Tag Archives: tolerance

Imagine no no religion

I read this other article on the new new atheism. A suggestion that female atheists should take the lead for atheists in order to push a more moderate and tolerant atheism.

Here’s a quote…

I heard two very different arguments at this event. The first was the old line of the New Atheists: Religious people are stupid and religion is poison, so the only way forward is to educate the idiots and flush away the poison. The second was less controversial and less utopian: From this perspective, atheism is just another point of view, deserving of constitutional protection and a fair hearing. Its goal is not a world without religion but a world in which believers and nonbelievers coexist peaceably, and atheists are respected, or at least tolerated.

And here’s a bit of demographic analysis…

“Females predominate in the overwhelming majority of religious groups in the United States, so it makes sense that males would predominate here. But XY types also dominated the rostrum, which saw a parade of white men joining John Lennon in imagining no religion.”

Perhaps this means atheism is actually bad for the survival of the species – who will all these atheists breed with? Atheism is clearly a genetic weakness. No wonder they want to propagate their ideas with evangelistic fervour. Actually, PZ Myers, the guy who killed my blog, has a post about some “science” that suggests that atheism is an undesirable genetic mutation. Cop that atheists.

“However, there must be a deeper psychological reason than short-termist hedonism why so many intelligent people have chosen the maladaptive trait of Atheism. I have recently published a theory trying to explain the phenomenon of ‘Clever Sillies’. Clever Sillies are people whose professional and expert attainments may be at the highest level, while their psychological and social beliefs and behaviours are just silly – I was thinking in particular of the prevalent lunacies of Political Correctness among the ruling elites. In essence, I argue that the root of the problem is that high intelligence often brings with it a tendency to overuse intelligence – even when ‘instinct’ is a better guide to reality.”

The guy who wrote the paper being quoted by PZ has suggested that atheism is a delusion. In that post he spells out why atheism is maladaptive…

The word ‘maladaptive’ has a strict biological sense, and also a more diffuse social meaning. In strict biological terms a maladaptive trait or behaviour is one that reduces relative reproductive success. Basically, something is maladaptive if it reduced the number of viable offspring. By this strict definition Atheism is a highly maladaptive trait, since Atheistic beliefs are associated with choosing to have reduced numbers of children: less than the 2.1 children minimum needed to replace the parents and cover premature deaths.

Back to the point about “peaceful tolerance”… oddly enough, Dawkins (who has previously described faith as the equivalent of a harmful virus) trotted out a similar line in a letter to young atheists I read on the Friendly Atheist today.

Of course we must leave people in peace to practise religion if they so choose. But the rest of us must be left in peace to live our lives without it. The religious want more and more influence over government policy and, if they succeed, our society will be the poorer: less tolerant, less equal, less just, less educated, less rational.

It seems there’s a bit of a philosophical battle raging amongst the atheists – perhaps they’ll start their own denominations.

Here’s another quote, from another Friendly Atheist post, it comes from a media release one atheist organisation wrote to describe a campaign conducted by another atheist organisation.

Last year, the Wisconsin organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), displayed a sign in the capitol rotunda which read, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” Seattle Atheists shares [many] opinions with the FFRF regarding the separation of church and state, and about the harm [that] can be done in the cause of religious belief. However, we feel that the message was needlessly provocative and inappropriate for the context of the capitol rotunda.

Pushing for tolerance is all well and good. The problem is pushing for tolerance where the two sides of the issue are binarily opposed. Atheists can harangue Christians for not being prepared to consider the other side of the debate all they like. But until both sides are able to operate holding confidence in personal beliefs in tension with the possibility that the other guys might be right we’re not going to get any closer to this peaceful coexistence.

I’m more and more convinced that’s the key. I’m pretty certain God is there, but I should afford atheists the right to live as though he’s not, and that should cut both ways. Atheists should be prepared to acknowledge that the other guys might be right – despite their interpretation of the evidence.

But so long as leading public atheists trot out talking tips like the one below it’s unlikely that we’ll see that sort of admission.

“To say that God or the spiritual realm exist outside our ordinary plane of existence, and can’t be understood by reason or evidence, makes no sense. If God or the spiritual realm exist and have an effect on this world, we should be able to observe that effect. If they don’t have any effect on this world, their existence is a moot point. “

You know what Christians call the ability to observe the effects God has on the world – we call it science.

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The Amazing Joe Hockey Movement

The Amazing Joel Hockey Movement is a Christian Comedy Folk band/singer. I thought he was funny when I was in high school – I confess I haven’t listened to him much since…

The Amazing Joe Hockey Movement is the series of responses around the blogosphere to Joe Hockey’s vaguely stupid defence of the notion of Christianity in a speech to the Sydney Institute that was published in extract form in the Sydney Morning Herald the other day. It’s received a fair bit of press coverage. With speculation that he was using this speech to round out his character in order to one day make a leadership push.

