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cushioncrawler
11-13-2012, 06:20 PM
10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism
By Sam Harris
The Los Angeles Times

SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term “atheism” has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.

Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was “not at all to be tolerated” because, he said, “promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist.”

That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims “never to doubt” the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.

Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity’s needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn’t have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the programmer Stephen F. Roberts* once said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the “beginning” or “creation” of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.

The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, “The God Delusion,” this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don’t know precisely how the Earth’s early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase “natural selection” by analogy to the “artificial selection” performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don’t know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn’t know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn’t arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.

There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.

8) Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature’s laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.

From the atheist point of view, the world’s religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn’t have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as “wishful thinking” and “self-deception.” There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.

In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

December 24, 2006
* Regrettably, the original version of this article credited the wrong “Stephen Roberts” for this wonderful line. Sorry Stephen!—SH

llotter
11-14-2012, 01:51 PM
As an ex-atheist myself, it sickens me to see the same old arguments and propaganda being laid out as though it would provide an adequate foundation on which a great, free and prosperous society could be built. It is the same as the new commercial on TV that attempts to normalize communism as a good alternative to freedom.

LWW
11-14-2012, 03:20 PM
Mac, like every supposed atheist I have ever known, keeps trying to convince their own self ... and to force their beliefs on everyone else every bit as bad as the Seventh Day Adventists.

llotter
11-14-2012, 03:24 PM
The atheists appeal to 'reason' is laughable.

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 03:31 PM
Communizm iz not an alternativ to freedom.
Anyhow i doubt that there iz any communizm around nowadays. And hopefully very little freedom.
The less freedom the better. The more communizm the better.

I doubt that the white-usofa iz great free and prosperous. Anyhow it would hav died in infancy if not for converting to socializm and communizm when all seemed lost.
And but for the help of the socialist/communist natives.
mac.

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 03:32 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Mac, like every supposed atheist I have ever known, keeps trying to convince their own self ... and to force their beliefs on everyone else every bit as bad as the Seventh Day Adventists. </div></div>Stephen Roberts
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

HAZTABE THE BEST.
MAC.

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 03:42 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: llotter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">As an ex-atheist myself,......
EX-ATHEISTS MUST BE VERY RARE. I HAV NEVER SEEN ONE. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE.

......it sickens me to see the same old arguments and propaganda being laid out as though it would provide an adequate foundation on which a great, free and prosperous society could be built.
I WOULD BE SURPRIZED IF TRUTH AND LOGIK AND REASON WERE NOT A GOOD FOUNDATION.
I THINK LIES ARE DANGEROUS FOR A SOCIETY.
I WOULD PREFER SELFISHNESS TO LIES, IGNORANCE, AND STUPIDITY.

......It is the same as the new commercial on TV that attempts to normalize communism as a good alternative to freedom.
BUT FREEDOM KAN NEVER BE A GOOD ALTERNATIV TO COMMUNIZM.</div></div>

Soflasnapper
11-14-2012, 05:51 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Mac, like every supposed atheist I have ever known, keeps trying to convince their own self ... and to force their beliefs on everyone else every bit as bad as the Seventh Day Adventists. </div></div>

Yes, they are so aggressive and flamboyant and in your face. I don't mind what they do in private, but they force it on us in public.

Oh wait, I was thinking of a different thread! /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 06:24 PM
In private all godists force their gods on all their kids. Grownup god-kids then say things like....
"The atheists appeal to 'reason' is laughable."

Reason -- .... sanity ; a sensible view of a matter....

Job 15:3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?

Pro 26:16 The sluggard [is] wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

Ecc 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason [of things], and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness [and] madness:

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 06:33 PM
Pro 29:9 [If] a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, [there is] no rest.

Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Luk 6:21 Blessed [are ye] that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed [are ye] that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

Luk 6:25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 06:57 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: llotter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">As an ex-atheist myself, it sickens me to see the same old arguments and propaganda being laid out as though it would provide an adequate foundation on which a great, free and prosperous society could be built. It is the same as the new commercial on TV that attempts to normalize communism as a good alternative to freedom. </div></div>Isa 1:5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

hondo
11-14-2012, 09:19 PM
Okay. So what? Refuse to believe what you refuse to believe, bro. God gave us the free will to not believe in Him. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

cushioncrawler
11-14-2012, 09:54 PM
And he gave kids Christian parents that brainwashed the kids, and then sent them to sunday school to be brainwashed by experts.

Faith iz an unshakeable beleef in something u know to be untrue.
mac.

llotter
11-15-2012, 06:59 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: cushioncrawler</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: llotter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">As an ex-atheist myself,......
EX-ATHEISTS MUST BE VERY RARE. I HAV NEVER SEEN ONE. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE.

......it sickens me to see the same old arguments and propaganda being laid out as though it would provide an adequate foundation on which a great, free and prosperous society could be built.
I WOULD BE SURPRIZED IF TRUTH AND LOGIK AND REASON WERE NOT A GOOD FOUNDATION.
I THINK LIES ARE DANGEROUS FOR A SOCIETY.
I WOULD PREFER SELFISHNESS TO LIES, IGNORANCE, AND STUPIDITY.

......It is the same as the new commercial on TV that attempts to normalize communism as a good alternative to freedom.
BUT FREEDOM KAN NEVER BE A GOOD ALTERNATIV TO COMMUNIZM.</div></div> </div></div>

The famous quote from David Hume might help you view more skeptically the ability of Logic and Reason as a basis of a moral foundation: "Morality is not the conclusion of reasoned thought". Reason and Logic and 'Truth' have been used to justify abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, racism, Death Camps and the death of millions upon millions to achieve reasoned ends.

It is this same 'reasoned' concept, that smart people should rule the rest of us, that have brought America and Western Civilization to its knee, a civilization fostered and built around our Judeo-Christian moral system.

It is this same faith in the 'scientific method' that introduced us to the behaviorist theories that have attempted to totally sweep our humanness under the carpet and make relevant only our overt behavior that can be identified and measured. Behaviorism has infiltrated and ruined virtually every study where humans are involved and some where they aren't.

Because you don't understand something does not automatically make it invalid and useless. Simply try to understand any human being, a real and tangible object, and I challenge to you say that if given enough time you can 'know' the truth of that being in the scientific sense.

hondo
11-15-2012, 07:02 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: cushioncrawler</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

Faith iz an unshakeable beleef in something u know to be untrue.
mac. </div></div>

Again, what is the point of your posts? You don't believe. Fine.
Are you on a mission to convince those of us who do believe that we are wrong?
For what purpose? You're the one constantly bringing it up, not us. You're the one trying to shove your beliefs down our throat, not the other way around.

I like you , CC, but when I proved that your statements about the NT were erroneous a while back, you remained silent.
Now you're back. I'd stay away from statements about the Bible til you've actually read it. Those atheist blogs can sell some bad dope.

cushioncrawler
11-15-2012, 07:19 AM
Sorry bout that -- i did put together a lengthy answer to your stuff back then, but my computer crashed (it woz a cheap secondhand one anyhow), and now i hav a new computer, but i havnt bothered to go back there.

Ah yes i remember now -- i woz drawing attention to some new stuff that i thort might be of interest to all, that i had just discovered myself, relating to the nonexistance of Jesus Christ. And advising that Christianity woz alive and well in about 200BC.
In other words there hav been lots messiahs lots of Christs lots of Jesus's and lots of crucyfiktions, but Jesus Christ never existed, a fabrikation.

If i draw attention to theze references (now on my old computer but i might be able to find) then that iz all i want to do. It duznt worry me if no-one looks or beleevs.

