10 myths about atheists

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10 myths about atheists

SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term "atheism" has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.

Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was "not at all to be tolerated" because, he said, "promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist."

That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims "never to doubt" the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.

Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity's needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn't have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the "beginning" or "creation" of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.

The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, "The God Delusion," this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don't know precisely how the Earth's early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase "natural selection" by analogy to the "artificial selection" performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don't know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn't know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn't arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don't tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.  There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.

Cool Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature's laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.

From the atheist point of view, the world's religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn't have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as "wishful thinking" and "self-deception." There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.

In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn't already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won't discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn't make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

 

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha


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I have pondered the basis

I have pondered the basis for the mistrust, dislike, fear and hatred for atheists. I am not asserting that I have the answer, I'm just posing some ideas for discusssion.

How much of the hostility we receive is because we threaten the power of people who derive their power on account of theism? In other words, in many cases I wonder whether people are motivated by a sincere desire to "serve God" and instead are simply afraid of losing their security and power and control.

How much of the hostility could we diminish if we changed our approach a little? Let's face it, we tend to be a fairly outspoken group. We should never curtail the exercise of our free expression—I would never suggest that—but perhaps we need a better public relations effort. The Mormons started running those "family" public service announcements because the public had feared and mistrusted Mormons in many public opinion polls. The LDS Church wanted to change the image of Mormons away from that of extremist polygamous cult members to "family friendly" white, middle-class virtuous people. Perhaps we need to do a better job of presenting the image that we atheists are "normal" people. The media likes to pay attention to the extremes and an eccentric person who is an atheist will likely generate more ratings or sell more newpapers than a less-eccentric atheist.

These are some thoughts I've pondered. What do you think? 

 


M
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Sentinel wrote:

Sentinel wrote:


Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

 

Well, certainly not all of them are. That would be dishonest to say so. But for the majority of Theists Americans not trusting Atheists I find to be justifiable. I mean, when you see good majority of Atheists nowadays who are made up of mostly young teenagers to adult, make websites and declarations that they want to rid the world from a mind disorder that plagues the majority of the world, decry that religion be discussed at all in government except when it's being opposed, try to take down Christmas Trees, try to stop people from saying "Merry Christmas" or other religious statements, try to take the word "God" out of everything to benefit the sensitive ears of 10% of the people living here because they somehow have been convinced by an old Biologists with an axe to grind and some other ameature theology critics that they are superior human beings to the rest of the human race...and all this only less than a century after a man named Stalin and communists regimes tried to set up Atheistic states because they believed that religion is merely the opiate of the masses that needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth and in turn mass slaughtering millions of their own people...

 

Well I think you have a little reason to still be kind of wary.

 

Fix the blind prejudices and parnoia among your own group first and then you might have room to talk about the prejudices elsewhere. It may take time for Atheists to be more and more accepted, but I highly doubt this "war" on Theism is going to help that to happen. And these statements coming from Sam Harris is irony and hypocrisy at it's finest.

Maybe when I'm not busy and a little bored I'll respond to this post in full.

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M
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Apostate wrote: I have

Apostate wrote:

I have pondered the basis for the mistrust, dislike, fear and hatred for atheists. I am not asserting that I have the answer, I'm just posing some ideas for discusssion.

How much of the hostility we receive is because we threaten the power of people who derive their power on account of theism? In other words, in many cases I wonder whether people are motivated by a sincere desire to "serve God" and instead are simply afraid of losing their security and power and control.

How much of the hostility could we diminish if we changed our approach a little? Let's face it, we tend to be a fairly outspoken group. We should never curtail the exercise of our free expression—I would never suggest that—but perhaps we need a better public relations effort. The Mormons started running those "family" public service announcements because the public had feared and mistrusted Mormons in many public opinion polls. The LDS Church wanted to change the image of Mormons away from that of extremist polygamous cult members to "family friendly" white, middle-class virtuous people. Perhaps we need to do a better job of presenting the image that we atheists are "normal" people. The media likes to pay attention to the extremes and an eccentric person who is an atheist will likely generate more ratings or sell more newpapers than a less-eccentric atheist.

These are some thoughts I've pondered. What do you think?

 

 

Thank you sir for an outstanding response. I commend you. And cool goatee Smiling 

I obtained my Black Belt in History. Don't mess with this Master Historian.


