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Fundamentalism is dangerous - even in non-believers.

I spent most of my life in a search for God and spiritual enlightenment, until in my 47th year it suddenly struck me that the very reason I was searching is because I saw no evidence for the existence of God(s) at all. I am an atheist and at the most basic level have always been so, without even realising it. During that search, I encountered a great many religions and belief systems. To quote John Lennon’s song I Found Out, “I’ve seen religion from Jesus to Baal”. In that time I have encountered and read about some of the worst excesses of over-zealous religious belief, and can clearly see the dangers of such beliefs. I would argue however, that religious fundamentalism is only part of the story, and that there is today a growing fundamentalist among atheists which has the potential to be every bit as dangerous.

As I have stated from the above, I am indeed an atheist. And what is atheism? The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition; “atheism: noun; disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.” That is it, there is nothing more to it. Yet to listen to some of the more strident atheists today, one would get the impression that, like religions, atheism somehow has its own set dogma and rules.

Undoubtedly one of the main catalysts to this “new atheism”, if not the main one, was the publication in 2006 of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion, along with speeches and quotes from the journalist and author, the late Christopher Hitchens appear to have made up some sort of “atheist bible”, which too many atheists today seem to think they need to adhere to. All too often one hears and reads Dawkins and Hitchens (among others) being quoted by atheists as if these are the only views which count. Worse still, should any atheist disagree with such views, they often lay themselves open to vitriolic attacks and accusations of being “the wrong kind of atheist” or “not an atheist at all”.

The greater danger however comes that from formulating strident views many atheists, sometimes unwittingly, become antitheists, often with views which are openly hostile to religion, seek to attack believers when there is absolutely no reason to do so and actually espouse views which are openly bigoted towards all or one particular religion. Such people are all too prone to see religion as nothing but a force for ill in the world which can only ever hold mankind back, while also claiming that atheism and the removal of all spiritual belief is some great panacea which they seem to believe would cure all the world’s problems.

I have heard and read atheists openly state that if we got rid of all religion, then there would be no more wars or atrocities. Even as a pacifist myself, I find such views to be naive in the extreme. If one looks at warfare and violent atrocities throughout history, it is true that religion has often been the root cause. Indeed, religious fervour was indeed responsible for a great many slaughters and clearly illustrate the dangers of fundamentalist belief, yet in many other cases, had those behind the killing not had religion to fall back upon, they would just as quickly have found another “cause” to justify their actions. It is the religion which is dangerous, not the faith. There are many Christians who understand this and who openly state that they love their faith but hate religion.

Online discourses between atheists and theists have a tendency to enter into “Godwin’s Law”; “that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis”. In these exchanges, the theists claim that Hitler, giving quotes of his damning religion, whilst the atheists counter, quoting from Mein Kampf and speeches, to illustrate that Adolf Hilter was a Christian. Having looked at the matter in great detail, I would assert that Hitler was never a serious Christian but rather payed lip-service to his Roman Catholic background to court publicity (probably with coaching from his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels). By equal measure however, Adolf Hitler was by no stretch of the imagination an atheist. He did indeed believe in some sort of God, and held some very outlandish occult beliefs. In more modern times, we saw exactly the same behaviour from the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whose Ba’ath regime was officially secular, who lived in opulence, drank alcohol, gambled, and yet was quick to be seen as a devout Sunni Muslim to gain the support of his people. The point being, had neither Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein had religion to fall back upon, that would not for one moment have stopped the worst of their excesses. And the same goes for atheistic regimes. Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, to use but two examples, did not kill millions on the basis of atheism but rather through their own insanity and megalomania. Even had they been extremely devout believers in God, the chances are the end result would have been no different.

