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1 Blind Frog Belly White  Mar 16, 2015 10:21:07am

Just goes to show you - being right about the existence of a deity doesn’t make you right about everything.

2 Romantic Heretic  Mar 16, 2015 10:59:08am

I once made an atheist’s head explode by noting his stance was simply another form of faith. Believers have faith there is a God, Allah to Zeus, take your pick. Atheists have faith there isn’t. Neither stance can be demonstrated with actual evidence.

But like all forms of faith atheism is just as susceptible to the human impulses to find excuses for being dicks to other human beings. Which also demonstrates my first point that atheism is just another form of faith.

3 Blind Frog Belly White  Mar 16, 2015 11:43:06am

Well, here’s the thing - assuming the nonexistence of something for which there’s no evidence doesn’t require faith.

It’s only if you insist that you know for sure that there’s no deity that you enter the area of ‘belief in the absence of evidence’.

4 CriticalDragon1177  Mar 16, 2015 12:07:46pm

re: #2 Romantic Heretic

I once made an atheist’s head explode by noting his stance was simply another form of faith. Believers have faith there is a God, Allah to Zeus, take your pick. Atheists have faith there isn’t. Neither stance can be demonstrated with actual evidence.

But like all forms of faith atheism is just as susceptible to the human impulses to find excuses for being dicks to other human beings. Which also demonstrates my first point that atheism is just another form of faith.

I think the best definition for atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods. One doesn’t require much faith to hold such a position. While some atheist and some theists may not be one hundred percent sure weather God ( or gods ) exists, what makes you an atheist or theist is where you stand on the question of which is more likely.

5 StephenMeansMe  Mar 16, 2015 1:11:33pm

I’m not sure whether I want to read the whole article, because even the quoted bit is confused.

One of the most obnoxious refrains you hear when you complain about Islamophobia in the United States being a form of racism is “Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion.” It’s a nasty derailing technique… And it’s wrong for transparent reasons. You don’t need to look far for other examples where religion and ethnicity are conflated within the logic of prejudice.

I think he means it’s invalid/irrelevant? Because Islam really isn’t a race, there are no “ethnic Muslims” in the same way that there are ethnic Jews… but if you say to an Islamophobe “Your statements seem racist,” and they come back with “Nuh uh, Islam isn’t a race,” that statement isn’t inaccurate, but it is irrelevant to your criticism of Islamophobia.

But the sheer hypocrisy of saying that anti-Muslim prejudice is a consequence of rational disagreement with the tenets of Islam rather than xenophobic distrust of people who look different from “normal” Americans becomes most obvious when you see how much of it falls on Sikhs.

Wait. I thought most of those incidents were right-wing Christian nutjobs who thought they were defending Real America from Sharia law?

I dunno, I don’t really want to defend Dawkins or Harris on this (Harris’ defense of profiling was pretty embarrassing, though to his credit he did debate Bruce Schneier extensively and IIRC changed his own view) but Chu is not really doing anyone a favor by writing this mess.

6 Mattand  Mar 16, 2015 1:48:05pm

re: #2 Romantic Heretic

I once made an atheist’s head explode by noting his stance was simply another form of faith. Believers have faith there is a God, Allah to Zeus, take your pick. Atheists have faith there isn’t. Neither stance can be demonstrated with actual evidence.

Ummmm, no.

This is that shitty “Atheism is a religion” meme that the religious like to play, thinking they’ve scored a “Gotcha!”

There’s really no evidence for a supreme being or beings, be it the Christian God, Allah, Zeus, Hours, etc. How do you test for a being that supposedly has the power to ignore things like time and space?

If the test fails to prove your deity, than all one has to do is hand wave and go, “Doesn’t matter, my Lord can’t be tested by human means!”

As far as I’m aware, the only proof of any sort of God existing are religious texts like the Bible, with occasional Lady of Fatima/Jesus in my toast hallucination. In other words, nothing concrete, or something which can be easily disproved.

Seriously, chief; if you’re the one making the claim that God is real, it’s not up to me to prove you wrong.

But like all forms of faith atheism is just as susceptible to the human impulses to find excuses for being dicks to other human beings.

I’m guessing if you bothered to talk to more than a few atheists, most would not claim that not believing in the supernatural would make them immune from human frailties. I think you’re projecting here.

Which also demonstrates my first point that atheism is just another form of faith.

