Excellent Article on the New Atheist trend


I don’t really agree with his conclusion at the end, but he does a great job of showing several sides of the situation. Personally I think that it is important to call people on things that they are not rational about. I don’t know if I take it to the level that Dawkins does, but there is something to be said with having the strength to stand out and say that you think the majority of people are being dumb.

You can have your beliefs if you want, but when you come to me talking about them, you better damn well have something to back them up besides passages from the Bible and the need for ME to prove YOU wrong. Luckly, for the most part, my ideas fit with the world around me. If you want to try to believe in something that doesn’t match the world, I think it is important for you to have some logical reason that your belief is right.

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11 Responses to Excellent Article on the New Atheist trend

  1. maxx says:

    for the most part, my ideas fit with the world around me.

    Back in the day, most people believed the earth was flat. They lacked the means to travel around the world to prove that this wasn’t the case. I would say that this idea “fit the world around them, for the most part”.

  2. Brent says:

    Right. The great thing about that is that all you have to do is sail around the world and BAM you have some proof that it isn’t flat. The views of science are changing all the time to fit new ideas and new results.

    All people have to do is find some hard scientific evidence to support the “Magical Being in the Sky” theory and they have something to try and convince me with. Since that seems highly unlikely, I will instead choose to believe that the world sticks with the laws that we have figured out.

    There is no need for Angels, Demons, magic teapots, pink unicorns, Gods, Devils, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, or ghosts to explain the things that happen everyday on Earth. As a matter of fact it only gets hard to explain things when you try and use them to do it.

    Occam’s razor really does apply in most situations. When you really think about it with a clear head, which really seems more likely? The life evolved over millions of years through processes that we see in action now, OR there is a magic being in the sky that just POOFed it all out in a few days and used to do all this crap to influence people and then recently (since the dawn of modern historical records) has been a lot more silent and done far less obvious things?

    Just taking the magical being in the sky part, pretty much makes evolution the obvious choice for simplicity.

  3. maxx says:

    …OR there is a magic being in the sky that just POOFed it all out in a few days…

    Big Bang Theory, we both agree on this 100%. There’s your P(r)OOF. So now what caused the Big Bang? I’m not saying that it was this mysterious creator (with his pink unicorns and magical teapot), but we lack the means to travel back in time with our current scientific technology to figure it out, and induction (examining the gases left behind to extrapolate what might have happened) isn’t exact enough.

    Here’s the thing about faith: it gives people a crutch, and makes them more confident in certain situations where they might otherwise panic. Which is better – being unable to swim and having faith that the lifeguard is going to get you out because God is with you, or flipping out and possibly drowning the lifeguard as well because you know you can’t swim and the odds of dying are high?

    I’m not opposed to your position on rationality and science. And I don’t believe in anything other than evolution as a means to explain the complexities of life on earth. And as long as the proselytizing of religion infringes upon your happiness, I’m glad to support your assertions and denounce the believers as sheep and simple-minded. However, I think there’s a strong benefit to letting people hang on to their faith, and I would support their right to do so.

  4. Brent says:

    I don’t know what caused the Big Bang, but there are theories out there and the great thing is that they work with the laws of nature. They don’t require any magic.

    Your next section is where I think we disagree. Think of all the waste religion has caused. Billions and Billions of man hours have been lost talking to no one. Billions and billions of dollars wasted for a security blanket. I mean lots of people have security blankets as kids. You know the great thing? They outgrow them. We would think someone was weird if they walked around with a Linus like blanket over their shoulder on the way to work, but we think it is perfectly fine to wear their crosses and other “magical” talismans.

    Then there is the pure fact of the unknown number of people that have been killed because of religion. Sacrifices, wars, stupid religious beliefs. I mean there are tons of people in Africa now that won’t use condoms because they have been converted to catholicism. So they continue to spread AIDS to their partners. I don’t have any hard numbers on it, but I would be willing to bet humans desire to believe in some magical super being has cause more deaths than it has saved lives. The greatest trick of religion and god is that it/he never gets blamed for all the people he/it kills.