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Whoa, there M. You say it's

Whoa there, M. You say it's dishonest to lump all atheist together, and then go on to spout a bunch of stereotypes and strawmen about atheist. Did you even read the article? Do you plan to show how Harris is a hypocrite? Or are you just doing a personal attack?

There's plenty of prejudice to go around, and you have your fair share.

Edit: Grammar


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Apostate wrote: How much

Apostate wrote:

How much of the hostility we receive is because we threaten the power of people who derive their power on account of theism? In other words, in many cases I wonder whether people are motivated by a sincere desire to "serve God" and instead are simply afraid of losing their security and power and control.

I don't think people in power fear theists nor atheists. They fear rational, intelligent people who can think for themselves. In the US theism is used by the powerful, but that's not the only way to keep power.

Apostate wrote:
How much of the hostility could we diminish if we changed our approach a little?

I'm not to sure how to give a good answer to this question. I think a PR campaign would be superficial. If you go around challenge beliefs, your going to be hated in the US, no matter what. If we want to be seen as "normal" people, lets act normal. (I think that's a stereotype anyway.)


M
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  MrRage wrote: Whoa

 

MrRage wrote:
Whoa there, M. You say it's dishonest to lump all atheist together, and then go on to spout a bunch of stereotypes and strawmen about atheist. Did you even read the article? Do you plan to show how Harris is a hypocrite? Or are you just doing a personal attack? There's plenty of prejudice to go around, and you have your fair share. Edit: Grammar

 Please re-read my response Rage. I tried to distinguish between two certain groups. I confessed to lump all together would be dishonest...and I still hold to that; however I feel that a certain majority who do the things I listed are not helping in light of what has happened in less than a century in history.

I obtained my Black Belt in History. Don't mess with this Master Historian.


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M wrote: But for the

M wrote:

But for the majority of Theists Americans not trusting Atheists I find to be justifiable. I mean, when you see good majority of Atheists nowadays ... because they somehow have been convinced by an old Biologists with an axe to grind and some other ameature theology critics that they are superior human beings to the rest of the human race.

Excuse me? Old biologists with an axe to grind?

Please back up your statements.

Also, I don't recall seeing anything where atheists think they are superior human beings to the rest of the human race. Perhaps more educated and intellectual in some cases, but not superior.

M wrote:
Fix the blind prejudices and parnoia among your own group first and then you might have room to talk about the prejudices elsewhere.

Blind prejeduces and paranoia? Again, please back up your statements.

 

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I may be off base here, but

I may be off base here, but I think that one of the main reasons atheists are looked down upon is a remnant of the cold war.  From the '50s on, the rallying cry was that we were battling those damn "godless communists".  This played off of the state-mandated atheism of the USSR, even though the majority of their citizens were still theists (another discussion entirely).  that period of paranoia and tension had a long-term effect that leaves a stigma attached to atheism.  It's also worth noting that the words "under god" were added to the pledge in the '50's as a way of distinguishing the U.S. from it's arch enemy, and to imply that not only were we undoubtedly the good guys, but that god was on our side.  

“The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

“It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.”

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Replace atheist with black

Replace atheist with black and it's 50 years ago.

Replace atheist with gay and it's today.

Replace atheist with lefty and it's 100 years ago.

Same ol' same ol'

"Blame the victim, 'cuase us cross-ans are good little guys and gals. Nothing wrong with holding back science, discriminating against those who disagree, or kill guys who like guys more than gals."

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M
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Susan wrote: M wrote:

Susan wrote:
M wrote:

But for the majority of Theists Americans not trusting Atheists I find to be justifiable. I mean, when you see good majority of Atheists nowadays ... because they somehow have been convinced by an old Biologists with an axe to grind and some other ameature theology critics that they are superior human beings to the rest of the human race.

Excuse me? Old biologists with an axe to grind?

Please back up your statements.

Also, I don't recall seeing anything where atheists think they are superior human beings to the rest of the human race. Perhaps more educated and intellectual in some cases, but not superior.

M wrote:
Fix the blind prejudices and parnoia among your own group first and then you might have room to talk about the prejudices elsewhere.

Blind prejeduces and paranoia? Again, please back up your statements.

 

 

I never said all Atheists. If you had read my response carefully you might have noticed that I distinguished between two groups.

