asked to do something against their own beliefs, nor against their will. And for putting together this simple and silly little video they received a free DVD.

The War on Easter: Basically the publication of information regarding atheism.

The War on Christmas: Essentially the same thing, as well as perhaps some promotion of Winter Solstice and the origins of Christmas.

Blood Drive on Prayer Day: It’s a blood drive, no one dies.

Essentially the Extremism and Fundamentalism that is being represented is words, debates, and advertising campaigns to get the message out there. These are things that are really on a very tiny scale in comparison to the regular stadium sell-out events known as Sunday mass that happens all over world.

I believe that for both sides of the fence it is irresponsible to put the Rational Response Squad on par with fundamentalists and extremists from the theist camp.

What we see as Moderate religion goes to much more dramatic levels to promote its agenda. Moderate religion directly attempts to influence politics (for Canadians see the attempts to force Paul Martin and Dalton McGuinty to change their politics or be excommunicated from their faith, or for Americans the recent talk about changing the Constitution to reflect god better), it advertises in just about every location (street corners, schools, billboards etc).

If the current state of the Rational Response Squad is what people today would call extremist or fundamentalist then perhaps they need to take a serious second take of the history of their own faith and the faiths around them to see where they set the bar for people that are promoting the opposite agenda.

I expect this argument to come up, so I will address it now: “The RRS are extremist when compared against other atheists.” Though I believe there may be merits to this statement, I don’t believe it’s valid and that’s where I think irresponsibility lies. By using such strong words while talking about atheists who are opposing theists I believe you need to use equal terminology on both sides of the argument at least within the confines of the two sides of the messages rather than using different scales for the different sides of the argument. That style of thinking would suggest that religion is allowed more tools at its disposal in generating its message. This is a war of terminology and words so it is extremely important to be sensitive about our choice of words.

Using the same scales of words, the Rational Response Squad is fairly average. Below average even on the scale of ‘how far will you go’. The Rational Response Squad hasn’t even entered the realm of moderation when compared with the theistic opposition.

This is a really long winded way of getting across a simple message; it’s one that kind of bugs me. So much attention is given to terminology and wording in all of these arguments about theism yet for some reason The Rational Response Squad gets words like fundamentalist and extremist thrown at it despite the seriousness of those words when placed on a theist.

Let’s keep this as an even playing ground. The Rational Response Squad is vocal activists that are out there being vocal about a message. That’s it.

darth_josh's picture

I always figured that I was

I always figured that I was 'left out of the loop' on the secret arms deals.

I had assumed that the atheist guerrilla training camps were just well-hidden.

Since the most common complaint from conversations is that "All of that science will bore me to death!" I always thought that was the tactic of my brand of militant atheism.

I keep wondering what my reaction will be if one of these days I say 'atheist' and someone will say "What kind?"

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.

Strafio's picture

I'm not defending calling

I'm not defending calling the RRS fundamentalist because for the most part it is wrong for the reasons you give above. But I think I can sort of see where people might be coming from:

If you think about it, the classic fundamentalist is the religious nut who takes some line in their religion in a way that defies all common sense. They are usually accused of taking something 'too seriously', or 'too literally' or 'missing the point'. Something like 'understanding the words rather than the spirit behind it'.

I think that the 'militant' atheist's demand that everything should be scientifically proved is similar in a lot of ways. It takes something that people would agree for scientific questions, but would say that 'militant atheism' goes too far in thinking that it applies to all questions, so make the accusation of 'science fundamentalism' or 'scientism'.

The accusation moderates usually level against the likes of RRS and Dawkins is usually along the lines of:
"Yes, you're right that fundamentalists suck. Just stop equating all religion with fundamentalism!"
The answers this post will likely say similar things to Sam Harris, claiming that fundamentalists represent genuine belief while moderates just can't commit either way.
It's this over-simplification and misunderstanding of religion that most people are biting back over.

I know that the claim that everyone has misunderstood is a naked assertion but:
1) I am working on backing this up but it's a difficult task taking on the full burden of proof against the assumption of "scientific fact or nothing". It will take time.
2) This post was more to give an idea where other people might be coming from rather than to prove that they are right.

I also see where they are

I also see where they are coming from, but I contest that the extent and the claims being made and the insistance on proof is no worse off than what moderates of religion ask for or push.  The big difference is the extent you can take it to.

