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Is there an atheist schism?

MixBotMixBot Posts: 8,656 Automated Account
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse

I personally found this a fascinating article. For the philosophical layman (me), but also as someone who despises Richard Dawkins for being a boorish bigot who seeks to convert rather than persuade, this was a very interesting article.

Is there a schism within the ranks of the atheists? Is Dawkins the poster child of the lunatic fringe of atheists? Discuss.
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse

    I personally found this a fascinating article. For the philosophical layman (me), but also as someone who despises Richard Dawkins for being a boorish bigot who seeks to convert rather than persuade, this was a very interesting article.

    Is there a schism within the ranks of the atheists? Is Dawkins the poster child of the lunatic fringe of atheists? Discuss.

    Michael Ruse is a superlative bell-end. A discussion between him and Dan Dennett ( Link ) in which Michael Ruse sounds like a spoilt child.

    Also, stop reading the Guardian - it's not good for you. It's full of pinkos and God-damn-hippies. :D

    Seriously: It's all a bit of a non-story really. I don't think "ranks of atheists" even exist. It's a story that reads: people disagree on shit. Big woop. And being about atheism an obligatory reference to Dawkins gets thrown in - presumably to get someone to flip and start shouting about not abusing their hero. It's a bit boring to be honest.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse

    I personally found this a fascinating article. For the philosophical layman (me), but also as someone who despises Richard Dawkins for being a boorish bigot who seeks to convert rather than persuade, this was a very interesting article.

    Is there a schism within the ranks of the atheists? Is Dawkins the poster child of the lunatic fringe of atheists? Discuss.

    There appears to be this myth that atheists have ever been a single coherant group. Richard Dawkins speaks for no-one but Richard Dawkins. He cannot bring atheists into disrepute. The other myth is that atheism = secularism, which it doesn't, but they appear to be used interchangably nowadays.

    I could critique that article, but it's really not worth the effort, because it would take too long. But I will just make the general point that every time I see a critique of the "New Atheists," and this article is no different, it seems to be a criticism of how they make their point, rather than the point they actually make. Only in atheism (and maybe feminism), can someone be called a militant for simply using harsh words. And every time someone makes this claim, it just solidifies the argument that they're making about faith's privilaged place in society, as something that it's rude by definition to criticise, and marks you out as some sort of extremist for doing so. You hear far more strident criticism of this Labour government, along with some pretty personal attacks, and yet no-one is ever accused of intolerance for doing so. But if you were to attack Gordon Brown's faith rather than his face, you'd be accused by the of being intolerant.

    Anyway, slightly on topic, I saw this the other day:

    Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens vs. Anne Widdecome and John Onaiyekan on the subject: The Catholic Church is a force for good.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldn't say that he is the poster child for lunatic atheists. But I do think there are perhaps excessively confrontational atheists. Now before I get into this I will bow out, because we've had 20 page arguments on this before and I think everything that I wanted to say has been said before (and I have viewing set to 50 posts per page!) and nobody really concedes any ground making the argument a bit futile and boring. It's one of those issues where everyone insists they know the single correct perspective.
    people disagree on shit

    I'm happy to agree with this and leave it there.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There appears to be this myth that atheists have ever been a single coherant group. Richard Dawkins speaks for no-one but Richard Dawkins. He cannot bring atheists into disrepute. The other myth is that atheism = secularism, which it doesn't, but they appear to be used interchangably nowadays.[/URL]
    ^ This.

    On an aside note, it really makes me laugh how the definition of 'fanatic', 'extremist' or 'fundamentalist' changes depending on who is being applied to.

    When talking about religious people, one has to be pretty much calling for gays to be burnt at the stake before the term is applied.

    But when talking about non-believers, apparently being a vocal critic of organised religion (and let's be clear here- that is ALL that Richard Dawkins has ever been) is all one needs to do to be branded a 'fanatic', 'radical' or 'extremist' atheist.

    In other words...


    cross+bashing.jpg
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just to bring this topic up again, there was a debate the other day on "Is atheism the new fundamentalism?" which Richard Dawkins took part in. The video is here if anyone wants to watch.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just to bring this topic up again, there was a debate the other day on "Is atheism the new fundamentalism?" which Richard Dawkins took part in. The video is here if anyone wants to watch.
    The very existence of such debate is a classic tell-tale of the campaign of hatred and bullying towards anyone who has the temerity of not believing in deities.

    Oh well... only recently they'd be burning us alive, or imprisoning and torturing us at best, so guess it's kind of progress... :rolleyes:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    I wouldn't say that he is the poster child for lunatic atheists. But I do think there are perhaps excessively confrontational atheists.
    This.

    I don't want atheism pushed upon me, just like I don't want Christianity pushed upon me.

    If I wish to discuss religion then fair play, lets hear different views (I live with an atheist and a Hindu... One of my best mates is a Christian so we do have debates), but there's a level of respect some people, regardless of belief in deities (or lack thereof) fall short of.

    I wouldn't say there's a lunatic fringe of atheists, but there are some pretty obnoxious ones about, as with any group.

    i.e. STFU pushing your views on me when I don't wish to hear them
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Namaste wrote: »
    This.

