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6 years ago  ::  Jul 08, 2008 - 5:14PM #11
whitephoenix
Posts: 133
*hi*, gotta say something more contentious next time to get a good ol' Irish argument going lol (only messing)
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 08, 2008 - 5:22PM #12
whitephoenix
Posts: 133
just to say i used to get on at dawkins just a couple of months ago, I used to say he is a fundamentalist, just like any other fundamentalist, only is is a science fundamentalist, but if you see his arguments through from beginning to end he's really quite fair & honest (hey bill, you got here long b4 me, i used to argue with you on the old site under a diff handle when i was just leaving xianity and quite unsure of myslef.....correct me if im wrong, but im pretty sure you used to play devils advocate with me on the mormonism board....arguing in favour of mormonism on occassion, i was redhandkabbalah if that rings a bell (hope i havn't done myself an injustice here by coming clean) man you used to p**s me right off, but I like you now.....especialy for playing devil lol
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2008 - 1:08AM #13
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,156
[QUOTE=whitephoenix;612114]just to say i used to get on at dawkins just a couple of months ago, I used to say he is a fundamentalist, just like any other fundamentalist, only is is a science fundamentalist, but if you see his arguments through from beginning to end he's really quite fair & honest (hey bill, you got here long b4 me, i used to argue with you on the old site under a diff handle when i was just leaving xianity and quite unsure of myslef.....correct me if im wrong, but im pretty sure you used to play devils advocate with me on the mormonism board....arguing in favour of mormonism on occassion, i was redhandkabbalah if that rings a bell (hope i havn't done myself an injustice here by coming clean) man you used to p**s me right off, but I like you now.....especialy for playing devil lol[/QUOTE]

We probably did cross swords.  I like to argue; you do, too.  My friends sometimes wonder which side I'm on, but usually, I'm just trying to explore an angle that hasn't been done to death.  When everybody is screaming, "Heads, heads, heads," I'm the guy in the back asking, "Why can't it be tails?"

I didn't use to be, but I'm finding life a lot more interesting as a questioner of certainties.  What I'm not so good at is the prosecutor of truth, the one who has found an orthodoxy that must be shared by all, or else. 

Both Hitchens and Dawkins argue that atheists can never be fundamentalists because fundamentalism is based on the idea that certain "fundamental" truths cannot be compromised, negotiated, bent or qualified.  Fundamentalists are known for putting faith above reason, which is the direct opposite of what atheists do.  But there is more than one meaning to the word, "fundamentalist."  If the Fundies have become iconic for insisting that their truth cannot be questioned, they've also become iconic as boors.  Such people don't smile enough.  They've wandered too far from the truth that all truth rests upon facts that are inductive.

We can make deductive arguments such as the following:

1. All ducks have webbed feet. 
2. This is a duck. 
3. Therefore, this animal has webbed feet.

Deductive reasoning is helpful in identifying the relationship between the instance and the rule.  It provides clarification about cause and effect.  But the premises on which it relies are only as true as the latest data.  A statement like "All ducks have webbed feet" is nothing more than a definition.  Whatever it tells us about the world is "true by definition."  How do we know that all ducks "have webbed feet?"  We know it because that's the rule.  It's what we've decided the word means.  But what if we discovered a duck that didn't have "webbed feet?"  It may sound odd but experience has provided us fish that don't have gills (whales, dolphins, sharks) and birds that don't fly (chickens, ostriches and the like - though chickens do fly if you throw them off an overpass, at least for a few seconds). 

Science is tentative because its practitioners know that the only good rule or law is the one backed up by data, and the data stream is so vast and so relentless that one cannot afford to act like a "Fundamentalist" in asserting anything (though one's position may be about as safe as any position could ever be).  But when atheism employs language or an attitude of condescension, if not arrogance, then people have a right to hurl at us the one epithet that still stings: "Fundamentalist!"

Mormons believe that theirs is the "one true Church of Jesus Christ."  When others pick on them, I readily come to the defense of my old Mormon friends.  But when Mormons get so caught up in their own convictions that they start sounding arrogant, I blast what I see as ego substituting itself for truth.  Having chosen atheism over agnosticism - in part because I think there's enough evidence to adopt a side and in part because it's the atheists who do the heavy lifting when fanaticism needs a knuckle in the face - I can see the virtue in grabbing my fellow atheist and saying, "Friend, you've had a little too much to drink," when my friend is starting fights with everybody in the pub.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2008 - 5:29AM #14
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,156
And if you think Dawkins is an ugly drunk, wait till Hitchens comes out of the men's room.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2008 - 1:01PM #15
whitephoenix
Posts: 133
yeah Ive read dawkins defiending himself against the accusations of fundamentalism....what I think he's missed (or possibly 'pretends' to miss) in most of those accusations is that they are referring to the spirit/ emotional attitude of fundamentalism rather than an real world definition. It's that spirit which I do want to be careful to avoid
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2008 - 4:06PM #16
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,156
[QUOTE=whitephoenix;615902]yeah Ive read dawkins defiending himself against the accusations of fundamentalism....what I think he's missed (or possibly 'pretends' to miss) in most of those accusations is that they are referring to the spirit/ emotional attitude of fundamentalism rather than an real world definition. It's that spirit which I do want to be careful to avoid[/QUOTE]

