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Self-STICKY thread: plan of action for atheism in U.S.
Posted: 03 January 2005 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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Sheeeeesh…........who said anything about all that stuff?  Barry, guess you just could not resist a little more of that politics thing eh? 

I thought that this string was on Atheism vs Religious Fundamentalism?  If it isn’t, I’ve got better things to do with my time.

I will try to ignore being called an “ideologue” (which I am not) and try one more time again to start a strategy discussion…….

It would seem to me that any successful strategy needs to recognize and exploit scientific knowledge of mathematics, physics, biology, evolution, as well as human psychology and its variable characteristics and susceptibility to persuasion over a typical lifetime.  For example,

-  As a child, the first time that I recall questioning the existence of God was about the age of 4 or 5 when I confronted my mother about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny stories.  My next question was about their equivalence to the God story.  Her answer was not very convincing.  The point here is that at some point in early childhood development, humans start to critically question the myths that they have been told by adults and are at that time receptive to being introduced to and considering alternative explanations of the world.
-  The next major milestone in my journey to atheism was as a teenager when I, like my peers, was questioning EVERYTHING and realized that the God myth did not pass my “common sense” filter.  Again, a point in development where I was open to think about and seriously consider alternatives to what I had been taught.
-  Next, in college, I was introduced to Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Hume, Descartes, Huxley, and other philosophers, and required to think about, critically analyze and discuss their arguments.  At this point in my life, I was ready to engage in an intellectual discussion of the God myth.
-  Etc. Etc………..

It would seem to me that in order to reach and engage a wide spectrum of people in a dialogue about religion, we would need to have a strategy that optimized the likelihood of success at different stages of a person’s life.

I would invite Barry Cull and any others more qualified than I to discuss human psychology and development and how modern scientific understanding of these matters might be exploited in a strategy to stamp out religious fundamentalism and promote an atheist worldview.

It might even be that a good tactic would be to allow the Fundies to get Creation/ID into the high school science classroom where it could be thoroughly discredit it as science??  Just a thought “out-of-the-box”.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 03 January 2005 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? ...Epicurus.

God is nature. The universe as a whole is the best possible.

Reason distinguishes between things that are and things that are not under one’s control.

The virtuous individual finds freedom in limiting his or her desires to things under his or her control.

Only the educated are free.

To each man God hath granted this inward freedom.
These are the principles that in a house create love,
in a city concord, among nations peace, teaching a man gratitude towards God and cheerful confidence,
wherever he may be, in dealing with outward things that he knows are neither his nor worth striving after.


Corruption is of two sorts.
There is corruption of the understanding; and also of the sense of shame.
This happens when a man obstinately refuses to acknowledge plain truths,
and persists in maintaining what is self contradictory.

Most of us dread corruption of the body,
and would spare no pains to escape anything of that kind.
But of corruption of the soul we are utterly heedless. With regard, indeed, to the soul,
if a man is in such a state as to be incapable of following or understanding anything,
I grant you we do think him in a bad way.
But corruption of the sense of shame and modesty we go so far as to dub strength of mind!


We see that a carpenter becomes a carpenter by learning certain things:
that a pilot, by learning certain things, becomes a pilot.
Possibly also in the present case the mere desire to be wise and good is not enough.
It is necessary to learn certain things.
This is then the object of our search.
The Philosophers would have us first learn that there is a God,
and that His providence directs the universe;
further, that to hide from God not only one’s acts but even one’s thoughts and intentions is impossible;
secondly, the nature of God is whatever that nature is discovered to be,
the man who would please and obey God must strive with all his might to imitate God.
If the God is faithful, he also must be faithful;
if free, he also must be free;
if beneficent, he also must be beneficent;
if magnanimous, he also must be magnanimous.
Thus as an imitator of God must he follow God in every deed and word.


Epictetus, Roman slave, Stoic philosopher

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Posted: 03 January 2005 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]I will try to ignore being called an “ideologue” (which I am not) and try one more time again to start a strategy discussion…….

Con At:

I appologize, my comments were meant to be general, I was not directing them at you personally.  I don’t know you, so I wouldn’t presume to level an opinion on your character.  In general terms what I meant to say was that embracing any belief system (religious, political, moral) without analysis of the evidence is dangerous. 

I was impressed by a position taken by John Raulston Saul (Canadian philosopher and writer and husband to Canada’s Governor General) in his book “The Unconscious Civilization”.  His central thesis, similar to that of Sam Harris’, is that ideologies blind us not only to the facts, but also to practical solutions of very real problems.

Let me just reiterate, however, that at the present time adherence to Christianism, Hinduism, Islamism, Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, Materialism and any otherism you want to add here has led us to a point where we have a global environmental crisis, the very real threat of nuclear holocaust, 80% of the world living in sub-human conditions and increased levels of religious (and political extremism).  This is the evidence.  So where to begin with solutions?

I think it would be rather complex to enumerate here, but I would look at what we know about human psychology.  Belief and behaviour change is possible but it requires specific solutions to specific required changes.  For example, to change antisocial behaviour, you need to correct the individual’s faulty and antisocial thinking.

Perhaps mass change, however, such as changing people’s religious beliefs will require us to know more about the progress of memes (see Dawkins, 1962) in the spread of “ideas” through the culture.  If memes are viral, what kind of innoculation is required?  This may require an experiment in social engineering that I am sure would be rejected in an individual-oriented society such as North America.

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Posted: 03 January 2005 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Barry wrote “If memes are viral, what kind of innoculation is required?”

Perhaps the more appopriate question is “If memes are viral, what kind of virus should we unleash?”

Maybe “A good offense is the best defense….............?”

Given the numerous Atheist disadvantages articulated in previous posts, perhaps we need to construct a strategy that is based upon a combination of “stealth”, rational thought, “scientific method”, and ju-jit-su.  Maybe, we need to try to turn the religious fundamentalist’s strengths against them by leveraging them to our advantange?

For example, Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Network, with enormous media access, money, etc., has an ego that cannot reisist taking on “secularists” on the most trivial of issues (e.g., Christmas displays in shopping malls).  If we release and gain exposure of an anti-Christian intellectual “virus” of substance, O’Reilly could not resist the urge to debate the issue on global TV.

We would then only need an articulate spoksperson (e.g. Sam Harris) to engage Mr. O’Reilly in a spirited debate and publicly kick his a$$.

This is only one example of many that could potentially be exploited.

What do you think?

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 03 January 2005 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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[quote author=“bcull”][

I think it would be rather complex to enumerate here, but I would look at what we know about human psychology.  Belief and behaviour change is possible but it requires specific solutions to specific required changes.  For example, to change antisocial behaviour, you need to correct the individual’s faulty and antisocial thinking.


The key being the individual.

The day we die the wind comes down to take away our footprints.

The wind makes dust to cover up the marks we left while walking.

For otherwise it would seem as if we were still living.

Therefore the wind is he who comes to blow away our footprints.


Southern Busmen

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