Without a doubt therefore, religion, like any other ideology, in the wrong hands can be extremely dangerous. Atrocities such as 9/11 and the Oslo bombings and shootings by devout Christian Anders Beiring Breivik illustrate that all too well. And there are atheists who all too readily fall into the trap of using such stories, particularly when it is actions carried out by Muslims, off pointing the finger to back up their arguments. In doing so, few actually realise that they are supporting the rampant Islamophobia of the right wing, often Christian backed, bigoted media. I well recall a Christian friend emailing me an anti-Muslim video by one particular atheist. I responeded by sending her an anti-Christian video by the same atheist. I had to make the point that the person in question, in the opinion of myself and a great many others, is a nasty, small-minded, odious bigot, who whilst he is against all religion, appears to be on his own personal crusade against Islam, and who as a result has attracted quite a lot of very unsavoury followers from the neo-nazi extreme-right (which he has done little or nothing to redress). Indeed, if one were to seek and example of a dangerous fundamentalist atheist, this particular person would to my mind be a prime example. Yet other atheists commit no less shameful actions. I have often seen posts by Muslims online which, instead of atheists retorting with intelligent and reasoned debate, make references to bacon and accusations of the Prophet Mohammed being a paedophile. I find such behaviour not only childish, but also disrespectful and actually very ignorant of the Islamic faith.

Some atheists would have you believe that religion serves no useful purpose whatsoever. And whilst on face value, this would appear to be true, I think there is a huge danger of missing the bigger picture. Charitable actions carried out by the faithful, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever, indeed have their place, and there are many people around the world and in your own home town whose lives would be a lot harder without them. Consider the Salvation Army alone, without whose hard work, a great many homeless would suffer all around the world. Other charities hand out food, furniture, and other resources to the needy. And these are not all Christian charities. It may surprise many readers to learn that there are Muslims who are just as deeply involved, as giving charity is a fundamental cornerstone of the Islamic faith. In developing countries, contrary to what some would have you believe, missions do not just preach their faith and hand out holy books but are actively involved in the distribution of food, medicines and other resources, establishing schools, helping and teaching with farming and many other actions which daily campaign to help some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, and which see them achieve their own successes. Doctor David Livingstone (1813-1873), a Congregationalist medical missionary, had such an enormous effect in his works that in Malawi today he is revered to the point that the Malawian capital is named Blantyre, after his hometown in Scotland, and his legacy is that to this day Scotland maintains strong charitable ties with Malawi.

And it is not just abroad that the faiths help people. Contrary to the claims of some not all clergy, particularly those of the Roman Catholic Church, are merely perverts out to prey upon little children. The vast majority are integral and central figures of support to and champion for their local communities, whom they work hard for in return for very little in the way of reward. They are trusted and respected people whom anyone can turn to at any time, always ready with words of advice, guidance, support, or even just a shoulder to cry on, which they bear readily with a patience and dignity many would do well to learn. And even if they are purveying a message of faith which we atheists may find absurd or even distasteful, if it gives comfort to those in need who share that faith, as long as it is not hurting us, what right do we have to ever question that? And let me answer that question for you; none at all.

And among all this, where are the atheists? Where are the atheist charities, soup kitchens, homeless hostels, clothing and furniture distributors and various other resources? How many atheists are in developing countries helping the poorest of the poor? I see a Red Cross and a Red Crescent, where is the Red A? Where are the atheists people can turn to and give support and comfort in times of need and their darkest hours? Certainly some atheist versions of the above do exist, but compared to those from a religious background, they are but a drop in the ocean. It seems to me therefore that until the vast majority of atheists are prepared to get off their bums and get their hands dirty, they should put up or shut up.

As has so often been said, and I count myself in this, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. And those who have allowed themselves to become fundamentalist atheists and antitheists would do well to consider that and much else of the above before deliberately going fighting online with theists in their warm homes, in their comfortable, little first world lives.

Whether we atheists like it or not, faith in God(s) is with us and does not show any sign of going away any time soon. The 2012 discovery of the Bosonic Field, far from destroying the faith of millions, has done nothing to lessen it. As long as this is true, there shall always be disagreements between theists and atheists. And make no mistake, if someone tries to push their faith down my throat, or impose what I consider to be mythology as fact onto children or vulnerable adults, I shall always fight that, as all atheists should. But if people wish to believe in a particular faith without bothering others, then that should be of no consequence to any atheist. It has always been my experience that one need not go looking for trouble; it will find you soon enough.

Religion shall always be with us and that is not always a bad thing. Whether we agree with it or not, faith in God(s) remains a huge positive in the lives of billions of people. Far from conflict therefore, it seems to me that both atheists and theists need to find a middle ground and reach some degree of accommodation with each other. Only the most fundamentalist Christian, Muslim, or any other theist would disagree with that, as I am sure so would only the most fundamentalist atheist.