  5. maxx says:

    You’re right – we don’t agree because I personally think that people (whether children or adults) have a ton of stuff in life to freak out about, and frequently them doing so will cause the rest of us to suffer in some way. They need to stay calm, and if religion gives them that, then it is totally worth it – to me.

    As regards the wars waged in the NAME of religion, I think thats more the case of extremists fanning the flames, and the situation escalating rapidly out of hand. The “greatest number of people killed by a SINGLE person” record is held by none other than Josef Stalin – who was an ATHEIST. This is an undisputed fact. Many believe that Hitler had some religious leaning towards voodoo and witchcraft, but again, there is more evidence to show that he was just an asshat with a great deal of power to kill people he didn’t like. He didn’t dislike the Jews for their religion – as much as he did because they had money and there was enough popular sentiment to push that agenda through. He also took out homosexuals, gypsies, artists, and anyone that didn’t get in line with the pogrom. Same deal with Julius Caesar (who was pontifex maximus for political reasons as opposed to religious ones), Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun…

    So lets be clear on this point – yes, religious wars are well known, and so are the wars of the atheists, agnostics and pagans. The lack of religion won’t stop WARS – it will stop ‘religious’ wars, but thats not even close to good enough. People always have and always will find reasons to fight – the choice of a mate (The legend of Paris), the love of money or success (Alexander, Caesar), the need to project power (Japan in WW2 in the Pacific) and a whole host of other reasons. Frequently religion is used as an aegis to get people rallied to a cause, but the reasons for fighting the war are political or financial. Just because the sheep rally behind it doesn’t mean religion is to blame. This is the ‘bullets kill people, guns dont’ analogy – sheep will follow. Thats what they do. If it wasn’t religion, it’d be something else.

    I agree that people need to think for themselves. But the reality is that they don’t always do so. I’d rather they follow some framework of morality provided by religion than be free to rock out with alternative agendas that might be much worse.

  6. Brent says:

    I agree that people need to think for themselves. But the reality is that they don’t always do so. I’d rather they follow some framework of morality provided by religion than be free to rock out with alternative agendas that might be much worse.

    That is such a bogus argument that everyone uses all the time. If there is no God then people made the rules that everyone THINKS are in the bible. People don’t help people because of some stupid book. They help people because they are wired too. Evolution has wired our brain to try to help the pack. Sure some people are screwed up, Manson, Dahmer… but obviously religion isn’t going to stop them, so it seems worthless.

    Sure there are wars out there that didn’t involve religion, but there are just as many or more that are. The Crusades come to mind. Also if they can’t march religion out as their rallying point, what are they going to use? Don’t just wave it off, what is your idea of what it would be?

    There is some evidence that Hitler was a catholic. If you read the stuff up above that you said he had a problem with he even sounds like a hardline catholic.

    Religion is a time sink, money sink, causes problems with families and communities, divides people up into little groups, causes wars, causes deaths, causes/supports sexual deviance, continually degrades women, slows the progression of human knowledge, teaches people to NOT think logically, and promotes murder, rape, incest, mutilation, torture all in the “Holy Book”.

    I would much rather people NOT believe in that bunk and instead believe in their fellow people to help them.

  7. maxx says:

    I would much rather people NOT believe in that bunk and instead believe in their fellow people to help them.

    Yes, but they WONT. And thats where your argument is flawed. If people WONT do something, then no amount of your logic is going to make any difference. People WONT do it because they are also wired to look out for themselves and only help people when it doesn’t impact negatively upon them. You can find me a million contradictions to this rule, and I’ll show you less than a hundred who ARE IN POWER who prove it. And ultimately thats the ONLY number that matters. The meek aren’t going to inherit the earth – ever.

