Daniel Dennett: New Atheism has changed the face of America

0

The movement known as New Atheism has changed the political landscape of the United States, according to philosopher and prominent non-believer Daniel Dennett.


Atheism isn’t a particularly new idea. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus long ago suggested it would be best to ignore all the various gods and goddesses, since the universe was nothing but atoms and void.

But the intrusion of religion into the political sphere in the United States helped launch New Atheism, Dennett told Andrew Brown of the Guardian.

Written By: Eric W. Dolan
continue to source article at rawstory.com

NO COMMENTS

  1. So when can we tell all the religious moderate and atheist butterers ( “I’m an atheist but…”) appeasers, “I told you so”?

    Anyway like I’ve been saying for about 2 years. Atheism is now mainstream.

    When Hitchens was telling people to, “get used to it” … well he was right.

    Thanks to the authors, bloggers, posters, lawyers, and everyday people who are open atheists!

  2. Brown is still arguing on the basis that atheism is a ‘belief system’ which can be equated with religions. Apparently, he just won’t give up a fallacy that keeps the sneer sitting comfortably on his face.

    • In reply to #4 by Ornicar:

      The problem of moderate religions is that they teach that believing without evidence is a virtue, and that makes fundamentalism possible.

      Well said! That should go on a T shirt.

    • In reply to #5 by Fouad Boussetta:

      Daniel Dennett is right that non-believers are less and less embarrassed expressing themselves every day that goes by in North America.
      And that’s just great.

      After coming back from London, I’d add the UK into this list as well. I ran across several posters with typical extremism, people handing out tracks, tons of women in full burkas, etc.

    • In reply to #6 by ShesTheBeth:

      I think it a mistake to conduct a discourse on an ad hominem basis; it causes the argument to become less focused and diffuse.

      Engage with the topic not the individual.

  3. Too bad there wasn’t enough time left for Dennett to address the good atheist/bad atheist false dichotomy. But… no surprise here, apologists for religion can only win arguments by cheating. Like Sam Harris said, it’s much easier to make a mess than to pick it up (and it also takes much longer).

    It is an uphill battle and those who have the skill and patience to do it day after day, year after year deserve our utmost respect. I tip my hat to Daniel Dennett. The mere act of debating those people without getting upset is already an exploit. And it seems to be finally paying off but the game is far from over.

  4. Have to agree with ShesThe Beth. He looks and sounds like he’s been sucking lemons to prepare for a root canal. And it strikes me as a rather patronizing attitude to think, “Well, I’ve got it figured out but let’s not disturb the blissful torpor of the sheep with facts.” The atheist-but crowd strikes me as not only patronizing but cowardly.

  5. Andrew Brown rather reminds me of Cowslip from Watership Down. “We of the atheist-but crowd think you New Atheists should stop talking about the snares in the hedges. It’s a dull topic we don’t find worth discussing.” Sheesh. Mr. Dennett also missed an opportunity to tell the guy to quit calling him “Shirley”.

    • In reply to #9 by misseliza99:

      Andrew Brown rather reminds me of Cowslip from Watership Down. “We of the atheist-but crowd think you New Atheists should stop talking about the snares in the hedges. It’s a dull topic we don’t find worth discussing.” Sheesh. Mr. Dennett also missed an opportunity to tell the guy to quit calling…

      Dude, you shouldn’t disrespect Watership Down like that, but I do like your analogy.

  6. How dare this fellow begin to dissect the “nones” on the census form, without in turn dissecting the respondents filling in a particular denomination or faith group! I’m sure a large group of responses are just expressing a form of tribal loyalty. Until fairly recently I had also given a denomination though I haven’t held a religious belief since my teens. I did so, merely to prop up the numbers in my brand of cultural identity as opposed to all the rest.

  7. I liked best the moments when Dennett engaged Socratically; way to go!

    However, I think I’m slowly coming round to thinking that it is indeed impossible, in the majority of cases, to dissuade an individual of their religious faith. It’s like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling.

    Epicurus had the right idea; don’t waste your time.

  8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: RD is so much better than DD at picking off the kinds of low-hanging fruit that the likes of Brown keep dangling in front of people, like in this interview.

    P.s: the fact that Brown looks like he’s chewing on a bee shouldn’t be held against him; his weak counter-arguments, however, should.

  9. Please notice the following doctoral thesis, in which Emanuel Rutten presents a kind of proof for the existence of god.

    A Critical Assessment of Contemporary Cosmological Arguments
    Towards a Renewed Case for Theism
    http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/38278

    === Quote from the above document === ]

    The Implications Of The Idea that reality Is Ultimately Metaphysically Intelligible

    Below I present and assess in full detail my third suggested argument.
    Take the following modal-epistemological principle, connecting possible worlds, knowledge and truth: ‘If it is metaphysically impossible to know p then p is necessarily false’. This principle seems cogent.
    For, if a given proposition p could be true, then, plausibly, there is some possible world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.

    === End Quote ===

    I think the proof has a deadly flaw.

    Let me rephrase the sentence starting with ‘For’:

    For, if the a priori assumption is made that that in some possible world p is true, then, plausibly, there is
    some possible world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.

    Whether or not ‘plausibly’ is applicable here, depends on the plausibility of the actual truth of p.
    If p is actually true, then, maybe, there is possibly a world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.
    If p is actually false, which is also an acceptable a priory possibility, then supposing that p could be true is nonsense.

    Concluding, nothing is said about the cogency of the principle: ‘If it is metaphysically impossible to know p then p is necessarily false’. The principle is only applicable because of the implicit assumption that it is impossible to know something about ‘nothing’ in the classical sense; it is not applicable for the case that p is only assumed to be true, because this assumption is unfounded.
    For ‘nothing’ in the quantum mechanical sense, it appears that the principle does not hold.

    We cannot change reality, so we must accept it as it is. So far, it seems that God does not exist outside the human brain, to assume otherwise seems premature and unreasonable. Rutten is a learned man who believes in a God with a capital ‘G’. Maybe this God interferes with his judgement.
    I think that religions, based upon the concept of a personal god, are attractive for naive believers and repulsive for atheists.
    A religion could do without a personal god and thus without al the nonsense in the writings that are supposedly the words of god. Such a religion can be taken more seriously, as long as its teachings are rational. It is not needed to abandon the word ‘god’, it could be used e.g. as an abstraction of goodness.

