Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Is Atheiphobic a Word?

My library is expanding nicely! My copy of I Sold my Soul on eBay came in today, so I'll get to that as soon as I finish The God Delusion. I've also recently purchased The Varieties of Scientific Experience and found Breaking the Spell last night in a half-price bookstore.

Other's aren't quite so appreciative of all of this reading material. Don Feder, author of Who's Afraid of the Religious Right, has a new article published in USA Today, called Atheism isn't the final word. I'm going to desconstruct this a little, directed at Don:

Oh, for the days when one could safely stroll into a bookstore without tripping over the latest atheist title.
Aren't book stock and bestseller lists based on demand, not supply? You should direct this criticism to the patrons that are actually buying these titles.
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., has become the first member of Congress to announce that he doesn't believe in God. He's probably just looking for a book deal.
Can you say "petty?" Also, irrelevant. Stark's statement has nothing to do with atheist advocacy. He wasn't advocating anything.
Why the sudden outpouring of atheist advocacy? Perhaps it's a way for the cultural left to assert itself in the face of the religious right.
You put this directly after the Pete Stark announcement. How does one non-religious person in over 500 lead to a cultural assertion? How many Christian books come out every year? How much funding do Christian organizations have compared to atheist ones? According to polls, half of Americans don't even know a single atheist. We're just wanting to be heard.
Let the godless write their books and the faithful answer them. The disillusionment with religion that dominated British intellectual circles after World War I helped to shape the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis.
And today, Britain is around 40% non-believers. C.S. Lewis was a good author, but hardly an indicator of trends.
In the USA - the most science-oriented society in history - Christian bookstores, radio stations and TV programming proliferate.
We're maybe (arguably) the most science-dependent, but science-oriented? Give me a break. Nearly 30% of the US thinks the sun goes around the earth. Just because we use computers doesn't mean we know how to program them. Just because we happily use the products of science doesn't mean most people know a lick about it.

Also, we're back to demand again. The proliferation of Christian media is mostly reflective of the statistical weight Christians have among book readers, radio listeners, and TV watchers. It has nothing to do with science in society.

I thought you said that bookstores were crowded with atheist books, anyway?
It seems as though a hunger for the Creator is imprinted on the human heart.
No, that would be DNA. You know, that molecule you believe in when it's used to zealously convict a criminal to death row, but that you don't believe in when it shows the evolutionary similarities between humans and apes.
What would a world without God look like? Well, for one, morality becomes, if not impossible, exceedingly difficult.
What about morality that isn't expressed in the bible? I don't think the bible has anything to say about doctor/patient priviledge, yet I've never met a doctor that didn't think it was immoral to discuss other patients with you. What about owning slaves? Oh, wait, that's endorsed by the bible! Yep, there's no way humans could ever learn morality on their own....
"Thou shalt not kill" loses much of its force when reduced from commandment to a suggestion.
If the only thing keeping you from killing people are a few verses from a book many thousands of years old, then remind me to avoid meeting you in a dark alley. It's a lot easier to forget a few old verses than it is to ignore the common sense, decency, social responsibility, and respect for other human beings that I and every other atheist I've ever met possess.
A universe that isn't God-centered becomes ego-centered.
I guess if your ego is big enough to believe that a creator of the Universe personally loves you and pays attention to you and listens to your prayers, then you already think you're at the center of the universe. It also means that your universe if very, very small.
People come to see choices through the prism of self: what promotes the individual's well-being and happiness. Such a worldview does not naturally lead to benevolence or self-sacrifice.
Have you never heard of "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?" What about "two heads are better than one?" There are many benefits to being concerned about others and happily cooperating with others. This is not just seen in humans. Females of many species help take care of other female's babies, despite not directly promoting their own well-being and happiness. Chimpanzees have been seen sacrificing their own life by jumping into a moat to try to save a fellow chimp, despite not being able to swim. An experiment with monkeys shows that when food was only available after pushing a button that delivers a painful electrical shock to another monkey, they would starve for days to avoid hurting the other monkey.
An affirmation of God can lead to the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the Declaration of Independence.
Wasn't the Declaration of Independence written to free a people that had escaped from religious oppression?
In terms of morality, a denial of God leads nowhere.
What about the Constitution?
There are no secularist counterparts to Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, William Wilberforce (the evangelical responsible for abolition of the British slave trade), Martin Luther King Jr., or the Christians - from France to Poland - who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

Daniel Morgan already pointed out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have given $30 billion to charity. I would also like to add Elisabeth Cady Stanton, a leading figure in the women's rights movement.
Yet, the worst horrors of the modern era were perpetrated by godless political creeds.

This doesn't mean that the horrors were done in the name of atheism. The horrors from religion was done in the name of religion.
There is no irrefutable evidence for God's existence or non-existence. But, if you look closely, his footprints can be discerned in the sands of time.

You're making the claim, you back it up. We don't have to prove God's non-existence just like we don't have to prove Odin's non-existence, or Vaisnavi's.
Jews introduced the world to monotheism. They also were the first people to perceive history as linear- an unfolding story moving toward a conclusion. Is it a coincidence that this tiny, originally nomadic people generated the ideas that shaped the Western world, including equality, human rights and a responsibility to our fellow man?

Let's see how they did. Equality: by allowing slavery? Human rights: by permitting you to sell your daughter? Or by stoning your wife if she said she was a virgin when you married, wasn't, and it bothered you? Responsibility to our fellow man: by mauling other people's children because they called you bald? Or by killing people that collect firewood on Sunday?
Atheists are free to disbelieve and to try to propagate their disbelief in books and other intellectual forums. But saying the debate is over doesn't make it so. A bit of humility might make their case more convincing. Then again, humility is itself a religious concept.
The religious concept is to waste humility before something invisible, untouchable, and untestable, and then be righteous and demanding of special priveledge to the detriment of people they consider less deserving. I admit, don't share that type of humility.


Infidel753 said...

What would a world without God look like? Well, for one, morality becomes, if not impossible, exceedingly difficult.

Isn't it kind of funny how societies with much higher precentages of unbelievers in the population than the US, such as western Europe and Japan, also have much lower rates of violent crime? Of course, western Europe's violent-crime rates are now higher than they used to be, but a hugely disproportionate share of that comes from the Muslim minority, which is decidedly not secular.

Oh, for the days when one could safely stroll into a bookstore without tripping over the latest atheist title.

So it's not enough that the Christian view be represented -- he wants a world where the atheist view is not.

Kris said...

I think you well and truly debunked that article. Very much agree with your arguments, especially relating to morality, I really hate it when the idea of atheist=immoral is presented in this way.

Sacred Slut said...

Well, I was going to attack this article but you've saved me the trouble. :)

This guy really fried me. Go into any B&N and there are HUNDREDS if not thousands of Xian books taking up at least two full aisles. There are many hundreds more for other religions and "new age" BS. There are in fact probably more Wiccan titles published every year than atheist titles. The fact that atheism has gotten a little (mostly good) press is obviously eating at his narrow priggish hate-filled little soul.

CS Lewis is NOT a good apologist IMO. Anyone who thinks the Argument from Desire is a compelling argument....geesh. "I really really wish it were so, so it must BE so." Clap your hands if you believe, children!

The ironic thing about the idea that only god is keeping people from raping, looting and murdering everyone in their path is that no god has ever done a damned thing to stop rape, looting or murder. It's only the idea of god, which people made up that possibly stops people (I'm not even sure this is true given crime rates among Xians vs. non-theists, but be that as it may). So it seems to me we can quite easily take out the middle man -er, invisible supernatural entity.