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'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.

Some where along the way, the folks that came before us established the hypothesis that there must be a being behind the sky that created and sustains the full arc of existence and ourselves.

I expect that polytheism was rather a hard system to keep track of with similar beings compartmentalizing the operations of existence, so one god might have been more attractive. Sadly, many or one, these beings had personalities, a little like charge, mass, charm, color, and spin.

As the hypothesis established itself as 'belief', which sadly could have been prevented I expect by the early religious leaders not setting themselves up as authority on 'validity', this whole arc of 'hypothesis pretending to truth' could have been dispensed with, no harm done.

So we and most of the human race are now stuck with this 'hypothesis pretending to truth', with our dear 'true believers', ie 'theists', demanding that their version of 'truth' be sacred and undeniable. While the whole time 'science' could have been in an approx. 6000 to 10000 years of development, and we could have either killed ourselves off, or exploring deep space and sharing a nice glass of wine light years from here!  

Imagine the possibilities if honesty had won.....

When you study the origin of religion it is a little more complex than just a conspiracy.  The superstition involved created the motivations that led to government, astronomy, architecture, medicine and the natural sciences.   The Muslim's brought us algebra and surgery.  Some of the early astronomers were priests.  Many of the intellects of the middle ages and the early enlightenment were members of the church because that was the place that intellectual work was happening.

I don't know that God was ever a hypothesis.  This is the first I am hearing that word used in a historical way. . . but maybe it's a joke I'm not getting.  People have worshipped everything from men to trees to hills and I know we look back on a bunch of old dusty fairy tales today and it is easy to roll the eyes.  

Whatever it was, the God belief was the first form of government.  It brought us civilization and preserved a lot of knowledge during the dark ages. .  even while it was oppressing people (which is what all governments do to someone).  I think that's worth considering.

Dark Matter:  The only evidence is that SOMETHING is having a dark matter effect. 

To be a little tedious – Gravity: the only evidence is that something is having a gravitational effect.

Try to imagine that Gravity does not really exist and what is happening is that objects (the Earth and Moon) are trying to travel in a straight line but the effect of their mass upon each other keeps them locked together. There are moving through spacetime and are “warping the fabric” of that spacetime. So there is something there that they move through or they would continue in a linear fashion.

The Universe is still expanding….objects that act upon each other are moving through spacetime together and objects that don’t move apart. Again that is not quite correct because it they are not moving away from each other under their own energy. Rather what is happening is that the space between the objects (like galaxies) is expanding. Something is filling up the “space” between them and pushing them apart like painted dots on an inflating balloon. That is dark matter.

From our perspective on part of the balloon the Universe would appear finite (72 billion light years??) but it could expand infinitely until all objects are so far apart that from being on any one of them you we see nothing, no other suns, planets, no light “no things”. Everything will disappear (2nd law) and the Universe will appear to an outside to be empty.

There will be a little energy left over that might convert to mass  (in a Higgs field) and then it bangs again…….


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