Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by Antimatter » Tue May 13, 2008 1:37 pm

This conversation strikes me as rather ironic. In my mind, Christianity is really in no position to denounce another zealous religious movement for proselytizing. Of whatever these "new atheists" may be guilty, evangelical Christians have done the same many times over.

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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by tinythinker » Tue May 13, 2008 2:06 pm

Antimatter wrote:In my mind, Christianity is really in no position to denounce another zealous religious movement for proselytizing.
Before this goes off in goodness knows what direction, I would like to humbly offer a few observations for consideration:

1. Not everyone in this thread is necessarily Christian, and those who are do not "speak for" Christianity as a whole.
2. Christianity is not a monolithic movement in which everyone thinks and acts the same way, or belongs to the same organization or culture or era, hence,
3. Not all Christians can be fairly lumped together through guilt by association any more than we can condemn all atheists by lumping them together with movements or individuals that just happened to be anti-religious such as Mao Tse-tung and the massacres he authorized.
4. The start of the thread was not a denouncement of evangelicalism in general, but a critique of the logic of having an atheistic evangelism since the message is percieved by the OP (Zarove) as strictly reactionary and a negation rather than proactive and offering an affirmation. This perception, then, would be the appropriate area to focus on in an attempt to critique or challenge the central premise of the post that opens this thread (as well of later posts following the same line of argument).
5. Physicians counsel patients about their healthcare, and so do faith healers. By your logic it would be inappropriate for physicians to criticize faith healers for counseling patients. Instead, as the example indicates, the question here is not about condemning a particular practice (counseling or evangelizing) but rather examining the quality or value of what is being imparted in the practice.
6. Most atheists would prefer not to be referred to a religious movement, let alone a zealous one.
Antimatter wrote:Of whatever these "new atheists" may be guilty, evangelical Christians have done the same many times over.
I would refer you again to points #1-3 above. Moreover, even if the point were to condemn a practice rather than the fashion in which it is employed, the criticism is still invalid as the "But the other guys did it too" defense is not an excuse or justification for adults either.
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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by Antimatter » Tue May 13, 2008 2:26 pm

tinythinker wrote:1. Not everyone in this thread is necessarily Christian, and those who are do not "speak for" Christianity as a whole.
Point taken.
4. The start of the thread was not a denouncement of evangelicalism in general, but a critique of the logic of having an atheistic evangelism since the message is percieved by the OP (Zarove) as strictly reactionary and a negation rather than proactive and offering an affirmation. This perception, then, would be the appropriate area to focus on in an attempt to critique or challenge the central premise of the post that opens this thread (as well of later posts following the same line of argument).
I obviously don't find atheism to be entirely reactionary. Any movement that promotes science, skepticism, and rationality is desperately needed in our modern culture. Further, evangelical Christianity could correctly be considered reactionary and non-affirmative on several issues, particularly creationism and homosexuality.
6. Most atheists would prefer not to be referred to a religious movement, let alone a zealous one.
Atheism is a religious movement -- not to be confused with "a religion" -- simply because atheism is the rejection of religion. I've encountered my share of zealous atheists too; I was referring to them specifically.

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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by ZAROVE » Wed May 14, 2008 9:54 am

Antimatter, I think you miss the point of several things, including what Im tlakign about.


I am not taking about Ahtiesm in general. Not all Ahtiests define themselves as "Evangelical Ahtiests". Evangelical Atheistss are a spacific religiosu goup with their own moral codes, stories, reliiosu functiosn, and attmeots at attakcign Christendom, which is critisised because it is wholly parasidic to Chrstendom as it exists only to discredit Christendom.


I know Athiests who never discus this sort of thing, don't debate it, and don't endlelssy tlak about how Christaisn are vil then cite 1000 year old events thye barley understand liek the Crusades ot hsow all Christaisn for all time as haivng bloodstained hands then goign off about hwo irraitonal they all are.


I am talking about, spaciifcllay , Evangelical Ahtiests, not Ahtiests generlaly.


That said...


Atheism is a religious movement -- not to be confused with "a religion" -- simply because atheism is the rejection of religion.

In what way is Ahtiesm the rejeciton of Religion?


The last time I checked, Ahteism was simpluyy a lack of beelif in God or a god. It is not "Lakc of religion". Many religions and religious worldviews are explicitly Atheistic.

Many forms of Buddhism are, for example, ahtiestic, ad yet they are not considered not religion because they d't beeliv ein God. A number of other religions ar ealso Ahtiestic, some explicitly so. Humanism, for example, is a Religion, and is Ahtietsic. I realise modern Humansist say they arne't a religion, and for the same reason, but the original foudners of Humanism certinaly saw it as a religion, and even said as much in the Humanist manifesto.

The firts one.

