The Value of Atheism?

Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
1,943
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Disunited Queendom
#1
Of what value is Atheism to mankind, in your opinion?

Personally, i see it as a reality check. Something that says to Organised Religion, "come on, think about it seriously for a moment". Good for keeping religious people on their toes, limiting the extent of excrement that preachers can feed their "flock" - i say "flock" because i want to intone a link to sheep. Rationalising thought.

Whether you're religious or not, you have to admit that it's scientifically counter-productive to automatically write off anything you don't understand as related to "God".
 

The Parakeet

Retired Moderator
Jan 19, 2009
639
2
#2
I don't think that Atheism itself has any value. There are far too many atheists that have fallen to terrible ideas and ideologies. Bill Maher usually gets thrown around as one. Did a whole movie against God theories. Then refuses to accept the germ theory of medicine (and pushes McCarthy's anti-vaccination woo). It's possible to be completely against God but also not based in reality.

The real value is in critical thinking. Generally critical thinking leads to atheism (not always, but usually). And on that note, I finally get to bust out my Carl Sagan quote that I've been dying to use.

"Have I ever heard a skeptic wax superior and contemptuous? Certainly. I've even sometimes heard, to my retrospective dismay, the same unpleasant tone in my own voice. There are human imperfections on both sides of this issue. Even when it's applied sensitively, scientific skepticism may come across as arrogant, dogmatic, heartless and dismissive of the feelings and deeply held beliefs of others. And, it must be said, some scientists and dedicated skeptics apply this tool as a blunt instrument, with little finesse. Sometimes it looks as if the skeptical conclusion came first, that contentions were dismissed before, not after, the evidence was examined.

...Imagine you enter a big-city taxicab and the moment you get settled in, the driver begins a harangue about the supposed iniquities and inferiorities of another ethnic group. Is your best course to keep quiet, bearing in mind that silence conveys assent? Or is it your moral responsibility to argue with him, to express outrage, even to leave the cab - because you know that every silent assent will encourage him next time, and every vigorous dissent will cause him next time to think twice? Likewise, if we offer too much silent assent about mysticism and superstition - even when it seems to be doing a little good- we abet a general climate in which skepticism is seen as impolite, science tiresome and rigorous thinking somehow stuffy and inappropriate. Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom.

- from The Demon Haunted World chapter 17, The Marriage of Skepticism and Wonder
That's pretty much the use of atheists (or any skeptic at the moment) to society.
 
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deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
2
#3
I've asked atheists a question whether there could be any atheism without a God? As somehow God or religion seem to feature in most of their discussions. I was then told that atheism (a+theism) stands outside religion, and that it has no interest in religion. Sort of completely baffles me though?
 

Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
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5
Disunited Queendom
#4
I've asked atheists a question whether there could be any atheism without a God? As somehow God or religion seem to feature in most of their discussions. I was then told that atheism (a+theism) stands outside religion, and that it has no interest in religion. Sort of completely baffles me though?
It's better described as the absence of religion.

A lot of atheists do have an interest in religion.
 

The Parakeet

Retired Moderator
Jan 19, 2009
639
2
#5
Atheism itself technically just refers to not believing. This is the whole "atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby". There would be atheism without religion...technically. We just wouldn't notice it, since it would be nothing special. If no one believed in religion, then we would all be atheists by definition.
 
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deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
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#6
A lot of atheists do have an interest in religion.
Right, and they are very vocal about it. With T-Shirts, and Richard Dawkins' Red Bus Advertisements. Still boggles my mind that they can spend so much time and interest on something that does not really exist for atheists.
 

Dirk

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Apr 27, 2009
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#7
Right, and they are very vocal about it. With T-Shirts, and Richard Dawkins' Red Bus Advertisements. Still boggles my mind that they can spend so much time and interest on something that does not really exist for atheists.
Vocal? Not really.

Religion has street-corner preachers, religious pseudo-scientists and TV evangelists. We have Richard Dawkins.

I think some atheists buy anti-religion t-shirts. None i know personally, but some. I don't. But i suppose some strongly religious people buy religious t-shirts?

Personally, i quite like the buses. They're quite comforting really. I find.

My friend is very interested in theology and is an atheist. It's just another interesting piece of academia to us, really.

If you mean money-wise, churches - particularly Catholic churches - worldwide, spend billions. On decoration. I visited a church in Krakow (Poland) - i was interested in the Gothic architecture - and inside, it was decorated in pure gold.

On youtube, you'll find that for every atheist/anti-religion video, there are at least ten religious ones.

So... compared to religious people (objectively obviously - we're all individuals), no, we aren't all that vocal.
 

The Parakeet

Retired Moderator
Jan 19, 2009
639
2
#8
I don't see what's wrong with the. They basically just told atheists that they weren't alone. (I think one just said "God probably doesn't exist...so don't worry so much about it" or something). That's no worse than the "You're all going to Hell" that I see by every bloody highway.

They're vocal about it because at the moment it is a cause. Read the quote from Sagan. I'd love to just stay quiet and so would most scientists and atheists. The problem is that someone has to speak out to remind the world that yeah...Atheists do exist. We're not all evil. We don't all believe in God and you have no right to force religion on people. It's sad that it's necessary, but it is. Recent years have just proved that more.
 

Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
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#9
There's probably no God... now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Now to google it, to make sure that's it...
 

deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
2
#10
There's probably no God... now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Now to google it, to make sure that's it...
:) That sounds like a line from Richard Dawkings' red bus campaign ..... I thought that was unbecoming as if atheists have spare cash they should invest it into science and math teaching, to educate children, not take pot shots at those who take their religion seriously and whose minds cannot be changed. In other words they should invest spare cash to broaden minds, not narrow minds.
 
