Atheism turning into a Religion?

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Discussion by: Maxi-pad

Hello everybody, my name is Maximo and as a fellow Atheist, there is something that bothers me almost as much as Religion. The Atheist movement. 

As I watch videos, read articles and keep up with Atheist news, recently there has been some things that I think are detrimental to Atheism. some examples; Atheist monument recently put up in the Florida Courthouse, Atheist Church was built, among some of the biggest ones. In a smaller perspective, Atheists always making fun of religion. Now don't get me wrong, I find alot of the comments, memes, funny also but shouldn't we be more modest and polite with our approach? Also, the whole famous statement of calling non-believers like ourselves Atheists is like saying you are a non-stamp collector, seems to show how we Atheists really are. We understand the history of Religion and how it "works" for people as a fake hope but out grew it just like Santa Claus.

Atheists, at least most of them, seem to have a deep passion for Science and Reason. When I find myself in a discussion or just conversating with people, I rather promote Science and Reason than bring down Religion. By doing it that way, I believe I have a stronger impact with people on Religion anyway.

So if anybody can give their thoughts and opinions on the matter, just wondering if I'm not the only one that feels this way.   

 

Atheist Monument: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/christianity/american-atheists-unveil-monument-front-florida-courthouse

Atheist Church:  http://gawker.com/5973377/londons-first-atheist-church-opens-tomorrow

80 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with everything that you said in your post. It seems in my experience as well that people respond much better when I promote science and reason versus degrading their religious beliefs. I don’t agree with Dawkins that criticizing someone’s religious belief is similar to simply criticizing a favorite sports team.

  2. Hi Maximo, a couple of things,

    1)

    but shouldn’t we be more modest and polite with our approach?

    No, how far would have feminism got if they weren’t shouting out and making a pain in the arse of themselves? How far would Gay rights have gotten? The African Americas? These things may appear as stunts but unlike organised religion you are under no obligation to take credit or blame it’s just the actions of someone else who doesn’t believe, you cannot be a heretic of atheism.

    2) Most of us are sick of people shoving their views down our throats. In my country (Australia) which is fairly secular, if I happen to get a terminal illness that will result in agonising pain and suffering thanks to religion I have to either, die in agony or die doped up to the eyeballs until some doctor ‘accidentally’ overdoses me on morphine risking a murder charge to boot. If I was gay I would not be able to marry. And this in a country where the majority of people over 70% in both cases believe this should change! So a vocal minority is bloodly well dictating to me things about my life that should be none of their business! On top of this they use hundreds of millions of dollars per year that should be going to taxes to convert others to this mind poison. The only reason people don’t see this as the hight of rudeness is we are used to it, and it is marginally better than when they were setting the likes of me alight (after having tortured a confession of heresy out of them first).

    So I for one embrace the brash, noisy in your face atheism. After they get their nose out of my life I’m more than happy for them to believe as they like without my derision.

    • In reply to #2 by Reckless Monkey:

      Hi Maximo, a couple of things,

      1)

      but shouldn’t we be more modest and polite with our approach?

      No, how far would have feminism got if they weren’t shouting out and making a pain in the arse of themselves? How far would Gay rights have gotten?

      I too feel uncomfortable about how the ‘atheist movement’ can be quite brash, angry, etc. But whence such anger? And why, despite that unease, do I get so angry? Well, one reason might be that I am gay and I don’t think my previous and quite strong involvement with religion has done me, or my family, any favours: this despite my having been ‘moderate’ not fundamentalist. My coming out a gay happened at the same time as coming out as atheist: notably perhaps, for a number of years I’d told myself I was bisexual and agnostic. The simultaneity was no coincidence – I was, in may late 40’s, at last beginning to see how things were and I’d had enough of pretending otherwise – i.e., lying to myself and others.

      But I think my being closeted in both senses also has to do with my tendency to avoid upset and conflict. That might link to having been closeted – quite a lot of gay men have had to learn to blend in – but might also has to do with my personality ie stemmed not just from my religious decades – not least as I was not churchgoing in my formative childhood years. Yet, whatever the reasons, my trait of reticence may account for my anxiety over ‘atheist militancy’ (which is not to say there are not other reasons to be wary of excessive atheist zeal – see below)

      Why share all this? I think that, in a religious culture, each person finds their own way out. For me, coming out as gay was not as bad as it might have been (I am still alive, which might not be so in some very religious cultures), but my atheism has been pretty unremarkable, in contrast it seems to quite a lot of states in the US and other ‘western’ nations – and of course in some Islamic nations where overt atheism risks much, even life – as a recent thread shows.

      There are political, philosophical and scientific reasons to resent religion: but perhaps more pertinent to anger, many atheists have personally suffered through the ill effects of religion and suffered again during an often long and painful period of coming out and emerging from its grip. Or, if they have not had personal experience, they can empathise with fellow atheists who have.

      So anti-religious anger can be understood and should be acknowledged. Still, I think it is right to control it and try to be as courteous as possible. Not just because giving in fully to anger is perhaps to resemble religious militants: nor that the world seems to have its fill of anger already. Rather, incoherent rage – tempting and understandable though it may be – is unlikely to change minds. I think some indication of anger is appropriate – religious zealots need to be opposed, the befuddled woken up – but any anger should be focussed and accompanied by evidence and rational argument, as I do think the positive message of science and reason can win out if well presented. However, staying calm is not easy when there are such strong memories and emotions in the background.

      • In reply to #7 by steve_hopker:

        In reply to #2 by Reckless Monkey:
        I too feel uncomfortable about how the ‘atheist movement’ can be quite brash, angry, etc. But whence such anger? And why, despite that unease, do I get so angry?

        Hi Steve,

        Thanks for the comments I appreciate you approach but you need to read my comment again. I am for Brash Atheism as awareness raising for the likes of you and others oppressed by religion. I am perfectly happy to be polite and respect others beliefs but they need to keep them away from policies that effect others. I think the feminists and gay rights activists have it exactly right in being loud and in peoples face, not because I wish to upset people but because nothing will change until we shout very loud and long.

        cheers

        • In reply to #8 by Reckless Monkey:

          In reply to #7 by stevehopker:_

          Thanks for the comments I appreciate your approach but.. I am perfectly happy to be polite and respect others beliefs but they need to keep them away from policies that effect others. I think the feminists and gay rights activists have it exactly right in being loud and in peoples face, not because I wish to upset people but because nothing will change until we shout very loud and long.

          Reading your second post I think we actually agree – politeness towards the religious preferable, but inappropriate when religion is oppressive. I get the sense that many activits, such as RD, or the human rights (gay) activist Peter Tatchell are actually quite polite and often quietly spoken individuals, yet are angry: they are good at using anger, I think, rather than letting it take over. Tatchell can be very outspoken, and not every gay man I know likes his style, but he can both protest on the streets and engage in calm debate. I don’t think Dawkins has gone on any demonstrations but he does get frustrated by wilful ignorance: yet IMO also speaks calmly and cogently. We need both focussed anger and coherent arguments.

  3. “Cat-Herding” is the best analogy when it comes to defining the actions of Atheists.
    We are all individuals, with our own route to non-belief.
    Not everyone is able to speak about science or articulate their views eloquently.
    Some never had belief, others became evangelical preachers before working out that it didn’t make sense.
    Some miss the social aspect of a church, or feel threatened by the oppressive proliferation of faith iconography around them, depending of course on what your objectives are in first place.
    There can be no “One size fits all” mentality.
    Indeed believers rarely respond to reason, emotion tends to yield better results if you wish to engage with them.

  4. shouldn’t we be more modest and polite with our approach?”

    No. Far too risky, that strategy. It would send theists the wrong message I think. Experience informs that unless we’re more militant theists often become inclined to kill us. That’s detrimental to atheism. Truth and honesty should always prevail therefore, or so I reckon. Treating theists otherwise is patronizing.

    Atheists, at least most of them, seem to have a deep passion for Science and Reason.

    Really? In my experience most atheists are disinterested in religion, science and reason. Politics, football and property prices north of the river dominate their attention passionately. Some atheists deliberately reject reason and science altogether. Examples can be found on this very forum where atheists protest against climatology, immunology or psychology by abandoning reason altogether.

    • To kill- key verb in religious argument In reply to #4 by Len Walsh:

      shouldn’t we be more modest and polite with our approach?”

      No. Far too risky, that strategy. It would send theists the wrong message I think. Experience informs that unless we’re more militant theists often become inclined to kill us. That’s detrimental to atheism. Truth and honesty should always…

  5. I think it’s necessary to attack irrational religious beliefs because some of them can lead otherwise sane people to do insane things such as not taking seriously ill children to doctors because they think prayer is sufficient or even fly planes into buildings.

  6. No, it is not, and I am quite sick of hearing that it is. That is the argument of the theist, who cannot imagine a world view whose default position is skepticism.

    The parallel with gay rights goes quite far. When someone mentions their husband, I mention my life partner, and neither of us is shoving our life-style down the other’s throat. When someone tells me that faith is the answer, I tell them that belief without evidence is unworthy of an intelligent adult. My remark is as offensive or inoffensive as theirs is.