So, people who don’t believe in God can say stupid shit, therefore atheism is a religion.

You may want to reexamine that position.

7 Nyet  Mar 16, 2015 3:03:18pm

re: #2 Romantic Heretic

Atheism is lack of belief in God. For some it may be a “faith”, but it is not so defined.

But even assuming that “believing that there is no God” itself is a form of faith, then so is “believing that there are no demons and Satan”, “believing that there is no Santa”, “believing that there is no IPU”. You wouldn’t be able to point out any difference between these statements and the “belief that there is no God”.

So, you know, if you “believe that there is no Lucifer”, you’re a person of faith on that account.

8 Nyet  Mar 16, 2015 3:29:34pm

As happens too often, I sense a lack of nuance in discussions like this.

It should be easy enough to acknowledge that purely formally Islamophobia is not a form of racism due to the way it is defined (anti-Muslim prejudice - that is, a worldview based prejudice, not race-based prejudice). Sort of like anti-Zionism is not a form of antisemitism.

It should also be easy enough to acknowledge the undeniable fact that more often than not Islamophobia is a proxy for racism (anti-Arab, anti-Turkish and so on), sort of like anti-Zionism has too often been used as a more “politically palatable” proxy for antisemitism. (Important side note: unlike anti-Zionism, Islamophobia is necessarily a form of bigotry - regardless of whether it’s based on race or religion.)

So both sides are basically wrong in trying not to acknowledge that the other side has a point.

So why do many people repeat “Islam is not a race, so Islamophobia is not racism” (which is the truth, but not the whole truth)? I suppose one of the reasons is because the term itself is a misnomer (like antisemitism) - there is a conflation between a stance against the religion itself and a stance against the adherents of that religion.

When one asks, it is almost universally acknowledged that criticizing the tenets of Islam is not Islamophobic per se (though, again, it can be used as a proxy). It is the prejudice against living, breathing people, rather than a dislike of the ideology, that is the nature of Islamophobia. But a superficial reading of the term “Islamophobia” may lead some to believe that no criticism of Islam itself is allowed, which is not true, just as it is not true that antisemitism includes anti-Arab prejudice just because they are Semites. A more fitting term would be “Muslimophobia”, but it’s too late, I guess. Those who were coining these terms were not the clearest of thinkers, but that’s life.

9 Romantic Heretic  Mar 16, 2015 3:51:03pm

Sorry to disappoint, but that’s how I see it.

Anything a person says about God and His/Her/It’s nature is a matter of faith. No person can know. There’s no evidence for or against the existence of deities.

There is, from my point of view, little practical difference between religion(s) and atheism. All I was trying to say, as I so often say, is that people are fond of grabbing on to belief systems not as a guideline to be better people, but as an excuse to indulge in ‘othering’ complete with the absolute assurance that they’re much better than those people. From my point of view I see little difference between Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins.

You know, in some ways it was a good thing I lost my mind for several years. Getting a semblance of mental and emotional equilibrium back forced me to look at everything I think and why I thought that. I sometimes wish I had my faith back, even if it is that minor faith that our system works, but overall insanity was a crucible that refined the person I am.

10 Nyet  Mar 16, 2015 3:53:10pm

re: #9 Romantic Heretic

Sorry to disappoint, but that’s how I see it.

Anything a person says about God and His/Her/It’s nature is a matter of faith. No person can know. There’s no evidence for or against the existence of deities.

It doesn’t seem that you have read and understood what we wrote to you.

11 b_sharp  Mar 16, 2015 4:24:43pm

re: #9 Romantic Heretic

Sorry to disappoint, but that’s how I see it.

Anything a person says about God and His/Her/It’s nature is a matter of faith. No person can know. There’s no evidence for or against the existence of deities.

There is, from my point of view, little practical difference between religion(s) and atheism. All I was trying to say, as I so often say, is that people are fond of grabbing on to belief systems not as a guideline to be better people, but as an excuse to indulge in ‘othering’ complete with the absolute assurance that they’re much better than those people. From my point of view I see little difference between Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins.

You know, in some ways it was a good thing I lost my mind for several years. Getting a semblance of mental and emotional equilibrium back forced me to look at everything I think and why I thought that. I sometimes wish I had my faith back, even if it is that minor faith that our system works, but overall insanity was a crucible that refined the person I am.

