Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Should Stop Reading Salon and Alternet: Your Provocative Idea For Tuesday

In recent brawls with atheists it came to me that if the surveys are right, then atheists have seldom comprised more than a small fraction of the members of any society.  Even in places where they held or hold control -always by force- , they don't seem to be more than a fraction of the population.  Look at how religion sprang back in the former Soviet Union and its occupied countries as soon as the heavy hand of official atheism fell off.  And that was with decades of violent, relentless pressure to destroy religious belief, at times mass slaughter numbering into the tens if not hundreds of thousands and more, indoctrination in the schools and media and through social pressure, etc. 

Yet, given their minority status, in the past century, beginning with the rise of the Soviet Union almost a century ago, atheist governments have managed to rack up some of the greatest body counts of any identifiable group during any similar length of time in human history.  Per capita, it is quite possible that atheists have one of the greatest records if not the actual greatest record for killing, slaughter and oppression of any identifiable human grouping.  

Given that record someone with a scientific or analytical turn of mind might wonder if there was something about atheism that led to that record.  They might look at the words of notable atheists and see what they said about the cost-benefit of having people dead (no, I won't repost my entire archive of pieces on eugenics and related topics, just now)  and the advocacy of notable atheists for violence and mass killing, in the run up to the past century of atheist blood letting and and up till today. 

I mean, if you're going to look at religion that way, it's fair to do the same with atheism.

Update:  I'm told that An averagely intelligent 5th grader would have you pegged as an insufferably obtuse knowitall pompous putz in a nanosecond. 

Which might bother me if I intended to write for "an averagely intelligent 5th grader" instead of an intelligent adult audience.  I'll leave the 5th graders to the guy with the OC for me.  And here I'd always figured he was 12 instead of 10 1/2.  


  1. Not to argue with you, but I'm frankly tired of the "body count" arguments. I suspect Karen Armstrong put it to rest in her book, but the "true believers" among the atheists at Salon (at least) will have none of it, and they can't be forced to see reason (irony alert!). My favorite, in fact, is the number of Dawkins fanboys (a subset of the "true atheist" cult) who insist that, whatever Dawkins said or wrote, he is being misunderstood.

    Interpretation is everything, as it has been with the religion of the Book since their origins. But that sounds dreadfully po-mo, and sounds like there is no absolute, and to atheists constantly chanting about the "contradictions" in the Holy Bible, absolutes are sacrosanct. So absolutes cannot be a matter of interpretation, but if you don't agree with Dawkins, it's because you have misinterpreted him.

    And there can be only one interpretation. Does this sound at all familiar?

    And it gets worse: as I get the argument from the atheist minions at Salon, atheism is not a belief system because atheists do not believe anything.

    And yet atheists believe that no one can believe, and that those who do believe all believe that atheists are wrong and must be corrected; or at least stifled and denied. And this gives atheists the privilege to strike at the believers, in argument if not in force of arms, and deny what they believe the believers believe. Because atheists do not believe anyone can believe other than as they believe, without being in error or without threatening the belief of atheists, who do not believe there is anything to believe.

    Which sounds precisely like the mirror of a fundamentalist belief system to me.

    Further, those who believe but who do not believe as atheists insist all believers believe, those who, for example, are not offended by atheism, are not true believers. Such believers are more false than the most fundamentalists of believers. Unless you are offended by atheism, you are not a believer at all; and unless you are offended by belief, you are not an atheist at all.

    Because all must believe as atheists believe, or they are anathema. Those who aver they simply do not believe are either not true atheists, or they do not recognize the threat coming from believers, who of course cannot tolerate atheists, as atheists cannot tolerate believers. According to the atheists, anyway.

    I discard them. The ones at Salon (and probably Alternate) are children in a sandbox. I could have a more intelligent discussion with a 5th grader.

  2. I'm fairly certain it ain't religion or atheism that kills people. It's blind following of assholes and ideologies in general, which seem to be part of the human condition.

    1. I used to think so, too, but I'm not so sure now. I think it might be the illogical argument of Daniel Dennett for "substrate neutrality" in order to make claims for natural selection outside of even biology that leads me to conclude that democracy, a decent socitey and government, are also not "substrate neutral" but require holdings of moral obligations and a belief in the real, reality of other metaphysical entities such as rights and equality. That those have to be believed in as being real with enough strength to compel people to act against their own interest or desires for the good of other people and in respect to their rights. I don't believe atheism, certainly not atheism based in materialism, can provide beliefs of sufficent strength to produce democracy or a decent society. It's hard enough to sustain even in the absence of the corrosive effects of the habits of atheism constantly wearing them away.

    2. I'm not sure I can articulate this as I would wish, but one of the pleasures of Netflix (besides being 1/10th the cost of satellite TV) is being able to binge on TV shows.

      "MI-5" is my latest obsession. The central characters are, of course, the heroes: their perspective is always favored. Enemies, interestingly, include parts of the British government, even British politicians, as well as Israel (on the two-parter I just finished, Mossad runs an elaborate scheme against Saudi Arabia in London), Arab terrorists, even the CIA (interesting to see the US from a different perspective). The heroes are the moral center: they always stand for what is right, even as they lie and deceive (i.e., spy) to achieve their ends.

      Lots of moral ambiguity, i.o.w., in the manner of le Carre, but with more action (the infection of American culture, I fear). Anyway, I've noted the heroes struggling between doing the right thing, and keeping terrorists off the streets by methods not legal enough to allow the admission of evidence into British courts.

      You can't, in other words, have freedom and liberty for all, without freedom and liberty (to some degree) even for terrorists. They stacked that deck very carefully: the man released because of MI-5's tactics (deemed illegal) screamed to the TV cameras about bringing Sharia law even to Britain (i.e., make the whole world Muslim).

      Rights and equality have to be understood as real, or they disappear. True for imaginary Muslim terrorists, and for imaginary MI-5 operatives. Even MI-5 characters struggle with that. Ideologies are not the problem, either; or maybe they are. Maybe recognizing some obligations as good is not an ideology. But certainly not recognizing the reality of certain good things, like rights and equality, renders them simply words which can be manipulated of the purposes of the terrorist or the British politician.

      Hmmmm....going to have to spend more time on this.