    Telling us that having a clear head is another religion is just…well…stupid. Atheists make no claims, but only require that the theist claim be backed up with evidence. Richard has also pointed out that having strong feelings about something (equal rights, the abolition of modern slavery, scuba diving, astronomy) is not at all the same thing as religion, since none of those are based on dogma or myth.

  7. reading some of the comments makes me think I didn’t word my statement too well. I agree that we should always stand for when other people try to shove their beliefs down our throats, walk all over us, etc. The point I wanted to make had to do more with the “preaching” and certain moves done by atheists lately. Now about the Gay Rights, African American Movement, I can see it mirrors Atheist but only a bit. We should definitely be strident to a certain degree. Basically, can’t we stand up for ourselves in a more Intellectual way? Defend all we stand for without churches, monuments, arrogance? Of course many times we will lose it, get frustrated, and make a funny comment or pick on other religions it seems natural to me but as long as we are not always in that mindset.

    Hope this makes bit more sense.

    • In reply to #9 by Maxi-pad:

      reading some of the comments makes me think I didn’t word my statement too well. I agree that we should always stand for when other people try to shove their beliefs down our throats, walk all over us, etc. The point I wanted to make had to do more with the “preaching” and certain moves done by athe…

      Hi Maxi-Pad,
      Look I know where you are coming from, and personally in my professional life I bite if someone spouts religious nonsense but I don’t go out of my way to make people feel uncomfortable. And, I’d point out that as an Atheist I rarely feel particularly put out by religious, until their nonsense becomes the reason for progress on various issues like gay marriage etc. So there are politically active atheists, who by necessity need to be very loud and brash. It works they get attention, you may think it the wrong sort of attention but for a very long time atheists have stayed largely in the closet to make the religious feel more comfortable. I don’t think this is fair or reasonable. If they demand of me that I should not be able to marry whom I like, get treated for medical conditions how I like or try to take my taxes to pay to teach my child nonsense then anyone screaming at the top of their lungs, ridiculing, protesting, putting up billboards, writing books will gain my undying respect and gratitude. All the methods are working, we should beat ourselves up even about disagreeing with each other. It is right that we should.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly, but I think we just need a new moniker and set of ideals to unite under, “Atheism” just isn’t representative of the views we hold as a group. What word we use instead, who knows.

  9. Atheist, rationalism, secularism, whatever your personal label is, the philosophy is always in a difficult corner.
    On one had, it would be great if all you had to do waspromote reason and science and sit back and watch everyone learn.

    Unfortunately society doesn’t work that way, society is emotional, it thrives on discrimination, otherisation and slander. The only way to bring rationality into the forefront is to make it known that the people who ascribe to it are everywhere and are normal, good human beings. Much like the suffraget, racial and homosexual movements, this means making it as public as possible. This will always have backlash in the form of criticism of ‘shoving it in peoples faces’, but unfortunately it’s necessary to a certain extent.

    In the context of personal beleif and moral standing, this means having a level playing field with other religions, which means contesting religious monuments with atheist ones, and providing a social setting for atheists.

  10. First off, taking the piss out of religion is always a good thing. Secondly, you missed what has to be the biggest threat to Atheism, that is, infighting and feminist hijacking, AKA Atheism+.

    No one, in recent years has done more harm to Atheism than Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and the rest of that bunch of group thinkers.

    • In reply to #14 by veggiemanuk:

      First off, taking the piss out of religion is always a good thing. Secondly, you missed what has to be the biggest threat to Atheism, that is, infighting and feminist hijacking, AKA Atheism+.

      No one, in recent years has done more harm to Atheism than Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and the rest of that bu…

      I think you have posted on the wrong fórum. Your comment belongs at the Slympit.

  11. No. it isn’t

    monuments don’t make a religion and to associate them only with religion is buying into religious assumptions. monuments are there to show an acheivement or to serve as a reminder to past events. as for atheist church, it’s a gimmick, most atheists won’t go to one.

    to create a religion you need dogma, there is no atheists dogma. before you disagree, i should quallify that there may be mantras you’ve heard all atheists you know repeat, but they are all open for debate. “Religion poisons everything”. I agree but i’m not scared of it being proved wrong.

    when arguing with a theist, i tend not to promote science and reason unless it comes up as part of the debate. you see i, like most, don’t start these arguments and when one gets directed at me, the theists argument carries all the ingredients to shoot it down. When someone tells me i’m wrong and backs their argument up with threats of hell or tells me i’m a fool because their bible says so, they get their argument clawed to pieces, and i enjoy it because it’s in my nature, nothing to do with a need to be like the other cats here.

    when a theist comes to me and talks about science, for the sake of it and not as an introduction to their belief, i engage wholeheartedly because it’s another part of my nature to do so. i know that there’s a chance they will walk away with questions to their own beliefs and that makes me happy too. i don’t set out to deconvert but i like to make people question their assumptions, if i do the questioning they will resist after all.

    as for ridiculing beliefs, well tough. if an atheist came up to me and told me homosexuality was wrong, women should do as they’re told or science is wrong, they’d get the same treatment. maybe i’d be just a little gentler on account of them admitting it’s their own view rather than pretending to be passing on a message from an imaginary friend

  12. As atheists, there is one thing we often forget about religion, because we don’t “feel” it : Faith.

    Faith is not only believing in local mythology or following outdated social rules by tradition. Faith is an ecstatic “feeling” of infinite love and infinite hope and infinite “presence”. It’s evolutionary value is obvious : you keep hope even when there no rational reason for hope. That is why some people get the “illumination” when they should logically loose all hope and let themselves die. Some believers even say that evil in the world is the way the gods use to help us find them.

    Let say a woman drives a car, gets into an accident and survives but her 3 children are killed. She should blame the gods or fatality for killing her children but, sometimes, instead of depressing and committing suicide, she will “find (her local) God”. That means that her body will react to generate, in her brain, an infinite and uncalled for hope. That will give her an opportunity to maybe have other children, and thus replicate that evolutionary biological advantage.

    You’ll see the same thing in most NDE : an infinite feeling of love and hope when the body is under extreme stress (like clinical death ; you can hardly get more stressed) and sometimes “miraculous”(*) cures. If it helps you survive, it helps you reproduce and replicate the same brain connections.

    Now, we, atheists, strictly speaking, are the-people-who-don’t-feel-that.

    As such, we can enjoy songs, monuments, philosophy, morals, even supernatural stuff, homoeopathy, conspiracy theories, meditation, rituals, etc. We are not even obliged to endorse science.

    (*) : I mean “yet unexplained”, not “unexplainable”. Probably the body burning all resources in a desperate effort to restart the machinery.

  13. I tend to agree with you. The tendency to constantly ridicule religion (however merited such ridicule may be) is very tiresome after a while. For example, the science news stories on this site are often followed by comments which bizarrely attempt to somehow turn the story into a criticism of religion; I often think: Is that all you got from this piece of science news? Do you really need to prove your wonderful atheist intellect once again by making some facile comment that has really no relation to the news in hand?

    More generally, repeated attacks on religion get boring very quickly since it is such an easy target and such ridicule hardly demands much in the way of intellect. And yet, I do see a need for public opposition to religion when it affects political policies or results in discrimination or other wrong-doing. I see a value in atheists being open about their atheism whenever such openness does not place them in danger. I agree that the ‘more modest and polite approach’ you suggest would be far more preferable to the silly tiresome mocking so prevalent in some quarters.

  14. There is a vocal group of atheists that demands the word atheist be redefined to mean: a person who doesn’t believe in gods and has MY world view.

    This bugs me. The word atheist only means “no belief in gods”. That’s it. No baggage. If these vocal atheists want to have a particular world view, fine, but use a different word. It reminds me of the anarchists. I exaggerate, but this is pretty close to true: all anarchists from Europe think being an anarchist automatically makes you a socialist because it is obvious if there is no government people will form cooperative communes. anarchists from the USA assume being an anarchist makes you a radical free market capitalist because it is obvious that without government to force you to “share” everyone will become an independent entrepreneur.

    As for secular churches, I think a word other than church should be used. Church is a place to worship gods. These secular clubs should be thought of like existing secular clubs, lodges, and organizations – just another way for people to socialize, do some good, and create bonds in the community.

    I always dislike it when a group says they know the TRUTH. Any honest person knows you strive for the truth all your life.

  15. Hi Maximo,

    I have always seen religions as something individual homosapiens use as a psychological crutch without which the reality of their own existence would be to upsetting to comprehend or cope with, couple this with the fact that the question ‘does a god exist or not ?’ can never be properly answered from a homosapiens prospective (as from a homosapiens point their ‘found’ god(s) could always be superseded by another intelligent lifeforms god(s)… to infinity…), i feel that athiest v thiest point scoring is in fact pointless. Thats why I like the internet and sites likes this one as I feel the debate can evolve quicker world wide to something which is more worthy of discussion.

  16. Reckless Monkey comment 2

    No, how far would have feminism got if they weren’t shouting out and making a pain in the arse of themselves?

