Author Topic: "Atheism+"  (Read 4046 times)

Internet Jesus

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2012, 04:31:47 pm »
I don't know about that.  I understand the idea behind a "safe place" concept, and while it frequently does turn into just another echo chamber where you can tune out WRONGTHINK - al la FR or DU for the political junkie - it can be useful as a controlled discussion.  Whether it becomes the former or the latter is up to those who run it.  I have seen both, they do exist.

I'll take your word on it.  My own experience is that any sight with the words "safe place" associated with it is ban-happy, with the ban trigger being "disagreeing with the group in an effective way."  They're there to slap-ass and high five about how much smarter they are than other people who believe things they can't prove.

It's a tricky line to walk, and generally it's more useful for very narrowly defined groups where a "safe place" is vital to the group being able to explore the singular topic at hand (rape survivors, addicts, ect.) than it is for larger, more broad reaching groups.  And even then it's tricky because there has to be a willingness on those running the group to allow for questioning of the group's doxa.

Which is why I'm agnostic on this effort.  That all of the listed political beliefs would emerge from a singular lack of belief seems a bit too broad to effectively do anything but become an echo chamber where the inmates just howl at whomever happens to be Emmanuel Goldstein this week.
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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2012, 04:35:31 pm »
It's a tricky line to walk, and generally it's more useful for very narrowly defined groups where a "safe place" is vital to the group being able to explore the singular topic at hand (rape survivors, addicts, ect.) than it is for larger, more broad reaching groups.

Well, that's just it.  It's like hearing the phrase "trigger word", etc, when not applied to things that are actually traumatic.

Or even then, come to think of it.
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Cain

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 04:38:57 pm »
The "safe place" aspect has a lot to do with the Atheism+ people being, at least in part, the more wild-eyed defenders of Skepchick during the great "being creepy in a lift is rape" debacle*.  As such, they're convinced atheism is overrun by privilged white dudes (which I don't think anyone can reasonably deny) and that they need said "safe place" to discuss such topics without the inevitable shitstorms such topics as feminism tend to create (which is far more debateable).

That aside, I can only agree with Internet Jesus, that this looks to be an attempt to bring atheism under the banner of liberalism, which in America means the Democrats.  It's questionable logic (one of my favourite writers on science is a self-confessed conservative, Ayn Rand was an atheist), questionable philosophical linkage (the Soviet Union was "scientific", except, you know, Lysenkoism) and more to the point, there's already this movement called "Humanism" which, regardless of the religion affiliation of its adherents, is very keen on secularism and using knowledge to advance human society and enrich people's lives. 

I mean, I know atheists tend to be very poor philosophers in the first place, but humanism is the greater school of thinking which atheism draws from.  Some basic historical awareness would be nice.


*Basically, someone in a lift was hitting on the Skepchick blogger while she was alone in a lift, at 4am.  Creepy and undeniably an issue of really fucking poor boundaries on the part of the dude, but depending on who you listen to, either Skepchick is a man-hating misandrist and paranoid, or she was Almost Raped.  Naturally, the actual truth lies somewhere between the two, and pointing that out simply means both sides will shit on you.

Edit: most of the above does not make sense.  Filter it through the perceptions of someone who has slept two hours in the past 48, and has drunk his own body weight in Red Bull
« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 04:42:18 pm by Cain »

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2012, 04:54:02 pm »
Speaking of philosophical and historical naiveness, I wonder when atheists will realise their beloved rationalism was in fact the chief tool of the Society of Jesus in the Counter-Reformation, and that indeed the modern scientific revolution was an unintended side effect of that effort to bring the world back into the Catholic fold.  Iganatius Loyala was very keen on rational methods of organization and training to make the Jesuits a principle force in re-establishing Catholic domination of Europe and the colonies.

There is a great amount of irony in people calling for more rationality, directed at people who successfully adopted it nearly 500 years previously.

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2012, 04:54:59 pm »
That aside, I can only agree with Internet Jesus, that this looks to be an attempt to bring atheism under the banner of liberalism, which in America means the Democrats.  It's questionable logic (one of my favourite writers on science is a self-confessed conservative, Ayn Rand was an atheist), questionable philosophical linkage (the Soviet Union was "scientific", except, you know, Lysenkoism) and more to the point, there's already this movement called "Humanism" which, regardless of the religion affiliation of its adherents, is very keen on secularism and using knowledge to advance human society and enrich people's lives. 

There's also the idea that they're trying to rebrand their own little subset into something greater (like what the GOP base did with the Teabaggers) - which irritates me to no small degree.  Re-branding is stupid and insulting when businesses do it (I get why they go in for the whole "branding" issue in the first place, and even though it makes sense, I still think its kind of insulting), but when political movements do it .......

