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Atheists are good humans, too - Comments

alessamendes's Avatar Comment 1 by alessamendes

Good article. I'm finding that the same arguments are being repeated over and over again. Our voices fall onto deaf ears, unfortunately.

I know this for a fact, because my own family and friends won't read my personal blogs because they are tainted with skepticism of religious practices and they simply don't want to hear the truth.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 14:35:00 UTC | #409336

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 2 by mordacious1

Actually atheists set the standard. If you're being good because big-daddy is watching you, you're not moral, you're afraid. When atheists are good, they are because they have reasoned it out and made a personal choice. We win hands down, so don't run around saying, "We're good too". Better saying, "We're good by choice, you're good because of the rewards and punishments".

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:02:00 UTC | #409342

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 3 by Sally Luxmoore

Abramovich is one of the 0.23 per cent of people in the world who subscribe to Judaism. What of the other 99.77 per cent?

Nicely put. Sometimes we can forget that the noise that some groups make is grossly disproportionate to their actual numbers.

If we do have a predisposition towards religious belief, then it seems it is possible to overcome it by learning to think critically

In other words, there is a cure!

where a devoutly religious person may feel to the core of his being that he is part of God's creation, an atheist may feel equally intensely that he is part of a complex universe entirely explainable by natural laws.

Succinctly put.

A really good article. I'm almost wondering whether ignorant bigots like Abramovich serve the purpose of the grain of grit inside a newly forming pearl. Articles of sheer dross like his inspire scientists to great outpourings like James Richmond's that we might not otherwise have heard.

Australia I think is already benefitting from the stimulation of a growing debate on this subject. A few idiotic pieces will no doubt help to keep the good stuff coming.

So - ironically - thank you, Rabbi Abramovich!

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:18:00 UTC | #409345

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 4 by Oromasdes1978

A very good article indeed, I enjoyed it loads - it was well reasoned and backed up, unlike the diatribe of Dr Abramovich which was full of lies and what can only be described as bollocks!

mordacious1 I think the majority of people on this planet are morally superior to Dr Abramovich's God - no mass genocide, encouragement to rape or sacrifice innocent virgins and children, discrimination, sending out disease and plagues etc - It's not difficult in the slightest to accomplish this very simple thing! :D

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:20:00 UTC | #409346

Mango's Avatar Comment 5 by Mango

A robust and easily accessible piece. Very well done!

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:33:00 UTC | #409354

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 6 by Tyler Durden

Besides, "billions of people across the globe" accept religion.
Not quite. Billions of people across the globe are indoctrinated into religion as children (babies?) and never quite find their way out of its irrational maze.

This does not mean anything within any religon is true (argument from popularity), or even worth following, if all your doing is mimicking your parents or peers. It's up to the religious to show why their blind faith is not stupid; while we have to suffer the consequences.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:46:00 UTC | #409357

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 7 by rod-the-farmer

Interesting that so many of the responses to this article are xian defenders of the faith. "That's not our God you are talking about.." Ho hum. Let's see now. The last time I remember the non-radical, non-militant believers of any faith, chastising their fellow believers who are radical/miltant, was.....uhhh.....hang on......I thought I saw.....no...that wasn't it....perhaps it will come to me. (Holds breath..........exhales and starts over)

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:53:00 UTC | #409360

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #427620 by Sally Luxmoore

I'm almost wondering whether ignorant bigots like Abramovich serve the purpose of the grain of grit inside a newly forming pearl. Articles of sheer dross like his inspire scientists to great outpourings like James Richmond's that we might not otherwise have heard.

Australia I think is already benefitting from the stimulation of a growing debate on this subject. A few idiotic pieces will no doubt help to keep the good stuff coming.

So - ironically - thank you, Rabbi Abramovich!


Seconded.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:59:00 UTC | #409363

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 9 by prettygoodformonkeys

Sally, Jos

I agree, I love it when they actually say the crazy shit they believe. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

(edited because that's what I was thinking)

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 16:08:00 UTC | #409369

twayoops's Avatar Comment 10 by twayoops

alessamendes, I find exactly the same! My enthusiasm for evolution is rejected by my family and friends. I think it's because they feel you are attacking their comfort zone. Some people are quite happy where they are positioned with regards to religion and the way they use it to cradle their lives!

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 16:30:00 UTC | #409376

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 11 by SaganTheCat

great article

and all the more admirable considering the lake of journalistic shite Richmond had to wade through to make this rebuttal

I couldn't even manage the first paragraph

I third sally luxmore's point

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 16:47:00 UTC | #409384

Anvil's Avatar Comment 12 by Anvil

2. Comment #427617 by mordacious1:

Not moral, merely afraid.

Well put, Mord'. Cheers mate. Wish I'd have been so succinct with the 'door-knockers' yesterday.