In the final instance, as each and every atheist is a freethinker, it is impossible to tie any one of us down to any particular set dogma which states “this is what atheism is” - because it is many things, and nothing at the same time. If I do not bow before the altar of the God of Abraham, of Allah, Vishnu, or any other deity, then do not for one moment expect me to bow before those of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or any other “celebrity” atheist. If anyone does, then I for one do not see how they can call themselves a freethinker at all.

Guest post by McTavish

Originally posted to Secular Party of America on Tue May 07, 2013 at 03:36 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Progressive Atheists.

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Comment Preferences

  •  well, at least you didn't use the word (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Shockwave, AoT, Timari, Joieau, hnichols

    militant.

    :)

  •  I tend to agree with you as a borderline atheist (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye Nut Schell, Joieau, pvasileff

    I was raised as a Catholic but a long time ago I broke with the church.

    My experience drove me to be so disgusted with the church that I became a sort of reactionary atheist just to spite Catholics and other religions which I believed tried to impose their power on me.

    I think there is a "creator" behind the Big Bang, everything else I question.

    But I also understand the more fundamental atheists give how much atheism is attacked.

    And I certainly don't "bow" to Dawkins or Hitchens but I agree with much they say.

    Atheism and "non-religiosity" is on the increase globally.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue May 07, 2013 at 04:03:25 PM PDT

  •  Fantastic Diary! (5+ / 0-)

    You hit on so many points that I agree with.  I have never seen so many in one writing before.

    Thank you!

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue May 07, 2013 at 04:04:51 PM PDT

  •  And not a single link to one of these (11+ / 0-)

    so called "fendamatheists". I see these sort of terms thrown around all the time and it's a bunch of nonsense. For you to claim the mantle of the National Atheist Party and then attack some undefined group of atheists just sucks. You clearly aren't representative of atheists, just yourself.

    The God Delusion, along with speeches and quotes from the journalist and author, the late Christopher Hitchens appear to have made up some sort of “atheist bible”, which too many atheists today seem to think they need to adhere to. All too often one hears and reads Dawkins and Hitchens (among others) being quoted by atheists as if these are the only views which count.
    You're going to have to provide examples, because this is a big claim and a big problem. You can't just set up straw men and then pretend that they're true. It doesn't work like that.

    These generic denunciation of outspoken atheists are a dime a dozen and completely useless.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 04:09:59 PM PDT

    •  Not all atheists (5+ / 0-)

      agree with the National Atheist Party either. Everyone is entitled to their own views. To attack someone because you don't agree kind of proves the point of this post. It wasn't written by a member of the NAP but it was shared by the NAP as a different view point about the fighting that happens, not just between atheists and theists but between themselves as well.

      •  Well, maybe the diarist (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eyesoars, hnichols, Fishtroller01

        could have made clear this wasn't a party statement. For all we know the "guest" poster is the same person. If they managed to stick around to answer a single comment ever it might not be a problem.

        I would still disagree with the diary, but it would at least be clear this wasn't a position of some party that claims to represent atheist.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:19:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I will have the editor change that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Glen The Plumber

          so it's more clear. It was shared from his blog, which is linked at the bottom of the post.

        •  I personally (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell

          stick around and keep an eye on our posts all day. I do answer questions. But considering that these are comments, I think it's much more interesting, and valuable, to see what the community has to say about these posts. I can tell you what I think or what our authors think, but they already have in their posts. This is the place for the Kos community to have at it, whether they agree or disagree, don't you think?

          There are some fundamental things in this post that do need addressing and, as I always do when things like this arise, I point this out to the author and if they want to reply, they do and hopefully in this case, will. But as mentioned below, the author is in Scotland and asleep at the moment. I hope to be able to express any explanations or background if possible.

          It is clear at the bottom of the post that this author is a guest. But we also stand behind the post otherwise we wouldn't have put it out there. There is a lot of infighting in the atheist community and that was our reasoning for using this post. I think it definitely exposed a lot of the differing viewpoints in the comments.

    •  I usually agree with you AoT... (5+ / 0-)

      but just as there are a lot of fundamentalist religious types out there using offensive phrases such as "Godless" in a derogatory way, there are people that attack me all of the time in comment sections at CNN and even here.  As the author describes, they are "Antitheists" as opposed to atheists.

