Searching For Honest Atheists

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The God ArgumentDamon Linker doesn’t see the need of another book about atheism. This time it’s British philosopher A.C. Grayling’s The God Argument – The Case against Religion and for Humanism, to be published on March 26. Linker quotes honest atheist and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche when Nietzsche proclaimed that the death of God would be an “awe-inspiring catastrophe” for mankind. Although numerous gods from humanity’s past have lost their imagined effect on the human condition without catastrophic results, Nietzsche seems to think the passing of this god will be different.

Linker writes:

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.

The claim that “we’re alone in the universe,” attempts to lump all of humanity into one group that will be alone with Linker’s god. However, since only individuals can feel loneliness, humanity may be alone but will not be lonely. The search for intelligent extra-terrestrial beings echos the same need for humanity to not be alone.

The lament that “no one hears or answers our prayers,” reminds me of a child’s devastation when that child learns that Santa doesn’t read the letters that they have written.

Linker thinks that under atheism, “humanity is entirely the product of random events.” Evolution puts lie to Linker’s straw man fallacy. Natural selection is not a random process. Randomness shouldn’t scare us. Humanity is used to the randomness of which sperm will penetrate the egg, making everyone’s identity the result of a random event.

While atheism does hold that we “face certain annihilation in death,” that annihilation makes life all the more precious. The world got along just fine before we were born, it will get along just fine after we’re dead. We live on only in the minds of those who survive our death. How we’re remembered is all that matters because that is all that remains.

Linker’s religion inflates its followers’ egos by claiming an all-powerful being loves them. The loss of that all-powerful being is a blow to the ego few theists are willing to accept. The feeling of being special in a world teeming with humans is seductive. Religion’s seductiveness also extends to the human desire for revenge. However, it is this very seductiveness that should make us skeptical of its truth.

We have followed the repeated attacks on atheists by political and religious leaders and Linker can be added to hall of shame. Linker believes, contrary to the Constitution’s requirement of “no religious test,” that “radical atheists” are “simply incompatible with high office, and sometimes even active citizenship, in a democracy.” Jews are atheistic regarding the Christian god. Is being Jewish also incompatible with high office?

In the case of Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), unanimous in the result it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion that:

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.”

H/T: Larry Moran, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Jason Rosenhouse.

57 thoughts on “Searching For Honest Atheists”

  1. Blouse,

    Thar s no Devine belief in a Gad in Georgia since Sherman came through…. Only kiddin ya…

  2. If Ray Comfort can write a book about atheism/atheists or any subject for someone with an I.Q. higher then 40, then this Damon Linker can. After all, there is still quite a large market in America to appeal to bashing atheists.

  3. Raff,

    So far I’m very impressed by what I’ve read about this new pope…. It’s a little inspiring…. So far his humility is the same… One think I read… Rather than the argetenians spending money to come to Rome… He wants them to spend or give it to the poor…. After he was selected pope…. He went to the hotel… And personally paid his account and retrieved his own bags…. If all of this is true…. I hope to learn a great deal inspiration from his acts….. He is practicing the fatith as the original Francis….. When all else fails… Speak…

  4. John Hagee tells atheists to get out and wants Congress to shred the First Amendment
    Daily Kos
    6/5/12
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/05/1097604/-John-Hagee-tells-atheists-to-get-out-and-wants-Congress-to-shred-the-First-Amendment

    Excerpt:
    Last Sunday, John Hagee gave a sermon that is absolutely staggering, even by his standards. He not only called for atheists and other non-Christians to pack up and leave if they didn’t like the fact that this is a “Christian nation,” but also effectively called for Congress to tell our troops that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

  5. Makes more sense than the way our AH president wastes our money NOT freely given, along with his AH banker buddies & corporate AH buddies. Corporations are okay if they don’t use our tax dollars but most of the big ones do, along with eminent domain & other worse crimes. I don’t personally believe in a Deity or BigBeingInTheSky, but you have to be a bit of an AH yourself to knock a billion Catholics. (you are not alone on any of these sites, but that is no excuse)

  6. Very interesting topic Nal! I kept wondering how much money the Cathoic Church could give to the poor by not flying over one hundred Cardinals to Rome to vote for the new Pope.