  10. The reason for rejecting religious nonsense is, first and foremost, that it’s nonsense. Whether or not it’s harmful is another question. Faith in homeopathy or the Holy Ghost may be harmless but that doesn’t negate arguments that it is unjustified. An indulgent nod and a smile may be the convenient response when these topics are raised. It depends on the social context. This is not a philosophical position, though. For atheist but-ters, like Andrew Brown, to claim that it is, shows a lack of thought.

    • In reply to #16 by aldous:

      The reason for rejecting religious nonsense is, first and foremost, that it’s nonsense. Whether or not it’s harmful is another question. Faith in homeopathy or the Holy Ghost may be harmless but that doesn’t negate arguments that it is unjustified. An indulgent nod and a smile may be the convenient…

      I don’t think it is so easy to remove harm from consideration. Most religious belief systems include a wide range of nonsense about the nature of reality. Believing such nonsense, behaving as if the nonsense is true, will without doubt result in harm in a not insignificant proportion of instances, because reality just happens no matter what people believe.

      For instance, it is easy to conceive how faith in either homeopathy or the holy ghost could be harmful, and it is just as easy to find real, uncontroversial, examples in which faith in those things has proved harmful.

  11. Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize. They are both extremists and intolerant, for the most part, and they both think they have “the TRUTH” and everyone who disagrees with them is stupid. They also have this “if you are not with me, you are against me” kind of attitude. Oh yes, and if you are a non-believer like myself who is not as aggressive towards religion as the new atheists, then you are a “religious apologist.” Your typical fundamentalist pastor has the same attitude, only with different beliefs.

    • In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

      Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize. They are both extremists and intolerant, for the m…

      I think you need to distinguish between the people who actually are the leaders in the movement and people who comment on the Internet. People like Dawkins and Dennet are always polite and reasonable and don’t say bigoted things about all religious people. I do agree with you though about the comments here. I’ve mostly just given up objecting when someone says something ridiculous such as “all religious people are evil” (or stupid, or mentally ill, etc.) If I did reply to every such comment here it would be a full time job. But that’s common on the Internet, the comment section on any site brings out many people who are just in general rude and unhappy.

      But regarding Dawkins, I have to say I am disappointed in the way he seems to be turning his movement into an “us vs. them” movement. Why for example someone as brilliant as he is would waste his time trading insults with fools via Twitter is completely beyond me. I’ve been an atheist most of my life and I never felt animosity toward religious people as a group at all. I can barely comprehend where such notions come from. Of course I feel contempt for people like Pat Roberts but its obvious to me that most religious people are nothing like him.

      • In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

        I never felt animosity toward religious people as a group at all.

        It’s about ideas, in the first place, not about people. There’s no need to feel ‘animosity’ towards people with silly ideas. The silly ideas are comedy gold, though, and Richard Dawkins is burbling with fun on his twitter account. Don’t be so solemn about religion. It’s really a matter for laughter, as long as its adherents aren’t set on murder and mayhem.

        • In reply to #21 by aldous:

          In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

          I never felt animosity toward religious people as a group at all.

          It’s about ideas, in the first place, not about people. There’s no need to feel ‘animosity’ towards people with silly ideas. The silly ideas are comedy gold, though, and Richard Dawkins is burbling with…

          As Richard said in a different context “I gratefully accept the rebuke” that I’m too serious — and to prove I still like a good laugh, this is one of my favorite youtube clips ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRitr8RYsh4

        • In reply to #21 by aldous:

          In reply to #18 by Red Dog:
          Don’t be so solemn about religion. It’s really a matter for laughter, as long as its adherents aren’t set on murder and mayhem.

          I agree there is plenty worth laughing at in religion. But I don’t think its all just a matter of laughter. By just mocking religion we lose sight of some very interesting scientific questions about how and why it evolved. From an evolutionary standpoint its kind of amazing that all primitive people had religion. Religion requires a huge investment in time, resources, and (often quite literally) “skin in the game” (like mutilating part of your body). How can we explain from the standpoint of a sociobiologist or anthrologist why vjustirtually all primitive people had it? I think that’s a very interesting question and in fact it was Dennet who first made me realize just how interessting a question it was when I read his book Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.

        • In reply to #21 by aldous:

          In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

          I never felt animosity toward religious people as a group at all.

          It’s about ideas, in the first place, not about people. There’s no need to feel ‘animosity’ towards people with silly ideas. The silly ideas are comedy gold, though, and Richard Dawkins is burbling with…

          Yes, Andres Heredia and Andrew Brown just need to watch some Fr Ted.

      • I am right with you brother. I agree with you %100 actually.
        In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

        Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize. They are both…

    • In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

      Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize.

      Perhaps you should look at the difference between understanding scientific evidence and reasoning, and the uncritical acceptance of “faith-thinking”. If I have to choose between flying with a pilot who carries out all the safety checks after the service engineers have carried out their safety checks and ones who have “faith” the plane will fly OK., – that is an easy choice for me.

      They are both extremists and intolerant, for the most part, and they both think they have “the TRUTH”

      Scientific evidence and scientific methods are the best way we have of arriving at “truth” about reality. Fudge in the middle is only a head-down. pseudo-position, which abdicates from responsible thinking or action.

      Oh yes, and if you are a non-believer like myself who is not as aggressive towards religion as the new atheists, then you are a “religious apologist.”

      …or just a servile doormat for the aggressive religious to practice walking on, while they build up their confidence to attack those with more backbone, and impose their nuttery on other people!

      and everyone who disagrees with them is stupid.

      Anyone who thinks you can use “faith” in thinking-through, engineering, medical, or scientific processes, IS stupid! Accident investigators’ reports say so!

      Your typical fundamentalist pastor has the same attitude, only with different beliefs.

      This is where you are confused! Scientific knowledge is not equivalent to Biblical-literalist “beliefs”!

    • In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

      Substitute “New Atheist” with “agnostic anti-theist” and you may begin to realise how silly your comment sounds. Just because we abandon revelation does not mean we have to slip into solipsism. We still have the scientific method (FFS!), which provides an ever increasingly accurate approximation of truth.

    • In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

      Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize. They are both extremists and intolerant, for the most part, and they both think they have “the TRUTH” and everyone who disagrees with them is stupid. They also have this “if you are not with me, you are against me” kind of attitude. Oh yes, and if you are a non-believer like myself who is not as aggressive towards religion as the new atheists, then you are a “religious apologist.” Your typical fundamentalist pastor has the same attitude, only with different beliefs…

      Right on all points except one – with which your whole rant collapses: the “New Atheist’s” position is reason/ evidence based; absent adequate evidence “truth” claims are abstained from or qualified by reason. Godbotherers, to the contrary, “know” they have the truth – absence of evidence, contrary evidence, complete and utter absence of reason be damned.

