Are modern atheists suffocating atheism with liberalism?

For starters, I’m an agnostic (pretty close to atheist), I don’t really have any thoughts on whether a God exists or not. I do however, have some thoughts on how this…”battle” between Atheism and Religion seems to be shaping out. I have many friends who are both atheist and religious, but almost all of them believe what they believe because they have researched their beliefs (to one degree or another) and have a decently solid basis for it. Now, it’s a well-known fact that most people are religious because their parents were, and they grew up with religion. With atheists, it’s quite a different story. Let me get to the point…

 

It saddens me to say this, but it seems like more and more atheists, especially internet atheists, are simply “converting” to atheism either because they hate religion (most notably Christianity) or are attracted by a lifestyle where the only rules of morality are the ones they themselves create. Whether they actually believe what they say they do, (or rather, disbelieve), is an issue that is put on the backburner. I feel that many of modern atheists simply accept disbelief of God on the basis of simple arguments, all too willingly, motivated mostly by their desire to be “free” of religion and its “restraints”. This growing propensity seems to be bolstered by the fact that many atheists (especially those on the internet (i.e. r/atheism) will openly support religions like Satanism, if only to piss of Christians. As I wandered from one atheist internet forum to another, I didn’t see any intellectual threads talking about something of value, such as “Why I choose to believe/disbelieve.” Instead, I saw scores and scores of threads discussing such topics as “The War on Christmas” and “The ignorance of Christians” and of course, the textbook “THINK OF THE HOMOSEXUALS” (Boo fucking hoo).

 

This trend has grown to such a degree that, to many people, atheism doesn’t mean “disbelief in God” or “disbelief in religion” anymore, as it should, but more markedly, “anti-religion”. People have literally come to equate atheism with liberalism, where the only form of morality is the Golden Rule and anything that is related to religion in anyway is evil. People have come to believe that being an atheist is simply giving yourself a license to do whatever you want (similar to the video below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP4k29N556c

Nothing could be farther from the truth. As I said before, I am an agnostic with atheistic tendencies. However, I do not condone drinking, drugs, fornication, cursing, or (and I don’t care if this offends anyone) the practice of homosexuality. I condemn these things on a scientific basis. Jared Taylor, one of the foremost advocates of the far-right community, and a staunch atheist himself, holds the same set of moral (or as I call them, efficient) values.

I sincerely believe that this growing delusion that atheism = liberalism, that atheism = license, or that atheism = freedom (from more than just religion) flies in the face of the facts. Again, more and more people seem to be becoming atheists simply because they downright despise religion or are attracted by the idea of a life without any rules, where they can be “chill” and “nice” to everyone. This growing fad has left the atheist community with a shortage of real intellectuals who seek truth rather than license, and leaves us instead with the rabid, seething masses of ignorance, such as the kind that breeds at r/atheism. “I WANT TO DO WHAT I WANT WITH MY BODY, BREAK THE CHAINS OF STUPID RELIGION, FREE THE SEXUALLY AND THE PHYSICALLY REPRESSED, DOWN WITH THE OLIGARCHY” This is not atheism, this is barbarism and primitive, devolved man, seeking to gratify base desires and drag down society with him and using atheism/relativism as a shield to deflect all criticism and attack opponents with impunity.

That being said, I feel that atheism is being abused in modern society, our community has become starved for real intellectuals and filled to the brim with neck-bearded anti-religious whack jobs seeking to gain a vantage point so that they can unload their vengeance upon society for “holding them back”. And frankly, I’m tired of it.

Thoughts?

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Many bases of the two are the same, but religious text has had a couple thousand years to be vetted and canonized by supposed (and imposed), human authorities. The belief that these authorities had intimate connection with divine authority only made such texts easier to solidify, force feed, and swallow.

So I think that we agree that 1) the sources of all of moralism and respective texts were all merely human, and 2) there was plenty of time for default authorities to shape themes and dogmas for ulterior purposes. (Fundamentalists will obviously disagree.)

One thing that atheists miss out on that religious people benefit from, is some kind of fundamental moral training.

Religious moral training isn't moral training at all, it's basically memorization. Memorizing prescriptions, Do's and don'ts. Do keep the Sabbath holy, respect your parents, don't be jealous of what someone else has (covetousness), don't make idols or images and worship them, etc.

You seriously think atheist parents don't give their kids a basis for making moral judgments? What evidence do you have for that.

The only benefit I see in religion is the coming together of their community  in times of crisis....They are more apt to be consoled by their fellow believers....Many atheists do not belong to any church group for we are non believers  and we do not have the support group as they do.....As rational thinkers however we tend to accept life as it happens and move on....We  know there is no god looking after us and that we are responsible for our own life...

@ Unseen, I agree with you that it should remain practical and not become some esoteric subject that only pipe smoking cognoscenti obfuscate over, as I have just done. When having a philosophical discussion it is important that all participants have a shared understanding of the meaning of the words used. There almost needs to be a discussion beforehand so that misunderstandings of the arguments used are less likely.

Language is used to facilitate our own thinking and to communicate those thoughts to others as Locke would have said. We often have debates on TA where the words “Belief”, “Truth” and “Knowledge” are commonly used. However do we all agree that “belief” is the psychological assent to (say) the statement that “God exists”?

 If someone claims to know the Truth are they saying what is subjectively “true” for them or are they saying it is true because it can exist independently of their own perception? Is truth knowledge that has been justified because there is evidence to support it? If I was a follower of Rand maybe I would claim something to be true because it conforms to my view of reality? Maybe the truth is just a judgement call?

