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Atheism is the new fundamentalism - Comments

fretter778's Avatar Comment 1 by fretter778

I know what I'll be doing Sunday evening then

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 20:55:00 UTC | #417443

MrPickwick's Avatar Comment 2 by MrPickwick

Will this be another massacre? Like the one Hitch and Fry delivered not long ago?

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 20:58:00 UTC | #417444

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 3 by PrimeNumbers

Don't give them an inch, Richard!

And fundamentalist to what dogma? Atheists have no dogmas, no leaders.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 21:01:00 UTC | #417445

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 4 by Sally Luxmoore

Wow. Definitely a date for the diary.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 21:13:00 UTC | #417446

Bremas's Avatar Comment 5 by Bremas

Yup, on the calendar. Now have to go look up GMT ahead of EST this time of year.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 21:48:00 UTC | #417452

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 6 by Friend Giskard

The motion is so retarded that the fact that Richard Harries are Charles Moore are willing to argue for it proves that they are idiots.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 21:55:00 UTC | #417454

Kyrill's Avatar Comment 7 by Kyrill

Nope, this will not be another massacre, since, unlike Mz. Widicome, Lord Harries does have his wits about him. I'm sure neither Richard will give an inch. My guess is that the debate will quickly become pedantic and semantic with constant implorations for people to define their terms.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 21:56:00 UTC | #417455

Thurston's Avatar Comment 9 by Thurston

I have my ticket.
The poll on the Intelligence Squared website looks encouraging: 93% against the motion.
I'm looking forward to hearing AC Grayling, as he wrote a great essay on this subject in Against All Gods.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 22:12:00 UTC | #417459

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 8 by mordacious1

The answer to all three questions is NO, but I'll watch in spite of knowing all the answers beforehand.:)

Gotta go search GMT to local time...

[edit] Starts at 22:45 PDT...not too late.
[edit edit] As Quine stated, 10:45 AM, my bad.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 22:12:00 UTC | #417458

stephen.stallebrass's Avatar Comment 10 by stephen.stallebrass

Me too, I have my ticket. Can't wait, should be really good.

IQ2 really know how to put on a good debate. I was recently at the faith schools debate in Bushey, near London, (not an IQ2 debate) and it was the worst I have ever seen or heard.


Fri, 27 Nov 2009 22:30:00 UTC | #417465

Art Vandelay's Avatar Comment 11 by Art Vandelay

Got my tickets, can't wait! This is the same organisation that put on the Hitchens/Fry debate, and another canny choice of speakers we'll be getting.
Moore, like Widdecombe, is a catholic convert (and for the same reasons, women priests), and right now that puts him at a disadvantage to start with, if he hopes to speak with any kind of moral authority. While editor of the torygraph, he surprised Jeremy Paxman when talking of the importance of "concealment" and "hipocrisy" in journalism (he was being interviewed about media coverage of the break-up of Charles and Diana's marriage).
It was a previous Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, who was famously trounced by Thomas Huxley at the 1860 Oxford evolution debate. I don't suppose there's any deliberate connection this time round, this being about atheism, not evolution, but there's a frisson of historic resonance about it.
Harries is quite a liberal bish, and undoubtedly part of the reason Moore defected to the papists, so I can't see how they'll present a convincing united front.
The motion of the previous debate was easy to refute, which clearly surprised, shocked even, many people. The motion of this debate puts atheism on the defensive, but while many have been throwing around the idea of atheist fundamentalism, now they're going to have to back it up. And of course they can't. And we have Richard. And Grayling. I really can't wait.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 22:44:00 UTC | #417469

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 12 by bendigeidfran

Isn't Harries that bumbling nice one? Will Grayling be doing his Michael Heseltine impersonation?

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 22:59:00 UTC | #417473

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 13 by Sally Luxmoore

This one is Evan Harris:
Seems nice, but not bumbling.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:04:00 UTC | #417476

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 14 by bendigeidfran

He's forgotten his first name - that's a bit of a bumble.

Isn't it this one

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:14:00 UTC | #417477

Quine's Avatar Comment 15 by Quine

Comment #435882 by mordacious1:

Gotta go search GMT to local time...
I thought we were both in PST which is GMT - 8:00 so it will be 10:45 am Sunday, for us.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:17:00 UTC | #417479

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 16 by Sally Luxmoore

Comment #435901 by bendigeidfran

Maybe Bishop Richard Harries is a long-lost relative....

