Atheism’s Own Fundamentalists Lead ‘Religion’ of ‘Not’

Cathy Lynn Grossman writes in USA Today:

By Reuters

Forget God, let’s talk about arrogance.

That’s not exactly the way Rice University humanities professor Anthony Pinn, in an article for the online magazine Religion Dispatches, describes the monotone of mockery at the Atheist Alliance International convention, but it gets you to Pinn’s key points pretty quickly.

The convention, starring the atheist band’s Mick Jagger, Richard Dawkins, promoting his book on evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth, and some backup singers like TV host Bill Maher, was held in Burbank, Calif., earlier this month.

Pinn found the main idea at the event, is that religion is

… the single most dangerous human creation.

The welfare of humanity, it was argued, depends on the dismantling of religion and all of its delusions. The possibility of collaboration, of compromise, of any shared ethical commitments between theists and non-theists, was not on the table.

Pinn, who calls himself a humanist, zeroes in on the common trait that atheists share with fundamentalists of any religion — “their inability for critical self-reflection and critique.”

They have formed, in effect, the religion of “not,” defined by what they refuse and rebuke…

[continues in USA Today]

,

  • ChromeChomsky

    Bill Maher is not an atheist, and hardly representative of the “New Atheist” movement. “their inability for critical self-reflection and critique.”? Does Pinn make a habit of making bold accusations without a modicum of evidence to support them?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but manufacturing a term like “Atheist Fundamentalist” is logically absurd and laughable; what on earth would the Atheist be fundamental about? Regardless, I would be less concerned with trying to paint each side as being equally valid, as one of those sides inherently espouses the supernatural with no evidence with which to support it.

    • Gregory

      Bill Maher's not an atheist?

      That's absurd and laughable.

      Also, here's a link to a definition of Fundamentalism so you can join us at the grown up's table.

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/funda

      Disinformation much?

      • ChromeChomsky

        Precisely, Bill Maher is not an atheist. If one were to take the time to be informed about the topic, one would not waste time making ridiculous, misinformed ad hominem remarks. Go ahead and look into any statement Bill Maher has made on his religious views between now and around 2002 — sure, he may make anti-religious statements, but that doesn't necessitate atheism.

        For example, on a press appearance on the The Daily Show for his documentary “Religulous” Maher made a statement that he is not an atheist because he (I'm paraphrasing here) “doesn't have that much faith.” He's also stated that atheism is the mirror image of religion in that it positively asserts that there is no God (which it doesn't).

        To an even more dubious topic, what's laugable here is your link, and moreso the fact that you think it's justified you in some intellectual way.

        From your link:
        Fundamentalism-
        “a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles”

        Now, be mindful before (and if) you respond, because I don't think you'd do well with another logical blunder, but what exactly is the “set of basic principles” that all atheists follow? Atheism is a response to a question: whether or not god exists or is likely to exist, and therefore has no inherent ideology.

        3rd grader logic much?

  • some dingo

    Atheism is not a religion and opposes religion. A stongly opionated Athiest isn't “fundamentalist” because they don't hold delusional and superstitious doctrines to inflict on anyone. Religion has an agenda (to rope people in and steal their lives and property) whereas Athiesm has no agenda – no meetings, no creed.. just a common sense knowledge that religions are fundamentally (and socialogically and scientificaly) wrong. A religious person will say “there is nothing absolute” an Athiest says “thats absolute bullshit”. The religious shouldn't be allowed and encouraged to dictate their morals on what anyone chooses to smoke either… (the list goes on endlessly – how the religious dominate, destroy and demonize to control others for authoritative positions. But then again, having Athiesm considered as a “religion” by the religious might enable folks to enjoy smokes and other things illegalized by the religious dominators. So we can claim “religious reasons” instead of “health reasons” for smoking pot.. (hopefully – as an example) eitherway – the religion of anti-religion is bigger by default, than the religious minority who create a misled majority for their own powergames, but there is no creed and no measure and no signup requred. Athiesm has room for Humanists and anti-humanists too… ;-)

    • Word Eater

      I know I'm late to this party, but I wanted to point out that a religious person would *not* say “there is nothing absolute.”

      “Absolutes” are pretty much the whole point of religion. Something to believe in that is definitely true regardless of other evidence.