    And to put that in perspective, feminists are finding the need to keep shouting and making pains in the arses of themselves because the minute they think they can relax some sexist will pop up and try and drag them back from whence they came.

    Atheism would do well to take that on board to. Start to relax, and suddenly religion pops back worse than before.

    I’m not sure about shouting but constantly challanging religious views is probably useful. In proportion to how extreme they are of course.

    • In reply to #24 by PG:

      Reckless Monkey comment 2

      No, how far would have feminism got if they weren’t shouting out and making a pain in the arse of themselves?

      As a gay person I have experienced a bit of this myself. I often get tired of the flamboyant stereotype of gay people because that is not who I am. However, I know that I wouldn’t have the progress I have today if it weren’t for those wonderful gays in drag and go-go shorts dancing on parade floats 20 years ago screaming, “We’re here, we’re queer!”

      Also, seeing what has happened in the gay movement just by coming out and standing up to be counted makes me think that atheists should be doing the same. It is weird for me to think that I am now despised more in society for my atheism than for being gay.

      • In reply to #24 by PG:

        Reckless Monkey comment 2
        No, how far would have feminism got if they weren’t shouting out and making a pain in the arse of themselves?

        As a gay person I have experienced a bit of this myself. I often get tired of the flamboyant stereotype of gay people because that is not who I am. However, I know that I wouldn’t have the progress I have today if it weren’t for those wonderful gays in drag and go-go shorts dancing on parade floats 20 years ago screaming, “We’re here, we’re queer!”

        Okay this is the second time my post has been misunderstood, this puts the fault clearly in my court (it is obviously my fault for not being clear enough) so first apologies to anyone I have offended but I think you may have misunderstood my original post.

        What I was trying to say was that I think that feminists and gay rights activists have this strategy exactly right. I do not personally find them being very in your face, making themselves a pain in the arse to sexist pigs wrong at all. My point is if they had quietly advocated I don’t think they would have every got anywhere.

        I believe further, that atheists need to be prepared to do the same if they seek political change.

        In relation to people who are upset by atheists taking this line and suggesting that such actions are making atheism a religious movement. No, I respectfully disagree, a political movement perhaps not religious. As for the individual approach of these people? Why would you as an atheist identify yourself with their approach? The only think you necessarily share in common with them is an absence of belief in god/s. If I decided (following the gay pride lead) to dance about the middle of town with bottomless chaps on declaring my atheism (note I am not suggesting this) you should not take any more ownership of that than you take responsibility for the slaughter of millions under Stalin because he was an atheist. If people tell me Stalin, Pol Pot are examples of what happens when atheists gain power I quite rightly take offence and tell them in no uncertain terms that my choosing not believe in a deity with no evidence at all does not make me responsible for some psychopathic dictator killing millions particularly if they enforced belief in their own dogmas. So my question to you is why are you bothered? Atheists come in all strips sure argue with us but you should be arguing with us because we are atheists.

  17. I like the ‘atheist in foxholes’ and courthouse monuments because they’re tangible. It gives non-believers a focal point for assurance they’re not alone – flip side, a focal point for other folk to show that ‘atheists’ are human, not weird entities floating about the ether.

    ‘Free-thinking Cat’ is my moniker ~ deployment of claws when appropriate, otherwise meow.

  18. Is campaigning for civil rights or green issues or universal healthcare also a “religion” then?

    I think some atheists do silly things. I think an atheist church is an oxymoron and the proper name is “social club”. I don’t think there should be any atheist monuments with the possible exception of Charles Bradlaugh, who deserves to be commemorated for other reasons too.

    But every movement in history has had some people who take silly or extreme positions. That does not invalidate the movement.

  19. Atheist monument recently put up in the Florida Courthouse, Atheist Church was built, among some of the biggest ones. In a smaller perspective, Atheists always making fun of religion

    Funny how you can get the answer to your question juxtaposed like that. You do realize this is just to make a point, right? I don’t agree to that kind of stunt myself.

    I find a lot of the comments, memes, funny also but shouldn’t we be more modest and polite with our approach?

    Why, for fear of ‘offending’ sensibilities? You don’t want to offend and play nice, then that’s your prerogative. But realize that the right of free expression and criticism has to be defended as well. You are lucky to live in a country where your views are tolerated (sort of). Remember that not everyone has that privilege (well, it’s a basic human right as far as I’m concerned).

  20. As a former Christian fundamentalist in my youth, I WISH someone had called me out on my beliefs. I blush now when I hear others saying the things I used to say. If I had been opposed in some of my views at the time, I think I would have reconsidered things much earlier. It was a hard bubble to break out of because of the cult aspect of religion. The religious surround themselves in circles of support so that they rarely get opposing information. I was also lied to quite a bit about things like evolution. I wish someone had been brash enough to oppose and challenge me so that I would have discovered the truth sooner. Letting people continue to believe non-sense doesn’t help them, it enables them to continue being ignorant.

  21. I would define religion as an organisation whose primary purpose is tricking new people to believe lies. I define a lie as an assertion for which you have no evidence to support it.

    By those definitions, atheism has nothing to worry about. However, I agree atheism looks more and more like religion every day.

    • cult figures.
    • conferences which are basically cheerleading.
    • book sales.
    • strong desire to spread the doctrine.
    • income keeps rising.
    • vilifying key detractors of the faith.
    • I just became an atheist. What do I believe?
  22. As religion is organised superstition, and as atheists don’t believe in superstition or the supernatural, then the answer to the OP must be NO !

    Yes there might well be tactful degrees of religious criticism, but when some perfectly nice young person tells me that I’m going to hell unless I accept Jesus into my life, then the gloves come off. Bloody hell, even the Pope has realised that the RCC is built on a house of cards

    And he should know !

  23. I agree with you re: the aloofness and snobery , my words not yours, granted. I wouldn’t say that it’s becoming a religion though. Some parts are reactionary and oppositional , but that’s just human personality , and as such can be found in all walks of life. But the atheist churches do get my goat.

  24. Do I pray? No
    Do I tithe? No
    Do I have faith in a higher power? No
    Do I want others to believe as I do? Yes and No (If they do so based on evidence and reason then yes, if they just think I’m cool and want to be like me then No)
    Do I beseech the heavens for help when in a jam? No
    Do I dislike or even hate people who believe in other religions? No
    Do I hate gays? No
    Do I hope for “sinners” to be “punished” for eternity? No Not even for a few years? Well, depends on what they did…but I think burning in a lake of fire is a little much even for the worst of the worst
    Do I believe in anything? Yes, lots of things
    Do I believe in anything unreasonable or unscientific? Probably, I’m not perfect.

    Not really seeming like I’m very “religious.” At least not to me.

  25. Without God, there would be no atheism. So, in refuting the idea of God, the atheist has to copycat religious tactics, because man cannot create anything truly novel.

    It is the idea of God that gives atheism a reason to exist, but the inverse is untrue. The idea of “no God” does not effect the foundations of theism.

    When you consider atheism, you have to consider the possibility of God. When you consider amorality, you have to wrestle with morality. There are some things which are indecomposably simple which seem to be innate, like morality, Perfection, Theory of Mind, God. If they are not there to begin with then there is no debate, no communication on the topic (for Theory of Mind no communication period).

    Atheism, like religion, needs structures to adhere to, taboo topics, and ways of communicating which frame the environment and facilitate production of reinforcing and punishing consequences necessary to entrench belief in an individual’s non-belief.

    • In reply to #36 by shortpolock:

      Without God, there would be no atheism. So, in refuting the idea of God, the atheist has to copycat religious tactics, because man cannot create anything truly novel.

      Maths was pretty novel, so was quantum mechanics, the double helix?

      Without people believing in Gods there would not be the word atheism, all the features of atheism would be the default position. In fact we are all of us born atheists, we need to be indoctrinated to believe in particular gods.

      There are some things which are indecomposably simple which seem to be innate, like morality, Perfection, Theory of Mind, God. If they are not there to begin with then there is no debate, no communication on the topic (for Theory of Mind no communication period).

      We likely evolved morality so it seems simple and innate but it isn’t as study of behaviour of people suffering different forms of brain damage shows. Yes, we must agree on terms of discussion if we are going to communicate about things but it doesn’t mean in any sense you become religious when you reject it. To argue this seems to be playing with semantics. I can discuss unicorns, it doesn’t make them more than a figment of my imagination. Here I’ll do it now there is a large creature in my backyard called a buggleburp, it has green hairy arms and purple hair over the rest of its body, it looks friendly but it’s just eaten my cat. Now if you think I’m talking nonsense does it make the buggleburp real, if you try to refute the buggleburp does you communication force it into existence or can we safely assume that things that don’t exist don’t stop us from disagreeing with them?

      • Maths was pretty novel, so was quantum mechanics, the double helix?

        All based on sense data.

        Without people believing in Gods there would not be the word atheism, all the features of atheism would be the default position.

        But that is not the case. God was first. Thus atheism is not the default.

        In fact we are all of us born atheists we need to be indoctrinated to believe in particular gods.

