NOTE: This thread does not flame against Atheism, but it does criticise it. It displays my definition of Atheism which seems to be not for the general public. If you can't deal with criticism towards Atheism you are in the wrong discussion.
Additionally the fear of extremism is directly linked to very seemingly possible distant futures NOT THE NEXT 2 YEARS.
First of all I would like to say I am mostly against all sorts of organized religions, but in fact I am agnostic. (meaning I dont admit defeat to any superpower untill there is enough evidence to support it)
In my opnion there is a big issue that does not tend to be adressed with religion in the right way. People always complain about how close minded religion really is and that most of their followers are just blindly pusuing the herd. Though how much "better" is atheism really?
Atheism is by my language's definition a religion itself. The translated definition of religion in German and Dutch state that a belief turns into a religion once the belief itself sets an definition of how the world works.
People think atheism is about the "we dont know" factor, but it is not. Atheism preeches the "We know YOU are wrong" factor.
I absolutely agree with the fact that atheism not being an organized religion (yet) gives it a higher level logical acceptance, but where is it going?
Atheism used to be the outcast lunatics hanged to death. Now there are groups forming all over the world with "logical leaders" behind it. I honestly think atheistm is goign in the same direction as all other religions are going right now. How far do you think you are of having atheism's jehovas whitnesses at your door? I have listened to my lesser educated/informed friends rampage about religion after having seen one biased documentary (Religulous). They were making statements such as, "I am gonna kill all those who believe in religion" etc. This is nothing more than atheist extremism. Even on this webiste it seems that some topics are purely places here ase a response to rage/anger against religious people.
This brings you to the discussion that should be here, maybe even istead of this entire website (not hating at the website, this place is great), "Are we too unintelligent?"
The reason people follow blindly what is set right infront of them is because they are uninformed and scared of complecated explanations that undermine the value of their own existence in this universe.
Religion is part of the problem, but education is in an infinitely worse state.
(Again I am not hating at atheism, as I am far more happy with it that even Buddism, but merely pointing out a more pressing issue. Next year Ill be attending univesity where I hope to find more who have brought themselves up to date with the real issues)
*EDIT: removed the word absolute from the definition of atheism, this is not correct.
I read four pages of responses, so I hope that I'm not repeating someone else's point here that came later. What often happens to get people fired up is the realization that they've been lied to about how the world works. In your friend's over the top claim of wanting to "kill", you'll often find that with people whom are new to the subject. Maybe they haven't really been paying attention before and now that they are aware of a sample of the information they assume that it's actionable. Reality is that it isn't actionable until you have a lot of information.
I've been an Atheist (or at least a non-believer) my whole life but I didn't get fired up until after 2001. The political rhetoric forced me out of my religious indifference cave. I was vocal and defensive at the time. Today I speak about it, get frustrated, but in no way do I want others to not have religion. I really think that it's fairly representative of the process that we go through. Of course, it is simply anecdotal.
That being, reacting to the reaction should be muted as well to bring it down to a normal conversation. The best way to fight the mob mentality is to speak more quietly so that people actually have to listen to hear what is being said. Just an opinion.
Any 'agnostic' can support anti-supernaturalism
'Atheism' is too ambiguous a word to be used without a context. As labels go 'atheist' covers too many possible, even inconsistent, descriptions. However “the anti_supernaturalist" (my label of choice) is reasonably precise.
• However, rather than strain at definition -- consider religious notions which disappear from an anti-supernaturalist's point of view. There are no supernatural agents, locations, states, events, or communication channels of any kind whatsoever:
1. No supernatural agents: minds, souls, spirits, ghosts, godlings, gods, God (Allah, YHVH), cosmic soul, absolute.
2. No supernatural locations: hell, purgatory, heaven, buddha realms, moral world order, transcendental existence
3. No supernatural states: the numinous, sin, grace, revelation, life after death, illumination, nirvana, buddha mind.
4. No supernatural events: mysterium tremendum, redemption, resurrection, rapture, mystical union, karma, or reincarnation.
5. No supernatural information channels: mediums, shaman, prophets, speakers in tongues, voices from drug induced visions, prayer, invocations, reading of natural signs, schizophrenic delusions, “gut” feelings, elevated emotional states, subjective certainty of some god's presence or action.
