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home8896's Avatar Comment 1 by home8896

Um, so what is this "scientific" ideology Stalin was using, again? Why haven't I heard of it before now?

Also, let this article be a lesson about "highlighting" "words" "individually" in "quotes." It's annoying and unprofessional.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:07:00 UTC | #98499

clunkclickeverytrip's Avatar Comment 2 by clunkclickeverytrip

It's time for humanity to be more honest with itself. We are not made or monitored by a supernatural being.
This is a simple truth that should be taught to all children in all schools, and eventually in all homes, throughout the world. They can handle the truth.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:10:00 UTC | #98500

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 3 by Paula Kirby

Those modish atheists who claim to understand the panoply of religious experience, or myth as they would have it, are, in the words of a critic, like "someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject isThe Book of British Birds".

Yes, they love to portray us atheists as people who don't know what it's like to feel faith - it's so inconvenient for their case that a large number of us are former Christians ourselves.

I'd love to get a feel for how large that number is though. When people register on this site, they're asked if they've read TGD. Maybe they should be asked if they are or ever have been a religious believer too. It would be interesting to know. My gut feel, just from reading the comments here and elsewhere is that probably around 40% of us have. If I'm right, that would be a large minority to write off as "knowing not whereof they speak", wouldn't it?

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:22:00 UTC | #98503

BMMcArdle's Avatar Comment 4 by BMMcArdle

Each Christmas, Rationality is strengthened by telling children to believe in Santa Claus.
When they mature and find out that it is just a story to make them behave a little each year, they can hopefully see the parallels with religion.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:24:00 UTC | #98504

Dower's Avatar Comment 5 by Dower

It would be interesting to know. My gut feel, just from reading the comments here and elsewhere is that probably around 40% of us have. If I'm right, that would be a large minority to write off as "knowing not whereof they speak", wouldn't it?



Paula, I am a 62-year-old former lay preacher in a nondenominational Bible-believing church in the heart of America. My Bible studies are what lead me to reject the supernatural and become an atheist. I certainly do "know whereof I speak" as I have been involved in scholarly studies on both sides of the fence.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:30:00 UTC | #98505

david120wgc's Avatar Comment 6 by david120wgc

Hitler was religious and Stalin wanted to replace otherworldly god with this worldly state.
The Times misses the point entirely, atheists are objective and evidence seeking whilst the context of spirituality for us meaning a sense of life is a mystical non evidence non objective arbitary assertion by them.
Finally the universe is knowable!

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:33:00 UTC | #98507

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 7 by Paula Kirby

My Bible studies are what lead me to reject the supernatural and become an atheist.
Music to my ears, Dower. Good for you.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:34:00 UTC | #98508

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 8 by kaiserkriss

For your Stats Paula: I was never a true believer since as far back as I can remember, even though I DID attend a Jesuit school for 4 years. The Priests did their best to get me around, but with each argument they last me further.jcw

PS Congratulations Northern Bright for using your full name on this site. In today's bigoted world that takes true courage.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:37:00 UTC | #98509

photopedia's Avatar Comment 9 by photopedia

I'm not even going to bother getting into the business of responding to the details in this piece. The very fact that the Times carried this as their main editorial on Christmas Eve speaks volumes for the influence that Dawkins et al have had over the past year.
Talk about raising consciousness!
Congratulations to all sceptics, both sung and unsung.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:40:00 UTC | #98510

the way's Avatar Comment 10 by the way

"Burp"!....regurgitate..Pardon me.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:53:00 UTC | #98511

zenmite's Avatar Comment 12 by zenmite

"Were not the two greatest monsters of the 20th century, Hitler and Stalin, both driven by what they believed a "scientific" ideology: the purging of "healthy" races from dangerous impurities, in Hitler's case, or Stalin's violent attempt to reconstruct society according to a flawed understanding of genetics?"

The key words to me here are believed to be a scientific ideology and flawed understanding of genetics.

This is precisely why such doctrines as creationism, belief in resurrection and miracles are also just as delusional as Hitler's or Stalin's. They are myths "believed" to be scientific ideology and are based upon a "flawed" understanding of cosmology, physics, biology and geology. I don't really have a problem with those who continue to call themselves believers but understand all those sorts of things as myth or metaphor. That direction heads toward the Einsteinian god that RD makes plain he has no issue with.

"It would deny as unscientific the spiritual dimension that is as truly Darwinian in its evolution and persistence as patterns of behaviour or genetics."

In the 4 Horsemen video I think all four authors made it very clear that none of them deny the spiritual dimension or it's persistence. The writer here seems to insist upon a very narrow definition of the word spiritual as pertaining only to the supernatural or magical realm. By that criteria, belief in animistic spirits, kami or fairies would be spiritual.

"Above all, an ideology – for atheism is an ideology..."

