More Extremism From Richard Dawkins

You can always count on militant atheists to fail when it comes to hiding their militancy.

A few months ago, Dawkins let his anger get the better of him and showed us his true feelings – all religious people are evil.

Of course, someone people might think I was reading too much into his tweets. Nah. Tweety Dawk just completed the circle. Note what he recently tweeted:

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Jeffrey Taylor Makes a Dumb Comment

Jeffrey Taylor, writing for salon.com, offers up a common Gnu talking point:

I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has called for or committed acts of violence against Christians anywhere, at any time.

Well, yeah. Just as I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has done anything good for the world.

If atheism doesn’t get blamed, neither does it get credited.

Motivations don’t arise from non-belief; they arise from beliefs. So we would need to focus on the beliefs of the atheist. And atheists can have LOTS of beliefs. The New Atheist version, for example, believes religion is one of the greatest evils in the world, religious people are dangerous and/or mentally ill, and we need to rid the world of religion.

And I’m aware of atheists who, motivated by their anti-religious beliefs, have committed acts of violence against Christians around the globe.

Of course, not all atheists are New Atheists. There are many atheists who do not exhibit such anti-religious bigotry and it would be unfair to lump them in with the Gnus.

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Another New Atheist Attacks Monogamy

I had some fun mocking Dawkins’ logically inconsistent/incoherent defense of adultery in the last post (something I originally posted here about 3 years ago), but there is a dark side to his “argument.” Reconsider one of his claims:

Just as we rise above nature when we spend time writing a book or a symphony rather than devoting our time to sowing our selfish genes and fighting our rivals, so mightn’t we rise above nature when tempted by the vice of sexual jealousy?

The vice of sexual jealousy? Note the game Dawkins is playing. If he was to cheat on his wife, he would not be the one engaged in vice. Oh, no, his wife would be guilty of vice if she became upset about it. According to Dawkins’ Gnu sense of morality, the cheater is the victim and the victim of adultery is the villian. Dawkins, as an atheist, is attacking the whole concept of monogamous fidelity.

Yet, as it turns out, Dawkins is not the only New Atheist to have such views.

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The Subjective Essence of Atheism

It is common for atheists to proclaim that “there is no evidence for God’s existence” as if this was some objective truth about our reality.  Yet when someone says, “There is no evidence for God,” all they are really saying is “I don’t see any evidence for God.”  This follows from understanding that evidence is interpreted data and as such ultimately relies on subjectivity.   Evidence is conceived rather than sensed.  We cannot measure “evidence.”  We measure data and transform data into evidence with the act of thinking.  In other words, evidence comes into existence only when the mind interprets data that are sensed.  Given the existence of evidence depends on the subjective act of interpretation, it cannot escape its subjective aspect.  Now, this does not mean evidence is entirely subjective.  For its existence also depends on the data that are sensed.  Thus recognizing the subjective aspect of evidence does not commit us to some full-blown, post-modern denial of objective reality.  But it does mean that evidence is not some objective criterion that can decide an issue of dispute.  Disputes are only resolved when a) data exist to be interpreted as evidence AND b) all minds agree to interpret the data similarly.  We deceive ourselves if we treat evidence as an objective criterion.
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Atheist Accuses Hemant Mehta of Promoting Hate Forum

From the popular New Atheist blog, SkepChick:

Hemant Mehta, aka The Friendly Atheist, has written a post characterizing “The Slymepit” as “online forum that frequently criticizes and mocks (PZ MYERS) and is populated by people he deems trolls (even though they correctly uncovered plagiarism on his blog network).” The Slymepit, in fact, is a forum that was created specifically to host hate speech directed toward me and other feminists after National Geographic refused to allow blogger Abbie Smith to host a discussion about what a cunt I am on their servers. For the past several years it has served as a place for misogynist atheists to gather and circlejerk over how much they hate me, PZ Myers, and other outspoken feminists.

So Mehta promotes an atheist document that publicly labels PZ Myers and his fans as haters (and worse).