  7. @ P. Smith

    Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.

    Religionism, nay, Catholicism, is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was created for Infallible me.

    Signed, Poop Franky. The new poop, same as the old poop.

  8. Dredd: Please read my whole post again and perhaps slowly this time. You know very well what I meant by Revelation.If you do not, it was in the religious context. Nothing to do with your babble by twisting the meaning I mentioned.:-)

  9. rcampbell asks: “Why doesn’t walking around in a permanent state of suspended disbelief and/or the ardent belief in spirits controlling human activities qualify as a mental illness?”

    Back to the def of ‘faith’, first; a belief in something for which there is no evidence. Even though this is the definition of ‘faith,’ and faith is a cornerstone in our world’s major religions, the faithful don’t like to acknowledge this aspect of their order, in my experience.

    The most ardent, outspoken xtians/muslims tend to profess(and believe) that the fables and prophecy from the books that form the foundation of their ‘faith’ can/will be supported by science and history. This desire to find evidence for something that by definition does not rely, depend, or is even capable of being supported with evidence(the supernatural by definition is outside detection of the natural world) shows that there is an acknowledgement that ‘faith’ alone isn’t enough in our time for many believers. Yet, the desire for promises like an afterlife and punishment for wrongdoers is strong.

    This sets up the scenario for mass cognitive dissonance. The misalignment of evidence and desire/comfort-in-belief creates the niche market that apologists like Linker and Lee Strobel exploit, plus website/.orgs like ICR, by giving believers something that appears to be scientific/academic to bridge the growing divide between belief and reality.

    This misalignment between evidenced reality and ‘faithiness'(the desire/belief that a thing is true regardless of what is/can-be shown to be true) would surely be considered mental illness under less entrenched circumstances.

    **I’m heavily generalizing. These views are meant to show my opinion of a large and distinct thread within the major contemporary religions.

  10. There have been a few good comments on knowledge & how we know, often taking the ideas of ones we trust. But there is another way & while we don’t have to question every little thing, we certainly should on those which don’t appear to work well. This could be called knowing how to know & would include the subject of how to study. Such subjects have been devised, the last, a Study Technology, being a subset of the former. I’ll mention the former in a minute, knowing that the usual gang of idiots will pounce like rabid dogs as they did when I suggested a certain human rights group could throw light on the white male mass murder problem without throwing out the 2nd Amendment. Of course, they do this precisely because they DON’T know how to know & end up accepting someone else’s warped ideas, based on ignorance or malice. So you probably guessed by now that the study of knowing how to know I speak of is called Scientology. Incidentally it leaves the choice of God, Atheism, or what have you, up to the individual, but if you know how to know you have a better chance of figuring it out.

  11. Another day, another theist regurgitates another false and long discredited “argument”.

    Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.

    1. P.smith”Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.”

      What is your belief? Does Objective Realty need any belief? Please share.

  12. “It’s tax free too!!!” (David Blauw)

    Well sure … once a year the good folk have a food drive to feed the poor … they’d do it twice a year but the choir needs new robes or the minister just has to have his/her educational sabbatical to the Holy Land and the dog-gone roof over the sanctuary needs to be repaired … and, for cryin’ out loud, the congregation can only give so much … they can’t possibly pay taxes and have a yearly food drive!

  13. Linker is obviously a man that hates both I democracy and the Constitution. He is exactly the kind of apologist for the excesses of religion and religion in general that gives all religious people a bad name. Unfortunately,and it pains me to say this, as religions get more and more aggressive about the need for the government to enforce their religious beliefs and prejudices the religion of an office seeker has become more relevant. Theocrats should not be permitted to hold office in a democracy because if they take over democracy wil be over. One election and done because once god or his representative is In place any one who tires to unseat him is condemned.

