PDA

View Full Version : Seeking atheists' opinion ...



glo
09-06-2007, 01:30 PM
This article by the columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown appeared in The Independent three days ago, and seems to have caused a bit of a stir.

Can some of you atheists here give me your opinion on the article?

http://comment.independent.co.uk/col...cle2921855.ece

Thanks :)
Reply

Login/Register to hide ads. Scroll down for more posts
Muezzin
09-07-2007, 06:40 PM
Well, I'm not an atheist, but this is a public forum after all, and I must say this article really sums up my feelings on these matters. The part about the light of the moon, and the very last paragraph in particular articulate what I feel about this sort of thing.

I believe the writer has been on Newsnight or a similar type of program.

I also suspect that those athiests who were vexed by the article probably didn't like being put into the same boat as religious fanatics, even though some (such as a mate of mine) term themselves as, and I quote, 'militant athiests'.
Reply

Gator
09-07-2007, 07:07 PM
Hey glo, The only opinion that i have on this is that she is speaking to people she views as fanatic atheists. She is taking the books by the authors she mentions very personally (as most people would when confronted by other's peoples' opinions that she her closely held ideas are wrong). She does fall into generalizations, but i figure that's hard to avoid unless you always add the caveat that you are not generalizing.

I look at the world basically as 80% of the people just want to live their lives and while they may have a religion, its mostly just going through the motions (more of a cultural thing). 18% are religious and live their lives by their religion to varying degrees and 2% are fanatics (atheists included).

Its funny as I've been on religion forums for so long and heard all the arguments its interesting to hear them reflected here. The hitler stalin pol pot thing always gets me. All these people didn't care they were just in it for the power. Same thing with religious wars, its just a front for people who want power. Humans are humans and it don't matter what excuse you use, leaders will pull levers that get things going.

Don't want to go on too long (too late), but what exactly is the controversy. I didn't really see any here.

Thanks.
Reply

Isambard
09-07-2007, 07:18 PM
Dont really see much of a problem with the article though the author does make some assumptions.
Reply

Welcome, Guest!
Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up
glo
09-07-2007, 07:45 PM
Gator and Isambard

I don't seem to be able to access some of the reader's replies on the web.

The ones I read seemed to criticise two things in particular (as far as I remember):
  1. The issue of using non-religious dictators as an argument that atheists also commit atrocities (the atheist's argument being that Hitler and Stalin were not driven to their actions by 'atheism' but by their hunger for power)
  2. The assumption that atheists are unable to appreciate the beauty of the world or anything that may be outside human understanding or explanation
Reply

Isambard
09-07-2007, 07:51 PM
Originally Posted by glo
Gator and Isambard

I don't seem to be able to access some of the reader's replies on the web.

The ones I read seemed to criticise two things in particular (as far as I remember):
  1. The issue of using non-religious dictators as an argument that atheists also commit atrocities (the atheist's argument being that Hitler and Stalin were not driven to their actions by 'atheism' but by their hunger for power)
  2. The assumption that atheists are unable to appreciate the beauty of the world or anything that may be outside human understanding or explanation
Well the former has little to do with Atheism, especially in the case of Hitler (some sort of psedo-christian cult is more like it). Atheism is merely, a disbelief in a deity. I mean its like you have a ideology thats tenents where to murder children, strangle puppies, and push old ladies off of stairs and at the end, "purple is the best color". Then saying, those who like purple are evil.

Same applies to atheism.

As per the latter, the article assumes atheists are cold unfeeling machines. No, atheism is not synonymus to being a Vulcan. Like the above, a disbelief in a deity or deities says little about individual taste or imagination. I personally enjoy writing poetry, listening to music, and love reading religious texts and mythology. Some other atheist may only enjoy mathmatics. There is no problem because all the label of atheist says is we dont belief in a higher deity.
Reply

Skavau
09-07-2007, 10:36 PM
Originally Posted by Article
Radio 4's John Humphrys has taken on the fanatic atheists in a new book about faith and the human urge to believe. Some aspects of our nature are not susceptible to scientific enquiry, cannot be dissected, categorised and validated in terms that would satisfy the "rational" disbelievers, whose intellect is colossal but imagination puny.
What does the imagination have to do with what is actually real? Wherever fanatical atheists have a 'puny' imagination or not has absolutely nothing to do with what is or what they argue is or is not.

Originally Posted by Article
Faith is the light of the moon above and that light in the sea, reality and spirituality, both making you tremblingly conscious of forces vast and beyond words. Impertinent scientists cannot know what they speak of.
This has nothing to do with anything. All the article writer does is glamorises the value of faith, which ironically is what Richard Dawkins consistently attacks as actually being valuable.

