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The Myth of Militant Atheism - Comments

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 1 by Alan4discussion

This is a good example of the theist back-side first thought processes.
When theists barge in, and announce their "moral dogmas" rule in place of law, "militant atheists" - just like "militant doormen" or "brutal police" throw out gate crashers who aggressively demand to stay and assert their "right" to high-jack an event ( or a country)!!
OOOOh! Those confrontational militants! Why can't they behave like proper sheeples and do what the theist leaders tell them?

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:45:16 UTC | #923458

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 2 by AtheistEgbert

You won't find an aggressive militant atheist sitting in a church or mosque, waiting for their opportunity to stand up and loudly criticize the imam or priest. If you did, then they might be somewhat unstable emotionally, or a bit crazy. But in an atheist, sceptic, rationalist meeting or event, there are plenty of believers who will loudly criticize, go on some lengthy rant, or ask dumb questions, and we put up with it, however awkward or uncomfortable.

Also, you won't see a radical independent individualist stand up in a crowd of sceptics, atheists or rationalists, bemoaning the fact they're also still stuck in group thought or following crowd psychology. Yes, we dissenters and contrarians need our own meetings.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:57:50 UTC | #923461

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 3 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

Spot on.

Even more so than the militant religionists, it's the militant butterers who are getting on my wick.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 15:21:49 UTC | #923469

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 4 by Sean_W

AtheistEgbert

Also, you won't see a radical independent individualist stand up in a crowd of sceptics, atheists or rationalists, bemoaning the fact they're also still stuck in group thought or following crowd psychology.

Hehehe, kudos for having the gumption to refer to yourself as an independent individualist. Excuse me, a radical independent individualist. I'm not sure you've thought enough about an actual meeting with such folks though, what would that be like! ;-)

----//----

About the OP, it is insane and unfortunate that reasonable people are often told to pipe down when countering nonsense. I've even been told as much when getting heated about decapitations in Saudi Arabia, as though there were some better response than seething hatred. (Is that too militant? I only ever use it to make an argument, not violence.)

I strongly dislike decapitations, and I wish like, goodness, like something awful do I wish that people could keep their heads. whatever they believe

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 15:41:44 UTC | #923476

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 5 by aroundtown

Therefore, maybe it's time to end the myth of militant atheism?

There is no maybe about it. Yes we suffer because we try to drag the deluded out of religion so they might breath the free air. They will balk and call us militant but the effort will bear fruits that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. A new and unfamiliar voice calling to them draws them out of their comfort zone but in time they will begin to question the indoctrination that was imposed on them and they will re-examine their original suppositions in our regard.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 15:50:52 UTC | #923477

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 6 by rjohn19

They'd better give me a wide berth. I'm armed to the teeth with explosive ideas.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:00:12 UTC | #923481

AlcubierreDrive's Avatar Comment 7 by AlcubierreDrive

The fact that all an atheist has to do is spout scientific facts and rational ideas to be labeled "militant," says a lot about the strength of their argument. The faithful should look in the mirror and ask why they feel so threatened by someone who has the nerve to ask (and answer) a few simple questions.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:12:17 UTC | #923482

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

This article may be over a year old, and I may have detected this phenomenon long before it was written, and I may be far from alone in that respect, but its message isn’t outdated. It won’t be until this double standard is only a memory. It is a very dangerous double standard. It makes it impossible for atheists to have any kind of voice at all without literally anything they say in their capacity as atheists being treated as not only highly controversial, but the sort of thing it is only wished were even rarer. You know, like Holocaust denial or hate speech. Perhaps if our civilisation held contempt for evidence in contempt of its own, rather than holding evidence in as much contempt as it does, we would feel that angry about, say, climate change denial or creationism. But if even the word “atheists” and a couple of groups’ contact details is “too much” for an ad, you have to wonder whether there are even limits to this double standard’s scope. Student groups at universities have a tough time of it too.

This article has a plausible suggestion for the motivation for the “militant atheism” lie, but at least one other cause is present as far as I can tell, namely the centrist fallacy. If an opinion has its objectionable defenders, a contrary opinion must do, or being fair might mean being one–sided, and we can’t have that! Next thing you know we’d be no more nuanced than the scientific consensus on something we understand well. I said I’d noticed this at work before. A few years ago at a barbecue I was talking with a self–described Unitarian. I’ve found in my experience even the emptiest religious labels are only held by people who object to religion being criticised. She’s a good friend of mine, but she said something rather silly during our conversation. She said she felt there are extremists everywhere. I immediately explained the problem with that assessment was she had to give the word “extremist” a different meaning in each case; I made much the same case–by–case example as the article’s cartoon (which is from atheistcartoons.com, an apparently now non–publishing web comic I recommend). But her first “there are extremists everywhere” comment wasn’t the silly part; the silly part was when she replied by saying she took my point, but nonetheless still felt there are extremists everywhere. I wonder what her view on abolitionists would have been had she been alive in the US c. 1860; what would constitute abolitionist extremism? The trouble is any sufficiently good cause can’t really be extremised because, even if in theory people (say) killing in its name would seem like a prime example, in practice they never do it anyway.

