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Thread: time we dropped the label - the problem with atheism.

  1. #1 time we dropped the label - the problem with atheism. 
    Forum Masters Degree geezer's Avatar
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    This is an edited transcript of a talk given by Sam Harris at the Atheist Alliance conference in Washington D.C. on September 28th, 2007:


    Sam Harris wrote:
    "In thinking about what I could say to you all tonight, it seemed to me that I have a choice between throwing red meat to the lions of atheism or moving the conversation into areas where we actually might not agree. I’ve decided, at some risk to your mood, to take the second approach and to say a few things that might prove controversial in this context."

    having read this, it enlightened me as to how much we live under a banner, and how this banner is used in a negative way by opposing forces, lately atheism has been brought to the fore, by the likes of dawkins, Dennet, and his nibs above, however is this the correct thing to do.
    I dont think so, is it time we dropped the label.

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/o...h_atheism.html

    wise words, dont you think..


    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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  3. #2  
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    At first I was quite skeptical. To the point where I concede a bias existed.

    However, upon seeing how much effort this writer put into "easing" one into his idea, I decided to play along. Ignoring the subliminal easing, I find his viewpoints to be more or less accurate.

    So much so, that while I'm busy working this out in my mind, I'm going to adhere to it.

    P.S: could you please wrap it in some text? It stretches the forum boarders.


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    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting that, geezer. I personally found that to be a wonderful read. I'm also going to adhere to it, for sure.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    As Shakespeare once said 'What's in a name?'

    If atheist is confrontational to a theist then what is theist to an atheist? The fact is that it is almost as difficult to come up with a friendly synonym for atheist as it is to prove God's existence. If draft dodgers can be called conscientious objectors then surely atheists can think of something less adversarial to call themselves.

    Anyway I digress. I thought the speech was excellent and hopefully opened some eyes. Note to theists: It is not sacrilege to read it. Hey, you never know how conditioned someone might be.

    I nearly fell off my chair when he started speaking about the state of mind of religious figureheads who have basically subjected themselves to mind torture to realize an epiphany of sorts. Maybe I wasn't so far off with the schizo reference I suggested awhile back. For a moment I thought it was coming.......had a good laugh there.

    I got the gist. Reason, as if that hasn't been mentioned before, is the tool if all nameless disbelievers use it properly, that will eventually sway the masses given enough time. Hard to disagree since outspoken atheists are more in vogue than ever, and that's a good thing in my mind.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  6. #5  
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    Harris states that atheists should not adopt a label, because those opposed to racism, or those who do not believe in astrology, do not adopt labels. He also proposes that unlabelled atheists fly under the radar for the rest of their lives, and use reason to defuse religiously-based stupidity.

    The problem that I see with this generally viable proposal, is that people who opposed racism were predominantly people of colour and thus were visually labelled already. Civil rights was spearheaded by those people who banded together precisely because they were seen as a group that was inferior. Harris seems to be saying that atheists should not allow a label, and that this will allow the same eventual progression as was seen in the civil rights era. The comparison, and the suggestion, seems flawed.

    I haven't thought through his comparison to astrology.

    Harris also says that the label 'atheist' was a trap set by the religious. I doubt that.

    Harris' arguments seem to be offered as a foil to Dawkins' general approach. Has this article been discussed on Dawkins.net, I wonder.

    I do believe that militant atheism is not the best approach towards a more reasoned society. I wonder if actively trying to shed a label makes any real sense.
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    I just had a relook at the article with a contact of mine. You will never guess what we saw in the comments.

    Comment count: 666. The very next SECOND it was 667. Talk about timing? I have a screenshot if you don't believe me.
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  8. #7  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyhfht
    I just had a relook at the article with a contact of mine. You will never guess what we saw in the comments.

    Comment count: 666. The very next SECOND it was 667. Talk about timing? I have a screenshot if you don't believe me.
    I saw that too. Good for a chuckle but for Christ sakes don't let sherif see it. I can't endure anymore of his picture proofs. You didn't find Allah written there also?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    What IS it with islams and reiterating those moronic pictures? That's the third or fourth islamic person to do so.

    Anyway. Yeah, that was good for a chuckle. If you want the screenshot I can host it.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    yeah, the problem is that what i saw was 672 when i read the article.
    if this was "the article of the devil"
    everyone who read the article should have been "warned".
    you could go on a christian message board, and look up post number 666, and its not going to be anything special.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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  11. #10  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Interesting article, although I don't really recognise the context it was written in.

    I'm not used to seeing atheists portrayed as a small, isolated community, we're a majority in the Netherlands. And most atheists here never really think about it, they just don't believe and that's it. The first time I had to formulate arguments for why I don't believe in gods was at an internet discussion on an American forum, until then I'd never met someone who needed an explanation from me for why I don't believe.

    But if you do live in a community where atheists are the exception then I guess some of the advise in the article can be very helpful.
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    The USA is one of the most backwater set-in-its-ways country. We're still majority christianity, 80% of children born here are still circumcised (should be ILLEGAL), and other religious stupidity side-effects remain DOMINANT in this country.

    So, yes, the rational types are minority. Did I mention we're also behind the technological ball? Even with our toilets. For example, EUROPE has had a superior cleaning system to toilet paper (Bidet anyone?) for god knows how long. Do we? Why no, why do the rational thing and save resources!

    The USA is about the only country not to adapt the metric system (Setting us behind). Our education system is a complete failure. The average intelligence of most people (intelligence, not IQ score. There is a difference) falls FAR behind most other countries...

    I could rant all day about how WRONG this country is, but it wouldn't do me any good. I'm flying to Europe one day.

    P.S: One last note, USA internet speeds are like FIFTY TIMES as slow as other countries for the same service. I wonder why. Hmm...
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