In extremist atheism you are seeing that people can get angry and vocal and demand a lot.

In extremist religion they are resorting to viewing you as less human and in need of death.

The only way to battle extremist religous faith is to attack the moderate.  Moderate religion justifies and breeds fundamentalist and extremist views.

This so called extremist atheism does not go to hte lengths or the severity of religion, it stops at moderation.  It stop at being reasonable and civilized.  If religion did the same thing, there would be a lot less people on the side against religion.

And that's the problem, by calling a guy like Dawkins a fundamentalist or extremist you are putting him on par with murderers, suicide bombers, and people willing to go to 'extreme' measures to get their message accross where as it is very clear that a man like Dawkins is willing to be vocal, but he is well within the confines of moderate. 

wavefreak's picture

Tarpan wrote: The only way

Tarpan wrote:

The only way to battle extremist religous faith is to attack the moderate. Moderate religion justifies and breeds fundamentalist and extremist views.

There is lots of opinion about this. But I see little hard evidence. Even the meme of religion has no pre-ordained inisistance of violence. Brutality has a life of its own and appropriates religion as justification. Attacking moderates for the crimes of extremists is unjust. Attacking the moderates because you can't deal with the extremists is not even logical.   

Strafio's picture

Tarpan wrote:

Tarpan wrote:

I also see where they are coming from, but I contest that the extent and the claims being made and the insistance on proof is no worse off than what moderates of religion ask for or push. The big difference is the extent you can take it to.


Hmmm...
I think that demanding a person prove personal beliefs is dodgy, no matter who does it. Maybe moderates also do it from time to time but that's not their moderate side coming out.

Here's my problem with demanding proof on personal beliefs:
Our mind works in many ways and it doesn't always think linguistically in linguistic form. Many of it's useful functions don't come in linguistic form. They subconsciously analyse masses of data and give our conscious mind 'intuitions' without a clear justification of where these intuitions came from.

When you demand proof on personal beliefs you are demanding that they limit themselves to believing what they have a clear linguistic thought process for. It can also mean demanding that they use particular forms of reason dogmatically rather than letting them discover these forms of reason through a natural curious need.
Even though I agree that these rational forms are necessary I don't think that they should be enforced dogmatically.

This isn't a criticism of the RRS's actions because I think that when it comes to fighting fundamentalism they've proven to be doing the right kind of thing. But the approach isn't so good against moderate beliefs.

Quote:

The only way to battle extremist religous faith is to attack the moderate. Moderate religion justifies and breeds fundamentalist and extremist views.


I disagree.
Many moderates see fundamentalism as a form of idolatory, the fundamentalist idolising the Bible's words and their interpretation of these words.
Although it is easier for someone to become a fundie if they're already a moderate, it's silly to attack things in moderation just because some people will go OTT.
Do we attack moderate drinking because some people will go too far and become alcoholics?

Quote:
This so called extremist atheism does not go to hte lengths or the severity of religion, it stops at moderation. It stop at being reasonable and civilized. If religion did the same thing, there would be a lot less people on the side against religion.

And that's the problem, by calling a guy like Dawkins a fundamentalist or extremist you are putting him on par with murderers, suicide bombers, and people willing to go to 'extreme' measures to get their message accross where as it is very clear that a man like Dawkins is willing to be vocal, but he is well within the confines of moderate.


I think that fundamentalists can also be polite and civilised. I think there's a difference between having extreme beliefs and having extreme political approach to those beliefs.
You get certain cults and communities who are extreme enough in their beliefs to build their own societies that are disconnected from the rest of civilisation, but are still polite, civilised and even kind to the few outsiders that they do meet.

You're right that 'extreme atheism' shouldn't be equated with the sects within religion that are uncivilised and resort to terror tactics, but I don't think that people usually mean that when they call certain kinds of atheism 'extreme'. The only ones who go that far tend to be the fundies who are just doing their usual daemonisation of opponents.

wavefreak wrote: Tarpan

wavefreak wrote:
Tarpan wrote:

The only way to battle extremist religous faith is to attack the moderate. Moderate religion justifies and breeds fundamentalist and extremist views.

There is lots of opinion about this. But I see little hard evidence. Even the meme of religion has no pre-ordained inisistance of violence. Brutality has a life of its own and appropriates religion as justification. Attacking moderates for the crimes of extremists is unjust. Attacking the moderates because you can't deal with the extremists is not even logical.

