Debate:Antitheism and Religion

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Atheism isn't a religion, but I believe there are parallels.

I define "antitheism" as not only believing there is no god, but actively condemning the idea. In this sense, atheism is a "pseudoreligion", in that you require faith that there is no god, due to His existence being unfalsifiable. Semantically, of course, atheism isn't a religion, like bald isn't a hair color. But if a poll were conducted on hair color, "bald" would be a choice. It is not a religion, but it (at least strong atheism) is faith-based.

I overall just hate the overriding feel on RW that Atheists are incapable of doing harm.

Just needed this off my chest.— Unsigned, by: Lilfut / talk / contribs

  • Don't think anyone thinks "Atheists are incapable of doing harm". There's no faith involved, unless you include "faith" in the scientific method. Doc Holiday (talk) 16:11, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Well, what I meant by "incapable of doing harm" was harm towards religion. The antitheism article (among others) portrays atheists as completely in the right. According to Pascal's Wager (not the flawed part), if there is no god, it makes no difference in the long run whether someone is religious. It's entirely a matter of faith. And, due to the existence of a god being unfalsifiable, one requires faith to believe that there definitely is no god. I'm a evangelical Christian, but I know when to leave someone alone (far too many atheists have become unsaved because of overzealous fundies). Humanity has had religion for millions of years. We're getting along just fine regardless, so why are people trying to get rid of it? —signed by Lilfut 16:51, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I'd "harm" religion as much as possible, I'm afraid. I consider it to be a mind virus that removes from our humanity. It's unnecessary and time wasting. If all the energy, money and time that's spent on religion were spent on benefiting mankind we'd be a lot better off. Don't get me going on the evils of religion. Doc Holiday (talk) 16:55, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
(EC)::I'm pretty sure atheists can cause harm. Just like bald men cause harm. The issue is really what is done in the name of that philosophy. And yes, some things have been done in the name of atheism. The French Revolution banned many religious groups (France still does) and Albania took state atheism to extremes, sometimes resulting in some very bad things for people who followed a religion openly there (although I'd argue that latter case was more to do with reactionary totalitarianism than atheism itself). The rest, whether atheism or antitheism is a religion is semantics of course. I usually say that if you want to include atheism and its various branches as a religion, then you've expanded the definition so wide that the word becomes fundamentally useless; going back to the bald analogy, if you include a lack of hair as a "hair colour", you may as well argue the lack of a head is a hair colour, as would be a lack of a leg or that a house has a hair colour or numerous non sequiturs. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 16:56, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Not all athiests "actively condemn" the idea God exists. For instance I don't "actively condemn" the idea that Zeus exists and controls our lives. I also don't believe in fairies. Is that "active condemnation" of belief in fairies? I suppose it depends on your definition.
Secondly I have no "faith" that God does not exist. I simply acknowledge that there is as much evidence for God's existence as there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster - and I have an equal level of belief in them both. That is to say, none.--BobSpring is sprung! 16:59, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
@DocHoliday: As I mentioned, humans as a species have had religion for millions of years. If it was that bad, then we, as a species, would be much worse off than we are, and that is a completely humanist statement. Religion is no more prone to evil than a lack of religion, nationality, or baldness.
@Armondikov: Atheism is not a religion, and I admit that. But it has as much potential for zealotry as a religion. Many of its adherents condemn non-atheists the same way many Christians condemn non-Christians.
@BobM: I know that all atheists don't. That does not change the fact that I find antitheism detestable. I wouldn't dare deny that many Christians do evil. But if I say that that stereotype represents a small minority of Christians, then No True Scotsman is invoked. Atheists have evil in their ranks. That is true, is it not? —signed by Lilfut 17:10, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
"If it was that bad, then we, as a species, would be much worse off than we are"!!! I've never heard such a statement seriously put forward! If it wasn't for religion we might be a lot better off. Doc Holiday (talk) 17:15, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
religion can be anti-science and without the things that science provides many many people would die of starvation. I am specifically thinking of nitrogen fertilizer. Toss in eradicating smallpox and thats another bunch of millions of people. I suppose if you save their souls and let them die of smallpox then you dont need the fertilizer either. Lets not forget religions like the Aztecs where human sacrifice was practised. I also note that its fundie christians blowing up and shooting abortion clinics and doctors, not your typical athiest. What counts as a christian anyway, weekly church attendance, baptism, a true belief rather than church as a social event ? Hamster (talk) 17:22, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Religion can be anti-science. Not must. In fact, many early scientific discoveries were made in order to understand God (the fact that many people today don't want to understand Him is another story).
Anyway, Doc Holiday, the point I'm making is that we as a species evolved religion, and then kept it. It clearly provides some sort of benefit, or it would have been phased out through natural selection. Besides, what you are using is an argument from adverse consequences. Now you know how it feels to have valid claims blocked by irrelevant application of fallacies. —signed by Lilfut 17:30, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
"It clearly provides some sort of benefit, or it would have been phased out through natural selection." Wrong. Come back when you learn science. Harmonic harmonic Hoover! 17:34, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
yes , the Catholic church historically has been very forgiving and supportive of scientific endevours. Once science adopted a materialistic approach it advanced very quickly. How do you phase out unreasoned superstition ? Primitive peoples invent reasons for things they observe because they are less frightening than a complete unknown. Children do the same thing. Hamster (talk) 17:41, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
(EC) Lilifut: It's not I who is arguing from adverse consequences: it's you who are supposing benefit from religion. There is no demonstrable benefit at the current time for religion. Primitive man probably gained a cohesive effect but often at the expense of other non- or contrary- believers. The sheer amount of energy that religion has sucked in over millennia is all wasted and the current waste of things like the papacy and megachurches is sickening. Doc Holiday (talk) 17:44, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Luffet says:@BobM: I know that all atheists don't. That does not change the fact that I find antitheism detestable. I wouldn't dare deny that many Christians do evil. But if I say that that stereotype represents a small minority of Christians, then No True Scotsman is invoked. Atheists have evil in their ranks. That is true, is it not?
You are as welcome as you like to find antitheism detestable. So that's your opinion. Bully for you.
Are some athiests evil? Sure, why shouldn't they be? (A somewhat more surprising point is theists flying planes into buildings) But again your point escapes me.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:03, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Re: religion and natural selection, I think there is a basis for religion having an evolutionary benefit in terms of developing a social order. Common belief systems provide motives for cooperation, and a priestly class mandating things like "don't kill", "help the poor", and "don't eat unclean food" could have a positive effect for coming-of-age societies who had to worry about mutual defense and other issues in an age where natural phenomena were less understood. That said, those reasons aren't very applicable today because we have other reasons for building a mutually beneficial society. I see religion eventually being largely phased out by selective forces (not in any of our lifetimes though).