Edit - Oops. Mea Culpa. I've been watching the parliamentary committee and thought this was that thread...
You are quite right - THIS is the one:,_Baron_Harries_of_Pentregarth

I sit corrected. (Not for the first time)

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:22:00 UTC | #417480

digibud's Avatar Comment 17 by digibud

That's 9:45AM for me. Right in the middle of church services. Oh..wait...I don't go to church... nevermind...

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:27:00 UTC | #417481

PaulJ's Avatar Comment 18 by PaulJ

I'm going to this.

What arguments are the proposers likely to put forward in support of the motion? My guesses would be:

1) Atheism is a religion too.

2) You need just as much faith to be an atheist as you do to be a theist.

3) Atheists are always so shrill and strident.

Maybe the above are too simplistic for the likes of these more sophisticated debaters. So how about these:

4) Atheism demands that supernatural entities and actions are a priori ruled out of the question. Therefore atheists are dogmatically attached to the doctrine of naturalism. Any creed that demands wholesale acceptance of doctrine is by definition fundamentalist.

5) Atheists say there is no God. Even those who say they are only 95% sure there is no God tend to base their worldview on there being no God. If you're that certain that God doesn't exist — to the extent that you're prepared to base your whole life on it, and go around proclaiming (or maybe you mentioned, just once) the non-existence of God — you're a fundamentalist.

Or, to put it bluntly:

6) Atheism is fine as long as you keep it to yourself. But anyone who persists in spouting atheism all over the place is obviously a fundamentalist. Here's an example of the kind of offensive uncompromising pro-atheism language likely to rile moderate people of gentle, undemanding faith:

"I don't believe in God."

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 23:39:00 UTC | #417485

anonbloger's Avatar Comment 19 by anonbloger

Looking at the speakers this could be a constructive and civil debate. The only one I don't know anything about is Charles Moore, but the others are all good men.
Anyone know if this will be recorded and available afterwards?

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:12:00 UTC | #417493

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 20 by HappyPrimate

There is only one fundamental aspect of being an atheist - and that is not accepting the existence of any god(s). That's it. Doesn't seem there is much to talk about. Maybe they will discuss the utter confusion and lack of understanding of the subject by the religious community. I do think they highly resent having science brought to the forefront which bears substantial evidence that dispells their myths. In any event, Richard will obviously be able to enlighten them. Hope we can get this in the U.S. Will try.

Another way to look at these encounters is that the religious communities are really really getting nervous -- that they see people may be getting interested in questioning its authority over how and what they accept. Hope that is the case.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 01:19:00 UTC | #417502

anthonzi's Avatar Comment 21 by anthonzi

"Atheism is the new fundamentalism"

Stupidity Squared! Live Sunday at 6:45 PM GMT!

@mordacious1: That's 10AM PST not 10PM. I think you switched the locations in the converter.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 01:38:00 UTC | #417503

Akaei's Avatar Comment 22 by Akaei

The sticking point is largely perceptual. Many (including some atheists) fail to consider or grasp the subtle difference between "There is/are no god/gods," versus "There is no adequate reason to believe there is a god." Or put another way "I believe there is/are no god/gods" versus "I don't believe there is/are a god/gods." If we focus on our lack of belief there can be no dogma. But if we assert a belief in the absence of a supernatural then we have the beginnings of an ideology.

And it is difficult,perhaps impossible, to construct a world view on a lack of belief. At some point interaction with the world requires some degree of assumption on how the world DOES work. If we try to interact with the world operating only on assumptions of how the world DOESN'T work we are likely to get nowhere. So at some point if we lack belief in supposition we must assume/believe that the basis of that supposition is untrue and/or that the opposite is true. If we we lack belief in a god then in order to interact with the world we must assume there is not god. But we should never forget that our underlying foundation of a worldview is a lack of belief in the existence of gods rather than the belief in the non-existence of gods.

