Holy Steam Rollers

Atheists of the world, unite!

Today’s article in the Los Angeles Times reminds us how fearful atheists must be in a climate where religion is burgeoning out of control. With all these weird sectarian fundamentalist types spouting their weirdo creeds against stealing from, insulting, striking and murdering people, it must be a hair-raising time indeed for the harried community of nonbelievers.

Advertisements

36 thoughts on “Holy Steam Rollers

  1. “With all these weird sectarian fundamentalist types spouting their weirdo creeds against stealing from, insulting, striking and murdering people, it must be a hair-raising time indeed for the harried community of nonbelievers.”

    The problem has always been the inability of the “weird sectarians” to follow their own rules.

  2. “I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

    –George H.W. Bush

  3. “I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”–George H.W. Bush

    Yah, it was fuzzymindedness like this that made me vote against him. The first time, anyway. 😉

    And yes, Tlaloc, the only problem with Christianity is Christians, on this we all agree. It’s a human thing; you wouldn’t understand.

  4. Hm. There’s a diversity of thought and opinion among a bunch of people linked by one overarching belief. Sounds kind of like… Christianity.

  5. I wonder if the person who posted that anonymous post would make the same critiques of Jimmy Carter and Abe Lincoln (He certainly thought the U.S. was one nation under God). In the end, these backward, God-fearing presidents employed religious rhetoric just as much, if not more than G.W.

  6. It is a bad time in history to be a devout secularist/atheist. It has only recently become clear that the secularization thesis — which posited that religious belief was being progressively eliminated in favor of materialism/positivism — is not being realized and is unlikely to ever be realized.

  7. “And yes, Tlaloc, the only problem with Christianity is Christians, on this we all agree. It’s a human thing; you wouldn’t understand.”

    Actually the problem is the attempt to concoct a universal morality and force it on people. It doesn’t work. People have an individual moral compass and if the outside attempts to realign were removed they could do a lot better at following it. Trying to force a person to follow some outside code is self defeating though.

  8. “It is a bad time in history to be a devout secularist/atheist. It has only recently become clear that the secularization thesis — which posited that religious belief was being progressively eliminated in favor of materialism/positivism — is not being realized and is unlikely to ever be realized.”

    I tend to disagree, what you see today is the last gasp of Christianities hold on the US. Hence why it’s the very radicalized Christianity. At the end of a movement it’s always the die hards that are left shouting louder and louder. It is in fact exactly parallel to what’s happening in much of the middle east. Islam moves to the right as society moves to the left and eventually the center cannot hold.

    Again consider the demographics which show christianity losing ground to other religions and especially to non-religious philosophies in the US.

  9. Which isn’t to say I think that Christianity is going to die out in America. Far from it, it just won’t be able to exert much control over the day to day life in ten years.

    Lets face it even the rest of the GOP is pretty sick of the religious right at this point, and you know if they are tired of the interference that the rest of america is more than tired.

  10. Tlaloc, you’re going against the grain of the sociological research. Given sociology of religion is one of my reading fields, I know what I’m talking about. Christianity is far less taken for granted than it once was in the U.S., but it is more vigorous in the public square than ever. Lots of great books to read there.

    In addition, I’m not talking only about Christianity and only the U.S.. The third world is exploding with Christianity, particularly of the Pentecostal/Charismatic sort and Islam is not exactly dying away.

  11. I think Hunter may have something of a point, but I don’t think it’s the one he was trying to make. Secularism is hardly the same as atheism, and I really wish people would stop trying to conflate the two. Hunter mentioned materialism. Now, I do not believe that materialism is the result of secularism or atheism.

    However, my theory is that the recent surge in a return to religion, especially religious fundamentalism, is a backlash against rampant Western materialism. We are too fascinated with stuff, with ownership and avarice. Materialism is an inherently empty, existentially worthless existence. Human beings are as much existential as they are material; there is a spiritual component that should not be neglected.

    Now, I disagree that spirituality, ethics, and morals NEED to be adhered to within an established religion (it’s fine if they are; it’s just not necessary), but the human existence requires some sort of existential/spiritual dimension. When people become fed up with something, they often head as far the other way as they can, a la David Horowitz and Irving Kristol. So, people are returning to the model that was easily available to them: Christianity. And because they are heading so far from where they were, they are holding themselves in opposition to positions on issues that they held earlier, deciding that they are related to their former spiritual derth when they are, in fact, not related at all.

