Are ALL religions bad? Sin ALLE Religionen schlecht?

Is Faith a virus?

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This is a common claim of the New Atheists.
Richard Dawkins led the way as he wrote: “I think a case can be made that Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.”

The problem is that this claim is extremely ambigious.

Does that means that all kind of supernatural beliefs are harmful?
Or does that mean that more than 99%, 78% or 50% of them cause harm?

Frankly speaking, I don’t see how the progressive and liberal Christianities of Thom Stark, Randal Rauser, Rachel Held Evans and many others (including myself) who FIGHT fundamentalism is harmful for society.

So, if the New Atheists want to become more than the hateful ideogists they currently are, they should clearly define (in a verifiable manner) what they mean and present evidence to buttress the claim that EVERY kind of Faith is noxious.

Until they do that, we are justified to ignore their rhetorical assertion as being “not even wrong”.

***********************************************************************

Lorraine Franconian – Lothringisch

Isch de Glawe een Virus?

Es isch eeni häufigi Behauptung von de näie Atheisten.

Richard Dawkins hat damit begonne, als er geschriewe hat:
“Ich denke, dass ma gonz gut bewäise kinn, dass de Glawe een von de schlimmste Iwel der Welt isch, de ma mit de Pocken-Virus vergläiche kinn, wobei es schwieriger isch, es ze vernichte.”

De Problem isch, dass diese Behauptung extrem ambigü isch.

Bedeutet es, dass alle Arten von iwernatürlichen Behauptungen schädlich sin?

Oder bedeutet es, dass meh als 99%, 78% or 50% von ihnen Schade verursache?

Ehrlich gesot, sehe ich gar niet wie de progressive un liberale Christentüme von Thom Stark, Randal Rauser, Rachel Held Evans un viele oneri Lit (wie mich), die de Fundamentalismus bekompfe, fir de Gesellschaft schädlich sin.

So wenn de näiei Atheiste meh als de hasserfillte Ideologe sin wolle, de sie zerzit sin, sollte sie gonz klar (uf eeni verifizierbare Weise) definiere, was sie mäine un Bewäise präsentiere, um ihre Behauptung ze untermauern, dass JEDE Art von Glawe schädlich isch.

Bis sie das dun, sin wir gerechtfertigt, ihre rhetorische Behauptung als “niet sogar falsch” ze ignoriere.

My blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) (Link Here). 

36 thoughts on “Are ALL religions bad? Sin ALLE Religionen schlecht?

  1. All belief systems can be as good as they can be bad. Truth is, we don’t understand everything in the big picture of the origins of the universe. Regardless of anyone’s point of view, everything boils down to a belief of some sort, or a choice to be ignorant. It’s when people push a belief or their choice to be ignorant as the way we all should be, that’s when we run into troubles.

    • Amen!

      The problem is that the New Atheists believe that ALL supernatural religions are bad and ought to be utterly destroyed.

      Many of them go as far as wanting to legally forbid ANY kind of religious teaching for one’s children.

      They are right-wing FACHISTS and must be exposed as such.

      Cheers.

  2. As much as I admire Dawkins- no one writes as clearly about evolution for a lay audience as he does- I must part company with him here. I would agree with him that religion is a virus in the way that any successful idea or complex of ideas is a virus: it has fitness value in the ideosphere. But while there are ideas that are bad for us, there are others that are good, and religion has good and bad varieties and aspects, just as many non-religious ideas and ideals do.

    I think it’s next to impossible to grade religion as a whole as either “bad” or “good”. Sure, religion has been at least partially responsible for atrocities. But so have some political systems, old feuds, hunger, greed…. If Dawkins thinks parents should not be allowed to teach their children religion, what does he think about teaching them, say, racism or greed? I don’t see any easy way of prohibiting any of this, without having a repressive and intrusive police state, and even then, no police state is likely to be smart enough to really make better citizens. Same goes for theocracies, of course.

    I think the only reasonable course is to find things that most of us agree on: that we should live in peace, that no one should be hungry or without a roof over their head, and so forth, and just ignore the religion or lack of such behind it. And we should fight that which threatens our survival and that of our children, whether theistic or atheistic.