I think a good way to tell whether a view is right is whether the word militant is inaccurately used to describe its defenders. In this way, atheism is like feminism. Call me a literalist if you must, but to me someone is only militant if their behaviour has a military character to it – they should commit, threaten or advocate violence, war or occupation, either explicitly or implicitly, or should carry weapons, or something like that. What is it that “militant atheists” or “militant feminists” do? Talk, isn’t it?

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:13:12 UTC | #923483

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

This article may be over a year old, and I may have detected this phenomenon long before it was written, and I may be far from alone in that respect, but its message isn’t outdated. It won’t be until this double standard is only a memory. It is a very dangerous double standard. It makes it impossible for atheists to have any kind of voice at all without literally anything they say in their capacity as atheists being treated as not only highly controversial, but the sort of thing it is only wished were even rarer.

It comes from "middlist, fudgist, ignoramouses posing as being "moderate", by taking the middle ground between what THEY PERCEIVE as two extremes, and the simplistic reversal of the ignorant who can only see two views - their own and THE wrong one.

Its a bit like AGW climate denial. Deniers " know " nothing is wrong with the Earth's climate because of human activities, and the scientists are "wrong"!

The scientists know there are huge numbers of variable, models and possible local and global outcomes with differing details. It would be possible to report comparable outcomes under different scenarios, but that would involve study and understanding not of just one set of inputs and one model, but numerous different ones.
Too much like hard work for brain-lazy journalists, politicians, or spoon-fed sheeples. It is much easier to take up a patronising pose, and claim scientists can't agree among themselves.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:00:31 UTC | #923491

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 10 by BanJoIvie

Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

...I wonder what her view on abolitionists would have been had she been alive in the US c. 1860; what would constitute abolitionist extremism?

In 1860, most people in the US would have immediately thought of John Brown if you asked them such a question.

Right or wrong, there's no denying the guy was militant.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:04:33 UTC | #923493

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 11 by SaganTheCat

I've heard suggestions that gnu atheists are no better than terrorists which could be true bearing in mind most religious people are far more terrified of being made to look stupid in a debate than suffering martyrdom.

reason is like a setting off a bomb, it hits everyone in earshot and some poor believer who never wanted to be part of the argument might have their superstition permanently damaged.

to a group of people who respect ideas more than humans, who not only believe that life goes on forever but that some people have an eternity of suffering and are more than ok with that, it might not be as simple as we think

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:04:44 UTC | #923494

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 12 by alaskansee

I hope some of our spokes people, espesially in the US, turn the "militant" comment back on the fools that say it.

FOX "You sir are a militant atheist!"

Atheist "What like the militant christian that killed the abortion Doctor Tiller?"

FOX "Err, well.."

Atheist "So militant in what sense, like the muslum that killed the film maker Theo Van Gogh?"

FOX "I, but, what I mean..."

Atheist "So not militant in any sense?"

FOX "Well you're so loud about your evil thoughts!"

Atheist "So not militant then? Just audible over the wailing of the militant and murderous christians and muslims."

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:07:42 UTC | #923495

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 13 by aquilacane

I did a scribble much like the above cartoon (thematically). Steve, you may remember. Wish I could find it. It was about the bus advertising campaigns.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:26:32 UTC | #923498

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 14 by Zeuglodon

Comment 11 by Daniel Clear

I've heard suggestions that gnu atheists are no better than terrorists which could be true bearing in mind most religious people are far more terrified of being made to look stupid in a debate than suffering martyrdom.

Didn't Bertrand Russel say that most people would rather die than think, or some such thing?

Well, we seem to be on the right track to dispelling the myth:

  1. We use biblical literalism (or any other holy text literalism) to show what it would really mean to be a Christian or whatever religious creed.

  2. We deconstruct the arguments and point out why they're unsound.

  3. We encourage atheists to come out of the closets and campaign for atheist rights.

  4. We run campaigns to raise people's awareness of what atheism actually means.

  5. We discuss and debate publicly.

  6. We push for secularism or whatever is better.

  7. We confront the myth head-on.

  8. We don't play their personality games.

Keep at it for long enough, and the furor of today will become an embarrassment in the future. Perhaps by the end of the decade, we'll have an accepted and respected position in the Western world.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:01:46 UTC | #923524

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 15 by Jos Gibbons

BanJolvie, thanks for educating me with that eye-opening example. I should word my point better. The idea of abolition itself, unlike the means used to defend it, couldn't be too "extreme". That's what I also believe to be true of atheism. I don't know of any atheist equivalent of the massacre Brown arranged, so there is an asymmetry as far as I know in the actions of the advocates, but I think the point about the ideas is nonetheless salvageable.

