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Self-STICKY thread: plan of action for atheism in U.S.
Posted: 02 January 2005 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“fjlomnix”]

My brother is a fundamentalist Cristian who basically adheres to the party line. Yet he has taught his daughter critical thinking.

this seems contradictory and rather incredulous

This may seem contradictory but my brother understands the need for critical thinking for survival purposes on this Earth. He tows the party line because so many fundamentalists simply tune out anything that does not appear to work in lock step with their beliefs.

And I am making progress.

He is starting to pay attention to what is going on in the country and he became totally outraged about the huge subsidies that the federal government pays to Archer-Daniel-Midlands and the fossil fuel industry.

He is outraged because he did not know how things really stand.

I must admit that I have done a considerable amount of studying recently when I realized many ‘truths’ I had long accepted were no longer true.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“fjlomnix”]Lawrence, let us not forget why our technical schools were established (cal-tech, cmu, rutgers, georgia tech, va tech, mit, etc.) - it was to teach our progeny of the tools to succeed in the future - I don’t see anything wrong in that

I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for a Bachelor of Architecture and believe that if the American emphasis in education shifted in such a manner, away from business school profit maximization, then we wouldn’t be in the position we are now in.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“fjlomnix”]Iisbliss said:

you know, I have always believed capitalism was the best economic system but now I wonder.

Advertisers don’t want you to think critically, they want you to consume.

of course they want everyone to consume blindly, or at least consume their product/service - but are we too dumb to know what is good for us, despite the ads?

We may not be so dumb now, but have we always been so smart. And do children understand what is basically good for them when it comes to consumption of aesthetic items, ie designer clothes etc.?

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Posted: 02 January 2005 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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lawrence said:

We may not be so dumb now, but have we always been so smart. And do children understand what is basically good for them when it comes to consumption of aesthetic items, ie designer clothes etc.?

one part of a “plan of action” (to continue the original thread of this subject) might be to provide a guide for children (and adults) to critically analyze commercials - not only those on tv and radio, but also in other media: billboards, magazines, busses, in/on various packaging, airplane banners, etc. - there are several books on this subject on amazon that sound very relevant

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Posted: 02 January 2005 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“fjlomnix”]lawrence said:

We may not be so dumb now, but have we always been so smart. And do children understand what is basically good for them when it comes to consumption of aesthetic items, ie designer clothes etc.?

one part of a “plan of action” (to continue the original thread of this subject) might be to provide a guide for children (and adults) to critically analyze commercials - not only those on tv and radio, but also in other media: billboards, magazines, busses, in/on various packaging, airplane banners, etc. - there are several books on this subject on amazon that sound very relevant

***
Won’t work.  The RR (or those of that persuasion) will always think it’s an ACLU-based, left-wing desire to “convert people”.

We would have to have a much more forceful presence (which is why I suggested “picketing” - legally - outside churches).  They can NOT prevent that free speech action (provided permits are allowed by local gov’t).

JL

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Posted: 02 January 2005 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“fjlomnix”]lawrence said:

We may not be so dumb now, but have we always been so smart. And do children understand what is basically good for them when it comes to consumption of aesthetic items, ie designer clothes etc.?

one part of a “plan of action” (to continue the original thread of this subject) might be to provide a guide for children (and adults) to critically analyze commercials - not only those on tv and radio, but also in other media: billboards, magazines, busses, in/on various packaging, airplane banners, etc. - there are several books on this subject on amazon that sound very relevant

This sounds like an excellent idea. 

I know this may sound weird and out of context but to succeed in winning his place at the top of the Third Reich (the third time is the charm) Hitler united the radicals of the left with the radicals of the right and they took control of the government.

To succeed in winning control of government in America does not require much more than winning the swing vote.

Any plan of action will neccessarily take this into consideration.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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I doubt that training people to be critical thinkers in the narrow context of evaluating messages in ads will be very effective in making substantial changes.  What you might be left with is a society where folks can make a choice to buy this product versus that.  Coke or Pepsi.  McDonalds or Wendy’s.

There needs to be a change in what people, families and communities value and believe.  We have become an “unconscious civilization” where the really important changes are being made without much input from the people.  Those who control the media know all too well that the way to tame public opinion is too “manufacture consent” by promoting a belief system.  The American Dream of unlimited consumption, with no regrets or consequences, because we are the most successful society in history and because those in the rest of the world covet what we have is the great myth of our times.  Being able to discern which ad is more truthful won’t help to dispel this myth.