Well let's just say that it makes me wonder how much we actually are individuals and not just the reflection of the societal pressures we self select for.

(Prediction:  This will go over like a Led Balloon, just like the idea of rebranding themselves as "brights" did.  If there's one good thing about Atheists in general, it's that they don't really have a party line except the lack of belief in one specific thing.  There's no one who can honestly say "X is not an Atheist, because he's not pro-choice")
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Internet Jesus

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2012, 04:58:22 pm »
There is a great amount of irony in people calling for more rationality, directed at people who successfully adopted it nearly 500 years previously.

Probably way more Amerocentric than I need to be, but couldn't it be argued thatits more accurate to say that the folks that the calls for more rationality are directed at tried rationality, and gave it up?

I mean - yeah the Jesuits are all rational and shit, but only up to a point.  Which isn't even grappling with the folks who can find mentions of Dinosaurs in the bible.
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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2012, 05:04:29 pm »
There is a great amount of irony in people calling for more rationality, directed at people who successfully adopted it nearly 500 years previously.

Probably way more Amerocentric than I need to be, but couldn't it be argued thatits more accurate to say that the folks that the calls for more rationality are directed at tried rationality, and gave it up?

I mean - yeah the Jesuits are all rational and shit, but only up to a point.  Which isn't even grappling with the folks who can find mentions of Dinosaurs in the bible.

That's probably part of it.  But even fundamentalists tend to rely on formal arguments and "proofs" for the existence of God, disbelief in evolution etc.  The fundamentalist paradigm is a fairly modern one, and like most fairly modern innovations, has a bedrock of rationality running through it.  This makes sense when you realise fundamentalism isn't just a rigid restatement of past orthodoxies, but a complex strategic interplay that seeks solutions to the problems of evidence that runs counter to scripture.

Much like economics, it's a matter of really smart people finding really smart ways to continue to be stupid.

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2012, 05:08:00 pm »
Speaking of philosophical and historical naiveness, I wonder when atheists will realise their beloved rationalism was in fact the chief tool of the Society of Jesus in the Counter-Reformation, and that indeed the modern scientific revolution was an unintended side effect of that effort to bring the world back into the Catholic fold.  Iganatius Loyala was very keen on rational methods of organization and training to make the Jesuits a principle force in re-establishing Catholic domination of Europe and the colonies.

There is a great amount of irony in people calling for more rationality, directed at people who successfully adopted it nearly 500 years previously.

I think what they are working towards is precisely that side effect. They don't really care about converting other people to atheism per se.
If some people end up becoming atheists because of their efforts, THAT will be a side effect.

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2012, 05:14:09 pm »
The problem I have with atheism is that it rallies an identity around a lack of belief in something.

 :?

If something doesn't exist, doesn't it make more sense to not define yourself by it at all? Also, spending time discussing and defending the lack of existence of something just seems mind-bogglingly pointless to me. In addition, I'm not entirely comfortable with associations of people that define themselves by what they are not.

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2012, 05:31:03 pm »
That's probably part of it.  But even fundamentalists tend to rely on formal arguments and "proofs" for the existence of God, disbelief in evolution etc.  The fundamentalist paradigm is a fairly modern one, and like most fairly modern innovations, has a bedrock of rationality running through it.  This makes sense when you realise fundamentalism isn't just a rigid restatement of past orthodoxies, but a complex strategic interplay that seeks solutions to the problems of evidence that runs counter to scripture.

Much like economics, it's a matter of really smart people finding really smart ways to continue to be stupid.

I hadn't seen that particular angle yet, but now that you mention it, I can see it.

But then wouldn't that argue for the conclusion that even if the Jesuits introduced rationality, that humanity as a whole saw its usefulness and just adopted it without the Catholic trappings?

I mean yeah, it's ironic, but only in the same sense that the Torah was compiled during the Persian exile, so you have Jews following a faith that has direct influence from Persian (Iranian) sources.

(The Persians are the ultimate trolls, having managed to troll themselves 2,000 years after the fact)
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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2012, 05:34:29 pm »
Norway has a lot of atheists. Among them you find homophobes, racists, Maoists, conservative right-wingers. Lack of belief in gods is just one variable among dozens and does not in itself make a person any less of an idiot.

You know, I think the weirdest thing is that atheists are perfectly aware of this, but instead of saying "we should work on our critical thinking skills so we won't end up like them", they say "Holy Spaghetti Monster, even idiots are atheists in Norway, we should be more like Norway".

Not that there's anything wrong with that, on the contrary: If they seriously believe that by raising everyone's standard of living to Norway-levels, people will automatically convert to Atheism, I will support them.

