Is Antifa ISIS-lite?

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Angry Internet Atheists

Here is another observation from DHay:

Hemant Mehta, in his 22 August 2017 blog post entitled “Christians and Atheists Speak a Different Language on Facebook”, tells us that:

In 2013, a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that Christians seemed happier on Twitter than atheists, judging from the words they used. Atheists also swore a lot more.

And a recent study of information — again, the data set is from several years ago — which Facebook users had been made publicly available found pretty much the same, this time with a ‘word-cloud’ to show the distinctive words which self-identifying Christians used but atheists generally did not, and another which showed the distinctive words which self-identifying atheists used but Christians generally did not. Mehta kindly reproduces those word-clouds:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/08/22/christians-and-atheists-speak-a-different-language-on-facebook/

Yep, Christians seem happier on Facebook, too, and atheists swear a lot.

The most distinctively atheist word on Facebook, and by quite a bit, is “fucking”,

Top atheist words by both how distinctively they characterise atheists (indicated by word size) and how frequently atheists use them (indicated by brightness of word colour) include:

fuck, fucking, fucked, shit, fuckin, bloody, dead, drunk, I’ve, I don’t, …

Mehta surely draws attention to this study and to its results as a damage limitation exercise: if he can pre-load his readers with his spinning ready answer, they’ll blank with that answer when they see the study referred to later. How Mehta spins explains the results is:

[Twitter study] I thought there was a perfectly good explanation for that, and it wasn’t that Christians were nicer, kinder, or less angry. Simply put, when atheists (who identify that way) are on Twitter, we’re likely to talk about problems with religion. We’re reactionary for a reason. Internet Christians, on the other hand, talk a lot about God and their churches. They share images with Bible verses. On the whole, they have little reason to complain.

[Facebook study] In case you see articles about this study online, let’s hope they all note that this isn’t a value judgment. There’s nothing wrong with the words atheists use online. The unique words we use are just different from the unique ones religious people tend to use. And again, remember that atheists tend to vent online. (It’s not like most of us discuss religion in a private setting once a week.) Believers have the luxury of not having to fight for their rights all the time. Their views are represented at the highest levels of power.

No wonder they’re so damn happy.

It’s all very simple, isn’t it: atheists are angry because they are put upon and at the bottom of the pile, Christians happy because they are comfortably at the top. Hmmm, looks to me like Mehta’s provided a rationalisation, spin.

What the study tells me is that the stereotype of the angry internet atheist out on a rant isn’t merely a product of prejudice; it’s supported by science, evidence and reason.

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New Atheism Has Faded Away

In 2014, the evidence indicated that the New Atheist movement was past its peak and was beginning to fade away.

In 2015, the evidence was even more clear.

In 2016, it had become clear that Dawkins, the figurehead of the New Atheist movement, had become largely irrelevant in the general culture.

And the trend continues in 2017.  I’ll simply cite two data points.

  1. New Atheist leaders have officially renounced their association with New Atheism. Phil Torres did this and then PZ Myers followed. The Torres announcement was significant because it was very criticial of New Atheists and received no pushback from people like Dawkins, Harris, or Coyne.
  2. Richard Dawkins new book of essays about science and atheism has been a flop. It has been out for two weeks here in the United States and has not made the NYT bestseller list. And as I write this, on Amazon it ranks over 1,071 on their bestseller list and has only 12 reviews.   Ouch.

What happened to the New Atheist movement?  It all began with Elevatorgate and the schism has only deepened and intensified with each following year.  Apparently, the New Atheist movement was made up of all kinds of ideologues – postmodern neo-marxists, nationalists, hyper-feminists, hedonists, white supremacists, etc.  What united them was their hatred of Christians, Christianity, and God.   It turns out I was correct in noting the New Atheist movement as a modern day hate movement.   Without the unifying and negative emphasis of focusing on bashing Christians, they turned on each other.

This shows I was also right about something else.  I long criticized the notion that New Atheists were a group of people all bonded by their common love of Reason, Evidence, and the Scientific Approach.  I think we can all see now that that was nonsense.

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Ex-girlfriend of “pro-white” activist who organized the Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville says he is an atheist

From here:

Laura Kleiner, a Democratic activist who lives in Staunton, said she dated Kessler for several months in 2013. She said Kessler was very dedicated to his liberal principles, and that he was a strict vegetarian, abstained from alcohol and drugs, embraced friends of different ethnicities and was an atheist.

 

“He broke up with me, and a lot of it was because I was not liberal enough,” she said. “I am a very progressive Democrat … but he didn’t like that I ate fish and that I’m a Christian.”

Of course, this does not mean all atheists are white supremacists, but I think we all know that if Kessler was a Bible-thumping fundamentalist, New Atheists sites (like the FA) would be trumpeting this as part of their on-going propagandistic smear campaign to equate Christianity with racism.

