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Are the New Atheists just as messed up as Believers?

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
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Found this to be a thought provoking read:



Summed up as follows:

To conclude, let me bring things full circle: At least some studies have shown that, to quote Phil Zuckerman, secular people are "markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian" than religious people. It's a real shame that New Atheism, now swallowed up by the IDW and the far right, turned out to be just as prejudiced, racist, dogmatic, ethnocentric, closed-minded and authoritarian as many of the religious groups they initially deplored.

The issue, as usual, in my opinion at least, is ego certainty, an unconsciously motivated need to be right with any who doubt representing a threat. Where the need for ego affirmation exists, enemies, a threat, will always be created, seems to me.


Curious to hear any critique of the article or personal observations etc.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
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It just looks like the author of that had a wildly unrealistic understanding of what atheism is.

It's not a political, moral or equitable philosophy. I mean it's not even a philosophy at all.
It's just an understanding that "woo" is still "woo" even if it has a cultural momentum behind it.

I'm an atheist. I don't use that to inform my attitude to race relations or political issues. But as an atheist I'm free to make my own decisions there unencumbered by scriptures from an unseen, uncaring, and non existent mythical figure.
 

Moonbeam

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It just looks like the author of that had a wildly unrealistic understanding of what atheism is.

It's not a political, moral or equitable philosophy. I mean it's not even a philosophy at all.
It's just an understanding that "woo" is still "woo" even if it has a cultural momentum behind it.

I'm an atheist. I don't use that to inform my attitude to race relations or political issues. But as an atheist I'm free to make my own decisions there unencumbered by scriptures from an unseen, uncaring, and non existent mythical figure.
I think the author is referring to some known group of people he lumps under the rubric, New Atheists, the secularism of which have his approval but the dogmatism of which he claims associates them with the right. So I would say he is referring to that group and not the definition of Atheism particularly.

Also, just out of curiosity, if God is actually unseen, how do know he does not influence your decisions?
 

Commodus

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Oct 9, 2004
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In a sense, this "New Atheism" supports the very notion of atheism: people often use their belief systems to justify what are ultimately very personal motivations. We cherry-pick, we make excuses, we deliberately misinterpret things.

Not that I'm excusing horrible actions, of course. Rather, it's that morality is as much an individual effort as it is society's, and you shouldn't see atheism as a "get out of moral considerations free" card just as you shouldn't rely on a millennia-old storybook to tell you how to live in the 21st century.
 
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MtnMan

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The so called 'new atheists' are as confused as trumpanzees that still think they are republican.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
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I think the author is referring to some known group of people he lumps under the rubric, New Atheists, the secularism of which have his approval but the dogmatism of which he claims associates them with the right. So I would say he is referring to that group and not the definition of Atheism particularly.
But it's a fairly arbitrary way to lump people together. I can lump the alt right in with people who drink water and then say water drinkers are terrible people.
Also, just out of curiosity, if God is actually unseen, how do know he does not influence your decisions?
It's a fair point. But if God is unseen and undetectable then God can have no influence on anyone. Therefore God doesn't exist.
If God impinged on reality we could detect it, if we can't detect his actions then he doesn't exist on any real metric.
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
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From your post one might infer you approve of lazy. :)
Phil Torres coined a term and then attacked his creation. What’s missing from his article is any connection between atheism and the conduct of the folks he claims to lead an atheist movement, as if lack of belief requires a movement.
 

woolfe9998

Lifer
Apr 8, 2013
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I think the author is referring to some known group of people he lumps under the rubric, New Atheists, the secularism of which have his approval but the dogmatism of which he claims associates them with the right. So I would say he is referring to that group and not the definition of Atheism particularly.

Also, just out of curiosity, if God is actually unseen, how do know he does not influence your decisions?
If the Flying Spaghetti Monster is unseen, how do we know he does not influence our decisions? Because there's no proof he exists, that's why.
 

Moonbeam

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Nov 24, 1999
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In a sense, this "New Atheism" supports the very notion of atheism: people often use their belief systems to justify what are ultimately very personal motivations. We cherry-pick, we make excuses, we deliberately misinterpret things.