      And yes, you are an apologist for beliefs held for very bad reasons which can lead to very bad results. A universal phenomenon not limited to the realm of religion e.g. thinking you can safely drive home drunk because you made it last time.

      • In reply to #29 by godsbuster:

        Right on all points except one – with which your whole rant collapses: the “New Atheist’s” position is reason/ evidence based; absent adequate evidence “truth” claims are abstained from or qualified by reason.

        But that’s not the argument that I was making and I don’t think its what Grapes of Roth had in mind either. My point wasn’t to say anything negative about the entire case that people like Dawkins make against religion. I agree with just about everything in The God Delusion. My only point was that when some people say religion is obviously evil because of things like the crusades but then also refuse to admit that atheism has to answer for Stalin (and I’ve debated with people who took that position on this site) they are hypocrites.

        • In reply to #32 by Red Dog:

          My only point was that when some people say religion is obviously evil because of things like the crusades but then also refuse to admit that atheism has to answer for Stalin (and I’ve debated with people who took that position on this site) they are hypocrites.

          Theism, Stalinism etc are ideologies and as such are supposed to be ideal, anything less than perfection is just not good enough. Atheism is not an ideology, it is merely the absence of one type of ideology. As an atheist, there is a negative space in my mind where theism would otherwise sit. It is up to me to fill that space with something. I could fill it with evidence based science, or I could fill it with some other ridiculous ideology like religion.

          Atheism has nothing to answer for because atheism doesn’t pretend to have any answers.

    • In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

      Yeah… I think I’m done with this “New Atheist” movement. I’ve come to realize for a while now that MOST of the new atheists, especially people who comment here, are not that much different from the religious fundamentalists they so much criticize. They are both extremists and intolerant, for the m…

      For the most part the New Atheist movement has liberated a segment of the population who have been keeping their views under wraps for most of their lives. This is a wonderful experience but it can lead to over-enthusiastic responses when we suddenly find ourselves on the side of the majority, or at least on the same side as most of the “smart” debaters. To gain perspective, try to put yourself in the place of someone who had to listen to all this pious drivel for years and years and yet not be able to respond due to notions of curtesy. There are very few forums where we have the power to express ourselves freely.

      Thank god for the Internet!

  12. Referring back to my previous analogy, complacency regarding the snares in the hedges is dangerous. It’s the insidiousness that is cause for concern. It’s easy to condemn someone who straps a bomb to his chest and write that off as a rare occurrence of ultimate religious extremism, but those aren’t the acts that do the most damage. The Banana Man and Ken Ham may seem harmless in their ridiculousness at first blush, but they aren’t just selling that snake oil to a few silly people, they have quite a following buying into that crap, and those folks are voting for political candidates, and working to influence public policy, and harassing school boards trying to interfere with the teaching of science, and teaching their children to carry on this tradition of destructive ignorance. It IS “us vs. them”, and declaring that folks who are trying to sound the alarm about the snares in the hedges are extremist rabble-rousers and that we’d all be better off if they would just stop talking about it is a dangerous proposition.

  13. Brown’s view seems to be that the believers aren’t doing any harm, it’s personal matter, so leave them alone. If only ! When believers start actively opposing science and reason, and taking action accordingly then their view needs to be opposed, and loudly ! Bloody hell, the modern world is difficult enough to comprehend without various religious experts inserting their mysticism into the cauldron.

    I’m afraid all religions promote a false view of reality, and they are all reactionary. One of the dead hands of the past that needs to be discarded, and the sooner the better. How someone like Mr. Brown can happily hobnob with his Christian friends, whilst knowing that they profess a belief that Jesus came back from the dead, and not challenge them, is beyond me. Sure politeness is one thing, but accepting absurdities is entirely another.

    Why should I put up with the views of the Pope and the CoE that evolution is God’s way of creating humans?

    Oh sorry, Andrew, did I knock your sherry glass over? Sorry old boy.

  14. Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

    The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its ridiculous to use Stalin or others as examples that demonstrate there is some inherent flaw in atheism that leads to evil or dictatorship. What I don’t understand is how people can then go around and say the Inquisition proves religion is inherently evil. The fact is that crazy evil people can distort any set of ideas to justify their evil. Those ideas could be mostly well grounded on reason and empricisim the way atheism is or they could be total nonsense like Christianity or Islam, either way the fact that madmen use the ideas for evil proves nothing, you have to evaluate the ideas on their actual logical consistency.

    • In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

      Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

      The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its ridiculous to use Stalin or others as examples…

      This comment was made by me not NoKiddingMan. I’m not sure how I did this, I’m typing on my Chromebook which I loathe because there are a zillion ways you can F things up by hitting the wrong accellerator keys and I type fast and often hit accellerator keys by mistake. Anyway wanted to make it clear that was me, I didn’t hack the site… although if I could remember what keystrokes I hit by mistake…

      • In reply to #27 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

        Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

        The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its ridiculous to…

        I, as an atheist, am not motivated to cause harm or force anyone through violence to become an atheist (integralist religious people are motivated). Atheism has nothing to do with morality. It is not a religion. It is lack of belief in God(s). That’s it. Dictators can also be atheists. In addition, atheism is not an ideology either. Dictators want power no matter what. They do not care whether you are religious or atheist. Lefists (communists), who are atheists, have killed each other over power. They killed anyone who was a threat. Organized religion can also be a threat to communism, which does not make it (religion) a good thing. Religious expansionism is historically a reality. It can also be combined with greed for money and political power. Religious dictatorship & expansionism need religious followers (leaders are believers in God). Anyone who denies the existence of God risks death in Islamic countries. I was born in one of those Islamic hells myself. I hope this has clarified what I meant by my comments.

        • In reply to #34 by NoKiddingMan:

          I, as an atheist, am not motivated to cause harm or force anyone through violence to become an atheist (integralist religious people are motivated).

          So what I think you are saying is that no rational person would use atheism as an excuse to put people in Gulags. And I agree absolutely. The problem is that a Christian would also say that no rational person could read the story of Jesus and use that as an excuse to torture people. And from my reading of the new testament I have to agree with that as well. That is my point. Homicidal sociopaths will twist any system to justify their crimes. If atheists are going to hold theists responsible for what the crazy people do with their ideas then atheists need to accept responsibility for what other crazy people do with our ideas.

