“Huh? I'm not talking about some fanciful "upper upper upper class" elite but ordinarily educated people--probably the top 20% of the population. And that's a large group. Within this group, atheism is acceptable. And within the segment of this group that I occupy--where according to a recent survey of my profession only 14% are theists or "lean to theism" belief in God is at best peculiar.”
Dr Idris on Apr 28, 2012 at 23:04:15
“"belief in God is at best peculiar" I know you are not n talking about the 1%-only pointing out that some of them are frauds and pretend to be what they are not-a little digression. There are educated people at all economic levels and I am not impressed by social science surveys. But ok. Atheism is actually intellectually respectable. Nothing new there. What I was most interested in was that you only address shallow Atheists. OK they can be annoying-"Atheist chic?". But there are profound ones too. Why do you think Atheism is accepted in your profession? (which is?) Since Laplace the cosmologist told Napoleon he had no need for the God hypothesis, it has been pretty common, right?”
“It really depends on where you live. I know someone who's a religious believer who intends to "stay in the closet" about it until he gets tenure. I can understand that there are certain subcultures where religious belief is the norm and where atheism is disapproved of. But, jeez, can you just recognize that there are other subcultures where atheism is the norm and it's shameful to be a religious believer--where it's regarded as, at best, a peculiar eccentricity, but more commonly as a vice?”
“It depends on where you are. Sometimes I suspect that participants in the endless atheists mutual grooming events online are the lone village atheists from working class enclaves and the rural South. But for most of us, for us upper middle class urban coastal folk atheism is the norm and religious belief is déclassé--a source of shame.
Of course politicians have to pretend to be religious believers--they have to appeal to the great unwashed. As far as getting married, having friends on Facebook, what on earth are you talking about? I'm quite serious. There's a real cultural disconnect here. In my world the very word "atheist" sounds peculiar because atheism is the norm: calling someone an atheist is like describing someone a tooth-brusher or a non-homeless person. One talks about people being theists because that is peculiar--at best an eccentricity but, by general agreement, not quite nice. Honest to God: this is my world.”
Varys on Apr 27, 2012 at 23:37:59
“I guess you haven't been reading studies which show that atheists are the least trusted group in America. When asked, nearly 50% of respondents said they would disapprove of their child marrying an atheist:
“Jeez, I am so tired of the endless beating. I'm a Christian. I believe that there is a God, though I'm not certain about this--in fact don't believe this with any high degree of conviction. I sure wouldn't bet on it. You could say I'm agnostic--because that is the position that any reasonable person should take about metaphysical matters, including theology. Guess what: that's the way most of us religious believers view things.
I don't look to the Church--to any institutional church--for rules for moral behavior or advice about how to live my life. I don't accept the authority of religious professionals on matters of faith and morals, or anything else. Guess what: most of us religious believers don't.
Declaring atheism is instant PRESTIGE. An easy, lazy way to achieve cool, to affirm your status as a member of the upper middle class and, for youngsters, a way to acquire instant credentials as an intellectual. Ho-hum, I am tired of the endless cliches (orbiting teapots and sky fairies) and the repeated party line. I'm tired--and bored.”
ephemeralwhispe on Apr 29, 2012 at 04:30:24
“(Continued from previous post, yaaay copy paste functions!) You and I both are tired of hearing about the sides we don't belong to. Fair enough. But unfortunately, we'll both have to put up with their braying. Whether it be militant atheists telling you your God is false, and wrong, and you're stupid for believing, or me having my own family trying to save me from a Hell I don't believe a loving god would permit to exist, and people telling me my own Faith is wrong and invalid, and that I'll eventually find Jesus when I get older and wiser.
Such is life, no? Ups and downs, good and bad, amusing, and annoying. But I suck it up, and accept the right of the people around me to voice their opinions, and have their faith. All I ask in return is that they grant me, and others like me the same courtesy and respect that I attempt to show them.
Also: Atheism? Where I'm at? Not the best way to make oodles of friends.”
ephemeralwhispe on Apr 29, 2012 at 04:29:58
“While I'm not an atheist per say, (I have a spiritual side that really doesn't need to be elaborated on too much beyond the fact it exists and maybe a tidbit later on in this wall of text) I find it deeply disturbing to my wellbeing whenever I---living in the southern USA---am asked over, and over again why I won't go to Church with people, and why I don't believe in Christ. How I'm reminded he died for my Sins and all he wants is my love and belief. How he works miracles in peoples lives, and how I'll 'eventually find Him' because I'm 'young, and haven't had a crisis situation for the love of Christ to see you through'. I do not appreciate the attempts to convert me, or to somehow claim moral or ideological superiority over my own beliefs based solely on the fact it is not their own beliefs.
