Wednesday, December 14, 2011

 

So I Guess There Really Are "New Atheists"


... or so some people think:

I think I'd call this the Atheist Delusion. Many of us find it really hard to believe that Christians actually believe that nonsense about Jesus rising from the dead and insisting that faith is required to pass through the gates of a magical place in the sky after we're dead; we struggle to find a rational reason why friends and family are clinging to these bizarre ideas, and we say to ourselves, "oh, all of her friends are at church" or "he uses church to make business contacts" or "it's a comforting tradition from their childhood", but no, it's deeper than that: we have to take them at their word, and recognize that most people who go to church actually do so because they genuinely believe in all that stuff laid out in the Nicene Creed. ...

I think this is another important element of the New Atheist movement. We take religious people seriously when they tell us what they believe. We don't indulge in our own rationalizations, trying to second guess what they say and invent a more sensible excuse for their behavior: when someone tells me that they have faith that Jesus' second coming is nigh, I accept that they're a deranged and demented fuckwit rather than trying to cobble together a lofty sociological story about individuals fitting into community mores and building rhetorical interfaces to meld with group dynamics. Nope, they really believe in an apocalyptic messiah and are wishing the world would end in a catastrophe before they die.

I don't believe in fighting against the little social accommodations people necessarily make to get by. I do believe in fighting hard against bad ideas. And that's a difference between many atheists: do you see religion as a kind of social glue, or do you see it as a disastrously stupid collection of bad ideas? If you are in the latter camp, you're a New Atheist.

Comments:
You say: We take religious people seriously when they tell us what they believe.

I'm not so sure about that. (I'm taking the "we" as a kind of generic for the "gnu atheists"; not aiming at you especially.)

You mention the Nicene creed. I think it is a mistake to presume that people reciting actually do believe it; and that is based on taking seriously what individual Christians (even quite conservative ones) tell me directly.

One of the problems that I see showing up again and again in the "gnu atheist" movement is that they DON'T take particularly seriously what individual Christians say.

Instead, it is quite common (or so it seems to me) for certain atheists to set up a standard set of beliefs based on their own reading of the Nicene creed, or the bible, or church writings, or whatever.

Then they apply those willy nilly to members of churches that use the bible, or the Nicene creed, etc.

That technique often fails to deal with what individual believers say directly for themselves.

It's quite common for Christians to have strong reservations about what is expressed in various creeds or writings. A classic example is this from the Nicene creed:

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.


That is plain reference (IMO) to the doctrine of the "second coming". There's also a theological position (preterism) which holds that this has already occurred... and indeed many preterists are also very literal minded "bible believing" Christians, who consider the bible inerrant, but not the creeds.

There are also many Christians (in my direct experience of actually listening to people speaking themselves of their own beliefs) who do not hold creeds to be inerrant, nor the bible either; both can be taken as writings of the divine written by people; not a text dictated by the divine.

Gnu atheists, all too often, will have none of this. All too often, any attempt to set out an individual's own beliefs that diverges from what an atheist sets up as a presumed authentic standard is dismissed as not the real thing, or not representative, or hypocritical, or whatever.

Nor is it inevitably hypocrisy that a member of a church does not share all the same beliefs as set out by the church. Churches themselves are tolerant of this to varying degrees; but in any case, to know what people believe you have to listen to the people.

That's going to include, of course, many many Christians who DO accept the Nicene creed as written without reservation or qualification. But this can't be presumed of everyone who recites it. Nor (again, my own experience) can you presume that everyone who stands in church when a creed is recited is actually joining in. Some people deliberately and quietly omit certain phases. Others find various rationalizations for joining in even when it's not a good match for what they'd say for themselves.

I'm never entirely sure (despite my own use of the term above) what is meant by the "gnu atheists". I'm unapologestic and open about my unbelief in God; but not particularly inclined to sweeping generalisations about religion or consequences of belief in God.