          Atheism has nothing to do with morality.

          I disagree. Many moral systems use religion and God as a foundation for morality.If you get rid of religion its a reasonable question to ask where do morals come from? I actually think most of the New Atheists would agree with me. For example, I think Harris would definitely agree with me and would say that one of the reasons he wrote his book about science and morality was because he thought (and I agree with him) that science can to some extent take the place of religion in providing us with a rational foundation for morals.

    • In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

      Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

      The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its ridiculous to use Stalin or others as examples…

      Indeed, using the USSR and other systems to point out flaws in atheism is short-sighted. At the same time, however, there does seem to be an argument made by certain ‘new’ atheists that the soviets just happened to be atheists and that atheism played little role in their behavoiur. This is not particularly true. As Froese and others have shown, implementing scientific atheism in Russia was a core part of soviet ideology:

      http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z3211C.pdf

      • In reply to #28 by The Grapes of Roth:

        In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

        Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

        The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its r…

        There is no moral codes in atheism. It simply means lack of belief in God until evidence is found to justify the belief. If just by being an atheist one can become Stalin or Pol Pot or a killer of any kind, then such persons should continue to believe in the God(s) of their choice.

      • In reply to #28 by The Grapes of Roth:

        In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

        Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

        The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its r…

        Not scientific atheism, but ideological atheism (similar to a religion with a leader who to be adored/worshiped or jailed/tortured/killed….

    • In reply to #26 by NoKiddingMan:

      Atheists like Stalin & Pol Pot did not kill to expand atheism. They killed for political power. Religion has killed to force religion in people’s head (at least) or for both political power and religion.

      The No True Scotsman defense. I agree that its ridiculous to use Stalin or others as examples…

      This is ODD! These are not a reply to my own comment made by me!!

  15. To follow up on the Red Dog/NoKiddingMan discussion, Stalin and Pol Pot did not establish their dictatorships in the name of an atheist agenda. Their lack of theism is incidental. As atheists are we responsible for apologizing for every crazy and horrible thing people do that isn’t motivated by religion? I will certainly condemn horrible and inhumane actions, but based on the horror and the inhumanity. It’s not that the perpetrators are “bad atheists”; they are bad people.

    In contrast, many horrible and inhumane things are done explicitly for declared religious reasons. And not just the obvious horrible things like jihads, suicide bombings, crusades, and inquisitions, but the more subtle and insidious things like denying people medical care, preventing people from getting married, interfering with the teaching of science, obstructing research, protesting at funerals, and various and sundry social policies that are attempts to establish little theocratic dictatorships. And the majority of these things are pepetrated by folks claiming to be “mainstream” and “moderate” believers. The religious component isn’t incidental, it’s integral, and they even declare that the religious component entitles them to special consideration and dispensation to tromp on their fellow human beings in the name of god. The only truly moderate believers are those who speak out against the abuses perpetrated in the name of their religion, lest we mistake their silence for agreement.

    • In reply to #37 by misseliza99:

      To follow up on the Red Dog/NoKiddingMan discussion, Stalin and Pol Pot did not establish their dictatorships in the name of an atheist agenda. Their lack of theism is incidental. As atheists are we responsible for apologizing for every crazy and horrible thing people do that isn’t motivated by re…

      The atheism of the Bolscheviks was not simply incidential. Atheism was a core part of Soviet ideology. Lenin wrote, in “The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion”, that “dialectical materialism…is absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion”. He also believed that “Atheism is a material and inseparable part of Marxism”. Once the Bolsheviks took power, they began to destroy the influence of the Russian Church not merely by depriving it of political privileges but by closing churches and monasteries and killing priests and bishops. That this was systematic and ideological is evident from reading the words of the communists themselves. Yemelyan Yaroslavsky, who had fought with the Bolsheviks since the 1905 revolution, led their League of Militant Atheists, and said “it is our duty to destroy every religious world-concept”. Kazan Cathedral, to illustrate the force of their anti-religious spite, was shut down and turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Soviet officials heavily promoted scientific atheism. The doctrine was taught in schools, advocated in the media, and emphatically propagandized in books, posters, the arts, during holidays, and with celebrations. When Richard Dawkins said that “atheism had nothing to do with…Stalin” he was wrong.

    • In reply to #37 by misseliza99:

      To follow up on the Red Dog/NoKiddingMan discussion, Stalin and Pol Pot did not establish their dictatorships in the name of an atheist agenda. Their lack of theism is incidental. As atheists are we responsible for apologizing for every crazy and horrible thing people do that isn’t motivated by re…

      That is the No True Scotsman defense. When someone does something wrong in the name of THEIR ideology that shows how evil is the natural result of such an evil ideology. But when someone does something wrong in the name of OUR ideology well obviously they aren’t really Scottsman (or atheists) becaise no true atheist would do that.

      And a Christian or Muslim or Jew would say the same thing. I’ve heard people make the arguement. “Jesus said you should turn the other cheek and even love your enemies, obviously people that would torture you because of your beliefs aren’t really Christians. “

    • In reply to #37 by misseliza99:

      To follow up on the Red Dog/NoKiddingMan discussion, Stalin and Pol Pot did not establish their dictatorships in the name of an atheist agenda. Their lack of theism is incidental. As atheists are we responsible for apologizing for every crazy and horrible thing people do that isn’t motivated by re…

      I agree.

  16. In reply to #19 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #17 by Andres Heredia:

    Oh yes, and if you are a non-believer like myself who is not as aggressive towards religion as the new atheists, then you are a “religious apologist.”

    …or just a servile doormat for the aggressive religious to practice walking on, while they build up their confidence to attack those with more backbone, and impose their nuttery on other people!

    I’m not particularly aggressive towards religion, Alan. But nor am I a doormat just because I don’t behave dickishly toward those around me who happen to believe in something I don’t. Massive hostility on the part of some of us is probably essential for our species’ advancement, but aggression can only take us so far.

    and everyone who disagrees with them is stupid.

    Anyone who thinks you can use “faith” in thinking-through, engineering, medical, or scientific processes, IS stupid! Accident investigators’ reports say so!

    I’m not really sure why you’ve enclosed the word faith within scare quotes. It does exist you know, and isn’t automatically deserving of our contempt.

    Your typical fundamentalist pastor has the same attitude, only with different beliefs.

    This is where you are confused! Scientific knowledge is not equivalent to Biblical-literalist “beliefs”!

