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lotharson

The Hate Of The New Atheists

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This is going to be a very controversial post but I do hope we will be able to dialog in a spirit of respect and love.

As I made it clear at other places, I have a huge respect for many modern and past atheistic philosophers such as Nietzche, Sartre, Camus, Macky or Comte-Sponville.

They are or were great and honest thinkers having had a tremendous contribution to the advancement of philosophy.

I do, however, strongly despise the New Atheists (like Denett) who are to atheism what fundamentalism is to Christianity: a shame and an embarrassment.

The New Atheists (also called anti-theists or militant atheists) are a particular group of atheists who advocate the use of emotional bullying, mockery and ridicule towards every religious believer.

I think we have strong grounds for concluding they are a hate group with a far right ideology.


We also have good evidence that they are people who have had a very bad (often traumatic) experience with religious fundamentalists.


Did you yourself had interactions with them?



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Personally, I think it is more a media tag and beat up than a genuine representation of any particular 'group'. There will always be extremists in all shapes and forms, but I can hardly think of more than a handful of people in the world that might be identified as these 'new atheists'.

 

My interactions are limited to some Youtube and books.

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They are well organized, possess internet websites and gather together.

 

Mockery, ridicule, shun and intolerance are their main features.

 

 

I want to emphasize I highly value dialogs with respectful atheists challenging Christianity by using rational argument.

 

This whole culture war makes me sick.

 

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote a book arguing against that climate of intolerance called You Are less crazy than I think .

 

 

Cheers.

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When you used the term 'The New Atheists' I thought you were referring to Sam Harris and co. This from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy;

 

"The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. The “New Atheist” label for these critics of religion and religious belief emerged out of journalistic commentary on the contents and impacts of their books. A standard observation is that New Atheist authors exhibit an unusually high level of confidence in their views. Reviewers have noted that these authors tend to be motivated by a sense of moral concern and even outrage about the effects of religious beliefs on the global scene. It is difficult to identify anything philosophically unprecedented in their positions and arguments, but the New Atheists have provoked considerable controversy with their body of work."

 

I didn't realise there was a culture war going on between nasty new atheists and religious believers, but intolerance and hatred can never be a good thing.

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I think that sarcasm and mean-spirited, pointless ridicule is very uncouth, no matter the subject. The fact that a handful of Atheist pundits choose such a method is dispiriting, but in no way undermines the strength of their position.

 

I prefer the clever, witty and subtle method of the type employed by Douglas Adams, rest his non-existent soul, for one.

 

NORM

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If ridicule of someone with an opposing view (guilty as charged) is hatred then I too have been hateful. It was only lately when I came to the view that language is imprecise that I was able to accept that my understanding is also imprecise and incomplete (duh). I too find the so called "new atheists" heavy handed and, dare I say it, bullies. I agree with most of what they are saying but would wish for a little more humility in the discussions. Incidentally, the religious fundamentalists also lack humility IMO.

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I consider it morally wrong to ridicule a nice person, no matter what her beliefs are.

 

There are lots of respectful atheists out there who use rational arguments instead of shunning.

 

 

The most evil aspect of the New Atheism is that it precognizes to be mean and mocking towards religious liberals too, because they (supposedly) allow the existence of fundamentalism.

 

They are completely oblivious to the fact that progressive Christians spend a great amount of their time criticizing fundies.

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The most evil aspect of the New Atheism ...

 

I think these things start with or at least have an essential component - demonizing the opposition ... for example giving them evil aspects. Don't you?

Edited by romansh

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In my humble opinion I don't see any diffence between the militant athiest and the fundamentalist Christian.

 

Both of them are using the same techniques/strategies/tone while they point fingers at each other, condemning 'them' for being fueled by hatred and disrespectful.

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I don't see any difference between them either.

 

They are human and products of their experience, circumstances and the way the universe has unfolded in general.