Despite all kinds of negative consequences of religion, I also thing there are negative consequences in unremitting hostility to religion. A generous does of "live and let live" is, I think, a good thing; along with a bit of wisdom in when it applies and when it doesn't.

This comment is too long, but I don't have time right now to make it shorter...
 
Sylas

That was a quote John was presenting, it wasn't his.

And you don't have to use "gnu atheists" anymore, not that I ever did.
 
Oops. Sorry!

Yes; the text is by PZ, and I'd be happy to talk with him about it. I'm a big fan of PZ but not an uncritical endorser. Trawling through all the pharyngulites is not such an enthralling prospect.

I've had a chance to think on the extract and express my view (which helps me to clarify my own mind). If perchance any further exchange ensues, John's blog gets the benefit; which is good also.
 
Oops. Sorry!

No problem.

I'm a big fan of PZ but not an uncritical endorser. Trawling through all the pharyngulites is not such an enthralling prospect.

I like him almost all of the time ... dating back to our talk.origins days. Sometimes he goes over the edge ... but don't we all. As to his commentariat, I long ago stopped spitting into a hurricane.

My experience is similar to yours, though perhaps a bit more direct. I was raised as an American Catholic, where the laity has long ignored the hierarchy when they disagreed ... such as on birth control. Recently, although New York is a heavily Catholic state, the bishops couldn't raise much of an opposition to gay marriage. The idea that religious believe and act in lockstep is, at the least, overstated by some atheists.
 
The main problem with most Christians is that they don't do what Jesus said they should. Does this sound like the religious right: love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers, judge not that you be not judged, condemn not that you be not condemned, forgive and and you will be forgiven, cast the beam out of your own eye first, etc. Most of it actually seems like good advice, and admirable. But their Christianity is primarily due to selfish motives - salvation, eternal life, etc.
 
"The main problem with most..."

My New Year's resolution is to stop reading any sentence that begins with these words. And to stop using this phrase myself.
 
I'm a bit surprised that Baggini did not realize that many religious people really do believe that stuff.

For myself, I don't particularly worry about other people believing nonsense, unless they are running for office and want to impose that nonsense on others.

So, sure, I like PZ but I do think that he and others sometimes go a bit overboard in their comments on religion. On the other hand, as biologists they are constantly under attack from the creationists, so it is quite understandable that they react strongly.
 
I just read Baggini's poll results and I don't think they say what he says they do.

Baggini admits that Karen Armstrong is not asserting that a large portion of religious people don't literally believe scripture. She's presenting an idealized view of what religion can be, even should be--and already is for many, even if this gets lost in the everyday story line.

Analogizing to democracy, we might argue that democracy is "really" about self-determination, human rights, justice, unleashing human potential, or similar things. We might then take a poll in which we find that surprisingly large numbers of people who profess to love democracy are actually xenophobic, or racist, or in fealty to the ways of Capital, or any number of things that democracy is not supposed to be, by our lights. Do we thereby abandon our ideal for what democracy might/could/should portend for us? Do we just scrap it as poisonous?

As far as facts on the ground go, if you look at Baggini's poll numbers, many of the responses are barely in the majority (e.g. just 54% for "We can achieve eternal life only by accepting Jesus as our lord and saviour") and many don't even come close. The most popular response to the statement that the Book of Genesis is "historically" true, at 28%, is "disagree." Adding in the "tends to agree/disagree" responses, the disagrees have it by 17%.

The "normal actuality" would be much more complex than Baggini would like it to be--and that's given his own somewhat stunted phrasing of theological options. We have no idea how the poll would have shaken out if various gradations of types of belief were offered to choose among, rather than degrees of agreement or disagreement with the most fundamentalist types.
 
nwrickert: "I'm a bit surprised that Baggini did not realize that many religious people really do believe that stuff."