Re this: one requires faith to believe that there definitely is no god. Apologies for parsing the language, but there's a distinction that needs to be made here. If you take "there definitely is no god" pedantically, as in meaning "the probability that a god exists is exactly equal to zero", then I think I would agree that something akin to faith is involved, although I'm not sure "faith" is the best word for describing it. But it takes "faith" to believe that the probability of nearly anything is exactly equal to zero (or exactly equal to one, for that matter). If you take "there definitely is no god" to be shorthand for "the lack of empirical support for a god suggests the probability that one exists is vanishingly small, and is essentially zero for all practical purposes", then I don't think any faith-like concept is involved at all. I suppose I can't definitively rule out the possibility that there's a unicorn who lives in a cave on the dark side of the moon. That I choose to live as if there isn't a unicorn on the far side of the moon is not the same as having "faith" that there isn't one.El Presidente (talk) 19:15, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes.--BobSpring is sprung! 19:56, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I concede the faith point.

However, I disagree with the idea that religion is inherently evil.

To quote earlier: "...just like bald men, [Atheists] cause harm..."

Continuing that line of thought, saying religion is inherently evil is like saying redheads are criminals. Religious people are just as prone to evil as anyone else, they're just likely to use their religion as an excuse. 9/11 would be just as bad if Allah was never mentioned. Atheists and theists both do evil for their own purposes, theists just use religion as an excuse. —signed by Lilfut 22:35, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for conceding the faith point. So ... you're saying that religious people are no more or less likely to be good or evil than non-religious people?--BobSpring is sprung! 22:47, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
religions typically create an us/them mentality. We are better than them because (we believe that God chose us) and they are abhorent to God. You see it all the time in Athiests are inherantly evil because they have no absolute source of morality, so rape murder, child molestation, buggering dogs is not in violation of their world view. The fact that that does not happen in the real world is irrelevant and child molesting priests simply show God gives us free will to ignore absolute morality in favor of pleasure. The preist in most societies is above the congregation and in many places immune to secular law. If he points at a person , and screams heretic, burn him , the congregation would rush right out and burn the poor bastard without asking why. A clever religion would use that authority to rule and make itself incredibly wealthy. Not mentioning any names but inquisitional inquiring minds can figure it out Hamster (talk) 23:34, 26 March 2010 (UTC)