  3. Well, just like zilch does, I would disagree with Dawkins here as well. There is no nuance in the statement you quoted and lumping together the “faith” of Sophie Scholl and MLK with the “faith” of Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler is grossly unfair, to put it mildly…
    However, note that you also make the same mistake in this very post by saying – “So, if the New Atheists want to become more than the hateful ideogists they currently are” – where you also judge an entire group by the worst examples you can find.
    What exactly a “New Atheist” is, is not clearly defined IMO. Where I personally see the main difference between “new atheism” and “old atheism” or just “atheism”, is that “new atheism” is confrontative. “New atheism” is not a “live and let live” approach, it confronts and challenges religion. “Confronting and challening” to me does not imply that all religions and all individual religious beliefs are equally bad, they obviously are not, but it is easy to find beliefs that are actively harmful and I personally think that the moral approach is to confront them instead of giving them a free pass. In this respect I would count myself as a “new atheist” – and where I would agree with the most vocal proponents of this group (like Dawkins or Hitchens), is that religious beliefs historically were systematically exempt from criticism. Political and religious leaders could (and often still can) get away with saying outrageously bigoted and hateful things by couching their message in a religious language, and how *dare* we offend someone by criticizing his deeply held religious beliefs? Religion was a get-out-of-jail-free card for way to long, and it still is to some degree – I could not refuse to do military service as a “conscientious objector” because I am an atheist. No one gave a fuck about what moral views I had about military service because my views where not religious in nature, if they would have been religious, I could have refused to do military service (this has changed in the meantime but only because Germany no longer drafts people for military service, not because they got rid of the double standard).
    This is just one minor example, you could write a book about other (sometimes much more outrageous) cases where religion gets a free pass (see Greta Christina´s “Why are you Atheists so Angry?”). If we overdo it, by indiscriminately saying that all religious beliefs are equally bad for example, you are of course completely right to criticize that – and I think that Dawkins for example would actually be willing to listen to such arguments (he agreed for example that the title of his TV documentary “The Root of all Evil” was poorly chosen and unfair, and he would have picked a different one – but this was a decision made by the producers).

    • A new atheist is someone who believes that ALL religions ought to disappear and that it is permissible (if not mandatory) to use mockeries, ridicule and emotional bullying against EVERY believer, even a liberal or a progressive.

      I’ve read countless of their writings.
      According to my definition, I was not being unfair by saying they are hateful.

      • “A new atheist is someone who believes that ALL religions ought to disappear”
        – That definition will not get you very far because based on it you could not even include PZ Myers, who is about as confrontational as it is possible to be – definitely more so than Dawkins is (see “Crackergate” for example), as a “new atheist”.

        “and that it is permissible (if not mandatory) to use mockeries, ridicule and emotional bullying”
        – I´d be surprised if you find representative quotes that encourage “emotional bullying”… And re mockeries + ridicule, unless you apply that universally, in the sense that mockery + ridicule is *always* bad in any context (meaning that political satire, actually ANY form of satire, would be immoral…), then this is again a double standard where religions get a free pass that no other belief system has. My opinions, whether they are about politics, science, sports or whatever, are frequently mocked and that doesn´t bother me at all – if it is well done I´ll even laugh about it (the political party that I can identify most with is mocked rather frequently in the media and some of the mockery actually IS spot on…). Why should religions be treated any differently?

        “According to my definition, I was not being unfair by saying they are hateful. ”
        – Well, then by Dawkins´ definition of “faith” – he wasn´t being unfair either😉

      • Again, I can only agree with Andy. I’ll just point out that I do know a couple of examples of atheists who really do want religion banished somehow, and unremittingly mock theists, no matter how they behave. But I’ve only run across two or three such, while finding hundreds of more reasonable people. I’m tempted to rather call them “fundamentalists atheists” than “new atheists”.

        And it’s also true that Dawkins is willing to respond to criticism and apologize, as he did in the recent “pedophilia is no big deal” controversy.

      • “‘fundamentalists atheists'”

        ouch!!!

        how can one be fundamentalist about lacking a belief in god(s)?

        if i lack a belief then what am i being fundamentalist about? is it not that i have to hold a belief in order to be fundamentalist about it?

        i hate doing this–actually, i do like doing this–but, if someone asserts that she believes in a caterpillar that always wears brown boots, and i say, ok, show me this caterpillar that always wears brown boots. and then she responds, well, you have to believe in the caterpillar that always wears brown boots in order to see the caterpillar that always wears brown boots. to which i retort, sorry, i do not believe in your caterpillar that always wears brown boots. thus, i become an a-caterpillar-that-always-wears-brown-bootsist. now, how do i move from being an a-caterpillar-that-always-wears-brown-bootsist to being a fundamentalist a-caterpillar-that-always-wears-brown-bootsist?🙂

        sorry zilch: i think i know what you infer when you use those two words. i just had to have some fun.

        cheers

      • xon-xoff: to become a fundamentalist a-caterpillar-that-always-wears-brown-bootsist you would have to not only deny the brown booted caterpillar, but also make fun of the believers in brown booted caterpillars, say that they shouldn’t be allowed to teach their beliefs in their brown boot caterpillar churches, and be grumpy all the time.