The moderates are wrong as well, and they are influencing politics etc so they are still valid targets.  They still breed ignorance, and breed 'faith' as a virtue.

I don't attack them for the crimes of extremists, but if a religion had only the small group of irrational people believing they would have a harder time convincing people who are liable to become fundamentalists.

By having a lot of people belive something, it lends credit to what hey are saying even if what they are saying is total bullshit.  A lot of people buy into things due to community, including those that would go too far.

You wouldn't have being going too far with their interpretations of the religion if not for the religion being irrational and having those messages preached to them.  Some people just aren't smart enough to know when to stop. 

If your intent is to

Stafio: 

If your intent is to advertise your 'personal beliefs', convert others, and teach children your 'personal beliefs' then I think that you should be able to justify that those 'personal beliefs' are worth perpetuating.

If your 'personal beliefs' advertise the exclusion of critical thinking and evaluation, and intentionally block learning alternatives then I do believe it should be questioned 100%. Because they are no longer just 'personal'. If people kept thier bullshit to themselves, they wouldn't need to justify it.  In reality, these 'personal beliefs' are not being kept 'personal'.

As for the moderate, as I stated previously, I see the moderate lending credit to the validity of the extreme terminology even if they don't practice it. Having large masses of people all saying that something is correct is eventually going to produce people who are willing to act on it's words even if the majority know that it's wrong.

Additionally, children taught these values are more susceptable to not being able to differentiate the the distance that values should be taken unless they are taught properly. Even then it is a confusion issue as to why their parents or other people do not stone people and other things while being told that their holy information is infallible, and that's what it says to do.

Of course the majority of moderates don't go that far, and the majority of children don't even learn about those things. But by having hte moderation there, it is bound to produce people that are willing to go to the next step.

As for attacking moderate drinking, I think you are wrong. We do in fact attack moderate drinking to a degree. We have very low levels of alcohol tolerance when driving which is debatably well below 'moderate' levels of alcohol. Alcohol is well recognized as dangerous even in small quantities. If religion was generally viewed in the same light I think that would be a huge positive.

Moving on to extremism, I agree that some can be polite. No generalization covers 100% of any group of people.

I also agree that people tend not to be intentionally associating them, but to the ignoramous that is on the outside looking in they are bound to make that connection. And that is my concern, the temrinology is bad. The theist uses it as a weapon to play the extremist atheist as dangerous and scary because they know it puts them on par with the violently extreme religous sects that no one likes. I think it's important to avoid this mistake from the atheist side of the fence, and it's important to fight back against the association when theists use it because it is nothing more than political posturing and intentionally misleading.

wavefreak's picture

Tarpan wrote: The

Tarpan wrote:

The moderates are wrong as well, and they are influencing politics etc so they are still valid targets. They still breed ignorance, and breed 'faith' as a virtue.

Here lies an important point. As long as theists insist that you believe in god, the burden of proof is upon them. As soon as you insist that religion has no place in public policy, the burden of proof lies on you.  But the only tools you have to 'prove' that theism is delusional are science and logic. Science considers questions of god unverifiable and hence outside the scope of its endeavors. And logic is good for determining things logically. But it has never been shown that all of reality can be described logically. As science will not even ask the questions and logic cannot prove its sufficiency you must accept that the arguments of theism are going to of necessity not wholly rely on logic or science. You will never win the argument against theism because you will not speak in the languge in which the argument is taking place.

 

Quote:

 You wouldn't have being going too far with their interpretations of the religion if not for the religion being irrational and having those messages preached to them. Some people just aren't smart enough to know when to stop.

Another weakness of atheism as presented here is that it insists that people want to behave rationally. It is almost delusional to think this. I would go as far as saying that vast majority of human behavior is not rational. From this point of view, atheism as an intellectually arrived at conclusion is actually an abberation from typical human behavior. Even the highly rational realm of science is victim to irrational behavior (falsified studies, turf wars for funding).

The dream that eliminating theism will make the world a better place is a pipe dream. Removing theism without removing irrationalism will not change the fundamental components of human nature that elicit brutality and oppression.