I'm tired of the people of politicians in my country of origin, trying to impose their God on me and people like me. I'm tired of people being denied their civil liberties because they are romantically attracted to the same gender, and the Bible says that is sinful and wrong. I'd just as soon prefer a secular approach to government. But I digress (in the next post)”
Dr Idris on Apr 28, 2012 at 16:23:17
“"upper middle class" now I get it-it an elitist Ivy League snob trip-but these cats like Romney-Harvard or not- are regular Americans, in no way upper upper upper class.
As for the sky fairy, sky daddy people, they are just uneducated. But e.g., G. Gordon Liddy-a liberal upper middle class elitist?-retained his scholastic medieval Catholic belief in a FIRST CAUSE-following Aquinas-but no longer BELIEVED it was the same as the God who saves of the Bible and the teachings of the Church. In other words he lost his FAITH though he still believed on a purely Philosophical God. Read 'Will". This is a serious issue and not one for glib & at best lower middle brow Sean Hannity level analyses.”
CanadianSkeptic on Apr 28, 2012 at 11:59:53
A recent study found people considered atheists as trust worthy as rapists. Sure sounds like atheists are popular.
“Dude, declaring yourself an atheist is a good way to make a lot of loved ones really angry at you. It comes with enormous amounts of social pressure that are usually very easily avoided by simply saying you are a Christian. I'm sure you're a swell guy, but saying "atheism" is a way out of social pressure is like saying being a black guy 100 years ago is a good way to avoid racism.”
Varys on Apr 27, 2012 at 22:43:18
“Yeah, declaring yourself an atheist is great, unless you want to run for political office, get married, have friends on facebook, etc. You act like there's this huge incentive to publicly announce that you're an atheist; there isn't, trust me.”
“It doesn't follow from the results of the experiment that if analytical reasoning is the way to go about understanding the world being religious doesn't make sense. That inference is an example of the genetic fallacy. What the experiment shows is that for this sample of subjects, who are likely representative of the population, religion is associated with non-analytic or intuitive thinking--that in all liklihood relgious belief arises from this kind of thinking. It does not follow that religious belief is irrational or indefensible on rational grounds, or that it is inherently incompatible with analytical thinking.”
CanadianSkeptic on Apr 27, 2012 at 12:14:54
“"It does not follow that religious belief is irrational or indefensible on rational grounds, or that it is inherently incompatible with analytical thinking."
~~~True, the experiments conducted do not support those conclusions. However, all other observations do. Many religious beliefs are inherently irrational, indefensible on rational grounds, and in direct conflict with analytical thinking. You don't need new studies to show this, the established science already does so.”
TYRANNASAURUS on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:36:49
I think intuitive has more to do with instincts and thinking is not necessary for instincts.... if a truck is coming at you..... you don't stop to think you must get out of the way....you automatically/instinctively get out of the way.”
TYRANNASAURUS on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:32:38
“.......understanding the world being religious doesn't make sense.....right religion is illogical and makes no sense....hence faith is needed to believe in its answers.”
“Of course. The point is that they don't have the power any more, thank God, and shouldn't. But, I repeat, they DON'T.
As far as the specificity of art and its expression of dictrine, first of all, think in terms of different churches representing different aesthetic options--like different restaurants offering different cuisines. You don't complain that Greek restaurants don't serve fish tacos, right? So what we want is the greatest possible variety of religious buildings and ceremonies on the ground so that people can satisfy their tastes for Hindu, Catholic, Zoroastrian fire worship or whatever.
As far as the doctrinal content of the art, you can enjoy it without buying into the doctrine. It doesn't impose the doctrine on you--any more then listening the sacred music in concert or enjoying religious art in a museum does.
We want a smorgasbord of religiousity so that we can enjoy! Religion is fun!”
phal4875 on Apr 18, 2012 at 13:25:56
“I worship the God who resides in a split-level church. Anything else is apostasy.”