      There is “absolutely” a god (or gods) that is “absolutely” interested in our lives or existence.

      Prayers are “absolutely” heard.

      Many define “absolute” moral standards. Just like Christians take what Paul says in the New Testament to mean that homosexuality is “absolutely” forbidden.

      Also, “You shall not commit adultery” coming directly from the mouth of God is pretty “absolute.”

      At the same time, I thought atheists relied on rational thought and science. That means that what seems “absolute” today can be overturned tomorrow with the right set of experiments.

      Why would an atheist admit that something is “absolute?” That defeats the supposed open-mindedness of atheism.

      Consider the “fact” that nothing can escape from a black hole, not even light. Then along comes some scientist and discovers Hawking Radiation. Oops.

      Germs? What the hell are you talking about! Oh, never mind, we discovered those.

      Atheists will say “with evidence, everything is open for debate.”

      A religious person will say “my beliefs trump any evidence.”

  • tonyviner

    I think that God likes to put penises in his mouth.

  • Leif

    Ah the good old days of Disinfo when there would always be a RAW'vils advocate. sigh. Atheism has no agenda? Scientists take over the role of priests. Definitely a trade-up in absolutely every way, no doubt. its a step. But regardless the map is not and never will be the territory but we might as well do our absolute best to model it. And what comes after science, that unfathomable new realm of human-other interaction, not some New Age watered down shit, will be where the fuck it. is. at.

    • ChromeChomsky

      I resent the claim that “scientists take over the role of priests”, regardless of how well intentioned it may or may not be.

      Priests assert the world to be a certain way with varying degrees of non-evidentiary claims, and close it off there.

      Juxtapose that with a (good) scientist, who will investigate the world, develop a hypothesis, test it, and through the process of peer review and operation in the rational world, comes to a conclusion. Furthermore, it doesn't even end there — if new, testable, repeatable evidence were to be discovered, the books would change and so on, ad infinitum.

      P.S.
      If you're looking for “what comes after science”, I would recommend a close shave with Occam's Razor.

  • George

    The only problem I have with atheists is the same problem I have with people of strong religious faith. They both believe that they are absolutely right. Neither has the mental flexibility for the realm of possibility that they could be wrong, that perhaps the human mind's perception of reality isn't correct.

    Who is to say either way? I have not seen definitive proof for either argument. This is an amazing universe and we have only begun to discover it.

    • raymondfoulkes

      Hi George, your claim that atheists stick dogmatically to their beliefs and do not have the mental flexibility to accept that they are wrong – is, well, wrong.

      I am a rationalist AND an atheist. It is precisely my rational way of thought, which is, by definition, always open to new evidence, new discoveries, new ideas, that leads me to atheism, as I am sure it does for a lot of other atheists.

      I do not hold atheist views because of some blind, faithful acceptance of doctrine – which is a pre-requisite for religion – but because the vast body of scientific knowledge and theory (and yes our scientific knowledge is far from complete – that is why we still have scientists) – I hold them because I allow my mind to engage in rational thought.

      Based on all the evidence and experience and observation to date there is not a shred of evidence to support religious beliefs that will stand up to rational argument. The moment that this changes, then I, like a lot of other rational atheists will want to examine this evidence and accept it's conclusions, which themselves will be subject to further scrutiny and review in the light of further research, evidence and logical rational thought.

      So atheism based on rational thought and religion which is based on blind indoctrination are not the same, not even similar.

      I agree with you that the universe in amazing and that we have only touched on a full understanding of it. We got that understanding, not from religion, but from scientific observation and rational thought. Along the way we had to constantly re-evaluate new evidence and change our ideas accordingly. Not so religion which still claims that the earth was made in 6 days and god rested on the 7th.

      I recommend a good blog for you http://blog.case.edu/singham/

      Scientists believe that there are hundreds of billions of planets in the universe, I would be interested to hear the creationist view on these other worlds, did god spend a week on each one or did he make all the others when he made the 'firmament' in just one day?

      I would also be interested in their explanation of how he made plants before he made light as plants need light to photosynthesis

  • Manny Furious

    Some of the most religious and ignorant people I know are atheists. And no, there is nothing grammatically wrong with the term “Atheist Fundamentalist”.

