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  1. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Yes, New Atheists have to be qualitivately better than Chritistians, if they' believe that atheism makes them morally and intellectually superior to Chrisitians, which they often do. If New Atheists stopped implying and asserting that, then I would agree with you. You think the assertion of moral and intellectual superiority without necessarily demonstrating is acceptable, because of the marketplace of ideas. I, however, think it's worthy of criticism. If someone keeps on pointing out how their atheism makes them more rational and humane then Christians, you can bet I'm going to take an issue if they start endorsing torture

    If you believe that the ideal state of humanity is for everyone to be atheist, you can bet that it's relelvant when atheists don't live up to their ideal. Just as it is when Christians don't live up to their ideal. The same standard applies.

    You can't claim superiority, and then accuse people of erecting a "strawman"' when you don't live up to that superiority.

    The solution is not missionary atheism, but, as Mane asserted, secularism. Secularism is a big tent, atheism is a small tent.
    You're missing the point. Atheists believe themselves superior because they have truth on their side; and Christians believe themselves superior because they have God and Jesus on their side. But it's all just trash talk until they meet on a level playing field: The marketplace of ideas.

    Again: When an atheist and a Christian sit down at a table, you have exactly the same thing on either side of the table: an intellectual with a big ego and a certainty that he’s right. Neither side has the ability to prove themselves superior *before* meeting in the marketplace of ideas. Obviously neither side can prove that it is superior; they're all fallible human beings. It's only the marketplace of ideas that will eventually distinguish between the two.

    Quit trying to exclude one of the parties before the contest even begins. Or, if you have to exclude someone because they've fallen short of expectations, then exclude the Christians; they're the ones that claim to have infallibility on their side. Christians are the ones falling short of their own high expectations. Athesists, on the other hand, never claimed to be anything more than fallible.

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    The people on the extreme ends of this spectrum are getting the most media attention, so as of now, there isn't a fair marketplace of ideas. Their views have been given constant audience, though extreme (or 'militant') atheists, having had this audience for a much shorter time than theists, are probably more deserving. But I think it's time for more tolerant and/or moderate views to receive their share of media attention. Everybody else needs to take a step back for a minute so that the playing field can be leveled.

    I agree with FineLine when it comes to the academic world, where we can generally trust that the wheat will be sorted from the chaff. We can’t when it comes to the general public. After thinking about it, my main frustration isn’t with “new atheists” at all. The mainstream media insists on “stirring things up” for the sake of ratings, covering the farthest and most incendiary ends of the spectrum, when in reality their lack of attention to moral/intellectual grey area helps keep public discussion stagnant.

    Anyway, to sum it up: unequal media attention results in a limited marketplace of ideas for the passive consumer to choose from. Most Americans, at least, are pretty passive consumers who spend more time absorbing mainstream arguments than self-educating. This is concerning to me, because I feel it's limited the scope of public discussions, if not more academic ones. Just my gut reaction, and I'm curious what other people think.

    This concludes the first rant I’ve ever gone on about the media. NF rite of passage?

  3. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    You're missing the point. Atheists believe themselves superior because they have truth on their side; and Christians believe themselves superior because they have God and Jesus on their side. But it's all just trash talk until they meet on a level playing field: The marketplace of ideas.

    Again: When an atheist and a Christian sit down at a table, you have exactly the same thing on either side of the table: an intellectual with a big ego and a certainty that he’s right. Neither side has the ability to prove themselves superior *before* meeting in the marketplace of ideas. Obviously neither side can prove that it is superior; they're all fallible human beings. It's only the marketplace of ideas that will eventually distinguish between the two.

    Quit trying to exclude one of the parties before the contest even begins. Or, if you have to exclude someone because they've fallen short of expectations, then exclude the Christians; they're the ones that claim to have infallibility on their side. Christians are the ones falling short of their own high expectations. Athesists, on the other hand, never claimed to be anything more than fallible.
    I think its a shame that your post started out so strong, the first two paragraphs couldnt really be faulted in my opinion but then in the final one you do exactly what you mentioned in the first.

    Unless that was some sort of deliberate ploy, aiming for someone to point it out precisely as I did but I'm not sure that's what you were aiming to do.

    Christians dont claim to be infallible, that's precisely the opposite of what any Christian would claim and it was heretical to claim otherwise, in most of the Christian traditions there is greater doubt about what can be known with certainty and about mankinds ability to know it than there is anything else, this was a bountiful (and unacknowledge today) heritage for scientists like Francis Bacon when they developed their investigative techniques.

