Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Nice Article From the Milwaukee Atheism Examiner

According to Christian Aplogetics and Research Ministry, atheism "is, essentially, a negative position."

How is atheism a negative position? I am not an ANTItheist, I am an atheist. I am not AGAINST God; I don't think God exists.

Atheism is the lack of theism. Atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of belief. It's really as simple as that.

For thousands of years, theists have used their versions of God to explain what they cannot explain. The beginning of the universe? I can't explain it, but I also do not accept the theists' explanation.

I'm not against anyone's religion. I just don't want any part of it. See, there's that whole lack of belief; I don't hold a negative position. I don't deny the existence of a God, for to deny such a thing would mean that I have knowledge of a God that I am being asked to affirm. I don't.

I will, however, stand up for secularism in government, as I do believe that the separation of church and state is necessary for a truly free society. As far as I'm concerned, you are free to practice religion as you see fit -- or none at all -- as long as it does not infringe upon my right to live the life I choose, which is that of an atheist.

37 comments:

Karthik said...

Hi,

I am atheist too and got involved with this religion - "Hinduism" from childhood. I hope u know about this religion. So many gods, godesses, so different cultures exist in India.

Same point here. Here parents force the kids to believe something which they themselves know doesn't exist. They want the kids to believe so that some limit can be maintained in moral thoughts/actions. But people misuse it for their disires/instincts, as GOD will not anyway question them. They just take it for granted!

csm said...

Thank you for your thoughts Karthik. Is it really true that most folks in India know that their gods and goddesses do not exist? In the USA, unfortunately, most people still believe in their god(s) as they force them on their children.

Anonymous said...

Since atheism means No God, therefore, NO represents a negative position. Some atheist are just looking to be overly sensitive. If there is no god, why do they care so much? Why do they feel the need to force their NO on everyone else including their children?

csm said...

Dear anonymous coward,

Have you any brains at all? The lack of a belief is not a negative position, but then, I think you probably know that and are just trolling here to be an asshole. Good luck with that.

- csm

BAWDYSCOT said...

Why do many Christians force their YES on everyone else including their children?

G said...

"Christians force their YES on everyone else..."?

Normally I enjoy reading your viewpoint, Bawdy. But that comment is overgeneralized nonsense.

csm,

I realize that you (and apparently the author of that article) define atheism as "a lack of belief in god", but that definition is certainly not universal.

Anti-theist is exactly how one would describe the words and actions of some atheists (FFRF, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Newdow come to mind).

Anonymous said...

Yes, we realize this LACK of belief just happens to mean NO belief in a God.
a-theism, No-God. Negative argument. Didn't see a single christian forcing anything. Only an a-theist getting upset.

Troll

csm said...

To the anonymous troll: Upset? Who is upset?

To G: Interesting... Explain how FFRF, Hitchens, Dawkins, & Newdow are anti-theist. These are groups and people who stand up against the creeping religious agenda into government and government-supported "stuff"... Have you read Dawkins and Hitchens? I have and I do not see anti-theist, but truth telling, in many cases (although, of course, as with most things, I do not agree with all of their opinions, when they are citing opinions).

csm said...

Also G, re: Bawdy's comment, let's just leave it with children and then tell me that theists don't force their views on their children?

BAWDYSCOT said...

Thanks, G, you read between my lines and made my point for me. I just wondered why you didn't make the same comment about anonymous' post before mine. It was just as much the "overgenralized nonsense".

Anonymous said...

I'll do this in two separate posts to keep things clear. In reference to the earlier post:

I have read little of Dawkins, but a decent amount of Hitchens.

If you consider that the prefix "anti" is defined as "opposed to", then it is obvious that all those I mentioned are anti-theist (opposed to those who believe in a god). But to be more specific:

Hitchens - actually refers to himself as "anti-theist".

Dawkins - one of his best-known quotes begins with, "I am against religion because..."

Newdow - active in litigation to force the removal of even the word "god" from public life

FFRF - even the name indicates an opposition to religion.

And in each case, they go beyond simple contentment with their own beliefs. They have all taken an active role in promoting the atheist position. If one doesn't get caught up in the religious connotations of the words, they could easily be called evangelists (lit. proclaimers of good) and apologists for atheism.

G said...

Sorry for that "anonymous". I forgot to put my "G" in before posting.

On the last csm post:

"let's just leave it with children and then tell me that theists don't force their views on their children?"

As a general rule, they absolutely do not. "Force" is a very strong word. Do Christians typically teach their children the things they believe to be true and right? Of course they do... just like any other responsible parent would. And when the kids grow up, the things they've been taught will be challenged in various ways. So they will eventually make their own decisions on what is correct and what is not.

