Skip to main content

View Diary: Atheist Digest '10: Debunking Dogmas, Part I: Creationism (211 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Perhaps you will chose, at some point (0+ / 0-)

    to respond to actual arguments, not to your mischaracterization of them or to straw men of your own invention. Perhaps you will also choose to respond without the kind of stereotyping, generalizations and personal insults that have increasingly characterized your responses here.

    Perhaps you are right and there will be no religious beliefs in a hundred years and nobody will hate or kill anybody else ever again.

    1. I pointed out factual trends, not an opinion, regarding the decline in organized religion and god-belief in the world.
    1. I did not state that no religious beliefs would equate to no hate or killing. That is your invention.

    But the last hundred years' worth of 'officially' atheist state-centered political experiments haven't exactly made the case.

    Care to be specific?

    Maybe my great-grandchildren will get to live in such a Utopia.

    Maybe they will. What does that have to do with this conversation?

    I would mention to both you and Rieux per this sub-thread that you're both ignoring a class of human experience that underpins spiritual ideas, and this experiential capacity is fairly universal even though the human-created sociopolitical institution of Religion is something else entirely.

    What leads to believe that I am ignoring any particular human experience? Rather, science has taught us that human experience can be in error, and that we should not trust our individual perceptions exclusively, if we wish to avoid error. Can you be more specific as to the precise "class" of human experience to which you refer, and which you claim is "fairly universal" - and what are the exceptions that make it only "fairly" so?

    Otherwise, you are speaking in vague generalities that sound pleasing but aren't really substantive.

    As for Religion with a capital R, by which I assume you mean what I have called "organized religion", we have no disagreement that it is a different thing entirely from individual experiences, and, indeed, the focus of most of my discussions about the political implications of faith center on organized religion, not individual belief.

    Getting rid of the sociopolitical institutions will not eliminate human experience.

    One would neither expect, nor desire them to.

    And so long as people have spiritual experiences, they will have ideas about them and what they mean.

    And, like any other ideas, those ideas are and should be subject to debate and critique and contemplation. They may even, in many cases, be wrong.

    That is why we discuss ideas here - political ideas, ideological ideas, all kinds of ideas. The only ideas that some people wish to shield from discussion are religious ideas. I repeatedly have asked what makes them any different. I have yet to receive a substantive response from anyone (hint: personal insults and strident, doubling-down on mere  assertions do not constitute substantive response).

    I suspect that future atheists will have to learn to live peacefully with that.

    Current atheists live perfectly peacefully, surrounded in the US by a great majority of theists. We don't have a problem with that. Apparently, you and many others do, for reasons you refuse to specify.

    It is still not clear:

    1. why you think religious beliefs should be treated intellectually any differently than any other beliefs;
    1. why you feel it necessary to erect so many stereotypical straw men about atheists and what we do, what we feel and what we want, utterly ignoring the fact that we are right here and you could simply ask us, or pay attention to our repeated efforts to explain that to you;
    1. what your actual issue is with atheists, atheism and the fact that we do not believe in supernatural phenomena.

    If you could clarify the source of your unwarranted hostility, and your vigorous efforts to shut us up, we might actually make some progress toward mutual understanding.

    Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

    by RandomActsOfReason on Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 11:39:49 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps you will choose, at some point (0+ / 0-)

      to dismount your tall horse and engage without the senseless belligerence. You never know.

      You said:

      1. I pointed out factual trends, not an opinion, regarding the decline in organized religion and god-belief in the world.

      Indeed it is declining in much of the west. It is not declining in raw numbers, of which the non-western world holds several billion more members of the species than the west does. I will not live long enough to see the death of religion. I doubt you will either. But if it is slated to die, then it will die some time in the future we won't get to live. Maybe that would be a great thing. I don't know, nor do I care, because it doesn't affect me at all.

      1. I did not state that no religious beliefs would equate to no hate or killing. That is your invention.

      Gee. If you're going to blame religion for the hatred and killing in this world - and it's definitely responsible for a whole lot of it - then why not hope that the death of religions would usher in a golden age of peace and non-violence? I'd wish at least that much on my great-grandkids. Wouldn't you?

      Care to be specific?

      How about Stalin?

      …science has taught us that human experience can be in error, and that we should not trust our individual perceptions exclusively, if we wish to avoid error. Can you be more specific as to the precise "class" of human experience to which you refer, and which you claim is "fairly universal" - and what are the exceptions that make it only "fairly" so?

      I guess I'm talking about what Jung called "Mystic Vision," or Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy." People do have a capacity to intuit and/or directly perceive 'more' than just the waking world of our normal senses. It appears to be fairly universal to the species, as well as to some other hominid species we've discovered and researched. Like Neandertals.

      The exceptions would probably be people who don't have the innate ability to perceive something 'more'. If it's genetically based - and it likely is, related to mutations and epigenetic expression suites that led us to our big brains - then those who don't have the ability may out-breed the old variety of humans and humanity will lose the capacity altogether via evolution. Whether such a development would be considered "good" or "bad" by the population of earth is not at all pertinent to discussion of the possibility. At least, not to anyone alive today.