You seem tot hink "Religion" and "Theism" are hte same thing. That somehow, Religious means beleif in God. It doens't.


Religion refers to any set of beleifs and practices encapsulated into a coherant worldview. That need not be theistic.


Atheism is not the oposite of religion, it is the oposite of theism.

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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by tinythinker » Wed May 14, 2008 1:35 pm

NOTE: Oops - I just noticed I overlapped by covering some of the same points as Zarove in my reply. But I think we present sufficiently distinct responses as to nullify the need to go back and re-edit what I wrote. So... enjoy?
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Antimatter wrote:
4. The start of the thread was not a denouncement of evangelicalism in general, but a critique of the logic of having an atheistic evangelism since the message is percieved by the OP (Zarove) as strictly reactionary and a negation rather than proactive and offering an affirmation. This perception, then, would be the appropriate area to focus on in an attempt to critique or challenge the central premise of the post that opens this thread (as well of later posts following the same line of argument).
I obviously don't find atheism to be entirely reactionary. Any movement that promotes science, skepticism, and rationality is desperately needed in our modern culture. Further, evangelical Christianity could correctly be considered reactionary and non-affirmative on several issues, particularly creationism and homosexuality.
For me, atheism is merely one of the two position one takes when one accepts the validity of the question "Is there a God?" You don't have to be pro-science, pro-skepticism, or pro-rationality to qualify as an atheist, nor do you have to be anti-spiritual, anti-religious, or anti-faith. In fact, the atheist tent technically includes such a huge variety of people with their own unique views (for example, take the Raelians - PLEASE!) that it is no more valid to talk about atheists as a monolothic group than it is to talk about Christians or Buddhists as monolithic groups (and some in the latter camp also identify as atheist as well). I don't find either atheism or theism to be "entirely" anything because there is always some exception. Views that are often associated with and (frequently and mistakenly) conflated as identical with atheism include (but are not limited to): scientism, humanism, spiritual cynicism, anti-theism, anti-religionism, and anti-fideism. While one could subscribe to atheism and scientism, or atheism and humanism and anti-theism, or other combinations, they do not necessarily have to go together nor do they imply a movement in and of themselves.

That is, to be more accurate we need to identify an actual political or social movement that is centered on atheism first and then assess whether it is proactive or reactionary in any particular area. For example, many people who do not identify as atheists do position themselves in opposition to YEC, Intelligent Design, homosexual discrimination, etc and champion the use of reason. There are huge numbers of theists, including Christians, who are in this camp. Nor does being an atheist mean you are going to have a progressive political agenda. To illustrate, one good reason for using the term New Atheist to refer to the authors and fans of a recent collection of anti-religious essays and books is to identify a particular strain of an active socio-political ideology that heavily identifies itself with atheism. Yet it does not "speak for" or "represent" all atheists any more than Oral Roberts or Pat Robertson "speaks for" all Christians. However, we could look at those two as being figureheads for a particular socio-political ideology that identifies with Christianty.

Moreover, there is more and more scholarship being produced looking at how fundamenalistism (broad usage) arose as a reaction to modernism, and how current forms of atheism arose as a reaction to fundamentalism. So being reactionary is nothing new. But Christianity is more than just theism. It also offers more than just sanctimonious moralism as well. Like all major religions, it offers a map of how to live a complete and meaningful life as a human being. Atheism, strictly speaking, does no such thing. Humanism potentially can, though. If we really want to compare apples to apples, Humanism should be compared and contrasted to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. I am not looking to do so (again) right now, but for the sake of meaningul comparison, all of atheism versus all of Christianity is not really suitable.

Antimatter wrote:
6. Most atheists would prefer not to be referred to a religious movement, let alone a zealous one.
Atheism is a religious movement -- not to be confused with "a religion" -- simply because atheism is the rejection of religion. I've encountered my share of zealous atheists too; I was referring to them specifically.
Again, atheism need not reject religion. Religion does not equal God in all cases, and certainly not the typical modern presentation of God in "traditional" Western churches. And Zarove is on track at least in that he is zeroing in on a particular group, which may include some but doesn't necessarily all of those we might idenitfy as New Atheists, whose message boils down to "We're atheists/Christianity (and therefore all religion) sucks/abandon religion". The focus is on trying to make Christianity (and religion in general) seem as absurd and dangerous as possible in order to generate disgust and fear towards religion and hence to persuade people to become anti-religious (which again is often conflated in such circles with atheism). Hence the only irony I can see, and which I have pointed out so many times, is that many of these atheists have the same grasp of theology and history that Creationists have of science and hence these atheists end up making similarly specious arguments with vacuous support and inane bridging arguments. It's as painful for me to read much of what passes as "serious intellectual atheism" in those circles as it is to read the moondust arguments and other "scientific evidences" for a 6,000 year-old Earth.