      • I’ve read countless of their writings.
        According to my definition, I was not being unfair by saying they are hateful.

        I think Lothar is correct here. Like it or not, the New Atheist movement is headed up almost exclusively by people who hate religion, particularly Christianity.

        Dawkins says that he wants to ‘destroy Christianity’. PZ Myers writes idiotic rhetoric about putting on boots and kicking the asses of Christians. You have no shortage of New Atheist leaders talking about how religious belief is a ‘mind virus’ that needs to be purged from society.

        They are hateful by any reasonable definition. And they are not strange, unknown people ranting on obscure websites. They are the leadership. Rather like how Madelyn Murray O’Hare was a pretty hateful, vicious person – and also the clear leader of atheists in America at the time.

        To anyone who says ‘But those are just a few people’, I have a simple request. Show me the atheist leaders who are well known, and who condemn Dawkins and company for saying these things.

        Oh, one last thing.

        “And it’s also true that Dawkins is willing to respond to criticism and apologize, as he did in the recent “pedophilia is no big deal” controversy.”

        Dawkins denies that he apologized.

      • By the way, to illustrate some of what I mean here:

        Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

        You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!

        That’s Richard Dawkins. ‘Treat religious people with contemptuous ridicule. It may not convert them, but you’ll make other people side against them out of fear.’ And the only reason he gives to pause is ‘Maybe they’ll do the same to us.’?

        Not all atheists are New Atheists. But the fact is, being a New Atheist is like being in Westboro Baptist. It doesn’t make sense to start searching around for one or another ‘good’ Westboro Baptist member. If you don’t like the sort of behavior and attitude I outline above, the only response is to leave the group and repudiate it.

        But the fear for the ‘moderate’ atheist is – there may not be any other place they can go if they leave. Which says a lot about modern atheism, if so.

      • “I think Lothar is correct here. Like it or not, the New Atheist movement is headed up almost exclusively by people who hate religion, particularly Christianity.”
        – There is nothing wrong with hating ideas, hating the people who hold these ideas would be bad. If atheists were hanging up billboards like this one:
        http://bit.ly/18KZTdm – I´d be very worried.
        Re “particularly Christianity” – I strongly doubt that, it rather seems to be Islam.

        “Dawkins says that he wants to ‘destroy Christianity’.”
        – I presume you are a Christian, so do you, or do you not, want to reach and convert as many people as possible with the gospel message? If you affirm that, then you want to “destroy atheism” (and Buddhism, and Islam, and Hinduism etc.pp.) exactly as much as Dawkins wants to “destroy Christianity”.

        “PZ Myers writes idiotic rhetoric about putting on boots and kicking the asses of Christians.”
        – I presume you mean this quote: “The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians…I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.”
        This wasn´t about Christians in general, this was about the usual shenanigans of Cdesign proponentsists.

      • There is nothing wrong with hating ideas, hating the people who hold these ideas would be bad.

        Actually, there is something wrong with hating ideas. A lot of YECs hate evolutionary theory – I think we can agree their hatred of an idea is a bad thing.

        More than that, Dawkins does advocate mistreatment of people. I quoted him expressly on this point.

        If atheists were hanging up billboards like this one:
        http://bit.ly/18KZTdm – I´d be very worried.

        You don’t think I can find internet meme pictures that are equivalent to that, offered up by atheists? It is ridiculously easy to do so.

        I presume you are a Christian, so do you, or do you not, want to reach and convert as many people as possible with the gospel message? If you affirm that, then you want to “destroy atheism” (and Buddhism, and Islam, and Hinduism etc.pp.) exactly as much as Dawkins wants to “destroy Christianity”.

        Actually, no, I do not want to ‘reach and convert as many people as possible’, insofar as that implies I’m in favor of intellectual bullying, manipulation and worse – as if all that matters is getting people to say ‘I’m a Christian!’, no matter what means I arrive at that end. I deploy Dawkins’ tactics, even if they were used by a Christian.

        So no, I do not want to ‘destroy atheism exactly as much as Dawkins wants to’. Not by a longshot.

        Also, let’s be clear: once someone is in the mode of ‘convert everyone to this way of thinking, and nothing else matters’, they have left both skepticism and freethinking behind.

        This wasn´t about Christians in general, this was about the usual shenanigans of Cdesign proponentsists.

        Incorrect as that is, let’s take a look at your defense: ‘It’s okay, because PZ Myers is only talking about the Christians he particularly disagrees with!’

        This isn’t exactly a stirring defense of Myers. You may as well have told me, ‘Yes, well, some of those guys have it coming.’ So much for ‘hating people who hold ideas would be bad’.