Not that I'm excusing horrible actions, of course. Rather, it's that morality is as much an individual effort as it is society's, and you shouldn't see atheism as a "get out of moral considerations free" card just as you shouldn't rely on a millennia-old storybook to tell you how to live in the 21st century.
Shouldn't yes but:

It seems that for the individuals the author fingers as fascist leaners, the certainty of their anti-faith has led them to a rather dark place. The question then becomes, for me at least, whether throwing the baby out with the bath water is a wise idea, whether the results are an inevitability of secular thinking, or a product of some personal defect. These folk were often considered cultural heroes of secularists, the author, apparently, included.
 

Moonbeam

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Nov 24, 1999
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If the Flying Spaghetti Monster is unseen, how do we know he does not influence our decisions? Because there's no proof he exists, that's why.
No argument here. I don't know. I suspect that when I am hungry for pasta it is some product of my own mind, but I don't go around denying my urge has nothing to do with him. For all I know it might. I just never feel any need to have an opinion about it.
 

cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
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Deplorables will suck anything up that has a pop culture sub culture reference presence in an effort to boost their numbers. One red pilled motherfucker, aka magaist anarchist bannonist bigotist asshole. Some1 comes to mind. They had to fuck over “red pill” too, why the hell not “atheist”. Fucking morons.
 
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MichaelMay

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Jun 6, 2021
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In a sense, this "New Atheism" supports the very notion of atheism: people often use their belief systems to justify what are ultimately very personal motivations. We cherry-pick, we make excuses, we deliberately misinterpret things.

Not that I'm excusing horrible actions, of course. Rather, it's that morality is as much an individual effort as it is society's, and you shouldn't see atheism as a "get out of moral considerations free" card just as you shouldn't rely on a millennia-old storybook to tell you how to live in the 21st century.
Atheism is in no shape or form a belief system nor can it be used to shape anyones opinions other than NOT having beliefs based on "there is a God". An atheist can appreciate a whole host of teachings from various religions and make the combination of good ideas a belief system but atheism in and of itself is not a belief system at all.

The claim is that there is a God, I reject that claim because there is no evidence for it. That's it, that's ALL atheism is.
 
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Moonbeam

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But it's a fairly arbitrary way to lump people together. I can lump the alt right in with people who drink water and then say water drinkers are terrible people.

It's a fair point. But if God is unseen and undetectable then God can have no influence on anyone. Therefore God doesn't exist.
If God impinged on reality we could detect it, if we can't detect his actions then he doesn't exist on any real metric.
The author seems to want to lump certain atheists together to protect what he finds of value in secularism, open-minded tolerance, for example, from a secular atheism that he feels is quite comfortable with authoritarian fascism. I don't think that is equivalent to lumping them together with people who drink water. Hard to see anything dangerous about that. I am not too fond of fascists myself.
 

MichaelMay

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Jun 6, 2021
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I think the author is referring to some known group of people he lumps under the rubric, New Atheists, the secularism of which have his approval but the dogmatism of which he claims associates them with the right. So I would say he is referring to that group and not the definition of Atheism particularly.

Also, just out of curiosity, if God is actually unseen, how do know he does not influence your decisions?
For things that are unseen and cannot be tested in any shape or form there can never be any evidence. Even if they DO exist they cannot meddle in the natural world because if they did they would no longer be unseen and could be tested.

I suppose if you consider Spinoza's God...
 

WelshBloke

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Jan 12, 2005
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The author seems to want to lump certain atheists together to protect what he finds of value in secularism, open-minded tolerance, for example, from a secular atheism that he feels is quite comfortable with authoritarian fascism. I don't think that is equivalent to lumping them together with people who drink water. Hard to see anything dangerous about that. I am not too fond of fascists myself.
He's conflating two things that are unrelated.
He's picked something he doesn't like and then he's picked people who have that trait and another one then said they are linked.

So...

I think people who eat pineapple on pizza are terrible. Look at all these people with brown hair that eat pineapple on pizza. People with brown hair are terrible.