      I agree that in the real life society, there is a lot more bigotry towards atheists than towards Christians (maybe even more so than Muslims or Jews) but on-line, I am amazed by the amount of pure vitriol aimed at religious beliefs. From the cracks about the invisible man in the sky to the FSM, we are called stupid, ignorant and are assigned blame for basically all of the problems in the world.

      Although I consider myself a Christian because I align my moral beliefs with the teachings of Jesus Christ, I am a believer in science as well.  I believe that God has many names and is many things to many people.  I do not believe you have to believe any certain way to have everlasting life but you just have to be a good person and try to do what is best for your family, your neighbors and to every stranger you meet.  

      I do not expect you to believe as I do nor do I think I have any special monopoly on the truth.  We each have our own truth as it is revealed to us.

      I am always fascinated by other people's beliefs and whether you believe in a God or do not, I welcome a conversation about them.  The author of this diary made a lot of good points about the need for us all to respect one another and to honor each other's beliefs (or lack there of) and also not to tolerate the intolerant on both sides of the aisle.  

      I am not proud of many of the things that have been done in the name of Jesus Christ and I do not hold others accountable for things that have been done in the name of their beliefs.  We are all travelers on this planetary rock sailing though the heavens towards destinations unknown.  Since we are going the same way, we might as well enjoy the ride together.  What is mine is yours.  I choose to believe as Kahlil Gibran once said:

      Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.

      And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream

      We all draw our own conclusions based on the evidence we are presented with and it is more than likely we are all wrong to some extent.  I certainly cannot judge someone else for coming to a different understanding than I have.

      "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

      by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:04:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  People using harsh words doesn't compare (4+ / 0-)

        to the use of violence and the violent rhetoric coming from Christians. It isn't even close. It's a bullshit false equivalency and it's wrong. I don't have to have to respect what people believe at all, ever. And it doesn't make me less of a person for doing so. I don't care what religious people think abut my atheism, I care what they do. And they shove it in my face every goddamn day. And when I outspokenly say "Religion is dumb" then I'm the asshole. There is no god and it's foolish to believe there is.

        I do not expect you to believe as I do nor do I think I have any special monopoly on the truth.  We each have our own truth as it is revealed to us.
        So it's just like, all relative, man.
        I certainly cannot judge someone else for coming to a different understanding than I have.
        But I can most certainly judge their actions. And I can judge their conclusion. Their actions are what make them bad or good, their conclusions what make them right or wrong. Not some nonsense about respecting beliefs.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:17:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wouldn't say I used a false equivelency here... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pragmaticidealist
          I agree that in the real life society, there is a lot more bigotry towards atheists than towards Christians (maybe even more so than Muslims or Jews) but on-line, I am amazed by the amount of pure vitriol aimed at religious beliefs. From the cracks about the invisible man in the sky to the FSM, we are called stupid, ignorant and are assigned blame for basically all of the problems in the world.
          Mutual respect for people is the cornerstane of civilization.   You believe that I am wrong.  Of course you do or else you would believe the same way I do.  I am willing to bet that if we asked a thousand people and they were honest, we couldn't find one person who agreed entirely with either one of us.  It doesn't matter.  I actually tell my kids they are not allowed to believe as I do.  They have to find their own beliefs and not just parrot me.  They have impressed me with some of the conclusions they have came up with.
          I don't have to have to respect what people believe at all, ever.
          You do not have to do anything.  I believe that the world is a much better place when I try to respect other's beliefs but there is no requirement anywhere to do so.

          So I guess it really is, like, all relative, man.  

          You are very bright.  I have enjoyed many of your posts and I believe you are even on my stream who I follow because we have so many similar beliefs about so many things.  This disagreement will not change that.  Respect is something we choose to give or withhold and it cannot be demanded or required.  

          And I can judge their conclusion. Their actions are what make them bad or good, their conclusions what make them right or wrong. Not some nonsense about respecting beliefs.
          I am satisfied that some things are too complicated for me to have the confidence of knowing absolutely what is right and what is wrong like you do.  I have came to my conclusions after many years of knowing I was right and then allowing my beliefs to evolve.  They are still evolving and tomorrow, they may be different than today as I add to my understanding.  If they are different than they were yesterday, I was either wrong then or I am wrong now.  Call it nonsense if you like but respecting people's beliefs is a fundamental principle in my life and I think it is worth believing in.