      • “Actually, there is something wrong with hating ideas. A lot of YECs hate evolutionary theory – I think we can agree their hatred of an idea is a bad thing.”
        – I wouldn´t agree with that. My impression is rather, that YECs tend to hate the perceived conspiracy to suppress “biblical truth” – and if they would be right about this alleged conspiracy, it would be totally appropriate to have very strong negative emotions towards it. The handful of YECs that understand evolutionary theory sound more like this guy here in my experience:
        http://toddcwood.blogspot.de/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html

        “You don’t think I can find internet meme pictures that are equivalent to that, offered up by atheists? It is ridiculously easy to do so.”
        – Well first of all, there is an important difference between a billboard (payed for + approved by an organization that represents a non-negligible fraction of the group in question) and an internet meme… Second, the billboard I mentioned targets people, the meme you showed targets ideas, that is another rather important difference. The billboard implies that not only atheistic ideas are bad, but also the *people* that hold them (bad, and *dangerous* to boot…). The meme implies that christian *ideas* are misogynistic. You might say that you can´t completely distinguish between a person and the ideas this person holds, which is true – but only if phrased as an absolute (“*completely* distinguish”). Think about the christian idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin”. There is a rather important difference between a christian calling homosexual *acts* evil and someone responding by calling this *statement* bigoted, compared to a Christian calling homosexual *people* evil and an atheist responding by calling Christian *people* evil.
        IMO, ideas are fair game, people are not. You will certainly easily find examples of atheists who attack people instead of ideas (just as easily as I will find Christians who do the same) – but I doubt that you will find many examples of atheists not being called out for that behaviour by other atheists.

        “Actually, no, I do not want to ‘reach and convert as many people as possible’, insofar as that implies I’m in favor of intellectual bullying, manipulation and worse – as if all that matters is getting people to say ‘I’m a Christian!’, no matter what means I arrive at that end. I deploy Dawkins’ tactics, even if they were used by a Christian.”
        – I wouldn´t want anyone to say “I believe that evolution is true!” or “I believe [insert religion here] is false!” without meaning it either (I wouldn´t even want anyone to say “I believe that evolution is true!” without actually understanding what that means…).
        Re “emotional bullying” – at what point does satire turn into “emotional bullying”? I don´t deny that there is a transition at some point and I also wouldn´t say that no atheist ever does that – the proportion of people in a group who are simply complete dicks doesn´t seem to me to be dependent on which Gods they do or do not believe in. However, I see nothing wrong with mockery + ridicule per se, saying that this is categorically wrong is equivalent to saying that satire is categorically wrong.

        “Also, let’s be clear: once someone is in the mode of ‘convert everyone to this way of thinking, and nothing else matters’, they have left both skepticism and freethinking behind.”
        – Absolutely, but who said “nothing else matters”? And the “convert people” part doesn´t exactly seem to be the #1 priority of the big US atheist organizations – it rather comes somewhere after politcal lobbying, filing 1st amendment lawsuits and awareness campaigns. It´s no different here in europe (well, we don´t file “1st amendment lawsuits” because we don´t have a 1st amendment, but I guess you know what I mean).

        “Incorrect as that is,”
        – What exactly was incorrect about it?

        “let’s take a look at your defense: ‘It’s okay, because PZ Myers is only talking about the Christians he particularly disagrees with!’”
        – Exactly. And not for being Christians (“being Christian” is not even strictly required to be a Cdesign proponentsist – although virtually all of them are) or for doing anything that is well within the realm of their personal freedom. What he was calling out is both illegal (meaning that it is perfectly appropriate for people to lose their job over it) and immoral – if you think it would still be appropriate to be nice to these people about this issue, be my guest, I don´t. And regarding “hateful” – do you honestly believe that the people Myers was talking about would even have been on his radar if not for the blatantly illegal + immoral things they *did*? It was not about who they are – it was about what they did.

      • @ Andy

        i like your quip: “Cdesign proponentsists.” it sounds cool.

        thanks for that link to the YEC. i found the below excerpt to be poignant:

        ” It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution… Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it.”

        i like honesty. and that’s why i like William of Ockham. if it is faith that drives one’s understanding, then be honest enough to admit as much.

        i read Randal Rauser’s “Faith Lacking Understanding,” and i commend Randal for being honest there too. if the doctrine of the Trinity eludes explanation, and we’re left with faith, then so be it, faith on!

      • @xon-xoff
        I didn´t come up with it – Creationists did so themselves, but not intentionally😉. The first “textbook” on Intelligent Design was originally planned as a “normal” textbook on Creationism. Then, when they came up with the idea of ID, they just used Ctrl+H to replace all instances of “God” by “Designer” and “Creation scientists” by “Design proponents”. But they messed up the search-replace job and one of the early drafts still had the transitional fossil “Cdesign proponentsists” in it. And they had to produce early drafts as evidence in the Dover trial… Was rather hard for them to argue that ID is *totally* different from Creationism if you can simply write a textbook on ID by taking a Creationism textbook and doing two Ctrl+H jobs😉

      • Andy- I knew the story about the cdesign proponentsists, but calling it a “transitional fossil” is brilliant! Even creationists evolve!