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Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
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#11
:) That sounds like a line from Richard Dawkings' red bus campaign ..... I thought that was unbecoming as if atheists have spare cash they should invest it into science and math teaching, to educate children, not take pot shots at those who take their religion seriously and whose minds cannot be changed. In other words they should invest spare cash to broaden minds, not narrow minds.
It is from the bus campaign. It isn't Dawkins', though. He supported it but didn't dream it up. It was also inspired by Dawkins' work, partially.

Right, you clearly know next to nothing of the campaign besides a recognition of the message. Quick lecture then. The campaign was not thought up as a "pot shot" at religious people. It was as a response to the religious fundamentalists threatening atheists with eternal damnation and torture in the sweltering pits of hell (in other words Texas). The campaign was supposed to be a small scale one, expected to cost about ?5'500 (about $9'000) around London. They raised over ?150'000 (about $249'000), showing there was clearly a demand. It was organised by the British Humanist Association. It was designed to comfort atheists. It was not directed at religious people.
 
Mar 24, 2009
2,751
6
Undisclosed
#12
"At the end of the day" (I hate hearing that too) it really does not mean much to anyone.:confused: Very few people will change their minds. Both sides do good and harm. We all have seen fake preachers and bad science..:D
 

deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
2
#13
It is from the bus campaign. It isn't Dawkins', though. He supported it but didn't dream it up. It was also inspired by Dawkins' work, partially.

Right, you clearly know next to nothing of the campaign besides a recognition of the message. Quick lecture then. The campaign was not thought up as a "pot shot" at religious people. It was as a response to the religious fundamentalists threatening atheists with eternal damnation and torture in the sweltering pits of hell (in other words Texas). The campaign was supposed to be a small scale one, expected to cost about ?5'500 (about $9'000) around London. They raised over ?150'000 (about $249'000), showing there was clearly a demand. It was organised by the British Humanist Association. It was designed to comfort atheists. It was not directed at religious people.
I did read up on it at the time, and whether he did or did not dream it up, he backed it with his name. I have a lot of healthy respect for Dawkins, but I thought the money could have been spent on something more meaningful. Much better to ignore idiots, than to play their game and get tarnished by it, as I thought it very silly, undignified and unbecoming.
 

Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
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#14
I did read up on it at the time, and whether he did or did not dream it up, he backed it with his name. I have a lot of healthy respect for Dawkins, but I thought the money could have been spent on something more meaningful. Much better to ignore idiots, than to play their game and get tarnished by it, as I thought it very silly, undignified and unbecoming.
But it isn't playing their game!

It was supposed to be small scale. (squawk - parrot reference)

It is to comfort people. It worked. And there was a high demand for it.

The other side's aims are merely to intimidate atheists into going Christian. The bus campaign merely said "hey, it's alright - don't worry."
 

The Parakeet

Retired Moderator
Jan 19, 2009
639
2
#15
Plus the whole "could have been spent better" thing is pointless. Any money could be spent "better" depending on your position. It's not like they were draining money from one charity or sucking a whole lot of money out of Dawkin's fund (or Randi's fund, or any Skeptical fund). It seemed to mainly be a few bucks from some guy's paypal fund...just done a lot of times.
 

deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
2
#16
Plus the whole "could have been spent better" thing is pointless. Any money could be spent "better" depending on your position. It's not like they were draining money from one charity or sucking a whole lot of money out of Dawkin's fund (or Randi's fund, or any Skeptical fund). It seemed to mainly be a few bucks from some guy's paypal fund...just done a lot of times.
Point taken. Money aside. They could have not reacted. The whole bus campaign just looked so totally undignified to me. Given also of course that there are some genuine Christians out there as well who could have been upset, although I guess the genuine atheists (who has no interest in religion) and the genuine Christians (who do not preach on street corners) would have remained just spectators. They would not have reacted and would have gone on doing what they are doing and following what they believe in.
 

Dirk

Anarchist
Apr 27, 2009
1,943
5
Disunited Queendom
#17
Point taken. Money aside. They could have not reacted. The whole bus campaign just looked so totally undignified to me. Given also of course that there are some genuine Christians out there as well who could have been upset, although I guess the genuine atheists (who has no interest in religion) and the genuine Christians (who do not preach on street corners) would have remained just spectators. They would not have reacted and would have gone on doing what they are doing and following what they believe in.
It's purpose was not to antagonise religious people.

It's purpose was not to convert religious people to atheism.

It was for the purpose of comforting atheists. It was to say, "don't be too worried about all this eternal torture in the pits of the underworld stuff".

It was for reassurance.

It was run and funded by atheists, for atheists.
 

deanhills

Secretary of State
Mar 15, 2009
2,187
2
#19
It's purpose was not to antagonise religious people.

It's purpose was not to convert religious people to atheism.

It was for the purpose of comforting atheists. It was to say, "don't be too worried about all this eternal torture in the pits of the underworld stuff".

It was for reassurance.

It was run and funded by atheists, for atheists.
Well then it did not meet its objectives, as people on the outside of atheists and their objectives, perceived it as it were for them. A public bus with a slogan: God probably does not exist! ... there was no accompanying statement with it that restricted it only to atheists for viewing or to qualify that this was only meant for atheists.
 

The Parakeet

Retired Moderator
Jan 19, 2009
639
2
#20
What'd you expect? They were paying by the letter :). ;)

On a serious note, why should they? Do those religious ads make any considerations for others? Are all of those supposed to convert people? Why should atheists have to walk on pins and needles to not "offend" anyone.
 

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