Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

I can't remember if I posted this in this thread or another one, but it's worth posting again. Two things that keep me able to articulate my own beliefs are @GSpellchecker on Twitter and the podcast The Human Bible. The former is a concise (yay, Twitter) refutation of a lot of the logical fallacies that your everyday theist believes. The latter is a great podcast looking at the Bible as a human creation (with all it's inherent flaws) rather than a divinely inspired book. Also useful when confronting your everyday bible-beater.

Late to the party re: Applebee's, but yeah, that wasn't an apology. That was an "I regret that I got caught."

Also, I used to have a roommate that worked as a server in a chain restaurant and he always said that large groups of Christians were the worst tippers he ever had.

I am as troubled by the dogmatism of my fellow atheists and agnostics as I am of theists these days. And I am increasingly wary of the scientism that has pervaded in the arguments of the former to the detriment of logic. It has almost become a religion of its own and as blind to reason as any metaphysical ideology.

I think there needs to be another way. A way that recognizes the faults of both and accepts the peculiar nature of our universe. As it is, it is like watching two children swimming in the kiddy pool with their floaties while an ocean is right next to them.

"Scientism"?

I'd argue that any argument that eschews logic is flawed. It doesn't need a special name. Especially not one that is generally pejorative and used by the religious to knock atheism, agnosticism and science itself...

Interesting way to declare your stance.

I do agree that a lot of my atheist friends have gotten dogmatic of late. It's been a strange evolution to watch.

Sometimes I think it's not dogmatism so much as exasperation.

Robear wrote:

"Scientism"?

I'd argue that any argument that eschews logic is flawed. It doesn't need a special name. Especially not one that is generally pejorative and used by the religious to knock atheism, agnosticism and science itself...

Interesting way to declare your stance.

I thought it was apt because it accurately describes the ideology of some of my fellow atheists and agnostics. They are as dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method, falsificationism, and faith in scientific knowledge that they have become parallels of some of the people they rail against. And it isn't helping anybody.

If I have insulted, I apologize and it is not my intention. I should be more careful with inflammatory language or more aware of the connotations of the language I use.

duckideva wrote:

I do agree that a lot of my atheist friends have gotten dogmatic of late. It's been a strange evolution to watch.

I see what you did there.

ZaneRockFist wrote:

I thought it was apt because it accurately describes the ideology of some of my fellow atheists and agnostics. They are as dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method, falsificationism, and faith in scientific knowledge that they have become parallels of some of the people they rail against. And it isn't helping anybody.

First off, I was insulted, just surprised. It's as if someone hopped into a thread on science and religion and started talking about "evolutionists" and "arrogant scientists"; you'd know right off which side they were *actually* on. But I wasn't sure you meant the term to be taken that way.

I still think we need to distinguish between people who adhere to the scientific method in inquiry, and people who unquestioningly lock into one particular hypothesis and never let go. The former are actually practicing science, and their religious beliefs don't matter in that process (they may *direct* their overall approach, but should not matter one bit to the experiments, formulation of hypotheses or the like). The latter are just playing at "being scientific", as if that were a state one could inhabit in life. That's no good. One has to be open to new evidence and new conclusions.

I agree, "knee-jerk" atheism does no one any good. But lumping in science and logic as if they were being properly exercised in those views is probably going a bit far.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

I thought it was apt because it accurately describes the ideology of some of my fellow atheists and agnostics. They are as dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method, falsificationism, and faith in scientific knowledge that they have become parallels of some of the people they rail against. And it isn't helping anybody.

"Dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method" is kind of the point of the scientific method, otherwise, it isn't the scientific method.

I never quite grasped the idea of professional codes of ethics, standards, and behavior as being the same (or sufficiently similar to) as biblical morals. They all seem based on best practices, practicality, and good sense. I can only grasp that it comes from fundamental misunderstandings of both professional and religious practices.

I have yet to year "Well the National Academy of Sciences works in mysterious ways."

Jonman wrote:
ZaneRockfist wrote:

I thought it was apt because it accurately describes the ideology of some of my fellow atheists and agnostics. They are as dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method, falsificationism, and faith in scientific knowledge that they have become parallels of some of the people they rail against. And it isn't helping anybody.

"Dogmatic in their adherence to the scientific method" is kind of the point of the scientific method, otherwise, it isn't the scientific method.

I was trying to think of a way of properly articulating that. In terms of naturally observable phenomena, talking about dogmatic adherence to the scientific method is like having a dogmatic adherence to mathematics.

Now, if you're talking about people who try and use "science" to address philosophical, what's the meaning of life-type questions, that's another story.

Dogmatic indicates an unwillingness to consider evidence. Atheists can be as dogmatic about something as anyone else can, but I seriously doubt atheism is the cause.