 And, worse yet, by making enemies of moderate theists instead of seeking partners in fighting the crimes of extremists, "militant" athism just creates more hostility in a world where there is already too much.

wavefreak wrote: Tarpan

wavefreak wrote:
Tarpan wrote:

The moderates are wrong as well, and they are influencing politics etc so they are still valid targets. They still breed ignorance, and breed 'faith' as a virtue.

Here lies an important point. As long as theists insist that you believe in god, the burden of proof is upon them. As soon as you insist that religion has no place in public policy, the burden of proof lies on you. But the only tools you have to 'prove' that theism is delusional are science and logic. Science considers questions of god unverifiable and hence outside the scope of its endeavors. And logic is good for determining things logically. But it has never been shown that all of reality can be described logically. As science will not even ask the questions and logic cannot prove its sufficiency you must accept that the arguments of theism are going to of necessity not wholly rely on logic or science. You will never win the argument against theism because you will not speak in the languge in which the argument is taking place.

 I semi-agree and semi-disagree with you here. I don't believe the burden of proof shifts to me.  I don't think that you can suggest that if I came out saying that our policy should be that of Frank Herbert's dune people would see that as a valid influence on our policy.  I suggest that something that is based off nothing should not have an influence on politics.

Even my pro-atheist anti-religion agenda should not be apparent in our policy.  It should be purely secular. 

Quote:
 

Quote:

You wouldn't have being going too far with their interpretations of the religion if not for the religion being irrational and having those messages preached to them. Some people just aren't smart enough to know when to stop.

Another weakness of atheism as presented here is that it insists that people want to behave rationally. It is almost delusional to think this. I would go as far as saying that vast majority of human behavior is not rational. From this point of view, atheism as an intellectually arrived at conclusion is actually an abberation from typical human behavior. Even the highly rational realm of science is victim to irrational behavior (falsified studies, turf wars for funding).

The dream that eliminating theism will make the world a better place is a pipe dream. Removing theism without removing irrationalism will not change the fundamental components of human nature that elicit brutality and oppression.

And, worse yet, by making enemies of moderate theists instead of seeking partners in fighting the crimes of extremists, "militant" athism just creates more hostility in a world where there is already too much.

You're right that too much optimism is a problem.  What I see as a goal and what I see as a reality are very different worlds.  Damaging religions credibilty is my goal.  Trying to get people to second guess their faith.  That's all I'm looking for at this point.

Perhaps the moderatly religious and atheists could work together someday, but I would be surprised.  As long as atheists are seen as infidels, evil-doers inhuman, unamerican or the many other terms that have been laid on them it is unlikely that there could ever be such a progressive partnership. 

wavefreak's picture

Tarpan wrote: Perhaps the

Tarpan wrote:

Perhaps the moderatly religious and atheists could work together someday, but I would be surprised. As long as atheists are seen as infidels, evil-doers inhuman, unamerican or the many other terms that have been laid on them it is unlikely that there could ever be such a progressive partnership.

 

Whaaaa? You guys are inhuman, unamerican, evil doing infidels?

Damn. That changes everything.

 

I suspect that there are more people than you realize that recognize that working together is more important that prosyletizing.    

 

 

 

wavefreak wrote: I suspect

wavefreak wrote:

I suspect that there are more people than you realize that recognize that working together is more important that prosyletizing.

I accept that this may very well be true. 

Brian37's picture

wavefreak wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
Tarpan wrote:

Perhaps the moderatly religious and atheists could work together someday, but I would be surprised. As long as atheists are seen as infidels, evil-doers inhuman, unamerican or the many other terms that have been laid on them it is unlikely that there could ever be such a progressive partnership.

 

Whaaaa? You guys are inhuman, unamerican, evil doing infidels?

Damn. That changes everything.

 

I suspect that there are more people than you realize that recognize that working together is more important that prosyletizing.

Right, so go tell your ellected officials all the way to the top that it is NOT their job to act as the voice for everyone on the issue of a diety and demand they do what the founders wanted and leave that up to the individual outside government.

I am not you and you are not me. BUT WE are citizens, and as long as pulpit politics exists, we will be divided.

As long as most of America thinks an atheist shouldnt hold a Supreme Court seat, or be president, I will speek out.

