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Author Topic: 10 Myths about atheism  (Read 12436 times)

Akrasia

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10 Myths about atheism
« on: December 25, 2006, 01:52:40 am »
Suffering from a bit of insomnia (X-mas eve anxiousness at the age of 36 ...:duh:), I came across this piece in the L.A. Times by Sam Harris.  

If nothing else, Harris does a decent job in shooting down many of the silly objections that religious people (especially in the U.S.) level against atheism and atheists.

So Merry Christmas, good atheists everywhere! :bambi:
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droog

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2006, 01:57:39 am »
Merry Capitalistmas!
The past lives on in your front room
The poor still weak the rich still rule
History lives in the books at home
The books at home

Gang of Four
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Dominus Nox

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2006, 02:30:00 am »
The weirdest thing in that article was the statement that being an aethiest is more of an impediment to a career in american politics than being a muslim is.

personally I'd vote for an aethiest way before I'd vote for a muslim.
RPGPundit is a fucking fascist asshole and a hypocritial megadouche.

beejazz

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2006, 03:31:21 am »
Dude... this could not have come at a better time.

My mom just found out my sister's an atheist... they had somewhat of a quarrel on the topic. Hooray for their mutual ignorance and my having to play mediator.

And Nox, STFU.

Spike

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2006, 04:02:36 pm »
Bah. I found it rather poorly written and rather a bit like shooting at strawmen. He set up 'myths' about atheism... many I've never heard of or have never seen used as a possible 'complaint', then rather badly shoots holes in them.

If that is the sort of defense Atheists can muster, no wonder Americans don't want to vote for them.
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Sosthenes

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2006, 04:58:44 pm »
Quote from: Spike
If that is the sort of defense Atheists can muster, no wonder Americans don't want to vote for them.

I'll sacrifice you at the altar of Richard Dawkins, little Pika!

Yeah, the article isn't that good. I've actually read most of the arguments, though. It's just that a good journalist shouldn't exactly write short paragraphs about some bullet points. That's one way removed from bad powerpoint presentations. If you're net able to get some free-flowing text, get back to journalism school or finish that MBA...
 

Akrasia

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2006, 05:29:48 pm »
Quote from: Spike
Bah. I found it rather poorly written and rather a bit like shooting at strawmen. He set up 'myths' about atheism... many I've never heard of or have never seen used as a possible 'complaint', then rather badly shoots holes in them....


Well, it's not meant as a piece of analytical philosophy, but something intended for the masses.  

There are obviously rather sophisticated theists who would never buy into the lame 'arguments' discussed in the article.  Discussing the views of accomplished contemporary Christian philosophers like Plantiga, Swinburne, and Adams would be impossible in a newpaper opinion piece.

I'm not sure what you expect from a short piece published in the L.A. Times.

Anyhow, I lived in the U.S. for 10 years, and I've heard every one of these myths many times.  And I lived in college towns like Ann Arbor Michigan and Ithaca New York, as well as 'atheist friendly' San Francisco (when I taught at Stanford).  Not exactly the 'Bible belt'.  But nonetheless, I was surprised by how often otherwise erudite people would make these lame points about atheism.

(As an aside, I don't quite understand why you think it's 'poorly written'.)
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Akrasia

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2006, 05:34:05 pm »
Quote from: Sosthenes
... I've actually read most of the arguments, though. It's just that a good journalist shouldn't exactly write short paragraphs about some bullet points. That's one way removed from bad powerpoint presentations. If you're net able to get some free-flowing text, get back to journalism school or finish that MBA...

Sam Harris isn't a journalist.  He studied philosophy at Stanford University (where I previously taught), and is presently working on a doctorate in neuroscience.  He's also written two, rather well reviewed, books.
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Sosthenes

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2006, 06:45:13 pm »
Quote from: Akrasia
Sam Harris isn't a journalist.  He studied philosophy at Stanford University (where I previously taught), and is presently working on a doctorate in neuroscience.  He's also written two, rather well reviewed, books.
That's a general problem with scientists. A reason why the old-school type of quoting on the internet parcels the previous participants entry into neat little bundles to reply to them directly.

It works better for the Internet, though, were reading is more tiresome and finding information quickly is paramount. But for a published piece of work, I'd prefer something with more body. The article was some kind of "how to argue with your friends and family over the holidays". Which we're desparately in need of...

And BTW: He's excused, though. Philosophers generally don't know how to write. ;)
 

Akrasia

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2006, 11:26:17 pm »
Quote from: Sosthenes
... The article was some kind of "how to argue with your friends and family over the holidays"...


I'm toying with the idea of writing a book called The Sophist's Handbook that would cover a range of 10-20 divisive topics (for the most part on politics, economics, and religion).  For each topic there would be a list of '5-10 standard arguments' and effective replies to them.  

It would not be especially deep or intellectually challenging.  Essentially, it would be a guide to help people win arguments at parties, pubs, etc.
:ACF114F:

Cheesy, yeah.  But I suspect that there might be a market for such a 'handbook'.
:greedy:
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Spike

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2006, 03:26:46 am »
Well, to be honest equating atheism with scientists is not particularly a 'bad thing' myth from the atheists point of view. Maybe from the SCIENTIST POV, sure.... nothing brings the witchhunters down like godlessness.....;)

The only real myth I ran into regarding Atheism, and mind you I lived in the 'bible belt' for most of a decade, was equating atheist with satanists.
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GRIM

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2006, 08:21:36 am »
Of the ten I've been confronted with...

1, a lot.
2, usually only during drawn out arguments and as a reaction against mentioning  the inquisition or the crusades.
3, yes.
4, ALL the time, and linked to 1.
5, nope.
6, yes, but mostly from agnostics.
7, yes. 'But if you were insane like me, you could see!'
8, kinda, not usually expressed quite that way.
9, yes.
10, all the time, especially from Christian fundies.

So I don't think he's off the mark, nor have I found my experience to be atypical.
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Divine Hammer

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10 Myths about atheism
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2006, 02:37:48 pm »
I just hope he writes something so I can convince God that He doesn't exist.
 

Dominus Nox

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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2006, 06:16:56 pm »
Let's see now, how about top reasons to prefer aethists to christians?

1. Fred Phelps.
2. Jerry Fallwell.
3. Pat Robertson.
4. Jack Chick.
5. Ann Coulter.


Anyone got any others?
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Spike

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« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2006, 06:18:47 pm »
Quote from: GRIM
Of the ten I've been confronted with...



So I don't think he's off the mark, nor have I found my experience to be atypical.



I think you missed my point, Grim. Most of these are easy to show as existing, and as myths, simply because while they DO exist, they are rarely problems.  

In a few cases, it's been my experience that he's got them backwards  (like the scientists thing).   So, while a FEW of the ten may be very real targets,  even his arguements are hollow.  

Myth: Atheists are immoral...yadda yadda. Sure, real myth, real problem. Pointing out that 'Atheists are more likely.... due to their belief that this life matters...' is the same sort of bullshit moralizing that the religious types do. Atheists are people. Some will belive that, sure, but many will shrug and move on with their lives. Some will give up the ghost and eat a bullet in the face of an uncaring universe.  

To extend my metaphor, he's knocking down his straw men just dandy with his nerf bullets, but the real targets out there aren't affected in the least.

Crap article and hardly worth my time.
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

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