It has been suggested in discussions, both here and elsewhere, that there are "atheist fanatics" and that they are "just the same" as religious fanatics.  Personally, I find this assertion ludicrous and loathsome.  To me, it is simply a new formulation of the "fundamentalist atheist" canard--it is just a way of trying to get vocal atheists to shut up by bringing social pressure to bear.  It is just another way of calling us "intolerant" for daring to think they are wrong.  I think this is the first step to forcing us all to either embrace religious belief again or go back in the closet and pretend to embrace religious belief. 

 

So the question for discussion is whether atheistic fanaticism really exists and, if it does, whether or not it is comparable to religious fanaticism.

 

As I think I have made clear, I do not think that atheistic fanaticism really exists.  I think it is just a label put on those atheists who dare to state that they are right and the religious are wrong as a matter of fact.  The religious can say this without a label being attached to them; we cannot.

 

I think it is also clear that even the most extreme atheists do not even remotely come close to the fanaticism of the religious.

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I agree with that essay regarding the fallacy religious people wish to rely on. . . but the agnosticism I am thinking of is the one used by scientists, not  religious people.   Science is fundamentally agnostic.  It knows it's explanation for something can be thrown away the moment new evidence arrives so it operates from the position of this or that is possible based on what we know, not from the position that this explanation is true because we have evidence.  It also accepts rational constructs as a form of evidence even when direct observation is failing.  String theory has a great deal that cannot be proven with physical evidence or observation.  So does the inflation theory.  The multiverse theory is an extraordinary proposition that has no evidence bearing it out. . . yet it is presented to us as science because of it's rational presentation. . . it is not considered irrational speculation about a magic place with lots of universes.

The "agnosticism of science" to which you refer is really just atheism with an open mind regarding any new evidence that might some day appear.  The possibility of this later discovered evidence does not constitute sufficient reason to withhold judgment on the god hypothesis.

Try these essays:

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2010/10/atheism-vs-agnosti...

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2010/11/solipsism-agnostic...

I'm not sure which God hypothesis you refer to.  I'm sure most of us could beat up the typical bearded man in the sky hypothesis with a fly swatter but that doesn't mean new evidence won't raise new and deeper implications that are harder to casually dismiss.   What about the Amit Goswami hypothesis in "The Self Aware Universe" where he presents evidence for how the experiments of quantum mechanics are implying that thought is the foundation of the universe rather than matter?  

What about the hypothesis about an infinite universe?  It is untestable but not implausible.  It certainly allows enough time for us to randomly appear without the need for a God.  However, it also creates the plausibility that intelligence could have actually appeared in the infinite past and, with endless time available, it evolved into a supreme being through the known and accepted methods of evolution and technology.   That's not magic or supernatural but is it really distinguishable?

I hate to feel like we are about to have a yes or no debate.  I guess I am only trying to find out how far down the rabbit hole you are going when you talk about evidence and not withholding judgement.  Science is bringing us some pretty crazy sounding concepts lately.  If anything that should be creating less certainty that we have a handle on things. . not more.  I know I see a lot of scientists scratching their heads these days.  

My only real point was that I don't think Atheists are immune to fanaticism because it is not about who is technically correct.  It is about a neurotic level of certainty that then expresses itself as a superior view over all others. 

I'll go read the articles and see if they add anything.  Thanks.

I am referring to the bearded man in the sky versions of the god hypothesis for the most part.  Scientific theories, even new and strange ones, don't count.

Don't forget we started this discussion with the question of whether atheist fanaticism exists.  You seem to equate strong atheism with fanaticism, which I think is a misunderstanding of both atheism and fanaticism.

OK I read the articles.  I'm not sure how I am insisting that the lack of proof against God is proof.  That's what each of these articles is answering.

Religious people, frankly, often don't understand enough about science to speak on it's terms.   For example.  I love the point that those religious people who use solipsism to defeat atheism are admitting that they themselves are agnostic.  I believe that myself.  I also believe that those who stand behind the power of evolution and passing time to spontaneously create life and evolve it into self aware intelligence must also admit that, with enough time, that intelligence could also evolve into a being indistinguishable from God because of it's advanced mastery of the universe.

"OK I read the articles.  I'm not sure how I am insisting that the lack of proof against God is proof.  That's what each of these articles is answering."

I am not sure what you mean here.  I was not trying to say that you were saying that.  That is what I am trying to say:  Extraordinary proposition, no evidence in favor, much evidence against, not falsifiable under any circumstances--logically there can be only one conclusion.  The proposition is false.  Of course, should contrary evidence turn up I will reconsider my conclusion.

OK fair enough.   I wasn't aware of any extraordinary proposition in the conversation unless you mean that being agnostic requires it somehow.   I also wasn't intending to pull some sort of agnostic Jedi mind trick on atheists.  I just wanted to point out that they can also occasionally be aggressively narrow in their thinking.  Far less than religious people. . for sure.

I guess I did say that being agnostic is a good defense against being a fanatic..  . which I still hold to be a logical conclusion.  Fanatics that admit they could be wrong are an oxymoron. 

I don't know that being a strong atheist in and of itself makes someone a fanatic, though they are probably the type that is the most at risk of it. . . just like the born again type of believer is. . . or the newly recovering alcoholic.     I also know plenty of religious minded people that I couldn't possibly view as fanatics even though their beliefs may be irrational to me.

The god hypothesis is the extraordinary proposition.

>>> That is what I am trying to say:  Extraordinary proposition, no evidence in favor, much evidence against, not falsifiable under any circumstances--logically there can be only one conclusion.  The proposition is false.

I've been pondering this and I find dark matter and the infinite universe hard to deal with when using this method.

1) Dark Matter:  The only evidence is that SOMETHING is having a dark matter effect.  When it comes to verifiability and testing at this point, they may as well tell us that the universe is full of pixie dust, but the more scientific sounding assessment is that the majority of the universe is made up of "invisible dust".  It's a pretty fine distinction.    There is also another theory that gravity acts differently when it is at extreme distances from matter between the galaxies. .  but this is unverifiable too because it would take a probe 50,000 years to get to such a place at the speed of light.

Something massive is creating the dark matter effect but the explanations so far are extraordinary even as mechanical explanations.  If verification and falsification cannot lead us anywhere, is there no other logical conclusion but to reject this extraordinary proposition?  Even if it is always an open question about what is having the effect?

2) An Infinite Universe:  An infinite universe is an extraordinary proposition.  Nothing says it isn't possible.   There is only anecdotal and probability driven evidence for it, however, and the observable evidence of the big bang is against it.   There is no apparent way to verify or falsify infinity as a reality.  Is there no other conclusion but to reject it's possibility?


So I guess I'm wondering, how rigid is this logical criteria for rejecting propositions?   The articles you provided spoke of  "the likelihood" of an explanation when there is no proof for or against something.   What is the likelihood of invisible dust holding the universe together if it can't be proven or disproven?   Do even mechanical explanations need a leap of faith at times?

Is it irrational to believe in invisible particles than nobody can find?  Is it irrational to believe in infinity?   

The "man in the sky" God proposition feels like a red herring to me even though plenty of people would be happy to dwell on that forever.   There are things that could qualify as extraordinary, unprovable or even quasi-theistic under the laws of physics and nature we observe.  Religious people are too dogmatic and fanatical about their own ideas to go there. . but science is much more open to change. 

So I guess I am still hung up on your description of science as open minded atheism rather than agnostic.

Hi there Mo....I am still furiously unbelieving :-)

I am glad to hear it.

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