The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. It's not impossible to support a claim that there are probably no gods. It's not hard to support a claim that there is no adequate reason to believe in gods. As a result of our lack of belief we assume there are no gods. But if we promote our assumptions, our conclusions, we are either dismissed or forced to fight our way back to the facts. By focusing on the absence of evidence, the irrelevance (and even the detriment) of faith and the fallacies "supporting" the existence of gods we can introduce decision making information before they prejudge your statements.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 03:37:00 UTC | #417520

Bala's Avatar Comment 23 by Bala

If we try to interact with the world operating only on assumptions of how the world DOESN'T work we are likely to get nowhere.

Science tells us how the world works. There could be a million ways that the world doesn't work. There's no point trying to refute each one of them. How most people think the world works, is not necessarily how it actually does.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 05:01:00 UTC | #417528

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 24 by Bonzai

First of all we need to establish what a 'fundamentalist' is and what 'fundamentalism' is before there can be an intelligent debate.

For example, can one be a 'fundamentalist' in mathematics by insisting that 1 plus 1 must equal to 2 and any other answer is wrong?

Can one be a 'fundamentalist' in insisting that one must adhere to the rules of logic to make valid arguments? Can one be accused of being a 'fundamentalist' by arguing that claims must evaluated based on evidence and logic?

Now can one be a fundamentalst for insisting that theistic claims must be evaluated like any other claim based on evidence and logic?

Just on a technical point, atheism is not the same as denying that religion maybe useful. It strictly just means denying that there is any evidence for God's existence.

So an atheist (though Richard probably wouldn't agree with him/her) can legitimately hold the position that religion may serve some useful purpose, so Karen Armstrong-ish defense for religion against atheism can be dimissed out of hand as a distraction.

Finally, can someone be called a 'fundamentalist' just because of the forceful manner with which he makes his point(i.e. stridency)? I think this is probably what the other side will go for to score emotional points after all else fail.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 05:20:00 UTC | #417532

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 25 by Carl Sai Baba

Oh, dear. More nonsense from the theists.

I'm sure Dawkins and Grayling will do the job quite well, but I would add Dennett to the mix any time there is an issue of common language and concepts being used in violation of their own definitions.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 06:26:00 UTC | #417536

carbonman's Avatar Comment 26 by carbonman

Just looked up 'fundamentalism' in the Free Online Dic:
1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
2. a. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.

Does atheism fit into these definitions? Let's see.

Def. 1
If the requirement for evidence (in support of claims about how the universe works) is 'a fundamental principle' to which we 'adhere rigidly' then perhaps part of definition 1 may be applied to atheism, although it's hard to see any negative connotation of the type normally assumed by those who utter the word 'fundamentalist'.
As for intolerance of other views, if we read that as meaning we don't tolerate claims that aren't supported by evidence, then perhaps that applies to us too. But I still don't see anything negative there.

Definition 2 obviously doesn't apply to anything other than religious fundamentalism so we can forget that.

My problem with the motion as worded is the inclusion of the word 'new'. Socrates was in favour of questioning assertions that aren't supported by evidence. If we accept the atheist-friendly definition of 'fundamentalism' as in any way meaningful, then Socrates was a fundamentalist, and a damned good one at that. I'd be honoured to be considered a fundamentalist in the same way as Socrates, but I wouldn't pretend to claim it's anything new.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 07:40:00 UTC | #417543

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 27 by bendigeidfran

Comment #435960 by Bonzai

Certainly it is fundamentalist Mathematics to insist 1 plus 1 must equal 2. Have you not heard of Mathemagics? You can test how fundamentalist you are by asking yourself what is 1 divided by 3? If the 3 are persons and the 1 is essense then 1/3=1.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 09:29:00 UTC | #417549

weavehole's Avatar Comment 28 by weavehole

I sometimes worry that I spend too much time on internet mass debates.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 10:43:00 UTC | #417552

Jiten's Avatar Comment 29 by Jiten

How can atheism be the new fundamentalism? What can you possibly say FOR the motion? I mean, is simply not believing in god fundamentalism?

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 10:57:00 UTC | #417554

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 30 by the great teapot

why not?
If white can be the new black.

A definition of the term wouldn't go amiss.
Ofcourse we all know they mean rigid and proselytizing.

But they (the believers) really should consider what would they say to someone who thought they were Napoleon.If they said "I don't think so" are they being fundamentalists?
If you believed you were destined to be with Angelina Jolie (a la Sam Harris) a real freind points out that you may not be right. If you don't care about anything it is easy to stay silent.

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 13:08:00 UTC | #417579