Who says that he didn't? Ok, maybe PZ does, but Baggini back in 2009 wrote this:

"I have no doubt that the vast majority of the religious do indeed believe in such things [personal creator gods, miracles, souls and so forth]. Indeed, I'm on the record as accusing liberal theologians of hiding behind their less literalist interpretations, and pretending that matters of creed don't really matter at all."

Now in that 2009 article, he criticized, for example, Sam Harris for saying, "religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time," thus overlooking the positive practices in religion. But the idea that believers really believe what they believe isn't new for Baggini. The survey bolsters his current opinion on that particular matter.

That said, his opinions on the New Atheists have apparently shifted some and become more positive, but not in the way PZ seems to think.
 
Analogizing to democracy, we might argue that democracy is "really" about self-determination, human rights, justice, unleashing human potential, or similar things. We might then take a poll in which we find that surprisingly large numbers of people who profess to love democracy are actually xenophobic, or racist, or in fealty to the ways of Capital, or any number of things that democracy is not supposed to be, by our lights. Do we thereby abandon our ideal for what democracy might/could/should portend for us? Do we just scrap it as poisonous?

I think that is an apt and very thought-provoking analogy.
 
buy tramadol cheap what dosage tramadol for dogs - tramadol 50 mg sleep
 
ativan without prescription ativan side effects rxlist - side effects of ativan .5 mg
 
buy tramadol buy tramadol mastercard - buy tramadol 100mg online
 
ativan online buy ativan online mastercard - ativan quetiapine
 
buy tramadol cod lethal dosage tramadol - tramadol 50 mg can you get high
 
legal buy tramadol online tramadol hcl recall - buy tramadol online usa
 
buy tramadol cheap buy tramadol cod fedex - buy tramadol online india
 
buy discount tramadol tramadol hcl 50 mg para que es - generic for tramadol
 
buy klonopin online what are klonopin withdrawal symptoms - much 2mg klonopin worth street
 
buy tramadol online buy tramadol no prescription uk - can you buy tramadol dominican republic
 
ativan no prescription ativan withdrawal drug - ativan for pain
 
buy tramadol online reviews effects of tramadol high - prevent tramadol addiction
 
can you buy tramadol online buy tramadol online in australia - do people buy tramadol
 
buy klonopin online best place buy klonopin - how to get prescription for klonopin
 
ambien online purchase ambien - effects of ambien and pregnancy
 
buy tramadol ultram tramadol hcl migraine - tramadol dosage for people
 
buy tramadol buy tramadol with american express - tramadol addiction does
 
tramadol online order tramadol online no prescription overnight - tramadol 50 mg para que sirve
 
tramadol buy tramadol with paypal - buy tramadol online without prescriptions
 
buy clonazepam online klonopin overdose in dogs - makes generic klonopin
 
generic ambien ambien withdrawal web md - buy generic ambien online no prescription
 
lorazepam without prescription ativan overdose effects long term - high dose of ativan
 
soma pills minimizer bras soma - discount code soma intimates
 
can you buy tramadol online legally order tramadol online reviews - tramadol online missouri
 
generic ambien buy ambien prescription - ambien dosage ld50
 
tramadol online tramadol hcl restless leg syndrome - veterinary tramadol overdose
 
buy tramadol with cod tramadol hcl 50 mg recreational use - tramadol online pharmacy no prescription
 
klonopin online klonopin wafers .25 - melatonin klonopin erowid
 
buy tramadol online tramadol 50mg capsules - tramadol high good
 
buy tramadol online buy 180 tramadol online - tramadol 50mg (generic ultram)
 
buy soma online no prescription soma de horas online - soma 56
 
cheap zolpidem cost ambien xr - order ambien online overnight
 
buy tramadol cheap online tramadol hcl xr 100mg - tramadol high dosage
 
ativan pills ativan and alcohol recreational - lorazepam 1 mg beipackzettel
 
buy tramadol tramadol dosage weight loss - tramadol hcl usage
 
buy ambien online what is ambien used for - ambien side effects loss of appetite
 
buy ambien ambien and dilaudid drug interactions - ambien online no prescription usa
 