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I find much of an issue here. I find it difficult to condemn athiests for not believing in God. Likewise I find it difficult to condemn some one who does. Both positions are part and parcel of what is to be human. There has been believers and doubters in one faith or another since the birth of mankind. I consider both positions as just being human with questions we really cannot answer or define conclusively to everyones satisfaction. Many say they do not believe in God and then one asks what view of God is that one does not believe in. Well most would say the biblical view and especially the OT. Then they are surprised that I do not believe in that view either and yet I do believe in God. I am happy to discuss what I believe but I do not try to define my view as one that they should also adopt unless they choose too. I just say that it is my view on things. The trouble is fundamentalism does try to cohearse the other and I also refer to those who act like born again athiests as they also do so. My respect for Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and their view. I may not agree with it all but I respect it is their view. The trouble begins when one gets the likes of Christopher Hitchens stating that a liberal Christian had no right to call themselves a Christian because they do not promote biblical dogma. On the reverse of that we have the likes of George Bush who said that Atheists could not really be citizens and patriots of the US because they do not sign up to "in one nation under God". Such extreme views only promote distrust and lack of respect for the other. Statements like " if you do not believe this and become born again then your going to suffer in hell for eternity" also do not allow for the legitimising or respect for alternative views. Such views (IMO)are seen as an attack on a person and when this is then countered their view also seems hard, usually mocking the other.

One of the hardest of issues I get is that when I say I am a liberal Christian I am seen only in the light of someone who has fundamental views. Likewise many atheists are also unhappy being associated with extreme atheist views that disrespect the views of others. I think there is aspects we share with athiests in that many fundamentalist do not think we liberal/progressives should exist either.

I guess what I am say here is just as not all believers are the same, not all none believers are the same but I do feel dialogue is possible when respect is there. Trouble is (IMO) the extreme on both sides do not seem to want to hear that dialogue, which I believe is sad for humanity.

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I don't think "New Atheists" as such condemn anybody. This seems to be the perogative of certain versions of God that throw certain sinners into some firery furnace.

 

People like Dawkins are probably totally bewildered by beliefs like a God that created the Earth ca 6000 years ago, at which time man walked peacefully with dinosaurs, despite the evidence to the contrary. To be frank so am I.

 

I think if New Atheists condemn anything, it is the reasoning and logic that goes into the belief; and they don't condemn the person.

 

An interesting question is where does a person end and the belief begin? Sometimes we are so tied to our beliefs, I and my belief are inseparable.

Edited by romansh
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An interesting question is where does a person end and the belief begin? Sometimes we are so tied to our beliefs, I and my belief are inseparable.

 

Good question Rom. It seems to me we are prone to do harm to others most when " I and my beliefs are inseparable"

 

Joseph.

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I remember a quote. If my memory serves me well it was said by Paul Tillich.

It goes "No one distorts the path to truth than those who are given the undisputed authority to tell it".


This is an issue because the church and its history has given themselves that undisputable authority and also the right to condemn to suffering and hell those who object to the view that they teach. In the past thousands of people have been killed to promote the churches authority and it is something I am all too conscious of. I am sure anyone with my views in the past would likely have been burn't at the stake or tortured to death just for uttering them.


I find it therefore a hard religion that says only those with a certain view are to find themselves in heaven but non believers deserve eternal hell. For me, no one deserves eternal hell and to promote such a view of God does not express to me a God capable of knowing what love is. I agree whole heartedly with John Spong's view that this belief is a means to control decentors and I am definitely not for it.

I am sure that many believers and non believers will not agree with each other because they often are speaking a differing language. One speaks about the constructs of science and the universe and the other speaks about the meaning of their life and spiritual matters. Now I can understand both viewpoints but for me to condemn the other as unworthy is to take away something that is about being human. However, in my view no one has the right to threaten anyone with evil or eternal hell because they believe something different. Yet, some beliefs do need challenging. Where a belief takes away a person's humanity then I feel it needs challenging. I watch in horror as some justify terrorism and all manner of things as the will of God when deep down it is really their will to promote their belief as the only one that should exist and they are prepared to kill to acheive this. I also become distressed when I hear some saying that aids is a Gods punishment on gay people and some african leaders who argues that it can be cured by rubing a leaf. I suppose from the same logic that those who died of smallpox were being punished for not owning cows and being affected by cowpox. I am sorry but I see that as a sick nonesense.

I would rather stick with being human no matter how flawed that maybe than promote the taking away of the humanity of myself and others for the sake of a belief that often cannot be substantiated. I have beliefs but your free to not believe them and as I do not believe in hell there is no consciquence. I am just for being human and respecting that in me and others providing they also give me the freedom and do this for me.