 Yes. "Blind prejudices and paranoia". Are you willing to be so bold and claim that no Atheists experience this sort of thing or can be irrational? I find the belief that the majority of the world is below the proper level of intellect and intelligence to be rather striking if not a bit unjustified. And when I say this I mean such statements as claiming Theism to be a disease needing to be eradicated from humanity for the better of all because of it's irrationality and seemingly perfect track record of evil, but a total lack of good. Such words may be simply good advertising to some, but to others they strike a cord of fear in that the same thoughts were perpetuated by some of the mad men less than a century ago who found the religious to be as mere animals...unwanteds to the slaughter.

Please do us a favor first and justify the means to which you and the rest of your team claim that Theists are the product of a mental illness and that such a statement, obviously supported by Darwinian thought, does not mark you as superior human beings in a struggle to cure the world.

Somehow I find this ironic...as your team is fighting for a more secular world, but demands that the world reject those that came up with these ideas to begin with and deserve just as much right to exists and think as the rest of us.

But please don't take this the wrong way...I don't mean that you will start rallying the troups with guns if your barrage of "rational responses" doesn't  seem to work...I merely believe that the choice of words and poorly thought out conclusions to the matter seem to be mere prejudice and a good eye for marketing with little to no realization of the reprucussions of such thoughts on others.

 

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M
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Perhaps I was a little too

Perhaps I was a little too bold in my response, Susan. Should I tone it down a bit?

 You know we mentally ill and all have a time controlling our tone. Perhaps I could be wrong about your thoughts. I certainly jumped the gun there in a heat of passion. How careless of I.

Or maybe I was just having fun Eye-wink

 

Shall we play verbal chess? 

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Susan
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M wrote: Yes. "Blind

M wrote:
Yes. "Blind prejudices and paranoia". Are you willing to be so bold and claim that no Atheists experience this sort of thing or can be irrational?

Never say never! I would not say that Atheists are never irrational. No doubt we've all seen Atheists be irrational from time to time on these forums. Gosh. I'll bet I've even been irrational from time to time. I'm pretty irrational when I run across a spider.

Paranoia? Please specify.

M wrote:
I find the belief that the majority of the world is below the proper level of intellect and intelligence to be rather striking if not a bit unjustified.

I did not say that. Please reread what I wrote.

Susan wrote:
Perhaps more educated and intellectual in some cases, but not superior.

M wrote:
Please do us a favor first and justify the means to which you and the rest of your team claim that Theists are the product of a mental illness and that such a statement, obviously supported by Darwinian thought, does not mark you as superior human beings in a struggle to cure the world.

I believe the word is "disorder", not mental illness.

It seems that you believe Darwin was an "Old biologist with an axe to grind". Please back up your statement.

M wrote:
Somehow I find this ironic...as your team is fighting for a more secular world, but demands that the world reject those that came up with these ideas to begin with and deserve just as much right to exists and think as the rest of us.

I agree that we all have a right to our own beliefs. Unfortunately in many cases, theists feel they have more rights in attempting to indoctinate everyone else to their way of thinking. We're supposed to be quiet while they evangelize.

We hope for people to start thinking for themselves instead of "just going along".

 

 

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M
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Susan wrote: M wrote: Yes.

Susan wrote:

M wrote:
Yes. "Blind prejudices and paranoia". Are you willing to be so bold and claim that no Atheists experience this sort of thing or can be irrational?

Never say never! I would not say that Atheists are never irrational. No doubt we've all seen Atheists be irrational from time to time on these forums. Gosh. I'll bet I've even been irrational from time to time. I'm pretty irrational when I run across a spider.

Paranoia? Please specify.

M wrote:
I find the belief that the majority of the world is below the proper level of intellect and intelligence to be rather striking if not a bit unjustified.

I did not say that. Please reread what I wrote.

Susan wrote:
Perhaps more educated and intellectual in some cases, but not superior.

M wrote:
Please do us a favor first and justify the means to which you and the rest of your team claim that Theists are the product of a mental illness and that such a statement, obviously supported by Darwinian thought, does not mark you as superior human beings in a struggle to cure the world.

I believe the word is "disorder", not mental illness.

It seems that you believe Darwin was an "Old biologist with an axe to grind". Please back up your statement.

M wrote:
Somehow I find this ironic...as your team is fighting for a more secular world, but demands that the world reject those that came up with these ideas to begin with and deserve just as much right to exists and think as the rest of us.

