Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Facebook Argument: Radical Religion vs. Radical Atheism

No commentary is needed. Here's the transcript. Leave your comment to add to the conversation.

Yes, radical atheism is equally as evil as radical christianity. Its why I'm a negative atheist and not a positive atheist like dawkins

James, I wouldn't necessarily agree that radical atheism is equally as "evil" as radical Christianity. I wouldn't even necessarily agree with either being morally "evil". But, were we to replace the word "evil" with "dangerous", I still would not agree. Atheism has not created events like The Spanish Inquisition. Even atheism such as Dawkins's would not result in that. This is not a battle-cry you would often hear: "You must not believe in anything!"

It fits the definition of evil perfectly. It is a perversion of a philosophical or religious view that manifests itself in a manner than causes harm to the society around it. For instance, with radical evangelical christianity you have countless examples of the belief system being used as a tool of suppression throughout history. In the modern age however, both radical atheism and radical religion generally functions as a method of challenging social rules and laws to unbalance the system in their own favor. E.g. Faith based initiatives and reinterpretation of the first amendment. 

Its pretty unfair to compare the two side by side in the manner you are doing. Religion has the disadvantage of existing in a time period that is much bloodier than any other age and existing as an organized force for much longer. I wouldn't even consider atheism an organized force even today. 

A religious action will always be viewed as religious because its action has a active modifier. Atheistic actions have the advantage of merely being secular and not associated with atheism. 

In the modern age both are equally as evil. Ancient comparison where an equal form never existed is a straw man if there has ever been one.

Actually, atheism has been around as religion has. Do you really think everyone on the planet always believed in a god? And the comparison is not unfair. You say that it is something that "causes harm to the society around it". What harm has atheism truly caused? A shaking up of the status quo? I am not asking this as a method of disproving your assertion, but rather asking you to back up your assertion.

You just misrepresented my entire argument. Notice how I clearly am talking about their ideologies as an organized movement. Atheism is that regard is very, very modern.

Radical atheism has abridged freedom of religion by instigating a campaign of legal terrorism that limits the free expression of alternative beliefs. Because of the legal force behind radical organized atheism, government is erring on the side of safety instead of the side of preserving the maximum of free expression.

I myself am an atheist, so its not like I'm pro religion. Radical atheism however seeks to undermine religious protection. For instance the right for Muslims to be excused to pray was argued as unfair by radical atheism as there wasn't a secular alternative. Etc etc.

The modern form of radical ideology is supression not aggression.

Also the linguistic advantage atheism has is absurd. Religious acts are religous always whereas atheism isn't bound and is redefined as secular. Thus all non secular acts are relgious where all non religious acts are not religious. This makes comparison hard at best.

Well, there have been ancient atheist ideologies that were clearly organized, but oh well.

Actually, in the cases that I can think of, the attempt of the atheists was towards equality. "One nation under God" does not represent all of America. The most recent example I can think of with the cross put up on park land by the VFW has many problems: it was public land and a Buddhist shrine was not allowed to be built. This clearly shows favoritism. And do you honestly think that any atheist organization wields as much legal force as the Catholic Church?

I understand your position, but I feel you are misinterpreting intentions. There are not attempting to destroy protection of religion but rather to enforce protection from religion. The example you give is obviously absurd and I disagree with it absolutely, but I also know very few others who agree with it. That is beyond radical atheism and would be better classified as stupid. Forcing praying, on the other hand, should be argued against.

Atheism is secular, in the sense that it is not religious. Additionally, atheism has no dogma or proscribed activities, thus there cannot truly be atheistic activities, unless everything not involving a religious is declared as such. Oh well.

Ok give me one that was politically active. As far as I can recall there was never an active influential atheist based kingdom. You can't just say "nuh uh" and expect that to hold as an argument. The closest I can think of was the Stoicist movement which wasn't really politically active. Pretending there have been equal representation through history is simply wrong.