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Post-Christian Radicalism

Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and is also an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York.  Back in March, the NPR interviewed him and he made some interesting observations that suggest the increased radicalization we are seeing in politics and culture is linked to the decreased religiosity we have also seen:

What you find in the data is that Trump did very well among self-described evangelicals. But he did far better among self-described evangelicals who don’t regularly attend church. Cruz destroyed him amongst evangelicals who go to church regularly.

and

What’s interesting is that the same divide you see between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump voters, you also saw between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voters. So if you look at white Democrats, white Democrats who went to church were much more – religious institutions at all – much more likely to be Hillary Clinton supporters. Bernie Sanders much more likely to win the votes of those who did not regularly attend religious institutions.

and

African-Americans remain more tied to church than do white Americans. And yet, you see this same divide – generational divide where younger African-Americans are substantially more likely to be disengaged from religious affiliation. I suggest in the piece that the Black Lives Matter movement is to some degree a product of that.

It’s interesting how we have been promised that if we could only lessen the influence religion has on people, reason and tolerance would begin to flourish.  Yet here in the United States, the very opposite seems to be happening.

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The Alt-Right and Atheism

I was going to comment on this, but Dhay did a better job that I would have.  So I thought I would repost his observations here:

Only three days after Sarabeth Kaplin’s 13 August 2017 post on the Friendly Atheist blog entitled “I’m Christian, But I Can’t Ignore My Faith’s Role in the White Supremacist Rally” and commenting on the protesters versus Rally participants inter-group violence, there’s Hemant Mehta’s own 16 August post entitled “Alt-Right Expert Claims Movement Includes a “Lot of Agnostics and Atheists””.

In her post Kaplin claims – actually no, she insinuates, insinuates strongly, several times, without actually saying it – that “the vast majority” of the Charlottesville White Supremacy Rallyers were Christians.

Gosh, she’s “annoyed by the refrain of #NotAllChristians” apparently flooding in on her social media feeds – perhaps those people social-media-feeding her that #NotAllChristians refrain are as prejudiced and stereotype bound and ignorant of the reality (read on) as she herself is – is annoyed because “these “reminders” that not all Christians act a certain way is irritating”; and she then insinuates that “the vast majority” of the Charlottesville Rallyers are Christians: yes, “the vast majority”. To use a phrase we will see Mehta using later, “There’s no evidence to back that up, though. It’s pure anecdote.” Or in Kaplin’s case, it’s pure speculation and prejudice.

Though I hardly recognize the Jesus that racist Christians claim to worship, it’s time to admit that being a Christian and a bigot are not mutually exclusive identities

Sam Harris began The End of Faith with a story of a hypothetical terrorist attack designed to kill innocent people and asked of the terrorist, “Why is it so easy… so trivially easy — you-could-almost-bet-your-life-on-it easy — to guess the young man’s religion?” Using similar logic, is there any doubt which religion is followed by the vast majority of white supremacists marching with their tiki torches in Virginia?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/08/13/im-christian-but-i-cant-ignore-my-faiths-role-in-the-white-supremacist-rally/
[Already commented on,see three responses above.]

Kaplin is obviously clueless about what the Rallyers’ religions or none might be, but that doesn’t stop her projecting as truth what her own extreme prejudices tell her “must” be the case.

*

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The Overconfidence of Modern Day Atheism

In a previous posting, I noted that modern day atheism is defined by its overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity.  The New Atheist movement itself is merely something that naturally emerged as a means to celebrate and amplify these traits given the right catalyst – 911.

Recently, J. H. McKenna makes a point that adds further support to my thesis.  Consider what he observes:

When I speak with atheists nowadays, I sometimes ask them to compose a short 200-word essay explaining why they disbelieve. (That would be about three paragraphs in this piece you are reading—not long.) But these atheists refuse to write 200 words and tell me they would just as soon write 200 words on why they don’t believe in the Phoenix as write 200 words explaining why they disbelieve in God. To them, the notion of God is as fabulous as the Phoenix. Why waste time composing 200 words justifying incredulity about the Phoenix?

And there it is.   You could not ask for a more clear demonstration of overconfidence coupled with a lack of nuance and curiosity.  This is, after all, an argument from incredulity.  The overconfidence is so extreme they cannot be bothered to write a 200 word essay explaining why they disbelieve.   And the notion that “God is as fabulous as the Phoenix” crowds out any sense of nuance and curiosity.

So we now have two lines of powerful evidence for thinking modern day atheism is characterized by overconfidence, a lack of nuance, and a lack of curiosity.

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Atheists and Ghosts

Atheist activist  David Mcafee writes:

This weekend, I spoke at “Gateway to Reason,” an atheist convention in St. Louis. It was a large gathering of non-believers, including big names like Seth Andrews and David Smalley, but there was still something missing: scientific skepticism.

Many atheists are also skeptics, but that’s not always the case. This is something I already knew, but it became even more apparent after my talk on Saturday. The topic was “You Don’t Have to be a Scientist to Think Like One,” and I talked about all that is pseudoscience – from acupuncture to UFOs, and everything in between.

I expected most people to be on board, but as my talk progressed it became clear that I had offended a number of audience members by categorizing their particular beliefs as “false.” After I left the stage, the first person to approach (confront) me was a 9/11 “Truther” asking me about the “missing engine” from the plane that hit the Pentagon that tragic day (anyone who asks this question seriously is more of a denialist than a scientific skeptic).