I work in the health service in the UK and I remember about thirty years ago putting down a nominal CofE on the records of people who argued that they were atheists because it was thought wrong. This was not just me and it was common practice. I would never do that today. I therefore can understand why some athiests feel hard done too. It is because they have been and like myself and liberals/progressives today are not accepted as having the right by some to differ in our thinking. Human beings differ and to promote it otherwise is for me anti-human. Hence, I am not with those who say all religion is bad or there is not other ways of looking at things and all decentors should have horrible things happen to them.

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Good question Rom. It seems to me we are prone to do harm to others most when " I and my beliefs are inseparable"

 

Joseph.

 

I do try and avoid beliefs ... fail miserably of course.

 

With a little bit of introspection ... the thoughts that do pop into my existence are combinations other peoples' thoughts, events that happen in my perview and other physical things like foods etc.

 

So while I might have more sympathy for a strong atheist point of view than say a literal interpretation of the Bible, I realize the literal view, the atheistic view, the progressive view and my view for that matter are simply a reflection how a particular part of the universe has unfolded.

 

So for me, ascribing properties, like Hate, to New Atheists or stupidity to fundamentalists is ultimately pointless. Might make us feel better or superior in some way ... but that too is an illusion.

Edited by romansh
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I do try and avoid beliefs ... fail miserably of course.

 

With a little bit of introspection ... the thoughts that do pop into my existence are combinations other peoples' thoughts, events that happen in my perview and other physical things like foods etc.

 

So while I might have more sympathy for a strong atheist point of view than say a literal interpretation of the Bible, I realize the literal view, the atheistic view, the progressive view and my view for that matter are simply a reflection how a particular part of the universe has unfolded.

 

So for me, ascribing properties, like Hate, to New Atheists or stupidity to fundamentalists is ultimately pointless. Might make us feel better or superior in some way ... but that too is an illusion.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with this view. In fact, I think it was actually Joseph on this forum who said that he never uses the words "I believe," but instead uses the words "I think" in preface to a statement on a subject of discussion. I've adopted this practice, and have noticed that I become less invested in my point of view than were I to use the words "I believe."

 

NORM

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It is often in my opinion that there is importance to the addition of "(IMO)" in what we say. Yet, there is an extreme on both sides of the coin that say "this is the way it is and every other view is wrong". Having been through the experience of being kicked out of a church by a hostile reaction to my view that being gay is not a sin and God loves gay people despite what some say the bible says. Hate definitely existed and I experienced it. I met some who had been my friends before hand treat me with scorn and say it is my fault that the relationship broke down because I did not accept the bible "as is". So I do not think that hate is exclussive to extreme athiests or just one side or the other. That said there is many others who may not agree with my view but accept that is my view and just live and let live and I appreciate that.

I personally feel more comfortable with those who can question things than those who insist it is for every other person to question themselves and not them because they are so right in their view. I have had to do a lot of questioning to arrive at the view I now have and I cannot return to the certainty I once had for things. Much of the conservative view I once belonged to are about asserting a certain view on things as definite facts and one can see that in the church services. Listen tothe creeds, the hymns, bible readings and ministry and you can witness this. Hence, those who question are seen as outside of the churches view.

 

In my view its a bit like arguing over the contents of a newly discovered, unopened, unhandled and unlabelled box. There are some who can say that we do not know what the contents are or if there are contents but we may think x or y or we just do not know. There are some who assert that they are sure of the contents and there are those again who insist that they are certain of things beyond doubt. I just say I cannot be that certain but I have a feeling about the box.

I think those who resort to hate do so because they have a need to be certain and therefore anyone who is uncertain or questioning is seen as a challenge to them. I have had people who have shouted angrily at me in the street that I must change my view and repent and adopt their view and put away my questions about the bible and it is not fun to experience. I now think the hate says more about them and their personal needs than it does about me questioning or being uncertain of the box. LIve and let live.

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"Live and let live".

 

Do we do so when we know how harmful some beliefs and indoctrination can be?

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. LIve and let live.

 

Hmmn?

 

In a small way you have stood up to the homosexuality is a sin group. Is this Live and let living? I don't think so myself.

 

When I see a child being taught that Earth is six thousand years old as a fact, what should we do, live and let live?

 

When we have school boards insisting that intelligent design is a scientific theory, should we live and let live?

