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Atheism as extremism - Comments

Gruff Mckenzie's Avatar Comment 1 by Gruff Mckenzie

Do you think Rageh he has misunderstood?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 17:46:00 UTC | #435108

annabanana's Avatar Comment 2 by annabanana

Oh please. Plenty of atheists were of a religion before deciding that they were atheists, including myself...

Ack, I'm caught between responding to the rubbish and refuting it and just throwing in the towel because it's been refuted so many times before.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 17:51:00 UTC | #435111

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 3 by BicycleRepairMan

Again criticism of TGD by someone who cannot possibly have read it or understood any of its points. Where the hell does Dawkins say or imply that "men were stupid until science rescued them?" The sentence doesnt even make any sense.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:00:00 UTC | #435116

Ai Deng's Avatar Comment 4 by Ai Deng

I wonder if this guy has ever heard of Russell's teapot? I may not be able to prove there isn't a teapot orbiting our Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars, however that in no way proves that there is one, nor does it suggest that one is even remotely likely.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:02:00 UTC | #435117

martynmcfarquhar's Avatar Comment 5 by martynmcfarquhar

"Where’s the point of attacking religion for thinking it has all the answers, when you think you have all the answers yourself?"

I don't think any scientist has ever been facetious enough to claim they have all the answers, let alone that science has all the answers. What Dawkins has always claimed is that on the back of mountains of evidence science has shown itself to be the best method we have of investigating the truth of the universe.

Does that mean science has all the answers? No. Does that mean science is a good method to employ when searching for the truth or falsehood of a claim? Yes.

'Blind doubt' is a pretty heavy concept to weigh up, as far as the author is concerned I'm sure he has blind doubt about every ridiculous claim he chooses not to believe. Just because there are many believers out there doesn't mean doubt becomes more and more blind.

Scientists are aware of the claims of the religious, and those who do chose to doubt them because of lack of good evidence, there's nothing blind there.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:08:00 UTC | #435118

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 6 by GodsDontExist

The big question for me is how to believe, and not to believe, at the same time.

Oh brother!

Geeesh, people sure are clueless about Science. It's sickening.

because it assumes that men were stupid until science rescued them.

um, yeah, it appears humans have to LEARN about their environment through science. what makes you so angry about that, that some God didn't just magically put all the knowledge of the universe into our brains? well, that right there should tell you there was no loving God. Otherwise, we'd have not lost millions of people to disease and such.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:12:00 UTC | #435121

beeline's Avatar Comment 8 by beeline

Dear Mr Nelson,

Our apparent 'aggression' stems from having to listen to the continuous mischaracterisation of our views, despite our continuous and originally patient corrections of these mistakes. TGD even goes out of its way to anticipate most of these mistakes, and corrects them in advance, but they still pour forth.

When you bang your head against a wall in frustration at the inability of apparently intelligent people to understand something so simple, it often results in peevishness, or 'aggression' as it might be interpreted.

And it's hard to see how non-rational minds are not, in some way, 'stupid'. The very word means 'lacking in intelligence or common sense', or 'unable to think clearly'.

When science can find a way to address stupidity, maybe this kind of thing will stop, and the 'aggression' will fade away. That's something that religion has never been very good at...

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:15:00 UTC | #435124

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 7 by Jos Gibbons

I'm not going to debunk a quotation from a program I have already debunked in immense detail, so I'll stick to just debunking Nelson.