    However, it has been one of the extremely unfortunate legacies of evangelism that it promises to people certainty, using it as an enticement, or perhaps preys upon the needs and anxieties of some people for certainty. There is much that is in evangelism which resembles marketing tricks, I would say early as well as later but I would say most definitely in the case of later day evangelism, especially with Tele-evangelism and the rise of evangelism as a cultural phenomenon of importance back during the Carter administration in the US (a lot of the younger posters probably dont remember the significance of testifying repeatedly to being a born again christian was at that time, about as often as Kennedy had to say he wouldnt be serving two masters if he was elected).

    The problem being that as having developed often in response to or in a very close relationship to evangelism militant atheism mirrors it. Consider the clip that Peguy posted of Richard Dawkins speaking to the RC priest, he had a preprepared script which would have fit the framework of a militant creationist, solo scriptural southern baptist but when located in an entirely different context it made no sense what so ever.

    There are big egos involved and more often than not it is played out as a contest and competition, truth and God are just easy casualties, the important thing is a sort of satisfaction which comes with the feeling of winning or defeating the other. As to why that is and as to why the internet seems to have stoked it SO much is another topic and probably an interesting one, it probably speaks in no short measure to what or how people ascribe value or worth to themselves and others in the present day, its all about the appearences of being smart and clever I think, in a terrible school yard way.

    Any social or political "harm" has been neutralised perfectly by the fact that the energy is channelled into metaphysical speculation, while both sides may occasionally seek to anchor it all in some reflection on the consequences of belief in terms of actions that's minor, I really think it is, and only used ever to illustrate the villainy of the opposition. Imagine if the same energy and motivation was directed to democratising participation in elections, workplaces, schools, health provision? Nope, discussing God and an afterlife is a pretty useful diversion from discussing tradition, innovation, economy, life etc.

  4. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by decrescendo View Post
    The people on the extreme ends of this spectrum are getting the most media attention, so as of now, there isn't a fair marketplace of ideas. Their views have been given constant audience, though extreme (or 'militant') atheists, having had this audience for a much shorter time than theists, are probably more deserving. But I think it's time for more tolerant and/or moderate views to receive their share of media attention. Everybody else needs to take a step back for a minute so that the playing field can be leveled.

    I agree with FineLine when it comes to the academic world, where we can generally trust that the wheat will be sorted from the chaff. We can’t when it comes to the general public. After thinking about it, my main frustration isn’t with “new atheists” at all. The mainstream media insists on “stirring things up” for the sake of ratings, covering the farthest and most incendiary ends of the spectrum, when in reality their lack of attention to moral/intellectual grey area helps keep public discussion stagnant.

    Anyway, to sum it up: unequal media attention results in a limited marketplace of ideas for the passive consumer to choose from. Most Americans, at least, are pretty passive consumers who spend more time absorbing mainstream arguments than self-educating. This is concerning to me, because I feel it's limited the scope of public discussions, if not more academic ones. Just my gut reaction, and I'm curious what other people think.

    This concludes the first rant I’ve ever gone on about the media. NF rite of passage?
    In some respects I think the real militant atheists have been eclipsed, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, they all tortured, starved, persecuted and murdered on the scale of outrageous atrocity in attempts to forcefully eradicated religion as a possible rival to their own ideas and visions.

    That's different from Dawkins et al (although not acknowledged by them much) who in the main I think are guys with personal troubles whom history or circumstances have provided them with a platform and audience, Dennett seems increasingly depressed or despairing to me, moving from denying God and religion to objective truth and morality is all pretty extreme.

    I really dont know why you've got that confidence in academia, I think they are ivory tower intellectuals of the first order and perhaps its got to do with feeling that they better reflect your views at this present time. To be honest I've met as many fanatically devoted libertarians and marxoids in academia (more of the former than the later) to ever think that they'd be objective or honest.

    So far as the media goes and talk about the masses, well, you're part of the masses bub, I always remember that. When I was younger I used to read books or analysis which talked about the ignroant masses of the public and they were this and they were that, perhaps, but the reality is that that's a kind of literary ploy, its like the author inviting you into a conspiracy, you and me know, they dont, and its a form of flattery of the ego that people are all too quick to indulge or respond to. Passive consumption is an issue, so is maximal consumption and I dont know if we'll ever reach the point of optimal consumption, but again its not a matter of "others do this", "they do this", we're all prone to doing that from time to time and sometimes for longer times than others. A lot of it can be contingent upon stress or other factors like that too.

    I used to know an old guy who was pretty reasonable and rational but when watching the news, particularly in later years, he'd get steadily more angry and with that the cognitive functioning would drop off presumably because whatever the issue happened to be, and sometimes it was the middle east or outbreaks of diseas and famine, he'd excitedly nod and say, conspiratorially, "you know what this is dont you... the protestants, again..." then he'd be off on a rant. Everyone has their own version of "them" and I think its more than simple scapegoating, its a lot like saying, yup, this isnt me, this has got nothing to do with me, I'm nothing like this.