 

I can't help thinking this stridency in New Atheism is a result of positions held by Christians where they feel science needs to be directed to a particular end result ... exemplified in the Wedge document (see above). The Wedge document (and the attitudes embedded behind it) is likely due to science slowly but steadfastly marginalizing certain theological view points. Did science (or scientists) do this intentionally? I don't think so.

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I am not saying do not have an opinion or a voice but in my experience one can debate with conservatives till one is blue in the face that they are mistaken and still they come back. Sure I debate on issues of science and those who pick on others because of their sexuality but I know that such harden views take time to change and although I argue a point of view change is not going to happen over night. I often wonder if I had not had the experience I had with the church and being isolated and sent to coventry would I have bothered to study so hard to look at alternative views. Sure I would now rather talk to an atheist about my view than much of fundamentalism but that change did not happen over night and it took time to develop. The catalist was more the painful experience that brought about my looking for change and it is unlikely I would have listened to other views prior to this.

When I say live and let live I mean although I disagree with their point of view on issues like evolution, bible infallibility and their persecution of gay and lesian people I do not think one will change that by making their view illegal but I do feel one can still say one does not agree with it and assert another point of view. Whether they take that up will depend on them rather than me arguing the point all the time. In my experience the very nature of conservatism rests on the assertion of a given ideal and feeling that it is wrong to question it or they are commiting a sin. Some of the most affective moments in my experience has been when someone has tried their best to convince me and I have just said I do not agree and these are the reasons for it. Although I am not a JW my parents were. I sat through two funerals and many attempts to convince me that they had the right answer but what seemed to have the most power was when they came to me afterwards and said did I agree with them? I just said no and it was for them to try to justify their position rather than me. We then went our own ways but they realised that that they have not convinced me of anything and that was powerful and you could see it in their faces. Attacking fundamentalism out right just seems to harden their view because they feel they are experiencing a sinful world and they are told to expect persecution of their faith and they then harden their views as a means to hang on to what they believe is not only their belief but what they beleive is their personal salvation.

I like John Spongs view that it is tribal religion. There are the good people in their view who agree with them and the sinful people who disagree with them. I can argue that they are wrong about people but it will take time for conservative people to recognise this for themselves. So when I say live and let live, I do not mean that I do not give myself a right to a voice on the matter but to allow for their personal journey.

Edited by Pete

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So when I say live and let live, I do not mean that I do not give myself a right to a voice on the matter but to allow for their personal journey.

 

So when Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and the late Hithchens voice their opinions is that live and let live? They certainly don't have any direct power over you and on how your personal journey evolves.

Edited by romansh

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I am not bothered by them. I personally just do not agree with all they say. Some of it I do but not all. I only mentioned Christopher Hitchens because he did voice an opinion that a liberal Christian had no right to be a Christian because they did not support biblical dogma. I personally do not say they have no right to an opinion or that they have no right to be an athiest and nor do I say that a conservative Christian has no right to their view. Just that I personally do not agree with it.

 

That said I do not agree all with this guy has to say but that is my right to an opinion and his view is his.

.

Edited by Pete

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I am not bothered by them. I personally just do not agree with all they say. Some of it I do but not all. I only mentioned Christopher Hitchens because he did voice an opinion that a liberal Christian had no right to be a Christian because they did not support biblical dogma. I personally do not say they have no right to an opinion or that they have no right to be an athiest and nor do I say that a conservative Christian has no right to their view. Just that I personally do not agree with it.

 

 

That said I do not agree all with this guy has to say but that is my right to an opinion and his view is his.

.

 

Two things Pete ... the quote said nothing about the right to call yourself a Christian. He was simply talking about what for him is a meaningful definition of a Christian. Secondly the intonation of the presenter ... I doubt Hitchens had the same intonation. That can change the intention of Hitchen's phrase dramatically.

 

And as far as the definition goes ... there have been traditional or orthodox Christians on this very forum that would agree with Hitchens on this point. Now I agree you can call yourself a liberal or progressive Christian, I have a good sense (or at least a sense) for what it might mean to each of of us who travel under that label.

 

So what is the minimum requirements to be a progresive Christian. How about thinking the New Testament when interpreted metaphorically in certain ways can lead to insights into the human condition?

 

Under a broad definition like this even Hitchens could have been classed as a progressive Christian ... as could I. ;)

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