And the idea that actual science is somehow dogmatically ignoring evidence about the world is kind of bizarre, too. It implies that religion is as good at describing the world as science, when in fact, the simple observation that no two religions can agree on most things speaks strongly against that. As a way of understanding the world, that is. Religion used to have that purpose; now there's something better for that purpose, it should stick to other things.

Of course, the fact that religion is no longer the best paradigm for understanding the workings of the universe *is* the problem...

Well, I think that many people of a religious or spiritual bent equate a "faith" with a sort of acquired knowledge or of facts.

They conceive that their faith that say bread and wine change into literal human flesh and blood, is akin to a chemist's understanding that a combination of hydrogen peroxide and oxidized Zinc will react to bubble off Oxygen Gas.

There also the sloppy metaphysical arguments, like "Well you have faith that your eyes are accurately representing what is actually happening in front of you."

Scientism as a pejorative, and I would say that people like Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer do have a bent towards scientism, is in fact practical and not mystical. The Clean Air Act was passed because of our cultural nature that science will come up with the answer to our problems. With the CAA, things like carbon capture in the tail pipe or the catalytic converter were mostly small scale and theoretical. The formation of NASA was similar. The Soviet's had only just successfully put a satellite in low earth orbit, but the program was made with 1 seemingly impossible task, to get a human being onto the moon.

There is good reason to put stock in science to solve our problems, or to achieve goals that are not presently possible or conceivable. Because Science and Scientists do it all the time.

In some minds, maybe this equates with the faith that actions will lead to heaven.

Maybe. But those scientific programs are asking questions and looking for answers to very specific problems, and any and all study results and evidence will be considered. It's not dogmatic. In the case of global climate change, Faith that God will come and save the planet, or bring a new one before we can annihilate ourselves by our own folly is dogmatic.

KingGorilla wrote:

There is good reason to put stock in science to solve our problems, or to achieve goals that are not presently possible or conceivable. Because Science and Scientists do it all the time.

In some minds, maybe this equates with the faith that actions will lead to heaven.

Many religious people are very much in love with the fallacy of false equivalence. They concede that their own world view is based on "faith," and then they presuppose that all other world views must equally be based on "faith." You see this all the time, and especially with creationists.

Being "dogmatic" about a world view informed by science and reason is also known as "behaving rationally." I'd gladly wear that label.

To a high degree, there is also a lot of having a single conversation with 2 languages or dialects as well. Or maybe just some experience bias.

James Randi has a story of taking a physics professor friend of his to see David Copperfield. Copperfield does his flying illusion. The physicist whispers to Randi that the illusion is terribly dangerous because Copperfield must be using magnets and a huge electro magnet under the stage. The illusion is really nothing of the sort. But if you live a life only of physics, and electrical physics at that, your mind is shaped to see that first and foremost.

KingGorilla wrote:

To a high degree, there is also a lot of having a single conversation with 2 languages or dialects as well. Or maybe just some experience bias.

James Randi has a story of taking a physics professor friend of his to see David Copperfield. Copperfield does his flying illusion. The physicist whispers to Randi that the illusion is terribly dangerous because Copperfield must be using magnets and a huge electro magnet under the stage. The illusion is really nothing of the sort. But if you live a life only of physics, and electrical physics at that, your mind is shaped to see that first and foremost.

"If all you have is a hammer, everything appears as a nail"?

Occasionally I'll see something that I can only describe as "scientific totemism," that bothers me a little bit. Things where people use scientific symbols or the names of famous scientists much like a Catholic would use holy relics and the names of saints. It's all tongue-in-cheek though, and most of the people doing this sort of thing are also doing actual scientific research.

But this is all just an excuse to quote The Stars My Destination:

They were savages, the only savages of the twenty-fifth century; descendants of a research team of scientists that had been lost and marooned in the asteroid belt two centuries before when their ship had failed. By the time their descendants were rediscovered they had built up a world and a culture of their own, and preferred to remain in space, salvaging and spoiling, and practicing a barbaric travesty of the scientific method they remembered from their forebears. They called themselves The Scientific People. The world promptly forgot them.

S. S. Nomad looped through space, neither on a course for Jupiter nor the far stars, but drifting across the asteroid belt in the slow spiral of a dying animalcule. It passed within a mile of the Sargasso Asteroid, and it was immediately captured by The Scientific People to be incorporated into their little planet. They found Foyle.

He awoke once while he was being carried in triumph on a litter through the natural and artificial passages within the scavenger asteroid. They were constructed of meteor metal, stone, and hull plates. Some of the plates still bore names long forgotten in the history of space travel: INDUS QUEEN, TERRA; SYRTIS RAMBLER, MARS; THREE RING CIRCUS, SATURN. The passages led to great halls. storerooms, apartments, and homes, all built of salvaged ships cemented into the asteroid.