  5. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    If you believe that the ideal state of humanity is for everyone to be atheist, you can bet that it's relelvant when atheists don't live up to their ideal. Just as it is when Christians don't live up to their ideal. The same standard applies.

    The solution is not missionary atheism, but, as Mane asserted, secularism. Secularism is a big tent, atheism is a small tent.
    I'm really not sure secularism is a solution, it would depend what that looks like and implies.

    Why would the ideal state of humanity be for everyone to profess to be of a single mindset or belief? I have beliefs and I think they make my life better, maybe they could make others lives better too, on the other hand I wouldnt want everyone to think exactly the same thing, it seems like a foolish goal to me, practically unachieveable and a horrible prospect if it where.

    I dont know what the atheist ideal is besides not believing in God's existence, that's easily achieved, it takes no effort at all and I dont believe would change anyones life that much. It wouldnt make anyone moral or amoral per se, I dont believe that theism does either, definitely not in this day and age.

    Here's a link, I dont agree with everything this guy says, the certain pronouncements about heaven and utopia for instance, although the illustration of consciousness at stages in history with the brain being wired differently is a good and important one, so I think that a modern's belief could be contra their soft wiring in the brain even if they're testifying to a belief in God's existence:-



    To take it a step further, believing in the existence of God doesnt mean amoral or moral behaviour either, belief in the existence of and belief in are not the same thing, and there have been believers in God and Gods through the ages who did not believe that God(s) were conscious of mortals or cared or could or would intervene or be manifest in this world at all.

    The vid clip I think illustrates the discussion that believers and non-believers should be having instead of the one that is, the point about ancestory and the bible, its a flippant, throw away remark about everyone being descended from the same two individuals but when I hear literary interpretations such as that it seems the whole point of the story in the first place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'm really not sure secularism is a solution, it would depend what that looks like and implies.

    Why would the ideal state of humanity be for everyone to profess to be of a single mindset or belief? I have beliefs and I think they make my life better, maybe they could make others lives better too, on the other hand I wouldnt want everyone to think exactly the same thing, it seems like a foolish goal to me, practically unachieveable and a horrible prospect if it where.
    Secularism is not the belief that a better world would be created if everyone was an atheist. Secularism is best understood as anti-fundamentalism. Secularism gives space for atheists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, New Agers, etc.Antitheism only allows room for atheism, and considers everything else unacceptable, even philosophies like deism or pantheism.

    Anything other than doctrinally correct atheism to be unacceptable, regardless of what an individuals political beliefs actually are. Antitheism (or "millitant atheism" but that term seems to offend people). If you happen to be a liberal Christian (who exist, and no, I'm not one of them) antitheism considers that unacceptable, because they are hypocrites for "picking and choosing".

    At best, it's hard for me to seem much good coming out of that ideology. I agree that neither atheism nor theism has any bearing on a person's morality. Unfortunately, just as there are a lot of Christians who thinks that being a Christian is enough to make them more moral, there are a lot of atheists who think that being an atheist is enough to make them moral. I would consider those people to be antitheists, for the most part. I suspect many of them were raised in evangelical fundamentalist environments, and unwittingly have carried over some of that evangelical mentality despite rejecting Christianity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    At best, it's hard for me to seem much good coming out of that ideology. I agree that neither atheism nor theism has any bearing on a person's morality. Unfortunately, just as there are a lot of Christians who thinks that being a Christian is enough to make them more moral, there are a lot of atheists who think that being an atheist is enough to make them moral. I would consider those people to be antitheists, for the most part. I suspect many of them were raised in evangelical fundamentalist environments, and unwittingly have carried over some of that evangelical mentality despite rejecting Christianity.
    Perhaps that's true, I meet as many militant atheists are struggling with repressing some major spiritual inclinations or drives, Victor Frankl wrote about this and I think it was probably at a time when the worst of the trauma he'd experienced in life had effected him so I'm not sure that its that worthy a theory but it certainly does seem to correspond to what I've known to be the case in people I've met, I've known some mad religious people to become mad atheists and vice versa. Whatever it is that's underpinning either state of mind seems to be capable of being channelled through either of the archetypes.

    I really dont see how certain beliefs constellations do anyone any good, not the individual professing them, not anyone else they have contact with either.

    Now I would say that I believe the state of militant atheists is more miserable and potentially harmful than a healthy religious status but I dont think that even moderate atheists are happy people in my experience either, militant atheist or fundamentalist believer I think both are over compensating for something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    Ha ha this sound good, but atheist militant looks very negative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'm really not sure secularism is a solution
    Just the other day the Dalai Lama said an ethical society can't be built on religion because the religions can't agree, rather, he said, an ethical society can be built on secular ethics.

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