I will also speek out against absurd claims. That doesnt make me millitant or a fundy. I see voodoo dolls and claims of 72 virgins and zombie god surviving rigor mortis as absurd claims. That doesnt make me millitant, that makes me honest with myself and honest with the person I am talking to. It doesnt mean I hate them, It merely means my position is that they got it wrong with that claim.

In another post I called you a "fool", but as long as you have been reading my posts, you should know that I am talking about ONE ISSUE, and that is the issue of your claim of a "diety" or "higher power" or whatever you think it is.

I have no doubt that you and I can agree on things like speed limit laws, seatbelt laws and we may even like some of the same tv shows, music or books. I am certainly sure you love your freedom as much as I do. I am also sure in your personal life face to face with other people, that although you might dissagree with them, you have people you like that you merely find "full of it" on a given issue.

Atheists are not "prostytizing" we are raising our voices, just like minorities before us such as blacks and women and gays. We are promoting science over superstition. We are promoting logic and introspection over "warm fuzzies". That is not an advertisement on our part, that is a movement toward reality that will benifit all.

"It is NOT their job to act as the voice for everyone"

We ARE a representitive government. However, most people falsely call it "majority rule", which is NOT the case. Our system is based on "advise and consent" and every branch of our government is subject to that. Our system is not a dictatorship where the President absolutly rules, or the Supreme Court absolutly rules, nor the congress, nor the voters. It is a "guiding" system based on the Constitution with the understanding that the law is equal, not owned by one party or one religion.

Our "guiding" system allows for dissent and alows for the small guy to stand up to the big guy based on the equal template of the Constitution that is there for all Citizens. It is what allowed women to vote and blacks to end segrigation, dispite what the majority wanted at the time.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

wavefreak wrote: Whaaaa?

wavefreak wrote:

Whaaaa? You guys are inhuman, unamerican, evil doing infidels?

Damn. That changes everything.

 

I'm actually an inhuman, unamerican, chaotic doing infidel. 

"You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons." - The Waco Kid

Strafio's picture

Tarpan wrote:

Tarpan wrote:

Strafio:

If your intent is to advertise your 'personal beliefs', convert others, and teach children your 'personal beliefs' then I think that you should be able to justify that those 'personal beliefs' are worth perpetuating.

If your 'personal beliefs' advertise the exclusion of critical thinking and evaluation, and intentionally block learning alternatives then I do believe it should be questioned 100%. Because they are no longer just 'personal'. If people kept thier bullshit to themselves, they wouldn't need to justify it. In reality, these 'personal beliefs' are not being kept 'personal'.


No argument here. (Except the spelling of my name!! :@)
If you're out to challenge other people to change their beliefs then you should be up to the same challenge.

Quote:

As for the moderate, as I stated previously, I see the moderate lending credit to the validity of the extreme terminology even if they don't practice it. Having large masses of people all saying that something is correct is eventually going to produce people who are willing to act on it's words even if the majority know that it's wrong.


This is that 'slippery slope' argument again.
You could say that moderate drinking does the same for hardcore binge drinking.
You could say that cannabis does the same for heroin.
Most people can drink sensibly, most people can worship sensibly.

Quote:

Additionally, children taught these values are more susceptable to not being able to differentiate the the distance that values should be taken unless they are taught properly. Even then it is a confusion issue as to why their parents or other people do not stone people and other things while being told that their holy information is infallible, and that's what it says to do.


Moderates don't teach it as infallible.
The Catholic upbringing I got (that is, two Catholic parents, church on Sundays and being put through a Catholic School) put all the emphasis on Jesus and his love and forgiveness.
Stories like the Good Samaritan put humanitarian values before religiousity, along with that "whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."
He damning of the religious authorities of his time... etc.

Quote:

Of course the majority of moderates don't go that far, and the majority of children don't even learn about those things. But by having hte moderation there, it is bound to produce people that are willing to go to the next step.


This is a misunderstanding of what moderatism is.
People seem to think that there's fundamentalism, real belief, atheism and people in between who just can't commit either way.
As long as this assumption is made about moderates they're going to see someone not only attacking their beliefs, but not even understanding what it is that they attack.

Quote:

As for attacking moderate drinking, I think you are wrong. We do in fact attack moderate drinking to a degree. We have very low levels of alcohol tolerance when driving which is debatably well below 'moderate' levels of alcohol. Alcohol is well recognized as dangerous even in small quantities. If religion was generally viewed in the same light I think that would be a huge positive.