    Thank goodness there will always be those who are only too happy to point out when we’re confused. Where would we be without you guys and your heroic backbones.

  17. Any claim relating atheism with criminal activity is a scientific one (psychology). This requires well designed studies that include all possible variables into consideration. It also requires peer reviews before such claims become evidence of reality.

    The percentage of atheists in prisons relative to their percentage in society?
    The percentage of religious …………………………………………………………..?
    Family history

    etc etc.

    • In reply to #42 by NoKiddingMan:

      Any claim relating atheism with criminal activity is a scientific one (psychology). This requires well designed studies that include all possible variables into consideration

      I agree. However, I’m not making a claim about atheism and criminal activity. I’m not saying that the primary cause for Stalin being a criminal was that he was an atheist.

      All I’m talking about is logical consistency and objectivity, two things that are rather important for critical thinking. And if you want to claim the mantle of critical thinking the first thing you need to do is to be especially critical of your own belief system because science tells us that as humans we are prone to be more accepting about information that supports what we already believe and critical of information that challenges it. Robert Trivers wrote a whole book on the subject. So if I want to (rightly) say its wrong to hold atheism responsible for the actions of evil people I have to say the same thing about ideologies I don’t like such as Christianity.

      • In reply to #43 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #42 by NoKiddingMan:

        Any claim relating atheism with criminal activity is a scientific one (psychology). This requires well designed studies that include all possible variables into consideration

        I agree. However, I’m not making a claim about atheism and criminal activity. I’m not sayi…

        I do not have any beliefs at all. I accept reality based of evidence provided after thorough analysis and peer reviews. I did not claim anything about atheists not being capable of doing anything wrong. I seek evidence for relating atheism, even partially, with crimes committed by any atheists (percentage of atheists in prison compared to that in population etc etc etc). This must be done properly. Any scientific claim must go through proper scientific steps. I am never certain about anything. Nor can I accept just claims by anyone or any article without proper analysis (psychology, maybe psychiatry, social behaviors, etc etc etc). First, a hypothesis is generated. The null hypothesis is that atheism does not lead to immoral behavior. Alternative hypothesis is that atheism can at least cause such behavior partially. A study must be designed and proper expertise must be used. I need to see the design, the comparisons, the methodology etc. Sorry, but this is the scientific way. Any claim must conform to the evidence of reality. I do not know whether RD or Harris or others agree or disagree with me on anything. I can suspect they should agree with at least part of my way of seeing the reality as scientists. And, this is not relevant, because I need evidence to be searched for no matter how famous the leaders or scientists are. We need to be thinking also independently.

        • In reply to #44 by NoKiddingMan:

          I do not have any beliefs at all. I accept reality based of evidence provided after thorough analysis and peer reviews.

          If you believe anything is true then you have beliefs. I think what you mean is that your beliefs are grounded in reason rather than faith which I agree is a good thing. I find the claim though that all your beliefs are based on analysis and peer review a bit hard to believe though. I try to live my life based on reason and science too but I have plenty of beliefs that I would never claim are based on thorough analysis and peer review. “Rory Gallagher is one of the greatest guitar players ever” and “Emma Watson is strikingly beautiful ” are two things I believe but not exactly that I would expect could be confirmed via a peer reviewed journal or that I could even justify via analysis.

          • In reply to #46 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #44 by NoKiddingMan:

            I do not have any beliefs at all. I accept reality based of evidence provided after thorough analysis and peer reviews.

            If you believe anything is true then you have beliefs. I think what you mean is that your beliefs are grounded in reason rather than faith which…

            Artistry, beauty etc. are subjective. There are people who show their pleasure behaviorally, which is observable. Thus, there is evidence that artists, beautiful people etc. get attention of many people who are willing to even pay to purchase these atrists’/beautiful people’s (models etc) work or performance, or whatever the owners of the art and beauty can offer. If there is a claim that a certain artist is not a great artist, then the feeling generated in humans by art is discussed. Ansel Adams and Karsh were great photographers to many people. Their fans/admirers show their pleasure through their behavior/words, which are evidence of these human’s (fans’) feelings. Any claim of any kind can be observed directly or indirectly. Quarks pop in and out of existence. They also make protons. These were detected despite not being understood. Religions can make humans aggressive toward each other (old testament, Sharia etc). Politics can do the same to both religious and atheists. So, I accept the existence of a phenomenon (love for art work etc, anger, violence, gravity, evolution etc) based on observed/detected evidence. As long as the theories predict/match the reality, I keep considering them facts. No wonder I became an atheist as a teen while living in an Islamic county. I observed, questioned, observed, questioned ……..and anytime my observations did not match what I was told by charlatans, I became more and more suspicious until I rejected Islam (and other religions in the same way). So, the feelings, in which you have a belief, are generated by humans. Humans are observable. Their behaviour is observable. I enjoy Sebastao Salgado’s work. I respect him as a humanist, an environmentalist. There are so many other humans like myself who share these feelings. These feelings have been generated in us, existing humans. So, I consider this a fact until evidence to the contrary is proven with reviews by peers to make sure that this is not just a claim. You can review Salgado’s work. You can clearly see the messages in his images. You can read about his life experiences, his altruistic activities. You can prove his is actually planting trees and is deeply concerned about environment.. I accept these as an observable evidence based facts. The author of these facts is this man (and his wife). I do not believe what he does is good for the environment, I know that his humanistic actions are a fact. I do not believe, I know with high levels of certainty until the contrary proven.

            Sorry, I do not have time to proof read. Ignore typos etc.

          • In reply to #50 by NoKiddingMan:

            IArtistry, beauty etc. are subjective. There are people who show their pleasure behaviorally, which is observable.

            I agree. That actually was my point. That when you said

            I do not have any beliefs at all. I accept reality based of evidence provided after thorough analysis and peer reviews.

            that seemed like an incredulous statement to me. If that were true it would mean you have no opinions on art, music, beauty, what is or isn’t sensual, what tastes good, etc. Its not rational to think that we can answer those kinds of questions by “thorough analysis and peer reviews.” so either you have no opinions on those questions or you should take back that statement because in reality you do have beliefs just like everyone else. Its just that some of your beliefs are also well grounded in analysis and more of your beliefs are grounded that way then for example someone who believes in creationism.

          • In reply to #51 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #50 by NoKiddingMan:

            IArtistry, beauty etc. are subjective. There are people who show their pleasure behaviorally, which is observable.