Daniel Clear:

I've heard suggestions that gnu atheists are no better than terrorists

I can well believe you have, because I've heard something even harsher, from an Oxford undergraduate no less: he took the view Professor Dawkins was worse than Osama bin Laden (this was before he was killed). I couldn't square the circle when I heard that. The Professor may say he disagrees with others and explain why, and he may try to shape education on that basis to make it fairer and more rational and less divisive, but he can't be worse for those things than the mastermind behind thousands of murders. And to say otherwise is an insult to everyone who died or killed because of bin Laden's power over the killers' minds and everyone who loved those in either group.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:12:02 UTC | #923528

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 16 by drumdaddy

They know we are coming. They know that we are legion. To counter us, they demonize us, unsheathing their most tried and true weapon, delusional fear.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:17:53 UTC | #923532

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 17 by Mr DArcy

We shouldn't forget the religios are very good at making up and believing in "myths". Where would the Pope be without them? Stalking the battlements of Elsinore looking for a ghost?

"Who's there?"

"Dinny worry Joe, Uh just came up tee sweep the broken slungs and arrers!"

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:55:09 UTC | #923542

Steve Hanson's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Hanson

Reminds me of my ex-girlfriend.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 21:38:30 UTC | #923575

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 19 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - link to personal blog

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:11:21 UTC | #923586

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 20 by the great teapot

Comment Removed by Author

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:17:41 UTC | #923589

mmurray's Avatar Comment 21 by mmurray

Comment 5 by aroundtown :

Therefore, maybe it's time to end the myth of militant atheism?

There is no maybe about it. Yes we suffer because we try to drag the deluded out of religion so they might breath the free air. They will balk and call us militant but the effort will bear fruits that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. A new and unfamiliar voice calling to them draws them out of their comfort zone but in time they will begin to question the indoctrination that was imposed on them and they will re-examine their original suppositions in our regard.

Actually many of us don't try to drag the deluded out of religion we would just like them to keep their un-evidenced mumbo-jumbo to themselves and out of the public sphere. If they want to make an argument against abortion (for example) they should do it without invoking souls that magically appear at the moment of conception. If they want to make an argument against homosexual marriage they should do it without invoking some non-existent god and his supposed writings.

Michael

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:51:42 UTC | #923604

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 22 by aquilacane

Here's the scribble

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 23:33:11 UTC | #923621

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 23 by potteryshard

What's one more myth to the myth-masters? We need to bring in the Myth-Busters.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:24:12 UTC | #923648

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 24 by Border Collie

It's called projection. Anyone who questions the dominant paradigm is considered militant. "Militant" has that nasty little ring to it that gets the attention of the religioconservatards, gets their blood boiling and their little pea brains popping like popcorn. I prefer the word "devoid" to "devout" ...

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:57:47 UTC | #923658

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 25 by rrh1306

I often ask people who are worried about militant atheism to give me an example of a terrible encounter they've have with one. Their more likely to have a bigfoot story then an actual in the flesh confrontation with a member of the terrible ever growing army of militant atheist.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 03:47:10 UTC | #923679

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 26 by Starcrash

If you say something enough times, it becomes a meme. We know what is meant by "militant atheism" because the phrase is thrown out often. We ought to use the phrase "militant Christians" or "militant Muslims" when they show violence (as mocked in the cartoon above) so that people get a sense of what militant actually means.

I know I will.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 03:58:41 UTC | #923681

SuedeStonn's Avatar Comment 27 by SuedeStonn

I always think of Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chappelle) and his going to war scene from Undercover Brother whenever I hear about militant atheists. :)

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:54:59 UTC | #923701

thebaldgit's Avatar Comment 28 by thebaldgit

Sadly this is a reminder that to the religiously ignorant, anyone who does not 'respect' their beliefs is a militant atheist even though they are not in anyway militant.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 10:38:55 UTC | #923711

sbooder's Avatar Comment 29 by sbooder

The closest I can come to being militant is making a cocking action sound (like all those tough cops on TV with their 45s autos) in my head just before I blurt out some science.

“Take that you faith-head”!! I have slightly upset you with some rational thought. Another notch on the spine of my copy of the Origin.

I was thinking of wearing a ski mask when arguing just to make a satirical point.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:46:56 UTC | #923720

Graham Morris's Avatar Comment 30 by Graham Morris

I thought the term "Militant Atheist" was a joke invented by Douglas Adams. I laughed when I heard it.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:35:49 UTC | #923739