Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Truthdig - An Atheist Manifesto

Here's what we've all been waiting for! Well, me and pawlr (and Demo, if he knows about this).

Haven't read it yet; let's see what it's all about.

10 Thoughts:

Blogger Demotiki said...

Doug,

I read this once before, although I can't remember where.

Demo

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hmmm...seemed to be billed as new. I think pawlr posted a preview, but not the full article a ways back.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 5:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I actually was quite disappointed with this article. It's exactly what it's billed to be: a manifesto. It lacks exactly what I think is necessary: doubt. It doesn't even touch upon the psychological attractiveness of religions, which is utterly necessary in order to explain its ubiquity.

Shrill and unrelenting in its attack on "liberal" views of religion. I do agree with many of the points given, but they will change very few people's minds, and I don't think it particularly necessary to change someone's mind on religion if their social behavior is fine. Results are what matter.

As for the Hitler-Stalin-et al rejoinder, it is a fair one, and the author dispenses with it too quickly, thus missing the deeper point, which I went into a few posts back with kyahgirl: it is ideological certainty that is the danger, not religion per se.

It's also almost wholly a negative argument. What is most needed is a positive argument for a secular morality, not the insistence that secular people are more moral, which is sometimes true, sometimes not.

A missed opportunity.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 6:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I might add that when you read this article and then watch Harold Pinter's utterly brilliant Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which is on a related topic (truth, morality, etc.), you will see the major differences.

I will take an Archbishop Romero or the priest from Nicaragua mentioned in Pinter's speech any day over a sessile atheist who isn't doing much to help anyone else. (Not a reference to this author.)

Although I am an atheist, it is the height of arrogance to turn one's back on those who are doing public good because they don't have the "right" metaphysics. It could easily be labelled fundamentalist -- and it's not merely a trope that this author's main target are "liberal" believers. He has a grudging respect for fundys. This is a debating trick: leave no space for anyone's opinion other than your own and a lunatic's. It's a word game, and Mr. Pinter can tear apart a word game and show you the bleeding innards.

If you haven't watched the entire Pinter speech, you really, really should. 46 minutes and 15 seconds of your time, and quite well spent.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

I am sorry but with exams coming up I'll be off the blogg (or I should be off the blogg) until my exams are over. After that, we need to make a blogg conference and pow wow.

demo

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 9:00:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Doug - Well, you can't really fault a pig for not being a horse - if it says its a "manifesto" don't expect an exercise in self-examination. I'm just sayin'.

In all other respects I pretty much agree with your comments. Results are what matter, and we do need more time spent promoting secular morality, morality for its own sake.

Great word - sessile. Yes, I had to look it up.

I will check out Pinter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous A. Signalstation said...

I just came by to let you know I appreciated your comment on the atheist manifesto over at Truthdig. I was also disappointed (and commented to that effect) by the author's scorn of religion, which weakened the article considerably.

Thursday, December 08, 2005 6:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Dwight Brown said...

Your response after reading Sam on atheism is a profound criticism. I am tempted to try to supply the naturalistic morality you rightfully ask for, but at 78 and not well, that task may have to be fulfilled by another - but fulfilled it will be, because without such a moral compus we will end up in irreversable self destuction. I like wht Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog once said - we have become as gods, now we might as well get good at it.
Thanks for your careful thinking.

Friday, December 09, 2005 12:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim H said...

Your remarks at Truthdig were right on point, IMHO. I have found that the atheists are as devoted to their belief (non-belief?) as many religionists are. Doubt! Now there's something worth exploring. Perhaps one day I will honor Dwight Brown's wish and finish my writing about the natural basis for moral behavior.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:03:00 AM  

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