      The only ideas that some people wish to shield from discussion are religious ideas. I repeatedly have asked what makes them any different. I have yet to receive a substantive response from anyone

      I have not expressed any desire to shield religious beliefs from challenge. I have expressed my considered opinion that religious beliefs - among all beliefs held by human beings - are the most resistant to being changed by a few facts of exegesis or general insults on a message board or blog.

      Current atheists live perfectly peacefully, surrounded in the US by a great majority of theists. We don't have a problem with that. Apparently, you and many others do, for reasons you refuse to specify.

      You are apparently wrong. I've got no problem with atheists. Some of my best friends are atheists. So are members of my family. Hell, for all you know from anything I've said in this discussion, I may be an atheist myself. You know what they say about assumptions…

      You ask:

      1. why you think religious beliefs should be treated intellectually any differently than any other beliefs;

      I'm not sure they should be treated differently, but I do think they should be approached differently. Because people tend to internalize their religious beliefs so strongly with their self-identity. Much more so than beliefs about politics, for instance.

      1. why you feel it necessary to erect so many stereotypical straw men about atheists and what we do, what we feel and what we want, utterly ignoring the fact that we are right here and you could simply ask us, or pay attention to our repeated efforts to explain that to you;

      I haven't erected any straw men. I have offered my experience with the atheists I have known in my life. And my experience with the religious people I have known in my life. That's all I have to go on, you are not required to approve. I'm not curious or concerned about your beliefs, you can hold to any beliefs you like. I don't mind.

      1. what your actual issue is with atheists, atheism and the fact that we do not believe in supernatural phenomena.

      I don't have an issue with atheists or atheism. I don't care if you believe or disbelieve in supernatural phenomena. What in the world would convince you to think I care what you believe about such things? I've merely mentioned some things I've learned in life about other people, and expressed my opinion that changing anybody's religious beliefs in a forum like this is highly unlikely.

      So. If you have a problem with that opinion, go for it. Tell me how easy it is to convert die-hard fundys and creationists just by insulting them. I'd really like to know.

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 03:59:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Point by point substantive response (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rieux

        Ignoring your gratuitous personal insult at the opening of your comment, I will focus on the substantive assertions you have made:

        1. [religious belief and god-belief] is not declining in raw numbers, of which the non-western world holds several billion more members of the species than the west does.

        First, to address a common Western stereotype revealed in your comment:

        Among the top ten most atheistic/agnostic/non-god-believing nations in the world, three are Asian - Vietnam (81%), Japan (65%), and South Korea (30-52%).

        There was also an assumption that the former Soviet republics, once freed from the tyranny of the atheistic USSR, would experience a religious revival. In fact, the opposite has proven true; there has been a decline in religiosity in nearly all of them - all of the democratic ones without exception. The Czech Republic and Estonia are also in the top ten least religious/theistic nations in the world. Russia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovenia are in the top twenty. All have experienced significant declines in both religiosity and theism in the past twenty years.

        As for raw numbers, the largest numbers of atheists in the world live in non-Western nations:

        China, Japan, Russia, and Vietnam are the top four in raw number of atheists. South Korea is in ninth place.

        All together, these four nations alone account for about a quarter of a billion atheists.

        And that is not even including North Korea, where accurate statistics are unavailable.

        In all places where historical data is available, religiosity has decreased. For example, in the US those who answer "none" when asked of their religion has doubled in 20 years, while those stating they do not believe in a god has tripled during the same period.

        In Australia, the number of atheists went from near zero 30 years ago to about 30% today.

        Overall, in Europe today, only 52% believe in a god, down substantially in each nation, from the most to the least currently religious.

        In fact, even religious authors writing articles alleging a religious revival worldwide, end up citing sources that contradict their own assertions.

        For example, in 2006 an article by Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft claimed that Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, were "on the march", amidst a supposed retreat of secularism. The primary source they cite is the World Christian Encyclopedia. Yet the opening paragraph of the very article they cite in the WCE states something very different, something they chose to leave out of their analysis:

        The number of nonreligionists...  throughout the 20th century has skyrocketed from 3.2 million in 1900, to 697 million in 1970, and on to 918 million in AD 2000.... Equally startling has been the meteoritic growth of secularism.... Two immense quasi-religious systems have emerged at the expense of the world's religions: agnosticism.... and atheism.... From a miniscule presence in 1900, a mere 0.2% of the globe, these systems.... are today expanding at the extraordinary rate of 8.5 million new converts each year, and are likely to reach one billion adherents soon. A large percentage of their members are the children, grandchildren or the great-great-grandchildren of persons who in their lifetimes were practicing Christians"

        (BTW, they undercount Chinese atheists by at least a factor of two. It is largely accepted that the number of atheists globally has already exceeded 1 billion, some say 1.2 billion).

        In point of fact, religiosity does not correlate to geography. It correlates most closely with two things: societal health and per capita income, as noted in this 2005 report published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Religion & Society:
        Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies
        http://moses.creighton.edu/...