            I agree. That actually was my point. That when you said

            I do not have any beliefs at all. I accept reality based of evidence provided after thorough…

            I certainly have opinions of various sorts. But, they are my opinion, which may not be true. Maybe there is a confusion in our definitions of opinions & beliefs. In a sense, anything whose existence is highly likely based on evidence leads to my acceptance of its existence. If I am uncertain about the existence of any phenomenon, then I can hypothesize, be suspicious, have an opinion about it but would want it to be proven true by evidence. I tend to avoid the word belief to make sure evidence based acceptance remain separated from religious like beliefs. This video is about atheism. I became an atheist based on high degrees of certainty (never 100%). During my daily life, I also develop opinion. I can say, for example, I believe that we should put to test a hypothesis, because I think (my opinion) we may get a positive or set of positive results. If you want to call this a belief, then I agree with you. I also can say, I feel delighted by watching people help each other. My opinion is that the people being helped should benefit from it. Then, I later find out that those people did benefit from help they received. Then, I will state, I know that those people in need have benefited from the help. Again, this is not an opinion any more. When I said I do not have any beliefs, I was talking about certainty in the absence of evidence. The results of help are observed. If help is on large scale, it is usually published (Doctors without borders etc.). The popularity of an artist is published by media. Some kinds of evidence are so obvious that you do not need peer reviews or similar. Some others may not be as obvious. On small scale of my daily life, I observe people’s behaviour, which is the evidence of who they are (personality etc.). Such observation of individuals may or may not convince me that some colleagues are better leaders than the others (or similar). But, what I was talking about is about large scale data, world view (Islam, Theism in general). My personal opinion on specific art is based on how that art influences my feelings. On this scale, I accept the fact that I love the artwork. My opinion may or may not apply to large part of population (of Canada for instance). Again, I was making a statement about why I do not have a belief about atheists being influenced by atheism (lack of BELIEF in God), and become violent or cruel (or cruelty of Stalin was catalyzed by atheism ). My subjective opinion and my acceptance of atheism catalyzing cruelty are not related. One is not proven, the other needs to be proven (can be hypothesized based on a priory data if any if you wish). I need evidence for it to accept it as reality objectively. Salgado example is about an internationally known activist. I could have an opinion such as “I do not think his work is artistic at all”. So, this would be my opinion (I do not think ………… not I am certain…). But, his work is internally know. His activities documented. His sympathy for coffee field workers is documented. His visual art directly states his compassion (coming from a human/himself…). Then, my opinion would my opinion. And, facts would be facts.

            My apologies for no proof reading.

  18. When Richard Dawkins said that “atheism had nothing to do with…Stalin” he was wrong.The Grapes of Roth

    Atheism is a rejection of religious faith. It is not a political ideology. Therefore, when Stalin attacked religions by violent means, he was implementing communism under a dictatorship. Dawkins is entirely correct to say that the rejection of religion does not entail communist dictatorship.

    • In reply to #47 by aldous:

      When Richard Dawkins said that “atheism had nothing to do with…Stalin” he was wrong.The Grapes of Roth

      Atheism is a rejection of religious faith. It is not a political ideology.

      And yet the Soviet attempt to implement the ideology of scientific atheism in Russia proves otherwise.

  19. In reply to # 48 The Grapes of Roth

    (Atheism is a rejection of religious faith. It is not a political ideology) And yet the Soviet attempt to implement the ideology of scientific atheism in Russia proves otherwise.

    Atheism is not a science, nor a branch of any science. It is simply the observation that gods are mythical. This is perfectly obvious to any adult but it is thought bad manners, or even a crime, to include the local god in that category.

  20. In reply to #39 by The Grapes of Roth:

    Thank you for this information. In appropriate rational fashion, it has caused me to reconsider some things. If I’m going to say that religious folks are responsible for repudiating terrible things done explicitly in the name of religion, then it’s our duty to condemn things done explicitly under what is seen as our (unbelievers) mantle. We need a better response to this particular accusation than that “atheism had nothing to do with Stalin”.

    But in response to Red Dog, I don’t think I was making the “No True Scotsman” defense again. I was not saying that “no true atheist” would do bad things. Of course some would, if they are bad people. If they do it, as Stalin apparently did, promoting a militant atheist agenda, then rational atheists have a duty to address this issue, come out against it, do what can be done to stop it. And the Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc., have a duty to actively oppose what is done in the name of their religion that they don’t believe is representative of their beliefs, not just by saying, “They aren’t true _______________,” and thus washing their hands of it, but by coming out against it and doing what they can to stop it.

    • In reply to #55 by misseliza99:

      But in response to Red Dog, I don’t think I was making the “No True Scotsman” defense again.

      As long as you just said the following:

      If I’m going to say that religious folks are responsible for repudiating terrible things done explicitly in the name of religion, then it’s our duty to condemn things done explicitly under what is seen as our (unbelievers) mantle. We need a better response to this particular accusation than that “atheism had nothing to do with Stalin”.

      then I agree, its not the No True Scotsman defense. I probably misunderstood what you were saying in the earlier comment. But I think right now we are in violent agreement, all I’m arguing for is consistency.

      • In reply to #56 by Red Dog:

        Look, as the Hitch once said “one can be an atheist and a nihilist”, but then don’t go blaming your nihilism on atheism.

        There is no “unbeliever’s mantle”, disbelief is about the casting off of mantles.

        • In reply to #57 by Peter Grant:

          In reply to #56 by Red Dog:

          Look, as the Hitch once said “one can be an atheist and a nihilist”, but then don’t go blaming your nihilism on atheism.

          There is no “unbeliever’s mantle”, disbelief is about the casting off of mantles.

          It’s a perceived mantle. And your nihilism can be quite wrapped up in your atheism. The sort of activities that Grapes of Roth describes in Comment #39 are exactly the sort of things that people fear atheists want to do. My husband grew up being told that the believers were all going to be rounded up and put in some sort of concentration camp at any moment (gotta love the bible belt). When one of the well-known faces of atheism declares he wants to destroy religion, this is the sort of thing they fear. I assume that he means by education, providing proof that will lead to rational thought that frees people from dogma, but that isn’t the first thing that comes to the minds of others. I’m beginning to think we may need to work a little harder than just saying “that’s the nihilism talking, not the atheism”. According to another article on this website, we’re the most feared group in America. We shouldn’t disregard this. We need to work on our image.

          • In reply to #58 by misseliza99:

            According to another article on this website, we’re the most feared group in America. We shouldn’t disregard this. We need to work on our image.