“The trouble with these newfangled personal religions is that they don't create or support high art, fancy buildings or elaborate public rituals. The problem with "personal" religion is that it doesn't create or maintain aesthetic infrastructure. Period. Who cares what people believe? No skin off my nose--as long as they support the buildings and rituals so that I can enjoy them.”
“Douthat is right--and I never thought I'd say that: deinstitutionalization is the problem. Without institutional religion you cannot maintain church buildings and their furnishings, stage elaborate ceremonies or support a high quality music program. The opposition to "organized religion" seems to come from the idea that religious institutions are enforcers of doctrine and authorities on behavior. But they aren't because they CAN'T be. They can't make anyone, including their adherents, think or do anything. They don't have the power.
What they can do is supply religious goods and services for consumers, i.e. fancy buildings, ceremonies, music and such. That's what they're for. And if institutional religion disappears we'll be poorer because we'll lose that good stuff. That stuff is valuable for aesthetic purposes but for some it's the only way to get religious experience. I can't imagine "spirituality" without elaborate ceremonies and fancy buildings. If we lose that, we're the poorer for it.”
BlueIndependent on Apr 18, 2012 at 12:09:12
“I fail to understand your reasoning here. The very art and buildings you defend are centered around very specific conceptions; they aren't derived from a range of individual conceptions (nor could they e, realistically). In fact, in the very large organized religions, the images are more likely influencing the images people have of aspects of the religion, not the other way around.
As for organized religions not being able to make people think or do things, they don't have that power - *anymore*, at least in most of Western society. But it'd be awfully hard to make that case the further backward into history you go. And even if someone refused to think or do something commanded by the religion, at the very least the ensuing torture, murder, or shunning of said individual was intended as an example to all the rest for what happens when orthodoxy is questioned. It's in the history books that even popes as far back as the middle Roman Empire were able to get even an emperor to change his tune on certain things in order to quell public discontent.”
“Obama is an atheist--not a Muslim. I'm sick of his hypocricy and manipulation. I don't care about his religious convictions or lack thereof: I voted for him and will vote for him again because I prefer his politics to the alternative. But as a religious believer I am sick of being patronized, manipulated and trashed, assumed to be lower class and stupid. I'm sick of the contempt of the upper middle class elite. And sick of Obama's patronizing contempt for religious belivers.”
MerelyConcerned on Apr 6, 2012 at 01:24:17
“First off, Obama has said he is a Christian not an atheist. I don't understand why people continue to question that. Secondly, what has Obama actually done that is so patronizing? Has he insulted religious people? I don't believe so. If anything, you should stop watching particular news agencies that claim this. They tend to manipulate words and take information out of context in order to support their view.”
Mar 25, 2012 at 23:25:10
“Yes indeed--the Episcopal Church has been especially active in promoting gay rights.”
Melody3274 on Mar 26, 2012 at 07:01:03
“they accept gays into the congregation but few really support gay rights”
Melody3274 on Mar 26, 2012 at 07:00:28
“well you are right about catholic and orthodox”
popdukes1 on Mar 25, 2012 at 23:57:59
“..as has the Unitarian Church.....appointment Bishop Robinson from NH has galvanized the American Episcopal Church against Episcopalians elsewhere....those 2 are fragrance in the wind to this point....the poilitical activity is (and has been) [redominantly in the opposite direction for quite some time......”
“Of course Obama is an atheist. Most academics are--and being an academic I know. According to a PhilPapers poll only 14% of people in my profession are theists. So the odds are that Obama, who was on the faculty of the U. Chi Law School is an atheist: that's just statistics. But so what? Nothing wrong with being an atheist: amongst educated upper middle class people it's the norm. Pity he doesn't have the guts to admit it.”
“We can't underestimate the power of the collapse of institutional religion in the first 10 years of this century," she said. "It's freed so many people to say they don't really care. They don't miss rituals or traditions they may never have had anyway.
So let's have more rituals and traditions. Religion is fun!
Dec 11, 2011 at 14:04:14
“Jeez, it's not the electronic gizmos I find objectionable but the lack of metaphysical thrills and transcendence. I want high art and an acid trip in church--a mystical buzz. And, much as I love tech stuff (and I do!) it doesn't get me the high I want, and expect from the church. I want ecstasy through aesthetic experience--and the job of the church is to provide the elaborate rituals, fine architecture, fancy decor and great music that will give me that thrill. If I don't get it, why bother with church?”
