Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Atheist Illogic

In recent years, atheism has been a philosophy on the rise. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris have all published books attacking religion; atheist author Philip Pullman wrote a series of novels that explicitly attacked religion (which, it must be admitted, were apparently quite good) that were made into blockbuster movies (which nobody liked). Most recently, Bill Maher has made a critically acclaimed documentary (sort of) which attempts to ridicule religious doctrine. Atheists are making their voices heard.

As a believer, I think that philosophical debate is a good thing—dialogue is better than diatribes, responding is better than suppressing, etc. And many of the foremost atheist thinkers are remarkably intelligent men—Hitchens is one of the best writers and literary critics alive, Dawkins, undeniably, is a brilliant scientist, and Maher is by all accounts a talented television personality (I’ve never watched his show, and have no desire to). And these men are, apparently, decent and moral men (with the possible exception of Maher). In fact, prominent atheists seem to live better lives than many clergymen (it’s hard not to forget child molestation scandals among Catholic priests, or the numerous Jimmy Swaggartesque scandals among evangelical personalities).

So, atheists are sending out smart, good men to make their case, which means that the atheist argument should be smart, clever, and intelligent. And it is, but it is marred by one fact—all of the most prominent atheists making this argument are crazy.

Some as obviously unbalanced—Bill Maher has suggested that retarded children deserve no more rights than dogs, and that the germ theory of disease is incorrect (thereby losing all right to criticize Christians for being anti-science), while Hitchens has spent a considerable amount of time trying to prove that Mother Teresa was actually a hate filled, evil person. Sam Harris (and Hitchens) disputes the historical existence of Jesus, which is one thing all respected historians agree upon.

Another irrational belief that all these men share is the idea that religion is intrinsically harmful to civilization, a belief that, while popular, seems to ignore all historical evidence. Religion clearly wasn’t responsible for most of the more destructive wars in human history—Rome, the barbarian invasions, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin—none of these men (or empires, as the case may be) were motivated by religious belief, and the wars that were were rather pathetic in comparison—the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, or the Spanish Armada invasion.

(What would happen if Christians tried to peddle an idea this dumb? Actually, they would be treated about as respectfully as most atheists are. Anti-evolutionism is every bit as unfounded as the “religion is responsible for all the world’s ills” meme).

What is striking about this claim is the fact that atheists bill themselves as relentless, dispassionate fighters for the truth, no matter how unpleasant. This line of thought goes that everybody wants God to exist—it’s only atheists who have the fortitude to admit the truth.

Another point: atheists claim that religion is a harmful to society. But every (or very, very close to every) civilization on earth has some form of religion. Are we to believe that, in the history of the planet, not one culture stumbled onto the fact that religious belief was what was holding the human race back? I think most would agree that humanity, even saddled by religion, has made great strides throughout its history. So in what ways has religion held humanity back? Claiming that religious belief holds civilization back, when it is obvious that civilization is advancing, seems pointless and illogical.

Yet atheists feed themselves wild fantasies to “strengthen” their case. What is the value in doing this? Do they think that people will be fooled by this practice, or that repeating these claims to themselves will increase their validity?

Or do they feel that religion is not worth fighting unless it the undiagnosed cause of all the world’s suffering? Of course, that is not the case—if we assume that religion is illogical, then it represents a massive waste of time that should be opposed. But can’t atheist leaders simply condemn religion on that basis, rather than inventing a nonexistent existential threat to humanity?

I can’t prove this idea, but I believe that all humans require some higher dogma. Most find it in religion, a few find it in power, and a few find it in anti-religion. Atheism (as opposed to agnosticism) is simply the flip side of religious belief. It’s adherents are motivated by the same stimuli, and driven by the same fears, as religious believers. Atheism is anti-belief—it is simply another form of religion.


At October 9, 2008 at 4:09 AM , Blogger Erics Eyes said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At October 9, 2008 at 4:15 AM , Blogger Erics Eyes said...

Here's what I thought of the debate...while I thought alot of it was boring and some major issues that people want to hear were not covered...I was disappointed. But looking at the candidates themselves...I thought Obama did good in the beginning and McCain did better in the end when he got to talking about foreign policy...something he seems comfortable with, unlike Obama. The problem...we already heard the foreign policy debate in the first debate! Yeah, they talked about the healthcare thing...still, I am not impressed with either's plan.
I dunno...I'll still vote for McCain because I do think he's a good man and who means his word. And he will be good for our country. I have looked at his voting record and while I do not totally agree with him 100%, I do agree with him on many issues. Obama...I want him out...I do not want to see him as our next president...tho sadly, I think it will happen. I wish we would have a strong independent come out...I'd love to see a debate that includes the independents...but that will probably never the debate would probably last 4 hours too. So McCain it is for me...I think he cares about our nation like alot of us do here. I think that he wants to do right by americans, unlike Obama who seems to be using his 173 day senator status as just a stepping stone to get to the presidency. I think he has his own hidden agenda...I want no part of Obama at all.Will Conservatives Help Obama Win?
Die-hard conservatives are in a quandary over whether to support the lesser of two evils (McCain) or to sit back and watch Obama bag himself a RINO (Republican in Name Only).Conservatives that sit out the election, will only help Obama win.

At October 10, 2008 at 5:39 AM , Blogger Conservative said...

Just in case you didn't you hear it yet? Louis Farrakhan has Declared Obama
as the Messiah.
So with this and with Wright his mentor. How can he go wrong?

At November 2, 2008 at 9:30 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

This world is going to be going in every which of way once the liberal illuminati get in control. We don't know who Obama is, and we will soon get the chance to see.

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