In rapid succession Foyle was borne through an ancient Ganymede scow, a Lassell ice borer, a captain's barge, a Callisto heavy cruiser, a twenty-second-century fuel transport with glass tanks still filled with smoky rocket fuel. Two centuries of salvage were gathered in this hive: armories of weapons, libraries of books, museums of costumes, warehouses of machinery, tools, rations, drink, chemicals. synthetics, and surrogates.

A crowd around the litter was howling triumphantly. "Quant Suff!" they shouted. A woman's chorus began an excited bleating:

Ammonium bromide gr. 1-1/2
Potassium bromide gr. 3
Sodium bromide gr. 2
Citric acid quant. suff.

"Quant Suff!" The Scientific People roared. "Quant Suff!"

Foyle fainted.

He awoke again. He had been taken out of his spacesuit. He was in the greenhouse of the asteroid where plants were grown for fresh oxygen. The hundred-yard hull of an old ore carrier formed the room, and one wall had been entirely fitted with salvaged windows ... round ports, square ports, diamond, hexagonal ... every shape and age of port had been introduced until the vast wall was a crazy quilt of glass and light.

The distant sun blazed through; the air was hot and moist. Foyle gazed around dimly. A devil face peered at him. Cheeks, chin, nose, and eyelids were hideously tattooed like an ancient Maori mask. Across the brow was tattooed JOSEPH. The "O" in JOSEPH had a tiny arrow thrust up from the right shoulder, turning it into the symbol of Mars, used by scientists to designate male sex.

"We are The Scientific People," Joseph said. "I am Joseph; these are my brethren."

He gestured. Foyle gazed at the grinning crowd surrounding his litter. All faces were tattooed into devil masks; all brows had names blazoned across them.

"How long did you drift?" Joseph asked.

"Vorga," Foyle mumbled.

"You are the first to arrive alive in fifty years. You are a puissant man. Very. Arrival of the fittest is the doctrine of Holy Darwin. Most scientific."

"Quant Suff!" the crowd bellowed.

Joseph seized Foyle's elbow in the manner of a physician taking a pulse. His devil mouth counted solemnly up to ninety-eight.

"Your pulse. Ninety-eight-point-six," Joseph said, producing a thermometer and shaking it reverently. "Most scientific."

"Quant Suff!" came the chorus.

Joseph proffered an Erlenmeyer flask. It was labeled: Lung, Cat, c.s., hematoxylin & eosin. "Vitamin?" Joseph inquired.

When Foyle did not respond, Joseph removed a large pill from the flask, placed it in the bowl of a pipe, and lit it. He puffed once and then gestured. Three girls appeared before Foyle. Their faces were hideously tattooed. Across each brow was a name: JOAN and MOIRA and POLLY. The "O" of each name had a tiny cross at the base.

"Choose," Joseph said. "The Scientific People practice Natural Selection. Be scientific in your choice. Be genetic."

As Foyle fainted again, his arm slid off the litter and glanced against Moira.

"Quant Suff!"

http://www.american-buddha.com/stars...

(I have no idea what's going on with that website. I'm assuming this story's passed into common domain, and this was the first quotation that came up on Google.)

I was just reading about The Stars My Destination the other week, as it's author, Alfred Bester, had his name used as a character in Babylon 5.

I read a lot of Bester in my youth, he's one of the better ones. In that scene, the narrator is experiencing the end result of a tiny, isolated society that has been focused on simple survival for decades; education is not even a thing they understand, so they've become a "Cargo Cult", with science as props and trappings.

I suspect an issue some people have is trouble discerning the distinction between legitimate argument from authority and the appeal to authority fallacy.

The 'authority' in science is neither unquestionable nor permanent, we may stand on the shoulders of giants but we don't hesitate to climb down when it turns out the giants were demonstrably wrong. On that note I think another important difference is that in science we generally document these events, even celebrate them, rather than sweep them under the rug and pretend they never happened.

I've read that book and another one of Bester's, The Demolished Man. They're both awesome.

Are the laws like rape laws in Saudi Arabia where the victim can be killed?

A Third World pope for a Third World moral philosophy.

At the very least I would hope his lack of political awareness and savvy would be considered by the... whatever group it is that elects the pope, baseball team in arizona or something... when looking at him for the job. You've got to at least know which issues not to talk stupidly about.

I am pretty sure that even without Ratzinger, the church will still be in circle the wagons mode. So even if in the US and Europe nearly all people identifying as Catholic are pro choice, birth control using, sexual freedom lovers, any one of those who does not go to church is good riddance still.

To a certain degree I wonder if we aren't due for another reformation of sorts. Organized religion is on a heavy decline in the Americas, Europe, and Australia.