Pending NHB’s reply, and acknowledging that I haven’t read most of the exchanges above, I’d like to offer my 2 shekels worth on the previous two posts.
Matt wrote:If you're going to point the finger at the bad apples, you have to accept the good ones.
Yes, indeed. But the opposite is also important. In our very religion-oriented society, it seems to me that the greater problem is getting religious people to acknowledge even the existence of, not to mention their connection to, the “bad apples,” or more specifically the bad actions
and bad consequences
generated by religion. Those are far more numerous and harmful than is generally recognized, in my view.
Only then, once the true net
consequences of god beliefs are evaluated can the worth of those beliefs be accurately evaluated.
If I'm not mistaken, none of the "New Atheist" writers have failed to at least acknowledge from time to time that many believers do, and have historically done, wonderful things that were strongly motivated by their religious beliefs.
Like me, they simply think that,
1) by no means enough light has been shed on the opposite side of the belief coin, and,
2) a whole lot of those wonderful things would have been, and would still be being, done if the religious people were/are non-religious.
mitchellmckain wrote:And it is because of this ridiculous sort of illogic by the New Atheists that the example of Communism is brought up to demonstrate that atheists are no more immune to to creating theocracies, following blind ideologies, or failing to think critically than theists are. This is RECENT history where in some instances atheists went all the way with their own final solution against religion and slaughtered anyone who refused to go along with their utopianism. (discussion in the thread titled Communism) Thus it is quite understandable that Chrstians, with Mao Tse Tung's declaration that "religion is a disease" as an excuse for his invasion and attrocities in Tibet, fresh in their memory, react to Dawkins, "The God Delusion" with the same kind of outrage that Jews, with the holocaust fresh in their minds, react to things with an anti-semetic flavor to them.
Not surprisingly, I dissent.
I think Mitch’s argument here is a red herring - an attempt to divert attention away from the root issue by distorting it and projecting it elsewhere and onto others.
The bit about atheism and communism is utterly tired and tiresome and has been thoroughly rebutted countless times but it keeps coming back like the infamous bad penny. The only conclusion I can reach is that many believers have an approach to history and historical facts like the reporters in this funny little youtube cartoon
In short, the root problem is the human predisposition to give credence to non-evidence based and Utopian ideologies and/or supernatural “solutions,” given our natural credulity, desire for easy answers, lack of knowledge, and other factors.
Of course non-believers are subject to those sorts of errors, too, but both historically and in the current news every single day, it is evident that the greatest engine driving those dangerous human foibles ever devised is the notion that a deity exists "behind the scenes" and that said deity can be "pleased" by human beings.
The truly ridiculous assertion, in my view, is to equate skepticism and disbelief about things that cannot be shown to have even a reasonable probability of actual existence, i.e., gods, with belief in those same things, and to then say that disbelievers are no more likely to think critically than believers.
And bears drive Chevys to downtown Cleveland to defecate and Pope Ratslinger is a Unitarian.
It is believers, not atheists or agnostics or freethinkers or secular humanists, who continue to make claims about, to build their lives around, and to teach their children to believe in, not only the unprovable, but the astronomically improbable.
That’s where the real proof of the pudding lies in terms of the presence or absence of critical thinking.
And that's not to mention the beliefs that are both astronomically improbable AND
vicious, vile, immoral, and conducive of hatred and unspeakably horrific acts.
Those who know the most of nature believe the least about theology. - Robert Ingersoll