Atheism isn't a moral choice (and I say this as an atheist), it's a logical choice. I base my morals on other things than the existence/non existence of God.
 
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zzyzxroad

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Are new "New Atheist" really just a group of nuts who happen to be atheists? Seems like an extremely fringe movement and hardly newsworthy.
 

Moonbeam

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Phil Torres coined a term and then attacked his creation. What’s missing from his article is any connection between atheism and the conduct of the folks he claims to lead an atheist movement, as if lack of belief requires a movement.
What I see is a group of atheist proponents who have gathered influence as secularists the author decries as displaying moral corruption in the form of arrogant certainty. I personally see no need for atheism to require a movement but that doesn't mean it can't create one out of that very need to believe becoming the same need not to believe. As Atheism needs no movement, it also, similarly should need no defense but I see in secular society, particularly, a very strong need to defend it.
 

ondma

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Mar 18, 2018
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But it's a fairly arbitrary way to lump people together. I can lump the alt right in with people who drink water and then say water drinkers are terrible people.

It's a fair point. But if God is unseen and undetectable then God can have no influence on anyone. Therefore God doesn't exist.
If God impinged on reality we could detect it, if we can't detect his actions then he doesn't exist on any real metric.
How would you detect it (her/him)? Unseen and undetectable things, even in the physical world, have an influence. For instance gravity is unseen, right? It can be "detected" by its effect on falling objects, but until Newton, nobody recognized or understood its existence.
 

MichaelMay

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Jun 6, 2021
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He's conflating two things that are unrelated.
He's picked something he doesn't like and then he's picked people who have that trait and another one then said they are linked.

So...

I think people who eat pineapple on pizza are terrible. Look at all these people with brown hair that eat pineapple on pizza. People with brown hair are terrible.

Atheism isn't a moral choice (and I say this as an atheist), it's a logical choice. I base my morals on other things than the existence/non existence of God.
Or the classic example of mustachism. If Hitler had a mustache and Stalin had a mustache then surely people with mustaches are evil?
 
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WelshBloke

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How would you detect it (her/him)? Unseen and undetectable things, even in the physical world, have an influence. For instance gravity is unseen, right? It can be "detected" by its effect on falling objects, but until Newton, nobody recognized or understood its existence.
Gravity has always been detectable. Stuff didn't suddenly start being affected by it after Newton. Everytime anyone dropped something (or didn't float off the planet) they were detecting gravity.

I'm not talking about a deep understanding of things.

There is no detectable trace of God. None.
If something leaves no trace or effect on reality then it doesn't exist.
 
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MichaelMay

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What I see is a group of atheist proponents who have gathered influence as secularists the author decries as displaying moral corruption in the form of arrogant certainty. I personally see no need for atheism to require a movement but that doesn't mean it can't create one out of that very need to believe becoming the same need not to believe. As Atheism needs no movement, it also, similarly should need no defense but I see in secular society, particularly, a very strong need to defend it.
I would disagree, absolute certainly is quite different from maximal certainty.

I can be maximally certain that we are not in the matrix or that there isn't a God without being absolutely certain.

The problem with Gods is that as soon as you start giving the features that would manifest in the natural world they are immediately testable and without evidence we can be maximally certain that they do not exist.

That still doesn't believe that you are absolutely certain that the matrix or God isn't true, only that even if they were it would be of absolutely no consequence.
 
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MichaelMay

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How would you detect it (her/him)? Unseen and undetectable things, even in the physical world, have an influence. For instance gravity is unseen, right? It can be "detected" by its effect on falling objects, but until Newton, nobody recognized or understood its existence.
Gravity isn't just observed, it's testable for effect. If a God has any effect in this world we would be able to observe and test it.

Newton was wrong, BTW but we still observed the effects of the unknown phenomena long before Newton. We have never observed the effects of a God.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
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That still doesn't believe that you are absolutely certain that the matrix or God isn't true, only that even if they were it would be of absolutely no consequence.
I like this. It's what I was trying to express from a different direction.

God has nothing to do with us. He doesn't effect us. There's nothing of us that affects him. If there was any relationship either way we would be able to detect some physical effect on us.
 

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