The Rising Antiscience

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New atheism refers to a set of ideas presented in a series of bestselling books that appeared between 2004 and 2007. Today it remains a strong but minority view among atheists. Basically, new atheists differ from the old atheists by being more willing to challenge religious beliefs that contradict science and reason, and engage in intellectual, moral, and political disputes with even moderate believers.

The old atheists criticize these positions as too uncompromising. They say we need to be more accommodating, be careful not to offend "deeply held beliefs," and to work together with moderate religious groups if (for example) we are to keep creationism out of the schools. This view is commonly found among those atheists who are also scientists, if they think about it at all.

Of course, new atheists don't want to see creationism in the schools any more than the old atheists did. But they don't regard this as such an overarching problem that we should ignore the even greater damage that is done to society by the irrational, magical thinking associated with religion, which penetrates all areas of human life. Creationism is not the cause but the effect of such thinking.

Written By: Victor Stenger
continue to source article at huffingtonpost.com

18 COMMENTS

  1. I think part of the problem is many people think you can pick a theory of earth history as you might pick a dessert from a revolving tray. You must not respect such idiocy, any more than you would “respect” the opinion of a 4 year old that 2 + 2 = 5.

    Religious folk dress up in costumes as part of their play act to command respect. They also invent the notion of blasphemy, assuming the right to punish anyone who doubts them including people formally declared as non-believers. It is a con. We should not let them get away with it.

    If someone gives the wrong address for city hall, it is not impolite to correct them. Ditto for matters of earth history.

  2. Hell ! I wish I was a new atheist, willing to pour scorn on the ridiculous ideas that the various religions hold. I just wish I could pour scorn on the idea that the creator of the universe walked on water, cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, or that a Prophet, (flies be upon him), rode to heaven on a winged horse. It’s a hard job being an old atheist, but somebody’s got to do it !

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  4. What runs as a red thread through almost all my posts here on RDFRS is a dyspeptic tireless rant against accomodationists. They are to the Reason and Science Project what traitors are to a nation at war. And there is a reason why treason is judged a crime on par with the worst atrocities committed by the enemy, garnering similar or worse disdain, condemnation and punishment.

    Whereas it is deeply reassuring to have someone with the stature of Stenger independently arrive at the same conclusion and even take it further by declaring accommodation largely a failure, I was fervently hoping he would take the logical next step and call on his august peers in the NAS to drop the charade already and publicly start calling religion what at least 90% privately think and know it to be: Bullshit.

    In the closing paragraph he comes close and goes beyond:

    “I have an urgent plea to scientists and all thinking people. We need to focus our attention on one goal, which will not be reached in the lifetime of the youngest among us but has to be achieved someday if humanity is to survive: That goal is the replacement of foolish faith and its vanities with something more sublime–knowledge and understanding that is securely based on observable reality. “

  5. Am I bothered that these fossils say no? I’m past caring.

    Throughout the world, except in America, they are universally derided and their nonsense is kept out of schools. This is a uniquely American problem. When Americans think it is worth dealing with, they will do so. If not, they will lose competitiveness against the rest of the world and become an economic and scientific backwater.

    That’s pretty much a democratic choice for Americans to make.

    • In reply to #8 by Stevehill:

      Am I bothered that these fossils say no? I’m past caring.

      I think it is symbolic that some “mental fossil” says no to the science, and then writes their ignorance on a motor car which works on the science they are denying, using paint derived from that science!
      It’s a bit like physics-denying evangies using the electromagnetic-waves of TV, radio, and the internet, to spout ignorant contradictions of physical laws to the uneducated gullibles!

  6. These nuts are spreading their brand of nuttiness in developing countries.Missionaries come to SA,”church-planting’.These churches proliferate and the numbers of fanatical,creation believing fundamentalists are growing at an unprecedented rate.

    The rest of Africa is also being inundated by these American fundamentalists propagating their hatred of gays and causing great harm as a result.Of couse there are the Muslim fundamentalists as well…Let’s not forget that these people are breeding like rabbits as well.

    So,it is not just America where ‘backwardness’ is seen as the way forward.

    I have had personal experience of some of these missionaries and they urge Christians to have more children,only patronise Christian businesses etc.One of these missionaries had a daughter who suffered rape and compelled her to see the pregnancy through.Abortion was not to be thought of.

