I wanted to apologize to Fabio for totally derailing his thread into my rants, that is my bad and I should have directed the conversation to what the thread entails. Maybe I should just make one big thread with my discussion eh?
I'd like to bring up the very fundamental flaws in Fabio's philosopher here, see below. I reply to this post not with enthusiasm or a vehemence to be seen as correct. Chagrin fuels my urge, and reminds me of why I initially wanted to ignore this post. "Don't you have a book to write?" says my conscience, willing me to move along. But the elongated sigh exhaling from my mouth since first reading this after work last night seems unquenchable otherwise. I see nothing but regret coming from me replying. I see nothing but a future headache. Still, I persist, because I'm a fool. Let's do this.
This is an article I just translated by a Brazilian philosopher criticizing the mainstream militants of atheism, for you appreciation.
Firstly, that's really interesting. Do you often get the opportunity to translate articles like this?
The crooks' "debate"
Because when I write a criticism of those whose beliefs differ from mine, the first thing I want to relay is the best condescending name I can muster. Egads!
techniques have been very simplified in the last years. They
Stop, stop, stop. Who is this odious 'they'? And why are we attempting to instill an Us and Them mentality in the reader? It's disingenuous.
no longer appeal to the refinements of the old sophists, nor to the trickeries of the false rhetoric which Aristotle called eristics. To save time, or maybe for laziness and incompetence to study these things, they transfer the challenge from the field of logic to that of psychological manipulation, seeking not to persuade or confound, but simply to intimidate and subjugate.
The language of this article is then ironic to a degree beyond calculation. 'Big-shot Atheists' today, such as the four people mentioned soon, likely have the notion that most religious people don't know why they entertain a faith, and wish to stir a discussion, or rouse thoughts contrary to one's beliefs, which is great. There is not enough challenge presented to common laymen these days. I implore anybody to seek challenge. I'm only mentioning my inferences of those individuals I'm familiar with. More on that later. I don't see it as manipulative, or hostile, but wanting to invoke dialogue.
The method to obtain such a result is simple. With an innocent countenance they throw shocking or insulting statements in a deceivingly sophisticated language.
This just sounds like somebody taking offense. It's an odd thing to say. I don't feel like I'm reading a philosopher. Did it ever occur to this man that the awkward, scientific individuals he soon lists lack the social graces necessary to wear a countenance more befitting of what he envisions when speaking in certain ways? The handful of Dawkin's lectures I've watched definitely suggest he is a pleasant fellow, without a lot of knowledge about social subtlety. I get the impression that he cannot help deploying his own frivolous sense of humor. It just so happens he sees religion as a thing to laugh at, thus, the brows of many religious people wrinkle when he throws out an offhanded remark, meant to be funny (by him).
Next, they impose to the adversary rules of politeness that exclude every possibility of complaining or any proper reaction. To the poor victim there is no other way but to submit to the chicanery, timidly trying to move in a field defined to humiliate him.
What? Who, and when? I'm reminded of that Wendy Wright debate with Richard Dawkins, wherein Dawkins is on the opposite end of the spectrum, left in the same communicative minefield he claims the man tries to put others in. Again, where are these discussions that paint such a picture? Admittedly, I've not seen much of him, but what I have seen often has Dawkins on the defensive, (clumsily) struggling to not be made an idiot of.
The polemicists who have stood up the most in employing these techniques are the Four Asses of the Apocalypse
When I read that, my palm nearly merged with my face.
I mean come on
. Really? Seriously? For real? I feel like I'm reading a highly offended Christian's blog, not a philosopher's article.
- Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett - whose goal is to wipe out religion from the face of Earth, imposing the cult of "reason" and of "science".
Just stop. I want to create a drinking game regarding this article and Strawmen. Well, to be fair, I'm passingly familiar with Dawkins, very familiar with Hitchens, and have never read or listened to anything by the others. However, I can only image the paled grimaces they'd make if shown this. Wipe religion from the face of the Earth? Is that what opening dialogue of a taboo subject is now? I'd love to hear them lampoon this interpretation of their actions, I really would.
'Cult' of reason and science. What rubbish. They're people speaking their minds on a subject for which they have some fervency. Whoever constructed this 'agenda' mentality needs to be hung upside down and beaten until candy erupts from them. I don't buy into this notion that people speaking about something automatically must be pushing some dogmatic agenda. It's ludicrous and silly.
They do not hate all religions equally.
Hate is such a strong word. You sure . . . ah, never mind.