I agree that we all have a right to our own beliefs. Unfortunately in many cases, theists feel they have more rights in attempting to indoctinate everyone else to their way of thinking. We're supposed to be quiet while they evangelize.

We hope for people to start thinking for themselves instead of "just going along".

 

 

I view it as paranoia when another group has to be gotten rid of(especially since they make up over half the world) for the world to be a better place.

And when I said "old biologists" I was taking a snap at Dawkins, not Darwin Eye-wink

I also don't see how you can justify calling it a 'disorder' either.

And I also never recalled there being a great majority of Theists expecting Atheists to be quiet. I think the most of us think otherwise. Without you guys we wouldn't be able to strengthen our own arguments.

And I am glad you hope for people to start "thinking for themselves", because I'm hoping for the same thing...as long as you can cope with the fact that some people will think their way into Theism.

And I like your responses...therein I like you. Your attitude is certainly one to mark in my book as likable, but don't be expecting wedding bells...I have a fiance I wouldn't dream of leaving Sticking out tongue

I'd prefer to shake on it. No spit intended Eye-wink

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Apostate
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MrRage wrote: Apostate

MrRage wrote:
Apostate wrote:
How much of the hostility could we diminish if we changed our approach a little?
I'm not to sure how to give a good answer to this question. I think a PR campaign would be superficial. If you go around challenge beliefs, your going to be hated in the US, no matter what. If we want to be seen as "normal" people, lets act normal. (I think that's a stereotype anyway.)
The example that comes to my mind is this: as the gay community struggles for tolerance and acceptance from society at-large, images in the media of some of the more preceived "extreme" depictions of the gay community doesn't help the cause as much as interacting with gay people who are everyday, ordinary people. For example, if one's perception of the large and highly diverse gay population is formed by watching a gay pride parade, it is understandible why some people might be freaked out.

Just the same, if someone who is steeped in a theistic worldview has no framework by which to comprehend atheism and atheists other than by hearsay and images obtained via the media, and if those images tend to portray us atheists are angry, and in some instances focus on eccentric people who just happen to be atheist, it can scandalize an easily scandalized individual.

There is room for diversity in atheism, obviously, and I would be the last person to impose a standard of "normalcy" upon anyone. I am suggesting that we need to make ourselves more visible within society at-large, and not because of our being atheists, but rather in spite of it.

When will we see a television family siuation comedy that has atheists as its principal character? In such a scenario, these characters do not have to constantly make reference to their lack of theism, rather, they live ordinary lives, and provide comedic entertainment. When things happen, rather than having the cliché annual holiday episode, they don't. When someone dies or a trying time occurs in their lives, they don't pray or hold a religious funeral or talk about god.

We need to create a climate of "safety in numbers." I believe that the number of "non-believers" is much higher than the opinion polls indicate. I believe that there are probably many atheists who are "in the closet" that are elected to public office and who are in prominent positions in commerce. I see many parallels with homosexual persons and their circumstances. We are only just now seeing within society open tolerance and acceptance in certain contexts.

As atheists, we need our own television shows (our own "Will and Grace&quotEye-wink, we need our own parades and marches, we need our own lobbying groups.

This is what I mean by "normal." Putting in the public eye and mind that we are just as diverse a group as any other. 


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M wrote: Please re-read my

M wrote:
Please re-read my response Rage. I tried to distinguish between two certain groups. I confessed to lump all together would be dishonest...and I still hold to that;

I know you qualified your statements. I acknowledged that you did. My point still stands.

M wrote:
however I feel that a certain majority who do the things I listed are not helping in light of what has happened in less than a century in history.

Once again, have you read the article? What atheist are doing can in no way be compared to what the Soviets did. Those who make the comparison are committing an equivocation fallacy.

This isn't the only thing you said. You did several personal attacks, and you haven't backed them up with actual rebuttals. You completely ignored that part of my post.


Brian37
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Sentinel wrote: SEVERAL

Sentinel wrote:

SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term "atheism" has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.

Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was "not at all to be tolerated" because, he said, "promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist."

That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims "never to doubt" the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.

Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity's needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn't have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the "beginning" or "creation" of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.

The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, "The God Delusion," this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don't know precisely how the Earth's early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase "natural selection" by analogy to the "artificial selection" performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don't know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn't know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn't arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don't tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences. There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.

Cool Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature's laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.