    I myself adhere to no religion and believe most people would consider me an agnostic. But, regardless, it's easy to see that Atheists themselves often ignore evidence that there is something going on beyond a bunch of cosmic accidents/the mechanical view of how the world works.

    • Theophany

      Hmm let's take a look at what Materialism and Atheism has done for culture? Industrialism? Mcdonald's? Religion and Cosmology are what make culture. If it wasn't for Traditional cultures we would be all plastic automatons moving towards a Singularity of Uniformisation Not Unity, a ConFusion rather than a ConVergence. As for God and Truth, I invite the agnostic and the Atheist to ring It through the most rigorous process of rationality, because you might find something about your Self. For after All what did we come From a Star? what is Matter and what Matters? So called Matter does a pretty Good job of exterminating Human life By Herself don't you think. Either way Proselytizing is proselytizing whether you Believe in the SuperNatural or you Believe in the “solid matter” natural. Truth can only come from Personal experience so don't just chalk it up to schizophrenia when you finally start having an Epiphany. ASALAMALAKIM

      • raymondfoulkes

        Theophany,

        Materialism has nothing to do with atheism. I know many atheists who are not materialistic and many religious people who are. You get a lot of Christians working for and owning McDonalds outlets and I have a multi-millionaire Christian friend who will not join me in supporting my charitable works helping to provide clean safe drinking water for the poorest people in the world where you can save a life for £15.00 even though it would be so easy for him to do so and to use his influence within the water pump industry to encourage others to lend support too.

        Name one atheist that has gone to war so support his beliefs. What is the most war torn region in the world? The middle east the seat of many modern religions.

        What has religion done for culture? ha! what has it done for war, terrorism and genocide more like!

        • Theophany

          Raymond Foulkes, I concede that many so called religous people are materialist, following a trend of modernity, that some call the “Agnostic reflex”. I also concede that many Fundamentalist Religous groups are the reason for much terror genocide, and war. However this has more to do with the Modernity and the money grubbing power struggle of a market world than actually reading tombes in a spiritual way and not just a base literalist/materialist way. Christianity in the U.S. is split into more than 15,000 sects many of which are more a victim of captilism and a zombie like “Agnostic reflex” than a devout pious understanding of parable. But like a said in my first post you can only Know what you experiance Personally as true, and who am i to try to help some angry humanist how contemplation on self can help to understand and help others. If there isnt a thread that connects all of us and everything then why do you want to help your Brothers and Sisters, what does compassion stem from? I guess i don't understand the “spiritual atheist”, perhaps it has to do with the Nihilist treatment of Buddhism the west has undertook?
          all I know is that Light is the only inextinguishable Truth, I do not prescribe to any one religion but find infinite depth in every word and drop of rain.

          • raymondfoulkes

            Hi Theophany,

            Perhaps you should endeavour to understand the spiritual atheist, or the humanist.

            I also condier myself a rationalist.

            Humans do not necessarily need to have a Deity leader or to believe in a god in order to to good for others. The power to do good for others is within every human being, religious or not. I ascribe to my own moral code, I love helping other people and I am very forgiving by nature.

            I could not be any other way, I am just being myself. Many religious people talk of being 'god fearing' and refer to others as 'good god fearing people'. We shouldn't need the fear of god, the promise of heaven or the threat of hell to make us behave good. We should do it anyway because we want to. We find that desire within our own inner self – some may call it the soul or the spirit – but it is there if we look for it and we do not need a god to help us find it.

            Being a rationalist I would believe in a god if there was convincing evidence but all the evidence that I have seen points the other way, to there being no god. Just because science does not have all the answers does not mean that we have to invent a god to fill the gaps. Such a god would end up being non-existent when at some point in the future the answers are filled in by science as many of them have already been.

            Ray

    • raymondfoulkes

      Hi Manny furious,

      I would be fascinated to hear of the evidence that you talk about in your post.