        A. How are you sure? Is there evidence of successful atheistic cultures? Any atheistic cultures?

        B. What if it’s the reverse?

        We likely evolved morality

        If there was no regard for human life first, and a better gene was mutated to give the respect for life, I can guess that the person who stopped their hand from killing another in the heat of battle was killed themselves, every time.

        Morality also involves truth vs. lies. These involve Theory of Mind. How does a society form when there is no truth, no lie, no need or care of knowing another’s intention?

        so it seems simple and innate but it isn’t as study of behaviour of people suffering different forms of brain damage shows.

        This is arguing the exception. Those are studies of damaged brains. Typical brains/minds without morality are diagnosed with psychotic disorders because of a misfit in normal society. Outliers confound results.

        Yes, we must agree on terms of discussion if we are going to communicate about things but it doesn’t mean in any sense you become religious when you reject it.

        Erring too much on the side of evangelism gets one scrupulously canned from this site. Evolution is ardently defended and adhered to, and there are many who jeer the outliers in these discussions who dare to disagree.

        To argue this seems to be playing with semantics. I can discuss unicorns, it doesn’t make them more than a figment of my imagination. Here I’ll do it now there is a large creature in my backyard called a buggleburp, it has green hairy arms and purple hair over the rest of its body, it looks friendly but it’s just eaten my cat. Now if you think I’m talking nonsense does it make the buggleburp real, if you try to refute the buggleburp does you communication force it into existence or can we safely assume that things that don’t exist don’t stop us from disagreeing with them?

        No, they do not exist, but they could not be imagined unless you had the sense data in store to create them. You also learned of unicorns, you did not come up with it. Every other idea you had depends on your fingers hitting keys each containing information you have learned to use to express an idea, though the idea is purposefully vacant. You applied purpose to your vacant word salad. _#$^YGEFVFDMHEYTI^%_R&TYU DJRH09876rtfwvndgjb fb* means nothing or I can make it mean everything. It doesn’t exist as everything, nor does it exist as nothing, because it’s there now. Still, I could not make it mean anything at all without previously having learned of each part of the data through my senses. There is nothing you can post, say, do, think, etc., which hasn’t already been retrieved from your store of sense data. So, the question remains, how do ideas without representation in reality (sense data) become known? Therefore you have a concept of God without the sense data to conceive of one.

        can we safely assume that things that don’t exist don’t stop us from disagreeing with them?

        Going on from the above reply, how do you then disagree with something that does not exist? why is it’s existence the default for the majority of humans? If anyone could imagine things like a new color, or a God, what are the chances my neighbor conceived of a very similar God whose attributes are unseen?

        In reply to #38 by Reckless Monkey:*

        In reply to #36 by shortpolock:

        Without God, there would be no atheism. So, in refuting the idea of God, the atheist has to copycat religious tactics, because man cannot create anything truly novel.

        Maths was pretty novel, so was quantum mechanics, the double helix?

        Without people believing in Go…

        • In reply to #39 by shortpolock:

          But that is not the case. God was first. Thus atheism is not the default.

          No, we evolved from organisms that could have had no concept of a god even if one did exist, for which you have presented no evidence. So sorry atheism is the default position.

          A. How are you sure? Is there evidence of successful atheistic cultures? Any atheistic cultures?

          Because babies have never been exposed to the concept, because I was indoctrinated into my religion, as every child in a different culture is indoctrinated into the religion that corresponds to their culture. It has nothing to do with atheistic cultures. I’m uninterested in Atheistic cultures I’m more interested in Secular cultures. And yes there is strong evidence that the more secular the better the outcomes in education, income and crime.

          If there was no regard for human life first, and a better gene was mutated to give the respect for life, I can guess that the person who stopped their hand from killing another in the heat of battle was killed themselves, every time.

          No we evolved from other animals so it did not evolve in us, what is observed in many species of social animals is behaviours in which cooperating and helping and defending each other gives survival advantages to you directly. Animals that are solitary and don’t protect their young tend to produce more off-spring than those that don’t. Morality from its simplest expression to most complex increases our chances of survival.

          Morality also involves truth vs. lies. These involve Theory of Mind. How does a society form when there is no truth, no lie, no need or care of knowing another’s intention?

          You are once again getting the chicken before the egg (oh and by the way it was the egg that evolved first long before the first bird let alone chicken). Animals fool (lie) to each other all the time look at mimics, stick insects are as good an example as any other I am not a stick but I look like a stick, animals that puff up their fur to look bigger than they are (lie), other animals need to pick up the lie. Higher order primates use bluff and strategies to pick up on the bluff (lie) all the time.

          This is arguing the exception. Those are studies of damaged brains. Typical brains/minds without morality are diagnosed with psychotic disorders because of a misfit in normal society. Outliers confound results.

          No damage to these parts of the brain usually results in certain effects this is why the hideous frontal lobotomies were so popular. Much of what is understood about the brain is due to these people.

          Erring too much on the side of evangelism gets one scrupulously canned from this site. Evolution is ardently defended and adhered to, and there are many who jeer the outliers in these discussions who dare to disagree.

          Well to some extent this is to be expected, the religious do tend to stick their noses into our lives and try to impose their beliefs on the rest of us so a little jeer is frankly light going considering what we have to put up with, I genuinely hope you can take it because I believe our world is a better healthier place if we can have these things out and discussed. I wish more religious people would engage with us as you are now. Mind you, you are likely to have your arguments bashed about somewhat, I hope you can take it.

          There is nothing you can post, say, do, think, etc., which hasn’t already been retrieved from your store of sense data. So, the question remains, how do ideas without representation in reality (sense data) become known? Therefore you have a concept of God without the sense data to conceive of one.

          Are you saying Unicorns needed to exist before anyone could come up with the idea? God like unicorns was an invention of man putting ideas they had together if you like. The concept of a super parent seems likely. Sure if you kept a baby in a sensory deprivation tank (like a womb to some extent) it would be unlikely to develop thinking effectively, certainly not language etc. However that does not stop you from taking concepts and putting them together in unique ways, you attempts to bootstrap this to somehow prove god exists just show a failure of imagination on your part.

          Going on from the above reply, how do you then disagree with something that does not exist?

          I don’t disagree with God, as you rightly point out he does not exist. I am currently disagreeing with you claiming he does.

          why is it’s existence the default for the majority of humans? If anyone could imagine things like a new color, or a God, what are the chances my neighbor conceived of a very similar God whose attributes are unseen?

          Your gods existence is hardly the default, there are thousands (hell the Hindus alone believe in thousands), do you credit alien abduction stories because they are believed by many? I could almost guarantee that you don’t believe in the same god as your neighbour, even if you attend the same church you likely have a very different take on any number of dogmas. Culture has a very powerful effect on people if you for example take biblical times as an example your neighbour probably would have supported slavery also as the priests told them God told them it was okay. A thought experiment, get a random number generator and assign each person on earth at the moment a number now pick a number at random, I bet most of the time it comes up buddist, mulsim or some other particular brand of Christianity than you follow. So very high I would think.

          • To Steve Hopker as well:

            Evolution seems to be the dogma of the atheist, listening to RD and reading these posts. Like the big monotheistic religions there are factions and sects and those who have wild theories, but at the end of the day there are only two books which matter (Christianity did, at first, use only the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, after all). RD and others like Pinker are likened to high priests. Dawkins might be the Pope of Atheism. Darwin gave the atheist solid footing, better structure, and fellowship.

            And yes there is strong evidence that the more secular the better the outcomes in education, income and crime.

            Which society are you talking about?

            Please don’t misunderstand. I am not trying to proselytize this. The Big Three believe in an all powerful, eternal, divine, Creator God. It is this concept I am arguing is the default. If the Hindus have a god like that then he/she too. I would like to argue from where we are at which is that there would not be a need for an “a” in front of “theism” if there were not the God(s) concept first.

            You stated:

            God like unicorns was an invention of man putting ideas they had together if you like.

            However that does not stop you from taking concepts and putting them together in unique ways

            No, we evolved from organisms that could have had no concept of a god even if one did exist…

            You seem to contradict yourself but I think you are very close to understanding what I’m talking about. You see, by the rationale of your first two comments anyone should be able to conceive of and create a new color unseen heretofore at any point in history, like the attributes of God I mentioned. And your neighbor should come up with a color just a shade or two off. But you and I agree that organisms in the material world cannot conceive of things outside this material reality because there is no data to sense. If a God exists who is the Creator, He must needs be unimaginable to the human, or He cannot be God. Because we can conceive of the concepts of God unknowable by any human method, He must exist. Someone’s central nervous system at some point sensed him in order for us to learn of Him.