“If denominations die out we, as religious consumers, will be worse off because we will then have fewer choices. Denominations are brands of religiousity. We should be able to choose the style of religiousity we most enjoy. The more brands there are available, and the more diverse their offerings, the better.
I want my religion fancy and guilt free, with lots of incense and no sermons. If my brand dies out, I will be worse off, and so will others who share my taste.”
“Moi? Ethics is a secular enterprise, quite apart from religion. Sex is an entertainment: all sex--between and amongst consenting persons is fine with me. I'm a utilitarian: I don't hang ethics on "divine commandments" and I do not regard the Bible as in any way authoritative. It's nothing more than a history of one people worrying a number of moral issues and reflecting on their situation. And one of the most boring books in print.
And this is the view that most educated Christians hold, even most wouldn't put it as starkly as I have here. Religion is metaphysics and, notoriously, you can't deduce ought from is--not even from the metaphysical is.”
SelfAwarePatterns on Jun 28, 2012 at 18:16:14
“You sound a lot like a new theist or religious humanist. I wish there were more like you.”
“But why should any of these "fundamental aspects of reality" matter? Claims about these matters are just metaphysics--they don't have anything to do with how we live our lives, about our moral or political convictions, or anything of practical import. They're inconsequential.
Of course, as a theist, as a Christian, I wouldn't ask atheists to "be quiet" about their views on these issues. Why should I--any more than I'd ask someone to be quiet about what football team they support or what brand of toothpaste they use. Who the hell cares? I like religion, support the Ravens, and use Colgate. Big deal.”
SelfAwarePatterns on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:14:37
“"Claims about these matters are just metaphysics--they don't have anything to do with how we live our lives, "
Well, aside from just wanting to have the most accurate view of reality, people's beliefs about these things definitely affect how we live our lives. Many of us feel that we should have the most accurate information available when making decisions about our ethics and the laws that govern us. Your religious views often affect your attitudes toward gays, abortion, equal rights for women, medical research, scientific research of any kind, voluntary euthanasia, animal welfare, war, and may other things. Your attitude about these things might be very different if your central concern is happiness vs suffering instead of following divine commandments.
I know many liberal believers have enlightened views on the topics above. But, diplomatic fictions aside, they have them despite clear readings of scripture, not because of it. And as long as the notions of belief and scripture being the unquestionable vault of wisdom remain, it provides cover and keeps the door open to the fundamentalists, who are only too happy to drive through it.”
“I guess I just am not getting it. What matters to me about religion is rituals, cermonies, fancy buildings, all the props that induce religious experience. "Spirituality" doesn't provide that infrastructure so I can't fathom what the interest in it is. I suppose people have the idea that to use the props you have to believe, buy into doctrines or commit to behaviors. But that's not so. What matters are buildings and ceremonies.”
wbthacker on Jul 6, 2012 at 15:42:24
“"What matters are buildings and ceremonies."
I think you're being sarcastic. But whether or not you are, I can discuss the element of truth in your position.
Why do you say "religious experience" (fostered by ceremonies and buildings" is different from "spirituality"? I think they're the same.
What feeling do you get from an elaborate church service that I don't get from looking into the vastness of the night sky or learning about quantum physical phenomena or evolutionary biology? Awe? Joy? Peace? Humility? Hope? Yeah, I get all those too. My props are the universe and the tools humans have invented to study it. I'm not religious, but I'm as spiritual as the next guy.”
“There was a study of a large sample of church-goers a few years ago--sorry I can't cite chapter and verse--indicating that more than half of them were what the authors called "lay liberals." That is, they affirmed that "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you live right" and articulated their theological views as, "Maybe there's something there." More recently, for an optimistic picture see Putnam _American Grace_.
In the 1970s, Evangelicals, who had been marginal and politically inactive, mobilzed and captured media attention. What you have now is an expanding disconnect between conservative Evangelicals, fighting a last ditch battle against modernity, and a growing body of None, who've had little or no personal contact with religious believers and assume all or most are conservative evangelicals.
I would certainly like to see a dialogue but the dialogue partner who ought to be in on it--liberal mainline Protestants like myself and cafeteria Catholics, who represent the majority of church-goers--is too embarrassed it seems to participate. I'm not sure that a dialogue with Evangelicals is fruitful.”