For instance recently woz it here i saw once again a reference to Jesus of Nazareth. This iz krapp. The korrekt reference iz Jesus the Nazarene, koz for starters there never woz a joint called Nazareth, and Nazarene haz a special meaning, it aint a place.
mac.

cushioncrawler
11-15-2012, 07:26 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: llotter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The famous quote from David Hume might help you view more skeptically the ability of Logic and Reason as a basis of a moral foundation: "Morality is not the conclusion of reasoned thought". Reason and Logic and 'Truth' have been used to justify abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, racism, Death Camps and the death of millions upon millions to achieve reasoned ends.

It is this same 'reasoned' concept, that smart people should rule the rest of us, that have brought America and Western Civilization to its knee, a civilization fostered and built around our Judeo-Christian moral system.

It is this same faith in the 'scientific method' that introduced us to the behaviorist theories that have attempted to totally sweep our humanness under the carpet and make relevant only our overt behavior that can be identified and measured. Behaviorism has infiltrated and ruined virtually every study where humans are involved and some where they aren't.

Because you don't understand something does not automatically make it invalid and useless. Simply try to understand any human being, a real and tangible object, and I challenge to you say that if given enough time you can 'know' the truth of that being in the scientific sense. </div></div>It looks like reason and logik and truth and science dont work.
So what duz this leev???????????????
The Bible ????????????????
mac.

cushioncrawler
11-15-2012, 07:37 AM
HUME WOZ A SORT OF ATHEIST, AND THIS WOZ BACK IN 1770, IE BEFORE THE USOFA WOZ THE USOFA.
MAC.

Religion
Tomb of David Hume in Edinburgh
Hume wrote a great deal on religion. The question of what were Hume's personal views on religion is a difficult one.[20] The Church of Scotland seriously considered bringing charges of infidelity against him.[21]

In works such as On Superstition and Enthusiasm, Hume specifically seems to support the standard religious views of his time and place. This still meant that he could be very critical of the Catholic Church, referring to it with the standard Protestant epithets and descriptions of it as superstition and idolatry[22] as well as dismissing what his compatriots saw as uncivilised beliefs.[23] He also considered extreme Protestant sects, which he called enthusiasts, to be corrupters of religion.[24] Yet he also put forward arguments that suggested that polytheism had much to commend it in preference to monotheism.[25]

It is likely that Hume was sceptical both about religious belief (at least as demanded by the religious organisations of his time) and of the complete atheism promoted by such contemporaries as Baron d'Holbach. Paul Russell suggests that perhaps Hume's position is best characterised by the term "irreligion".[26] O'Connor (2001, p19) writes that Hume "did not believe in the God of standard theism. ... but he did not rule out all concepts of deity". Also, "ambiguity suited his purposes, and this creates difficulty in definitively pinning down his final position on religion". When asked if he was an atheist, Hume would say he did not have enough faith to believe there was no god.

The perception of Hume as an atheist with an axe to grind is an oversimplification and contrasts his views on extremist positioning. Hanvelt dubs Hume as an Aristotelian in his view that rhetoric is a form of ethical studies, which ultimately make it political.[27]

LWW
11-15-2012, 08:07 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: hondo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Okay. So what? Refuse to believe what you refuse to believe, bro. God gave us the free will to not believe in Him. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif </div></div>

It appears my prayers about you have been answered.

PRAISE BE!

llotter
11-15-2012, 08:10 AM
Reason and Logic and 'Truth' work fine in the realm of the hard sciences but not well at all in the soft or social sciences.

If you want to land a man on the moon you should get a team of scientists but if you want to better understand good and evil go to your priest or rabbi because that is their profession. This used to be SOP that everyone understood and accepted as an obvious truth.

This is why Marx needed to kill off religion so his smart people could be in control but as we can clearly see, those smart people were total failures, year in and year out. And this is why liberals (read Marxists) have been attacking religion here, especially Christianity, for the last 100 years or more. And just like in those communist countries, the smart people are piling failure upon failure.

Gayle in MD
11-15-2012, 08:27 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: cushioncrawler</div><div class="ubbcode-body">And he gave kids Christian parents that brainwashed the kids, and then sent them to sunday school to be brainwashed by experts.