"Force" implies some amount of punitive action if they don't accept those beliefs. That attitude is not even remotely the norm. It would be counter-productive anyway (in addition to abusive). There might be parents somewhere who behave that way, but I've never met any.

G said...

Bawdy,

I rarely respond to those who won't even give themselves a moniker, which is equally anonymous in reality but at least allows us to develop a pseudo-relationship based on a body of thoughts & positions.

Unless they address me directly, I usually just ignore them. I might occasionally respond to a clearly erroneous statement that nobody else will address. But I figure that the atheists can defend themselves.

csm said...

Thanks, G. And yes, Hitchens makes sense to describe as anti-theist, I'd agree. Dawkins, OTOH, describes the problems he sees with theism to define why he is an atheist. And yes, I can see how theists might view that as anti-theist. Of course, atheists view theists as anti-logical, so theists are negative, too. (I'm sure you will not agree.)

On Newdow, you are wrong. Wanting to remove the word God from a pledge of allegiance makes a shitload of sense. After all, it is a fucking pledge of allegiance so why should a national pledge contain any reference to any deity that is not required in order to be a patriot of that nation? It is just common sense to anyone with a brain that the word god has no place in the pledge of allegiance.

FFRF? Anti by definition? How? That organization works to undo the shenanigans of believers as they worm their belief system into government and taxpayer funded arenas.

And regarding children we'll just have to agree to disagree. Most theists absolutely force their children to be theists by indoctrinating them into that belief system at extremely young ages - when they are most susceptible to bullshit.

G said...

Regardless of how one views Newdow's lawsuits, they are clearly opposed to theism. I'd be willing to bet that if you asked him if he is opposed to theism, he would say, "yes".

What does "Freedom FROM Religion" imply to you? It sure sounds like they envision a society where they never have to experience any kind of theistic references. But in any case, they are active in advertising campaigns that are in opposition to religious belief (i.e. opposed to theism).

With respect to Christians and their children, you may consider it indoctrination. But don't all parents "indoctrinate" their kids in one form or another (self-sufficiency, importance of education, conservation, etc.)? One person's indoctrination is another's education.

Honestly, I think you'd find a very small minority of self-proclaimed Christians who actively educate their children in their faith. Most just go to church on Saturday or Sunday and take the kids with them (like they would to any other family event). I guess you could say that my parents indoctrinated me into being a Dodger fan. Poor me!

csm said...

You do have my sympathy about being a Dodgers fan, G. However, I disagree. In my experience (as unvast as it may be) parents are constantly talking about god this and jesus that and say your prayers and be good because god and jesus want you to. Some are even reading their little tax deductions bible stories... no, they are not necessarily training them to be a priest, nun, preacher, or rabbi, but they are indoctrinating them into the whole god concept.

Regarding Newdow, now you're making bets on things you do not know regarding the man. So I accept that you are just guessing, which you are, of course, entitled to do. That does not make it so, though.

G said...

And reading Bible stories to them is a bad thing? If it is God's word, then it is essential. If it is not God's word, but merely a reasonably accurate ancient history, then it is beneficial. If it is strictly myth, then it is no more harmful than Aesop, Grimm, or Dr. Seuss.

Parents always have and always will teach what they believe to be true and good to their children. So I suppose you could say that every parent forces their beliefs upon their children to one degree or another.

When kids grow up, they will make their own decisions. Personally, I never saw the inside of a church until I was 15 (a funeral). Despite my non-religious upbringing, I became a Christian as an adult. I'm sure we all know many people who were brought up in the church but turned away as adults (at least one of the regulars on this blog, if I'm not mistaken). That's how life works. We learn, we grow, we question, and we find our own way.

csm said...

So you're finally agreeing with me that many theists indoctrinate their children?

G said...

No. It's called raising your children, not indoctrination. Your word implies, "This is what we believe, and don't question it."

Reading Bible stories to kids is not indoctrination. But I doubt that most self-proclaimed Christians do so anyway. Most don't even read it themselves.

Are you suggesting that parents shouldn't teach their values to kids?

BAWDYSCOT said...

So what is so fucking wrong with being a Dodger fan? :)

csm said...

No, you know what I am out and out saying (not suggesting), and that is that nearly all theists (which includes christians) indoctrinate their children into believing in god. You seem to have some aversion toward the term indoctrination, G. OK, but that doesn't change the facts.

G said...

I don't have an aversion to the word "indoctrination". But I do have an aversion to its misuse in order to make a simple fact of life appear insidious.

As I said, it's called raising your children. It is no more a matter of indoctrination than anything else parents teach their children. Do you also equate things like the importance of honesty, respect, and education to be indoctrination?

When you use that word, most people infer that beliefs are being forced upon a person and dissent is not tolerated. And that simply isn't true with most parents.

csm said...