Their bête noire is Christianity and, in particular, Catholics, in whom they behold the greatest enemies of humanity.
*Shot* No, no, no, no, no, no, no, why am I replying to this trite? I've lost my mind. I have lost my ****ing mind. Do you think this is true? If so, congratulations: You're wrong. I don't even need to know who the hell Sam Harris is to know they would spit their coffee out over this accusation. It's insane, and almost scary.
For reasons we shall soon see, they would rather destroy them by means of a generic attack against "religion", hoping, rather reasonably, that the suppression of the gender brings the annihilation of the species.
I feel like I'm reading the words of somebody who is profoundly mentally ill. I cannot rebut that statement, it's monstrous in its absurdity. That's the best I can do. Otherwise, I'm bewildered at this man's ideas, in a bad way.
The issue is that "religion", in the way they use it, is not a historically identifiable entity; it's not even a concept. It's a fetish word, a verbal straw-man with meanings that include, with no distinction, Christianity, Gnosis, state worship of the Caesars, witchcraft, shamanism, astrology, alchemy and esoterism in general, all indian religions, Mormonism, ufology, spiritualism and who knows how many more, giving them a fictional unity by using a common word.
Next, they give to the amorphous entity the unity of a conscious subject, able to take decisions and act - of having moral responsibility - and then proceed with the judgment of this weird creature. In such conditions, condemnation is inevitable. With so diverse historical incarnations, heterogeneous and mutually incompatible, "religion" can escape almost none of the accusations made on it. Omnipresent and undefined, the imaginary monstrosity takes the blame for all the evils that affect the human race. And because what is general applies to all particular cases, each existing "religion" bears not only its own faults, but those of the group, and by attribution, the faults of the other ones.
Ah, I see. This bit is insightful. I like it. When people scoff at religion, it is usually not undefined, but incorrectly defined. Defined as 'mainstream religion' and, perhaps, particularly frightening cults. To my awareness, I've encountered very few atheists (if any) who 'attack religion', as a whole. Usually they criticize the misgivings of the Abrahamic faiths exclusively, and never even try to say all religions enable strife. Maybe I'm sheltered, and there are droves of Atheists attacking an undefined Strawman of religion. But they're surely uninformed of *cringes* "the Four's" perspectives. How do I say this, without knowing two of the men in question? It's a matter of faith. But if they're any bit like Hitchens or Dawkins, I can easily predict they'd despise this misrepresentation.
I think, most commonly, in the useful, colloquial sense, when people say religion, they mean organized religion and stereotypical cults. These can at times be dangerous in the wrong people's hands. It's no secret that believing you hold the ultimate truth and do a God's work can spur horrific beliefs about the self. But to say all religion is wrong, because those who have a propensity to do crazy things, do crazy things in the name of something, is stupid. If that is what the article is trying to say, I agree. But again, I don't think Hitchens and Dawkins believe this, at all. I might be wrong, I simply don't see it.
The normality, the flamboyance and the frequency with which the four idols of the atheistic militancy
I threw up a little in my mouth. Huh? Okay, I get that we're jumping to idolatry now, but it only makes the insult more funny.
appeal to this transfer of guilt would suffice to list them among the greatest intellectual cheaters of all times.
This paragraph belongs before the two I posted together. It doesn't flow well. That being said: I can do nothing, apart from disagreeing. Sullenly.
Just to give one example: in one of his last polemical charges, Christopher Hitchens concluded that Nazism was a Christian Catholic regime because German soldiers of World War II bore on their belts the phrase "Gott mit uns" (God is with us), and, therefore, the Roman Church was to be blamed for the war, the Holocaust etc.
Citation? Did the conclusion really go like that? Maybe he meant to say it (Hitler's form of Nazism) was an offshoot of Christianity—a new, pseudo-denomination.
The missing detail is that although Hitler was not an Atheist, he was not Catholic. He was a gnostic, engaged in reshaping the Gospel and in actualizing an earthly Judgment Day without waiting for the heavenly one. For that, he used to say, it was necessary "to crush the Catholic Church like you step on a toad".
This is true. He was a member of the Catholic Church until his death, and devout for most of his life, but came to hate its hierarchy. He wished for a huge reformation, which lends credence to the notion that his regime was attempting to become a new Christian denomination.
Gnosticism is the oldest and wildest enemy of the Church, which condemns it as the root of all heresies. But, for Christopher Hitchens this makes no difference. Catholicism is "religion", gnosticism is "religion": their faults are, thus, interchangeable. But isn't gnosticism a pseudo-religion? It matters not: pseudo-religion is religion.