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:45:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was pissed at the diary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Buckeye Nut Schell

            You're more reasonable, as people tend to be when they engage in a conversation instead of just dropping a polemic and leaving.

            I am satisfied that some things are too complicated for me to have the confidence of knowing absolutely what is right and what is wrong like you do.
            I never claimed absolute knowledge of right and wrong. I'm not magic. But I sure as hell know some things that are right or wrong.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:52:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Let me rephrase that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Buckeye Nut Schell, ZedMont

            You're reasonable. Not just more reasonable. Didn't want you to think I was damning with faint praise.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:53:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Honestly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Buckeye Nut Schell

            There's a lot of very interesting stuff going on right now beyond new atheism.

            And if we're going to discuss dead authors like Hitchins, we can certainly see how he stacks up as an atheist writer against Vonnegut and Adams.

        •  No false equivalency, in my view. (2+ / 0-)

          Actual equivalency. It strikes me that good people who turn to religion do good things and that good people who turn to non-religious beliefs also do good things.

          Hateful people will always find the hatefullness in the belief system they chose, in exactly the same way. The diarist actually does a pretty good job of running down the situation.

          I see the world as very much a Rohrshach test. I'm a million miles from being a believer in anything. Putting the blame on religion, or the lack thereof, is a blind alley.

          Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

          by LABobsterofAnaheim on Tue May 07, 2013 at 09:00:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you can put the ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Fishtroller01

            ... blame on religion at every turn for opportunity costs. Where would be as a society if reglion hadn't held us back?

            I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

            by Tortmaster on Wed May 08, 2013 at 02:44:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pretty much exactly where we are. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NationalAtheistParty, Oh Mary Oh

              People would -- and do -- build other totems that create pretty much exactly the same problem.

              The fault, in other words, is not in our religions or creeds, but in ourselves.

              Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

              by LABobsterofAnaheim on Wed May 08, 2013 at 10:18:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Religions required ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT

                ... and still require people to ignore science and other human advances. Who's to say that other, more rational creeds wouldn't have promoted science? Sounds like your mind's still trapped by religion, brother, and you need to start thinking outside the book.

                I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

                by Tortmaster on Thu May 09, 2013 at 04:28:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's funny because... (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not remotely religious and never have been, though I've always been interested in it as a topic. You're clearly missing my point entirely and completely.

                  Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

                  by LABobsterofAnaheim on Thu May 09, 2013 at 08:08:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Never remotely said ... (0+ / 0-)

                    ... you were "remotely religious," just that your thinking is influenced by religion. I know that that is a cross we all have to bear, but once we realize it, we can free ourselves. (See what I did there?)

                    Just because something was, doesn't mean it had to have been. Additionally, and this is a problem I have with the diary as a whole, just because something was, doesn't mean it will be. In fact, if anything, change is the only constant rule, and evolution (of humankind and ideas) will eventually win out.  

                    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

                    by Tortmaster on Thu May 09, 2013 at 08:22:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Apatheism (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Joieau, eyesoars, ZedMont, Fishtroller01

    The freedom of atheism is it allows you to be apathetic toward religion.

    Judging by this diary, I don't think you have fully embraced our freedom yet.

    •  Never heard it put that way before. It's like a (0+ / 0-)

      conscientious objection to pointless confrontation.  I like it.

      Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

      by ZedMont on Tue May 07, 2013 at 09:34:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  highly edited response (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, ZedMont

    Probably a good thing that I didn't go all-snark, all the time.

    Is there really an organized atheism? That doesn't make sense to me. Organized religion would include places where believers of that religion would conduct rites. What would an organized atheist group do? Get together and immediately adjourn and go home? By that I mean there really aren't organized atheist groups so looking for one to do anything is not going to turn up much.

    There are some people who loudly proclaim they don't believe in God. I don't think "celebrity atheists" carry any degree of authority, so the "bow down" bit seems left over from your days in religion.

    If you like it, fine. Nobody needs to look to anyone else for approval on philosophical matters.

    •  There are organized atheists (4+ / 0-)

      But they organize around issues that atheists have to deal with in the real world. Groups like American Atheists.

      There are some people who loudly proclaim they don't believe in God. I don't think "celebrity atheists" carry any degree of authority, so the "bow down" bit seems left over from your days in religion.
      Exactly. And being a loud atheist does not make you a fundamentalist. Nor does loudly proclaiming that you think the idea of God is absurd.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 04:26:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess the diarist isn't into discussions (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, eyesoars, hnichols

        the last 24 comments by him are all tip jars.