• Valuable roles of 'atheism' as anti-supernaturalism:
1. Anti-supernaturalism rejects all religions' fictional discourse and fictional scripture. It finds clerics to be illegitimate authorities on morality. It calls attention to totalitarian aims of religious institutions.
2. Anti-supernaturalists, by using good argumentation and methods of good research, demonstrate in practice what standards must be applied for there to be any (logically) convincing exchange of reasonable viewpoints.
3. Anti-supernaturalists find a secular state and an Open Society worth building and preserving.
4. Anti-supernaturalism focuses energy on de-deifying religions, showing them to be cultural constructs and morally degenerate atavisms.
• Religious institutions operate with tremendous overhead which believers finance only partially. The tax-free status of religious groups in the US imposes an illegitimate xian religious-tax burden on all citizens.
Government tax dollar support of so-called "faith-based" charities represents another illegitimate subsidy for xian institutions. Their properties, their income, investment portfolios should be subject to stringent taxation, enough to eradicate their pretensions to political power.
I got into this argument on Suicide Girls.Admittedly, I ended up being a hypocrite and had to apologize for being stupid, because I tried to do something I was asking everyone else not to do to me.
I will also ask you not to this same thing to me, as well. That is, don't pretend you know why I call myself an atheist.
Atheism is a question of belief, not knowledge. Your statement about atheism makes it seem like you confuse knowledge and belief.
I do consider myself an agnostic, because I don't claim to know anything. While I think the question of whether or not God exists is, ultimately, a scientific question (it is a question about the nature of reality and, in its most basic sense, science is the tool we use to answer questions about the nature of reality), I think we are at least thousands of years away from even beginning to answer the question, because we first have to discover how the universe (not just our visible universe, but the entire universe) came to exist in teh first place.
However, I also consider myself an atheist because I don't believe in deities. I do make the (logically based, I think) assumption that, ultimately, the explanation for existence will be a natural one because I don't see any reason to think otherwise, and the reason given to me thus far rely almost entirely on the logical fallacy of special pleading.
I don't consider myself to be part of a religion because I'm not. My philosophy may be Secular Humanism, but I'm not entirely sure, yet (I treat others as I want to be treated).
I've read The God Delusion (it actually played a small role in my deconversion) and other books by Dawkins, and I've read many of the other atheist books as well. Some are good and some are bad and some are just okay, but not one, not even the God Delusion, can be considered a "holy book", or even the equivalent. They are, at best, opinion pieces, and if I ever meet anyone who would actually try to live their lives by even on of those books, I'd smack up upside the head because they're idiots.
To me, atheism is no more, or less, than the lack of theism. I don't see any reason to treat it as anything else.
As far as all the atheist meetings and this site and the so-called "Gnu Atheists" and the rallies and so on... what the hell did you expect?
Let's talk only about the US. Here's a nice list of the 10 Scariest States to be an Atheist. Did you know that atheists are the least trusted minority in the US? Most US-Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist. At a Memorial Day march, atheist veterans got booed. School administrations will not allow atheist groups in high schools (despite the fact that nearly every High School has at least one Christian group [mine had 3, to be exact]). Atheist teenagers have been ostracized and ultimately kicked out of the places they live. Do you remember the Fort Braggs incident? Atheists have even lost custody of their children, just for being atheists!
And that, BTW, is just a tiny sampling of the US. That doesn't even count the rest of world, where, in at least 3 Islamic countries, atheism is punishable by death.
In fact, I recommend reading that entire Wikipedia article. Yes, it points out ambiguity. And even I'm happy to point out when atheists are claiming discrimination where it's just not true (see: Seven in Heaven Way; probably one of the dumbest, most idiotic, most pointless fights we've ever started).
But the fact is, this kind of thing is alive and well all over the world. And we're supposed to... what... sit down and take it? We're supposed to just let the majority beat us down for no other reason than we don't believe in God? We're supposed to let those closet atheists isolated in the Bible Belt remain closeted and isolated?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, than I have to say screw you.