One nation under god is a great example of ridiculousness. I have absolutely no issue with it existing as a representation of historical discourse. It is not supressive in any fashion. Its about as supressive as the language of the Declaration of Independence. The VA case was legit. Its the other cases involving christmas displays that are silly. Yes atheism, for its size, has a powerfully unbalanced legal power and influence.

Forced prayer is equally as stupid and non-representational of religion. Hence the radical stupidness of both sides are equally as bad. You can't dismiss away radicalism on one side as stupid without doing so for the other side. The movement I have issues with are atheists cases and threats of legal action against community who hold christmas parades and put up nativity scenes or help fund religious adoption centers. I have no issue with government helping with the government facilitating with the celebration of a religion as long as equal access is given to other religions as well in terms of representational help.

That is the advantage of atheist discourse as opposed to religion. You are trying to compare an organized dogmatic system to a nonorganized un-dogmatic system. Hence comparison will always be skewed and unfair to one. Thanks for proving my point.

You never said the organization had to be politically active. I repeat, you never listed that as a requirement And I am not simply saying "nuh uh". Here are some examples: Lokayata in India and the teachings of Democritus.

What "historic discourse" does that phrase represent? The phrase has been there for 56 years. Lots of history, huh? And I never said it was suppressive, I simply said that it was not representative. I personal say the phrase when reciting the pledge, but it cannot be denied that it does not represent America holistically.

Odd that you accuse me of misrepresentation when you seem to be doing it often. I never said that radical atheism wasn't stupid. I am arguing against your use of the word "evil" or "dangerous". I also would not say attempting to battle things through the legal system are "evil" actions. Sorry. I do want to be a lawyer.

I won't deny that atheism and religions are on different spheres, but that did not prove your point. Your initial point involved calling it "evil". You still have not proven that. And you won't.

I make it very clear that the method of the modern age is supression through governmental intervention. Plus any analysis of religions evils must be done politically. That's really basic sociology right there. Power structures are always political in nature. That's the standard all academic thought on power systems is based upon, excluding some very outlying systems that you and I aren't using. For instance all the issues you take with religion have a political modifier. So I'm perplexed why you think you've gained any kind of ground by trying to so I'm switching standards when its clear I am not.

Yep its been part of america for a good 20% of the nations existence, does not specify a religion, and does not mandate prayer to a diety and no one is compelled to say the pledge nor is anyone punished for leaving it out. 

Nothing represents all of america. There are vegitarians who want meat consumption outlawed. Not doing so excludes their views in the system, doing so excludes carnivores. Removing the phrase is not something all americans want, not removing the phrase is not something all americans want. Neither are holistic. At that point you go off of reasonable harm. As money and monuments have had references to religion as did the declaration, the arguments for comparative harm are silly at best.

I define evil very plainly. I also explain why things down to manipulate the legal system as a form of oppression is bad. You never really answer any of my arguments. I too plan on doing law. However, I differ from you insofar as I see both radical atheism and christianity abusing the adversarial system to their advantage. Changing laws to gain an advantage over another worldview is in fact a corrosive method which by definition is evil.

I've very clearly proven my points. You haven't answered the majority of anything I've said and all you have done is make claims to the effect of, "I'm right and you can't prove me wrong" and not really responding to anything.

BTW Lokayarta was fine with rape and sexual abuse as sensual indulgence as fine. In fact it highly encouraged it as women were not equal in discourse (found in the Sarva-darsana-samgraha) or logic. Seriously, that's one of the worst examples you could have chosen. It shows that sexism and abuse are universal to humans, not inspired by religion itself.

Democritus (and his mentor) were philosophers who didn't really even spark influential movements. Its like me pointing to x random christian scholar and going, "SEE HE IS FAIR THUS RELIGION IS FAIR". People are never synecdoche, that's another basic logical fallacy.

