Friday, February 02, 2007

Peasants with torches

If the on-going fray between atheist fundamentalists and Christians is of no interest to you, please skip this post and use the time on something you do enjoy.

Ok, now that it's just us, I found a few the letters in response to Barbara J. King's article entitled "God and gorillas" (which purports to explain what our distant cousins, namely Gorillas, can tell us about religion), great examples of the debate, and its typical tone.

(Point of clarification here: I do not lump all atheists into the category of "fundie atheist", and I even believe that the majority of atheists aren't of that stripe. However, fundie atheists nearly always lump all Christians together, not recognizing or purposely ignoring the fact that typically only fundie Christians hold the ideas they find so repugnant. Most of the rest of we Christians find fundie Christian tenets repugnant and silly, too.)

I'm not presenting these in order, because these various letter-writers did not respond to each other. I have them here because they typify their particular perspective.

First, we have a fundie atheist. I'll submit that this statement posed by whomever "Natural1" is responding to (in italics): "Religious people learn this behavior from the Bible" is not something I would agree with. The Bible says over and over that you shouldn't judge or get self-righteous.

That aside, the response it evoked is kinda typical of atheist fundamentalism:

RE: What makes people controlling and judgmental?

"Can any atheist here explain to me -- where do you people get YOUR judgmental fury from, since it's not religion?

Where do atheists get the idea they can tell other people how to think?

Religious people learn this behavior from the Bible. But where do atheists learn it from?

Atheists -- please explain."

Let me take a stab at this.

What you mistake for fury is actually frustration - that as progressive, forward thinking individuals we still have to live side-by-side with so-called adults who still believe in the Easter Bunny. Get it?

Most people who believe in spirits and (G)od are pliable, putty-brains who only believe because they were told to. No critical thought. No observation. Just blind belief in a set of stories told long ago by people with little understanding of the physical world.

George Bush is an extreme example of clouded, belief based thinking. But make no mistake - there are millions of others out there who are just as gullible and who will make decisions for the rest of us based on their misguided beliefs.

Action without proof is a slippery slope - it causes some to believe in false gods and others to start wars.

Now do you get it?

-- Natural1

This is almost a greatest hits package in terms of all the typical slings and arrows atheist fundies fling at believers. Pretty much Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins summed up in one little pustule of a letter.

Next, while the letter that follows resorts to some unnecessary name-calling like the letter above, this is a pretty good response from a believer, particularly the last sentence.

Oh please

I don't need an anthropologist's permission to believe in god.

I'm really sick and tired of the way people talk about evolution as if it explains everything. Yes, evolution is obviously real, but that doesn't mean that everything about life, about human behavior was caused by evolution. That is the height of unscientific, illogical thinking. Find something that science does not explain? Evolution did it of course! Whereas before there was the "god of the gaps", now there is "evolution of the gaps". Atheists found themselves a hammer and now they think everything is a nail.

Sadly, it is often the case, but spirituality does not have to be about blind faith. People experience things that science does not explain every single day. Skeptics write it off as brain farts but that is not good enough, it does not explain the eerie coincidences. People in isolated cultures experience the same things, so it's not just a "meme". If it was just a meme it would die out anyway, instead of being constant throughout all of humanity and history.

I used to be agnostic, leaning towards atheist. I thought there was no proof, so why believe? But then, one day god tapped me on the shoulder and alerted me to his presences, so to speak. I had a near-death experience that changed my life. After that I realized that there was nothing to fear, not even death, because my soul will live forever. I don't follow any organized religions, but after that, and now, I look around and see the proof was there all along, all around me.

But still, I think it's a waste of time to preach to atheists. They are people who are the impenetrable combination of ignorant and dense. They are the country of the blind that won't suffer us uppity one-eyed creatures. They are people who just have not reached the level of maturity where they can understand, perhaps god does hasn't gotten around to them yet. It's like magic-eye, some people just see a bunch of random dots, and others know how focus and see the design embedded inside. It's like a mathematical proof, the symbols on the page prove nothing to people who do not have the intelligence and background knowledge to understand it. People do often see meaning in things that do not have meaning, but that is no reason to assume religious experience is one of them.

But I guess all of this has little to do with the article here. The article is just more glib dismissal of the real issues... so typical of contemporary thought on the matter. Completely missing is the examination of the contents of religions. Instead, they write politically-correct blather built on the baseless assumption that spirituality is the result of evolution at all. Soon I'll be reading articles about how evolution explains my belief in rutabagas. Maybe people believe in god because... gee whiz, I dunno... because of what they have personally seen and experienced?

-- BocaBaconBurger

Finally, I love this take-down of the scurrilous idea that only Christians try to get the government to kowtow to their views and beliefs (a practice I abhor, btw), or that Christians are the only ones who practice bad evangelism (not to mention the parting shot that liberal rags throw out flamebait just like Rush and Faux News):

But seriously folks

So, when was the last time the Atheist Witnesses came trespassing on your property knocking on your door unannounced and uninvited to try to convert you to their way of thinking?

Never but I can't remember the last time a religious organization did it either. Maybe the Jehovah's witnesses left a leaflet in my door once 15 years ago though.

But that's all besides the point since we all know there's one heck of a lot of ways to cram one's ideology down another's throat without ringing anyone's doorbell.


If you're suggesting that atheists haven't equally tried to use laws and the political system and courts to instill their beliefs on the public that largely doesn't agree with them.... If you're suggesting that atheists don't regularly try to browbeat the Democratic Party into litmus testing out the religious (Jewish or Christian anyway)...

If you're suggesting that atheists haven't and don't continue to attack the moderate Democrats who understand alienating religious folks had damned near made the party extinct across 2500 square miles of America ... And if you want to maintain that atheists don't rush out to whatever Christian and political dialogues they can find simply to shout down and piss on people who are believers for their "stupidity", than I can only conclude that your "ilk" as another rabid one phrased it, are on different planets breathing air of different atomic composition than the rest of us.

Understand I don't like the religious right one bit. But I don't like the obnoxious atheist crowd either. And I agree with the person who per se suggested Salon is increasingly throwing red meat to it's rabids in the same way Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter do, by publishing this and similar baiting articles.

-- JoanR


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