Saturday, January 26, 2008

New atheists or new anti-dogmatists?

"What is strange is that, when one actually reads them, one gets the feeling that the real target of the "new atheists" isn't religion at all.
Indeed, they all explicitly say they have little or no problem with deism, or Spinozian pantheism or what Dawkins calls "Einstein-ian religion". Harris, Dennett and Hitchens (and possibly Dawkins) have indicated that they wouldn't necessarily want to see the synagogues, churches and mosques emptied, though they would want to see them abandon their “metaphysical bullshit” (see this video towards the end).
It seems that the new atheists’ real problem is with dogma, and specifically with the dogma of religious faith - with the belief that it is acceptable, even admirable, to believe propositions without logically sound reasons based on good evidence. They aren't really the “new atheists” at all, but the “new anti-dogmatists”."

Benjamin O'Donnell,, 25 January 2008
I think this is a good observation. But it still needs some comments. Why is deism less of a problem than Christianity? Simply, because you can't buy yourself favours from God. There's no reason to act in irrational ways to achieve a special place in Heaven or to avoid Hell. And when you can't explain something, it's kind of pointless to say that a non-interfering god had been interfering. So Deism in itself is not much of a problem.
My only gripe with it is that when you actually accept that some god exists, then the next person can say: "Well, then what's stopping God from interfering in our lives?" And then Deism has fueled religion again, because no Deist would be able to prove to other believers that God never interfers. The best thing is therefore if we somehow can rid the world of this superstition.
"Thankfully, Fascist, Nazi and Communist dogmas have been so discredited that almost no one believes them any more. This is a development to be celebrated."
This is true, but he unfortunately he didn't explain why they are discredited. Now they had their obvious flaws, but so do religions and they're still alive. But imagine for a second that Marx didn't simply write books. Imagine that the idea about a Communist paradise was apparently given to him by prophecy. (An angel came down to Marx and gave him the Heimlich Maneuver while telling him weird stories.) This would have made Marxism and Communism religions, and therefore not testable. As it were, communism collapsed due to being a crap system, which it was not supposed to be and the superior nazis lost the war. So they failed the tests. Islam and Christianity are also crap, but they're not testable on earth. You have to die to know if they're wrong or not.

So, if Communism and Nazism were religions that people believed in, and which were "outside" the reach of science, then they most likely wouldn't be gone. All sorts of morons would say: "Oh, we have to respect Nazism. It's their faith that they are superior. Hitler gave them faith.". And so on. (Which reminds my of the brilliant parody on Terry Eagleton: The Fascism Delusion.)

So they were indeed testable and lost the fight with democracy. Thanks to not being religions.

1 comment:

Atticus_the_Lawyer said...

If you liked that one, I have a sequal out today: "Morality and the new atheism" at