Essay talk:Rational and irrational atheists

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Goodpost.gif Especially mentioning how atheism isn't a defence against believing in woo. Although I'd expand on it by mentioning the apparent argument that atheists must reject all supernatural claims because "God" is so difficult to define (once you start comparing some old world style pantheons and legends with your omnipresence God of the Abrahamic religions, you can imagine a line from "God" to "ghosts" that never really crosses a line between "is a God" and "isn't a God") or that disbelieving in God but believing in ghosts would be hypocritical. Now, this has some merit, as it's certainly a bit odd to pick and choose what established non-natural beliefs you like, but it doesn't take into account that the entire concept of atheism is based on the fact that religions exist. So atheism only rejects supernatural beings that are recognised as, or self define as, religious deities. There's nothing wrong with doing this as a working definition of atheism and it certainly allows atheists to say stupid things that are not directly influenced by atheism. Scarlet A.pngpostate 16:14, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Your usual run-on paragraphs/sentences leave me slightly confused Armondikov. Are you in agreement with the basic idea or not?--BobSpring is sprung! 16:30, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
I think so, as indicated by the smiley face. Tetronian you're clueless 16:31, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree, and I think this is one of the better essays we've had in a while. Related: this. Tetronian you're clueless 16:28, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree with the basic idea this essay presents, atheism is the disbelief in God, nothing more. You can be an atheist and also believe in ghosts, for example. It just so happens that many atheists are also rationalists and/or skeptics, creating a stereotype which also holds that atheists are politically left of center. --Onion <talk> 16:37, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, it's more popping a thought out really, as poorly organised as ever... I'm in general agreement all round, although I think the probability of someone saying something stupid because they're an atheist is slightly higher than you conclude. I'm also taking on board your statement at the end about conflating "rationalism" and "atheism" with respect to this problem. I presume this might be a response to the FSTDT quote on the article, as that seems slanted more towards "if my child wasn't rationalist, I'd disown them", with religion being a symptom rather than a cause? Scarlet A.pngpostate 16:38, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
To explicitly answer your point. Em, I'm not sure what you're asking me. You refer to "this problem" but I'm not sure what problem that is. I've read your question several times and I'm still not sure what you're asking me. I've explained before that I think the majority of the quotes in that article are simply irrelevant and I hope this essay makes it even clearer. But the only quote which might conceivably be relevant is the "disown" quote.
Having said that I think the article in question is simply badly conceived. Its genesis was a response to a CP article; it seems to (at least implicitly) assume that athiests share a belief system; it suffers form the balance fallacy and the quotes it uses are generally irrelevant to the "point" being made. Frankly I think it deserves a "delete" template. --BobSpring is sprung! 21:02, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

In point of fact I don't think that being an atheist is particularly important intellectually. In my opinion not believing in a god is really no more important than not believing in homoeopathy.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:02, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

I have to ask, have I stopped writing like I'm on meth since this discussion? I've tried my best to clear it up. Scarlet A.pngbomination 11:20, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Right winger[edit]

I might take issue with your use of the term "right winger" because it is overly broad. There are many atheists who are fiscally on the right of politics, perhaps social conservative might be a better term.  Lily Inspirate me. 16:43, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

I guess it might be in the US - but do you think it make a great difference to the thrust of the argument?--BobSpring is sprung! 16:47, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
US politics appears quite polarised, with a much larger overlap between social and fiscal conservatism. I presume due to the prevalence of things like No True Conservative (which we view on a daily basis on Conservapedia and WorldNetDaily). Strictly speaking, that part should read "social conservative", as this is what is associated directly with religion. But as you said, I don't think it detracts too much from the point, there is a known correlation between political and religious belief that means there is a lower probability of an atheist being on the right. Scarlet A.pngpostate 17:48, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

"Fundamentalist atheists"[edit]

This might be flogging a dead horse, but could it be correct to describe militant antitheists as "fundmentalist atheists"? The kind of people who say "religious belief should be illegal", "ban the bible and burn all copies of it", "burn down all the churches", "kill all priests", etc. Of course, very few atheists hold to such extreme views, especially nowadays, but there are some. (One can point to communists and others who have combined atheism with a belief that religion should be violently eliminated—witness the League of the Militant Godless in the Soviet Union, etc.) You might describe this as the Taliban of atheism. (((Zack Martin))) 10:39, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