I am not attempting to gain any advantage by saying so, I am simply stating that you never before stated that a political association was a requirement. You also state that all of religion's evils are slightly political in nature; I, however, disagree. For example, the issue with Catholic priests is not political, but I would say it is evil. 

No, it does not specify a religion, but it alienates a great deal: Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Atheism, Humanism, etc. It's true that it is, in most cases, not a requirement to recite the pledge, but it is America's pledge. You have to recite it to become an American citizen. Should not something like that represent America as holistically as possible?

Your vegetarian example is fallacious. No one has meat eating representing America, it simply occurs within America. Going to church occurs in America, but no one is trying to outlaw going to church. The *removing* of the phrase may not represent everyone, but the pledge, upon having the phrase removed, *does* represent everyone. 

I take exception with your definition of evil, by the way. I associate murder, torture, and oppression of people as bad. And before you get all excited that I said "oppression", allow me to clarify something. The radical atheists, even if I were to grant you that they are attempting to oppress (which I won't), are doing so within the legal structure. Radical religion has used violence, terror, hate, and forced oppression. Again, even if I were to accept that radical atheism fits your definition of evil (which I won't), the two are beyond compare in terms of evil. Religion wins every time. Murder and torture vs. legal action. Hmmm... You want me to respond to your claim? The one example you have so far provided about atheism oppressing, the example about praying not being allowed because there is no secular alternative, it an alienated example of an oppressive attitude. You have so far not provided proof for a oppressive attitude on the part of the radical atheists. Wanting there not to be religious mention in public and government property is not oppressive-- it is egalitarian. Do I believe that the tombstones at Arlington Cemetery should be allowed to have crosses? Absolutely. Do I think courts should have monuments of the Ten Commandments? No.

With the Lokayata example, I was not using them as an example of goodness, but rather an example of ancient atheist organizations. Most people in 7th century India, by the way, were okay with those things. I also agree that sexism and abuse are not alienated to religion. Certain modern religions, however, make sexism dogma. Atheism, casual or radical, does not.

Again, I did not bring up Democritus to show the goodness of atheism, but rather the existence of ancient groups. This also includes Epicurus. And though Democritus did not spark a large following, he did still have a following with "an organized movement".

The catholic priest sandal has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with individual perversion. That's like saying murder is the fault of the democrats being in power. Sure they could pass strict laws and be invasive with their power, but the fact is, is that people still commit crime no matter who is in office. Same goes for whether you are atheist or religious. That example was silly at best, and betrayed your overt prejudice at worst.

You just alienated buddhism...most who follow it believe in a diety. You should open a text before you try to represent a religion. 

Shintoism isn't a religion, its a native spirituality. Most Shinto followers are in fact buddhist as shintoism deals with life and buddhism deals with death... beyond that shinto accepts the divine. I means the way of the gods...

Hinduism believes in a unified diety on the ultimate plane of reality.

Sure it doesn't represent atheism or secular humanism. However, neither does the declaration of independence, does that mean somehow the document is exclusionist because it references a diety? Assuming so is silly. Its already holistic. They also have to sign a document that says they agree with the declaration. Plus they can omit the phrase if they want. Further, what if people disagree with a pledge as a form of forced worship of a symbol and thus idol worship? Which some do. Do we err on the side of caution, or when do we just call some things stupid.

Again you should brush up on your religion.

Hitler used the legal system...thus his oppression was ok. See what I did there. Assuming legal neutrality is dumb.

Onto your analysis. I don't designate in levels of evil. Evil is evil is evil. All you have said is "Ahhhh sensationalized islamic hate!", without understanding its reason for existing. Secular societies attempts to forcibly modernize (mainly the atheistic soviet union) created neo-kharijitism. 

I think this argument is dumb so since you are already doing it, I have to answer. Considering radical islam to be a product of religion is like considering mao and stalin to be the voice of atheism. Both examples are examples of cults of personality, where a single individual warps people into following their banner. If you want to claim radical islam, then religion gets to call stalin and mao's purges on you.