For a little sample, read the second half of a post I wrote last week.
Last edited by tinythinker on Wed May 14, 2008 3:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed May 14, 2008 2:38 pm

Very good points, Tiny Thinker. :)

And then, of course, there's the additional complication that though nowadays "Humanism" means only "Secular Humanism," "Christian Humanism" historically refers to an emphasis within Christianity on the value of man in relation to God, as opposed to schools of thought which gave man little or no value.

And if you go even further back in history, Christians were executed by Romans for the crime of "atheism," because they rejected the Greco-Roman gods!

In any case, I agree with both you and Zarove. Since atheist" really refers only to a philosophical stance (that there is no diety or dieties) and is not a complete philosophy in and of itself, to call oneself an "evangelical atheist" is to promote something that is merely a negative (no dieties) as if it were a positive (let me preach "no dieties" as "good news"). "Evangelical" at its root refers to the spreading of good news, but the news that there is not something is neither good news or bad news. Technically, it is not news at all.

It would make more sense for such a person to call him/herself an "evangelical secular humanist" and preach the "good news" of humanity's freedom from the "bondage" of having gods. At least the person's self-description would make some sense.
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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by Antimatter » Wed May 14, 2008 3:57 pm

All this verbose nitpicking on my use of the term "atheism" does not really interest me. I was referring to the atheist movement as generally known in the United States, not Raëlianism. I'll remember to be tediously explicit In the future.

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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by tinythinker » Wed May 14, 2008 4:13 pm

Antimatter wrote:All this verbose nitpicking on my use of the term "atheism" does not really interest me. I was referring to the atheist movement as generally known in the United States, not Raëlianism. I'll remember to be excessively explicit In the future.
Actually, I was attempting to go beyond misleading superficial labels to something of substance. If you really believe that all or most atheists, even in the U.S., more or less feel and think the same way concerning all of the various issues raised, then there really isn't anywhere to go with the discussion. I don't feel that the "Evangelical Branch" of the New Atheist variety of contemporary American atheists is representative of American atheists in general, let alone atheists worldwide, nor do I see any evidence that most American atheists (that is, those who would qualify by the basic definition of the term) would necessarily see themselves as part of an atheistic "movement". If not painting a diverse group of people with a convenient but largely inaccurate brush is being "excessively explicit", then so be it. But since we have already gone to the trouble of being so explicit, what do you make of the "Evangelical" wing of the New Atheists or of Zarove's critique of it?
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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed May 14, 2008 4:17 pm

Antimatter wrote:All this verbose nitpicking on my use of the term "atheism" does not really interest me. I was referring to the atheist movement as generally known in the United States, not Raëlianism. I'll remember to be tediously explicit In the future.
Whereas I was recently corrected by an atheist for my assumption that "atheism" meant anything other than, or in addition to, "the belief that there is no diety or dieties"-- for thinking atheism was a worldview and not just an aspect of a worldview. ;)
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Re: Ever Run Into An Evangelical Atheist?

Post by ZAROVE » Wed May 14, 2008 6:25 pm

I'd have to agree, its nto explicit, its that we wan tot make sure proper temrs are used.

For instance, you said eariler soemting I see quiet often, that Atheism is a rejection of Religion.

This is only true if all religions acknowledge soem sort of deity. But Religion is not a term used to denote a theistic beelif system, but any beleif system that qualifies as a basic world view. Atheism is not a rejection fo Religion, since I can name vairosu religius figures that are explicitly Atheistic, including some from a Christian background. The fact is, their are explicitly Atheistic Religions.


At the same time, you seem to think Ahtiesm goes hand-in-hand with raitonalism and thinkign things though logillay, but thats not relaly valid either. In adiditon to self-proffessed Rationalists makign incredibly horrile arugments agsint theism that shos a lack of reason, and the nmebr of irraitonal acitosn performed by any number of Ahtietss, theur whole worldview is not nessisairly derived form reason and logic. Nor does rejectio of the existance of any sort of god nessisariy itself rest on using reason and Logic, just as acceptance of a god or gods doens't preclude reason.


The problem with framign Ahtiesm as a term for rejecting relgiion is that it doens't relaly speak to what Ahtism is, or what religion is, and by then sayign its base don logic and reason, and an affirmation of science, you then make a situaiton appear out of thin air in which peopel frely asusme not only that Religion, which has become a synonym for beleif in God, is inately irraitonal, and Athism is innatley raitonal, when in fact Ahtiesm is a Conclusion and not relaly a Philosophy, and it dons't matter how you arrive at the lakc of beleif in a god, your an Ahtist as soon as you say their is no god, Even if this is based on magical fairies tellign you this, or just becuase you didnt like Church when you where a kid, or any other reason.

That makes the discussion rather untenable.

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