Drinking moderately doesn't merely mean, "stick to moderate levels", it means drink sensibly in general. That includes abstaining from drink driving etc.
As it happens, people do notice when a person's beliefs get extreme and show concern. It happens that just as we have heavy drinking cultures, certain places also have "heavy religion cultures".
In each case society has to target the excess.

Btw, I'm sure you've heard this a billion times before but Canada and Europe doesn't have the some problems with fundamentalist Christians that America does. Most places do moderate religion fine without develloping fundamentalism.

Having said that, I probably agree with you more than I think, seeing as I cringe at the phrase 'atheist fundamentalist' and can only bring myself to write 'militant' atheist with the 's.

Anne F's picture

basically, yes

Fundamentalist and extremist are, of course, two very different words and to lend further precision to Tarpan's argument they have to be argued seperately...

The RRS is not fundamentalist, not because it doesn't do the extreme things that fundamentalist extremists do, but because a fundamentalist is, I think, somebody adhering to the very fundamentals of a religion/philosophy.. [put in anything that has, at its core, some set of strict rules aka "holy book"].. Since atheism doesn't even fall in that category, well, they can't be fundamentalists, can they?

Except in the way we all are fundamentalist atheists, when it comes to "not believing".

Now, fundametalists aren't necessarily extremists and vice versa, even though they go really well together, obviously. Extremists are simply people who'd go to extreme lenghths, use extreme measures, to achieve whatever goal they have in mind. The most extreme measure any human can take is, I guess, to kill. So, under the condition they all had a goal, I guess any killer could be called extremist in relation to his goal.

What other actions (or non-actions) can be called extreme? Declining the offer of Jesus/Allah/the karmic wheel/whatever? Organizing meetings about it? Shouting your non-belief from the roof tops? Challenging any and all theists to debate? Well... maybe... in egypt.

 

darth_josh's picture

My opinion: What

My opinion:

What necessitates an adjective?

Is it really diversity or is it propaganda fuelled by elitism?

I could understand if disbelief were categorized based upon separate reasons. However, it is just the disbelief itself.

Labeling 'How' one sees another expressing that disbelief mimics denominationalism and fosters divisiveness hindering either 'sides' efforts.

One could easily level accusations toward 'chicken shit atheists' concerning their negligent tolerance of religions that they perceive as 'harmless' due to a lack of interaction with them.

I'm not so concerned with them as I am the 'militantly tolerant' individuals seeking alliances with believers to further one item on an agenda. The harm in this, in my opinion, is that it gives credence to the cries of prejudice from another facet of the opposing ideology. They ask why I will not ally myself with them because so-and-so is allied with this methodist or episcopalian. Simply put: Because I disagree with them on a fundamental basis.

Should atheists seek to work with theists to bring about the end of theism? How inane does that sound?

Would any self-respecting theist work with atheists to end theism? (Disregarding the fact that I used self-respecting) Ummm No.

My personal position has been marginalized by this enabling behavior sponsored by the advent of new terminology to address the old idea.

If anything, the 'old guard' of atheism is infinitely more 'tolerant' because in order to achieve anything it seems we must tolerate the overly-tolerant.

By no stretch of the imagination could the RRS be as 'extremist' as I sometimes feel is warranted by theistic threats to civilization as a whole.

So I'd like to tell anyone creating these clever little masked adjectives of disparagement to cut it the fuck out.

I tried addressing this with humor earlier, but it's getting inordinately more ridiculous with each passing day.

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Brian37's picture

I do not find blasphemy,

I do not find blasphemy, sarcasm or ridicule to be "millitant". I find pollitically correct atheists and theists to be the real facists. Ones who'd seek silence via government being their nanny against being offended.

Iran is a government that uses government force to silence people from offending Allah. Being a minority as an atheist I DO NOT WANT protection via government from Christians equating me to immorality or loving Hitler. I am a big boy and can use my own voice to counter such absurd stereotypes.

RRS is neither fundy or extreemist anymore than any other minority in our history that has rocked the boat to get a seat at the table.

I do not see it as extreem to call an absurd hokus pokus claim to be fiction. If one rightfully rejects Thor as the creator of lighting, it is not a stretch to say that disimbodied beings dont knock up girls because they dont exist. If one rightfully rejects multiple armed deities existing, it is not a stretch to say that Allah doesnt pick the sex of the baby.