    All I’m saying is that it makes sense to let people have their crutch. You disagree, and want to cast them into the abyss of chaos, and hope that things work out, because you think reason and logic will prevail. In other words, you HAVE FAITH in reason and logic. The same faith, I might add, that the people you’re criticizing have in (!reason && !logic).

  8. Brent says:

    I don’t have faith in reason and logic. There is proof that it works out. The top countries for least crime, best welfare of their public and best lifestyle for everyone are also the countries that have the least religion.

    The countries that have the most murders, rapes, violence and have the lowest welfare of their populace are ALL highly religious countries.

    In the United States, the most religious sections of the country are the Southern states. They are also the ones with the highest levels of violence, murders, rapes, teen pregnancy, poor and homeless. The Northeastern states are the least religious section of the country and they also have the lowest levels of these problems in the country.

    Atheists make up a reported 10%+ of the population, but yet they are less than 1% of the prison population.

    These are all signs that people DON’T need some magical crap to direct their lives.

    I would suggest you take a couple hours to read Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation”. It is less than 100 pages and you could easily knock it out in a couple hours, but it blows away every single one of the arguments that you have posted here and does it with actual information about things, instead of just “feelings” about what is better and what isn’t.

    As a matter of fact I suggest everyone read it, because it talks about things that provide information that most people don’t get.

    Did you know that the embryos that Christians don’t want to use to study stem cell research are only about 150 cells? Did you know that the common housefly has like 150,000 cells in its brain? Things like that are things that no one ever talks about, instead they spend their time letting these religious nuts get time on the air to talk about their imaginary ideas of what life is and isn’t and when a soul gets created and when it doesn’t.

  9. Jeff says:

    In reading your exchange, it occurred to me: It’s great to checkmate, but sometimes just getting a draw can be an accomplishment.

    It’s a sad fact that religion is, for some, the only thing keeping them from going chaotic evil on everyone. Reginald Finley, who podcasts as The Infidel Guy, has related many times stories about Xians who have told him that if the Bible did not condemn murder, they would kill him.

    If you want to call this a war, our fight should not be against moderates and liberals, but extremists. And we need to pick our battles. I agree that moderate/liberal Xianity makes no sense, but let the moderates figure that out over a few more centuries. We have, if not friends, sympathizers on the mod/lib side that we would alienate if we went after every vestige of religion.

    Block the extremists of all religions at every pass. For everyone else, all we can do is put enough education out there that maybe they’ll change their minds like I did.

  10. Jeremiah says:

    The bible belt does not include only southern states. And I think defining the term “religious” is a bit more tricky than you might expect. But even more important, define what you mean by religion first. I think the term has been used so much and there are various interpretations. Are you using the more traditional interpretation. Some might interpret your own views as religious in their own way (even if you disagree).

    Also, how do we identify who is religious and who is not. I mean, just because I identify myself as being religious, does that mean that I am? Who defines it? Is everyone that says he/she is a Christian (what is an Xian anyway? Looks like Chinese Pinyin :P) really a Christian? Or those that say they are Muslim, are they Muslims indeed? Who decides? Him/her? Us? Everyone? No one? God? Darwin? This is where it becomes quite unclear.

    Can you group together say a Rabbi who is active in his synagogue, or an evangelical who attends services regularly and really lives what he/she believes with someone who only attends services once a year, or someone who says a Hail Mary once a week and then is strung out on drugs all next week until the next Mass? Do you follow me?

    Not hardly a fair comparison. And in every “religion” you have what I would term the “seriously committed”, the “somewhat committed” and the “non-committed”, and probably levels in between those. People move between this levels of committment at different times, for various reasons. I can’t speak for others, but I certainly have been through that myself, for better or worse. So how would you classify me, knowing what you know? How would I classify myself?

    Since when did science or faith ever “one up” on the other? Ridiculous. They’re not in a contest to begin with.