The backbone of this speech is the idea that somehow the best place to learn about God is not the church – who take things all too literally – but the vibe. It’s mabo. It’s the serenity. It’s stupid.

The notion that somehow Jesus would be unhappy with the idea of people taking the Bible seriously – which he seemed to do throughout his life – is preposterous. It comes from some sort of social superiority complex that for some reason believes that we’re much more enlightened than those who came before us, and that we can stand in judgment on thousands of years of backwards thinking.

I read an annoyingly superior piece along this vein in Sam De Brito’s new “Building a Better Bloke” group blog. Apparently the idea that Jesus “wasn’t a Christian” should be profound. Newsflash. Jesus was the archetypal “people of God” – Christianity is just the way that concept has been branded since we follow him. That’s a dumb proposition, and it just gets dumber.

Apparently Jesus was not about restoring our relationship with God – you know, the “repent, the kingdom of God is near” stuff… no, he was about:

“These are the real issues Jesus was interested in: POWER, PRESTIGE and POSSESSIONS. He hits them again and again.”

I bring this up mainly because a commenter calling himself “the thinker” made this interesting point in the comments…

“In the same way it is the philosophies we as a culture evolve” – I have to pull you up on this one and refer you to scientific anthropology. This is a common mistake which we humans who accept evolution make all the time. We erroneously assume that culture within human society evolves in a forward manner, the same way as genetic evolution did.

Anthropologically, the scientific evidence is that human culture rises and falls more like a flat sine wave. When American culture crashes it can fall to the same depth as Roman culture when it crashed (or even further). There is NO cultural ’safety net’ for a modern culture which will prevent it falling past a specific level cultural level attained in the past. Also, remember that on a genetic scale we are no smarter as humans than the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Mongols, the Huns etc as evolution takes longer than 2,000 years to significantly improve human brain power.

I thought that was interesting.

Anyway, back to Hockey. While suggesting that Christianity should be all about style – without worrying about substance – he made this odd statement about politics.

“The trend I see in politics is one where personality is winning over the substance that should be at the heart of political life.”

Somewhat contradictory methinks.

For a more astute takedown of Hockey’s statement read this response from Phillip Jensen. Or the letters to the editor that came in in response, or Gordo’s response to those letters. Here’s a snapshot from Phillip Jensen…

But Mr Hockey’s expression of values, with or without belief in any particular god, scarcely defends faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus – the man who is God. Christianity, void of Jesus’ divinity or sin bearing crucifixion – is hardly Christianity. Such a statement is not extremist literalism. The cross, not the golden rule, is at the very centre of Christianity. All religions do not teach the same truth when the death of Jesus is central to Christianity and denied by the Koran.

He noticed that the Opera House is usually playing music inspired by faith. But his kind of faith did not and will not inspire such music. He noticed that members of religious organisations are nearly twice as likely to be community volunteers. But his faith has not and will not lead to more community volunteers. He noticed the decline in religious observance in Australia. But he fails to notice that it is those who take their scriptures seriously that are retaining adherents and growing.

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On the stupidity of pluralism

There’s an evangelical Christian quarterback in the NFL who paints bible verses in his eye paint. The stuff they put on their faces to avoid glare.

An American sportswriter can’t handle the idea that this quarterback believes that Jesus is the only way to avoid hell. So he wrote a feature on it. This is a triumph of pluralistic dumbness. The writer asserts that the player’s view that his way is the only right way is wrong – thus placing his own “enlightened” views over the players – and being the intolerant fool he is accusing the player of being.

If there’s one thing that annoys me more than the new atheists and their anti-dogma dogma it’s the pluralists and their confusing inconsistencies.

“But should we be pleased that the civic resource known as “our team” — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?”

But wait, there’s more dumbness…

“But there’s a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.

Really? You’re only just figuring that out. It’s pretty much what Jesus says. You know, the “I am the way” bit, where he says “no one comes to the father except through me”…

Not a mere abstraction, this exclusiveness sometimes morphs into a form of chauvinism and mistreatment of non-Christians. Witness the incident with the Washington Nationals baseball team in 2005, when the Christian chaplain was exposed as teaching that Jews go to hell.”

How dare the church teach that anyone go to hell… oh, but wait, that’s what the Bible says… you know, that those who aren’t Christians (which is their choice) go to Hell.

Freedom of religion does not make a value judgment on the religions people adhere to – all religions are not equal. All people have equal rights to choose what religion they adhere to. And the state shouldn’t make quality judgments on these religions (unless they’re pursuing them for tax fraud).

Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.

If America’s lifestyle is defined by pluralism and not freedom then they’re getting a lot of things wrong.

I don’t know why I read that article. I knew it was going to be stupid.