        Gregory Paul, author of the 2005 report, has followed it up with a more extensive statistical study, using the 25-measure "Successful Socities Scale" - another measure of societal health and well-being - which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Psychology. Unfortunately, it is available only in PDF form, but you are welcome to download and review it here (note: it is a 44-page PDF) http://www.epjournal.net/...

        Since the global trend is toward improved societal health and per capita income, as shown in the Gapminder animation of global trends over the past two hundred years:
        www.bit.ly/cHpmSv
        It is reasonable to project that religiosity and theism will continue to decrease worldwide.

        In addition, in all nations, atheism and non-religion both strongly correlate with generation - each successive generation is less religion and less theistic than previous generations. This holds true throughout the world.

        Again, the trend is clear.

        1. Gee. If you're going to blame religion for the hatred and killing in this world - and it's definitely responsible for a whole lot of it - then why not hope that the death of religions would usher in a golden age of peace and non-violence? I'd wish at least that much on my great-grandkids. Wouldn't you?

        The problem with your straw man is that, as I clearly stated in the comment you quoted, I never blamed religion for all the hatred and killing in this world. I asked you to document where I have made such a claim, you have not. Again, you reveal that you are addressing me as a stereotype of what you believe atheists argue, not as a human being who has actually made comments on the record here at Daily Kos.

        1. How about Stalin?

        Sigh. Please do a Dkos search on "Stalin and atheism" for a review of all the rebuttals to this tired nonsequitur. I won't even bring up the statistical fact that religiosity and theism have actually declined since the reign of Stalin. Nor will I counter with "how about the Inquisition" or "how about the Crusades" or any number of instances where people were explicitly killed and tortured for their religious beliefs, because it is a fallacious argument.

        Rather, the facts show that the most secular, atheistic nations are the most peaceful and healthiest.

        If the Paul studies don't convince you, you might want to review the Global Peace Index here:
        http://www.visionofhumanity.org/...

        (scroll below the global map for the straight table listings.

        The top ranking nations on the whole array of qualitative and quantitative measures of peacefulness are the most secular and atheistic; the bottom ranking nations are the most religious and theistic.

        4.

        I guess I'm talking about what Jung called "Mystic Vision," or Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy." People do have a capacity to intuit and/or directly perceive 'more' than just the waking world of our normal senses. It appears to be fairly universal to the species, as well as to some other hominid species we've discovered and researched. Like Neandertals.

        Oy. Conjecture, no matter how impressive the name-dropping, is not fact. There is no evidence to support your factual-sounding assertion that people "do have a capacity" to intuit or perceive anything beyond our normal senses. Nor is there any evidence of the existence of anything beyond the known realm of matter/energy (energy in the physical sense, not the mystical sense) to sense in the first place.

        As for the absurd notion that we have evidence "discovered and researched" about what Neandertals could intuit or directly perceive outside the spectrum of physical reality, well, that's just so in the realm of science fiction and/or fantasy that a rational rebuttal would probably fall on deaf ears. I would dearly LOVE, however, to see you provide any evidence to support this "discovery" and "research".

        I've provided numerous links to reputable sources. You provide none. Provide some, then we'll talk about what has been "discovered" and 'researched" about what Neanderthals "intuited" or "perceived" (or modern humans, for that matter).

        If it's genetically based - and it likely is, related to mutations and epigenetic expression suites that led us to our big brains - then those who don't have the ability may out-breed the old variety of humans and humanity will lose the capacity altogether via evolution.

        Despite the misapplication of random scientific terms in a scientifically-sounding mishmash of nonsense, there is no "it" to begin with. There is no evidence of any supernatural anything, nor any psychic ability to perceive the nonexistent supernatural anything. None. Provide evidence of your extraordinary assertions, not more pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

        Finally,

        Some of my best friends are atheists.

        Wow. Just. Wow.

        Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

        by RandomActsOfReason on Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 05:56:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Wow" to you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RandomActsOfReason

          And I thought my comments were long and densely packed.


          Among the top ten most atheistic/agnostic/non-god-believing nations in the world....

          Are those stats (national atheist percentages, 1-1.2 billion atheists on the globe, etc.) included in the documents you linked to? If not, are your other cites available online?

          I'd like to add all of the above sources to my big ol' folder of "Atheist Cites" bookmarks. (A folder that, as you've noticed earlier on this thread, includes a link or two to comments by you.)


          Here's a gratuitous random bookmark from that folder:

          The larger problem with this week’s ON FAITH question ["Can faith effect (sic) health?"] is that it is being asked at all. This question should not be seen as a matter of personal conviction or opinion at all. People’s hunches, anecdotal recollections, or personal convictions are of no more weight here than they would be about the causes of global warming. You have asked an empirical question, and there are established methods for answering such questions. Encouraging any other approach is actually undermining proper respect for scientific methods and facts, right alongside the nefarious tactics of the tobacco companies, the global warming skeptics, and the “teach the controversy” Intelligent Design crowd who have so successful [sic] persuaded so many people to treat factual material as if it were mere opinion.

          - Daniel Dennett, "You Want Facts or Feelings?"

          Okay, that wasn't entirely random.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site