Atheism for the longest time was very elitist. They only indocrinated elite wealthy members into their enlightened clubhouse. As religion was for the poor. Don't pretend atheism is clean.

You still haven't shown any organized athiestic group that rivaled the size of any major religious player.

Your arguments need some fine tuning. You still seem to be in your angry atheist phase. You'll grow out of it.

" The catholic priest sandal has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with individual perversion." Seriously? You don't think it has anything to do with the position of power that the priest has, the threats of damnation towards the child if he or she does not submit, and the requirement of chastity? Those don't even factor in? Because if they factor in at all, then you are wrong that all of religion's evils are political. I can also come up with a few more examples, such as the Catholic Church saying that condoms should not be issued in Africa. Now, I am sure you will say that is political, and it may have political aspects, but what you said was "*any* analysis of religions evils *must* be done politically". That is simply false.

"You just alienated buddhism...most who follow it believe in a diety. You should open a text before you try to represent a religion." I have. My father is Buddhist. Buddhists may, though are not required to, believe in a supernatural power, but it is not often addressed as God. And also, you admitted something here, though you may not have realized it at the time. "Most who follow it believe in a deity (I corrected the spelling for you)". That means that some do not. Again, the pledge does not include all.

"Shintoism isn't a religion". That depends on whose qualification you go by. According to most scholars, including but not limited to, William James (religion is “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine"), Tylor, Freud, Marx (religion is an illusion divorced from reality), Durkheim, and Geertz (religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic), Shintoism is a religion. All of these websites agree: -- --

Whether or not we agree that it is a good idea or not to remove the phrase "under God" is honestly a non-sequitur. What is important is asking whether or not the attempt to remove it is "oppressive" or "evil". I do not see how an attempt to make your country all-inclusive through legal action (not violence or dogma or threats of damnation) can qualify. I cannot see how you can honestly throw killing and removing two words from a pledge into the same category, since you are unwilling to distinguish between varying degrees.

"you should brush up on your religion." I'm a Religious Studies major at WashU, thank you for playing.

"Hitler used the legal system...thus his oppression was ok. See what I did there. Assuming legal neutrality is dumb." Poor argument. He assumed control of the legal system and dissolved its fundamental principles, such as murder = bad, in order to suit his goals. The same cannot be said for radical atheism. And, by the way, does Gott mit uns sound familiar?

Actually, for clarification, I never said anything about Islam. I was focusing on Christianity when I was talking about sexist dogma, specifically Catholicism -- the whole no female priest thing. Also orthodox Judaism, where the men and women are separated in the synagogue. In fact, I believe that Islam, per se, specifically the Qur'an, is more peaceful than the Bible. Do not assume you know the argument that I am making and attempt to destroy it before I have made it. Strawman. 

"Atheism for the longest time was very elitist. They only indocrinated elite wealthy members into their enlightened clubhouse. As religion was for the poor. Don't pretend atheism is clean." Atheism does not have indoctrination. There may have been societies that were atheistic that had indoctrination, but you don't need anyone's approval to be an atheist. Don't believe that God exists? Congratulations, you're an atheist. No further tests needed. Also, I am not saying that atheism is "clean", but rather than it is not "evil".

"You still haven't shown any organized athiestic group that rivaled the size of any major religious player." I never claimed I could or would. I said that atheistic organizations have existed just as long and theistic ones. I never said that they rivaled in size, though the American Atheist Association has quite a large support group.

The "you'll grow out of it" is an ad hominem and you should be ashamed for using it, though you have used several in an attempt to bandage your wounds. Your argument has fallen apart at the seams and you cannot even consistently define your own terminology. Your refusal to see varying degrees of evil appears to be simply because it's not convenient. The phrase "lesser of two evils" did not come out of nowhere.

1 comment:

nineinchnall said...

"you should brush up on your religion." I'm a Religious Studies major at WashU, thank you for playing.

That response is full of so much win, I just ...

I love you. :D

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