These comments follows directly after the “Discussions on Atheism Revisited” post.
Hope you enjoy it!
“I think Kurtz is opposed to irrational dogmatism; which is usually exhibited in ‘angry atheism.’“
What a pity that you didn’t read Christina’s post on Atheists and anger, because it would have thwarted your strawman right away:
“I get angry when believers use the phrase “atheist fundamentalist” without apparently knowing what the word “fundamentalist” means. Call people pig-headed, call them stubborn, call them snarky, call them intolerant even. But unless you can point to the text to which these “fundamentalist” atheists literally and strictly adhere without question, then please shut the hell up about us being fundamentalist.”
That is correct, the empirically incorrect idea that atheists, especially “angry atheists”, are dogmatic, is one of the things that we are angry about! You will meet very few, if at all, atheists that can’t tell you under which circumstances they would change their mind on supernaturalism. (I can remember one, but the most likely explanation for his claim was the obvious trolling he did.)
So angry atheists aren’t dogmatic. Nor is their anger irrational in any other observable point. Christina’s post goes to great length to test and reject such a claim.
“There are plenty of reasons to be angry about religion, but if you depend solely on your emotions to guide you, then it is a slippery slope back into close-mindedness.”
This is religious reasoning, confusing vocal criticism with personal feeling.
In fact there is a double barrier here, not only aren’t “angry atheists” espousing the anger Kurtz’ strawman claims, vocal criticism is a strategy as the comparison to the civil rights movement shows.
I’m not sure what you mean by characterizing an analogy as “close-mindedness”.
An analogy isn’t equality, so must be handled with care, not close-mindedness, so it seems a bad characterization. If you mean the analogy is wrong, I believe Rieux explained why it isn’t. And if you mean either of these movements were close-minded, it is trivially wrong.
Atheism isn’t dogmatic (see above). Similarly, the civil rights movement embraced diversity in groups and in thoughts as well as action as much as we do. Or at least we try, outside of when accommodationists like Kurtz doesn’t tell others to shut up or concern trolls in general tell us that our ideas are irrational.
Here is my response.
Posted October 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
“. . .the empirically incorrect idea that atheists, especially “angry atheists”, are dogmatic, is one of the things that we are angry about! You will meet very few, if at all, atheists that can’t tell you under which circumstances they would change their mind on supernaturalism.”
The fact that your atheism would be lost if in light of certain circumstance, does not mean that you cannot have an arrogantly false sense of absolute certainty.
I did read Christina’s post, and I agree with many of the points she made against the social injustices, but I disagree with her when she made declarative assertions, like:
“Social movements are hard. They take time, they take energy, they sometimes take serious risk of life and limb, community and career. Nobody would fucking bother if they weren’t furious about something.”
According to her, without anger, NOBODY would bother; then how does she account for people like myself, and Paul Kurtz, who do bother, but aren’t entirely motivated by fury?
You see, when I talk about dogmatism, I’m not implying that you’re aligning yourself with some kind of sacred text–though, I’d say Christina’s Blog has you pretty enchanted at the moment–rather, I’m referring to the type of dogmatism which blinds you to the possibility of ever being wrong, and stops you from independent critical thought.
Here’s another quote from the blog you use to defend your argument.
“You’re telling us to lay down a tool (anger) that no social change movement has ever been able to do without.”
Off the top of my head, I can name the Reniassance as a movement which required no anger. What about the Information Revolution? That was a social movement that required no anger. Her claims fall flat on their face.
What about the anger of the reactionaries in the social movements she lists? What differentiates their anger from the anger of the reformers?
Without employing methodological skepticism, in this instance, I fail to see anything other than a redress of the crimes committed by religions.
“. . . anger is a difficult tool in a social movement. A dangerous one even. It can make people act rashly; it can make it harder to think clearly. . .”
That is my point entirely!
“So when you tell an atheist (or for that matter, a woman or a queer or a person of color or whatever) not to be so angry, you are, in essence, telling us to disempower ourselves.”
Isn’t the truth more empowering than an emotion? Can’t social equality be achieved rationally?
Skeptical inquiry can help prevent us from believing in dogmatic absurdities, but atheism cannot save us from any absurdities.
Atheism isn’t a worldview; it is a response to a worldview.
It is good to point out the atrocities committed by religions and governments, if only to make them accountable for those actions, and to remind us of the actions committed by those swept up in their own self-righteousness, but painting entire groups of people, such as the religious, with a broad-brush, as though their all complicit with all the misdeeds she listed, or failing to offer any positive solutions to these problems, does nothing to aide the progress of humanity.
There are plenty of reasons to be upset, but it is time to start acting like adults, and stop acting like angry preteens.
It is time to realize that the only way we can move forward is to stop playing the part of the martyr, and to start combining our efforts to disprove the oppressive misinformed reactionaries, and to make a positive change in our short lives.