Am I a "militant atheist"?
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14-07-2011, 05:33 AM
Sad Am I a "militant atheist"?
Since the London transport system bombings I have become increasingly angry. I guess at that point I called myself an agnostic. But joining all the dots on just how awful religion is has tipped me into identifying as an atheist. As I have read the books and thought through my life experiences I have moved further and further away from childhood philosophy of "all religions have some of the truth and are about making people better" to "all religions are self-replicating memes that have an almost entirely detrimental effect on the survival chances of humanity". What really gets me is that most people seem to either fall into the camp of "agreeing with me" or "telling me to shut up". There seems to be little or no middle ground. Of course I cannot raise the subject with people I meet at work or random people I meet on the street, but the overall effect is that I feel I live in an "echo chamber" and outside that echo chamber a blasphemy law pertains. I am working very hard on breaking down that barrier and in hindsight I can see that I really fumbled how I raised the subject with many people.
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14-07-2011, 06:40 AM
 
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
To answer the title, no. You're a normal, sane human like the rest of us. I don't know how you raised this issue with other people, but it's very easy to put someone on the defensive when criticizing their religion. Once you do that, no productive conversation will occur.
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14-07-2011, 06:47 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
(14-07-2011 06:40 AM)Zach Wrote:  To answer the title, no. You're a normal, sane human like the rest of us. I don't know how you raised this issue with other people, but it's very easy to put someone on the defensive when criticizing their religion. Once you do that, no productive conversation will occur.

I think my problem was that I arrived at a point of being desperate to get all my frustration with the religion friendly culture of the UK with friends without having really thought about the potential consequences; and the general reservation in the UK and being married to a devout Catholic kept a lid on it until it had to blow. It is all very clear now. But now it has become more important to me that it would have it the topics had come up more naturally. I can see that from my friend's point of view I am a "militant atheist" and there is really no point denying it. I just want break down barriers of communication.
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14-07-2011, 07:51 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
How come I've never heard the term "militant christian"?

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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14-07-2011, 08:04 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
Seems like everyone has to be a "militant" something, in this increasingly hysterical, polarized, jingoistic age, where no issue is resolved except by armed conflict.

Confrontation works in some situations* but not in matters of convictions, and most certainly not in matters of tribal loyalty. All it causes is entrenchment, and once the trenches are dug and occupied, all movement ceases.
*(... well, no, it doesn't, but results in a temporary victory of one side or another.)

You can't "fight" religion, though i understand very well why you'd want to. Perhaps you can mitigate some of the harm it does. One approach i've found useful is to recall what turned me against religion in the first place: not somebody telling me how bad it is, but the contradictions withing religion itself.

Consider asking questions - just one at a time, in the natural course of conversation.
How many dogs were in the ark? Was Lot a nice a man? What was Jesus's problem with pigs? I'm sure you have your own questions. Think of them as tiny silver bullets. Then you can be a atheist drive-by shooter, instead of marching in a lock-step army. More fun, wot?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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14-07-2011, 08:20 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
According to popular media any atheist who says "I exist" is militant.

Our local Meet-up group put up a billboard last year that said nothing more than "Don't believe in God? You're not alone." and then the URL for our website.

The day it went up a local news station put it in evening broadcast with several interviews with people upset by our "message of hate." The billboard owner got so many complaints that we had to move it to a different neighborhood.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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14-07-2011, 08:30 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
(14-07-2011 07:51 AM)Stark Raving Wrote:  How come I've never heard the term "militant christian"?

On-ward Christian soldje-e-ers,
Mar-ching as to-o war...


Oh, it's been mentioned.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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14-07-2011, 09:34 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?



“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-07-2011, 09:41 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
Hey, Angry.

Actually, all religions are self-replicating memeplexes. I point that out because memeplexes are far more robust than individual memes.

Trying to be the source of that much elusive middle ground, I think that most of the organised religions contain memes that are maladaptive and so yes, maladaptive memes can only harm us. But those same memes are ubiquitous among hierarchical organisations be they religions, states, corporations, etc... The question becomes, can those memes be extruded from the governing memeplexes of these organisations without collapsing the memeplex and/or without destroying the organisation. There's arguments for all sides, but I personally believe that they cannot be. So it's that structure that I concern myself with; specifically, finding alternative structures that can compete effectively in the current ecosystem and figuring out how to transition to those alternatives; unfortunately, both of these tasks are staggeringly difficult.

That being said, there is value, truth and good intention in all religions. They're just locked into a system that has some abysmal flaws. Hopefully that value can be reclaimed in alternative structures, but I don't actually know that it can.

As for the binary response, if you frame it as an ultimatum, there are only two possible responses. If it is either, religion is bad, or religion is good, people can only agree or disagree. So when looking at new ways to broach the subject, try not to think in terms of ultimatum.

I don't understand where the supposed militancy comes from though. Maybe I'm missing something.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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14-07-2011, 09:50 AM
RE: Am I a "militant atheist"?
(14-07-2011 09:41 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I don't understand where the supposed militancy comes from though. Maybe I'm missing something.

My guess is it is a "War on Terror" term... Borrowing from "Militant" Islam... An attempt to make a false equivalence.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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