Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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Why we need extreme atheism

for dfordoom

(because it supports his case)

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Criticising religion is like criticising god!

Even God is not above criticism. I want to have a word with him about the appendix.

I'm sure god had a purpose for the appendix. Sure. Really sure.

He must have done, right?

Depends. The appendix in my body is a subtle and wondrous organ. Not sure I can say the same thing about 50% of the appendices in my doctorate.

Why do lots of people make an automatic equation between religion and one God? And between religious faith and organised religion? And between religion and philosophy? And assume they already have the knowledge they need to make sense of these vast subjects and anything someone else has to say is just going to tell them what they already know?

And why did someone the other day tell me there was something wrong with everyone who had religious belief? I said "But I'm Jewish, so you're saying there's something wrong with me."

"Not you. You're my friend. All my friends are fine. Besides, I respect everyone's beliefs: I just think that people who belive in God are either really stupid or very misguided."

I do wonder if the cartoonist was listening in on the conversation, because I can see two angry turtles fitting in to Judaism quite nicely. ("What? We're not kosher? Let's do battle with God, in space! We want to be kosher! It was our perfect turtle-dream to end up as soup.")

Gee - nice elucidation of my issues with Dawkin's thesis (see earlier post and comments.)

:) I've been reading everything and thinking and trying hard not to rant on my own blog. I really hate a lot of the attitudes that are emerging from the extreme sides of the polemic and from those in the middle who don't stop and think things through properly.

I can see bigotry emerging in some surprising palces. Just what the world needs right now: more bigotry.

I think we should start a movement called "people who don't give a damn what someone else believes as long as they're thoughtful and decent human beings and don't turn evangelical on us."

If Mormons go away when I start arging Orson Scott Card, then what SFF writer do I need to talk about to get rid of atheists who don't like my philosophical state?

I'm refraining from adding to the comments on your earlier post, because I rather suspect I could become inflammatory over someone's assumptions that all forms of belief in deity are the same and somewhat Christian and an impossible fit with rational belief. Also I could get heavily into science history and its relationship with formal religion. Two hundred years ago *not* believing in God could get scientists sacked from certain universities (why Galileo's observations were so controversial - they left no place in the new cosmos for God to physically reside). Does this mean that the only really rational humans were born rather recently? Drabbit, I was *so* not going to rant today!

Now I'm wondering whether atheists share as much world view as tehy think. Surely it's not a reaction to the religious beliefs of others, but a set of fully articulated understandings of the world independent of that. How do two atheists know that they actually share the same structure in their lack of belief? Dawkins has brought this out into the open by articulating a specific approach to atheism (one intolerant of stuff he doesn't like?), but I bet there is not one 'atheism' just as there isn't one 'religion.' I love the diversity of humans :).

The other thing is that for some atheists it might be a lack of belief (which just shows where I come from - only someone brought up religious can talk about it as a 'lack') but for most it's probably a complete world view, not lacking in anything. Sigh. We all have our problems - at least I've realised this one of mine and can address it. In future, I promise not to assume that atheists are lacking anything without clear proof.

Clear proof of lack of tact is easy enough to get.

I like the idea of disorganised religion. A religion that moves with the times, changes when needed, and doesn't expect non-believers to conform.

I don't have a propblem with people being religious. I only have a problem when they try to force their religion on me, by making laws that reflect their beliefs, not the greater good. If you want to wear a headscarf, a crucifix, abstain from certain foods or drink, not have an abortion, etc etc that's fine. But don't restrict my right to do those things because your god told they were bad. MOst relgious people are fine, it's the small percentage of nutters that are causing the trouble. And the nutters are in power in a big way at the moment.

By the way, I find the militant aethesists as annoying as the religious crazies ( I mean Falwell, Bin Ladan, etc, not the normal people who believe).

I find anyone who wants the entire world to conform to their personal reality annoying, and that includes certain relatives of mine. Belief or lack thereof is an important personal right IMO.

I said that last bit really, really badly. It's a terribly dificult subject to find the right words for, isn't it?

Wow - isn't it great the trouble a simple cartoon can cause?

I'm planning a fuller and better expression of my real thoughts on this issue (kind of boils down to - tolerance good, intolerance bad ) but I want to see if my own thoughts stand up to semi-public scrutiny.

And, I must admit, I do find the unspoken assumption "I respect your right to be mentally ill" rather patronising.

(stirs pot more)

What made it press all my buttons is that it's the exact attitude I usually get over being Jewish and similar to the one that many women get over not having children or going through menopause and that anyone with chronic illness faces. I have friends who get it over the colour of their skin or their sexual preferences. It's a new prejudice, but it takes on the language and attitudes of a bunch of old ones.

It really saddens me that people respect my right to be deficient in so many ways before they do studies to find out if any of those things actually cause any kind of deficiency.

kind of boils down to - tolerance good, intolerance bad

If there's one thing I just can't tolerate it's intolerant people. ;-)

That's all well and good, but if you believe that (to pick a controversial example) abortion is murder, and leads to damnation, why wouldn't you want to make a law against it? All laws are made to reflect someone's belief in what is wrong.

dependent on that someone believing that society shared (or should share) their views.

Laws (for the most part) are made by people representing sectors of society - that's why they can be so hard to get through government.

(and now the conversation becomes something else...)

Turtlians don't bite, they snap.

An interesting question raised by all this. We generally believe that respecting the beliefs of others is a good thing. But is it always a good thing? If someone believes that black people are inferior to white people and should therefore have fewer political rights, should we respect this belief? If someone holds a belief that is just as repugnant, but is sanctioned by their religion, should we respect that belief? And if someone doesn't respect our beliefs, are we obliged to respect theirs?

Personally I think atheists have been extraordinarily tolerant of the beliefs of others. Perhaps too tolerant?

It's really acted on beliefs, rather than the beliefs themselves, that are the issue surely?

Otherwise, yes.

What about beliefs that are clearly ludicrous? Things like astrology. Are they deserving of respect?

If it'll get me laid, why not?

(so I'm a Scorpio, so what of it?)

Personally I think atheists have been extraordinarily tolerant of the beliefs of others.

Yeah, I don't know. I've been known to use "I respect your beliefs," as a euphemism for "I don't want to have this argument," which is tolerance of a sort, but hardly extraordinary (or admirable).

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

- Thomas Jefferson
(one of the founders of the US Constitution).

Now that's a great quote, and one to wave in the face of those nutters who think "freedom of religion" means "freedom to pick a Christian denomination." Which I've heard in nuttier places on the web. Where did you find that?

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