        •  what? (3+ / 0-)

          So the diarist was a guest, I posted it, my name is Erin. Nice to meet ya, Shahryar.

          I've since asked if the writer would like to respond, but he's in Scotland, so he's sleeping.

          I'm not sure what the expectations are from some of the posts here - should we post a diary and then sit and stare at the comments in case there are questions or accusations? This has never really been brought up before. I guess nothing else merited a conversation in your book?

          We have a ton of writers for our diaries and not all of the views expressed are always going to represent every single view of the party or of every single person in the party. We're human. We all have different perspectives. We like to put those perspectives out for discussion - this one seems to have had quite a bit even without the writer's input.

          I promise that as soon as I get a response from him, I will post it. But I'm also not sure where you get that the last 24 comments by him were all tip jars...

          •  Atheists don't sleep. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NationalAtheistParty

            We re-boot!

            I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

            by Tortmaster on Wed May 08, 2013 at 02:47:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It is not from him... (0+ / 0-)
            But I'm also not sure where you get that the last 24 comments by him were all tip jars...
            If you check the NationalAtheistParty's Profile page, it shows you your comment history.  If someone only has tip jars in their comment history then they are considered "Hit & Run" diarists.  People who write diaries but do not bother to stick around and interact with the people who read them.

            In the world of dkos etiquette, this is considered bad taste even though some of our most distinguished guests here at dkos (like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) do this as well, they are usually criticized for it.  

            You did 'recommend" comments shown in the diary which does indicate you are watching it (which is a good thing).  However, when people start debating the intent of the author, it helps if a comment is made for clarification.  

            You have commented multiple times in this diary now and I would think that should satisfy even the most harsh critics.

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed May 08, 2013 at 06:36:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks Buckeye (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Buckeye Nut Schell

              Of course I'd love to answer every comment but it's just not possible. Etiquette or not I also really do feel that it's more interesting to hear our readers' points of view once we post a diary. It's a personal preference but the last thing I want to do is offend anyone (I'm an atheist for chrissakes, I have manners!)

               

  •  Secular charities and aid organizations (5+ / 0-)

    There are plenty. You need to look harder. Or try Google.

    http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/...

  •  Sorry, the logic behind your diary is flawed (6+ / 0-)

    Deeply flawed. For example, the American Red Cross has no religious affiliation, nor does the United Way, nor does Médecins Sans Frontières, nor... You get the idea.

    Why on earth would there need to be an atheist charitable organization? I don't help people because I'm an atheist, I help people because it's the right thing to do.

    I suppose there religious people that would ignore the starving and sick unless their big bearded man in the sky forces them to behave otherwise. Hopefully, He will talk some sense into them someday.

    -Jay-
    
    •  Also notice the people labeled "idiots" (4+ / 0-)

      in the image. There are huge swathed of the religious world who have said that non-believers need to die. The number of atheists who say that, and jokingly most of the time, is minuscule. As evidenced by the fact that the diarist can't even provide links.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue May 07, 2013 at 04:48:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "non-religious" organizations (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Buckeye Nut Schell

      while a lot of organizations are not necessarily affiliated with a religion, that doesn't mean that the money donated to them does not go to religious or anti-atheist causes. State agencies in Mississippi, for example, are encouraged to donate to the United Way, because while "the United Way of Southeast Mississippi supports some worthwhile organizations, such as the American Red Cross, the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and many others. However, they also fund the Aldersgate Mission (a group whose mission involves enhancing "spiritual development" and "Bible study"), the Salvation Army [a Christian organization], and the Boy Scouts (a group widely known to engage in anti-atheist and anti-gay bigotry). You can find a complete list of the agencies they fund here."

      It's great that you help people because you want to and it's the right thing to do, I agree. I do the same. I think the author is simply trying to point out that religious organizations do help an awful lot, not only because it makes Jesus happy, but because they happen to be religious organizations, and to dismiss them purely on affiliation isn't always helpful.

