Sunday, September 30, 2007

Should atheists call themselves nothing?

Sam Harris doesn't think atheists should call themselves atheists. It causes too many problems, and starts a debate which can't be won. The focus should be on stopping irrationality whenever it rears its ugly head. Not all religions have extremists, after all. And, not all Christians think the world is 6,000 years old, Jesus is coming back soon, and God made the 35W bridge fall down to punish the wicked city of Minneapolis for being so nice to gays. Is science and reason enough to stand on when making arguments against a Young Earth Creationist? How can you refute their claim that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that Noah's Flood caused the formation of the Grand Canyon? No matter what material evidence is presented, the answer will be that God put those things there, or presented that evidence to question your faith, if the evidence doesn't support their claim, and when evidence does support their claim, then that evidence wasn't planted by God to fool you, it's evidence that they are right.

Is this then end for atheists?


Chris Schommer said...

Here is a This American Life show called "The Spokesman" The second story is about the 7/7 London bombings, and a woman who became the voice of the victims. Then the conspirators started. And no mater what clear evidence was presented, no matter the first person accounts or artifacts, or video or anything they never believe her. I think it is the same thing. People can become so convinced about a certain thing, that it is almost physically impossible to give it up. It is like an addiction. Perhaps you could even say the young earthers (ites?) are addicted to religion.

What I think Atheists should not do is define themselves by these people. They are who they are and if they change, they will do so them selves.

Chris Schommer said...

the story starts at 9:00 BTW.

angelsdepart said...

If religious people were not causing any serious issues to the world that we live in, then I would have no problem with them adhering to any ideology that they prefer. At some point in history I am sure that religion served a very real purpose of bonding human culture together. At this point with our massive population it does nothing more than serve as a catalyst for our eventual demise. Should Atheist label themselves? Yes, if only to have a foundation to fight from! Should Atheist speak out against the irrationality of religion? Without a doubt!

Pete said...


The future’s waiting,
golden thoughts flashing.
Crystal lights singing,
the misty blue humming of eternity.
Cymbals ringing through my mind.
The drums pushing me,
higher, lower, higher, lower.
I’m racing now, faster than light.
No fear or suspicion, absolute trust.
Electric blue now visible.
Sparks flying, as I rush through.
They don’t harm me, they warm me.
Voices calm, distorted, friendly.
I’m welcomed in their Heaven.
They are pure light.
Absolute energy.

Perfect mind.

GOD ??


Rich said...

I think it depends of whether one sees oneself as part of a club. I think some people who call themselves "atheists" do so precisely because they want to be part of a "movement", and to wear that membership on their sleeves. Some of us, when asked, can agree we don't hold some particular belief that's presented to us, but prefer not to sign up to an "ism".

Is it harmful? Probably if one is genuinely interested in having a dialogue with those whose beliefs are different. My impression is that some of those in the "atheist club" are really just interested in annoying people.

That's not a way to change minds, and makes it easy for those with religious beliefs to ignore them, or even set them up as a sinister enemy, neither of which is particularly constructive.

bint alshamsa said...

You might not be looking to hear from those who consider themselves theist or agnostic but I just wanted to add a few words in. Personally, I think that there are times when a label can help but it certainly does get in the way depending on who you use it around. I have great admiration for those who are willing to deal with all of the pressure that must be withstood by those who proclaim to the world that they do not believe in any God. But I think it comes down to what your goals are. If your atheism is simply a personal choice and not something that you think others must adopt in order to be worthy of ethical treatment, then calling yourself an atheist might not be a bad idea. However, if your goal is to change minds, to convince others that they also shouldn't believe in a God, then it might be better to go covert because nothing turns many religious people off quicker than if you tell them that you're an atheist and you think they should be one too. Of course, I'm sure the opposite is also true, as well. Unfortunately, not using the label and trying to convince people to abandon their beliefs in a deity may lead some to think that you're trying to be deceptive which might lead some to say that "you're no better than the religions you complain about".

I dunno. It's almost five in the morning and I haven't been to sleep yet, so maybe this makes no sense at all. Oh well, I tried.

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