I think you’re conflating belief and conclusion and between expressing a conclusion and extremism.

The similarities between Robertson and Dawkins isn’t faith, Robertson believes in something where there is a lack of evidence where Dawkins doesn’t believe in something where there is a lack of evidence. The similarity is in the extreme attitude they each have in the expression of their beliefs. However, Dawkins has come to the conclusion that there is no god, not based not on some faith that there isn’t, but because conclusions can be drawn even when there is less than 100% certainty. Robertson’s belief is absolute in spite of a lack of solid evidence. Dawkin’s belief is based on the probability there is no god.

12 Nyet  Mar 16, 2015 4:39:33pm

re: #11 b_sharp

The main point RH misses is that atheism is defined as a lack of belief. Lack of belief is not “faith” by definition. Hence his last reply completely missed the point of the objections.

True, many atheists have an additional belief in non-existence, but that’s neither here nor there. One can be an atheist without that belief.
If you are aware of the concept of God and lack belief in God, you’re an atheist. Could very well be that RH himself is actually an atheist.

I don’t know about Dawkins, but from what I have read, he doesn’t have an absolute belief in God’s non-existence. He merely holds the probability of his existence to be extremely small. Ask Robertson whether he thinks God exists merely “probably”. ROFL.

—-

Moreover, RH posits an absurd claim that belief in A and belief in non-A are always equally “religious” because we can never be 100% certain.

The absurdity lies in demanding 100% certainty, whereas we can be only 100% certain that “we think, therefore we are”. All other conclusions are probabilistic. We don’t “know” that the Sun exists in RH’s sense of “know”, because maybe it’s just an alien hologram or a mass hallucination - so apparently we all have faith in the Sun.

Another absurdity is in saying that A = non-A insofar as “faith” is concerned. We can’t prove that solipsism is not true. Does that mean it is as irrational to dismiss solipsism as it is to accept it? Is it the same “faith”? We can’t prove that there is no Lucifer. Does it mean that those who believe that there is no Lucifer are as irrational as those who do? Even if one acknowledges that there is a leap of faith involved in both cases (it’s more complicated than that, but that’s a matter for another discussion), the scales of these two leaps are not at all comparable.

13 A Cranky One  Mar 16, 2015 7:30:25pm

I like to point out to proselytizers that they are atheists toward all other deities. So someone who claims to be an atheist only believes in one less god than the proselytizer, who disbelieves in hundreds of other deities.

They don’t like that.

14 cinesimon  Mar 17, 2015 12:17:22am

re: #9 Romantic Heretic

It maybe how you see it, but it merely highlights how few atheists you know, and how little you care about honestly trying to understand the point of view of others.
You’re extremely ignorant on this issue, and apparently very lazy.

15 Thanos  Mar 17, 2015 5:53:38am

I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in gods and never have. As soon as you show me proof of god(s) I will believe. It takes 00000.000000 faith to hold that position.

16 hartly  Mar 17, 2015 1:12:08pm

Sorry, maybe I didn’t read the article carefuly enough, but I don’t find Arthur Chu’s case against Dawkins and Harris very compelling. Chu doesn’t offer any examples of either Dawkins or Harris conflating Sikhism and Islam, nor does he offer any proof that their criticism of the Islamic religion hides a racist agenda or that it encourages racism on the part of others. Rather, he points out that Dawkins and Harris have criticized Islam, then cites several examples of harrassment of Sikhs by people who have mistaken them for Muslims - people who presumably have nothing to do with Dawkins and Harris. If he wants to nail Dawkins and Harris here than it seems to me at the very least he has to show some sort of connection between the Sikh-hating Islamophobes and Dawkins/Harris, such as Sikh-hating Islamophobes citing Dawkins and/or Harris as influencing their beliefs.

17 Aye Pod  Mar 17, 2015 3:43:55pm

re: #16 hartly

It’s a horrible article.

I’d say that the conflation of atheist intellectuals like Dawkins with unnamed Islam-Sikhism conflating bigots shows how shallow the writer’s thinking is.

18 Nyet  Mar 17, 2015 4:46:47pm

re: #17 Aye Pod

Agreed, albeit unfortunately Dawkins has made his share of anti-Muslim statements, which is when I lost respect for him as a person (which doesn’t mean that his books are wrong; that would be ad hominem).


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