    To all those theocrats out there just remember there are many gods and many religions. As a result, you should be careful what you wish for because you wouldn’t like it if you got it. An that was exactly what the founders realized when they wrote the Constitution. They had seen enough of the wonders of religious wars and the death and pain they delivered in the name of god. No established religion, no religious tests and the separation of church and state, for dead old flawed white guys they were pretty smart!

  14. Faith, by it’s very definition, requires the long-play version of the suspension of disbelief. Faith is the belief in or acceptance of something despite the absence of any supportive evidence or in spite of the evidence which proves it false. It requires a deliberate and sustained aversion to logical or critical thinking. I can do that for a couple of hours at a time in a movie theater, but not as a way of living in the real world. Why doesn’t walking around in a permanent state of suspended disbelief and/or the ardent belief in spirits controlling human activities qualify as a mental illness?

  15. Teji Malik 1, March 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The basic tug of war between religion and no religion is Revelation versus Investigation.

    The former puts people in blind folds both on the outside and to the inner sight, hence the blind faith/beliefs; where as the latter opens the inner eyes through which everything can be seen, investigated and observed in a nitid manner.

    I will stick to the latter.
    ===========================================
    In both cases “knowledge” … what you believe to be so … is revealed by someone and you choose that particular selection naturally because of the 98% of your cognition that is subconscious, along with the 2% that is conscious.

    In the one case revelation of some knowledge is by a cleric, but in the other case the revelation of some knowledge is by a secularist, which does not ipso facto change the nature of the natural knowledge selection:

    I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students’ grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) …

    The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

    What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato’s right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

    In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the “logic” or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.

    (from links up-thread). This is the subject matter of Epistemology, the way we naturally select what we will call “our knowledge.”

    We first select intellectual authority, be it clerical or secularist, then through trust in what they say, we absorb it into our brains.

    And over time both sources prove to be wrong from time to time, no matter what techniques they employ.

    And since we judge who is right and who is wrong using our trust mechanisms, we have a circular analysis flaw.

    It seems that the conclusion is that we have not formed sufficient means and methods for producing knowledge, but we have very active means and mechanisms for producing belief.

  16. The great ain’t God ain’t gonna hear your prayers, ain’t gonna make you rich, and ain’t gonna smite people you’re p-offed at. You need a congregation to do those things. Then it’s okay. A congregation can make the great AIN’T into the great AM ….. of course the great am really ain’t, but don’t try to tell them that,. cause theyam will take your money and theyam will smite you. …… It’s tax free too!!!

  17. Blouise 1, March 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Religious folk can dress up their war sales with images of whatever god-version best suits the buyer. Choose your paint color.

    Atheists are stuck with the undisguised truth … greed and ground. Only one color available.

    Is it any wonder people in positions of power and leadership choose the god route?
    ==================================================
    That observation shows up in recent historical books concerning the history of war:

    The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.

    (Flynn, 1944). Can anyone say holy war is good for business?

    And the scientists, who are predominately evolutionists, incessantly make the weapons to help the holy wars bring lasting peace to the Earth.

    Without that fatal mutation that produced Einstein there would be no nuclear weapons that are stockpiled with enough power to destroy human civilization 50 times over.

    I think the proper diagnosis of natural selection or its religious equivalent, divine guidance, really need therapy:

    “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    “I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness.” – Sigmund Freud

    The reality is that our knowledge production and advocacy for it, is not very different from gang signs and tats.

    Crips v Bloods baby.

  18. The basic tug of war between religion and no religion is Revelation versus Investigation.

    The former puts people in blind folds both on the outside and to the inner sight, hence the blind faith/beliefs; where as the latter opens the inner eyes through which everything can be seen, investigated and observed in a nitid manner.

    I will stick to the latter.

  19. My apologies to the Colony of Georgia who had godless heathens on one frontier and Spanish Popery on another … that’s why they were kinda late to the game.

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