In doing so, Skepchick notices that Mehta is promoting a place “for misogynist atheists to gather and circlejerk over how much they hate me, PZ Myers, and other outspoken feminists.”

In other words, Type A New Atheists claim Type B New Atheists are haters.
Type B New Atheists respond by claiming Type A New Atheists are haters.

Er….maybe they are both right. Told ya New Atheism is a modern day hate movement.

If only we could get the world to abandon religion so we could all become New Atheists. The world would clearly be a much better place.

Posted in atheist wars, Hate, New Atheism | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Rise Above Our Nature?

A few years back Richard Dawkins wrote an article entitled Banishing the Green-Eyed Monster.  In it, he puts his Gnu sense of morality on display.  He begins by arguing that politicians have a duty to lie when it comes to their private life.  But then he argues we need to probe into the private religious beliefs of politicians (a religious litmus test?).  But then he finally gets to his main topic – adultery.

Dawkins asks, “Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?’

He doesn’t like it when adulterers are accused of being cheaters:

Agony Aunt columns ring with the cries of those who have detected — or fear — that their man/woman (who may or may not be married to them) is “cheating on them”. “Cheating” really is the word that occurs most readily to these people. The underlying presumption — that a human being has some kind of property rights over another human being’s body — is unspoken because it is assumed to be obvious. But with what justification?

Property rights?  Me thinks it has to do with two people making a public promise to each other.  So when one person breaks that promise, then yeah, they are cheating the other person. He continues:

In one of the most disgusting stories to hit the British newspapers last year, the wife of a well-known television personality, Chris Tarrant, hired a private detective to spy on him. The detective reported evidence of adultery and Tarrant’s wife divorced him, in unusually vicious style. But what shocked me was the way public opinion sided with Tarrant’s horrible wife. Far from despising, as I do, anybody who would stoop so low as to hire a detective for such a purpose, large numbers of people, including even Mr. Tarrant himself, seemed to think she was fully justified. Far from concluding, as I would, that he was well rid of her, he was covered with contrition and his unfortunate mistress was ejected, covered with odium. The explanation of all these anomalous behavior patterns is the ingrained assumption of the deep rightness and appropriateness of sexual jealousy. It is manifest all the way from Othello to the French “crime passionnel” law, down to the “love rat” language of tabloid newspapers.

From a Darwinian perspective, sexual jealousy is easily understood. Natural selection of our wild ancestors plausibly favored males who guarded their mates for fear of squandering economic resources on other men’s children. On the female side, it is harder to make a Darwinian case for the sort of vindictive jealousy displayed by Mrs. Tarrant. No doubt hindsight could do it, but I want to make a different point. Sexual jealousy may in some Darwinian sense accord with nature, but “Nature, Mr. Allnutt, is what we are put in this world to rise above.” Just as we rise above nature when we spend time writing a book or a symphony rather than devoting our time to sowing our selfish genes and fighting our rivals, so mightn’t we rise above nature when tempted by the vice of sexual jealousy?

Let me get this straight.  Sowing our selfish genes is not rising above our nature, but not being jealous when someone else sows their selfish genes is rising above our nature.  If we’re supposed to rise above our nature, why  not stop sowing selfish genes in the first place?  Wouldn’t the most consistent way to rise above our nature be to engage in………monogamous fidelity?

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Posted in Morality, New Atheism, Richard Dawkins | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Sam Harris: Media Creation

I was reading an interview of Sam Harris by David Samuels. Who is Samuels?

David Samuels, Tablet Magazine’s literary editor, is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and a longtime contributor to The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

So in the world of media, he is a player.

Anyway, I noticed something that caught my eye:

I first met Harris eight years ago in a Venice Beach restaurant, where we were introduced by a writer for The Simpsons. While I recall being dubious about whether the 21st century needed a new Voltaire, Harris’ first book, The End of Faith, marked him as one of the most important public intellectuals of our generation, an 18th-century Enlightenment thinker in a 21st-century world riven by 14th-century conflicts.