The article writer also seems to imply that some Atheists do not understand the feeling of being overwhelmed by certain experiences or that faith is the only method of such understanding.

Originally Posted by Article
Having faith makes me humble and self-questioning, unlike the unbelievers who know they are always right.
I don't think I've ever read such a misleading statement in life. How does faith in anything make you more questioning by definition than an 'unbeliever' (as it is so phrased).

Complete nonsense.
Reply

Pygoscelis
09-08-2007, 01:36 AM
Is does mischaracterize atheists as a whole. It is on par with articles that declare things like "Muslims hate the west" or "Jews want to take all palestinian land". It is a true statement for a sizable number of the atheists, Muslims, and Jews but it isn't representative of the whole and to suggest that it is is both disingenuous and offensive to those not of that particular subgroup.

This would especially be so with atheists because unlike Jews and Muslims, who at least have some central teachings including holy books (even though they say nothing about those phrases I mentioned), atheists have NO common ideology whatsoever. Its just a lack of belief in Gods.

That said, I *AM* anti-religious (I think I'm one of the few atheists on this board who are) and I found the article full of a bunch of other peculiarly misunderstood statements.
Reply

Pygoscelis
09-08-2007, 01:46 AM
Originally Posted by glo
[*]The issue of using non-religious dictators as an argument that atheists also commit atrocities
I've never heard an atheist deny that atheists commit attrocities. Just because you escape theism doesn't mean you don't fall into other dangerous mindsets equally capable of terrible things. The point of the atheists here is that these forementioned mindsets are not "atheism" itself, and indeed they are often compounded along with religious mindsets.

Nobody I'm aware of has killed in the name of there being no god(s).

The assumption that atheists are unable to appreciate the beauty of the world or anything that may be outside human understanding or explanation
Well its simply false that atheists don't appreciate beauty or that atheists all insist that everything can be understood by anybody. Its especially suprising that the writer would try to attach the latter to atheism, given that theism is in large part the invention of explanations for the unexplained or unexplainable. When they didn't know where thunder came from, Zeus or Odin were said to produce it. Apparently people couldn't accept that they simply didn't know.

Indeed more often than not when a theist finds out I'm an atheist they will demand of me questions like "So how was the universe created then?". I don't know. I'm comfortable with not knowing. They quite clearly are not. They assume I claim to know, as if humans can't exist without latching onto one theory or another. They often even invent a theory for me and tell me its what I believe, such as "So, you believe life came from nothing" etc.
Reply

Pygoscelis
09-08-2007, 02:03 AM
Her writing style is interesting. She starts most of her paragraph with a rather objective statement and ends them with baseless attacks on a group of people. I should probably be more offended by it than I am but this kind of garbage is just so frequent that I've become desensitized.

Here are a few jems.

..."whose intellect is colossal but imagination puny." <-- How could she know about the imaginations of people she's never met? And this is doubly odd because she specifically named Hitchens. Hitchens may be a jerk, but he sure has a lot of imagination. When arguing and attacking Falwell after his death Hitchens said "If you gave him an enema you could bury him in a matchbox". Now that's creative!

..."cannot know what they speak of." <-- Again, how does she know?

"Having faith makes me humble and self-questioning, unlike the unbelievers who know they are always right."

"Dawkins proclaims that faith instruction to the young is worse than paedophile abuse. John Cornwell, the Cambridge ethicist who has just penned an elegant riposte to the Dawkins' rant, points out that this was the imagery used by Nazis too" <-- Goodwin's law was bound to crop up. Always does when people have no real point to make. This paragraph makes no sense anyway.. what do Nazis have to do with paedophiles?
Reply

Muezzin
09-10-2007, 04:39 PM
Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
"Dawkins proclaims that faith instruction to the young is worse than paedophile abuse. John Cornwell, the Cambridge ethicist who has just penned an elegant riposte to the Dawkins' rant, points out that this was the imagery used by Nazis too" <-- Goodwin's law was bound to crop up. Always does when people have no real point to make. This paragraph makes no sense anyway.. what do Nazis have to do with paedophiles?
It does make sense. It is Godwin's law in action, but the paragraph does make sense. The author is saying that both Dawkins and the Nazis used the same vilifying image of religious instruction as paedophilic abuse.

Not saying I agree with that particular paragraph, but that's what the author appears to be saying.
Reply

Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 13
    Last Post: 03-05-2011, 08:31 AM
  2. Replies: 34
    Last Post: 10-16-2010, 05:05 PM
  3. Replies: 97
    Last Post: 07-16-2006, 07:52 PM

IslamicBoard

Experience a richer experience on our mobile app!