And I disagree. Most theist parents will NOT tolerate a child saying they don't believe in god or that there is no god. They will, instead, indoctrinate them into believing that there is a god.

G said...

Interesting. Please tell, how many prepubescent atheist dissenters have you actually met in your lifetime? I've never met a single one. Even the teenager who rebels against theism is rare. Maybe turning to sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but not a complete rejection of belief in a god of some kind.

That rejection of theism doesn't usually come up until the college years... when professors and fellow students start to "indoctrinate" them into the teachings of atheist philosophers.

How many cases have you seen where parents arranged some kind of intervention for their unbelieving kids, or punishment, etc.?

Ceroill said...

G, I am not quite an example of what you propose, however I'm probably as close as you will find.
I was raised in a Unitarian family (Unitarian Universalist to be technical). Every sunday there was Sunday School with lessons from and about the Bible. As we got a bit older the lessons included information about other faiths. When I was 13 my sunday school class spent several sessions going to various religious services around town. Roman Catholic Easter Mass. Buddhist services. And so on. In the UU church you have to actually join when you become an adult. You have to decide. I decided not to. I am not a member of any faith, but neither am I an atheist as such. I'm an agnostic.

I was educated about the religion I was born into, but I was not 'indoctrinated' with dogma. I was allowed to make up my own mind, which is part of the whole process and principles of UU'ism.

G said...

Exactly. Thanks for your input. Although I think that your case (actually attending services for different religions) is probably pretty uncommon.

Ceroill said...

G, agreed, it is uncommon, but in my point of view it should be a standard thing. I think all kids should be educated about a variety of religions and spiritual outlooks.

csm said...

Right Bob... and most kids are not taught that at all. Most kids are INDOCTRINATED into believing what their parents believe.

G said...

That's fine. You can BELIEVE whatever you want. Facts don't matter. Just keep repeating it and it will eventually become true.

Lou said...

G,

If you want to see a great analysis of the indoctrination process, read this article. Its quite enlightening.

Indoctrination

Anonymous said...

Actually, why fight it?

I admit that the other day when my wife and I found out our 7-year-old had been discussing Nietzsche and Schopenhauer with her friends over recess, we were terribly concerned. So of course, we rifled through her belongings and found a picture-book version of Spinoza's Treatise on Theology and Politics.

Being mindless automatons, we weren't sure what to do. So we called Focus on the Family (speed dial #1) to ask whether a public book burning and verbal assault would be adequate, or if we also needed to withhold food and bathroom privileges for a month.

We soon discovered that she is much more responsive to positive reinforcement. So now we give her a cookie every time she says "Jesus is Lord", and a candy bar when she preaches the gospel to her classmates.

G said...

grrrrrrrr!!!

Me again. I keep putting my 'G' in the proper place, but it keeps getting left out. Sorry.

G

Lou said...

Ha Ha, carry on good and faithful soldier. Maintain positive reinforcement until the masses, i mean our children are firmly entrenched into the truth.

Heil Dobson

csm said...

Have you looked up what the word INDOCTRINATE means, G? Give it a try.

Here is one definition (the one I've been using, from Webster's Universal College Dictionary): to instruct in a doctrine or ideology, esp. dogmatically

Well, that is a perfect definition of what theist parents do with their children. You seem to have some blockage about the word INDOCTRINATE that causes you to protest?

coreydbarbarian said...

hey anony-g!

while i appreciate the satire (really, i do), here's some advice for training up your 7 yr old in the ways of philosophy:

before nietzsche, schopenhauer and spinoza (and i LOVE spinoza's god, after being introduced by albert einstein), may i recommend a strong foundation in the classics (i.e. plato, aristotle, kant, locke, etc.)?

in my experience, it is absolutely impossible to properly understand the post-modern philosophers w/o first grasping the context in which they were writing...so just tell your 7yr old to apply his/her mind to the foundations of philosophy if he/she wants to build an intellectual "house" that can withstand the storms of life.

p.s. this same advice would apply to many folks (some christian) who disparage those "atheist philosophers".

cheers!! :D

G said...

Immanuel Kant is not yet available in picture-book form. But I have heard rumblings about a pop-up book next year.

csm,

I know the definition, and I've looked it up as well. Here's another:
"Teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically."
That would be from Princeton Press' dictionary. And I think it is more in line with what the general public understands the word to mean. In particular, look at the synonyms on dictionary.com (brainwash, propagandize).

By the definition you've chosen (ironically, from Webster, who was a strong Christian) you confirm my earlier point that it could be applied to just about any type of teaching that parents do... or universities, etc.

Ceroill said...

Just for the heck of it, here's the Philosopher Song from Monty Python:


Immanual Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table

David Hume could out consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill

Plato they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram

And Rene' Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am"

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker
But a bugger when he's pissed