            No, we need to work on the idiots’ perceptions.

          • In reply to #59 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #58 by misseliza99:

            According to another article on this website, we’re the most feared group in America. We shouldn’t disregard this. We need to work on our image.

            No, we need to work on the idiots’ perceptions.

            That sounds like hard work. Count me out.

          • In reply to #65 by DHudson:

            That sounds like hard work. Count me out.

            Fair enough! That’s usually my excuse.

          • In reply to #58 by misseliza99:

            We need to work on our image

            A good example of bad PR was prof Dawkins appearance on the Chris Hayes show around a year ago before the US presidential election. He talked about how ludicrous the Mormon religion is and how crazy it is that someone who believes such nonsense could be president. If you don’t know him Chris Hayes is probably one of the most liberal people in the US MSM and very open to secularism and atheism. But he and the rest of the guests (who were also very positive toward secularism for the US) were appalled because it sounded like Dawkins was saying there should be a religious test for office which is anathema to people in the US.

            I was cringing through the interview because I knew what Dawkins meant and he was right. But the way it came off he looked very extreme and alienated a group that should have been his allies. Its an example of how being a good scientist tends not to translate into being a good politician or political organizer.

  21. In reply to #59 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #58 by misseliza99:According to another article on this website, we’re the most feared group in America. We shouldn’t disregard this. We need to work on our image.
    No, we need to work on the idiots’ perceptions.

    Well, yes, that’s another way of putting it, but probably not the way that puts our best foot forward.

  22. In reply to #62 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #61 by misseliza99:Well, yes, that’s another way of putting it, but probably not the way that puts our best foot forward.
    Sorry, I’m somewhat shackled by this honesty thing.

    It’s possible to be honest without being insulting, and more likely to get the point across. I’m not saying that there isn’t ever a need for insult/harsh words, just that it shouldn’t be the default position. Just dismissing someone as an idiot is something of a lazy back door out of having to make a good argument.

  23. In reply to #60 by Red Dog

    A good example of bad PR was prof Dawkins appearance on the Chris Hayes show around a year ago before the US presidential election

    Dawkins is not a politician or a PR man. He’s a scientist and author. The Director of Strategy and Policy for the Foundation in the USA is Sean Faircloth. As an American, attuned to American sensitivities, and with the arts of persuasion that he honed during his political career, he’s best qualified to bring the message of freedom from religion to the wider public in the United States.

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/home/about

    • In reply to #67 by aldous:

      Dawkins is not a politician or a PR man. He’s a scientist and author.

      We agree completely. That was my point. That when Dawkins starts taking on the role of trying to advocate a political issue for atheists he didn’t do very well. And I still think he is one of the brightest men on the planet. The problem is that you can still be that and not be a good political advocate. If all you want to do is make a point then ok he did that. But if you want to advance the cause of atheism and show that people like Romney are lunatics while people like Dawkins are the rational ones he failed miserably. He came off looking intolerant to what should have been a very friendly audience.

      • In reply to #68 by Red Dog:

        when Dawkins starts taking on the role of trying to advocate a political issue for atheists he didn’t do very well.

        The absurdity of Mormon beliefs is an issue for everybody, not just atheists. It’s not his problem if people consider it’s not polite to be honest about it.

        • In reply to #71 by aldous:

          The absurdity of Mormon beliefs is an issue for everybody, not just atheists.

          I agree

          It’s not his problem if people consider it’s not polite to be honest about it.

          That statement really sums up the point I’m trying to make. If you are a brilliant biologist why should you care if the majority of humans don’t get what you mean? You are interested in truth and the long term. But if you are trying to make political change then you better care a lot because it doesn’t matter how much science you have to back up your point, what ultimately matters is how people vote.

          I’m speaking from some experience (and lots of frustration) with political action. Time and again in the US I see positions that are obviously correct lose out to jingoism and appeals to fear and loathing.

          • In reply to #74 by Red Dog:

            That statement really sums up the point I’m trying to make. If you are a brilliant biologist why should you care if the majority of humans don’t get what you mean?

            Dawkins was the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford. In retirement, he continues his role as an educator for the public benefit. Obviously, his promotion of reason and science will often fall on stony ground. It’s up to those who are inspired and encouraged by his teaching to do what they can. It’s unreasonable to expect one elderly Englishman to do it all himself.

          • In reply to #76 by aldous:

            Obviously, his promotion of reason and science will often fall on stony ground.

            You offer that statement with no justification as if its self evident. Its not self evident to me.

            It’s up to those who are inspired and encouraged by his teaching to do what they can.

            I agree. I’m one of those people he inspires and one of the things I can do is to let Prof. Dawkins know when I think he made a mistake.

            It’s unreasonable to expect one elderly Englishman to do it all himself.

            I agree again although I’m not sure what I said that made you think I thought he should do it by himself. My point was that in this example he was not accomplishing his goal. Its strange to me that so many of the people here seem to almost treat Dawkins as some kind of saint who can never be wrong. My reading of his work is exactly the opposite, that he would value the most the kind of supporters who would challenge him and call him out when they think he is in error.

  24. Just to remind everyone. The “none”s are not necessarily atheists. It’s not accurate to assume that they’re all atheists, because while there are more people who got disillusioned by religion, it doesn’t mean that all of them turn to atheism. Some of them are agnostic, some are in-between religions, and some just don’t believe in organised religion but still hold onto supernatural beliefs.

    http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

    As you can see, the self-declared atheist demography is only growing modestly.

    • In reply to #69 by adiroth:

      the self-declared atheist demography is only growing modestly

      The a-flat-earth demography probably isn’t growing at all. Few people bother to take issue with dead ideas. It’s only because so many people support the junk science of religious creeds that there’s any need to oppose it. Only a minority of those who reject religion feel the need to make a declaration of atheism. As with other issues, many prefer a vague statement of their position rather than one that makes them a target for attack, especially such malicious and inane attacks as are directed at atheists.

  25. Look, science may never reach the highest peak of perfection, but the view from 99% of the way up the mountain is incredible and awe inspiring, and far higher than anyone else has actually ever climbed.

  26. In reply to #77 by Red Dog:

    Its strange to me that so many of the people here seem to almost treat Dawkins as some kind of saint who can never be wrong.

    I don’t think he’s wrong to say that Mormon beliefs are ridiculous. Nor do I think it’s wrong to say that Romney’s religious beliefs raised questions about his fitness for the Presidency. The same applies to other candidates for political office, like Sarah Palin. Others, like yourself, may think that this is something that shouldn’t be said because many voters are alienated by lack of respect for religion.