The whole "Gnu Atheist" movement is a reaction, okay? It wouldn't exist if not for the likes of Intelligent Design, Young-Earth Creationism, Ted Haggard, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Ken Miller, Kent Hovind, and so on. If US-Americans didn't give a hoot about what religion the presidential-hopeful was and how religious he was, then "Gnu Atheism" would not exist. In fact, if people didn't care about us at all- if the fact that we don't believe in a higher power wasn't such a threat to many- then none of this would have ever happened.
It had to happen. Something had to give. And here we are.
Time is limited these days but this post I feel necessitated a response. I personally feel you are looking at atheism the wrong way in that you see it as an opposite of religion. It's not a scenario like republican or democrat in that the party to which atheists rally behind simply doesn't exist. The terminology here is misleading, atheism has become a thing, personified and lambasted in the media as well as the rallying cry for those who disbelieve but in truth it's nothing of the sort. No book, no creeds, no dogma, no chanting, I personally reject the idea of someone wishing to ascribe the same ideology to faith and a lack of it. As I have mentioned here before, there is no word for someone who disbelieves in unicorns, nor should there be a word to describe someone who disbelieves in gods. But of course there is and I suppose it was somewhat necessary but the point I'm attempting to reach is that atheism should not be something that replaces religion any more than typhoid should be replaced with tuberculosis. To me atheism means freeing your mind of some bits of silliness that you may find answers that are better suited to a logical conclusion. Quitting drugs doesn't mean you should replace it with binge drinking, it simply means that you can now see the world with clearer eyes. How much better is atheism? That you are free to ask that question in and of itself should suggest it is much better.
To answer your question: "Are we too unintelligent?" I think it needs to be reworded, as it is too broad a question. From a species stand point I do not think so. We have the ability and capacity to understand and logically differ answers (also look at Atheists, who only accepts fact and truth and dedicate themselves to finding the answers out there, not accepting a made up explanation), we see this from the great minds throughout the ages. What I think is unintelligent is the social mechanism of society. As you said, people are afraid, afraid of the truth, of meaning, and of accepting our place in the universe, and it is not a sky daddy's pet project. People hear an explanation, if it makes them feel good and all warm and fuzzy inside then a mass majority will accept it without question, but they will also follow the crowd. If a society is based with its roots in an idea, then that idea will influence the decisions of many generations of all aspects of life. And it’s because people tend to be lazy. Weather it is right, wrong, good or bad, whatever dictates the social structure will sway those who don’t like to think for themselves and just follows the crowd. This does not mean there cannot be change, it has happened over and over throughout history, where people wake up and fight against a system. So yes, people can be very unintelligent, but if we apply ourselves, we can be fantastic. But that is based on the individual.
The other point I wanted to make is that I do not believe that Atheism is a religion, or at least to me it is not. The reason Atheists tend to be very strong in their opinions is not because we are trying to convert people to join our club. All we want is our opinion to be heard and not be forced to live a certain way. Just like a christian would not want to be forced to pray to allah, We do not wish to be forced to live with laws and practices that go against our personal beliefs. Also religion is set in stone. Once its foundation has been set, it can never be changed, Atheism has its root in truth and science, which is ever evolving. We will only accept fact that can be proven, if it turns out that what we learn in the future changes the definition of something we thought to be true, were not too proud to say that’s wrong because it doesn’t say that in this book, instead we learned something new and that is fantastic. We will not go door to door trying to convert, because there is no gain or reason for us to do so (aside from the potential of there being one less person to annoy us). What good would it do? I mean its not like we get afterlife brownie points for converting people or anything.
There will always be extremes in any group, that’s because they are made up with people and people are f****d up creatures. But you can’t destroy the whole group from the actions of a few. I know you might say “thats hypocritical, the same can be said about people in religions, there are good people in there as well…” and I agree there are very good hearted people who believe in a religion, but the religion itself is what is wrong. What are its main objectives? Destroy anything that is “wrong” and convert everyone to be like them with a shared belief in a deity. If they object, then that is wrong so sayeth the lord their god, and what is done to what is wrong? DELETE. So the doctrine promotes violence, tell me how atheism does this? And the whole “no moral code” argument is BS, people have the innate ability to know what is right or wrong and just using common sense tells us that cause and effect will affect our well being, without an ancient book to tell us what is right or wrong…based on a social code that is no longer valid.