Archive for richard dawkins

Sorry, Mr. Dawkins, atheism is not the answer.

Posted in Christianity, Ethics with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2008 by carriedthecross

One of the things that often frustrates me is that people, even incredibly intelligent people, often pose simple answers as solutions to very complex problems. Anyone who has read any bit about this blog knows that I am an unabashed agnostic-atheist. Over at d-C, Karen wrote an interesting article that I think adequately sums up where I stand as well. I recognize that I will never be in a position to be a prominent spokesman for atheism, nor would I really want to be. I am often frustrated, however, by those who are prominent spokespersons for atheism.

In 2007, Richard Dawkins gave a speech at TED in which he received a roar of laughter when he kiddingly announced he is suggesting “militant atheism.” Dawkins’ speech has a two-fold message: (1) Darwinism is corrosive to religion, (2) atheists should ‘come out’ and be confident about attacking religion as a whole. One of the fascinatingly naive underpinning philosophies of the major voices for atheism today (Dawkins, Hitchens, the fine folks at the “Rational Response Squad”) is that if humanity eliminates religion from the world, everything will simply ‘work itself out.’
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Am I Ashamed of Atheism?

Posted in Atheism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2008 by carriedthecross

Over the weekend I had a most unusual encounter.  My grandparents were having their 60th Anniversary party in our hometown, so I made the journey home to make an appearance (I was informed in no uncertain terms this was not an optional event, mind you).  Clad in my ‘Sunday Best,’ I arrived and endured many grueling introductions as my grandmother showed me off to her friends.  It really was an awkward event.  I come from a rural family dominated by farmers.  Still, my grandmother is like a chapter out of a 1950s movie: prim, proper, mildly racist, and obsessed with perceptions.  So this party of two hundred or so people included a mix of country bumpkins and suburban snobs.

The exchanges between members of these diverse groups was not the source of my discomfort.  In fact, it was quite entertaining.  The incredibly awkward encounter came when I ran across a woman from my old church.  A German immigrant, she retired a few years ago as the general manager of the local bank.  During the course of our smalltalk she caught me off guard.  In her thick German accent she asked, “Still going to church?”

I didn’t skip a beat, “Yeah.” What!?  No, no, no.  I couldn’t believe the word came out of my mouth, but at the same time I had no inclination to take it back.  I found reprieve from further probing when I noticed my nephew in the corner of the room pestering his sister. “Excuse me,” I politely asked, pointing to the bullying going on. 
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On Dealings With Christians: Qualified Tolerance

Posted in Atheism, Christianity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2008 by carriedthecross

My road to de-conversion was a long one. I spent several years as an anxious theology major, and later as an anxious philosophy major trying to sort through the veracity of Christian truth claims. During the process of coming to reject Christianity, I remained quite agreeable to Christianity. When I made the leap and walked away from Christianity, a combination to the flood of responses (both positive and negative) and my own naiveté led to a most vicious lashing out against institutions of faith. In due time, my anger subsided and I was left with the question, “What next?”

There is a great tension in my life regarding this question. On the one hand, I believe Christianity is just another mythology, if a bit more complex. On the other hand, my time as a Christians contributed a great deal to my formative years as a person. On the other, other hand, I see great amounts of harm come from those who subscribe to what I perceive to be false religious belief. On the other, other, other hand, I see people do great amounts of good as a result of their committed Christian faith.

So what to do?

For a while I was attracted to such groups as the Rational Response Squad. Far be it for me to criticize my fellow atheists, but I cannot bring myself to stomach some of their tactics. Perhaps it is because we have different goals, all atheists are not the same, after all. As a Christian, I watched the Blasphemy Challenge videos with disdain. They seemed to me to be nothing more than a slap in the face to Christians. As an atheist, I still see the Blasphemy Challenge as a slap in the face against Christians. The goal of the project is to allow atheists to proudly dissent from popular culture, and ultimately, I assume, to promote atheism as an alternative to theism. The consequence that I see is to marginalize atheists more by making us look reactionary and angry. I doubt not the RRS’ motives, only their methods.

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Ethics, Post-Jesus

Posted in Ethics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2008 by carriedthecross

One of the key issues I had to deal with while I was in the process of becoming more psychological amiable to the idea of embracing atheism was the question of morality without God. The issue of morality without God seems to have been beaten to death, and so I don’t want to discuss it per se, but I do want to put down some thoughts on morality that does not stem from objectivist religious authoritarian ethics.

The basic dichotomy seems to be between whether morality is objective (morality as an entity that exists in itself, a moral statement is objectively true whether anyone believes it or not) or subjective (morality is an entity that exists only in the mind, there is nothing beyond the moral opinions of persons that make normative judgments true).

As a Christian, the latter notion was frightening, and perhaps with good cause. As Ravi Zecharrias, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell and other ‘Christian Generals’ would have their audience to believe, without God there is no way to develop morality without relying on personal whims. If morals are subjective, if the ‘goodness’ of an action depends on the acceptance of an individual or culture, than the Holocaust was logically moral from the perspective of citizens of Germany during the Third Reich. As a Christian, I was taught time and again that subjectivism leads inevitably to moral nihilism, the view that no moral values are better or worse than others and that there is no true ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’

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