Dean J Smith on Jul 20, 2012 at 12:15:32
“We don't actually run into many folks like you online hebaber, probably because you don't feel strongly that atheists are in the wrong. We seem to draw most of our online encounters with theists from the 46% of Americans who are Creationists. I know it is a false impression that they represent American Christianity, but I hope you are sympathetic that it's an easy impression to come by when there's not much of a liberal Christian presence in our circles to counter it.”
“Atheists should recognize that most of us Christians aren't Evangelicals, and don't hold any of the ridiculous beliefs they associate with Christianity. Religion is about the supernatural--it's metaphysics, and has nothing to do with empirical claims about how the natural world operates. My beliefs about factual and ethical matters are no different form the beliefs of my secular counterparts. I believe in Darwinian evolution by natural selection, and all other well-established scientific claims.My moral views are no different from those my secular counterparts hold, e.g. I believe that all consensual sex is morally ok, support gay marriage and so on.
So what's the difference between me an an atheist? Just a metaphysical thesis: I happen to believe (though not with any high degree of conviction) that there is a God. But that belief has no more import for my views about how the natural world operates or how people ought to behave than a belief in Platonic forms, or sets, or any other non-natural creatures of metaphysics.
Now that is putting it pretty starkly, but I do wish atheists would recognize that most of us Christians are not Evangelicals, that we don't have crazy views about the age of the earth or the origin of species or moral behavior or politics (I'm a left-liberal pinko socialist), are not interested in raining on their parade and have no sympathy whatsoever with Evangelicals.”
palindrom on Jun 26, 2012 at 22:25:01
“For a while now I've said that the mainline denominations have, very wisely, fallen back to an unfalsifiable position. It is utterly foolish to make one's faith contingent on believing nonsense about the real world, as fundamentalists do. No wonder they're so terrified of modernity.
I'm wondering, though, if you're right that "most" Christians are as rational as you are. Regardless of the numbers, the evangelicals make so much noise, and seem to hold so much sway over whole regions of the country, that they've become, unfortunately, the public face of Christianity.
I'm an atheist myself, by the way, but I was raised without religion and therefore do not feel visceral animosity toward it. Several wonderful folks in my extended family are (mainline protestant) clergy, and I respect them a great deal.”
“There's always Origen. As far as influence, mainline Protestants represent 18 percent of the population. That's not negligible. And they represent the elite. Evangelicals currently (see Putnam American Grace are just 24% of the population though visible and audible beyond their numbers and influence. They're mostly poor, uneducated junk people who make a lot of noise but have no real influence.”
Dr Idris on Jun 22, 2012 at 00:13:54
“"Origen" 'One sentence of Origen. is worth all of Augustine" Erasmus. Fair enough. I hope you are right; especially about the Evangelicals.”
“"Religious people" are people who do churchy things. They go to church. They go through churchy rites of passage: baptism, confirmation, marriage, burial. This other stuff is evangelical bs. Religion is churchiness. It's harmless and fun.”
bobt755907 on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:42:58
“Many people do 'churchy" things, but they are not not Christian, Muslim, Buddist, etc. Your "churchiness" activities are social events and have nothing to do with religion.”
“Really? Not much around? Have you checked the Episcopal Church, or any of the other "mainline" denominations?”
Dr Idris on Jun 21, 2012 at 17:21:53
“"Mainline denominations" Yes.There still are the "Ivy League Churches", as it were. They don't seem to have much influence, though. My greatest mentor was an Anglican Platonist-so I know the scene well. Actually once a very learned Catholic Platonist said to him that in the end a true Christian has to choose between Augustine of Hippo and Plotinus-the non- Christian intellectual mystic and founder of Neoplatonism. He replied. "very well then, I choose Plotinus!" ”
“Certainly some will support the infrastructure, but there will be far less support. Church buildings are expensive to maintain and operate. Right now they're closing. I couldn't care less what people believe, as long as there are lots of fancy buildings and ceremonies. But I do also happen to enjoy the metaphysics as well--though like all metaphysics it's speculative and I wouldn't bet on it.”
frozenlake on Jun 6, 2012 at 16:53:50
“We don't need an aristocracy to keep up all the historic castles, palaces and mansions.....”
Gordon Hide on Jun 6, 2012 at 07:34:24
“Doesn't the US or state government support some cultural institutions already?”