      • I wouldn´t agree with that. My impression is rather, that YECs tend to hate the perceived conspiracy to suppress “biblical truth” – and if they would be right about this alleged conspiracy, it would be totally appropriate to have very strong negative emotions towards it. The handful of YECs that understand evolutionary theory sound more like this guy here in my experience:

        You’ve shifted the question from whether it’s good to hate an idea, to whether it’s good to hate an idea based on a misunderstanding.

        There are plenty of YECs who hate evolutionary theory, not because of some alleged conspiracy, but because of where they think it logically leads to if it’s accepted as true. So are you going to tell me that it’s fine ‘n dandy to hate an idea if its truth leads to things you innately disapprove of or react negatively to? Because I would enjoy seeing the combination of ‘free thinking is important’ and ‘but certain thoughts, even if they’re true, are okay to hate’.

        Well first of all, there is an important difference between a billboard (payed for + approved by an organization that represents a non-negligible fraction of the group in question) and an internet meme…

        Fine, spell it out. What’s the relevant difference between a comic (not a ‘meme’ in this case) featured prominently and proudly on atheist blogs and websites, and a billboard? You say there’s an important difference, and then you just move on.

        I don’t think there is one. I can think of differences, alright – they’d be negligible.

        Second, the billboard I mentioned targets people, the meme you showed targets ideas, that is another rather important difference. The billboard implies that not only atheistic ideas are bad, but also the *people* that hold them (bad, and *dangerous* to boot…). The meme implies that christian *ideas* are misogynistic.

        Both of the billboards target ideas, and both of them only target ‘people’ by way of arguing what those ideas *lead to when accepted by human beings*. Christianity is presented as a religion whose ideas lead *people* to abuse women. Atheism is presented as a philosophy/’religion’ whose ideas lead people to nihilism. And that is just the first comic I can select that shows the very thing you condemned in the billboard, represented from the atheist side.

        They are intellectually equivalent. Condemn one, and you have to condemn the other.

        IMO, ideas are fair game, people are not. You will certainly easily find examples of atheists who attack people instead of ideas (just as easily as I will find Christians who do the same) – but I doubt that you will find many examples of atheists not being called out for that behaviour by other atheists.

        Well, then you’re in a bind here. If the complaint is ‘not being called out for that behavior’ in the sense of there being a popular reaction and rejection, easily done – I’ve provided the example in Dawkins’ words, and I can provide a lot more with PZ Myers, Bill Maher and others. It hasn’t harmed their popularity an iota, certainly not with the official atheist groups that exist.

        But if you’re lowering your standards of ‘called out for that behavior’ to ‘some essentially anonymous atheist on a website criticized them’, then not only are your standards absurdly low, but you’ve lost all of your critical ammunition against Christianity in the process. It is trivially easy to find some Christians who criticize other Christians for their positions, including the billboard you pointed to – just as I bet I can find SOME atheist, somewhere, who will actually criticize Dawkins, Myers, etc for their hate speech.

        Re “emotional bullying” – at what point does satire turn into “emotional bullying”? I don´t deny that there is a transition at some point and I also wouldn´t say that no atheist ever does that – the proportion of people in a group who are simply complete dicks doesn´t seem to me to be dependent on which Gods they do or do not believe in. However, I see nothing wrong with mockery + ridicule per se, saying that this is categorically wrong is equivalent to saying that satire is categorically wrong.

        Okay, let’s take a good look at where we’re at.

        Talk about ‘hating people’ is brought up and condemned. Up comes a YEC billboard showing what they think atheistic ideas intellectually lead to. Terrible! That’s horrible!

        Now, here’s Richard Dawkins, saying expressly that Christians should be mocked, insulted, bullied – made the butt of contempt, expressly with the hope of fence-sitters deciding they don’t want to be treated like that, and being scared away from religion or theism intellectually. Suddenly the talk is ‘Well, satire is a very shady thing, we don’t want to condemn making a joke now do we?’

        It didn’t take long for the condemnation of hate and attacking people, not ideas, to go full-blown Animal Farm in this thread.

        – Absolutely, but who said “nothing else matters”? And the “convert people” part doesn´t exactly seem to be the #1 priority of the big US atheist organizations – it rather comes somewhere after politcal lobbying, filing 1st amendment lawsuits and awareness campaigns.