      A reason we need to organize is because there is a stigma to atheists that we're all in it for ourselves and that religion, by its nature, is charitable. This is changing. Atheists Giving Aid is one such group that puts us out in the forefront and shows to people that we can organize for the betterment of humanity. Things that show atheism in a positive light are necessary at this juncture of history considering we're still one of the most disliked groups in the U.S.

      The bottom line is there are people like you who want to help and will no matter what the circumstance or group they choose to work with. At least we're all helping...

  •  So many strawmen and so much false equivalence (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, eyesoars, hnichols, Fishtroller01

    Blah.

  •  Agnosticism gets no respect... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyesoars, Buckeye Nut Schell

    ...just like Rodney Dangerfield.

    I don't know, and I'm comfortable with that.

    Once I began to dig into the fundamentals of the universe, whether time really exists, the uncertainty of quantum mechanics, and the deep puzzles of dark matter and dark energy...let's not even get started with vacuum genesis...I realized just how unknowably weird the universe really is.

    I don't know, and that's fine.

    There's great line from one of my favorite movies, Big Trouble in Little China:

    You are not brought upon this world to "get it." ...There are many mysteries, many unanswerable questions, even in a life as short as yours.
    Old Jack Burton always says: "It doesn't mean we shouldn't ask."

    But if there are no answers to our questions, I'm cool with that.

    Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Tue May 07, 2013 at 05:14:11 PM PDT

  •  And then there's.... (5+ / 0-)

    the agnostic, dyslexic, insomniac. He used to stay awake nights wondering if there really was a dog.

  •  This is disappointing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, Fishtroller01
  •  I'm not an atheist and I'm not a theist, if by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye Nut Schell

    theist you mean one who is religious.  I don't think I'm an anti-theist in the strict sense of the word, because I don't try to convince anyone to adopt my "belief system," for reasons not the least of which is that I'm not real sure what it is myself.

    But I used to be a fundamentalist, and I know from experience that you don't convince a fundamentalist of his folly.  Only a fundamentalist can convince himself that he is wrong, and that is very difficult, impossible for most.

    But I would like to say one thing about religion in general.  And whether or not you are religious, I think if you are intellectually honest you will accept a simple truth common to all religions*, and that is, whatever you believe, you believe because someone told you to believe it, and someone told them to believe it, and on and on.  

    And what someone told you to believe depends primarily on where you live.  This is why there have been literally thousands of religions believing in tens of thousands of gods, said religions originating in geographical clusters throughout history.  

    The effectiveness of faith traditions passed down through generations can be seen most clearly in the religions that believe their god is the only one, and that everyone else's gods are a figment of their imagination and/or a cruel hoax.  That is so counterintuitive to reason that the only way some fundamentalists can justify it is to conclude that it is foolish to reason about God, if not outright sinful.

    Now, if you can believe in an anthropomorphic god while accepting that truth about why you believe in the god you do, then your faith is stronger than mine ever was.

    *This is not necessarily true of all individuals, because there are individuals who believe their god(s) speak to them in present time, and some who believe their god(s) appear to them in various forms.  Some of these people are insane, but not all. The  faith of the rest is simply not bound by the laws of the universe.  Mine - if you can call it a faith - is.

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

    by ZedMont on Tue May 07, 2013 at 09:15:49 PM PDT

  •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

    We get to stone, burn at the stake, draw and quarter, lynch, rack, beat, thumbscrew, flog, pink belly, strappado, mutilate, drown, say indignantly "I do declare," whip, bullwhip, shave, mutilate, chain, imprison, castrate, maul, impale, behead, feed to lions, starve, punch and point at as many of them as they did us. Then, and only then, can we call it even.

    Seriously, though, I couldn't disagree more with this:

    Whether we atheists like it or not, faith in God(s) is with us and does not show any sign of going away any time soon. The 2012 discovery of the Bosonic Field, far from destroying the faith of millions, has done nothing to lessen it.
    The vǫlva of the Norse and the oracles of the Greeks and Romans likely said that their gods would live forever and that men would always believe. But atheism is winning out, and it will eventually win out. Look at Marriage Equality: Who woulda thunk just two years ago? Eh? Seems to me your argument is both counter-productive and counter-intuitive.  