From the atheist point of view, the world's religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn't have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as "wishful thinking" and "self-deception." There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.

In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn't already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won't discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn't make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

 

I dont know if anyone has advised you. But if you are going to copy a story please post a link to where you got it from and quote the source. This is an artical that appeared in several papers across the United States and was written by Sam Harris.

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MrRage
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I agree with what your

I agree with what your saying, Apostate. I think what would help is if more atheist did "come out of the closet."

Here's some experiences I had along these lines.

I grew up in a very racial diverse place, San Antonio TX. Something like 60% of SA is Hispanic. There's several military bases that bring in people from all over. If you're in the US Air Force, you've probably been to SA. Needless to say, I'm fine being around people different from me. As a matter of fact, I like it. I've met so many different types of people in SA, and enjoyed getting to know them.

Then I went to graduate school at Texas A&M. Something like 90% of the student population are white Texans. While I was there, there were several assaults on foreign students, all by white attackers. This came as a big shock to me that a place 200 miles from where I lived could be so bigoted. The university was making a big deal about bringing diversity to the school. I was pretty happy to leave that place, though.


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This is the article that

This is the article that lead me to this site in the first place. Think I read it in the L.A. times online. It was good to see a mirror of my viewpoint in a newspaper, when usually all you usually see is some god bullshit.

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By the way, the original

By the way, the original post here is from an FFRF nontract by the same name as the title.


M
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MrRage wrote: M

MrRage wrote:
M wrote:
Please re-read my response Rage. I tried to distinguish between two certain groups. I confessed to lump all together would be dishonest...and I still hold to that;

I know you qualified your statements. I acknowledged that you did. My point still stands.

M wrote:
however I feel that a certain majority who do the things I listed are not helping in light of what has happened in less than a century in history.

Once again, have you read the article? What atheist are doing can in no way be compared to what the Soviets did. Those who make the comparison are committing an equivocation fallacy.

This isn't the only thing you said. You did several personal attacks, and you haven't backed them up with actual rebuttals. You completely ignored that part of my post.

I am not comparing them with the Soviets, rather I am stating quite obviously that this frightens people after what happened less than a century ago with several anti-religious governments, etc.

And yeah, I don't like Dawkins. That was meant as a personal attack. But it is true that they are ameature theology critics. It also seems to be true that the majority of the anti-theists movement is made up of younger people as well as the fact that that many in the anti-theists movement are waging "wars" on Christmas and the like.

I really don't see what was wrong with my reply. I never generalized all Atheists, but picked on a certain type that I don't like at all and said that it is justifiable for people to be mistrusting and scared after all the horrid things they have seen or heard of come from these sort of attitudes.

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M wrote: I am not comparing

M wrote:
I am not comparing them with the Soviets, rather I am stating quite obviously that this frightens people after what happened less than a century ago with several anti-religious governments, etc.

I understand that fear. I agree with Dennett in that we need to understand religion and spirituality before we make any decisions about exterminating religion. But, there are certain strains of religion that need to die out, e.g. Muslim extremists.

Sapient and his squad are combating religion in the marketplace of ideas, as it were. They're not, as far as I know, in favor of coercing people into atheism.

M wrote:
And yeah, I don't like Dawkins. That was meant as a personal attack. But it is true that they are ameature theology critics.

I can understand not liking Dawkins. He doesn't pull his punches. I'm not that crazy about him either. I prefer constructive criticism though. If you're going to attack him, attack what he says. Give me some arguments against his position. Just because he has an ax to grind, just because he's old and an amateur theologian doesn't mean what he's saying is wrong. You also accused Harris of hypocrisy. I'm sure you know this, but personal attacks don't prove anything. If you're going to attack them, attack what they say and back it up. No assertions.

M wrote:
It also seems to be true that the majority of the anti-theists movement is made up of younger people as well as the fact that that many in the anti-theists movement are waging "wars" on Christmas and the like.

What's wrong with being young? I don't really care for the war on Christmas deal, so I'm going to leave that alone.

MrRage wrote:
I really don't see what was wrong with my reply. I never generalized all Atheists, but picked on a certain type that I don't like at all and said that it is justifiable for people to be mistrusting and scared after all the horrid things they have seen or heard of come from these sort of attitudes.

The thing I felt was wrong was your personal attacks, as I wrote above.