Anvil.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 17:28:00 UTC | #409397

root2squared's Avatar Comment 13 by root2squared

They forgot to add

1) Christians are good humans, too.
2) Muslims are good humans, too.
3) Hindus are good humans, too.
4) Jews are good humans, too.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 17:45:00 UTC | #409402

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 14 by JHJEFFERY

I think we can prove the lack of relationship between religion and artistic expression that the good rabbi alleges. Lets take Bach, Mozart and the other great composers of the time for our example. The religious argue that these men were inspired by god, or at least by religion, to create theie masterpieces. Now, there appear to be two explanations for the connection between this religious music and religion:

1) The artists were truly inspired by god to create paeans to the almighty; or,

2) The peer group of these composers were all Christians, the benefactors were Christians, the audiences were all Christian, so the music reflected these influences.

How do we do we know which is correct?

Have you heard any modern Christian music lately?

QED

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 17:50:00 UTC | #409405

Ascaphus's Avatar Comment 15 by Ascaphus

Mr. Richmond says:

...Yet in the end one is led to wonder whether he has actually read Dawkins' and Hitchens' books...


I think the answer comes fairly early in the Abramovich article, referring to the various books:
...and Daniel Dennet's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon are bare-knuckled, no-holds barred tracts that sometimes resemble the declarations of fundamentalists who are absolutely convinced of their truth...


To claim that any of them resemble religious fundamentalism is merely bluster, and is a statement that can only be made by, or accepted by, people who have indeed not read the books in question. I'm not really sure why folks keep putting Dennett's book in with these others. They're all well done, but "Breaking the Spell" has a completely different subject matter.

Matt

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 18:25:00 UTC | #409415

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 16 by Border Collie

I'm totally with Mord on this one. If one is only good because of reward/punishment, then one is no more than a white lab rat standing on an electrified grid trying to figure out which lever to push.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 19:17:00 UTC | #409431

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 17 by prolibertas

'Abramovich's main point seems to be that the new atheists are hypocritical in criticising the evils of religion while at the same time ignoring the evils of secularism.'

It's as though the Nazis accused the Allies of being hypocritical in criticising the evils of Nazis while ignoring the evils of non-Nazis.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 20:48:00 UTC | #409468

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 18 by Mr DArcy

JHJeffery asks:

1) The artists were truly inspired by god to create paeans to the almighty; or,

2) The peer group of these composers were all Christians, the benefactors were Christians, the audiences were all Christian, so the music reflected these influences.

How do we do we know which is correct?

Have you heard any modern Christian music lately?


Whatever the inspiration for individual artists was or is, one thing is certain: they were/are all human beings. Mozart never produced any tablets of stone from a deity, only sublime music. The more divine the art, the more HUMANITY it expresses. As religion is a by-product of human society through the ages, it's hardly surprising that the art also reflects the society. I now know that "Eric Clapton is God", because it was revealed to me on the side of a bridge. It is written....!

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 20:51:00 UTC | #409470

epeeist's Avatar Comment 19 by epeeist

Comment #427680 by JHJEFFERY:

Have you heard any modern Christian music lately?
The vomit making "happy clappy" stuff that seems to be prevalent everywhere?

Or things like Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine by Messiaen. This is definitely music inspired by the faith of the person who wrote it.

Not that it makes the subject of that faith existent of course.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 21:37:00 UTC | #409481

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 20 by Sally Luxmoore

It's not all vomit making "happy clappy" stuff!

Speaking as a good atheist, I like John Taverner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r05EuixmKbI&feature=related
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9fPoigD0wY
Maybe I like Taverner because he is so influenced by medieval music - which I love.

And Karl Jenkins has his moments:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSaYSKnAI7Q&feature=related

And who can forget The Geoffrey Burgon Nunc Dimittis from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?
-This version with a lovely image of Oxford. (Looking south towards the Radcliffe Camera and the University Church from Parks Road.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFS6lO6WaaM

No, it's not all bad by any means.

Edit: Sorry, one more. John Rutter:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFQL1tS3-AM&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 21:58:00 UTC | #409486

dazzjazz's Avatar Comment 21 by dazzjazz

Many Westerners today hold idiosyncratic and not-always-internally-consistent sets of beliefs made up of a hodge-podge of elements borrowed from many disparate religious traditions, often with a few "new-age" ideas thrown in.


Yes that's true and it's a huge problem. Cognitive dissonance on an individual and society-wide scale.

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 22:03:00 UTC | #409488

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 22 by JHJEFFERY

epeeist
"Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine by Messiaen"
Not familiar. I'm talking about the "popular" Xian music. I listen to Christian radio a lot (we don't have a comedy station in Orlando) and when they put the music on, I have to hit the button.

Jerry

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 22:19:00 UTC | #409492

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 23 by Sally Luxmoore

Comment #427768 by JHJEFFERY

You have my most sincere sympathy...