            From what would the organism put together concepts like eternity, oblivion, perfection… the creation story of Genesis1?

            http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2003/07/18/new-planet-challenges-models

            In a very real sense, we only know what is illuminated by our senses. If an organism cannot imagine something then its progeny will not either for there is no data to be sensed to learn of any new something, neither will it’s progeny, so forth until you and I here, today. This is why I think that things like perfection, eternity, serve as proof of God’s existence. Moreover both Paul and Solomon stated this thousands of years ago, when men were producing artifacts incorporating nanotechnology (there is nothing new).

            http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/This-1600-Year-Old-Goblet-Shows-that-the-Romans-Were-Nanotechnology-Pioneers-220563661.html

            You stated that a typical baby sensory deprived would still be able to put ideas together. This is not true at all. That baby would, in fact, die.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Spitz

            Typical children locked up in rooms without meaningful, affectionate, human contact for years on end become mentally retarded, indeed, unable to put concepts together to create novelty.

            I did not say we cannot learn from outliers, like Einstein, Jobs, and Phineas Gage, but they are not the norm.

            I am not arguing that Ideas are real. I am arguing that a God who created the universe can and does live both within and beyond the dimension of time, so is invisible, but more real than you or I.

            In reply to #43 by Reckless Monkey:

            No, we evolved from organisms …

            Is Evolution still a theory?

          • In reply to #58 by shortpolock:

            Posts are starting to get long so I’ll attempt to keep this brief.

            Evolution seems to be the dogma of the atheist, listening to RD and reading these posts. Like the big monotheistic religions there are factions and sects and those who have wild theories, but at the end of the day there are only two books which matter (Christianity did, at first, use only the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, after all). RD and others like Pinker are likened to high priests. Dawkins might be the Pope of Atheism.

            No you’ll find many here criticising him directly. Evolution is not dogma because it relies on solid verifiable, testable evidence. If you think it is you either a) don’t understand how it works or b) haven’t looked at the evidence.

            Which society are you talking about?

            Most that are secular a quick search on google scholar will quickly reveal the highly religious societies in the have neagtive correlation to social health and crime here is but one example the first that came up http://globalhealth.washington.edu/docs/Bezruchka%202.pdf

            You seem to contradict yourself but I think you are very close to understanding what I’m talking about. You see, by the rationale of your first two comments anyone should be able to conceive of and create a new color unseen heretofore at any point in history, like the attributes of God I mentioned.

            No, I am saying that the concept of god is very simple to come up with he is a big daddy in the sky as children we see our parents as powerful protectors, as we grow we learn they cannot protect us the illusion is stripped we seek to replace it with something more comforting, hence god. I think a quick reading of the bible reveals the god of the big 3 as you put them is very much the sort of character that only barbaric goat herders could come up with. I suspect what you are trying to do is paint god as a mysterious force beyond our comprehension and then with a little slight of hand say you can’t imagine him so therefore he exists. I may have you wrong here but that’s how it reads to me. You are right we are limited in our senses but we have developed tools for looking at things we cannot sense, the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum, mathematics has made atoms accessible to us although I will never see one I can imagine them, quantum physics you just have to trust the maths works.

            If you are just suggesting he exists as an abstract concept in peoples deluded or wish thinking minds we have no argument that god definitely exists.

            From what would the organism put together concepts like eternity, oblivion, perfection… the creation story of Genesis1?

            Same place the Australian Aboriginals came up with the Dream-time, and where the Aztecs got the idea they have to rip out some poor buggers heart out every day to make the Sun rise.

            This is why I think that things like perfection, eternity, serve as proof of God’s existence.

            Circular

            You stated that a typical baby sensory deprived would still be able to put ideas together. This is not true at all. That baby would, in fact, die.

            I am not arguing that Ideas are real. I am arguing that a God who created the universe can and does live both within and beyond the dimension of time, so is invisible, but more real than you or I.

            Prove it.

            Is Evolution still a theory?

            yes, like gravity, the germ theory of disease. You are confusing the scientific terms for hypothesis and theory. In science something is only called a theory when there is significant proof to establish it as excepted fact as anything can be. You are using the term theory in the sense that scientist use Hypothesis – which is an idea still to be established as scientific fact. As far as you can know anything evolution is known to be true so yes like gravity it is still a theory.

            Anyway better leave it there my internet is playing up going now so I can send this. Hope to argue with you again:)

          • In reply to #58 by shortpolock:

            To Steve Hopker as well:…

            …Because we can conceive of the concepts of God unknowable by any human method…

            What is the net meaning of [humans] ‘conceiving of concepts… unknowable by any human method'; i.e., what is the content of unknowable concepts?

            He must exist.

            This does not follow, even if humans are capable of conceiving things they cannot know by any method (see above). I can conceive of things that are yet non-existent: for example, unicorns as real not fictional creatures (yet, they might exist, ie are not self-contradictory). But if being able conceive of something that might be knowable is no proof of its existence, how can claims to conceive things unknowable by any means fare any better? Surely there are problems in the meaningfulness, the communicable content of phrases such as ‘the unknowable by any means’? Is conceiving the unknowable a semantic, indeed logical contradiction, similar to saying there is a square circle, a four sided triangle or one person who was also three people? What would those sequences of words actually impart to our minds if we tried to picture them?

            Someone’s central nervous system at some point sensed him in order for us to learn of Him.

            I agree this would have to be the case if God was knowable, but seems to contradict your claim that, ‘concepts of God unknowable by any human method’ are conceivable.

            I don’t think these paradoxes show such a conception of God to be mysterious, but rather self-contradictory: and thus something that cannot exist – any more than there are square circles, four sided triangles, etc.

          • In reply to #58 by shortpolock:

            Evolution seems to be the dogma of the atheist, listening to RD and reading these posts.

            Dogma Definition: “A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church”. Dogma has no requirement for truth or evidence, so your statement has no foundation in reality or science – which has no need for a Leader or Authority.

            RD and others like Pinker are likened to high priests. Dawkins might be the Pope of Atheism.

            Dawkins, Pinker, etc. are specialists in discovering facts and evidence, and notable explainers of the resulting theories. Priests and Popes have no evidence or theories supporting their assertions and dogmas.

            The Big Three believe in an all powerful, eternal, divine, Creator God. It is this concept I am arguing is the default.

            No human is born with any religion, just with evolved tendencies for imputing agency and obeying parental advice, which religions exploit and use for their own agendas.

            Because we can conceive of the concepts of God unknowable by any human method, He must exist.

            No, just as being able to imagine a unicorn does not mean one must exist….

            I am arguing that a God who created the universe can and does live both within and beyond the dimension of time, so is invisible, but more real than you or I.

            Please show us some evidence of this assertion, or any necessity for this god hypothesis to explain reality….

            Is Evolution still a theory?

            No, Evolution is a set of facts, while Evolution by Natural Selection is the theory that explains how those facts work….

            Someone’s central nervous system at some point sensed him in order for us to learn of Him.

            Our brains invent or imagine many things that can appear to be ‘sensed’ by our consciousness – which doesn’t make them real….

            From what would the organism put together concepts like eternity, oblivion, perfection… the creation story of Genesis1?

            From ignorance, fear, superstition, dominance behavior, unexplained natural disasters, diseases and sickness, fear of death, etc….

            This is why I think that things like perfection, eternity, serve as proof of God’s existence.

            Concepts like ‘perfection’ and ‘eternity’ are as nebulous and personally idealized as ‘god’, and don’t prove their existence – or their necessity.

            Your thinking is based (biased?) on pre-suppositional memeplexes – inherent in faith viruses – which put the cart before the horse, resulting in lack of progress and false concepts of reality despite all the evidence, which require illogical, contradictory word salads to squirm and duck around actual truth.

            My condolences to you on your sickness – do try to learn about and get help fighting this highly-evolved virus – and good luck getting well…. Mac.

    • In reply to #36 by shortpolock:

      Without God, there would be no atheism. So, in refuting the idea of God, the atheist has to copycat religious tactics, because man cannot create anything truly novel.

      It is amazing how long ancient philosophies persist – I think this is down the line Platonism (later fed into Christendom) that what only truly exists are Ideas, such that when we seem to learn something we are only realising what was already there – the Ideals – so that people ‘cannot create anything truly novel’.

      When you consider atheism, you have to consider the possibility of God.

      In some ways this is true, in that the words require such engagement. But atheists do not need to ‘wrestle’ with all the attributes of God – potentially, just God’s existence. However, perhaps because of the attacks by religious zealots on others (usually co-religionists, sometimes atheists) atheists are often concerned about other attributed aspects of God, such as jealousy and genocidal vindictiveness (although the latter qualities are notable in the Hebrew’s Jahweh and other ‘tribal’ gods: some other deities, eg the Hindu’s Ganesh, are supposedly not so violent).

      There are some things which are indecomposably simple which seem to be innate, like morality, Perfection, Theory of Mind, God.

      I think the Capitals again shows the realm of Platonic Ideals. Some philosophers contend that some ideas can be simple – say, number, or extension, and I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. But the theory, philosophy or science of mind, morals or Perfection I have never thought of as ‘innately simple’. Indeed the religious history of myriad doctrinal disputes, Crusades, Inquisitions, etc has repeatedly shown that many find such questions far from simple. There have been those who made simple claims: quite often the Church had them burnt.

      Atheism, like religion, needs structures to adhere to, taboo topics, and ways of communicating which frame the environment and facilitate production of reinforcing and punishing consequences necessary to entrench belief in an individual’s non-belief.