Is atheism an ideology? Is non-belief in astrology an ideology? Is lack of belief in homeopathy an ideology? This is the same old game of calling lack of belief just another belief. If you don't think too much about it, it sounds good and seems to make sense. Those militant athiests vs those militant religionists, all the same. Seems to make you evenhanded and fair.

I've studied world religions for over 30 years and consider my grasp of the subject a little better than "someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is The Book of British Birds". Yet I find no problems with the views set forth in Prof. Dawkins or Sam Harris's books. Apparently the only people qualified to comment upon religion are those who've drank the kook-aid themselves. Only those who actually embrace phrenology should be qualified to criticize or comment on it. Only believers in fairies are qualified to understand whether they are real.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:54:00 UTC | #98513

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 11 by Diacanu

*Skims*

Blah, blah, spiritual dimension, sublime experience, blah, blah.

These people are a fucking nightmare.

Fuck 'em, I got new DVDs, and a pork roast in the oven.
Stupidity can't pee on my day.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:54:00 UTC | #98512

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 13 by Paula Kirby

PS Congratulations Northern Bright for using your full name on this site. In today's bigoted world that takes true courage.
Thanks, KaiserKriss, but I don't think I can really lay claim to courage. I can't really think of any potentially terrible consequences of having "come out" openly - besides, I was always using my own photo, so it wouldn't have taken long for someone who'd known me to put two and two together if they'd happened upon this site.

I'm sure there are people out there whose circumstances make dropping anonymity difficult or even unwise - but I can't claim to be one of them. For me it was more a question of preferring openness to unnecessary furtiveness - so the alias just had to go :-)

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:00:00 UTC | #98514

notsobad's Avatar Comment 14 by notsobad

spiritual dimension goes far beyond mere awe at the sublime"


This is just more of the sweet metaphysical bullshit. If anything, religion turns people into shallow simpletons.
http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/1761/036ax7.png

Among Christians, there is no doubt that confusion and disillusion are causing considerable anguish.

...

This, surely, is where the new militant atheism is wrong. It is totalitarian in its prescription for human happiness.

The author and many others use the term 'militant atheist' but I have yet to see a single example of this militancy.
Also, calling atheism ideology or a 'prescription for human happiness' is either lying or severe lack of knowledge.
And how is it totalitarian?

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:03:00 UTC | #98515

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 15 by Diacanu

Yeah, but Paula Kirby is one of those relatively generic names.

I've googled, there's only like, 5 of me on Earth.
Terminator would find me pretty quick.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:04:00 UTC | #98516

Corylus's Avatar Comment 16 by Corylus

I'm sorry.

I am way too drunk on Xmas booze to respond to this article coherently. Unlike some journalists I never write at length when I feel my judgement is impaired or my emotions stirred.

However, I would point out that:-

a) Some of the misrepresentations in this article border on libel.

b) I cannot see who the author of this article is - accordingly I will direct analysis to the individual who is behind both The Times and Fox News.

c) I would be amazed (and saddened) if at least some Christians are not shocked and appalled at the venom and bile directed towards a significant proportion of the population at what they themselves deem to be the season of 'goodwill'.

Donning the shining armour of belief, they have sought to smash down the atheists' contentions, one by one.
Nothing like a bit of bellicose imagery to go with the slaughtered fowl.

Dreadful.

P.S. However, I am glad to see Ayaan Hirsi Ali get some wider publicity. Maybe a few more people will read her books because of this.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:07:00 UTC | #98517

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 17 by Paula Kirby

Yeah, but Paula Kirby is one of those relatively generic names.
Well, yes, but to be fair, there's only one of me where I work ;-)))

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:09:00 UTC | #98518

Georich's Avatar Comment 18 by Georich

Faith admits to both doubt and unknowingness.


Ahh, that will be the doubt and unknowingness that is so commonly shown by the faithful. When will science and rational thinking ever admit to the same...

Ooops yeah.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:15:00 UTC | #98520

Corylus's Avatar Comment 19 by Corylus

Diacanu

I've googled, there's only like, 5 of me on Earth.
Terminator would find me pretty quick.

Heh. There's only four of me and two of those are very obviously dead.

Come with me if you wanna live :P

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:19:00 UTC | #98521

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

I am way too drunk on Xmas booze to respond to this article coherently.


I am also somewhat full of Christmas "cheer"; however...

I think Richard Dawkins should feel extremely proud of what he has achieved. I have never seen the religious in such a defensive mood. And, it is astonishing how even the most moderate criticism becomes labelled as "bad-tempered" and "militant". It is astonishing how simply asking "please could you actually provide some evidence for what you say" turns out to be such an effective attack on religion.

The article misses the point of Dawkins' "attacks" completely. The driving force is not a hatred of the American right (although this can help for some people), or some desire to define how people can be happy (even though many are happy because religion backs up their views that women and gays are inferior).

It is simple. It is that religion is simply not true.

And truth matters. In a world where individuals need to understand what is going on around them, in areas such as biology, sexuality, disease, and climate change, religion is a serious problem, as it has its own agendas.