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2012, 02:32:23 am »
That's probably part of it.  But even fundamentalists tend to rely on formal arguments and "proofs" for the existence of God, disbelief in evolution etc.  The fundamentalist paradigm is a fairly modern one, and like most fairly modern innovations, has a bedrock of rationality running through it.  This makes sense when you realise fundamentalism isn't just a rigid restatement of past orthodoxies, but a complex strategic interplay that seeks solutions to the problems of evidence that runs counter to scripture.

Much like economics, it's a matter of really smart people finding really smart ways to continue to be stupid.

I hadn't seen that particular angle yet, but now that you mention it, I can see it.

But then wouldn't that argue for the conclusion that even if the Jesuits introduced rationality, that humanity as a whole saw its usefulness and just adopted it without the Catholic trappings?

Speaking only from personal experience, I know a number of atheists who owe a large part of their rational approach to (and denial of) religion to a Jesuit education.
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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2012, 02:55:40 am »
There is a great amount of irony in people calling for more rationality, directed at people who successfully adopted it nearly 500 years previously.

Probably way more Amerocentric than I need to be, but couldn't it be argued thatits more accurate to say that the folks that the calls for more rationality are directed at tried rationality, and gave it up?

I mean - yeah the Jesuits are all rational and shit, but only up to a point.  Which isn't even grappling with the folks who can find mentions of Dinosaurs in the bible.

That's probably part of it.  But even fundamentalists tend to rely on formal arguments and "proofs" for the existence of God, disbelief in evolution etc.  The fundamentalist paradigm is a fairly modern one, and like most fairly modern innovations, has a bedrock of rationality running through it.  This makes sense when you realise fundamentalism isn't just a rigid restatement of past orthodoxies, but a complex strategic interplay that seeks solutions to the problems of evidence that runs counter to scripture.

Much like economics, it's a matter of really smart people finding really smart ways to continue to be stupid.

Expanding on this a bit -
Pre-modern: God is obvious. Why would you need evidence or logic supporting it?
Moderns Pt. 1: Hey, this reason thing's not all bad; I can start with no premises and logically prove that God exists! (Descartes, Spinoza et al)
Moderns Pt. 2: That proof is highly suspect. In fact, the more we look into it the harder we find it to prove God exists. (Hume, etc)
Reformation: Oh shit! Pure reason is not the ally we had hoped for. Lets pin everything on individual revelation, taking stuff on faith, and the fundamental ineffableness of God.
Counter-reformation: No need to panic; reason and faith aren't contradictory values.* See, it only takes the most advanced rhetorical training on the planet to make this stuff seem reasonable. (Jesuits)
Modern evangelical movement: "Because I believe it" isn't a particularly convincing elevator pitch, and the artifactual evidence isn't lining up the way we want it to. What sounds good to non-believers and doesn't rely on empricism? Let's try pure rhetoric and logic.

*aside from a few highly public incidents, like that thing with Galileo, the Catholic church has been pretty good at not setting itself in opposition to science. The strategy is that they'll let people do whatever investigation into evolution or neurology they want, so long as they get to say what the results mean on a spiritual level. They've been practicing saying "We know humans are good and loved because after Creation, God looked upon it and saw that it was good. That it took billions of years and not seven days in no way detracts from this truth." for decades now, while the fundamentalists continue to dump more and more credibility into creation museums.
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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2012, 06:55:34 am »
The problem I have with atheism is that it rallies an identity around a lack of belief in something.

 :?

If something doesn't exist, doesn't it make more sense to not define yourself by it at all? Also, spending time discussing and defending the lack of existence of something just seems mind-bogglingly pointless to me. In addition, I'm not entirely comfortable with associations of people that define themselves by what they are not.

I would have phrased it:

The problem I have with isms is that people base their identities on them.

I don't really have an issue with "isms" per se, myself. I'm a feminist, socialist, scientist sort of person, and all of those are "isms".

I might be more likely to say that the problem I have with people is that they tend to base their identities on isms.

Basing your identity on an ism tends to push you into True Believer, One True and Only Right Way territory, and man, that shit is scary. Sort of like how even though I believe that voting is important, the Voting True Believers, the people who more or less take the standpoint "IF YOU DON'T VOTE I HATE YOU, YOU SUBHUMAN PIECE OF SHIT" are at roughly the same level of alarming to me as Klansmen.

But mostly, as fascinated as I am by the nature of personality and identity, I am especially fascinated, and disturbed, by people who identify themselves primarily not by what they ARE, but by what they ARE NOT. It seems to me that people who do that, who spend most of their effort existing in reaction against something else, must have very poorly developed senses of self, and that must be even more true when the thing their existence is defined in opposition to is something they don't even believe to exist.

"I define myself in opposition to something that does not exist".

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Re: "Atheism+"
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2012, 06:57:18 am »
Hey, everyone!  I don't believe in the Hairy Thunderer!

LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”