        Funny, given their spread of billboards encouraging people to become atheists, their focus on rewarding and praising atheists who are doing their damned to convert people to atheism, and more. ‘Nothing else matters’ is meant in the sense that they have no problem stooping to emotional and intellectual bullying to get their way.

        Which, again – you seem awfully reluctant to condemn.

        What exactly was incorrect about it?

        Your estimation that it wasn’t targeting people, but ideas.

        Exactly. And not for being Christians (“being Christian” is not even strictly required to be a Cdesign proponentsist – although virtually all of them are) or for doing anything that is well within the realm of their personal freedom. What he was calling out is both illegal (meaning that it is perfectly appropriate for people to lose their job over it) and immoral – if you think it would still be appropriate to be nice to these people about this issue, be my guest, I don´t. And regarding “hateful” – do you honestly believe that the people Myers was talking about would even have been on his radar if not for the blatantly illegal + immoral things they *did*? It was not about who they are – it was about what they did.

        Once again, it’s worth taking stock of where we’re at.

        We started out with ‘It’s WRONG to target people, not ideas!’ and condemnation of ‘hate’. Oh, unless you believe in Intelligent Design. Then it’s completely appropriate to hate them and attack them personally. Which ‘virtually all’ Christians are.

        First: What is ‘blatantly immoral’ here? Especially from an atheist, materialist perspective? “I don’t like that.”?

        Second: “Blatantly illegal”? If you’re talking about Dover – it wasn’t. It was a pretty touchy case about a grey area of education that ultimately had to be resolved through the courts, and with a decision that was intellectually questionable to say the least.

        Third: ‘It’s about what they did, not who they are!’? Really? Okay. Then apparently the YEC billboard was okay after all. It’s about what they do (Reject God, embrace materialism, etc), not who they are.

        Here, I have an alternative for you that can actually land you in a sensible position, instead of trying to be an apologist for hatemongers.

        “Okay. Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and the others? They’re pretty hateful. They endorse attacking, bullying, and intellectually threatening religious people as a means to an end. They’re really no better than the YECs I was deploring on this front, and considering New Atheism is only ‘New’ insofar as it endorses this behavior, I want nothing to do with them. I’m still an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I have to play apologist for a bunch of hateful people.”

        There, see? Easy to do, and you get the bonus of being intellectually consistent, not feeling emotionally required to tangle yourself into an intellectual knots in order to defend – insofar as Myers and Dawkins are concerned – a couple of intellectually lightweight ex-scientists.

      • “Because I would enjoy seeing the combination of ‘free thinking is important’ and ‘but certain thoughts, even if they’re true, are okay to hate’.”
        – “Command-and-control economies are horribly inefficient and inferior to almost every type of market economy in almost every way” – I know people who are perfectly aware of this being true but who hate that being true. Is there anything wrong about this or does this lead to any problems with “free thinking”? Sometimes, the truth does suck.

        “Fine, spell it out. What’s the relevant difference between a comic (not a ‘meme’ in this case) featured prominently and proudly on atheist blogs and websites, and a billboard? You say there’s an important difference, and then you just move on.”
        – Quote:
        “(payed for + approved by an organization that represents a non-negligible fraction of the group in question)”
        You realize that a five year old can create an internet meme? Or in other words – do you think that there is a negligible difference betwen a billboard payed for by the Catholic church and an online meme created by an altar boy?

        “Christianity is presented as a religion whose ideas lead *people* to abuse women.”
        – No, actually, it´s represented as a religion whose *ideas* are misogynistic – it doesn´t show Christian men abusing women, it represents a selection of *bible verses* as chains / a prison for women.

        “Well, then you’re in a bind here. If the complaint is ‘not being called out for that behavior’ in the sense of there being a popular reaction and rejection, easily done – I’ve provided the example in Dawkins’ words, and I can provide a lot more with PZ Myers, Bill Maher and others. It hasn’t harmed their popularity an iota, certainly not with the official atheist groups that exist.
        But if you’re lowering your standards of ‘called out for that behavior’ to ‘some essentially anonymous atheist on a website criticized them’, then not only are your standards absurdly low…”
        – Erm… So you select which behavior has to be called out and you also select the exact person / organization by whom it has to be called out and in what way? Ok, so show me where the Catholic church publicly reacted to and rejected John Hagee´s (a completely random + very popular + by far not the worst example) bigotry, see:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti8zWdMLB6c or pretty much any other sermon the guy has ever given.
        Or, alternatively, show me any Christian organization who has done that. Rejections by “essentially anonymous” Christians don´t count and I decide who is “essentially anonymous”. Sounds fair?