I'm uncertain of him as a Gnostic, I really am. His God was defined as Jesus, or Yahweh. He never made any reference to Pleroma, Sophia or anything akin to a higher entity than Yahweh. None, in all of his speeches or writings. I don't see it, at all. Hitchen's lack of distinction might be due to misinformation; he might believe Hitler was a die-hard Catholic, incorrectly. Again, I really would love citation of this Hitchens debacle. I don't think he's blanketing all religion, especially if he has no awareness of Hitler's alleged Gnosticism. He's criticizing what he sees as an offshoot of Catholicism, which is a denomination that does have a rich history of heinous behavior.
The most constant and efficient use of this trick has been to claim that the deeds of the Islamic terrorists are proof of how dangerous... Christianity is!
What? Who's claiming this? I've only ever heard Atheists say extremist Islamic groups are dangerous because of their interpretation of the Qur'an. Never that there is potential for violence in Christians BECAUSE Islamic extremists interpret the Qur'an dangerously.
And atheism, isn't it guilt of anything? The most striking fact of modern history is that the atheistic ideology of communism killed more people, in a few decades, than all the religious wars since the beginning of the world.
I strongly doubt that is factual. The religiously inspired wars and executions of people must surpass those killed under Atheistic Communists' rule. Not that there are cold, hard statistics covering just how many burnings, hangings, and stonings occurred due to mental illness and suspected witchcraft. My guess is rather lofty, given how well-represented these forms of punishment are in historical writings. This, factored with the Crusades, Dark Ages, Inquisition and the wars hinted at by the Old Testament, which practically assert MANY undocumented religious wars happened? No. I don't buy it. Sorry.
But that's irrelevant, It doesn't matter who killed what amount of people, that has nothing to do with the veracity of something, or the ideals of those who practice it today.
How do the Four Asses get out of that? They say communism is also "religion", and the problem is solved. "Religions", in particular Catholicism, are now guilty of all the crimes of the governments that killed the largest number of believers and religious people in name of scientific atheism.[/quote]
I still can't get over this 'Four Asses' thing. Also, when do these people say Communism = religion? That sounds made up, and not at all extractable from the words (I've heard) of these men. I can't imagine anybody making this claim, it's profoundly absurd. Also, 'killed in the name of Scientific Atheism™'? Where, who, how, why, and when? I know people have been killed for holding religious beliefs, but because they do not think scientifically—which is apparently Atheism too?
Being an atheist, say the Four,
It's still preventing me from taking this seriously.
consists merely in the refusal of believing in God - any God - and not in advancing any goals or concrete values. Thus conceived, atheism is just an inner attitude, with no identifiable historical incarnation and can't, by definition, be accused of anything.
In a sense, it is very open. One can be an Atheist and a tyrannical Communist, or the most gentle pacifist you'll ever meet. That's just a fact, not some definition modern Atheists are trying to push like an agenda.
The fact that in practice this atheism never limits itself to the refusal to believe, but brings with it the apology of "reason" and "science",
Who is this nut-job? No, Atheists can reject science and be completely irrational. It's not a 'practice', it does not have a set of beliefs or ideals, Atheism is a reply to one question. If you perceive trends in Atheists, it's nothing but stereotyping. It's like saying black people are unintelligent. Stay away from generalizing, kids. Just say no.
can't make it responsible for the crimes of the scientific ideologies of Marxism and Nazism, because, according to the Four, they were not based on science, but on pseudoscience.Atheism
is not responsible, people are. People who were mad, people who were egotistical, people who held frightening ideals and commanded great power. It has nothing to do with science, knock that idiocy off (author). How infuriating. Again, when do any of these people say anything even remotely like this?
I will not even ask with which legitimacy the concept of "pseudo", forbidden to the defenders of religion, could suddenly reappear as a valid distinctive criteria.
Hey, let's go on a tangent attacking our Strawman some more. Also, pseudoscience is pretty easily defined. It's not a mystery, but it is irrelevant to anything the author is talking about.
I do not ask either with which right they appeal to the distinction of science and pseudoscience as it were something obvious, primary and automatic, when it seems to have escaped completely from a whole constellation of eminent Marxist scientists.Modern
science is defined well, as is pseudoscience, which acts against the scientific method, or methodological naturalism. Pseudoscience is bad science, this is simple right? Science that makes faulty inferences based on the evidence, does not make logical connections, fails to acknowledge a bulk of evidence in favor of pursuing evidence for an unnecessary and contradictory avenue (as is the case with the Expanding Earth crowd, as opposed to Plate Tectonics). Science that is demonstrably false based on other, better science. Again, why are we talking about science? It's such a jump from the rest of the article. Science =/= Atheism.