      This I think is the key concern of the OP. Atheism resembles Theism in that both relate to beliefs. However, that does not take us far, since there are many beliefs. For example, I believe that there is a real country called China, that I like toast and that today is Friday. These are all beliefs, but do they need large scale structures? Well, maybe my idea of China is based on TV, maps etc, and I suppose the notion of Friday rests on calendars. Not everyone likes toast though :)

      But there are lots of things I don’t believe in: indeed, maybe if I imagined enough, a lot more than those I do. Do my non-beliefs in fairies, Atlantis, Yahweh, or that the earth is flat all require structures? If so, since I could spend my days making things up to then disbelieve in, all my time would be taken up.

      Still, I think there is a point here. Atlantis and fairies do not have active followers in large numbers and likewise Flat Earthers, though still around, do not hold sway over billions. Whereas, many religions are active and so it is more likely that atheists will oppose their influence. Some atheists might then, like other campaigners, have structures to share information and provide mutual support. This website is probably such as structure. There is then a risk that, in as much as atheists can be considered a human group, they will be at risk of ‘group-think’ problems such as siege mentalities and intolerance. So I think the OP gives a useful warning of where not to go. However, I would suggest that the diversity of a group defined only by a non belief will be great. Furthermore, the scepticism of atheism should counterbalance many ‘group-think’ risks, whereas faith arguably suppresses questioning and so more readily courts dogmatism.

  26. I think a couple def’s of “religion” suffice for the atheist movement:

    2 – a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 – archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
    4 – a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

                                       — re·li·gion·less
    

    A church is simply a house of a lord. Any cult can fill it. It makes no difference to the group of believers.

    Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord,
    from kyrios lord, master; akin to Sanskrit śūra hero, warrior

  27. Without God, there would be no atheism. So, in refuting the idea of God, the atheist has to copycat religious tactics, because man cannot create anything truly novel.

    A common theist fallacy, that because atheism is a response to theism, that makes theism axiomatic.

    I don’t believe in unicorns either. In order to assert my non-belief in unicorns I have to acknowledge the existence of unicorns, therefore unicorns MUST exist!
    Oh wait, no, I only have to acknowledge the IDEA of unicorns, or the IDEA of leprechauns, or fairies, or Santa Claus.

    Your claim boils down to the idea that anything that can be asserted to not exist, must therefore exist, and is a complete and utter failure to cogitate.

    Without the idea of god, atheism would still be the default position, it just wouldn’t be aknowledged and there wouldn’t be a word for it. Until somebody came along with the idea of god and then suddenly everyone he shared that idea with would “become” an atheist.

    And the idea that people cannot think of anything novel is nothing more than a failure to view reality as it is, we would not be here, in the 21st century, with all of our technology, art, culture, science and philosophy if it was impossible to come up with new ideas.

  28. I think there is a real concern for atheism becoming like an organized religion and people endorsing the idea of atheistic churches should really be asking themselves why? The fact that this idea originated from two comedians should give us some clue as to what their intensions are: after all it is comical isn’t it? Gave me a laugh anyway, I think the idea of an atheistic church a grievous contradiction – like someone else said why call it a church? If it’s about meeting other atheist for support and communication how is that a church? Whether the idea came about for its comical value or to “upset” religious members of the community or even as a serious idea for the future of atheism it is worth investigation.
    For me the idea that atheism is in itself a religious belief system that relies on the idea of god/gods in order to deny said god/gods a retarded view of what most atheist I know, think. Their god is NOT the reason there is atheism, we are atheist because of many reasons but for me the most obvious it that we have out-grown, out-evolved the archaic, controlling, brainwashing and undeniable wrong belief and superstition that organized religious systems enforce. If you kept religious views, agendas and objectives out of the political arena, out of our schools and started making policies and decisions based on factual information and conversation then I would go as far to say that we can then “get on with the job.” Improved healthcare, better education, environmental stability, and so on.
    I do support religious freedom to an extent, the line gets crossed every time one individual takes on a position to dictate to any other individual that what they believe is above all other things – the whole we speak the word of god and he has instructed us to spread his message across the world! It is so disturbing to me that these people feel they have a right to tell others how to live and how to die.
    My real concern with atheism being termed or viewed as a religion is that certain systems to follow will be invented and possibly enforced, starting with “Thou shall no believe in any god/gods” and so on. Some of you may laugh at that but I have met people who want to control what atheism means to the point of being so dictatorial and closed mined they reflect the very image of what they originally stood against.

  29. , I think the idea of an atheistic church a grievous contradiction – like someone else said why call it a church? If it’s about meeting other atheist for support and communication how is that a church?

    I don’t believe they ever actually called it an atheist church. It’s official name is ‘Sunday Assembly’, and for practical purposes it’s innitial base was/is within a building that used to be and is, in an architectural context, a church.

    I can’t say I agree with it completely, but it’s plain to me that they don’t mean it in a ‘mocking religion’ kind of way, and I actually like the aspect of reclaiming the church from the architectural monopoly of the christian middle ages.

    • In reply to #44 by Seraphor:

      I don’t believe they ever actually called it an atheist church. It’s official name is ‘Sunday Ass…

      The article I read states “Jones called it “part atheist church” and “part foot-stomping show” that will meet once a month.

      So that what i was referring to :)

  30. I am an aid worker, working in Afghanistan. Can you pray tell me how I may approach the Taliban and discuss very modestly my own beliefs about science and reason to a wholly unreasonable lot? I say this to illustrate a point about Dawkins comments about “militant atheism”. The point I am trying to make is that for too long atheists have felt that they have to be modest and reasonable in the face of extreme unreason.

    • In reply to #47 by Winter Sun:

      The point I am trying to make is that for too long atheists have felt that they have to be modest and reasonable in the face of extreme unreason.

      The “he started it!” argument. Just because your opponents are irrational, immodest, rude, and violent is no justification for you to be the same. The reasons that I think atheists shouldn’t be militant (by which I mean some or all those things above) are that I believe reason and critical thinking should be valued no matter what the argument. Whether you are talking about the existence of God, evolution, the Big Bang, theories of mind, whatever, the way people should settle arguments is being respectful and rational with each other.

      Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of a good joke or even a good insult once in a while, especially when in the hands of a master of sarcasm like Hitchens or John Cleese (his debate with some Church guys on the BBC is classic). But in general reason has a better chance in the long run of converting people and it also sets an example of the kind of people we want, or at least I want other secularists and atheists to emulate.

      • I know I came late to this discussion, but I think your comments about science and reasoning and being good humored with people is great. The conversion to atheism seems like an oxymoron to me. How about keeping our beliefs in non-belief outside the lab?LOL

        In reply to #48 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #47 by Winter Sun:

        The point I am trying to make is that for too long atheists have felt that they have to be modest and reasonable in the face of extreme unreason.

        The “he started it!” argument. Just because your opponents are irrational, immodest, rude, and violent is no justificatio…

    • In reply to #47 by Winter Sun:

      I am an aid worker, working in Afghanistan. Can you pray tell me how I may approach the Taliban and discuss very modestly my own beliefs about science and reason to a wholly unreasonable lot? I say this to illustrate a point about Dawkins comments about “militant atheism”. The point I am trying to m…

      If it were where me I’d lead by example and keep my opinions to myself (out of pure cowardice), but I’m not on the ground, I may have a fair bit of Taliban inspired bias.

    • Are you a very senior aid worker? I don’t think this would be a very good career move if you are a low ranking aid worker. Then again, I’m not nor ever will be an aid worker. Atheism, Taliban, you in the middle with an open mouth. I think the only more dangerous thing you could do is ask them if they’ve “faound Jeezuss”.

      In reply to #47 by Winter Sun:

      I am an aid worker, working in Afghanistan. Can you pray tell me how I may approach the Taliban and discuss very modestly my own beliefs about science and reason to a wholly unreasonable lot? I say this to illustrate a point about Dawkins comments about “militant atheism”. The point I am trying to m…

  31. While ever religious organisations are committed in brainwashing children into believing rubbish (and are supported in doing this with state funding ) then the toxic nature of their activities need to exposed at every opportunity. And loudly, with ridicule and wit.

  32. Isn’t the most scientific attitude agnostic? You cannot prove or disprove an ordering force. Honestly – we don’t know and it is not yet a question for science. A lot of attributes of various gods and associated events are human inventions, not supported by science. Formation of churches usually involve power and control at some stage, not very charming and sometimes dangerous, a subject for social sciences. To me personally atheism is a belief, and that’s OK. It sounds crazy with churches for it. Nice to live in a secular society, peaceful.

    • In reply to #52 by Agge:

      Isn’t the most scientific attitude agnostic? You cannot prove or disprove an ordering force. Honestly – we don’t know and it is not yet a question for science. A lot of attributes of various gods and associated events are human inventions, not supported by science. Formation of churches usually involve power and control at some stage, not very charming and sometimes dangerous, a subject for social sciences. To me personally atheism is a belief, and that’s OK. It sounds crazy with churches for it. Nice to live in a secular society, peaceful.