The one area I disagree with Sam Harris is on this very point.  The myth of consumption suggests that Islamists covet our “democracy” and our liberties and hate us for our beliefs.  This is not correct. 

Islamists hate us because of what we do (which may be borne out of our beliefs).  Islamists hate us because we kill Muslims in large numbers (Afghanistan and Iraq are two recent examples), we support apostate regimes that oppress Muslims (Saudi Arabia as the best example) and because we steal resources that are within Muslim lands (Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Saudi oil).  These policies fall directly from our belief (our religion?) that we have a right to live well and consume what we will.

I don’t have a simple solution for this very complex problem - but I can bet that if we don’t change our beliefs on this our policies andactions will further bolster the beliefs of Islamists that we in the west are infidels, who are willing to sacrifice Muslims to the all-mighty dollar.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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bcull said:

..and because we steal resources that are within Muslim lands (Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Saudi oil). These policies fall directly from our belief (our religion?) that we have a right to live well and consume what we will.

I agree with this part and I think this is the part that we, as concientious citizens, can play a major role, i.e., change our major energy source for transportation from fossil-based to nuclear

as I have argued often in various chat rooms and forums, such as this, nuclear offers essentially unlimited power, despite the disposal and leakage-during-operation problems - thorium is in plentiful supply immediately beneath our feet! - thorium is one of the three major contributors to the heat generated in the mantle (the other two are uranium and potassium-40) - and we can use thorium to lyze water into oxygen and hydrogen quickly - so what are we afraid of? - another belief-based fear that slows progress

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Posted: 03 January 2005 01:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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I would just like to reiterate the Quote from Barry Cull’s post.  In terms of students who have a “creationist” bent, it strikes me as a very good starting point for discussion once they have been urged to settle down & start thinking in an open fashion rather than a closed one.

Ted Smith


“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

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Posted: 03 January 2005 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“bcull”]

Those who control the media know all too well that the way to tame public opinion is too “manufacture consent” by promoting a belief system.  The American Dream of unlimited consumption, with no regrets or consequences, because we are the most successful society in history and because those in the rest of the world covet what we have is the great myth of our times.

Naturally our economy and our way of life (consumption without consequence) is unsustainable.  We do not have the right to force others to accept our way of life and embrace it.

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Posted: 03 January 2005 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Naturally our economy and our way of life (consumption without consequence) is unsustainable. We do not have the right to force others to accept our way of life and embrace it.

Lawrence:

I agree entirely.  I have read three books this fall that all come the same conclusion, from very different perspectives.  Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival; Anonymous’ (Michael Scheur) book “Imperial Hubris” and Sam Harris’ “End of Faith”. 

Nature will, eventually, impose limitations on our consumption.  The question that Chomsky raises is an interesting one.  Will intelligent life remain at the end of the day?  This is very much, of course, and open question.  Consider that the vast majority of life on the planet (universe?) does quite nicely without intelligence.

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Posted: 03 January 2005 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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[quote author=“bcull”]
Nature will, eventually, impose limitations on our consumption.  The question that Chomsky raises is an interesting one.  Will intelligent life remain at the end of the day?  This is very much, of course, and open question.  Consider that the vast majority of life on the planet (universe?) does quite nicely without intelligence.

Naturally we are concerned with all life because without other life we have no sustenance.

It would be the end of humanity -civilization for sure - to follow the fundamentalists expectations to their end, the Rapture and the End.

Unfortunately the neo-cons and fellows like James Watt that dominion theorists would have us create an End to neatly fit within their preconceived notion.

Idealism that leads to false assumptions is as dangerous as religion.

I see the problem as one of grasping the ‘true’ reality.

I feel that all the imagery we are subjected to, especially movies and television, remove us from the reality that is our lives and causes us to have a false understanding of our mutual reality.

I do not believe religion was really a problem when the populace was close to the Earth. (ie farmers) But I do believe it is a major part of the problem today because WE DO NOT WANT AN IRRATIONAL RELIGIOUS FANATIC WITH HIS FINGER ON THE NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST BUTTON.

To me it seems our window of opportunity is closing fast. And if we do not kill ourselves with war we may very well kill ourselves by depleting the planets resources and killing off the plant and animal life that sustains us.