I thought you were basically saying, "The stereotypes are true." But I see I was wrong about that.


Susan
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M wrote: I view it as

M wrote:
I view it as paranoia when another group has to be gotten rid of(especially since they make up over half the world) for the world to be a better place.

I'm not aware of anyplace where it has been asserted that another group should be eradicated. What we would like to see is theism eradicated. Nope. Not into killing 'em off, just hopefully getting them to think for themselves and allowing them to change their minds.

M wrote:
And when I said "old biologists" I was taking a snap at Dawkins, not Darwin Eye-wink

Be very very careful. I'm much closer in age to Dawkins than you might think. Laughing

M wrote:
And I also never recalled there being a great majority of Theists expecting Atheists to be quiet. I think the most of us think otherwise.

I did not say "great majority", I said "in many cases". Here is an example of some of the messages we get.

M wrote:
Without you guys we wouldn't be able to strengthen our own arguments.

Personally, I think it's a shame that you need arguments from Atheists to bolster arguments for your faith. Seems to me that if your faith is so correct and peerless, your arguments should have already been in pretty good shape.

M wrote:
And I am glad you hope for people to start "thinking for themselves", because I'm hoping for the same thing...as long as you can cope with the fact that some people will think their way into Theism.

Read around for forums for awhile and you'll see posts from folks such as yourself that are already theists. You'll also see posts and messages from folks that have broken free of theism, some who have done so by coming here to the RRS. (A very nice example started with a blog entry here and later blog entry here.) I don't remember seeing any posts indicating someone started as a non-believer and became a theist because they started thinking for themselves.

(I've been wrong before, but I sure don't remember seeing any of those.)

 

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M
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Susan wrote: I'm not

Susan wrote:

I'm not aware of anyplace where it has been asserted that another group should be eradicated. What we would like to see is theism eradicated. Nope. Not into killing 'em off, just hopefully getting them to think for themselves and allowing them to change their minds.

I never said you wanted them 'killed off', but that your assertions that they have a mind disorder and that they are the majority responsible for evil in this world gives a pretty good incentive for anyone brave enough to do it.

And 'think for themselves' = becoming Atheists, huh? Interesting.

 

Susan wrote:
Be very very careful. I'm much closer in age to Dawkins than you might think. Laughing

Oh, but you don't look it Smiling

The great thing about it though is that women have an unwritten right to not have to disclose their age. So I'll just keep calling him an 'old biologists' and I'll just forget you told me that Sticking out tongue

 

Susan wrote:
I did not say "great majority", I said "in many cases". Here is an example of some of the messages we get.

Interesting.  

Susan wrote:
 

Personally, I think it's a shame that you need arguments from Atheists to bolster arguments for your faith. Seems to me that if your faith is so correct and peerless, your arguments should have already been in pretty good shape.

We don't 'need' Atheists to strengthen our arguments. They simply help in the process. The same is true for Atheist's positions. A good debate and criticisms strengthen any position or destroy it.

It seems to me that you have extremely high and irrational standards for a position.

 

Susan wrote:

Read around for forums for awhile and you'll see posts from folks such as yourself that are already theists. You'll also see posts and messages from folks that have broken free of theism, some who have done so by coming here to the RRS. (A very nice example started with a blog entry here and later blog entry here.) I don't remember seeing any posts indicating someone started as a non-believer and became a theist because they started thinking for themselves.

Well if you want to make RRS a prime example I think it's a pretty bad example, as all this place does it attack cliches and doesn't really go after anything else. I'm all for destroying cliches, but I think the lot of you cannot seem to recognize that there are more than just believers of southern baptists fundementalism. Furthermore, this doesn't discredit the very fact that there have been Atheists that have become Theists.


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MrRage
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M wrote: Well if you want

M wrote:
Well if you want to make RRS a prime example I think it's a pretty bad example, ...

What would you say is a good example of an atheism advocacy website?

M wrote:
... as all this place does it attack cliches and doesn't really go after anything else. I'm all for destroying cliches, ...

So, I assume then you've read most of the threads and listened to most of the shows. Is that true?

Yes, we deal with cliches, but your fellow theist keep bring stuff like Pascal's wager up all the time. Even you bring up some of the biggest cliches of all when you talk about Stalin being an atheist.

M wrote:
... but I think the lot of you cannot seem to recognize that there are more than just believers of southern baptists fundementalism.