generic ambien buy legal to buy ambien online - cheapest ambien online
 
buy tramadol mexico tramadol 50mg hcl tablets - tramadol and vicodin
 
ativan 2mg ativan sublingual 1mg side effects - buy lorazepam online india
 
soma buy buy soma a+ - soma pills 1984
 
buy tramadol online no prescription tramadol 50 mg sleep - tramadol long before addiction
 
buy tramadol no prescription overnight what's maximum dosage tramadol - side effects of tramadol 50mg capsules
 
order tramadol tramadol potentiators - tramadol sandoz l.p. 100 mg
 
buy tramadol online tramadol daily dosage limit - buy tramadol in uk
 
ambien online without rx discount card for ambien cr - ambien side effects mood
 
buy tramadol 180 tramadol ultram 50 mg - tramadol zydus
 
buy tramadol india tramadol vs hydrocodone withdrawal - tramadol for dogs contraindications
 
cheap zolpidem ambien sleep eating stories - zolpidem 10 mg erowid
 
buy tramadol with paypal tramadol zydol 50mg - can you buy tramadol mexico
 
klonopin price buy klonopin canada - klonopin withdrawal onset
 
ambien online generic ambien cr cost - ambien cr 6.25 generic
 
generic viagra 50mg buy viagra online from canada - buy viagra cvs
 
ambien for sale online buy ambien in europe - ambien withdrawal tingling
 
buy tramadol cod fedex buy tramadol ultram - tramadol hcl dosage in humans
 
generic viagra online buy viagra rio de janeiro - buy viagra no prescription uk
 
online soma soma intimates online store - soma online sale
 
buy viagra online is it safe to buy viagra online yahoo answers - buy generic viagra online canada
 
buy viagra alternative order viagra london - buy viagra online abroad
 
buy tramadol next day buy tramadol from canada - order tramadol cod next day delivery
 
buy soma online soma 446 effects - soma no prescription arizona
 
cheap zolpidem reviews for ambien cr - ambien withdrawal symptoms how long
 
buy ambien online much does ambien cost mexico - ambien side effects hunger
 
viagra online purchase buy viagra alternative - buy generic viagra online india
 
generic ambien can ambien cr 12.5 split - ambien side effects weight
 
ambien sale ambien side effects next day nausea - ambien breastfeeding
 
buy viagra usa where can i purchase viagra cheap - buy viagra online without perscription
 
buy klonopin online 2mg klonopin and weed - overdose on klonopin
 
buy tramadol in florida tramadol ultram dosage - tramadol high blood pressure
 
buy generic ambien buspar drug interactions ambien - what does ambien cost
 
generic ambien ambien side effects heart palpitations - ambien withdrawal crying
 
buy viagra online overnight generic viagra safe - buy viagra using paypal
 
buy cheap generic viagra online best place buy generic viagra forum - buy viagra fast delivery
 
tramadol online tramadol 50mg ndc - buy tramadol cash on delivery
 
buy ambien online ambien side effects blogs - ambien sleeping pills dosage
 
generic ambien ambien side effects double vision - ambien cr official site
 
buy viagra order viagra online canadian pharmacy - viagra for women men
 
viagra online no prescriptions buy viagra 25mg online - viagra
 
buy cialis online with prescription buy real cialis online - buy cialis online new zealand
 
viagra online purchase buy viagra online japan - should you buy viagra online
 
tramadol online buy tramadol rx online - overdose of tramadol for dogs
 
tramadol generic buy tramadol online florida - buy tramadol online pharmacy
 
viagra online pharmacy generic viagra cheap - normal dosage viagra
 
viagra online buy viagra 100mg uk - viagra dosage and instructions
 
buy generic viagra online overnight viagra 4 women - buy viagra on line no prescription
 
how to buy viagra online without dosage does viagra come - sildenafil citrate generic viagra 100mg
 