      I’m with on living in a secular world. But atheism should be the default position until evidence is presented. Science is only agnostic in the sense that everything remains to be disproved or modified at some latter date. Until a God or evidence for one is produced then the correct scientific stance should be remains to be proven, highly unlikely. I’m sure you don’t worry as much about not believing in fairies. Theists have had thousands of years to make a solid case, they have not so I’m entirely comfortable with saying I do not believe in things for which there is no evidence. But I’m fine with you considering it a personal belief, I just think its a very different thing from believing in something highly unlikely on no evidence, and therefore atheism is completely comparable with science provided if some evidence is presented you are willing to look at that again.

      • In reply to #53 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #52 by Agge:

        Isn’t the most scientific attitude agnostic? You cannot prove or disprove an ordering force. Honestly – we don’t know and it is not yet a question for science. A lot of attributes of various gods and associated events are human inventions, not supported by science. Formatio…

        You know, my experience is that “science” can sometimes be a church. E.g. it can be very difficult to publish data disproving some “in fashion” view or understanding, scepticism level is not always high enough. It is often unwise to rule out presently unlikely phenomena as improbable, before you have checked with all available data and perhaps figured out how to test the idea properly. That’s how science progress. Ignaz Semmelweiss had to wash his hands a lot, and be ridiculed before the general view changed for the better. Pasteur’s discoveries later made the mechanism understood. I don’t think science should work with untestable ideas (is there a god) before tools are available and observations can be done objectively. If you think science tells you atheism is science I will protest loudly. I have not found anything that speaks in favour of any god in charge, so do not believe, but I’m also fully aware that is my belief. Intellectually I stick to my agnostic view i.e. I don’t know.

        • In reply to #56 by Agge:

          In reply to #53 by Reckless Monkey:

          In reply to #52 by Agge:

          Isn’t the most scientific attitude agnostic? You cannot prove or disprove an ordering force. Honestly – we don’t know and it is not yet a question for science. A lot of attributes of various gods and associated events are human invention…

          Hi Agge,

          I agree with you I think, I cringe when I see science portrayed in the news because it is almost always putting forward still highly speculative stuff (which is fine) but it is promoted as though it was solid fact. And no I don’t think atheism is scientific in that sense, I just think the null hypothesis is applicable to god/s, until there is evidence while leaving the door open I choose not to believe. In this sense technically I am an agnostic but atheist is probably a better description as I think it is highly unlikely that any evidence will be presented.

          • In reply to #62 by Reckless Monkey:

            Clear as crystal. We are probably playing in the same field. Exact wording is not very, very important. My null hypothesis is the same but it is a hypothesis. I don’t see atheism as a hypothesis, but a conviction. Slight difference, but important, you cannot build a church based on We don’t know. Closest then would be a church for science at the front, the edges, towards the unknown. Difficult PR situation.

            In reply to #56 by Agge:

            In reply to #53 by Reckless Monkey:

            In reply to #52 by Agge:

            Isn’t the most scientific attitude agnostic? You cannot prove or disprove an ordering force. Honestly – we don’t know and it is not yet a question for science. A lot of attributes of various gods and associated…

  33. Well, I’m back. I was JustMe on the old site. Now, I’m stilljustme.
    I’m what you’d call a spiritual christian raised catholic.
    I decided to leave the site because I felt like I was just invading. I received almost no hate or anger – just a difference of belief, or fact if you like. Didn’t seem like either “side” was getting anywhere with each other.
    BTW, I graduated with a BA in science. Not exactly Einstein, but I do know a thing or two about the physical world/universe. And I don’t take Genesis, and many parts of the bible literally. And I occasionally keep up. Just had to throw that out there.
    But, now, I see the Pope is starting to talk like I used to write on this site.
    I decided to check this site out again to see how it was received. More of less what I expected…It’s better, but it’s still ridiculous.
    So, considering the original post in this thread, I thought now was a good time to start posting again. I had very civil conversations – for the most part. At the very least, it’s interesting discussion for both sides. Yes, “sides” is already a clashing starting point. But I’ll keep it civil, and most of you that have written to me have done the same.
    Now, to the point of this thread. Yes, lets discuss without threats of damnation and ridicule. We’re all just people with different positions of how some, and certainly not close to all, things are – or even should be.
    That’s about it for now. Just wanted to reintroduce myself. Because I’m back to discuss, or even civilly debate. Just don’t make fun of my Spartan Football team.

    • In reply to #55 by stilljustme:

      Well, I’m back. I was JustMe on the old site. Now, I’m stilljustme.
      I’m what you’d call a spiritual christian raised catholic.
      I decided to leave the site because I felt like I was just invading. I received almost no hate or anger – just a difference of belief, or fact if you like… Yes, lets discuss without threats of damnation and ridicule. We’re all just people with different positions of how some, and certainly not close to all, things are – or even should be.

      Welcome back stilljustme, and I agree that threats and ridicule are better avoided. Only, to someone like me – I’m atheist and gay, more or less ok in the UK, potentially fatal in other nations – I can’t help feel that ridicule doesn’t quite match a zealot thinking that God would have someone like me tortured for ever, or commands the righteous to arrange for a taste of hell on earth.

      That said, various avowedly atheistic regimes, most notably Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, were severely abusive towards believers, so the hate traffic hasn’t all been one way – even though nowadays in a largely post-communist world the ideological threats seem largely from religion and the right – Al Qaeda in many places, US Tea Party fundamentalists and Russian Orthodox supporting draconian homophobic laws, etc.

      So, welcome back: but please understand why people like me can get angry when faced with implacable dogmatic beliefs which, in other places than this forum, pose a major threat to peaceable coexistence and have, through the actions such beliefs inspire, led directly to appalling inhumanities.

    • Hi stilljustme, you mentioned you hold a non-literal view of the Bible. I agree that that would be a mistake and would make us Zombies feeding off Jesus. Do you take it straightforwardly?

      In reply to #55 by stilljustme:

      Well, I’m back. I was JustMe on the old site. Now, I’m stilljustme.
      I’m what you’d call a spiritual christian raised catholic.
      I decided to leave the site because I felt like I was just invading. I received almost no hate or anger – just a difference of belief, or fact if you like. Didn’t seem l…

    • In reply to #55 by stilljustme:

      Well, I’m back. I was JustMe on the old site. Now, I’m stilljustme.
      I’m what you’d call a spiritual christian raised catholic.
      I decided to leave the site because I felt like I was just invading. I received almost no hate or anger – just a difference of belief, or fact if you like. Didn’t seem l…

      Hi stilljustme: welcome look forward to a good arguement;)

  34. I think one of the tell tale signs that atheism is a religion is that the texts of its dogma, evolution, are written to be taken literally, and must be taken literally. A non-literal view of evolution is kinda wacky. In this regard I feel that atheism is very much just a repentance from the jelly to the jam.

    BTW, how do you copy the italicized gray text into responses, and quick link sites?

    • In reply to #60 by shortpolock:

      BTW, how do you copy the italicized gray text into responses, and quick link sites?

      the greater than sign (>) at the start of the line of someone else’s text you want to quote. so if you wanted to quote someone you might write (I’m going to put “”marks in so it doesn’t indent it ignore these)

      “>this is a quote”

      this is a quote

      • as I said no parenthesise have the > at the start of the line (far left).
    • In reply to #60 by shortpolock:

      I think one of the tell tale signs that atheism is a religion is that the texts of its dogma, evolution, are written to be taken literally, and must be taken literally. A non-literal view of evolution is kinda wacky. In this regard I feel that atheism is very much just a repentance from the jelly to…

      There are many statements that are intended to be taken literally. For example, ‘I am looking at a computer screen’, ‘Two plus two equals four’, ‘China is a large country’, ‘grass is green’. Only the second is incontrovertible: I might be dreaming I am typing this post, China could be a international media fiction, I might be colour blind (this last example perhaps more debatable). There are other statements perhaps not meant to be taken literally: ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, ‘I could kill for a drink': and, maybe, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (the last extremely debatable).

      Statements relating to evolution are in the category of literally intended statements, but unless one denies the validity of any literal statement about the world (and some philosophies do just that) then they are, like any literal claims, provisionally acceptable but subject to the usual checks. But not all evolutionary statements are made with equal confidence. Thus, ‘fossils are remnants of organisms’ is made with confidence, whereas, ‘Opanabina was a Cambrian organism related to arthropods’ (see Wikipedia) is more tentative.

      However, I think that some systems of thought, such as theologies which aspire to absolute Truth and certainty, will struggle to include this provisionality. Statements such as, ‘The body and blood of the Resurrected Christ are present in the Mass’, or, ‘the Blessed Virgin was bodily assumed into heaven’ are intended literally, are not mathematically analytic, yet are held not to be vulnerable to correction ie are subjects of infallible papal authority.

      But I agree with your possible implication that if a scientific claim is made in a way that it brooks no correction, it is rendered non-scientific. For me, dogma and infallibility are the antitheses of science.