    What we are seeing now, with the “rise” of Christianity, is merely the same thing as when “New Age” was popular in the 80s and yoga, Buddhism, and the like became popular in the 90s. People are just trying to find a spiritual component for balance. Things will even out. I just hope things don’t get too screwed up before people mellow out.

  12. “Tlaloc, you’re going against the grain of the sociological research. Given sociology of religion is one of my reading fields, I know what I’m talking about. Christianity is far less taken for granted than it once was in the U.S., but it is more vigorous in the public square than ever. Lots of great books to read there.”

    Well I think you could easily see the smaller number of more vocal people as being “vigorous.” There’s no doubt the reactionaries are trying to occupy the public square and with some success but I suspect they are over reaching themselves and will end up being much more marginalized as they lose impetus and face a nation that doesn’t appreciate their blatant proselytizing. Again Christianity seems in decline even though it’s becoming more noisy about it.

    “In addition, I’m not talking only about Christianity and only the U.S.. The third world is exploding with Christianity, particularly of the Pentecostal/Charismatic sort and Islam is not exactly dying away.”

    I was only speaking to the US as I haven’t been studying the third world’s religious trends. You may be right about the religion exploding in the third world, afterall they are several decades behind the US in virtually every other way (infrastructure, civil rights, etc) why not religiously as well?
    Islam while not dying out is facing a huge crisis. The masses have become fairly moderate and irreligious which has pushed the extremists to even new heights of shrillness as they blow their god whistles and try to herd the people back into their narrow view of the world. Was it not for the outside interference the people would likely tell the Imams to take a flying leap just as they are doing here to the christian extremists.

  13. “What we are seeing now, with the “rise” of Christianity, is merely the same thing as when “New Age” was popular in the 80s and yoga, Buddhism, and the like became popular in the 90s. People are just trying to find a spiritual component for balance.”

    It’s the fast food mentality for spirtuality, unfortunately. Get in, fork over some cash, get some god, and get out.

  14. I’m not kidding about Religimon. There was a great article in either May or June’s Harper’s Magazine that talked about the consumerism inherent in the fundamentalist Christian movement. They have so wrapped themselves up in capitalism that they need to “market” Christianity like it was a Saturday morning cartoon show.

    “Maybe if Jesus was hip, then the kiddies will be down with the Lordster! Jesus is effin’ metal!”

  15. “There was a great article in either May or June’s Harper’s Magazine that talked about the consumerism inherent in the fundamentalist Christian movement.”

    Uh yeah, the clue might have been all the articles talking about the various new christian “markets” that have opened up and that of course businesses are scrambling to pander to. I’m amazed christians don’t see that kind of thing with disgust. Afterall the real pagans I know were thoroughly annoyed with the new age movement and all the merchandising garbage that went with it.

  16. You might be right, Mr. Elliott. Atheism would be more popular except there isn’t very much to merchandise. Chains with nothing on them and a blank book in every hotel room?

  17. We could have Religimon fight Athiechu for domination of the spiritual market.

    I wonder how that fight would go. Would Athiechu’s Disbelief-Zap cause Religimon to disappear in a puff of logic? Or would Religimon’s ability to spawn Legions of Religioconsumers overwhelm Atheichu, drowning him in a living sea of sheeple?

  18. I was actually referring to philosophical materialism (of the Oliver Wendell Holmes type) as opposed to consumeristic materialism which is rampant in the Western world. Philosophical materialism holds that there is literally nothing more than matter and that you are nothing more than a walking bag of chemicals and firing neurons. According that view, something like love is an illusion or a manifestation of less romantic impulses that we try to prettify. It doesn’t resonate with the human experience of the world and thus it is rejected.

  19. Oh. Well, then your point wasn’t at all what I thought and merely represents what conservatives and liberals always try to do with one another: take an unattractive extreme and say “This is the norm!” for their opponent.

    Blah blah blah.

    My point still stands, though.

  20. No, James, that isn’t what I did at all. Philosophical materialism was a very potent force during the first half of the twentieth century and has suffered tremendous setbacks since that time. The fact that you don’t necessarily identify with it doesn’t mean it isn’t real and that I haven’t faithfully described it.