order cialis generic cialis 10mg online - cialis kidney stones
 
buy tramadol online cod overnight tramadol hcl 100mg er - tramadol opiate addiction
 
viagra online cheap viagra kamagra from the u.k - viagra online xlpharmacy
 
where to order viagra purchase viagra canada - safe buy viagra online canada
 
buy soma online soma drug usa - order soma watson
 
tramadol online many tramadol 50mg get high - long does 100mg tramadol last
 
order viagra for women does viagra work for paraplegics - viagra brand
 
buy viagra for women buy viagra super force - buy cheap viagra online from india
 
buy viagra online overnight order viagra paypal - what viagra dosage is best
 
tramadol online tramadol 50 mg tablets side effects - safest place buy tramadol online
 
tramadol online tramadol 50 mg kapszula - tramadol withdrawal day 4
 
cheap sildenafil buy 100mg viagra online - reliable online pharmacy viagra
 
cialis online cialis going generic - order cialis online mastercard
 
order propecia online propecia side effects timeline - cost of propecia tablets
 
viagra online viagra dosage forum - can buy viagra online canada
 
order viagra online without a prescription viagra online canada overnight - generic viagra hoax
 
viagra online viagra online singapore - viagra for women pfizer
 
buy viagra online buy viagra on online - jimmy kimmel viagra for women
 
buy cialis without doctor prescription cialis at walmart - cialis online 2.5mg
 
buy tramadol cod tramadol no prescription fedex - buy cheap tramadol overnight
 
buy strattera strattera retail price - strattera dosing guide
 
buy tramadol online cod overnight buy tramadol online no prescription mastercard - tramadol 50mg 100ct
 
buy tramadol online really cheap tramadol - tramadol 50mg street value
 
cialis online canada order cialis safely online - cialis black reviews
 
tramadol buy tramadol ingredients acetaminophen - cheap tramadol overnight no prescription
 
buy strattera online strattera for anxiety reviews - strattera side effects 2012
 
buy viagra online legally buy viagra high street - cheap 100 mg viagra
 
buy tramadol online buy tramadol cod overnight - just pills order tramadol online
 
tramadol online no prescription tramadol dosage rat - order tramadol cod saturday delivery
 
buy retin-a buy retin a micro gel 0.04 - retin a coupon 2012
 
buy viagra for women best online generic viagra site - buy female viagra online canada
 
cialis online can you order cialis online - cialis 20mg online
 
cheap propecia online buy propecia ebay - see results propecia
 
where to buy tramadol online can you buy tramadol online in the usa - buy tramadol for dogs usa
 
buy tramadol online tramadol overdose children - tramadol withdrawal medicine
 
order viagra online india buy viagra online india - buy viagra kl
 
finasteride without prescription can you buy propecia in australia - generic propecia american express
 
cialis online cialis daily use effective - cheap generic cialis free shipping
 
tramadol 50mg tramadol buy forum - tramadol no prescription overnight cod
 
buy tramadol online reviews generic tramadol online no prescription - tramadol dosage restless leg syndrome
 
buy tramadol tramadol 50 mg experience - buy tramadol hydrochloride 50mg
 
order finasteride buy generic propecia uk - buy merck propecia online
 
buy tramadol tramadol tablets - tramadol compared to vicodin
 
finasteride no prescription propecia 90 day - can you order propecia online
 
buy generic tramadol tramadol addiction treatment - buy tramadol 50 mg
 
order strattera online strattera side effects sore throat - strattera recommended dose
 
tramadol 50 mg tramadol hcl er 200 mg tab - buy tramadol online safe
 
buy tramadol with cod buy tramadol cod next day delivery - buy tramadol overnight shipping
 
buy tramadol buy tramadol safely - tramadol high side effects
 
buy tramadol overnight tramadol overdose emed - tramadol hydrochloride capsules 50mg side effects
 