<span style="color: #660000"><span style='font-size: 11pt'>I have to agree with you on this, Mac.

The problem comes with parents telling children that they KNOW, the UNKNOWN.

That, in and of itself, IMO is not good for kids.

Faith, means trusting in something, that has never been proven, and/or cannot be proven.

Some people say that nothing can ever been proven, but I don't agree with that theory, because I believe that Science can and has proven enough things, that they should be accepted as proof.

The Scientist sets out to disprove his studies, in the interest of gaining knowledge, just the opposite of how organized religion approaches their beliefs.

This whole subject is so easy for me, because I believe that what others call GOD, is just plain old LOVE. And I surely do not believe that a merciful God, would cause the horrible suffering, or horrendous punishments, which organized religion portends.

I believe that humans survived and evolved to some degree through empathy for one another, and through cooperation in the interests of survival, but there has always been fighting, killing, suffering, exploitation, everything that we see in the animal world.

But, I also cannot explain the spiritual experiences I have had in my life, like the night when I heard my deceased father's voice screaming out in the night, and woke me up,... "GO GET A MAMOGRAM!" Of course, I had been thinking about him a lot that day, and I had been feeling something in my breast that was worryng me, so who knows, just a dream, mixed up with a soup of thoughts?

But there have also been times when I absolutely knew in advance, or at the moment, that something bad was about to happen to someone I love, or was happenning, and learned later that my premonition was correct. Like the night my daughter was out with a group of friends, and they decided to drive through a field in the snow, and got stuck, and I worke up and got out of bed and knew she was in trouble, and cold. I couldn't go back to sleep. Stood by the window all night. Sure enough, they all showed up on foot, cover with ice a few housr later.

I can't explain that, and I've had that kind of experience many, many times.

But, I also cannot draw any conclusions from it, except to say, I don't know.

I taught my daughter that the way to happiness is in doing ones best, respecting those who win your respect, being there to help others when you can do so without sacrificing your own best interests, getting the most out of everyday, listening to our inner selves, our instincts, and most of all, taking good care of oneself, because if we don't take care of ourselves, we surely cannot be a positive force for anyone else.

Life is a journey of discovery, and our first mission is to learn to understand ourselves, and learn how to love ourselves. Take responsibility for what we do, and for what we don't do, and realize that we create everything in our own universe, even when we don't want to believe it.

We each have a right to believe that which inspires us to be the best person we can be, that which we believe will lead us toward spiritual growth, peace, annd fulfillment.

I just don't believe that laying guilt, shame, and threats of horrible punishments, from a looming, threatening unknown spirit called GOD, upon others, is a life enforcing path to take.

And I certainly do not believe, from a psychological point of view, that organized religion has existed through the ages, without creating damage to the human spirit.


When I was in Catholic school, my catechism said, 'God is love.'

I do believe that. I believe it isn't important to tell our children that we "KNOW", or, to pretend to "KNOW' what we can't know, but to teach through example, and through love, the tools that we have learned which we know have served us well.

If God is Love, then just BE Love!

What more do we need to KNOW, than that</span>? </span>

Faith iz an unshakeable beleef in something u know to be untrue.
mac. </div></div>

<span style="color: #990000"><span style='font-size: 11pt'>Faith is an unshakeable belief, we choose to believe in, although we know we can never know.

"This is it.

There are no hidden meanings.

All that mystical stuff, is just what's so.

A master is someone who found out."</span></span>

llotter
11-15-2012, 08:29 AM
Another of my heroes was F.A. Hayek and he was an atheist but toward the end of his life he admitted that religion may be necessary as a repository of the moral good to spread through the generations. Religion occupies a special place because it has an unimpeachable source for its truth and not easily subject to the weakness of human nature.

I simply pick Christianity as the one true religion based on its incredible record of success. The fact that has been so successful lends a great deal of evidence as to its actual truth since there is no way for humans to fabricate it.