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Go to: The 25 Most Influential Living Atheists

Jiffy's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Jiffy

Victor Stenger is a startling omission

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 17:22:46 UTC | #578402

Go to: Atheists a dying breed as nature 'favours faithful'

Jiffy's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Jiffy

I can't check the original article (or rather won't given the paywall) but assuming that China is one of the 82 countries the results may be skewed. Can a one child policy properly be described as an evolutionary pressure?

Sun, 02 Jan 2011 09:09:18 UTC | #572211

Go to: More than 10,000 people take to the streets to protest against pope

Jiffy's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Jiffy

Shouldn't Richard demand a correction from the Guardian?

Mon, 20 Sep 2010 08:18:02 UTC | #521715

Go to: Vatican Shocked at Britain's Hostile Reaction to Pope

Jiffy's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Jiffy

Anybody spot the link to another part of the site saying "does prayer really work?"

Have a guess what the answer is - it's hilarious

Fri, 17 Sep 2010 12:30:58 UTC | #519798

Go to: 9/11 was the start of the New Atheist movement

Jiffy's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Jiffy

What a staggeringly bad analysis. Chock full of logical fallacies: non-sequitors, straw man arguments and false dichotomies. We get that the author clearly doesn’t like the left (they’re all Trotskyists), doesn’t like feminism, doesn’t like anti-rascist ‘witch hunts’ (a particularly ironic phrase considering he’s bashing atheists), doesn’t like the green movement (though concedes there is no contradiction with being a green conservative if that’s where the evidence leads) and then tries to shoehorn the new atheists into his collection of left wing pet bogeymen (as though guilt by association is a sufficient reason to dismiss the new atheist position). He asserts that the new atheists are a third off shoot of the political left. Nonsense. Let’s have a look at the evidence

The leading lights of the new atheist movement, ‘affectionately’ known as the four horseman are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. They are not members of the ‘political left’ (and even if they were what relevance does that have to their arguments). Richard Dawkins is a well known supporter of the liberal democrats. Sam Harris is an American liberal with a worrying tendency to justify torture (not exactly a bleeding heart leftie). Christopher Hitchens was once a left wing firebrand though appears to have moved rightwards on the political scale and has been associated with the neo-con agenda. I’m not certain of Daniel Dennett’s political leanings but they are likely to be liberal given what I’ve read of his views. Add to those four Michael Shermer, the founder of the American Skeptics and you’ll find someone whose political views border on the extreme right wing of the economic debate as a confirmed low tax, minimal state free marketer.

The author seems to acknowledge this in his phrase:

But what’s odd is that this movement has attracted so many conservatives and especially libertarians.

So this ‘third offshoot of the political left’ is not in fact populated by lefty activists. The new atheist movement is made up of people from across the political spectrum. It is not party political but it does have an agenda in wishing to remove the harm it sees that religion (all religion, not just Islam) poses to a free society.

Professor Richard Dawkins recently said in his television documentary that in a world without religion, “good people would not do bad things”.

A misquote. Richard Dawkins was quoting Stephen Weinberg when he said

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion

He then accuses Richard Dawkins of knowing nothing of the human heart

Good people will always do bad things, because humans are often weak, selfish and stupid, and they certainly don’t need religion to make them do that, as the 20th century showed.

The author simply hasn’t understood the point. Of course people are imperfect, and those who are ordinarily good will sometimes do bad things, but in doing so normal people would not think that what they are doing something good. Religion allows people to justify actions that are objectively bad. Whatever any sane person thinks of the 9/11 hijackers no one can doubt that they truly believed they were going to paradise. Their religion allowed them to justify mass murder. They weren’t weak or selfish (although they were certainly stupid in believing their delusions).

Secondly, what sort of place do libertarians think a world without God would be? Would it be a low-tax, high-freedom society where the state runs the post office, secures the borders and pretty much leaves you to get on with your life? Or would it be one where an enormous state takes on the roll of church, spending vast amounts of taxpayer’s money on trying to artificially recreate civil society, including vast amounts on its pet “charities”; one where every aspect of human interaction is dictated by government, which controls even the moral order of society, increasingly infringing on the rights of parents? One does not need to be a believer to see that the church – or any body vested with moral authority – is an essential counterweight to the power of the state.

He clearly hasn’t appreciated it but the author has answered his own question. Atheism makes no recommendation as to the type of society that should follow once the malign effects of religion are removed. That question is purely a political one. For example Michael Shermer would advocate a low-tax high freedom society. Dawkins would favour a Liberal Democrat government.

One does not need to be a believer to see that the church – or any body vested with moral authority – is an essential counterweight to the power of the state.

Really? Let’s take the Catholic Church for example shall we. Moral authority from a body riddled worldwide with paedophile priests? A body that systematically covers up that abuse? A superb review of Geoffrey Robertson QC’s new book sets out a damning indictment of the church on this issue:

And that is just one issue among many. What about scripturally justified bigotry? Condom use to prevent HIV? Opposition to medical and scientific advances? There are many many more. The Church can claim no moral authority at all. Biblical authority yes, but that is not the same thing. An essential counterweight to the state? Nonsense again. We live a plural democracy. Atheists are of all political stripes and that is not going to change.

Whatever their use of the word, the only logical conclusion of the religion-free society advocated by groups which claim to call themselves “secular” is authoritarian socialism. Libertarians and conservatives who support them are simply useful idiots carrying out Karl Marx’s Plan B - good people doing bad things, as always.

So let’s see if I’ve got this right? Religion is the only thing standing in the way of authoritarian socialism? Atheism is a fifth column for revolutionary Marxists? The right wing atheists are stooges being used by the lefties and they are simply too stupid to realise that their lack of belief in a God will inexorably lead to communism? Any evidence for this? I thought not. This is one of the most impressive non-sequitors I have ever seen. Clearly the editor hadn’t looked too closely at this article before passing it as I didn’t think the Telegraph was in favour of woolly thinking.

Fri, 10 Sep 2010 19:43:38 UTC | #515733

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