I recognize that. Do you care to bring up a real issue? It's got to be something that hasn't been addressed here before. This issue can't be any cliche, can't be something the Baptists can latch on to. Go ahead and start a thread about it.


M
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MrRage wrote: What would

MrRage wrote:
What would you say is a good example of an atheism advocacy website?

 Any website that doesn't demonize their opponents Eye-wink

I also tend to find more rational thinking among the mixed groups.

Mr. Rage wrote:
So, I assume then you've read most of the threads and listened to most of the shows. Is that true? Yes, we deal with cliches, but your fellow theist keep bring stuff like Pascal's wager up all the time. Even you bring up some of the biggest cliches of all when you talk about Stalin being an atheist.

No, I have not read or seen ALL of the debates and shows. I don't have that much time. But I can make a good analysis by looking at the arguments on average that are presented here.

And yes, I think that when Theists bring up Pascals Wager they are making a big mistake; however, I think it is equally wrong to judge all of Pascal's work based on the Wager.

Furthermore, I have never used Stalin to decry Atheism (as I believe you are referring to my Hitler thread). The only thing I used Stalin for was to prove that Atheists are not immune from ideologies or dogma simply because they don't believe in a higher power. 

MrRage wrote:
I recognize that. Do you care to bring up a real issue? It's got to be something that hasn't been addressed here before. This issue can't be any cliche, can't be something the Baptists can latch on to. Go ahead and start a thread about it.

 

Which is why I like you. You are different from many here. And I will be bringing in more topics as I post here (as will my fellow peers). My friend "W" will be posting some interesting stuff soon and perhaps a few others will join in to make this place a little more diverse Smiling 

I obtained my Black Belt in History. Don't mess with this Master Historian.


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M wrote: Any website that

M wrote:
Any website that doesn't demonize their opponents Eye-wink
I also tend to find more rational thinking among the mixed groups.

I think "demonize" is rather strong, but whatever. Christian sites are just as guilty. I'm all for diversity, though. I was wondering if you knew of a better site. Something that does atheism advocacy without demonizing people.

M wrote:
No, I have not read or seen ALL of the debates and shows. I don't have that much time. But I can make a good analysis by looking at the arguments on average that are presented here.

Yes, there's a lot to read.

Since you can make this analysis, do you care to back up your claim that "all this place does it attack cliches and doesn't really go after anything else?" Or is this just another claim you're not going to back up? By the way, I'm still waiting for you to give evidence for Harris' hypocrisy.

M wrote:
And yes, I think that when Theists bring up Pascals Wager they are making a big mistake; however, I think it is equally wrong to judge all of Pascal's work based on the Wager.

No one is judging all of Pascal's worked based on his wager. Where are you getting this from? It would be hard to do math and science without using the Cartesian plane.

M wrote:
Furthermore, I have never used Stalin to decry Atheism (as I believe you are referring to my Hitler thread). The only thing I used Stalin for was to prove that Atheists are not immune from ideologies or dogma simply because they don't believe in a higher power.

I'm not referring to your Hitler thread. I'm referring to this thread. Originally, you weren't saying "that Atheists are not immune from ideologies or dogma" (which I completely agree with, but is beside the point of this thread). You linked the establishment of communist regimes to atheism and the desire to get rid of religion. But don't take my word for it. Here's what you wrote:

M wrote:
... Stalin and communists regimes tried to set up Atheistic states because they believed that religion is merely the opiate of the masses that needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth and in turn mass slaughtering millions of their own people ...

Moving on.

M wrote:
Which is why I like you.

Thanks. It's good to be liked.

M wrote:
You are different from many here.

Which is funny, because I largely agree with most of the other atheists here. But I'm a freethinker before I'm an atheist.

M wrote:
And I will be bringing in more topics as I post here (as will my fellow peers). My friend "W" will be posting some interesting stuff soon and perhaps a few others will join in to make this place a little more diverse Smiling

OK, I'm looking forward to it. Diversity is great, but remember this site is primarily set up for atheists (or so I've been told). Theists are let in of course, and I enjoy discussion (and sometimes arguing) with theist.

Is "W" your alter-ego?


M
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I answered most of your

I answered most of your concerns (MrRage) in the Hitler thread.

 

And W is a friend of mine. We just like to use one letter aliases. 

I obtained my Black Belt in History. Don't mess with this Master Historian.