These ARE NOT extreem actions. It is not an attempt to create a goverment that burns down churches or mosques. Atheists are simply putting the word out so people will voluntarly want to give up on theism and see it for the superstitious fiction it is.

Atheists are simply tired of being demonized and marginalized for challenging ancient myth. We are tired of our government favoring Christianity when our founders went out of their way to say that NO RELIGION shall be quelled OR played favorites to. We are tired of attempts of fundementalists dumbing down science class in order to turn public schools into Christian indoctrination centers.

It is not extreem to demand a voice. It is not extreem or fundementalist to question. Our founders insured that everyone has the right to question, EVEN RELIGION.

We are falsely called these things by both atheists and theists because we dare to rock the boat. We want people thinking without being parrots with hands up their backs. We want people to challenge themselves to think.

We are pro science, pro education, pro equality. We are just as diverse in our tactics and just as diverse in our comfort level in egauging diolouge with theists. Some atheist prefure the quiet library setting while others like verbaly duking it out. Theists are no different. Some can handle the heat and blasphemy while others are more comfortable in the library.

There is no one set way to be an atheist. The only thing atheists have in common is a lack of belief in the super natural. We are not extreemists or fundementalists. We dont pray to a being or blow things up. We simply want people to see that they dont need ancient myth to live a decent life.

The world has left Ra and Isis in the graveyard of the gods and humanity still continued. Humans CAN voluntarly give up on the magicall claims of Jesus/Allah and |Yahwey and humanity would still continue. That is not extreem to point out reality. YOU DONT need a fictional sky daddy to be good or moral. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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wavefreak's picture

If you look for a fight you

If you look for a fight you will find one. And after the combatants are done beating the shit out of each other, it's the bystanders that get stuck picking up the pieces and dealing with the collateral dameage.

Extremist Response Squad?

THIS WAS THE POST THAT STARTED THIS THREAD, ALL POSTS WERE MOVED TO KELLY'S BLOG SO AS NOT TO HAVE TWO OF THE SAME TOPIC.  THANKS FOR ALLOWING US TO REPOST THIS IN KELLY'S BLOG. 

It’s not very uncommon for the Rational Response Squad to be accused by both theist and atheists alike of being equal to extremist or fundamentalist theist groups. Their aggressive and vocal nature draws a reaction and a number of people feel this is positive, while others feel that it is negative. I would like to take a moment to seriously consider if this is an appropriate correlation.

Extremist or Fundamentalist groups are credited with taking their religious devotion to a level that would involve killing people as well as sacrificing themselves for their cause. Killing innocent people, bombing schools, market places, hospitals, as well as car bombing busy streets. Assassinating opposing religious and political figures, as well are things attributed to religious extremists and fundamentalists.

The crusades, thirty years war, milhemet mitzvah, jihad, saxon wars: all of these things, and of course countless others, were wars of religion that invoked fundamentalist and extremist faiths. People executing their faith to murder doctors that perform abortions or killing their roommates for being atheists are smaller scale localized representations of the type of things caused by extremist and fundamentalism.

As I feel the things that we talk about when talking about these two words are generally accepted on the theistic side, I would like to evaluate the corresponding things that the Rational Response Squad has done that apparently gets put on par with these act.

The Blasphemy Challenge: Through use of videos the RRS asked people both of faith and not of faith to post a video where they deny the existence of something that they already do not believe in. No one was asked to do something against their own beliefs, nor against their will. And for putting together this simple and silly little video they received a free DVD.

The War on Easter: Basically the publication of information regarding atheism.

The War on Christmas: Essentially the same thing, as well as perhaps some promotion of Winter Solstice and the origins of Christmas.

Blood Drive on Prayer Day: It’s a blood drive, no one dies.

Essentially the Extremism and Fundamentalism that is being represented is words, debates, and advertising campaigns to get the message out there. These are things that are really on a very tiny scale in comparison to the regular stadium sell-out events known as Sunday mass that happens all over world.

I believe that for both sides of the fence it is irresponsible to put the Rational Response Squad on par with fundamentalists and extremists from the theist camp.