  35. You know what bothers me Maximo? Self righteous atheists who think that there is only one way to be an atheist, in this case the path of least resistance and the one least likely to make waves. I like to think of these as the ‘Milk toast’ atheists. They don’t believe, but ‘lets just try to fit in and get along… what good does it do in the short term to upset people with my non religious perspective?”

    I am glad that this make things go smoothly for you in your dealings with the religious, and there is nothing wrong with it per se… but ti think that the path of least resistance should be the adopted by all freethinkers is irrational in my view. We need every stripe of atheist and freethinker out there to work in their own way towards a more secular society period.

    • In reply to #69 by Ivan Allan:

      You know what bothers me Maximo? Self righteous atheists who think that there is only one way to be an atheist, in this case the path of least resistance and the one least likely to make waves. I like to think of these as the ‘Milk toast’ atheists. They don’t believe, but ‘lets just try to fit in and get along… what good does it do in the short term to upset people with my non religious perspective?”..

      We need every stripe of atheist and freethinker out there to work in their own way towards a more secular society period.

      Generations of prominent and highly distinguished atheists have come and gone with little impact on alleviating religiosity in the past. Today, however, never before has the topic of atheism had the visibility, the ubiquity, the impact and the unavoidability. Yes, the Internet has played a massive role but never before has there been this degree of organization resulting in an actual movement(s). These movements are driven by the “Strident©” who have dedicated part of their lives to it, not the atheist apologists for religion who at best avoid discussing it lest peoples feelings might get hurt and, at worst – at their most damaging to the project- defend religion and the actions of the religious under the noxious banners of cultural and moral relativism.

      The fence-sitters – the ‘Milk toast’ atheists as you call them, are much preferable to the atheist apologists of religion. At least they don’t get in the way – enable or swell the ranks of the supernaturally deluded.

  36. I don’t know whether I have an opinion on these matters. In Canada, you can be as removed as you want from religion without it really effecting you. We certainly have violations every now and again that need to be stopped, but it is at least very secular where I live.

    In the U.S.A however, I feel the need to have groups like FFRF or American Atheists. I certainly don’t agree with everything, but that doesn’t matter! They help all of us by fighting for Atheist rights. I can easily get over my differences when I see the end result. Religious people will always think negatively of Atheists. Were these groups to stop their activism, online and in interviews Atheists would still (occasionally) give us a bad name. I would rather get something positive done and have a bad rep, than do nothing and have a bad rep – justly or unjustly.

    Would I ever go to a movement gathering? Never. I have had my share of bullshit inter-denominational politics when I was a preacher and seminary student. When people attempt to be individuals in a movement, fractures happen and cause problems. I can’t think of a single Atheist that refuses to act as an individual (a good thing), so I don’t believe our movement will ever reach a scale equivalent to religious organizations.

    When I look at all the horseshit nonsense happening at American Atheists and A+ and whatever else, I am glad I would never get involved with either. Now we have fucking denominations? No wonder religious people assume we are a religion. It’s a damn shame that atheists are experiencing denominational conflict like churches do – of which I am intimately aware. As a preacher I have seen groups and splits that destroy movements. It seems, from a disinterested outside viewpoint, that it will occur within atheist groups as well.

    I would never attend atheist church. I left fundamentalism a year ago, and I don’t need to be forced into a room with other people all attempting ‘to feel’ something, whether it’s social interaction, unity, fascination, etc. I can’t do it. To those who want to, have fun. I don’t need a group of like-minded people to help me feel connected or like I am not alone. I pretended to like other people and faked my way through church with emotions that I never had. Call me psychopathic, but I don’t tend to experience them, and I will never fake it again.

    All this to say: If you want to join a group, go to atheist church, be an activist for atheists, absolutely 100% go for it. I’ll support your decision even if I disagree. I myself refuse all those conventions out of personal choice. Which doesn’t mean anything to either positions validity.

    -J

    • In reply to #72 by Jogre:

      I don’t know whether I have an opinion on these matters. In Canada, you can be as removed as you want from religion without it really effecting you. We certainly have violations every now and again that need to be stopped, but it is at least very secular where I live.

      In the U.S.A however, I feel t…

      This I understand, “churches” of all sorts and idolisation give me creeps. Conformism required and I’m out.

  37. Is Evolution still a theory?

    This again? Nobody on this website should be making this mistake.
    We hear this line from creationists time and time again and every time it is explained that a scientific Theory is not the same as a laymans theory, which is comparable to a scientific Hypothesis.

    It never seems to go through, and I can sort of see why. Simply telling them that the word has two different definitions doesn’t adequately explain those differences. There really needs to be some sort of standardised explanation that people can rebute it with, and it would be simple enough to explain so let me attempt it.

    Evolution by Natural Selection is a scientific Theory.

    Gravity is also a scientific Theory.
    Gravity is also a fact.
    It is a fact that the force we call Gravity exists, that when you drop things, they fall down, that celestial bodies orbit larger bodies due to their gravitation pull.
    But simply knowing Gravity that is a fact doesn’t explain HOW gravity works. For that we need the Theory of Gravitation.

    Gravity is a fact and the Theory of Gravitation explains the fact of Gravity. A Theory can never be a fact because it is an explanation of a process or a working model of that process, it is inherently too complicated to be a simple fact, but it is infinitely more usefull that a simple fact. The Theory of Gravitation may not be correct, it may not be the bestTheory to explain Gravity, it is simply the best Theory we have come up with so far, but saying that, it’s got us to the Moon and allowed us to place probes on Mars so it must be pretty damn close. It’s not perfect, it could be more accurate, but it works and that’s good enough.

    cont…

  38. cont…

    Evolution is also a fact. It is a fact that life forms alive today are descedants of not extinct life forms, that all life on Earth is descended from early life forms several billion years ago. it is a fact that all life on earth is related. We can pin point the degrees of genetic variation between different species and plot them all on a map of life or a tree of life and that tree matches up with what we expect by their appearances and what we discover in the form of fossils. These correlations are backed up by geology and radiometric dating verifies with with our working knowledge of radiation physics.

    However, simply knowing that Evolution is a fact doesn’t explain HOW Evolution works. For that we need the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

    Evolution is a fact and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection explains the fact of Evolution.
    The Theoryof Evolution by Natural Selection may not be completely true or completely accurate, we may discover more that expands the theory, or even disproves some aspects of the theory, but as all working Theories it has grown and ‘evolved’ in it’s own right and is currently the best theory we have. it works and that’s good enough for now. But even if our Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection turned out to be incorrect in some way, inaccurate or wrong alltogether, that would not stop Evolution from being the Fact it is, it would simply mean we don’t understand how the process works.

  39. I have never been or felt part of an atheist ‘movement’ I don’t know why you do. I am never asked to join in meetings or marches. I’m not asked to accept a document as being a set of atheistic beliefs to follow. I will never understand or study all the scientific evidence, but from all the facts and my own life experience, I do not believe in the divine. Atheists are rather solitary creatures. Thanks to the Internet and social media we know that we are not alone, which is not the same as a movement. Dawkins and co are just voicing what reason demands .

  40. It is important to note that practices which base themselves in worship of a magical being cannot be equated with practices which base themselves on observation and deduction. We can use the principals of physics to levitate an object, but nobody can use a god to levitate a mustard seed. In your example about an atheist “church”, there is an implication that it is a place of worship, and that cannot be. One excludes the other.
    Regarding the bench, I hope they are able to appeal the decision kept them from removing allowed the post with the ten commandments carved into it, but until they do, I hope the bench in the “free speech area” remains until it crumbles.

  41. Atheism is nothing more than the refusal to ‘believe’ the lies, bullshit, and propaganda of religions, which are nothing more than political organizations calling themselves by another name and taking advantage of the apparent genetic need of humans to believe that they have an origin by design by some other preceding intelligence. Religion’s descriptions of their ‘gods’ are designed to cause PTSD which makes one into a compliant, obedient, and manageable zombie. PTSD is the real reason that so many of them survive.

  42. I didn’t read all 74 comments, so if someone already said this, it may be worth repeating. ;-) Atheism is simply a category or label to put various types of non-believers (also a label) into a nice little box that is easy to reference and or attack…obviously we do this with every facet of life, but my point is; no one thinks the same as anyone else and you will always have people doing their own thing.
    In short: You do you.

  43. i think most of atheists are of christian & Jewish culture …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbkzDobdPdw
    we as a human beings have a limit in our sensation as the other beings have different limits & not to sense something do not mean it is not exist
    so the faith is to be a witness for the existence of some topics beyond our sensation
    then any thing you (man) need to use you mind to confirm its existence without your ” body” is a faith & you confirm it to others using words & deeds
    ME as a pharmacist dealing with a system of microbes .. i will be the Unseen force that controls the system but how to confirm myself to this microbes to gain their faith !!! then how I am asking GOD to do so with me
    ME as a Muslim of a great faith I must confirm this with saying that i will be a witness that there is no thing worthy to worship except ALLAH … but in a very different way than Christians & Jews so it has to be clear that you Atheists must look to me outside of churches’ & temples’ windows

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