Friday, July 18, 2008

Richard: guest blogger 3

Bashing Believer's Bogus Beliefs

Why do people on this blog, and atheists in general for that matter, feel the need to bash and trash something they clam they do not believe in?

They are not bashing God, because there is absolutely no God to bash. They are bashing sky fairy believers, for several very good reasons:

1. Each group of people that build their lives around a particular version of sky fairy invariably seeks to create a society that operates according to the imaginary morality of their sky fairy. They expect others to do so as well. The others are often tortured or killed for their beliefs, whether the others are from a different Sky Fairy Group (say that permits abortion, or homosexuality) or are atheists. It is absurd to hear Christian Americans advocating more religion in America at the same time as Muslims are attacking America... a nation built on the principle that religion is a private matter to be kept apart by the "wall between church and state'. Now Bush is directing tax monies contributed by all sorts of people towards specific religious groups. This is wrong, and was vehemently opposed in early America, particularly by the Baptists who seemed to better understand that state controlled religion was deadly and the height of arrogance. "Arrogance" that men should presume what God wants for all individuals of a nation.

2. One Sky Fairy Group frequently objects to the beliefs of other Sky Fairy groups, all too frequently leading to violent conflict.

3. In opposing religious belief, atheists are protecting their freedoms... of all groups in America the person least likely to be accepted for President is not a Mormon, or a Catholic, or a Black or a Woman, it is an atheist. Atheists are thereby under-represented in a political society based on representation by democracy.

4. Sky Fairy believers expect the education system to inculcate religion in children. This is an abominable tyranny over the minds of children who, like you, have their thinking skills undermined at an early age, to be replaced by doctrine.

5. Atheists cannot get mail on Sundays, cannot get groceries in areas where stores are closed on Sundays, and are not considered honest if they are not religious.... the biggest irony of all, because all sky fairy believers are necessarily dishonest. Their dishonesty is so thoroughly established and bolstered by those around them, that they cannot see that they are!

6. The morality of nearly every sky fairy group is focused on death (through the pretense of an 'after-life', a contradiction of terms). In viewing all humans (atheists too) as God's (or Satan's) children, these believers subordinate their Real World happiness to a Fantasy non-World, and adopt moral views that are terribly destructive. E.g. The Ten Commandments, for example, are a complete moral Abomination! They fail for various reasons. Do not conclude that rejecting "Thou shalt not commit murder" means murder is morally acceptable. It is not that way at all. Please read this article on the Commandments, by Dr. Binswanger. Binswanger is head and shoulders above Dawkins and Hitchens, who are the two main pro-atheism authors at the moment. Dr. Binswanger has much more important and fundamental work to do; work which I follow closely. I do not care to read Dawkins or Hitchens, their main, and well publicized, arguments are far too shallow and naive to waste my time with.

7. Lots of atheists are dishonest in their rejection of God, and your complaint about them is apt. However, there is a small group who are rationally and objectively atheist and who live by a stringent and life-affirming morality.


Fiery said...

On point 5, atheists aren't just "not considered honest if they are not religious" but are actually considered to be fully immoral without god.

"If you dont' believe in god, what stops you from slitting your neighbors throat?"

Xavier Onassis said...

This was a good post.

I even clicked through to Dr. Binswanger's essay on the 10 Commandments and found some concepts I had not fully appreciated.

Very informative.

But Richard almost lost me when he said "Dr. Binswanger has much more important and fundamental work to do; work which I follow closely. I do not care to read Dawkins or Hitchens, their main, and well publicized, arguments are far too shallow and naive to waste my time with."

This incredibly arrogant statement reminded me of those armchair physicists who work at the post office and have determined (through their own Gedankenexperiment while sweeping floors and cleaning toilets) that Newton, Einstein and Hawking were ignorant hacks who got it all wrong.

Other than that, I enjoyed this post, and the link to Dr. Binswanger, very much.

Thank you.

Thump Thump Eyes said...

"a nation built on the principle that religion is a private matter to be kept apart by the "wall between church and state'

How did we all let go of this concept?

Very informative post Richard, and Dr Binswanger's essay was also a particularly refreshing and interesting read. I then found myself reading article after article on that site, thanks for the link, I'll be going back there!

IMHO Dawkins and Hitchens are still particularly relevant in terms of shaking many people out of their irrational total acceptance that all things religious are good for them. Their mode of delivery is like a slap on a cold face, very stinging and painful but neatly manages to snap the slapee back in to questioning-everything mode.

With all the god bothering thats going on in the world we need more of that!

Poodles said...

I think Dawkins and Hitchens are very relevant; in that because their works have become so popular and mainstream they have reached people who may not have ever been reached by atheism. I don't think they should be dismissed because they appeal to the masses. Sometimes, that is exactly what it takes to trigger people to think and grow.

On that same thought, I don't think it is productive for any of us to critize the how, the why or the thought process behind another persons atheism. I don't care how someone got to this road, or what means brought them to this end I am just glad they made it. As atheists we have enough shit to deal with in society. I don't feel it is productive to judge each others atheism, it only weakens us.

Richard said...