A new Voltaire? One of the most important public intellectuals of our generation? What kind of sappy writing is that? Why doesn’t he just get on with it and refer to Harris as Sam The Magnificent?

But then it turns out that Samuels, the media guy, is just promoting his friend:

Writing is indeed an extremely powerful and specific form of manipulation that imposes an unavoidable moral burden on the writer at the same time as it serves as a source of pleasure and income. I enjoy manipulating you, and it pays my rent. At the same time, I feel a powerful sense of responsibility to rewire your brain in ways that will have a beneficial effect on your inner life and your personal sense of connection to other people and to some larger whole that you and me and my atheist friend Sam Harris might all agree upon as a useful premise for thought and action.

But it gets much more interesting.

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New Atheist Organization Condemns New Atheist Leader

Check it out:

Atheist Ireland is publicly dissociating itself from the hurtful and dehumanising, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of the atheist blogger PZ Myers.

The atheist organization then provides examples of Myers “hurtful and dehumanising rhetoric” followed by examples of his “hateful and violent rhetoric.” They then supply examples of Myers’ “unjust and defamatory rhetoric.”

So a New Atheist organization recognizes that Myers’ rhetoric has been hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and defamatory.

Hemany Mehta, the “Friendly Atheist” who once looked up to Myers and even endorsed Myers’ book, piles on. Mehta writes:

There’s a litany of Myers’ own words included in the statement and, if you’re not familiar with him, it’s not a pretty collection. For Myers, it’s not enough to merely say someone is wrong or to point out the problems with their arguments. He has to insult and embarrass them, too, even if the differences in opinion are relatively minimal. (I’ve often been on the receiving end of his tirades.) When the comments are compiled together, it’s no wonder Atheist Ireland wants nothing to do with him.

I get why people would rather avoid him. If you ever wanted to push back against something he said, it wasn’t just one guy with a blog you’d be upsetting. It’s a guy whose response would be over the top, whose blog has a large and dedicated following, and who acts as an accelerant for his often-anonymous and even more aggressive commenters.

A swarm of atheists then comment, trashing Myers with a recurring theme: “I once thought PZ Myers was great as he helped introduce me to atheism, but now I recognize him (and his fans) as hateful/mean/etc.” For example, one atheist commented:

Phryangula was my entry into the atheoblogs. Over time, I noticed that the horde was growing more and more authoritarian. Neutral comments or anything but the fullest throat endorsement of the abusive tactics was decried as misogyny.

I tried to bring up my concerns and PZ did change his comment policy to say let people post a few comments before you abuse them. That he ever needed such a rule is telling. He never enforced it and the insane horde never paid attention. I eventually moved to other FTB bloggers but even that was too close to the rampant hostility of PZ’s crew.

This development begs for commentary.

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A Moment of Clarity from Richard Dawkins

New Atheist activist Richard Dawkins is caught off guard when asked about free will. Because of this, he answers in a remarkably candid manner (sidekick Lawrence Krauss also answers, but he comes across as babbling).

The transcript of Dawkins’ response is below the fold.

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Is Atheism Incompatible with Free Will and Moral Choice?

When you search google with ‘free will atheism,’ the first article to come up is entitled, “Myth: Atheism is Incompatible with Free Will and Moral Choice.” It is written by Austin Cline, who is promoted as an “Atheism Expert.”

Cline writes:

Myth: Without God and a soul, there can be no free will and your brain is just a collection of chemical reactions that are determined by the laws of physics. Without free will there can be no real choices, including moral choices.

This is a myth? This only happens to be the position of New Atheist leaders Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris (and their fans). Cline should at least acknowledge that this argument is being made by popular atheists instead of spinning it as a “myth.”

Speaking of free will, today is the day New Atheist Craig Hicks will have a death penalty hearing for his murder of the three Muslim students. For some odd reason, neither Coyne nor Harris seem willing to make the argument that Hicks should not be held morally responsible for his actions.

Posted in atheism, free will, New Atheism | Tagged , , | 7 Comments