Observations

Jerry Coyne recently on the goals of New Atheism:

” And, when I say I want religion “eradicated,” this is what I mean: I want the young folk to realize that the superstitions of their elders are silly, and to cast them aside.  Like Darwinian evolution itself, atheism progresses not by conversion of individuals, but by change between generations.”

It is difficult to see how that statement differs significantly from a proclamation by an Imam that Sharia should be the law of the land.

Fundamentalism is hardly limited to the religious.

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8 Responses to Observations

  1. I think you mean dogmatism, not Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is a form of Protestant Christianity, or to a lesser degree, the strict maintenance of doctrines of religious import accompanied by the literal interpretation of such. Coyne could have been a Stoic, a secular Buddhist, or a New Ager and claimed the same, so any preconcieved doctrine is unclear. Also, I don’t think there is any inherent doctrine underlaying Darwinism other than the laws of nature. Yet you can still be a dogmatic Darwinian.

  2. jackhudson says:

    Fundamentalism isn’t limited to Christianity.

  3. I didn’t say it was. However, it is limited to religion and doctinal thinking in genral, that was my point. I think you mean to say dogma, as Coyne’s radical position isn’t based on any doctrine, but rests on his passion for Darwinian science and rationality–hence he’s being dogmatic not ‘Fundamental’.

  4. jackhudson says:

    I didn’t say it was. However, it is limited to religion and doctinal thinking in genral, that was my point. I think you mean to say dogma, as Coyne’s radical position isn’t based on any doctrine, but rests on his passion for Darwinian science and rationality–hence he’s being dogmatic not ‘Fundamental’.

    There is nothing inherent in the theory of evolution or ‘rationality’ that would require the eradication of all belief systems other than atheism. It is a extreme doctrine of New Atheism, and is as fundamentalist as any Islamic radical.

  5. Yes, that’s just the thing though, there is a movement but there is no doctrine.

    Bascially you have one man’s opinion, and that is as fundamental as it gets.

    However, I think Coyne takes his anti-religious sentiment too far. Religion is not going anywhere, and it never will as long as human’s are around. I’ve taken three decades to understand religion, my past faith, as well as others. I think I would be better qualified than Coyne to speak on it, or at least the history of it, as the experience of religion is subjective.

    At any rate, I disagree with his position that we may one day get rid of religion. As long as there is supernatural thinking, and unexplained things, religion will always arise naturally–as it always has.

    The wiser choice would learn to accept religion and then study it, learn from it.

    That said, I have studied the New Atheist movement very closely. The thing they all have in common is that they are a) realists with regard to science, b) they are all strict rationalists, and c) they are all specialists of one kind or another. I think much of their anti-religion stance comes from their rationalization of real world consequences, frequently where religion resembles a threat to their position, i.e. it acts as a poor substitute for scientific explanation, it restricts rationality by limiting or censoring the content/information one has access to, and it requires no specialization meaning all religious opinions are equal (whether they are equally valid or invalid is another question).

    But as you might guess, the consequences of religious thought could be viewed as an assault on their particular worldviews, which is why I think they so vehemently protest.

    I’m sort of at the end of that anti-religious phase as my atheism matures more toward a healthy post theism.

  6. jackhudson says:

    Actually Tristan, to your credit you often strike me as very mature in your dialogues on atheism and Christianity. There are a few others here like that as well(shout out to kenetiks) and I have to say I find that refreshing.

    Perhaps you should found a new movement – The Common Sense Atheists. Of course, at that point you will be labeled an accomodationist by the News.

  7. Justin says:

    Dawkins has stated a similar mantra several times.

  8. @Jack

    Thanks for the compliment. I guess I had so many good experiences as a Christian that I can’t simply harp on it without a valid excuse.

    I tend to focus on the history of Christianity since this is where much of my research has been, and it has been my experience that many people on both sides are frequently ignorant of early Christian history, and I don’t hesitate to correct the misconceptions regardless of where they come from.

    Also, I feel that keeping and open and ongoing dialog is vitally important in learning new perspectives, and perhaps the only way we will learn from each other. Religion has, until recently, dominated the public discourse when it comes to questions about God. One of the things I like about the New Atheist movement is that we are finally starting to see new ideas enter the fray, even as non-belief has always been the counter balance to belief since the dawn of human imagination. I’m just glad that the forum has been opened up for the whole public, so to speak.

    I like your ‘Common Sense Atheism’ idea. Idealistically it would be great to have common sense and good reason guiding both sides, but often times emotions and biases interfere.

    Besides this, Luke Muehlhauser already holds copyright on the title “Common Sense Atheism.” I’d be happy to settle for Arguere atheism as my honorary title. Who knows, maybe it will catch on? ;p

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