I believe that would fall under a category of extreme anti-theism. Fundamentalism implies literal interpretation and full adherence to a text, in the case of religion various holy scriptures, something which atheists do not have. Garçoncoffee! 10:48, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Not all definitions of fundamentalism refer to a text. Consider this one: "a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles <Islamic fundamentalism> <political fundamentalism>". While the first example given is possibly compatible with "literal interpretation of a text" (although I don't think that's a very accurate description of Islamism - Islam isn't Protestantism), the second of "political fundamentalism" doesn't seem to imply any particular text being involved. (((Zack Martin))) 10:54, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Nonetheless, "atheism" is simply a lack of belief in any kind of god or higher power without the term describing an atheist's opinion of religion. "Militant atheism" is generally considered opposition to religion within the public sphere, i.e. religion being kept separate from law, education, government, etc. Anti-theism on the other hand is active opposition to belief in any kind of deity, higher power or religion, and more accurate in describing destruction of religion. Garçoncoffee! 11:11, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
What makes "opposition to religion within the public sphere" be "militant atheism", while "active opposition to belief in any kind of deity" be "anti-theism" instead? Atheism, however one defines it, doesn't logically imply any particular attitude towards church-state separation — there's nothing logically inconsistent about an atheist supporting an established church or state religion, for instance (they might believe it is false, yet still support its legal status due to perceived pragmatic benefits). Once we start calling one thing beyond the strict definition of atheism, "atheism", why not call another? (((Zack Martin))) 11:19, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
What we normally imply by describing someone as a fundamentalist - although "fundie" does get thrown around far too easily and loosely, these days - is a strict adherence to an ideology, possibly even in the face of (and often enough, because of) evidence against that ideology being either correct or beneficial. Atheism, doesn't have much in the way to obey - except circling a much of hypothetical entities labelled "God/gods" and saying "I don't really go about acting like any of these things are real". Even then, it's not really an "ought" that you should obey to be a "true" atheist.
Secondly, there's an issue of degrees of belief to go with the idea that you get "true" atheists. E.g., Dawkins my frown on more compromising secularists and atheists who don't see religion as dangerous as he does, but he wouldn't declare them as "No True Atheist". Indeed, that's difficult because atheism is clearly and very simply indicated by action; go about your life not believing in a god. You can't get degrees of that. Fundamentalists of more religious stripes would look down on others who are also in their broader category with disdain, and declare them to not be "true" members of that group because you can get degrees of their beliefs. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 11:30, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Extremism and fundamentalism are not the same thing.--Bob"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." 12:03, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
@Maratrean, that's exactly what I said. Atheism itself is simply a lack of belief in any higher power, no more, no less. "Atheist" does not imply anything about one's views on religion other than they don't believe in any particular god, whereas most people would consider a "militant atheist" to oppose religion in various public and scientific sectors - that's why it's called militant rather than just atheist, it tells you more about one's political opinion of religion. Anti-theism is characterised by opposition to religion altogether, and "what makes" this so is because that is what the words mean.
Militant:
1. aggressive or combative,
2. fighting or warlike; belligerent,
3. Active in an aggressive way in support of a political or social cause (often associated with extreme left-wing politics).
anti:
1. against, opposed to.
Fundamental:
1. A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part, as, the fundamentals of linear algebra.
Hence a fundamentalist atheist and a militant atheist would not be the same thing. If you insist on using the label fundamentalist it would only mean an atheist who is steadfast in their disbelief, so you may as well just use the term atheist. MIlitant on the other hand defines aggressive atheism and anti-theism is opposition to theism in general. Garçoncoffee! 12:48, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
In fact, we have a whole article on Atheist fundamentalism.--Bob"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." 14:21, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

What do atheists believe? No, really?[edit]

It's an interesting essay, and dares to criticise some in the atheist community which seems uncommon on this site. I just want to float a few ideas:

You say the only thing we can say about atheist beliefs is that they don't believe in a god. I suppose one could say the opposite for theists, and you could even say something fairly similar about many of the world religions which are so full of division and schism that identifying common views is difficult.

And yet it feels pretty disingenuous to say that there is only one universal trait amongst atheists, so let's be pragmatic. If we look at the community of atheism (which very clearly exists) rather than analysing etymology and playing semantics, it becomes more meaningful, and we can be descriptive instead of prescriptive.

So, for example, do you think any of the following affirmative beliefs are common (or even more-or-less universal) within atheists - and importantly, do you think any of them aren't merely coincidental but actively feed into atheism?

  • There is no god - (so not just lacking a belief, but believing there isn't - a pretty important line than many people seem to dance across at their convenience. For example, I lack the belief that there IS an uncontacted tribe on a Borneo, but I don't actively believe there is NOT.)
  • God is impossible.
  • The universe has come into being in a way that doesn't include a god.
  • Religions are destructive / untrue / horseshit.
  • Religious followers are gullible / naive / stupid.
  • Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
  • You can't prove a negative (insofar as you can prove anything)
  • We know enough about the available evidence and the concept of a god to make probability-based statements.

(I can give dozens of others if you like). Again, before anyone spits their dummy out, I'm not saying that any of the above assertions are not true, but merely they are still assertions and not denials. You may lack a belief in god (and thereby be a soft atheist), and yet still answer 'I don't know' to any or all of the above. But in reality how many atheists would?

Again, I am a non-believer, but it seems to me that the whole 'just a lack of belief' definition gets waved whenever atheists want to avoid criticism or a perceived burden of proof (there, I said it), while the rest of the time atheists in practice are typified by the sorts of positive beliefs listed above.

From my point-of-view, philosophically and rationally, any assertive claim is open to scrutiny and challenge and we as non-believers shouldn't hide from that. If I make an assertive claim about something not existing, or something being actually impossible, then I am more than happy to stand up and justify it. Most atheists seem to be robust enough to assert their views (and why not?), so let's be robust enough to accept that those views are therefore assertions rather than mere denials, and we will deal with any associated burden of proof that comes our way. Star Gazer (talk) 20:22, 22 May 2018 (UTC)

I stand by my point. The only thing that you can say about all atheists is that they don't believe a god exists.
Many (indeed, probably, all) people who are atheists will also have a range of other opinions. For example some atheists may also be antitheists, humanists, skeptics or what have you - and these beliefs might well lead them to the additional positions you have mentioned. But in that case it is these beliefs - not atheism - which has produced them.Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 16:09, 17 June 2018 (UTC)