    Dawkins wasn’t campaigning for the Democrats — he’s not even American –so he had no reason to hide his views. I applaud him for breaking the rule that you have to pretend to respect beliefs because they are religious, even when you think they are laughable and holding them is a character flaw. Breaking this taboo is one of the most important and useful things that Dawkins is doing.

    Incidentally, saints are usually very inadequate human beings and accusing fans of Dawkins of considering him to be one, leaves you open to the charge of portraying lack of religious belief as some kind of religion.

    Nor can the constitutional clause that ‘there shall be no religious test for public office’ be used to deny the right of free speech on the subject of religion.

    • David Icke stood for parliament in 2008 and lost his deposit. I don’t think his political reputation ever recovered from a public
      humiliation on the BBC Wogan show in the 1990s. I assume that his unusual ideology was very much taken into account by the voters. If he had not put his views so much into the public domain he may well have been elected – in the UK, as in the US,
      it’s unfortunately seen as impolite to question someone’s religious views.

      Some would say Icke’s views are not religion-based, but religious ideology can be just as nutty and I would certainly take such
      views into account when assessing someone’s suitability to represent my views and concerns in parliament. Of course this
      works both ways – I’m sure many politicians in the US keep their lack of religious belief to themselves in order not to alienate
      many of the voters. As you say, this is OK providing there is no actual religious test for public office.

      Note that Dawkins is always clear to point out that he is ridiculing the beliefs not the people, often quoting Johann Hari. This extract is from an article by Hari back in 2009:

      ” All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.

      I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of “prejudice” or “ignorance”, but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.

      When you demand “respect”, you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade. “

      See:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-why-should-i-respect-these-oppressive-religions-1517789.html

      I wonder if people like Dawkins & Hari are making progress towards removing that unwritten rule that religious beliefs must
      be respected. Dawkins seems to have no trouble with audience numbers when speaking in the US, even in the very religious
      locations. Maybe they are so relieved to have someone so prominent publicly communicating what they believe but they
      feel they can’t be open about. Maybe even campaigning Democrats could now break the rule.

      In reply to #79 by aldous:

      In reply to #77 by Red Dog:

      Its strange to me that so many of the people here seem to almost treat Dawkins as some kind of saint who can never be wrong.

      I don’t think he’s wrong to say that Mormon beliefs are ridiculous. Nor do I think it’s wrong to say that Romney’s religious beliefs raised quest…

  27. Thank you, this thread has been very enlightening! I suppose I’m proof that the language of science is truely universal. Even an uncultured savage like myself can understand what Dawkins is on about.

  28. We tend to think of the last few years as the dawn of Atheism. However it has been percolating a long time:

    Consider:

    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

    Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

    Faith: not wanting to know what is true.

    He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

    I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.

    The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

    ~ Friedrich Nietzsche (born: 1844-10-15 died: 1900-08-25 at age: 55)

    Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.

    God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

    Nos prê tres ne sont pas qu’un vain peuple pense; Notre cré dulité fait tout leur science.
    Our priests are not what a silly populace supposes; all their learning consists in our credulity.

    Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.

    Of all religions the Christian is without doubt the one which should inspire tolerance most, although up to now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.

    Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.

    ~ Voltaire (born: 1694-11-21 died: 1778-05-30 at age: 83) [François Marie d’Arouet Voltaire]

    Mme La Maréchale: “Are you not Monsieur Crudeli?”
    Crudeli: “Yes, Madame”
    Mme La Maréchale: “Then you’re the man who doesn’t believe in anything.”
    Crudeli: “In person, madame.”
    Mme La Maréchale: “Yet your moral principles are the same as those of a believer?”
    Crudeli: “Why should they not be — as long as the believer is an honest man?”
    Mme La Maréchale: “And do you act upon your principles?”
    Crudeli: “To the best of my ability.”
    Mme La Maréchale: “What? You don’t steal? You don’t kill people? You don’t rob them?”
    Crudeli: “Very rarely.”
    Mme La Maréchale: “Then what do you gain by not being a believer?”
    Crudeli: “Nothing at all, madame. Is one a believer from motives of profit?”

    A man had been betrayed by his children, by his wife, and by his friends; some disloyal partners had ruined his fortune, and had plunged him into poverty. Pervaded with a profound hatred and contempt for the human race, he left society and took refuge alone in a cave. There, pressing his fists into his eyes, and contemplating a revenge proportional to his grievances, he said: “Evil people! What shall I do to punish them for their injustice and to make them all as unhappy as they deserve? Ah! if it were possible to imagine it — to intoxicate them with a great fantasy to which they would attach more importance than to their lives, and about which they would never be able to agree!” Instantly he rushed out of the cave, shouting, “God! God!” Echoes without number repeated around him, “God! God!” This fearful name was carried from pole to pole, and heard everywhere with astonishment. At first men prostrated themselves, then they got up again, asked each other, argued with each other, became bitter, cursed each other, hated each other, cut each other’s throats, and the fatal wish of the misanthropist was fulfilled. For such has been in the past, such will be in the future, the story of a being at all times equally important and incomprehensible.

    A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it. What has never been gone into impartially has never been properly gone into. Hence scepticism is the first step toward truth. It must be applied generally, because it is the touchstone.

    Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one’s innocence with the loss of one’s prejudices.

    I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out.

    In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don’t have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.

    Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

    Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.

    Scepticism is the first step towards truth.

    The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and… people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion.

    The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.

    There is not a Musselman[Muslim] alive who would not imagine that he was performing an action pleasing to God and his Holy Prophet by exterminating every Christian on earth, while the Christians are scarcely more tolerant on their side.

    To attempt the destruction of our passions is the height of folly. What a noble aim is that of the zealot who tortures himself like a madman in order to desire nothing, love nothing, feel nothing, and who, if he succeeded, would end up a complete monster!

    Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.

    ~ Denis Diderot (born: 1713-10-05 died: 1784-07-31 at age: 70) French philosopher

  29. Andrew Brown is a mole. Or something. He professes to be an atheist, but his efforts seem directed towards undermining atheists and atheism, and I say this because he seems to be quite consistently more antagonizing to atheists than to theists, to the point where he is not at all easily seen as advancing any ‘atheist cause’. The insidiousness is in the way he slips in misconceptions to his points, never really putting them out in front. I do admit that as an atheist I find him generally infuriating and unproductively/unnecessarily provocative.

Leave a Reply