2/08/2013

Bad ideas in: "call off the faith wars"


Another accomodationist posting nonsense: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8839081/call-off-the-faith-wars/ after the debate on "Does religion have a place in 21st century?" where Dawkins also participated and apparently lost the end vote.

Here's the video:



Here are some of poor arguments of the accomodationist atheist:



These new atheists remain incapable of getting beyond the question, ‘Is it true?’ They assume that by ‘true’ we agree them to mean ‘literally true’. They also assume that if the answer is ‘no’, then that closes everything. But it does not. Just because something is not literally true does not mean that there is no truth, or worth, in it.

Dealing with worth is not the same as dealing with truth. Worth is about value, which is used when measuring the utility of something. Truth or accurate information is not a measure of utility. Religion is indeed useful, too useful, and it always warms up to concentrated powers in society, which is why religion has to go, just like nuclear weapons. Both are very powerful tools which increase the possibility of humans destroying themselves on the largest scale.

Schopenhauer said that truth may be like water: it needs a vessel to carry it. It is all very well to point out — as Dawkins did again the other night — that Adam did not exist. But to think that this discovery makes not just the story of Eden but the narrative of the crucifixion and resurrection meaningless is to rather startlingly miss a point. You can be in agreement with Professor Dawkins that Adam did not exist, yet know and feel that the story of Eden speaks profoundly about ourselves.

Cultural hogwash. Not only are there many stories that speak profoundly to us, there are also better stories that do that and they don't always come with the pretexts for sexism, racism, and various other forms of prejudice, like Genesis does.

But it is while high on destruction that one ought most to consider whether what you are pulling down is as wholly valueless as you might temporarily have to pretend it is, and whether you have anything remotely as good to put in its place.

There's plenty of secular-humanist writing out there. It is entirely unnecessary to rely on content which is so detrimental to humanity.

For example, my fellow atheist opponents the other night portrayed the future — if we could only shrug off religion — as a wonderful sunlit upland, where reasonable people would make reasonable decisions in a reasonable world. Is it not at least equally likely that if you keep telling people that they lead meaningless lives in a meaningless universe you might just find yourself with — at best — a vacuous life and a hollow culture? My first exhibit in submission involves turning on a television.

People find meanings constantly, it is not something we can stop. This is one of great lies promoted by the apologists: without religion, there's no meaning, like religions have some sort of monopoly on meaning.

If millions of atheists can live life without religion and find meanings, so can the rest of humanity, unless the apologist is claiming that atheists are a different species or race or something.


Religion, whether you believe it to be literally true or not, provided people, and provides people still, with a place to ask questions we must ask.

Partially true. It is the philosophical side of religion that does that, not the social side. And it does it in a poor way. If you go to a church, only one book is being read, and it is not organized like a press conference.

Philosophy is that which asks questions, not religion. Religion provides preset answers and tries to find fitting questions for them.


Why are we here? How should we live? How can we be good? Atheists often argue that these questions can be equally answered by reading poetry or studying philosophy. Perhaps, but how many people who would once have gathered in a place of worship now meet on philosophy courses? Oughtn’t poetry books to be selling by the millions by now?

There are other forms of media which do this: music, cinematography, photography and so on. It's ironic that the author mentions reading, since so few believers actually sit down and read their entire sacred book.


We do not have many vessels for truth-carrying in our age. While of course not being an organised body of thought, atheism might one day speak to all those things religion once answered. But at present its voice is faint.

Perhaps that's because atheism isn't as well funded? Or funded at all?


It is faint on human suffering and tragedy.

Well, if you ignore the whole secular-humanist philosophy and the various movements which are concerned with it, including left-wing political parties, yes.


And although it does not have nothing to say, it barely speaks about death.

That's because lying to people is not seen as a positive value. Apparently, honesty is controversial.


It has little if not nothing to say about human forgiveness, remorse, regret or reconciliation.

Sure it has. Entire justice systems are based on it. It's called "secular". As in - not based on biblical laws or sharia law.

By the author's description, societies in Northern Europe must be absolutely horrible to live in, with all that bursting hate and spite accumulated, continuously, with no relief from forgiveness, regret, reconciliation.



These are not small ellipses. Until atheism can speak into these voids, desiring to ban religion entirely seems a push not only to deprive individuals of a consolation at which Professor Dawkins scoffs — though he would do better to address it — but also to strip many discussions of profound dimensions.

Addressed previously.


Do we have to resign ourselves to a continuous, circular fight between the believers and the non-believers? I do not think so. If I might suggest a deal, it would be this.

First, religions must give up the aspiration to intervene in secular law in the democratic state. In particular they must give up any desire to hold legislative power over those who are not members of their faith. In much of the world the Christian churches have already done this. Of course there are other religions and places where this separation has not been so nearly achieved. But the concession is vital, not least because the ability to dictate politics or law is the ability that most rightly concerns the non-religious about religions.

And you'd be very naive to think they would agree to such terms.



But non-believers like me should make a concession as well. We should concede that, when it comes to discussions of ideas, morality and meaning, religion does have a place.

There is absolutely no need to take the entire packaged deal. Any useful parts from religions, concerning morality, meaning and such, can be segregated and used independently; and if they fail, well, good! Bad ideas should fail, and not be propped up by being elevated to sacred truths.


Rather than dismissing it as some mere relict of our past, we should acknowledge that religion has an important contribution to our present and future discussion.

Yes. That is the problem.


We may not agree with the foundational claims, but we might at least agree not always and only to deride, laugh at and dismiss as meaningless something which searches sincerely for meaning.

I disagree with the idea that there is "sincere" searching for meaning. There's nothing sincere about what apologists and theologians do in their art of trying to fit theological absurdities with reality and values which are actually useful and good. They always have a corrupting effect, and religious "points" always come with hidden fallacies, the most common of which is the argument from authority and the traditional fallacy, which are at the base. And if there was the option of giving government funds to churches or giving government funds to philosophers to go out in the streets and act like ancient philosophers - I would vote for that.











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