    Religious resurgence is definitely linked to people facing the full implications of philosophical materialism. The alternative is to embrace Romantic Naturalism, which was very popular at one time and still has many adherents today whether or not they would recognize the name.

  21. Peace, dude. I think we’ve both missed each other’s point. It happens.

    I just don’t think you can conflate secularism with atheism or all atheists with materialists. That’s all.

  22. Secularists definitely deserve to be distinguished. There are lots of Christian secularists and they have their reasons.

    Atheism, on the other hand, seems to me inextricably linked to philosophical materialism. I don’t know what other option there would be.

  23. “Atheism, on the other hand, seems to me inextricably linked to philosophical materialism. I don’t know what other option there would be.”

    It could be a simple logical proposition. Occam’s Razor will lead you to Atheism faster than to any deism.

  24. I’ve never understood why. Posit a stupendous coincidence of extraordinarily unlikely natural events that could much more easily have led to utter chaos versus a first cause creator. Why is the first simpler than the second?

  25. because the materialist answer requires no unproven hypothesis while the creator one does (namely that said creator exists). Hence by Occam’s Razor the first is simpler than the second. Of course simpler doesn’t mean it is correct only that it’s your best bet.

  26. I take the classical position that it requires an equal leap of faith to posit that a first cause motion setter does not exist.

  27. because the materialist answer requires no unproven hypothesis while the creator one does (namely that said creator exists). Hence by Occam’s Razor the first is simpler than the second.

    This is simply incorrect. It is always possible to frame any declarative statement in logic so that H sub zero refers to a state A or the reverse not A. The unproven hypothesis can just as easily be “all that exists exists on the material plane” as “there exists a Creator.” Occam’s Razor is of no help in sorting out which of two a priori assumptions are “simpler.”

  28. So there.

    _____________________
    HB, I’ve been mulling your notion that Romanticism, after the fall of postmodernism, is once again in fashion, and agree, if indeed I understand you correctly.

    This discussion between a Western philosopher and an Islamic thinker came to mind:

    On the eve of the 21st Century, Butterworth argued, we are the stepchildren of Rousseau rather than the stepchildren of Hobbes or Aristotle. In other words, we believe that human beings are by nature good. We don’t want to go back to the Hobbesian vision of government’s origin, according to which humans are driven by concupiscence and unbridled desire and that politics is necessary to preserve order.

    The Islamic view of man, rooted in medieval philosophy, holds closer to the latter. It’s a brief exchange that I found enlightening re current events and I hope you’ll find it worth the look.

    (My view is more Thomistic [and Aquinas studied both Aristotle and the Islamic medievals], that we are indeed blank slates who although pulled to the transcendent, must discover and actualize it in our lives through will and reason, but enough of that for now.)

  29. TVD, sounds like it’s worth a look. I’m just getting more sustained exposure to Aquinas, so you’re comments are helpful. I’ve read a lot of secondary stuff about his thought, but have some primary ahead.

  30. “This is simply incorrect. It is always possible to frame any declarative statement in logic so that H sub zero refers to a state A or the reverse not A. The unproven hypothesis can just as easily be “all that exists exists on the material plane” as “there exists a Creator.” Occam’s Razor is of no help in sorting out which of two a priori assumptions are “simpler.””

    No you are flat out wrong. The materialist position (which I don’t share btw) doesn’t require you to say “all that exists exists on the material plane.” All it requires is for you to say “all we observe can be explained by processes we can observe on the material plane.” This isn’t an unprove hypothesis but is instead a verifiable (and so far verified) theory. We have never yet experimentally detected something that requires us to posit some external metaphysical force to explain.

    As before then the materialist position is clearly the simpler (in terms of Occam’s Razor) proposition.

  31. The statement that sense observation has priority of simplicity is ad hoc. It is an assumption, not a datum.

  32. observed processes don’t require an unproven assertion to allow them. This isn’t rocket science Kathy, come on.

  33. Obviously if you’ve observed and have a working model for how ice melts then it requires no unproven assertions to say “the day is warm, this ice melted, therefore the ice melted due to absorbed heat.”

    On the other hand saying “The Ice melted because God willed it” requires you to posit a God capable of melting ice. No such god has been observed, it is therefor an unproven assumption.

    This is basic logic, nothing that hard about it. If you really don’t get it then I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from trying to construct syllogisms in the future. You are ill equiped to do so.

Comments are closed.