    So, with the anti-science ignoramuses breeding like they are and the thoughtful and rational having fewer children and the fundies lurking .in dark places spreading their poison,I am afraid, very afraid of a world where ignorance,intolerance and hatred for the ‘different’ may be on the rise.

  7. I think the answer is clear. The hostility is not directed toward the practical applications of science, as in medicine and technology, but with the challenges that basic science brings to the religious views held by the majority of Americans. Unfortunately most Americans do not seem to realize that basic scientific research is the foundation of the welcome applications.

    Exactly. Also, back in the 30′s to the 50′s when we had that pride in our scientists, many of those scientists either were religious believers (because they never got around to thinking about it) or if not they didn’t dare say anything. Now that we’re seeing a connection between scientific discovery and loss-of-belief, the placid believers are becoming riled. “Hey I don’t like the direction you guys are goin’ in! Get back here and start prayin’!”

  8. I think the end of the linked article sums up the issues very nicely!

    Corporate profits are the force behind the denial of climate change. But denialism would not be so effective if its proponents were not able to exploit the antiscience inherent to religious faith.

    Faith would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about religion. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever blind faith rules over facts warps all areas of life. It produces a frame of mind in which concepts are formulated with deep passion but without the slightest attention paid to the evidence that bears on the concept.

    From its very beginning in prehistory, religion has been a tool used by those in power to retain that power and keep the masses in line. This continues today as religious groups are manipulated to work against believers’ own best interests in health and economic well being by casting doubt on well-established scientific findings. This would not be possible except for the diametrically opposed world-views of science and religion.

    I have an urgent plea to scientists and all thinking people. We need to focus our attention on one goal, which will not be reached in the lifetime of the youngest among us but has to be achieved someday if humanity is to survive: That goal is the replacement of foolish faith and its vanities with something more sublime–knowledge and understanding that is securely based on observable reality.

  9. Just yesterday I had a trained Geologist march into my office spouting off about the evils of the RCC, Muslims and Hindus. What he absolutely failed to understand his particular brand of Christian evangelism was no better or worse in terms of morality and the denial of the fundamental principles of science. He said he felt sorry for me when I told him I’m an atheist. (LOL)!

    While a reasonable Geologist, this individual very much closes his mind to other scientific disciplines and can justify just about anything in his mind, including lying and cheating others. It seems as though he wants to belong to this”exclusive club” (his church) and deny the existence of anything else around him. His stance can be summarized as “Let me live happily and peacefully in my deluded and dream world and screw the rest of the world”.
    The prevailing pick and choose attitude is comfortable, whereas not recognizing the interconnectivity of all scientific disciples is just too much for most people to swallow. jcw

  10. Wow that john shimkus quote, coming from a man on an energy and commerce committee, is the best advert for secularism I have ever heard. My memory is shot with over exposure to the web and drink but I am filing that one away carefully.
    USA I weep for you, I am just so pleased we can go part way to repaying the favour , sorry favor, of 1945 by sending Richard over to you in your hour of need.

  11. Teachers as non-experts? To teach basic notions on science? I wonder what would constitute an ideal science explainer… Because, Professor Stenger IS NOT an expert on everything on science. Biology teachers are much more qualified than he is to teach evolution.

    • In reply to #16 by Italo:

      Teachers as non-experts? To teach basic notions on science? I wonder what would constitute an ideal science explainer… Because, Professor Stenger IS NOT an expert on everything on science. Biology teachers are much more qualified than he is to teach evolution.

      I think you are overlooking the fact that there is a shortage of qualified science teachers, and many teachers are asked to teach subjects where they are not specialists.

      • Good point. But, the way the text was written implies that ALL teachers are non-experts. As professor Dawkins says (or something alike) in one of his book: you should be very careful in expressing your line of thinking as clear and ascomplete as possible, in order to write exactly what you (intend to) mean.
        In reply to #17 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #16 by Italo:

        Teachers as non-experts? To teach basic notions on science? I wonder what would constitute an ideal science explainer… Because, Professor Stenger IS NOT an expert on everything on science. Biology teachers are much more qualified than he is to teach evolution.

        I think y…

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