The problem is not atheism


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

So I feel as though my stance towards atheism in this thread may have come across as overly antagonistic and as casting atheism with a broad, homogeneous brush, I recognise that this forum has many atheist users, such as @T_aquaticus and so I thought I’d clarify things.

The problem I find is not atheism, agnosticism, irreligion or atheists. The problem I have is with the brand of atheism promoted by scientists who are mostly right as far as science is concerned, but have little to no knowledge of history, theology or religion and yet think they do know, and feel the need to make statements on it, where they reveal their naivety. Their knowledge of the Bible seems to be based on unconditional wooden literal-ism, even for areas of the Bible such as the Psalms and Wisdom Literature, which even Christian Conservatives will advocate a Non-literalist reading of. This ignorance is what leads to them assuming that religion and science cannot be reconciled. It should go without saying who these figures are, so I won’t mention any names.

I have so much respect for those who recognise their BS, and call them out for it. Jordan Peterson, Hunter Maats, Tim O’Neill and others call them out on their dreadful knowledge of history and other subjects. And the New Atheists can’t stand it. They are forced to resort to straw-mans, as the only way of rationalising away what they don’t wan’t to be true, that religion, Christianity in particular, may have done some good things to Western Civilisation. Jordan Peterson, as I have mentioned before, has correctly pointed out that it ‘is’ through biblical metaphysics, particularly the notion that humans are created in God’s image, that Western civilisation gained the notion that life has value. He (and I) is not arguing that we need religion to rationalise that humans have some value (as some internet atheists want to think he is), only that the Ancients evidently didn’t. I have heard Jordan Peterson be called a ‘creationist’ and ‘bible literalist’ who ‘cries that people are atheists’ by a YouTuber who whined about Peterson having a biblical lecture, which he clearly hasn’t watched a second of. For if he had, he’d have realised that Peterson is neither, he acknowledges (correctly or not) that the bible is a contradictory book edited together over thousands of years, and has acknowledged the prescientific cosmology of Genesis (which creationists do not). In fact Peterson, when asked if he believes in God, instead answered that, rather than believing in God he ‘acts’ as though there is a God.

It is important to point out too that I disagree with Peterson that we need to ‘act’ as though there is a God (if that ‘is’ what he is arguing for). I believe that though these ideas do originate within the Bible, it is possible to rationalise these ideas with our own reason. I cannot emphasise it enough that atheism is not the issue. In fact, those atheists who are knowledgeable in history and religion (such as Bart Ehrman, R Joseph Hoffman, Greg Epstein and maybe Robert Price) DO NOT hold such antagonistic views against religion. So at the end of the day, my issue is not at all with atheism, it’s more with ignorance, which is unfortunately contained within the atheism of many of it’s modern advocates.


#2

Thank you for the wonderful post and thread.

We are all human, and from time to time we all tend to whip out the Stereotype brush and start flinging paint around. As you state elsewhere, being wrong appears to be a universal problem in all groups, including atheists.

For right or wrong, atheists have been looked down upon on American culture for quite a while. I don’t say this to set ourselves up as some persecuted minority or some poster child for suffering. We are doing just fine, don’t worry. However, our position in society has led to atheists being misunderstood, and that has also led to atheists having to answer some rather frustrating questions and accusations. We are often told that we really do believe in God, but we just pretend that we don’t so we can commit all of these different sins. More to the point, we are also burdened with really bad arguments made by other atheists, as if atheism is a coherent religion that has an agreed upon theology.

Am I being too sensitive? Perhaps. However, given the post you wrote I think the points I have made are well worth it. We can all get gung-ho about our beliefs and worldview, but it is always very helpful to step back and look at the bigger picture. I know that these forums have certainly helped me see better through the eyes of theists, and I hope that my contributions here can do the same for theists.

So once again, thank you very much for the even toned and thoughtful post.


#3

And because some outspoken spokespersons have demonstrated some pretty bad examples…?

Heck, I’m a Christian and I’m pretty embarrassed by some that would speak on behalf of Christians and Christianity…


#4

We atheists are a very diverse lot possibly because the only thing that defines us is a lack of belief in god (for most definitions of god). After that we can be anything from humanists to Randites to who knows what. There are also Jewish and Buddhist atheists.

IIRC Ehrman considers himself an agnostic not an atheist.

I have problems with certain types of religion; those that would stifle some individuals for the cause of the structure. BTW I have a very broad definition of religion though I might use the words “life stance” (the English translation for the Norwegian term for what the humanist movement in their country is).

And some individuals can transcend any religion; can one read about Abdul Sattar Edhi and not consider that this is a person worthy of praise?