It quickly became more nuanced
Contradicting your self is not nuance, it's contradicting your self.
It ... is worth repeating here
There is nothing of value in it. It is nothing but an exercise in "Whatever's wrong with the other side, well, describe the other side in the same language for its own sake - because extremism sucks symmetrically, right?" I can give at least one example which by definition does not: truth.
most Christians and Jews do not think the Bible is a fax from God
Most do believe in the literal truth of Genesis. You can't ignore that just by exaggerating what creationists are, then pointing out the rarity of that straw man.
most are stuck in the middle with Jacobson
Jacobson isn't a believer at all, nor would he wish to be so - he explicitly says so in the show. How is he in the middle?
It is unusual to see aggressive atheism - i.e. the type which seeks to mock people with religion - depicted as form of [sic] extremism
(1) Every single commentator on atheism who doesn't approve of its being as vocal as freedom of speech permits without controversial effect elsewhere, including atheist commentators, depicts some or all atheism in exactly that way, recycling religious terminology in a tu quoque fallacy as ugly as any linguistic train wreck.
(2) No religious person who approaches religion in exactly the same way as "aggressive" atheists do - replying to common arguments by their opponents, appealing to evidence, calling for equality but nothing more, failing to threaten others - is ever described as anything but moderate. Why is "aggressive" used elsewhere?
Fundamentalist, adj. Of or pertaining to a Muslim who advocates Shariah and/or Jihad, or a Christian who advocates Christianity and/or homophobic laws, or an atheist who won't shut up.
(3)What's wrong with mocking people who believe nonsense from the Bronze age without any evidence? It's neither aggressive nor extremist; it's just rational.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:15:00 UTC | #435123

Logicel's Avatar Comment 9 by Logicel

Fraser, the author of this snippet of an article, seems to be in disagreement with Jacobson's referring to atheists as extremists:

But it’s unusual to see aggressive atheism – ie, the type which seeks to mock people with religion – depicted as form of extremism.

And it is telling (and humorous) that Frazer uses the word 'stuck' in reference to moderate believers:

So most are stuck in the middle with Jacobson.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:31:00 UTC | #435127

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 10 by Dhamma

Why are people ALWAYS so eager to put words in their opponents mouths? Richard has never said he thinks he's got all the answers. Science is at least interested in finding out what the truth is, and if it approaches an incorrect answer it's more than willing to change route. Find any theistic religion willing to do that!

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:32:00 UTC | #435129

Mette's Avatar Comment 11 by Mette

Way to misunderstand much?

Science is about admitting you don't know everything, but that you will search for the truth and not rely on something simple. Science is about admitting you were wrong when evidence and research shows that.

It makes me want to roll my eyes when people really don't grasp the concept of science. It's not a religion, it is about improving our knowledge one step at a time while being open to gaining new knowledge instead of stagmatic dogmas.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:40:00 UTC | #435130

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 12 by Dr. Strangegod

Blah blah blah, been said and refuted before, ad nauseam.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:41:00 UTC | #435131

EvidenceOnly's Avatar Comment 13 by EvidenceOnly

At any moment in history, people have concluded things based on what they knew at that time without the benefit of future scientific discovery. Nothing wrong with that.

However, to insist that whatever people believed in thousands of years ago while ignoring all scientific discovery ever since is intellectually dishonest by those who still preach this nonsense.

Ignorance is not a crime but keeping people ignorant should be a crime. At the very least it is highly immoral to intentionally keep people ignorant.

It is also ignorant and deceptive to claim that reading The God Delusion makes you furious when the title of chapter 4 is "WHY THERE ALMOST CERTAINLY IS NO GOD". Richard clearly states that you cannot prove the non-existance of anything. All you can do is a probability analysis based on observations and he concludes that the probability of anything supernatural is so extremely low as to be virtually zero.

This is in sharp contrast with the 100% certainty that all religions have about their holy books which are nothing less that books full of holes when scrutinized with the knowledge acquired thousands of years since they were written.

It would have been a more honest outcome if the reader of The God Delusion had concluded that atheists are by the virtue the scientific process never 100% sure but that faith heads despite any evidence at all are always 100% sure that that it was this that made him furious.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:42:00 UTC | #435132

rcphelan's Avatar Comment 15 by rcphelan

It seems that TGD is, for the third year in a row, seeking to become the most often quoted non-read book since, ummmm......the bible£

How dare anyone mock those who believe in the teapot£

Dawkins shows tremendous patience in responding to the huge number of these continued baseless observations.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:55:00 UTC | #435136

chameleonpete's Avatar Comment 14 by chameleonpete

Yeah blah blah, heard it all before.