        “Now, here’s Richard Dawkins, saying expressly that Christians should be mocked, insulted, bullied – made the butt of contempt, expressly with the hope of fence-sitters deciding they don’t want to be treated like that, and being scared away from religion or theism intellectually. Suddenly the talk is ‘Well, satire is a very shady thing, we don’t want to condemn making a joke now do we?’”
        – I already disagreed with Dawkins on that in his thread. And you put words in my mouth (not a very nice thing to do) to imply that I don´t condemn bullying although I explicitly pointed out that there is a point where mockery + ridicule turns into emotional bullying and that the people who do that are “complete dicks”… Since you refuse to acknowledge that the degree and the context matters and that mockery + ridicule have their place in public discourse, I´d like to ask you again: do you, or do you not, believe that satire is categorically immoral? Or do you only want to make Christianity exempt?

        “Funny, given their spread of billboards encouraging people to become atheists, their focus on rewarding and praising atheists who are doing their damned to convert people to atheism, and more.”
        – And that is “funny” given what I said because….?

        “‘Nothing else matters’ is meant in the sense that they have no problem stooping to emotional and intellectual bullying to get their way.”
        – Like what? What “emotional bullying” did any of the big US atheist organization engage in? So far you´ve showed one example of Dawkins recommending what could be called “emotional bullying” – so where did this actually happen in practice and what did it look like?

        “We started out with ‘It’s WRONG to target people, not ideas!’ and condemnation of ‘hate’.Oh, unless you believe in Intelligent Design. Then it’s completely appropriate to hate them and attack them personally. Which ‘virtually all’ Christians are.”
        – I´m going to be charitable here and assume that you did not deliberately misrepresent what I wrote (on every conceivable level…) but rather just honestly misunderstood it. I´d invite you to read it again,

        “First: What is ‘blatantly immoral’ here? Especially from an atheist, materialist perspective?”
        – Lying to children, parents, teachers (and ultimately journalists and judges as well).

        “Second: “Blatantly illegal”? If you’re talking about Dover – it wasn’t. It was a pretty touchy case about a grey area of education that ultimately had to be resolved through the courts, and with a decision that was intellectually questionable to say the least.”
        – No, it wasn´t a grey area and it didn´t “had to be” resolved by the courts – the professional liars from the Dishonesty Institute told the school board members that they can totally win this (LOL), the morons from the school board bravely charged ahead and got their asses handed to them in court, and the Dishonesty Institute guys ran away while the school board is royally screwed with >1,000,000$ of legal fees. There is no “had to be” in this case… And no, the decision wasn´t “questionable”. This could not have been any more clear.

        “Third: ‘It’s about what they did, not who they are!’? Really? Okay. Then apparently the YEC billboard was okay after all. It’s about what they do (Reject God, embrace materialism, etc), not who they are.”
        – Believing and doing are the same for you? Is that like the “looking with lust = adultery” thingy? Well, that´s cool – there´s still a rather fundamental difference between crimes and “thought crimes”.

        “Here, I have an alternative for you that can actually land you in a sensible position, instead of trying to be an apologist for hatemongers.”
        – I´m not going to dignify that with a response.

  4. As far as I can tell Dawkins has no idea of what religion is about. It is truly amazing to me that he does not realise this but instead spouts rubbish about it as if he’d done the research. .It makes him look a utter fool. But I suppose it’s his right to do this.

    • I think every moral and rational agent has the DUTY to expose Dawkins and his underlings as frauds.

      Otherwise, I like your blog. You might be interested to take a look at my posts on “materialism” which can be clicked upon as a category.

      Cheers from Europe.

      • Again, I´m not going to defend everything Dawkins says because a) I don´t have to and b) there´s plenty of stuff where I disagree with him.

        But I am curious, what *exactly* it is you accuse him of.
        In this post and the thread that ensued, I have seen two main charges. The first one being that Dawkins encourages “emotional bullying” – based on the quote that Crude provided. I completely agree that emotional bullying is a terrible thing to do, that mockery + ridicule can turn into “emotional bullying” and that Dawkins should be called out for that when he does it. However, in the same quote, Dawkins provides Harris and Hitchens as *the* examples of the kind of mockery + ridicule that he is encouraging. I haven´t read or heard nearly everything that Harris and Hitchens ever wrote or said, but I´m not aware of an example where either one of them said or did something that could be described as emotional bullying. Are you aware of an example?

