atheist musings

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Atheist commentator Austin Cline suggests several resolutions for the New Year, writing that "making a conscious effort to be open and deliberate in your godlessness would be better for you and those around you:"

Godless Americans should commit to setting a good example about what godlessness means, and should not imply that there is something shameful about it by keeping silent.

Godless atheists should commit to engaging religious believers in substantive discussions. These may obviously include discussions about religion, but should not be limited to that subject. We should engage others in conversations on philosophy, family, politics, and more -- all from an explicitly godless perspective. We can make it plain that neither gods nor religion are needed in order to have credible, reasonable positions on various topics.

Ricky Gervais wrote an explicitly godless op-ed in the WSJ entitled "Why I'm an Atheist" (h/t: Richard Dawkins), identifying "the gifts of my new found atheism" as:

The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. [...] I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

But living an honest life - for that you need the truth. That's the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.

Gervais answered readers' questions here, and Ray Garton commented at Atheist Oasis on the common query "Why don't you believe in God?"

There is, of course, no right way to answer this question, because those who ask it are almost never interested in an answer; they simply want to open the subject so they can tell you how wrong you are. They will always be offended by whatever you say, no matter how gently you say it, because the fact that you do not believe what they believe is seen by them as an attack on the fact that they believe it. [...] Let's face it, my fellow nonbelievers -- we are the punching bags on which believers take out their own doubts and fears about their beliefs.

Greta Christina asks, "What, exactly, do religious believers want from atheists?"

If you follow the atheism debates in op-ed pieces and whatnot, you'll see that critiques of the so-called New Atheist movement are often aimed at our tone. Among the pundits and opinion-makers, atheist writers and activists are typically called out for being offensive, intolerant, disrespectful, extremist, hostile, confrontational, and just generally asshats. The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks. And if these op-ed pieces and whatnot were all you knew about the atheist movement and the critiques of it, you might think that atheists were simply being asked to be reasonable, civil, and polite.

But if you follow atheism in the news, you begin to see a very different story.
You begin to see that atheists are regularly criticized -- vilified, even -- simply for existing.

Or, to be more accurate, for existing in the open. For declining to hide our atheism. For coming out. [emphasis added]

That question of correctness prompted Austin Cline to ask his readers:

Do you consider yourself to be an "intellectual"? How much time do you spend in careful, critical reflection on your beliefs -- especially those beliefs you like? How much time do you spend on maintaining critical distance to things you learn?

Cline writes that that "is a situation that I find interesting and worth thinking about:"

Of course, that involves thinking about what I am doing and why which would place me squarely in the "intellectual" camp. The same goes for you, if you have read this far, even if you disagree with everything I have written. We are as much a part of the situation as we are observers of it. Do our biases preclude us from understanding and evaluating it properly? And on we go...

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on December 28, 2010 7:09 PM.

"Since you don't believe in god..." was the previous entry in this blog.

QOTD on NOMA is the next entry in this blog.

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