(Juan Romero) #5

I remember dealing with an atheist girl (known for being mean to everyone on the internet) who thought that Bible verses on prayer were meant to be taken literally.

That’s trying to argue with anyone on the internet. Yesterday, I had a debate on YouTube with a guy who strawedmanned my arguments all the time to look “rational”, but I caught him red handed. He never replied again after that.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #6

What do you mean?


(Juan Romero) #7

She used the same verses you can see here (http://www.tektoonics.com/test/parody/gawd1.htm ) to show that prayer is useless. I used the same answers you can see there.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #8

I slew the Denyon in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and the Washesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought on captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.

This is very similar to the whole affair with the Lebanese DNA, taking a literalist reading of language which is clearly meant to be figurative.


(Juan Romero) #9

Totally correct.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #10

I look at Tektonics quite a lot. Holding is sometimes right, sometimes wrong (I’ve taken issue with arguments he’s made on the forum before), but he’s completely correct here.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #11

I would also like to reiterate that currently I am not myself a Christian. I am a theist, but my own religious views align more with a more modernised form of Second Temple Judaism. (by ‘modernised’ I mean I don’t believe in sacrificing innocent animals or stoning blasphemers and adulterers to death)


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #12

No, the problem is not atheism, nor is it YEC, or any other ideology.

The problem where it doe apply which is much too often, is that people come to the website not to explore new ideas, but to reinforce their old ideology. They seek to debate rather than discuss.


(Juan Romero) #13

Me too.

Yeah, like his The Impossible Faith.

Definitely.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #14

What I like about him is how he is able to call out both New Atheists and Fundamentalist Christians.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #15

Can you explain the difference between ‘wooden literal-ism’ and the Sola Scriptura, or the Scripture and only Scripture stance of the Protestant Christians? How does a Christian decide between the Bible statement as literally true vs where the Bible is speaking as an allegory or something other than an actual command/statement?


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #16

WIth all due respect, there are plenty of Christians who believe the prayer verses are to be taken literally. If not literal, what do they mean?

Say a Christian gets delivered from a hopeless condition, be it a late stage cancer or a broken back, etc…, and, against all odds, the cancer goes in remission, the back is all healed allowing the person to walk again. What happens next? They become a testimony to the miracle working power of a prayer to Jesus! What happens to all those Christians who pray but not get healed? Well, they are just a proof those prayer verses are not to be taken in a woodenly lteral way.

But, if the prayer verses are not literal, then they are meaningless. I could, for example, make the same promise to answer prayer as Jesus had done. Would you say that my words are as true as the words of Jesus? You’d have to, because applying the same standard (i.e. not literally true), we’d both be right.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #17

It’s like saying something like ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, or ‘eyes on the bakc of my head’, in the sense that it is figurative language which still has meaning. This was a common linguistic genre throughout the Ancient World, it is the meaning four books of the OT, the Wisdom Literature. The Wisdom of Amenope is probably the most common Extra-Biblical example. When the writer of Ecclesiastes 1:1 claimed “everything is smoke” (hevel, though most translations translate it as ‘meaningless’), he obviously didn’t mean it literally.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #18

I agree with your statement. Unfortunately, the Bible is not always that obvious. For example, did God really want people to kill practicing homosexuals? Some say it’s just a figure of speech. Others think it’s a literal demand/command


(RiderOnTheClouds) #19

The Mosaic Law did not simply fall from the heavens. Rather it is a divine concession to the Israelite culture. We know this because the laws of other ANE peoples such as Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Hittites were very similar, and I suspect that all but the most ignorant Israelites would have known this. Do bear in mind also that condemning homosexual behaviour in the Ancient World (where it was effeminate behaviour and thus associated with humiliation and male on male rape, as very few people would want to engage in it regardless of their own inclinations) is different from condemning it in the modern day (where it no longer has such connotations). I see the mosaic law as meaningless for our modern day culture, it no longer makes sense to practise it, The notion of the death penalty for adultery makes most sense in a world where women and children were heavily dependent upon men, by leaving his wife and children for another woman, a man would effectively be sentencing his family to die.

I won’t try to rationalise the NT condemnations of homosexuality, since I am not currently a Christian. It seems to me as if they ‘do’ seem to be set in stone for all time.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #20

Unfortunately, these laws were made against women, not men. If you were a man, you could have multiple wives, but as a woman, you were an adultress. Also, there were no virginity tests for men, but there were tests for a woman.

There is also a law about slavery in Exodus 21, where Hebrew slaves had to go free (on the 7th year) alone, leaving their wives and children behind IF their owner gave them wives. And keep in mind, in wars, virgins needed to be spared while all men and women and children killed. These are barbaric and draconian laws.