Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The New Atheists are a bunch of obnoxious jerks

If you're as big a Barbara Kay fan as I am (and you should be!), make sure not to miss her latest article, here, some very good stuff. (via HotAir)

For whatever it's worth (and it ain't worth much!), my earlier comments on this, as a very reluctant atheist thoroughly embarrassed by the company I must keep, are here.


Hector Owen said...

As one atheist to another, then, I wish some of these fools like Michael Newdow and his friends at the ACLU would just leave it alone. WRT the linked article: I have never liked that term "Brights." It's aggressively scornful. That's a great way to get people on your side, to tell them they are "not bright." Brights and, what, dims. Wizards and muggles. Fans and mundanes. The next step is the faithful and the infidels, Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb; or Mao Tse-tung with "religion is poison."

I fairly recently came across the concept of Igtheism, or Ignosticism. This might better describe my atheism; "I don't understand what you're talking about when you talk about God."
I came within an inch of posting something about this to Amba's God or Not? God or Not GodorNot godornot godornotgodornotgodornot, where she asked, "A proposition: theism represents the childhood of our species, atheism the rebellious adolescence. Can we name any examples of what maturity would look like? More walk, less talk would surely be a part of it." Maybe igtheism is the next step.

It's difficult to contemplate the concept of a concept that is outside one's understanding; in modern-day North America, maybe witchcraft or slavery would fill that bill. Phlogiston. Epicycles. Yet people still believe in astrology even in our neighborhoods, slavery and witchcraft are still practised, though not on our streets, we hope; oh my, progress is a sometime thing.

I believe, hmm, I guess this is my faith, that ethics can be proved like mathematics. (I wish someone smarter than I am with more mathematical talent would take this on. I'd expect a Goedel exception in there somewhere, but not of sufficient severity to render the whole thing invalid. Few human things are without exceptions.) If this is true then there is no need for a big guy in the sky to tell you what's right and what's wrong. Simply accepting commandments from on high without understanding the reasoning is like looking at the answers in the back of the book without ever doing the work.


Of course, those who wish to live forever, wearing white robes and starry crowns, will have none of it. The "72 virgins" crowd won't be inclined to change their ways either. I hope I live long enough to be around for the Singularity.

Adrian said...

first off, thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment, i really appreciate it!

i don't know much about philosophy (hey, i'm starting to sound like peggy lee over here), but that ignosticism sounds like an idea from wittgenstein, about how he felt it was impossible to believe in anything that you cannot first conceive. i actually always felt that was kinda b.s., as there are lots of things i can imagine in pretty good detail that i don't believe in, and many things i do believe that i could not easily define.

i approach belief from a much less theoretical or mathematical angle than you would like, i think. i simply view it as a matter of temperament. i just don't believe in god because i can't, it's not in my nature, i couldn't believe even if i wanted to. sorry i can't get more intellectual than that, but that's my take on it.

i think it's unfair to say that religious people simply accept answers from on high without doing the reasoning. certainly that applies to many, who just do what the priest tells them so they won't go to hell. but these are then the same people who would never yearn to figure out mathematical ethics for themselves and would simply do whatever the ethical genius told them to do so they won't divide by zero (or whatever the atheist version of hell might become).

the religious people i admire are precisely the ones who don't take it sitting down but who go out of their way to understand the reasoning and do the work. i'm a huge, huge flannery o'connor fan, her stories are super-intelligent and difficult and yet filled with the power of revelation.

i'm guessing by your blog header you're a whedonite, as am I, and so i hope you won't laugh at me for saying that i watched waaay too much buffy and angel in my day and that morality has a lot of influence on me, too. and that they use crosses for backup never bothered me, even if i wouldn't.

i guess what i'm saying is just my conservatism, my belief that values reached and passed on over thousands of years are usually worth preserving, even if that means some crazy stuff comes with it. i would be very, very wary (and now i'm sounding like elmer fudd) about getting rid of it all to replace it with some new and improved, (now 100% superstition-free!) version.