Thursday, November 30, 2006

What are atheists so angry?

Sam Harris forcefully explains why atheists in the world are so angry. MUST READ!
And yet, while the religious divisions in our world are self-evident, many people still imagine that religious conflict is always caused by a lack of education, by poverty, or by politics. Yet the September 11th hijackers were college-educated, middle-class, and had no discernible experience of political oppression. They did, however, spend a remarkable amount of time at their local mosques talking about the depravity of infidels and about the pleasures that await martyrs in Paradise. How many more architects and mechanical engineers must hit the wall at 400 miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that jihadist violence is not merely a matter of education, poverty, or politics? The truth, astonishingly enough, is that in the year 2006 a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get 72 virgins in Paradise. Western secularists, liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The cause of their confusion is simple: They don’t know what it is like to really believe in God. The United States now stands alone in the developed world as a country that conducts its national discourse under the shadow of religious literalism. Eighty-three percent of the U.S. population believes that Jesus literally rose from the dead; 53% believe that the universe is 6,000 years old. This is embarrassing. Add to this comedy of false certainties the fact that 44% of Americans are confident that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years and you will glimpse the terrible liability of this sort of thinking. Nearly half of the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. This dewy-eyed nihilism provides absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization. Many of these people are lunatics, but they are not the lunatic fringe. Some of them can actually get Karl Rove on the phone whenever they want. While Muslim extremists now fly planes into our buildings, saw the heads off journalists and aid-workers, and riot by the tens of thousands over cartoons, several recent polls reveal that atheists are now the most reviled minority in the United States. A majority of Americans say they would refuse to vote for an atheist even if he were a “well-qualified candidate” from their own political party. Atheism, therefore, is a perfect impediment to holding elected office in this country (while being a woman, black, Muslim, Jewish, or gay is not). Most Americans also say that of all the unsavory alternatives on offer, they would be least likely to allow their child to marry an atheist. These declarations of prejudice might be enough to make some atheists angry. But they are not what makes me angry. As an atheist, I am angry that we live in a society in which the plain truth cannot be spoken without offending 90% of the population. The plain truth is this: There is no good reason to believe in a personal God; there is no good reason to believe that the Bible, the Koran, or any other book was dictated by an omniscient being; we do not, in any important sense, get our morality from religion; the Bible and the Koran are not, even remotely, the best sources of guidance we have for living in the 21st century; and the belief in God and in the divine provenance of scripture is getting a lot of people killed unnecessarily.
Read the whole damn thing. While you are at it, please check out


Anonymous said...

Red Tulips, these statistics are disturbing, depressing and hard to accept. Maybe someone made a mistake? You can't always believe statistics.

Red Tulips said...


I have read stats like that before, so sadly, I think they are right...

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Yes, so bugger off.

Any minority that cannot show basic respect for an altogether decent, moral, social majority, cannot then demand respect for their own rude and angry behavior, or their lifestyle, or whatever.

Name an athiestic country that would treat you better than here? Do you really think it is an accident that jews and athiests and whatevers find more freedom in a predominantly christian country than ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?

Red Tulips said...

It ain't the atheists causing problems in France - it's primarily the Muslim immigrants.

The US simply does not have the same huge population of recent Muslim immigrants. If they did, and things were also better in the US, then you could truly make a comparison.

Moreover, Sam Harris already said that perhaps religion is good for political ends (riling up people to fight Islamofascists). That doesn't mean religion is right, in and of itself.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

However, Jews are so bad off in France in large part because they have thrown out christianity in exchange for some strange marxist-hedonism. This is WHY they are filling up with muslims, because people who don't think one religion is better than others think allowing floods of muslims is no worse than allowing floods of anyone else.

Islam is also filling the spiritual gap for some.

But keep in mind, anti-sematism has always been strong in France.

But think about athiestic countries in eastern europe, Russia etc. How do jews fare there? The were not happy under official athiesm, that's for sure. Stalin was not kind to them.

At least with a christian nation, you know what the values are, you know what the social norm is. In an athiestic nation, things can change on a whim, because far too many athiests are incapable of a neighborly moral code.

Many people are weak. Some fear the afterlife, and so try to behave now. Some think this life is it, and so don't give a damn about anything that doesn't suit THEM.

If we will always have weak people, it is better that they have something to keep them sociable. I would bet that the most immoral, selfish people you all know are athiest.

Red Tulips said...

The notion that relgion offers any cogent morality is stunningly false.

Non-fundies pick and choose what they want out of religion. If they do that, then the holy books are hardly set-in-stone documents that dictate morality.

Antisemitism has existed in Europe pretty much since Christianity first came to Europe. To somehow proclaim atheists to be the problem in Europe is mind boggling.

The problem with Europeans is their blind adherance to multi-culti bullshit. Yet, this is anti-thinking, which is against the very tenets of secular humanism, and what I stand for, and what Sam Harris stands for.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

multi culti bullshit is a signature issue for the Democratic party, for "secular progressives" and for most athiests.

Why is it that as Christianity wanes in Europe, anti-jewish feelings are rising, and not just among the muslims?

Evangelical Christians are the best friends jews ever had, and that includes the "jewish establishment/s", whatever that is. Jewish leaders cannot be counted on to protect jews nearly as much as Evangelical Christians can.

So either Christians are fundies or they are pick and choose? Can you not find some group of Christians that you find to be very positive for the world? Or that you even respect?

Well, you need your mind boggled, because it is stuck in a rut. The loss of Christianity in Europe will eventually be viewed by all as a bad thing. Except the new muslim Caliphate, and possibly the Chi-Coms.

Red Tulips said...

Antisemitism is rising in Europe as the Muslim populations are rising. It has little to do with atheist antisemitism. There has been documentation about this.

See: UK Parliamentary report

As far as Evangelicals, you refuse to understand what I have been saying this whole time.

I do not fear Evangelicals in the same way that I fear Islamofascism. I recognize they are friends to Israel. At the same time, that doesn't mean I think their belief structure is sane or to be lauded. (see: anti-science, anti-gays) At the same time, I know there are great Evangelicals that do not necessarily fit into the Pat Robertson school of thought.

Finally, your notion that Jews are untrustworthy to have Jewish interests at heart is pathetic. There are many great Jewish organizations out there that absolutely have Jewish and Israeli interests at heart. See: American Jewish Committee, Stand With Us, American Jewish Congress, the list goes on.

Red Tulips said...

Let me add that at the height of Christendom in Europe, Marrano Jews were burnt at the stake (and non-converts were expelled from Spain in 1492 and across Europe at other points in time), there were mass pogroms, and blood libels were rampant - also leading to untold thousands of Jews being killed. Then, of course, there were the Crusades - whereby Crusaders massacred again thousands upon thousands of Jews.

The notion of somehow Christians being kind and cuddly and atheists being intolerant monsters is not borne out by history. Both atheists and Christians have much to answer for, but I do not advocate forced atheism (such as from the USSR). I advocate secular humanism. The most famous secular humanists were the founders of this wonderful nation, the United States. And thus, my notions of an ideal society are seen right here in America.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

I think we can all agree that religion can be corrupted, and the Catholic church is proof of that.

But in the hear and now, Christian America beats the shit out of secular Europe hands down, and efforts to make us more secular can only make us more like Europe.

Red Tulips said...

Yes, America is better than Europe. But we have to look at the reasons for this. Historically, Europe has always had more antisemitism than the US. There were never pogroms against Jews in the US. There was never the Holocaust, obviously, in the US.

Correlation does not equal causation. Americans are less antisemitic than Europeans, but just because Americans are also more religious than Europeans does not mean it is religion that is making them less antisemitic.