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 22:25:00 UTC | #409493

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 24 by Sally Luxmoore

I don't want to be guilty of derailing the thread, but while we're on the subject of religious music, I have to share this one with you.
I assume that most people have heard Tallis' Spem In Alium, or the Allegri Miserere - (If not, look them up in Youtube, you won't regret it), but this one is less well-known. It is the only piece of music that always brings me to tears.
To quote the person who posted it onto YouTube, who has put it as well as I ever could:
"This is one of the saddest and most wonderful pieces of music I know from this period. It is a masterpiece of English church music, and describes the reaction of King David on hearing that his son, Absalom, had been killed in battle. The text is:
"When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up to his chamber and wept. And thus he said:
Oh, my son! Absalom my son. Would God I had died for you."
- The images are sometimes harrowing, just to warn you -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1jXT8k7zWU

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 22:45:00 UTC | #409500

Ned Flanders's Avatar Comment 25 by Ned Flanders

Should we expect anything else from a Rabbi?

If anything, it's sad that a person can wilfully allow themselves to be convinced of the illogical and false. And worse, to try and peddle it to others. I guess there is a precedent there.

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 01:50:00 UTC | #409522

TheVirginian's Avatar Comment 26 by TheVirginian

Very good response to the rabbi's cliched nonsense.

I will pick two nits: Hitler was officially a Roman Catholic to the end of his life. After his death, an archbishop ordered Germany's Catholic churches to hold a requiem for him. Privately, he may well have abandoned some basic Catholic doctrines, although the sources on this all have problems. Even if he did, there is no evidence that he was not a theist or that he ever abandoned Christianity, only some specific RC doctrines.

As for Stalin, it's not entirely clear he was an atheist. Churchill quotes Stalin (presumably via a translator) as saying "May God prosper this undertaking" when Churchill told him about Operation Torch in 1942 in Moscow. Later, when discussing an anti-Soviet action by Churchill years earlier, Stalin said, "all that is in the past, and the past belongs to God." Strange words from an atheist, but not so strange if Stalin believed in some sort of god but was simply anti-Christianity (in a violent way).

These quotes are from vol. 4("The Hinge of Fate") in Churchill's history of World War II (pages 481, 493, if anyone has the old hardback copies).

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 05:33:00 UTC | #409568

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 27 by SaganTheCat

Have you heard any modern Christian music lately£


I once saw some white christian hip-hop being performed in a mega-church

[shudders]

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 11:00:00 UTC | #409625

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 28 by Roland_F

Comment #427845 by TheVirginian about Hitler

After his death, an archbishop ordered Germany's Catholic churches to hold a requiem for him.

Hitler was elected to become chancellor by the 2 main Christian parties in 1933.
Hitler joined forces with the Catholic church and made a “Reichskonkordat’ with them.
And after the WW2 the Vatican provided special Vatican passports for top Nazi officials to escape to South America thanks pope Pius-11 and Pius-12.
And now pope Ratzinger who was proud member of the Hitler Jugend is pushing for fast sainthood of late pope Pius (maybe for his shaky role supporting Hitler £!£)

there is no evidence that he was not a theist or that he ever abandoned Christianity

Hitler was writing in Mein Kampf about fulfilling God’s will with the Holocaust all over the book, his speeches are full of Christian and anti-Semitic talk, Gods destiny and foresight for him etc… The German Wehrmacht had the slogan ‘Gott mit uns’.

Privately, he may well have abandoned some basic Catholic doctrines

In the table talks (recorded from Albert Speer) with his small entrusted circle he was talking about his dislike for the Catholic church, which is often used as the only found “evidence” for his atheism. Well Hitler dislike for Catholicism is not atheism as he lamented in the same table talk topic that the Evangelical church is not so strict hierarchical organized to have a single point of contact for negotiation to make them the German state church.

So putting up Hitler as example for atheism is as wrong as anything can be.

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 11:19:00 UTC | #409634

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 29 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #427912 by Roland_F

In the table talks (recorded from Albert Speer) with his small entrusted circle he was talking about his dislike for the Catholic church, which is often used as the only found “evidence” for his atheism. Well Hitler dislike for Catholicism is not atheism as he lamented in the same table talk topic that the Evangelical church is not so strict hierarchical organized to have a single point of contact for negotiation to make them the German state church.

So putting up Hitler as example for atheism is as wrong as anything can be.
Also, the main failing he felt Christianity had was that it lacked the militancy of Islam from which he felt it could learn something. He was on good terms with Muslim world leaders. He even gave one a tour of Auschwitz in person.

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 13:05:00 UTC | #409657

brainsys's Avatar Comment 30 by brainsys

IMHO the article writer was spot on in saying Hitler's beliefs are not clear cut. How much he was a christian and how much he used/misused christianity is impossible to judge. He was a pragmatic politician and he would exhibit belief that matched his (mostly christian) audience. So in our time Blair hides his extreme religiousity because that doesn't fit in the UK while Bush paraded it for all that it was worth.

Hitler is a poor example of either christian or atheistic immorality. He was in a class of his own.

As for Stalin - there is no direct evidence of any christian belief - and considerable to the contrary. He had a fascination with religion because of his childhood relationships and the power potential but declared himeself an atheist when it was not expediant to do so. Accounts of his life at the seminary from original and orthogonal sources are consistent with this. If there was a God, it was Stalin and he needed the Red Army and not the supernatural to control the world.

Montefiore's book on Young Stalin is the one to read for a really good background.

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 17:47:00 UTC | #409739