I think I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth.  I don't know if it's good, old-fashioned hypocrisy or just a roaving self-contradiction.  I think the happiest lifestyle is that of the agnostic, atheist or igtheist who looks at the God question, says, "Not for me," and then goes out and finds something truly worth a bit of awe - whether it's great sex, fine art, fast cars, jaw-dropping audiophile stereo equipment, fine dining, exotic travel or just knowledge-for-the-sake-of-knowledge.  Atheism could use a few happy warriors who can explain why they don't do God but who are nevertheless well-adjusted, happy, social, sensitive people you'd want to be around and maybe even want to be like - not angry, disgruntled, crackpots.

On the other hand (and this is where they hypocrisy comes in), I rather enjoy a good roasting from time to time.  When atheists try to make nice, or when agnostics take the firmly non-aggressive posture that there's no way to know either way, it can come across as a sign of weakness.  It can appear bashful, indecisive or fearful.  In fact, there's a lot of self-restraint and self-censorship, where atheists and agnostics keep their convictions to themselves.  Given the prejudice out there, and sometimes the violence, it's understandable that a person would want to avoid a situation where "sharing" leads to ostracism.

Most atheists I know seem a lot happier than most religious people I know.  The atheists have come to terms with the human condition and have gotten on to the business of life, without the intellectual contortions and emotional baggage that can come from accepting - at face value - the musings of sandle-clapping figures from before the discovery of the telescope, back when biology included angels, devils, sprites, wizards, gods, demons, fairies, witchens, ghosts, goblins and maybe a hobbit or two.  But atheists are not depicted as happy people.  They're depicted as children who don't play well with others.  They're misfits, firebrands, egotists, loners, crackpots and ideologues.  The atheist of so much hype is an odd character who likes to argue and who will ride a losing argument off a cliff in search of victory.

The peasants with pitchforks used to burn witches and drive out Jews.  Now, it's more fun to go after the atheist.  Atheists, along with dirty lawyers and their dirty corporate clients, are the favorite object of the one-minute hate..

It seems as if the public has a lopsided view of atheists.  Many of the happiest atheists are quiet about it, as if they've found the one gas pump in town with the lowest prices, while the more vocal ones are the ones that get noticed.  As Christopher Hitchens pointed out somewhere, if you don't say it loud and abrasively, nobody listens.

That said, I have to say that being nice is sometimes overrated.  Sometimes, the most reasonable response to stupidity is to call it what it is.  Being around the bush, in an effort to avoid a conflict, is - on paper - a great idea, but in a larger sense, it's counter-productive.  If you want rights in any society, you don't wait until somebody decides to give them to you.  You have to fight for your own space.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 17, 2008 - 10:18PM #17
HazyElf
Posts: 213
[QUOTE=BillThinks4Himself;608520]I'm fully capable of standing up to the obnoxiously religious, and enjoy the invitation they unwittingly give to pull apart their sacred Oreos, but life is far too precious, and too fragile as well, to spend my life waging war on belief.

I'm trying to become more tolerant of faith, particularly at home where my wife is a believer.

Most of us, I suspect, are not rabid dogs.  Atheism is a respectable stance, as well as it should be.  There's a call for more people to "come out" as atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.

The public will not "greet us as liberators."  Nobody likes a pushy, arrogant, obnoxious boor.  The revolution will not come from telling people they are stupid.  It will come when people realize they don't have to carry these burdens.  Whatever replaces religion will have to meet the needs long met by religion.[/QUOTE]

Okay, I gotta say how much I love the phrase "pull apart their sacred Oreos." Awesome. That really says it well.

Also gotta agree about the not being rabid dogs, and I try, and usually succeed at, being tolerant of faith, though there are days when I'm almost ready to gnaw on my own arm with frustration at the damage that faith causes.

I could make a list, but you all know what I'm talking about, I'm certain.

How true that nobody likes pushy or arrogant or obnoxious boors, but I really don't see most atheists donning those technicolor robes. It's the religious folks I run into that are much more like that than any of the atheists I know, albeit few, including the authors you mentioned.

I understand what you're saying. I struggle with how much to say, how much to protest. There are times I say nothing. There are times I have to bite my tongue not to let that frustration I mentioned previously run its due and natural course. If faith were always innocuous, I'd have less trouble with it, but it does push its way--or its practitioners push it, more accurately--into the nooks and crannies of our lives. We are affected by other people's faith, and it's difficult to know when to push back and just how.

Hazy
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 18, 2008 - 4:37PM #18
Sailorlal79
Posts: 1,365
[QUOTE=BillThinks4Himself;615282]And if you think Dawkins is an ugly drunk, wait till Hitchens comes out of the men's room.[/QUOTE]

lol what's he like?
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 19, 2008 - 4:40AM #19
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,156
[QUOTE=Sailorlal79;634026]lol what's he like?[/QUOTE]

Youtube Hitchens.  He's a riot.  I'd love to buy that guy a beer - and I don't even drink!
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