propecia cost buy propecia 5mg - can you buy propecia in canada
 
buy tramadol cheap tramadol without rx - buy tramadol online from mexico
 
generic strattera good reviews strattera - strattera quitting cold turkey
 
buy tramadol online tramadol 100 mg street value - buy 200 mg tramadol online
 
order tramadol online what is ultram tramadol hcl - where to buy tramadol online usa
 
tramadol 50 mg tramadol n024 - tramadol and ibuprofen
 
buy tramadol for dogs buy cheap tramadol overnight - tramadol hcl solubility
 
buy tramadol tramadol buy - buy tramadol overnight cod
 
buy strattera strattera medication cost - strattera price without insurance
 
strattera cost cost of strattera 60 mg - strattera side effects fever
 
buy tramadol online buy tramadol england - buy tramadol online no prescription usa
 
tramadol 50mg canadian tramadol no prescription - ordertramadolonline
 
finasteride no prescription propecia side effects infertility - 5 mg propecia generic
 
buy tramadol online tramadol 50 mg ratiopharm - buy tramadol online for cheap
 
buy tramadol online no prescription cheap tramadol and ibuprofen - buy tramadol cod
 
tramadol 50mg tramadol experiences - tramadol hcl 50mg side effects in dogs
 
tramadol online no prescription tramadol dosage and effects - tramadol hydrochloride 50mg high
 
tramadol 50 mg happens you overdose tramadol - tramadol 50 mg images
 
buy tramadol tramadol dosage severe pain dogs - tramadol hcl overdose
 
buy sildenafil can i buy viagra online yahoo answers - viagra buy online us
 
cheap cialis how to buy cialis in australia - cheap cialis
 
cialis drug buy cialis online using paypal - cialis for daily use
 
generic cialis cialis wholesale price - cheap cialis pills online
 
buy tramadol tramadol 50 mg is it a narcotic - buy tramadol with paypal
 
tramadol 50 mg tramadol que es - online tramadol no prescription overnight
 
purchase viagra buy viagra no prescription - viagra online legitimate
 
generic cialis cheap cialis viagra online - cheap generic viagra cialis
 
buy tramadol tramadol hcl er dosage - tramadol hcl online
 
viagra online viagra cialis levitra - buy viagra online canadian pharmacy
 
generic viagra buy viagra online us - buy generic viagra 50mg
 
discount cialis cheap cialis online canadian pharmacy - buy cialis online legal
 
generic tadalafil cialis online with mastercard - buy cialis online south africa
 
buy tramadol buy discount tramadol - tramadol to buy online
 
viagra online without prescription buy cheap viagra and cialis - order viagra online ireland
 
viagra online without prescription buy viagra online cheap with no prescription - buy viagra safely
 
generic cialis can you buy cialis over the counter in spain - cialis online best place buy
 
viagra online pharmacy generic viagra alternatives - viagra what does it do
 
buy cialis cialis commercial bathtub - cialis лекарство
 
buy cialis buy cialis online in nz - cialis sale online usa
 
buy cialis price for daily cialis - buy cialis online us
 
buy soma online buy soma online from usa - can you buy soma in usa
 
cialis online cialis 72 hours - generic cialis daily use
 
cialis 10mg cialis online coupon - cialis daily low dose
 
buy cialis cialis price eu - coupon code for cialis
 
viagra online buy viagra online us - buy legitimate viagra online
 
buy soma online buy soma online usa - soma online game
 
buy cialis cialis online sydney - buy cialis from canadian pharmacy
 
viagra online order viagra online from us - order viagra online overnight delivery
 
soma online will soma show up dot drug test - soma 350 mg withdrawal
 
viagra online order genuine viagra online - buy viagra australia online
 
cialis price cialis high blood pressure - cialis online apotheke
 
order tramadol long does tramadol overdose last - tramadol 50mg tablets narcotic
 
buy tramadol online tramadol withdrawal migraine - tramadol 50 mg uses side effects
 
buy cialis safe order cialis online - generic cialis results
 
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .

Organizations

Links
How to Support Science Education
archives