Ok, I am being a bit tedious but I think words need to be commonly understood in order to be able to delve deeper into philosophical concepts and expand upon them within a discussion. These discussions will be more “practical” and enable more insightful conclusions to be drawn.

I have in recent years come to agree (almost) with Hawking that philosophy is dead and science will provide the answers. Now, should we all commit suicide today and if not, why not?

What's the difference between knowing something and being certain of it? You left that one out :). We can't commit suicide today, we don't know how it all ends yet.

I am in the process of designing a new tattoo. It will be a psychedelic image of Socrates in Day-Glo colors.  I am also working on the script (and font) which will be one of his quotes. Tonight this one has moved up a notch or two  “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”.

That was basically the subject of my MA thesis. 

If you know something, you possess a fact you can act on. If you are certain about something, that is simply a feeling you have about something. A state of mind. It is totally unrelated to facticity.

People are certain about contrary-to-fact things all the time. For example, my ex-wife once was certain she had lost her glasses, and I was recruited into helping her find them so that we could leave for the wedding of a friend. Until, that is, I noticed that she was wearing them. How embarrassing. 

At the same time, simply because something is nonsense doesn't mean it's false. The notion that there are universes with a different set of forces and physical laws is taken seriously by cosmologists and physicists, but imagining what such universes might be like is really impossible (minimally, some possible universes are unimaginable). In other words, we can't really make sense of such things, and so in that sense they are nonsensical and are nonsense.

I'm just reading a book about the general subject of mindfulness, aiming to look at it from a scientific and rational way.  It turns out to be a massively huge subject, so there are many ways of looking at it. 

This book claims to be investigate "different ways of knowing" since mindfulness is based on awareness, presumably - the "listening" faculty of our mind rather than the "talking" one. 

Scientific, objective, subjective, ways of actually knowing rather than just believing.  Mindfulness pretty much rejects the ideas of beliefs, or does not treat them as important.  I've only just started reading the book. 

I've always found it quite rich how Hawking claims philosophy is dead and yet deals with philosophical questions constantly. Is artificial intelligence possible? Is it moral to create it without taking serious precautions? To what degree would alien races be hostile to life on Earth? To what degree can science answer questions with certainty? When different fields of science cross reference one another does this build a stronger case? Is humanism a reasonable response to existentialism? Is belief in a deity reasonable? To what extent should we embrace skepticism? Are particles the ultimate substance? Is free will possible or an illusion.

Hawking is one of the most actively philosophical of popular scientists. I read all of these topics in philosophical journals on a monthly basis.

Carl Sagan, Desmond Morris and Richard Burke and recently Niel Tysson are (or were) the very best scientist philosophers who showed how important science and philosophy were to one another. Every episode of Cosmos, Connections, the Human Animal and The day the universe changed show how philosophy deals with new questions which eventually branch into scientific fields, how science and philosophy need one another with topics such as bioethics, artificial intelligence, privacy in an e-age, justifying equality, what is pain?, formal logic, conceptual innovation, the science of artistic experience, super natural delusion, how do we differ pain in humans and pain in mammals, how does humanity change when civilization starts psychologically, physically, culturally, artisrtically and moraly. How are changes in architectural engineering with environmental and cultural spheres possible or useful, human time and space in a connected world, the psychological boundaries of authority and control, what is the only justifiable method for attaining knowledge, how rigorous should it be?, to what extent is copyright reasonable for scientific discoveries? Is technical automation disruptive to society? Will emerging artificial intelligence need rights? The list goes on and on.

I find those who dismiss philosophy are often those who deal with these questions the most. Philosophy need not always be intelligible to even philosophers with different specialties. I can barely finish a chapter on books of logic or how consciousness works but scientists, psychologists and some philosophers can. I can read and write books on how ideologies and artistic change are intimately related while political philosophers can be lost on it? Bioethics is beyond me...yet doctors and philosophers of bio-ethics can deal with difficult technical issues easily. I cannot follow books on visual experience yet optologists, some psychologists and philosophers of mind easily can.

It could be argued that the answers that Science provides give rise to philosophical questions that can be posed differently in light of the implications new discoveries give rise too. An example could be the discovery of DNA or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Science tends to ask “How” questions and Philosophy “Why” ones. What are the implications for humans of the discoveries by science? Science looks for “facts” and philosophy looks for “values”.

If we accept the truth of the facts about Evolution then we are an evolved species. How does that affect our values and impact upon how we perceive ourselves?

Maybe there is a middle ground with NOMA?

Mmmm...I would be hesitant to do so. In formal logic for example there are clear answers to certain questions. In ethics...once certain paradigms are proposed (or axioms) there can be concrete answers to certain problems. In philosophical anthropology (especially by Desmond Morris) they depend on analytical field study, biology and psychology...sometimes contributing raw data used by scientiss in their respective field. I would phrase it more as:

Philosophy tends to ask questions and attempt to answer them...sometimes asking why but also how, if, perhaps, if only and because.

Science tends to investigate phenomena, propose theories, advance technology and empirical knowledge, work out extremely technical details and mathematics and rigorously subject that knowledge to scrutiny. That also involves how, if, perhaps, who, what, when, which etc.

Once certain axioms are proposed, indeed.

Though I like a lot of things about Sam Harris, his writings on ethics are ridiculously shallow because he explicitly takes some form of utilitarianism as axiomatic.  He doesn't even attempt to justify it, he merely asserts it.

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