How can un-beleief be extreme? It's the stamp collecting thing isn't it? 'I don't collect stamps - with a passion' - just nonsensical.

Also I do not recognise that TGD assumed men were stupid before science, must be in something I missed, neither does it offer certainty.

What no one can ever answer is why it's OK to beleive the unlikely, if you don't know enough to understand something. Argument from personal incredulity?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:55:00 UTC | #435135

Prankster's Avatar Comment 16 by Prankster

I'm watching it now......but wavering between finishing watching it and ending the programme as the presenter and his views are annoying me.

I am however looking forward to the Ann Widdecombe program-Stephen Fry is in it and it looks like he shreds her argument to bits-that will be worth watching.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:00:00 UTC | #435138

MarcCountry's Avatar Comment 17 by MarcCountry

Why are people ALWAYS so eager to put words in their opponents mouths?

Because we evolved to look out largely for our own self-interests, even at the expense of lying.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:01:00 UTC | #435139

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 18 by Friend Giskard

Jacobson either hasn't read the God Delusion, or hasn't understood it. Or he has read and understood it, and is deliberately mis-representing it. So he's either a liar or a moron.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:06:00 UTC | #435140

Modo's Avatar Comment 19 by Modo

Theism, it seems to me, absolutely has a vested interest in the natural universe. Otherwise what would be the point? Theism has tried its damnedest to provide explanations that relate to this. In this sense I would have to consider myself an extremist (if that is the right word here) in that in my opinion people were really REALLY stupid before science came along. At least in the past there was a defence of honest mistake to be had. Nowadays it’s more a case of honest ignorance, wilful ignorance or good old fashioned lying.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:08:00 UTC | #435142

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 21 by Mr DArcy

Jacobson, the narrator, says he finds himself

unable to share the mockery of the atheists.

The poor bar-steward obviously has no sense of humour. The "mockery" of the religios is one of the great joys of life! However eel like and labyrinthine the religious arguments, they all end being shown up for what they are - imaginative nonsense!

As for getting angry about TGD, there's something wrong with his outlook if it makes him angry. Since TGD was first published, I have not come across one genuine and articulate criticism of it. Some out there will remember the Fleabytes thread, , in which Paula Kirby did a magnificent hatchet job of the so-called serious critics of TGD. Instead of getting angry about them, we all had a good laugh!

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:15:00 UTC | #435145

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 20 by TIKI AL

This article is cute, but I have seen deeper thoughts scribbled on kindergarden chalkboards.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:15:00 UTC | #435144

bigkoala's Avatar Comment 22 by bigkoala

I can't recall where I read the phrase, but some kindly person came up with, "If science had all the answers it would be over, there would be no need for science anymore."

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:18:00 UTC | #435146

Alyson Miers's Avatar Comment 23 by Alyson Miers

But it’s unusual to see aggressive atheism – ie, the type which seeks to mock people with religion – depicted as form of extremism.

Unusual? Where have you been?! Vilifying the New Atheists is everyone's new favorite sport!

As for this:
Partly because its ignorance sees no reason not to remain ignorant of what belief is like for those who do believe.

Bullshit. Utter projection and hypocrisy.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:25:00 UTC | #435148

ricklend's Avatar Comment 24 by ricklend

I am puzzled as to why so many people don't understand and/or misrepresent Dawkins' simple messages. And they claim he is confrontational just because he is firm in his promotion of science and evidence. There is not only a God delusion; there seem to be widespread Dawkins' delusions as well. Though they are not his fault.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:26:00 UTC | #435149

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 25 by crookedshoes

Could I be more Apathetic about my apathy to the drivel in this whining article? When you have nothing to say, do us a favor and don't say it.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:38:00 UTC | #435154

JackR's Avatar Comment 26 by JackR

...Partly because it assumes that men were stupid until science rescued them.