    Am I a fool because I believe in God? Then so be it. But wisdom is justified of her children. Are the wrongs in this world to be blamed on God? Who made anybody do anything, right or wrong? Did we all not choose? And if we are so willing to listen to others on every other issue and not on this, where is the justice in that?

    Should I be completely outraged by what is most certainly an vicious attack on my fundamental beliefs by someone who is most certainly my friend? I am not. Please don’t be outraged at me or those who believe, even if you don’t agree. Come, let us reason together…

    I have taken many literature courses over the years, read a lot of things (though I’ve forgotten much of it). But never once did I dare to boldly enter a debate or conversation about a topic if I had not read the primary sources first. It would not be fair, and I might miss something reading a secondary source, because that secondary source’s own interpretation of the primary is just that, secondary. Is this not what historians and archaelogists do? Seek the source. So I ask you, in all seriousness, with no attitude or any type of finger pointing,(though distance and time have separated us, I still feel you are close friend) whatever your prior or current feelings about the book, have you actually sat down and just read the entire Bible on your own?

    If not, why not just one time? You’ve read everything else, even I imagine, when you thought it was ridiculous. So just read the Bible for yourself once. You just might be surprised…


    PS I realize the limitations of my words to you, particularly when I have to live with the scars of my own mistakes and past. For that, I have no good words to make amends. But I do ask for forgiveness, as I have from others. In any case, I hope that you would give ear and listen to what is being spoken to you, as best as you can. And I think if you honestly try, you will indeed hear…and know for yourself.

    Apologies for the long post.

  11. Brent says:

    Jeremiah, first everyone makes mistakes and as your friend I would never use those mistakes as a lever against you.

    Second. You are right I have read books before about things that I thought were dumb, stupid or ignorant. When I was reading them though I was doing so with the eye for cataloging the flaws for exposure to the world. I feel in this case I don’t need to do that. That mission has been accomplished via http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/ There you can find references to all the places where the Bible has errors, falsehoods, murder, rape, genocide, and contradictions. They are numerous and they are real. Sure there are excuses for all of them. “It was written by man.” “It was written by several authors.” “You are interpreting it wrong.” to those I have the following replies. “Then don’t quote it as the word of God” “If it came from God then it shouldn’t matter who wrote it.” and “Perhaps YOU are interpreting it wrong.”

    And to be honest I have no desire to read the book. Just as I have no desire to sit down and read the new fictional Harry Potter book I also have no desire to sit and read the Bible. To me it is just a book of fiction and from the parts that I have taken the time to read, not really that great of one. LotR was much more coherent and readable to me than the pieces of the Bible that I have read. I would much rather prefer to read it again than the Bible.

    To assume that anyone that reads the Bible will “hear and know” seems also false. Many Atheists say that when they finally sat down and read the Bible, instead of having it fed to them in preselected sections, that is when they became Atheists. That is when they actually realized the problems with the belief system that they were living in.

    Science and faith ARE in a contest with each other for the simple reason that people that have faith insist on pitting that against science. They can’t just have their faith and leave the people that agree with science and logic alone. Instead they have to try and force their fiction into schools and classes. All in the name of “Saving our youth” when in reality it is an attempt to force their religion on people. I believe the phrase is “Keep your religion out of my classroom and I will keep my science out of your church.” Scientists are upholding their part of that phrase. You don’t see many out at the churches yelling about how the church should “Sermon the controversy.” Kids have places they go to learn about “God” it is called a church. They don’t need to have it taught in a place that is supposed to be teaching thought and reasoning skills, which are two things that religion doesn’t tend to promote.

    I hold no ill will toward you or anything you wrote. I know that you think it is the truth in the world and that is why you promote it. In my case it just isn’t going to happen. It would require a true testable, verifiable event to prove to me that there is a god and since the beginning of truly correctly recorded history there haven’t been any of those. The crazy thing is that the Bible is full of them. Since the advent of the scientific method and proper historic records though, God has fallen strangely silent in this world. His believers pray on though.

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