I wrote,
"I do not care to read Dawkins or Hitchens, their main, and well publicized, arguments are far too shallow and naive to waste my time with." (Emphasis added.)
And, XO noted,
"This incredibly arrogant statement reminded me of those armchair...."

I completely see how XO could draw that conclusion.

First, the entire list that Fiery posted was from a private email to someone else. Second, I ask him, and any who thought the same, to consider the portion I emphasized. It was intended to briefly indicate that my position was not a vacuous "armchair" conclusion, but a product of knowledge.

For the record, I have listened to several hours of talks made by Dawkins, read excerpts from, and reviews on, both books by Dawkins and Hitchens, by sensible and not so sensible writers. Taken together, these reveal the main arguments. Further, I have read Dawkins "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker". In the latter, Dawkins deals quite a bit with divine creation.

My saying their arguments are too shallow is justified. They do not integrate fundamental facts of reality that the Greeks identified 2000+ years ago, particularly the incontrovertible Natural Law: Ex nihilo nihil fit the Latin for "out of nothing, nothing comes".

If one is to use concepts, that is, think, properly, then "nothing" must have a definite meaning (the absence of any thing, including ‘Space’). Religionists hold that God created the universe ex nihilo, but never ask how nihil created their God! ... that is a serious snerker. Dawkins and Hitchens do not really deal with it but, and this is the most important point, even that would not be enough!

The fundamental in the above is NOT whether or not God exists. Indeed, telling or raging at people that God does not or cannot exist will not make their belief disappear. As I have said here before, it is not enough to be against something, one has to be for something that will displace what he opposes. So, the problem is not “belief in God”, but the “lack of reason” that makes such belief possible. The minds of Men must displace God with Reason.

One must promote reason. Reason and knowledge are not automatic (and nor are they the product of feelings as some believe...e.g. "follow your heart"). Therefore reason must be learned and instituted through practice. This requires understanding (in philosophical essentials, not in scientific detail) how we can be certain of our senses, how our sensory information results in percepts and how those percepts lead to abstractions, to concepts (universals) and to principles. It means understanding logic, deduction and induction (a tough one).

These are matters that Rand took great strides toward resolving, strides that are unmatched in the history of knowledge, since Aristotle. They are not even mentioned in her novels. Binswanger and Peikoff have spent years delving into the full meaning of her work, and have extended it in some areas.

As to what appears to be the arrogance of my statement: with experience on the nature of ideas (e.g. faith in the supernatural) one gets better at seeing which arguments are derivative and which ones are so absolutely fundamental that they are the final smack-down to an arbitrary claim. When a defender of a broad principle (“there is no God”) repeats various derivatives, without going to the essential matter, then s/he is stirring an incomplete stew without adding necessary ingredients. Sometimes just a title or heading will expose their ‘stirring’ for what it is.

It is more rewarding to seek appropriate new ingredients, than watch (with frustration as) the existing ones swirl back and forth.

Richard said...

I should have first thanked XO and TTEyes for their praise. However, a private email already had me thinking of the above comment, and on seeing XO's reaction, I wrote it while it was fresh in my mind.

Richard said...

In my first comment, above, I remarked that
"one gets better at seeing which arguments are derivative and which ones are so absolutely fundamental..." This expands on why I can safely say I do not want to read Hitchens or Dawkins.
Consider the following article title from today’s National Post, as an example:
Toronto to study shade mandate
Without reading further, one can readily expect certain things:
The city council is going to use its coercive powers to examine shade:
Why? Bureaucrats need ways to establish their importance (power). They need to be seen to be doing something useful. I expect to see some rationalization about shade having to do with Global Warming or Skin Cancer or both. It will all be in the name of helping us (altruism).
By what right? Governments have long taken it upon themselves to spend our money in ways they believe are better for us than the way we would spend it. They have no right, but they do it and millions of citizens willingly go along. Arguments for this will, therefore, never touch the matter of politicians Right to take and spend our money, or consider the invasiveness their new plan represents.
Then, by what justifications? Only strictly concrete rationalizations about cost and benefit without reference to principled government and its intervention in citizens’ lives.
What consequences: the city budget will have to be enlarged to pay for the study. If a body is established to maintain or regulate shade then standards, regulations and bylaws are likely to be added to the mix. Not only will our pockets be picked but our behaviour may eventually be influenced, forcibly.
Now I go to the content of the article, to see if my expectation is off. Normally I would not bother.
Here are the first few excerpts (my bolding)


TORONTO • City bureaucrats will fan out across Toronto this summer to analyze the angle of the sun at different times of the day, measure the amount of direct or reflected sunlight and assess the “quantity and usability” of shade in parks, playgrounds and pools.

The “shade audits” are part of a pilot project authorized by city council this week that could soon result in Toronto regulating shade.

A future policy could dictate the ratio of shade required based on the number of children that typically play in an area —and not just from trees, but from city-built special canopy structures, screens and sails.

Supporters of the initiative argue that with soaring rates of skin cancer caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays in sunlight, the city has a duty to shield children.


I think I was bang on. (BTW, it would be funny if it wasn’t true.)

