The Open Mind: Atheism and Critical Enquiry

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The Open Mind: Atheism and Critical Enquiry

Many of you will know that I am openly critical of many of the US admistrations policies, especially their foreign policy.  By 'you' I implicity mean atheists, given the nature of this forum. I have, outside of this forum, made similar claims towards theists. The difference in response is striking.

Atheists, often through a close inspection of the absurdities of the bible or an inter-textual scholarly analysis, develop their critical capacity in numerous and mutually reinforcing ways. The inconvenient internal contradictions expose themselves and one comes away empowered, enlightened, and perhaps vexed.

On the other hand theists, accepting the bible as the word of 'god', will take irrationality to new heigths in their eager defense of the indefensible. Quoting emotionally simplistic truisms and incoherent rationalisations, or just changing the subject. Appeals to fallacious argumentation are a common feature.

Religion, psychological compartmentalisation, post-rationalisation, self-deception, on the other hand, are mutually reinforcing ossifers of critical inference and genuine enquiry. They reinforce collectivist dogmatism and make it much easier for the media and public relations worlds to provide memes for them that will be digested with only minimum dyspepsia.

I conjecture that if a martian was to come to earth and read the The NYT, The Times and Le Monde, for example, their picture of the world who suffer the same levels of distortion that result from an honest analysis of the bible. In light of this it is striking to me to notice the difference between theistic and atheistic responses to my claims regarding US politics (and British too, btw). 

In nearly all cases athiests are more open to honest debate and a commitment to truth, the are less prone to shy away from the 'necessary illusions' imposed on them, as a priest imposes non sequitirs on his flock.

Theists, on the other hand, jump to epithets, and slogans: "You're anti-American!!" they scream, or "Why don't you study your own country (I'm Irish) instead of ours!!". I doubt the absurdity of these statements need explication but I can tell you that in any free society a term like "anti-american" or "anti-bolshevik" (the interesting historical provedence of the former) should be laughed at with the derision it deserves.

Psychologists have noted an interesting phenomenon of group dynamics. If you are in my group and do something to help me you will tend to generalise that good behaviour: "Tim is a good person" and when I do something negative like step on your toe you will tend to particularise: "Tim stepped on my toe."

However if I am not part of your group the opposite holds true. If you give me directions you will say: "Tim gave me directions to the campus earlier" and if I do something negative a response might be: "Tim is an asshole."

So: we tend to generalise the good and particularise the bad for members of our group, and particularise the bad and generalise the good of those from outside.

I will develop these ideas further in a later post, as I think they can shed some deeper understanding on the religious irrationality and its broader effects upon the democratic process.

Peace, Tim. 

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Thank you very much for

Thank you very much for that exposition Tim. You drew clear and logical points about the fallacious nature of religion.

In the spirit of the parallels you drew, you may wish to check the essay I wrote in the thread I started called the history of God. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.


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