What we see as Moderate religion goes to much more dramatic levels to promote its agenda. Moderate religion directly attempts to influence politics (for Canadians see the attempts to force Paul Martin and Dalton McGuinty to change their politics or be excommunicated from their faith, or for Americans the recent talk about changing the Constitution to reflect god better), it advertises in just about every location (street corners, schools, billboards etc).

If the current state of the Rational Response Squad is what people today would call extremist or fundamentalist then perhaps they need to take a serious second take of the history of their own faith and the faiths around them to see where they set the bar for people that are promoting the opposite agenda.

I expect this argument to come up, so I will address it now: “The RRS are extremist when compared against other atheists.” Though I believe there may be merits to this statement, I don’t believe it’s valid and that’s where I think irresponsibility lies. By using such strong words while talking about atheists who are opposing theists I believe you need to use equal terminology on both sides of the argument at least within the confines of the two sides of the messages rather than using different scales for the different sides of the argument. That style of thinking would suggest that religion is allowed more tools at its disposal in generating its message. This is a war of terminology and words so it is extremely important to be sensitive about our choice of words.

Using the same scales of words, the Rational Response Squad is fairly average. Below average even on the scale of ‘how far will you go’. The Rational Response Squad hasn’t even entered the realm of moderation when compared with the theistic opposition.

This is a really long winded way of getting across a simple message; it’s one that kind of bugs me. So much attention is given to terminology and wording in all of these arguments about theism yet for some reason The Rational Response Squad gets words like fundamentalist and extremist thrown at it despite the seriousness of those words when placed on a theist.

Let’s keep this as an even playing ground. The Rational Response Squad is vocal activists that are out there being vocal about a message. That’s it.

Strafio wrote: Tarpan

Strafio wrote:
Tarpan wrote:

I also see where they are coming from, but I contest that the extent and the claims being made and the insistance on proof is no worse off than what moderates of religion ask for or push. The big difference is the extent you can take it to.

Hmmm... I think that demanding a person prove personal beliefs is dodgy, no matter who does it. Maybe moderates also do it from time to time but that's not their moderate side coming out. Here's my problem with demanding proof on personal beliefs: Our mind works in many ways and it doesn't always think linguistically in linguistic form. Many of it's useful functions don't come in linguistic form. They subconsciously analyse masses of data and give our conscious mind 'intuitions' without a clear justification of where these intuitions came from. When you demand proof on personal beliefs you are demanding that they limit themselves to believing what they have a clear linguistic thought process for. [...]

I think I'm finally getting your argument, Strafio. I'll have to think about this.

Topher's picture

Strafio wrote:Although it is

Strafio wrote:
Although it is easier for someone to become a fundie if they're already a moderate, it's silly to attack things in moderation just because some people will go OTT. Do we attack moderate drinking because some people will go too far and become alcoholics?

I think this misses the point of Sam Harris' argument. He doesn't say moderates may become fundamentalists, so lets attack them... what he is saying is that moderates tend to be the ones behind the notion that religion must be kept on a special pedestal, that it's somehow special, deserves respect and must be treated above other areas of discourse, and it is this which the fundamentalists use to hide behind. That is what makes the moderates somewhat part of the problem... they indirectly make it easier for fundamentalists. 

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan

HisWillness's picture

Mr. Atheist wrote:I believe

Mr. Atheist wrote:
I believe that for both sides of the fence it is irresponsible to put the Rational Response Squad on par with fundamentalists and extremists from the theist camp.

The very fact that you use the word "irresponsible" instead of maybe the phrase "complete and utter bullshit" shows just how reasonable the group is. Videos of people saying they don't believe? Pamphleteering? C'mon. Is there really any "kill the infidel" here?

It's possible that religious people are disproportionately offended because of the natural defense against someone "confronting the delusion". I've heard it explained to me that my atheistic arguments were doing incalculable damage to young people's afterlives, and thus doing far more damage than any earth-bound terror. So that may describe the "extremism" angle from a theist, but to even consider that in day-to-day life is to enter an unnecessary realm of paranoid delusion.

Anyway, if someone wants to call me an "extreme rationalist", they're just making fun of themselves. "Militant" is an equally ridiculous label for someone who only pokes fun at religious belief.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence

Agreed HisWillness,I

Agreed HisWillness,

I actually didn't have the Militant part in here.  I probably should have but some people like the title (like Dawkins).  Personally I don't get it.  There is nothing "militant" about talking.