    I don't want atheism pushed upon me, just like I don't want Christianity pushed upon me.

    If I wish to discuss religion then fair play, lets hear different views (I live with an atheist and a Hindu... One of my best mates is a Christian so we do have debates), but there's a level of respect some people, regardless of belief in deities (or lack thereof) fall short of.

    I wouldn't say there's a lunatic fringe of atheists, but there are some pretty obnoxious ones about, as with any group.

    i.e. STFU pushing your views on me when I don't wish to hear them

    I'd be interested to know where you've experienced this. Because with the exception of the bus campaign, which to some extent was a satirical swipe that the Christian campaigns in the same vein, all of this criticism of the "new atheism" has been in response to books written, organised debates in academic institutions, television debate shows or columns in the media, the sole purpose of which is to express opinions about a particular issue. I'm sure there are some obnoxious people who insist on giving their views uninvited, but such people have always existed. And lets not pretend for one second that any of these people are the people in mind when people criticise the "new atheists." The people that are criticised are the ones that have expressed their views in all of the normal channels in which you'd go for debate about such issues. The criticism is merely a smoke screen for people who don't like their ideas and think that if they can put it into people's minds that the likes of Richard Dawkins are intolerant or fundamentalist, people will dismiss them without being exposed to their arguments. If you throw enough shit, some of it will stick eventually.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think there are a large number of people who might be influenced by which ever group - atheists or religious - have the loudest voice. In an ideal world the choice should be based purely on simple facts, but religion has always had huge propaganda and PR support, and is hence the most easily noticed and perhaps trusted. Now people like Dawkins are attempting to level the playing field using similar tactics. He might not be to everyone's tastes, but he is trying to make rational evidence-based thought a real consideration to people. This has to be a good thing, and after all anyone can still ignore propaganda from either group if they are so offended.

    I think to some extent this Dawkins hatred is fed by the anti-science movement, which seems to rear its head whenever 'science' apparently fails the people (e.g. the supposed MMR or climate change conspiracies, in which scientists were apparently implicated), or when it goes against established unscientific or pseudo-scientific beliefs (e.g. when science challenges homeopathy).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Talking of atheism/humanism, Joss Whedon's recent acceptence speech of the 'Rushdie' from the Havard Humanist Society was an interesting watch -

    http://www.thenewhumanism.org/authors/video/articles/joss-whedon-cultural-humanist
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Jim V wrote: »
    Talking of atheism/humanism, Joss Whedon's recent acceptence speech of the 'Rushdie' from the Havard Humanist Society was an interesting watch -

    http://www.thenewhumanism.org/authors/video/articles/joss-whedon-cultural-humanist

    Though did you note the irony of getting the award in a church, with Pslams/Hymns board prominently behind him :D
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    About half way through it and I have to say it's a very good speech, very nuanced and unlike Dawkins not intellectually patronising. I wonder why a writer of pulp (not that I've got anything against pulp) can produce a more intelligent and reasoning defence of his beliefs than someone who is supposed to be a great rationalist and thinker

    If the argument for atheism was produced more in the style of Joss and less by Hitchens and Dawkins I might have a lot more time for it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd be interested to know where you've experienced this.
    Are you seriously saying you have never met a pushy atheist?:confused:

    They do exist, I have lived with them. I don't talk about religion much because it's not important to me, but putting down people for having religious views and trying to start arguments is tiresome.

    I was just responding to Shyboy really.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Namaste wrote: »
    Are you seriously saying you have never met a pushy atheist?:confused:
    I haven't myself tbh. Maybe you've come across a few individuals who've engaged you personally, but I'm yet to hear of a single instance of non-believers bothering passers-by with flyers or megaphones and threatening all sorts of evils to those who don't subscribe to their views.

    The most 'pushy' an atheist I've ever been aware of if one who simply speaks his views publicly. Compare that with their religious counterparts.

    Indeed, it speaks volumes that when the Humanist Society decides, for the very first time, to run adverts just *disputing* the existence of deities, there is such a fuss from so many quarters, when religious groups have been making far bolder, intrusive or plain insulting claims for centuries without anyone complaining about heavy handiness.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    About half way through it and I have to say it's a very good speech, very nuanced and unlike Dawkins not intellectually patronising.

    I lasted the course and enjoyed the show mainly due to the humour.

    The man certainly talks a good game."Personal responsibility","Do not be told, find out for yourself", "Rejection of the mummy in the sky", to name a few.

    In the final five minutes he discussed power, and the danger that lies with the acquisition of such.

    The film ends and, click of the fingers, you are back in the (reality) room.

    The man is, by his previous actions, a political activist and supporter of the political elite.

    Thereby rejecting personal responsibility and having a desire to be told, only this time by the embrace of his mummy in the Washington Power House.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    lolz
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Dawkins speaks for all Atheists much in the way the Pope speaks for each and every Christian that exists on this planet. That is only a particular group. Both men have made statements which have been considered extreme. Same shit, different smell imho.
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