The second person to come up to me, believe it or not, was also a Truther who wanted to know why I believed the “official government story” about what happened. But they weren’t the only ones. People who believed in ghosts, psychics, and other assorted woos all came to tell me why they’re right despite a complete lack of supporting evidence.

None of this surprises me at all.  In fact, I have noted it for some time now.   For example, while the atheist activists like to point to various European countries and the decline in religion, they rarely mentioned that this decline is religion seems to be correlated with a rise in paranormal beliefs.

All of this is significant.  As I explained over a year ago:

Thus, while we are told that atheists, as a group, reject belief in God because of critical thinking and a lack of evidence, there are many who believe in ghosts, spirits, along with other supernatural and paranormal phenomenon, ……because of the same critical thinking and consideration of evidence?  Look, if the atheist is going to posture as a member of a group devoted to critical thinking and evidence, that message is contradicted when you also admit the existence of ghost-believing fellow atheists.

I think very few people become atheists because of reason and evidence.  They become atheists for personal and emotive reasons and then, after the decision is made, logic and evidence are used after the fact to make it appear like it was all a rational choice.  The very fact that many atheists believe in conspiracy theories, ghosts, witchcraft, etc. simply supports my point.

Atheist:  There is no God.

Theist: How do you know?

Atheist:  My aunt Elma told me. 

Theist:  But isn’t she dead?

Atheist:  Yes.  That’s how she knows.

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Elite Scientists Don’t Have Elite Reasons for Being Atheists

One of the favorite arguments in the atheist movement is to point to leading scientists and note that a majority of them are atheists. The argument is, of course, pathetic and not much different from trying to score some point for male superiority because the same elite scientists are mostly white males. What matters are the arguments and evidence these elite scientists can come up with. If their atheism is linked to their expertise as scientists and scholars, surely this group of people must possess the most powerful and compelling arguments against the existence of God. So I have always said we need to hear these arguments.

Luckily for us, Dr. Jonathan Pararejasingham has compiled video of elite scientists and scholars to make the connection between atheism and science. Unfortunately for Pararejasingham, once you get past the self-identification of these scholars as non-believers, there is simply very little there to justify the belief in atheism. See for yourself. Here is the video.

What I found was 50 elite scientists expressing their personal opinions, but none had some powerful argument or evidence to justify their opinions. In fact, most did not even cite a reason for thinking atheism was true. Several claimed to have been non-religious their entire life and several more lost their faith as children or young students.  This is consistent with a recent study that found:

The majority of the nonreligious scientists we interviewed were nonreligious before acquiring a scientific education (emphasis added)

Clearly, the expertise of these scholars had no role in formulating their atheism.

The few that did try to justify their atheism commonly appealed to God of the Gaps arguments (there is no need for God, therefore God does not exist) and the Argument from Evil (our bad world could not have come from an All Loving, All Powerful God). In other words, it is just as I thought it would be. Yes, most elite scientists and scholars are atheists. But their reasons for being atheists and agnostics are varied and often personal. And their typical arguments are rather common and shallow – god of the gaps and the existence of evil. It would seem clear that their expertise and elite status is simply not a causal factor behind their atheism.

Finally, it is also clear the militant atheism of Dawkins is a distinct minority view among these scholars.
My summary of each scholar’s point is below the fold.

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The Confused Thinking of a Social Justice Atheist

Earlier I extracted the most important aspect of Phil Torres argument – modern day atheism itself is intrinsically overconfident and lacking in nuance and curiosity.  In a sense, it is rooted in the thinking level of teens. More to come on that later.  Right now I want to focus on his social justice posturing, as the rest of his proposed values for reforming New Atheism seem to converge on support for social justice ideology.

First, speaking like a true activist, he proposes that New Atheists prioritize their “causes”:

 I mentioned this in my previous article. Examples include, first of all, spending a larger amount of time on unprecedented global challenges like climate change, the sixth mass extinction, nuclear proliferation, the rise of Christian dominionism, the rise of Islamic extremism and so on. Even the most cursory glance of the social media feeds of many new atheists reveals a fixation on the “regressive left,” a community that poses a far smaller danger to civilization than the alt-right and its political leaders.

Let me simply zero in on one claim – the global challenge of The Rise of Christian Dominionism.  Huh?  Later in his essay, Torres gives us the typical Gnu talking point about the need for rational, evidence-minded, thoughtful people.  Well, as a thoughtful, rational, evidence-minded person, I find this notion of some global challenge of The Rise of Christian Dominionism to be nuts.  It’s the same chicken little dance about the Coming Theocracy I have heard my entire life.  Light on the evidence; heavy on the conspiracy theory.  Torres has exposed himself as a crackpot with this nutty concern of his.

Then again, it could just be shallow-minded, social justice preening.  That is, if Torres is going to cite “Islamic extremism,” as a good social justice warrior, he needs to throw in something about Christian Dominionism as a shield against the horrid Islamophobia accusations.  If true, it would simply mean social justice convictions push people more than half way to Crazy Town.  But we knew that already.

Then there is this:

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