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Wed May 08, 2013 at 02:35:05 AM PDT

  •  Holy cow! How can you be an atheist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrybuck

    and NOT KNOW about Foundation Beyond Belief or any of the other myriad of atheist based charities.  Just google it. One of them is Dawkins' own Foundation. How dare you say that atheists should "get off their bums and get their hand dirty"? Every day in every community atheists work in charities, hospitals and schools. They are nurses and firemen and teachers.  Just because they don't get a government hand out to do charitable work like all the religious organizations do doesn't devalue their efforts.   Pull the tax exemptions and tax payer subsidized grants from churches and just see how much charity they do.  Could you BE anymore insulting?

    And far as your other opinions, well, I'm an atheist and a freethinker too and I am freely thinking that you have fallen into a recent "hate the new atheists" trap and don't even realize it.  

    Hitchens would have been the last person in the world who would have demanded fealty from the world of atheists. Since he is not here to respond to your accusations, try emailing Dawkins and ask him if he looks for any sort of worship behavior from atheists or anyone for that matter.  

    I don't speak for other atheists, but on the other hand, as an atheist, you certainly don't speak for me. Your apologetics for missionary work is amazing. Missionaries have been responsible for an incredible amount of destruction of native cultures and religious beliefs.

    There is a difference between tolerance/respect for religion and apologetics. This diary doesn't demonstrate to me that you know the difference.
     

    •  Hitchens may not demand it... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but atheists quoting him like theists tossing out bible quotes makes it seem like we don't have original thoughts. Do you think Dawkins or Hitchens would be more impressed at someone who read his book and used it as a basis for non-belief, quoting "verse" from it or the atheist who came to his/her own conclusion from studying religions and researching scientific evidence and came to the conclusions on his/her own?
      Personally, I agree with the comment about "bowing before Dawkins". I'm more than a little tired of the unlimited supply of memes and articles promoting books and youtube videos for someone else's thoughts. I have more respect for someone who comes up with their own because that truly is the freethinker.
      Sorry, but I agree with a lot of what is in here. However, it is interesting how each person interprets this differently.  

      •  I am finding the hypocrisy in all this kind of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrybuck

        funny.  People quote from books, articles, movies, blogs, poetry and a million other sources every day when they find something that they feel fits their views. Now it's a crime because atheists quote Hitchens or Dawkins? No one is a complete freethinker. We all use other ideas and other comments and other sayings from each other all the time.  It doesn't mean that we don't have original thoughts behind the quoting.

        I'm curious. Are you comfortable with the comments about atheists not being involved in charity?

        •  I'm guessing (0+ / 0-)

          since he lives in the UK, that it's possible that they don't HAVE the charities that we do here (you'll notice he says he's from Scotland).

          Atheists should be advertising the good we do. It's part of why I do spotlight interviews about atheist charities for our blog (the Brown's for example). We know that we are doing good. It's the public that doesn't see it. An excellent example is the atheist groups that help but aren't allowed to do it under their "atheist" banner (KCAC). He says "Certainly some atheist versions of the above do exist, but compared to those from a religious background, they are but a drop in the ocean." He's not saying that they don't exist; he's saying that the number of religious-based charities vastly outnumber those that aren't. That's not an inaccurate statement.

          Also, I don't read books about being an atheist. I am an atheist. I've always been an atheist. I didn't have to de-convert, like most do. I have read the bible,  I even went to church a few times at varying denominations just to see what they were like. I didn't buy it as a child and saw no reason to change that. However what I will not do is care what anyone else says about why it's foolish to believe. I already know. It's a creation myth and not a well-written one either. It's not a crime to quote anyone, unless that's your entire argument.

  •  If one tries to be everything (0+ / 0-)

    one will be nothing much at all.

    This world is cruel, kind, funny. wonderful, dangerous (ultimately so), ugly. beautiful. but most of all it is absurd. & one of the absurdities, to me, the search for "enlightement." because the only way one can possibly find it is by not looking  for it. Peace of mind is not the same thing.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Wed May 08, 2013 at 04:52:17 PM PDT

  •  This is the only National Atheist Party (0+ / 0-)

    diary I can't recommend.

    Stop coddling the Christians. They have extreme amounts of power in our government, and are using it to abuse innocent people.

    Calling them out and telling them to fuck off is the least they deserve.

    I don't care about playing nice.

    Also, as a heads up: any good that admittedly may come from some people beliving in religion either to save their own life or to help others is mitigated to the millionth degree by the zealots who use it to spill oceans of blood or take away the rights of thousands of people.

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