You know, I no longer even bother reading the opinions of people who tell such lies. I don't like liars. Jacobson ought to be ashamed of himself for such dishonesty. In fact, he ought to apologise for it.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:57:00 UTC | #435159

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 27 by justinesaracen

I think this article falls under the "atheists hurt my feelings" category.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 19:57:00 UTC | #435160

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 28 by Alovrin

Jeez is that what passes for a review of a TV program these days.
I was watching the telly with the father-in-law and while I was secretly scratching my nuts and this quote stuck in my mind.

I don't remember any attacks on pre-scientific society in the book.
The arguments for god by Aquinas and Augustine were taken apart with a mixture of humour and skill. There was certainly no blanket condemnation of anything.

For me The God Delusion took a quite distinct tone, that of a very learned person( in my minds eye I pictured a kindly old professor sort of like Dumbledore) talking to one of his students just arrived from home at a college of learning. Who with a mixture of immense scholarship and gentle chiding humour points out the flaws and obvious fallacies of the students ideas he has been bought up with at home. And invites him/her to leave these ideas behind as they are just plain silly. And there is a great big world out there of wonder and excitement waiting to be explored, and those childhood beliefs while still formative can be moved beyond. They are not the be all and end all.

I can see where Jacobson went wrong , He thinks he's a very clever person and no one is going to tell him what to think. Thank you very much.

I pity the fool.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 20:24:00 UTC | #435163

root2squared's Avatar Comment 29 by root2squared

Umm....we got all the science and technology on our side. The havoc we could wreak would make you positively yearn for the good old days of suicide attacks. If we turn extremists, you should be scared. Very scared indeed.

But don't worry. You got a couple of centuries while we figure out what bus slogans and charity labels we should use. But then, you will have to worry.


Disclaimer for sensitive people: Above bit not meant to be taken seriously.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 20:58:00 UTC | #435166

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 30 by Chris Roberts

A bit from Jacobson:

“I don’t practise any religion nor worship any God, and fear all fanaticism and that’s bred by faith so I ought really to be sympathetic to Dawkins’ book ‘The God Delusion’.

Don't make the mistake of relying on sympathy ot any other emotion.
Use that little bit of your brain near the front and look at the evidence.

But it moves me – to be frank – to fury. Partly because it assumes that men were stupid until science rescued them.

Very emotional this one, don't ya think?
And yes - to be frank - humans were ignorant before science. Even with science we are still ignorant, but science doesn't make up stories about how important we are in this universe because it was made just for us etc.

Partly because its ignorance sees no reason not to remain ignorant of what belief is like for those who do believe. Partly because of its certainty, Where’s the point of attacking religion for thinking it has all the answers, when you think you have all the answers yourself?
Just read the book.

Blind faith is fatuous, but so is blind doubt. This is where I find myself: unable to share the faith of the religious, but unable to share the mockery of the atheists.

Then don't.
You don't need to mock faith to be an atheist.
The problem is when the religious think they can decide how people should live their lives - believers and unbelievers - based on their ancient texts.

The big question for me is how to believe, and not to believe, at the same time. Let’s confront the absolutists: those who absolutely believe and those who absolutely don’t.”

If you don't believe, then why do you want to?
And hence surely you can understand why people don't believe, and why non-believers are no longer content with the those who would have the Ten commandments displayed in public buildings for example.
Confront the 'absolutists' if you want, but you might want to think about confronting your own position first.

Or, if you think that faith is too sacred to attack, then take a leaf out of Darwin's book.
Because the truth matters.

And a bit from Nelson:

Of course, most Christians and Jews do not think the Bible is a fax from God and regard it as a mixture of eternal truths and some time-bound elements that we can ignore.

If the polls are correct, then more than 50% of Americans don't share this view.
But which bits can we ignore?
The silly bits?
And still regard the rest as holy?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:00:00 UTC | #435168