Incidentally.. I am fortunate to be born with an uncommon surname. There is only one of me.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:28:00 UTC | #98522

mikecbraun's Avatar Comment 21 by mikecbraun

"This, surely, is where the new militant atheism is wrong. It is totalitarian in its prescription for human happiness. It would deny as unscientific the spiritual dimension that is as truly Darwinian in its evolution and persistence as patterns of behaviour or genetics... Those modish atheists who claim to understand the panoply of religious experience, or myth as they would have it, are, in the words of a critic, like "someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is The Book of British Birds"."

Strange, I never caught a whiff of a prescription for happiness in any of these extraordinarily militant (sarcasm) books that we all enjoy. Spiritual leanings are rather unscientific, in that they cannot be quantified or observed in the same way that genes can be. They also are rather unevolved, as modern-day theists seem to be no more enlightened than their Iron Age counterparts (those who seem to be are actually held in check by our secular societies and their own cowardice that keeps them from putting their money where their mouths are). Since when did persistence of a belief really count for anything anyway? There are morons who still believe that people of a different skin color are subhuman. Do we feel this is legitimate, my dear author? Is it true because it has persisted for so long? I would hope not. And as to the last point, I guess the author forces himself or herself to have no opinion on anything they are not an expert in. I trust they have read every religious text that ever was and have experienced every sort of religious experience there is... no? How's that for the pot and the kettle, then?

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:36:00 UTC | #98524

smithyboy's Avatar Comment 22 by smithyboy

I only ever used a screen name because when I first signed up it seemed to be done the thing. But it is nice to know real names, so I'll use mine from now on: Mark Smith. (Not that it gives much away, being so common!)

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:46:00 UTC | #98525

Arcturus's Avatar Comment 23 by Arcturus

"Faith admits to both doubt and unknowingness."

Ok, but are you willing to act on your doubt? Faith's doubt is a fake one. People doubt, they get scared of the unknown and of the chaos, and then rush back under the wing of God.

I hear many saying that doubt has straightened their faith. But I think that's because they are scared.

Instead what they should do, is embrace the unknown. I prefer to live with the unknown rather than with an illusion of the known.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:50:00 UTC | #98527

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

so I'll use mine from now on: Mark Smith.


A warm welcome to you, Mark!

I really don't feel that anyone should think they have to give their true names. This is not about "outing", and for some, being atheist, or even simply posting on a forum like this, could be a problem.

Incidentally, it is nice to see this silly article being ripped to shreds in the associated comments.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 09:55:00 UTC | #98528

agn's Avatar Comment 25 by agn

Let us just look at one of the rhetorical devices applied here:

"Ayaan Hirsi Ali's impassioned denunciation of the restrictions of Islam in Somalia have stirred sympathy as well as anger"

First off, Ayaan's considered criticism of Islam as such is belittled as being "impassioned", and only, presumably, valid for Somalian affairs.

Thereby, by a conjuror's grip, without any argument of substance at all, the writer has pushed her to the sideline as an emotional woman who may deserve our sympathy, even perniciously inflame our "anger", but not essentially bringing an "objective" view of her birth religion into the public sphere.

The writer could just as well said she has unjustly slandered Islam, since that is what he onviously thinks she have done, and what the other "militant" atheists have done.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:00:00 UTC | #98530

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 26 by Paula Kirby

A warm welcome to you, Mark!

Seconded!

And I agree with Steve's other comment too - there shouldn't be any pressure, and for some people there will be good reasons why using an alias is the right thing to do.

Still, it would be nice if people who don't have any reason to fear the consequences "came out" too. I'm sure there are lots more out there who only signed up with an alias in the first place because it seemed to be the normal thing to do here - I was certainly one of those.

But absolutely no problem if people don't want to.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:03:00 UTC | #98532

the way's Avatar Comment 27 by the way

Thank you for pointing that out Steve...even though it would not be a problem for me to "reveal" myself. I have only just joined up and there is a certain comfort in anonyminity. As in "What! Who? Me?...I never said that"!! amongst others!

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:08:00 UTC | #98533

smithyboy's Avatar Comment 28 by smithyboy

Help though. I can't find how to change my user name. I've gone to edit account details and it doesn't seem to be an option.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:11:00 UTC | #98534

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 29 by Steve Zara

Help though. I can't find how to change my user name. I've gone to edit account details and it doesn't seem to be an option.


I just created a new account, and I believe Paula did the same thing.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:12:00 UTC | #98535

Red Foot Okie's Avatar Comment 30 by Red Foot Okie

These kinds of articles smack of desperation, to me.

I mean, there are so much better arguments that the author could have brought to bear, but instead they went for the low-hanging (and easily debunked) fruit. However, those better arguments are still not right, and are more technical and complicated, so I suspect the author knew he's lose his target audience.

In the end, it's a fluff piece, designed to keep butts in seats and the deeply entrenched religious deeply entrenched.

Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:17:00 UTC | #98537