      Scientists in the field of cosmology and astrophysics are short of evidence to explain the acceleration of the universes expansion, what it was that kicked off the big bang in the first place, evidence to support or eliminate the various versions of string theory, what the nature of dark energy and dark matter is, how the force of gravity can be unified with the other three fundamental forces of nature (electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces – these three have already been unified) and lead them to the elusive 'grand unified theory' how to reconcile the otherwise incompatible theories of quantum mechanics and gravitation / relativity. Any evidence for or against the multiverse theory would also be interesting. These are the biggest mysteries facing science at the moment and many scientists around the world are working hard to solve them. The new Hadron collider at CERN was supposed to reveal new evidence to shed light on them but it broke down. So if you have something that they don't lets hear it, you never know you might win a nobel prize for physics!

      PS I think, if you care to study the way that our scientific understanding to date has developed, the mechanical view, proposed by Sir Isaac Newton, has long since been replaced by relativity; quantum mechanics which replaced determinism with probability and the uncertainty principle; chaos theory and the mysteries surrounding cosmic expansion and inflation theory. The universe is no longer thought to be mechanical and predictable in the Newtonian sense.

      PPS what is a religious atheist?

  • http://www.dublilive.webs.com/ Dubli

    It is interesting to me how many people confuse religion with the Christianity of the Bible.

    It is also interesting to me to see that Pinn agrees with the Bible where it says about examining ourselves 1Cr 11:28 and 2Cr 13:5

  • Asphodeleneyes

    I have often found myself wondering what might really be behind this laters round of evangelizing on behalf of “new atheism” that we've witnessed these last few years.

    I've also arrived at the conclusion that science has evolved its own brand of fundamentalism, and have been calling it “fundamentalist scientism”.

    I do believe there is a chance the fundamentalist scientism might even pose threats in the future that rival those of fundamentalism of religion.

    • Samuel

      ” I have often found myself wondering what might really be behind this laters round of evangelizing on behalf of “new atheism” that we've witnessed these last few years.”

      In Europe it is Islam and the immigration of Muslim immigrants that has caused anti-theists to be more active again. In the US it is the large religious population that progressives feel is dragging the nation back into the last century. You think I'm kidding, but the Supreme Court struck down sodomy bans only 6 years ago in Lawrence v Texas.

      “I've also arrived at the conclusion that science has evolved its own brand of fundamentalism, and have been calling it “fundamentalist scientism”.”

      And its properties are?

      “I do believe there is a chance the fundamentalist scientism might even pose threats in the future that rival those of fundamentalism of religion.”

      Eh, normal science can do that just fine.

  • john

    regular athiests dont have any agenda other than not being bothered by thiests,such as most theists dont have an agenda besides to not be bothered by athiests.the agends come in when u give people a podium to talk on,evangelical christianitys leaders has openly stated that its up to them to takeover america from secularism,its only right that the secular vioce in the media would say the same.i cant speak for other people but im an athiest but i dont follow dawkings as the “athiest in charge” hes just another athiest,its funny how people would think 2 athiests should have so much in common with each other just because thier athiests.but i think its worse that some people would take up dawkings views (or jerry fallwell)simply besause theyre the face on the tv and they say yea or ney about god.people just need to open thier eyes more. but between dawkings and fallwell and all the other belief dealers ,just turn off the tv.

  • Word Eater

    I know I’m late to this party, but I wanted to point out that a religious person would *not* say “there is nothing absolute.”

    “Absolutes” are pretty much the whole point of religion. Something to believe in that is definitely true regardless of other evidence.

    There is “absolutely” a god (or gods) that is “absolutely” interested in our lives or existence.

    Prayers are “absolutely” heard.

    Many define “absolute” moral standards. Just like Christians take what Paul says in the New Testament to mean that homosexuality is “absolutely” forbidden.

    Also, “You shall not commit adultery” coming directly from the mouth of God is pretty “absolute.”

    At the same time, I thought atheists relied on rational thought and science. That means that what seems “absolute” today can be overturned tomorrow with the right set of experiments.

    Why would an atheist admit that something is “absolute?” That defeats the supposed open-mindedness of atheism.

    Consider the “fact” that nothing can escape from a black hole, not even light. Then along comes some scientist and discovers Hawking Radiation. Oops.

    Germs? What the hell are you talking about! Oh, never mind, we discovered those.

    Atheists will say “with evidence, everything is open for debate.”

    A religious person will say “my beliefs trump any evidence.”

21