As for the justifications, the article quotes all sorts of people. All their debate is balefully concrete, systematically evading principles of government and Rights (as I said above). Here are all the arguments the article presents:
* shade regulations really won’t protect children enough to be worthwhile;
* high rise children have no other choice of places to play;
* it will be too costly;
* is another bureaucracy needed;
* parents could just be instructed in the use of sunscreen;
* even with sunscreen, children can only spend limited time outdoors [without shade].

No doubt you would have been able to guess much the same as I did, and “not bother with” reading the whole article.

Why examine such a folly in detail, when its nature is all but unmistakable, just from the title? Other follies may need more than the title to recognize, but once recognized, should one pursue the details? I think not.

And look where it will head if they go through with the whole thing. Laws will be needed to indicate the right number of children playing in a given park, so some will not be 'forced' to play in sunlight. Shade police will monitor numbers of children, and perhaps send surplus visitors home with advisements about sunscreen. We may even see public parks with solar panel canopies (and a crisis of vitamin D deficient children).

The program will be deemed a success because they now have control over shade and playing children. No one will examine skin cancer rates to see if the original justification for the policy was achieved.

(Cynically) soon all children will have to be in State regulated padded rooms. The lunatics are running the asylum.

The same approach can be used when Dawkins 1) concedes that science cannot prove there is no God saying there is just no reason to assert that there might be one, or when he 2) appeals to Evolution to ‘explain’ a source for an atheist morality. One can quickly, and rationally, expect intellectual floundering among concretes, just like that of the city councilors.

Richard said...

Regarding Poodles comment. I hope I have made a good case as to why not judging atheists is a mistake. Atheism is only the non-belief in God. That, by itself, accomplishes little.

Communist atheists have proven to be every bit as deadly as religious inquisitors.

Just as Pat Robertsons, Jerry Fallwel and Billy Graham pave the way for religious statism (and new inquisitors), atheists Hegel and Marx paved the way for an evil, statist implementation of atheism. America needs a new kind of KGB no more than it needs a new kind of religious police. America already has an environmental police (the EPA).

There is so much, so very much, good stuff in the World and in Man, that needs to be raised to the fore. To put it strongly, productive atheists assert positives, and do not merely reject deities. The difference matters.

Poodles said...

I did enjoy reading the link by Binswanger. I hope it becomes viral and many fundamentalists get a chance to read it, although they won't believe it is relevant, I fear.

As for judging other atheists.

I completely understand your point that fellow atheists need to be the first to call psychotic asshole on anyone who uses atheism as a means to evil, just as it should mostly be fellow christians who castrate Warren Jeffs.

However, I worry it could be taken too far.

I suppose the next logical question would be "who decides"?

Who would be the person(s) to judge other atheists, and on what grounds?

I would never be the first to decide what makes a "good" or "bad" "atheist". I have done things in my life that some people wouldn't consider "good" or "moral", should this make me a "bad atheist", or a "bad human" and who defines bad?

Who should get to make the "moral rules"? I think this makes us as bad as some of the fundamentalist christians if we start doing that.

Evil is evil, both atheism and religion have been used to perpetuate horrible atrocities, but the people that do those things should be separated from the people that follow the paths of either.

I do also agree that neither Dawkins or Hitchens delve into some of the more basic, yet, harder to comprehend parts of atheism. I don't think that diminshes their mark on getting somee people to begin thinking. They are like a catalyst. Some have become atheist from reading their works, and have left it at that. Some continue to expand their knowledge based on what initial nugget of truth was given them by either writer.

I personally don't care how far someone goes in their quest to become an atheist. If they read Harris and think, "huh, I don't really think I believe either." That is good enough for me.

Richard said...

"Who would be the person(s) to judge other atheists, and on what grounds? "

Each one of us must judge and prepare to be judged! Just as we do here. We do it with words and idea, not laws or more direct violence to the Rights and Freedoms of others.

Poodles then says,
"I have done things in my life that some people wouldn't consider "good" or "moral", should this make me a "bad atheist", or a "bad human" and who defines bad?"

However, that is not the ideological/philosophical level we are here discussing. At the level of individual judgment one does so just as one always does... "Reg Glob get lost!" or "Welcome to my blog Poodles!"

Who should get to make the "moral rules"? I think this makes us as bad as some of the fundamentalist christians if we start doing that.

Again, it depends on what you mean by rules. Were Jefferson et al. making rules, or trying to stop rules and actions whereby one man physically interfered with another through some initiated force? You come to this same judgment when you speak of the religious or atheists committing atrocities, and of setting apart such people ... jail would be a good place! Those who advocate such atrocious ideas deserve to be ostracized, ignored or intellectually challenged.

I am not disagreeing with Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens being a step in the right direction, but their influence is weakened because their arguments are either incomplete or unsupported. Sure they may generated more atheists. But, they leave room for that Dinesh D'Souza guy to fight back... and there is no deeper reasoning by which he can be shut up. It is that level of reasoning I am arguing for.

Just as the religious have tried, and are again trying, to impose their morality on others, so would 'bad; atheists. It is morally right to stand for freedom, and atheists should do so properly (not as lamely as Libertarians).