        The second charge seems to be:
        “Frankly speaking, I don’t see how the progressive and liberal Christianities of Thom Stark, Randal Rauser, Rachel Held Evans and many others (including myself) who FIGHT fundamentalism is harmful for society.”
        => First of all, I already agreed that this (=arguing that all kinds of faith are not only bad, but even equally bad) is an indefensible position, but that you made an equivalent mistake in this very post by implying that all atheists are hateful based on one example. And that what Dawkins said could be defended with the same defense that you used – “According to HIS definition, Dawkins was not being unfair.”
        And second (please keep in mind that I totally agree with you that not all kinds of “faith” are harmful and that it would be ridiculous to say that all kinds of “faith” are not only bad, but even equally bad), you point to liberal Christians and say that they fight against fundamentalism as well. Which might well be correct. However, note that for many atheists, these kind of “liberal christians” only exist in theory.
        To give you an example, you might have heard of the Jessica Ahlquist case, a teenage girl who sued her school for a 1st amendment violation, won in court, and then experienced the standard “christian love” that we see *every* single time such a case occurs:
        http://jesusfetusfajitafishsticks.blogspot.de/2012/01/ahlquist-screenshots-if-by-christian.html
        Even a fucking state representative joined in to bully a teenage girl. And where were the “liberal christians”? The state representative who called her an “evil little thing” was a Catholic, and his diocese was apparently perfectly ok with that – he certainly wasn´t called out for this appaling behaviour by any Catholic authority after this story made the news. There also was no local pastor who publicly denounced the hate mail and death threats the Ahlquist family was receiving. I´m certain that there are Christians who are appaled by what their christian brothers and sisters did to that teenage girl and her family, but try to find someone who said so *publicly*, the local religious leaders (and this didn´t happen in the Bible belt, this was in Rhode Island…) didn´t – for this teenage girl, the “liberal christians” who fight against this kind of fundamentalism only exist in theory.

        • I know this terrible story. If I had been on the island, I would have spoken out against the injustice and exposed the utter immorality of the conservative Christians who did that to her.
          My blood run cold when I hear Christians calling atheists “wicked” because they reject the existence of God.
          This is really outrageous.

          But even if it’s psychologically understandable, this give anti-theists no right to bully themselves harmless believers.

          I never said that “atheists are hateful”. That would be completely silly.
          But I do believe that the New Atheists (who want to wipe out all religions) are (by and large) a hate group.
          I find many similarities with far right groups in France and in Germany. The same types of cognitive errors are made over and over again.
          I’ll write more about this in the future.

          Lovely greetings.

  5. Andy, yes, I agree that there is a lot of nonsense going on in the US which seriously muddles the issues.

    What really muddles the issues, though, is Dawkins failure to distinguish between religion and dogmatic theism. It is a silly mistake and reveals his bias and lack of research. His view is no more honest or informed than the people he so reviles. He thinks he is arguing against religion but merely reveals his ignorance of it. This is inexcusable for a scholar. He should stick to confusing biologists with ideas about selfish genes.

    There are much better arguments against theism than any I’ve seen him make, and they originate from within religion.

    • @ Guymax

      “He should stick to confusing biologists with ideas about selfish genes.”

      how does Mssr Dawkins go about confusing biologists with ideas of selfish genes?

      cheers

    • It’s rather a metaphor. But even so, you are right he did not satisfy the burden of proof and a gene-centered view of evolution is certainly not the only game in the town.

      Cheers from Lancaster.

      • Indeed: it’s a metaphor. But it’s a useful one. It’s the only way to explain such observed phenomena as parent-offspring conflict.

        This of course does not mean that our genes are or should be the only source of our morality. We’ve gone a level beyond mere genetic culture: we’re rational beings as well.

        • I don’t know enough about parent-offspring to comment on that.

          But I do know that many examples that Evolutionary Psychologists use to argue for a gene-centered view of evolution can be equally well accounted by a CONVERGENT cultural evolution which might have involved memes.

      • lotharson- I don’t think we really disagree here. Of course there are psychologists who go overboard on genetic explanations for behavior. But the opposite is also true. When I went to school, the so-called Standard Social Science Model, which assumed that human brains were tabulae rasae, blank slates for just about everything except maybe suckling and breathing, held full sway. It’s taken many decades for this wall to chipped away at.

        It’s not surprising that the reaction to the SSSM with its complete neglect of genetic characteristics has sometimes gone too far in the other direction. Pretty obviously, as Mark Ridley says, we humans are 100% nature and 100% nurture.

        All that means is that the gene-centered point of view is necessary but not sufficient, just as the consideration of culture and reason is necessary but not sufficient, to help explain what makes us tick and why we do what we do.

  6. “This of course does not mean that our genes are or should be the only source of our morality. We’ve gone a level beyond mere genetic culture: we’re rational beings as well.”

    This is what I meant by saying that the metaphor causes confusion. Suddenly we have genes as a source of morality and culture.

    As for whether we are rational beings, I think the best that can be said is that the jury is still out.🙂

    • But genes are a source- not the only source- of morality and culture. We got here largely due to our genes, and our genes still affect our behavior.

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