What seems most beautiful in this jink is appealing to the notion of "purity", denied to the defenders of religion. According to the Four, that Marx or even Darwin himself openly defended the systematic killing of "inferior peoples" does not make their atheism guilty of anything, because, when proposing this murderous idea, they didn't do it for a coherent devotion to scientific and rational atheism, but for a brief religious temptation...
Really, Darwin advocated the systematic killing of 'inferior people'? Right
, of course he did. I've heard rumors of racism from Darwin, none of which I've explored, mostly because I do not care (cite something, heck, I'll read it). This appeal to emotion is sad. Somebody can be the biggest flaming racist to ever live and it detracts nothing from a scientific theory they construct. If somebody is all for killing people they perceive as lower than others, that has nothing to do with their belief in a God, unless they're killing people because
they believe in a God. If you care about genetics, Atheism is no longer relevant. Wanting to kill people for that reason is not scientific either, it's idealistic. It's personal, and unrelated to science as a whole, or atheism as a whole. These generalizations are daunting. The urge to kill alone is shorn of empathy, and recognized as mentally ill behavior. It's not a logical end to being an Atheist who thinks scientifically. If you have murderous thoughts, your wiring is bad and you need help.
Reduced to a pure idea, or, more exactly, to the personal version this idea assumes in the heads of the Four Asses, atheism is as innocent, as untouchable as a geometric figure in the heavens of platonic forms.
Atheism is 'innocent' because it has no doctrine or teachings. It compels people to do nothing in particular. There's no line in a holy book to interpret as 'cleanse the world of people who don't believe in me'. That being said, Atheists can hate religion, and do bad things against religious people. Is that Atheism's fault? I don't think so. Again, mental illness is not imparted by a belief in Gods. Just as I would not blame Islam for terrorists, I would not blame Atheism for the actions of insane Atheists.
This is the debate that the Four put forward. Just like communists propose the confrontation of the innocence of their ideal society and the evils and sins of the existing society. Just like Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in “Ideals and Realities of Islam”, compares the beauties of his ideal Islam to the ugliness of the Western societies historically known. The demand for a honest confrontation - comparing ideals with ideals, realities with realities - is dodged a priori. For the adversaries of the Four rests only the inglorious task of defending, in vain, reality from ideal.
More of the sigh-worthy same, erecting appeals to emotion by drawing a line between modern, prolific Atheists and evil movements in history. It's so banal, I'm literally frustrated that this man has won anybody over using these tactics. I know of zero, count 'em, zero Atheists who desire for religion to be purged from the world. I know of many who criticize religion, and see it as potentially detrimental, but none who would ever try to rob the rights of others and prevent them from believing. This article reads like lazy propaganda.
I'm defending, in vain, reality from Strawmen the size of zeppelins.
With the help of their editors and billionaire marketing people, such has been the "invitation to debate" the Four offer to whom may be naïve enough to fall for the cheat. The strictness in the demand for academic politeness is what makes impossible the denunciation of the essential cheat which created and shaped the invitation.
This is really verbose. I can't even decipher it. The offer to open dialogue is a cheat because their parameters avert proper dialogue from being conducted, and this is definable as a cheat? That's my guess. I just don't see it, is my reply. I don't see the invitation as a cheat, or those who engage these Atheists as being victims. Oftentimes, I see Dawkins annoyed by the conversational gambits utilized by his opponents. I see him as genuinely wanting others to do what he sees as opening up and learning what he knows, not as something vile or malicious. Oh, but I forgot, I've been cheated, haven't I? Because that's how learning and growing works in the Land of Agendas, I can't listen to various people and come to a conclusion because I find their arguments and evidence compelling. No, no, I've been swindled, blinded, corrupted, led astray, and tricked by the obvious chicanery of those pesky individuals who have different thoughts than somebody else.
Once the cheat is debunked, though, all the fake intellectual respectability of Hitchens and his partners falls into pieces. It is not healthy to discuss politely with cheaters, because denouncing the trick is forbidden, in limine, as an awful insult.
Right. More of this trick mentality, alleging fake intellectuality, and a few pointers for dealing with us pesky cheaters. This is a deplorable sentiment, and it saddens me. I hit the submit button not feeling good, not feeling witty or impressive, but tired and enervated. I don't know why I enter these discussions. It's a mournful waste of time and energy. People depress me.