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Posted: 03 January 2005 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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lawrence said:

Naturally our economy and our way of life (consumption without consequence) is unsustainable. We do not have the right to force others to accept our way of life and embrace it.

exactly!  - we need to clarify that we want to avoid driving personal gas-guzzling vehicles - period!

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Posted: 03 January 2005 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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As a political conservative who does not happen to believe in God, I am somewhat conflicted about participating in this discussion. 

On one hand, I am troubled by the hijacking of the US conserviative movement by the religious right and agree that religious fundamentaism of all denominations is a grave threat to world peace and survival and that, by extension, theism that tolerates the fundies is equally dangerous. 

On the other hand, I believe in self reliance, capitalism/free-enterprise, low taxes, minimal governmenal interferrence in both personal and business matters, a “tough-love” safety net and strong national defense.  I do not expect or trust the liberal left to embrace and/or support these values that I hold dear.

For me, there is no incompatibility between conservatism and atheism which both result from the application of reason and rationality.

However, given a choice between 1) tolerating the religious right and embracing conservative values or 2) promoting atheism and watching the country move radically to the left politially, I will choose option 1) every time. 

Of course, in my ideal world of conservative atheists such a choice would be unnecessary.

So, I (perhaps naively) am hoping that the participant’s religious and political belief systems can be sufficiently compartmentalized for purposes of the discussion in this thread to allow prgress on the basic question of promoting atheism at the expense of religious fundamentalism and leave politics to another day and another forum. 

My basic approach to the question is that atheists need an overarching “strategy” rather than a bunch of “tactics” as contained in most of the relevant posts above. 

Yes, in some circumstances it might be good to march with picket signs in front of churches, encourage critical thinking and educational TV watching among children, etc.  But without a strategy, these tactics are little more than random acts of reason in an unreasonable world.

In order to develop such a strategy, we will need to clearly and thoroughly understand the relevant strategic characteristics of the “enemy”, the “battlefield” and ourselves.

A good place to start developing this understanding is to read “The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes: A Baseline for 2004” , The Pew Forum on Relgion & Public Life, Sept. 9, 2004.  http://pewforum.org/publications/surveys/green-full.pdf

This is a pretty comprehnsive and apparently objective 57-page report on a survey of American attitudes regarding religion, politics and current issues containing many statistical results, trend analyses and interpretations.  I encourage you to read it for yourselves…....however here are some of the key findings…..

    -  Only 3.2% Identify as Atheist or Agnostic
    -  Of these only 10% Identify as Conservative (I am pretty unique)
    -  Another 7.5% Identify as “Secular” (no affiiation but modest level of belief)
    -  Another 5.3% Idenfity as “Unaffiliated Believers” (no affiliation but high level of belief)
    -  40% Believe in a “Personal” God
    -  41% Beleve in an “Impersonal God”
    -  19% are “Unsure” (which includes the 3.2% of Athiests & Agnostics)
    -  Of the Atheists, 19% are Republicans, 27% Independent, and 54% Democrat (These latter have not yet seen the light and clearly require more conservative education)

There is lots of more interesting stuff to think about in the report but, even from this limited extract, you can see that the Atheists are clearly vastly out numbered, disorganized (we don’t gather together every week to plot against the enemy), and divided politically. 

Furthermore, we don’t have a common manifesto to quote from, a sympathetic political, cultural or social forum within which to voice our ideas, powerful and respected leaders to articulate our views, ready access to media outlets, vast financial resources, etc., etc.

Yet, we need a strategy to turn these shortfalls to our advantage…........what will it be?

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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 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Conservative Atheist said:

However, given a choice between 1) tolerating the religious right and embracing conservative values or 2) promoting atheism and watching the country move radically to the left politially, I will choose option 1) every time.

Con At:

I have trouble with the ideologies of both the right and the left.  Ideologues, it seems to me, have a hard time in the face of evidence precisely because they are believers in the religious sense of the word.  No amount of evidence can persuade them against their positions of faith.

We have some serious problems to solve on the planet if we mean to survive.  The lesson in evolution and history is that we are not likely to survive.  The time-line for any species survival is 100,000 years.  I think the evidence suggests that if we are to beat those odds we must (to name a few priorities):

1. Sovle the global warming problem
2. Develop sustainable forms of energy
3. Cooperate in our sharing of world resources
4. End nuclear proliferation
5. Deal effectively with extremism of all stripes

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