Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
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31-12-2016, 07:16 AM
Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
I was intrigued to read this piece in The New York Times Magazine about former evangelical turned atheist "preacher" Bart Campolo.

Upon actually reading it, I couldn't believe how snide it was regarding atheism and atheists. Campolo's story is interesting, to be sure, but the writer, Mark Oppenheimer, contorts himself mightily to make sure that he is leveling every conceivable insult at atheists—who are, he means us to understand, white, male, abusive losers, in the main.

He trots out the old shibboleth that Richard Dawkins is some kind of priest or pope, and even rips him for a "controversial" tweet suggesting that all rape is wrong and terrible, but on balance, acquaintance rape is less horrible than forcible rape at knifepoint. That issue can be debated (and is, hotly), but the author uses it to suggest what a horrid, amoral old bastard Dawkins is.

Curious about thoughts of anyone else who reads the piece—am I overreacting, or is it as negative as I'm perceiving it to be?

God does not work in mysterious ways — he works in ways that are indistinguishable from his non-existence.
Jesus had a pretty rough weekend for your sins.
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31-12-2016, 07:36 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
That's what you get for reading that Jewminati liberal rag. Dodgy

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31-12-2016, 07:44 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
It's less negative I think, but author seems to be making a false dichotomy - bad atheism and good humanism. On the side note article is just shitty - it's neither interesting, nor engaging and seems to be without point.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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31-12-2016, 07:58 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
Quote:Atheists and agnostics have long tried to rebottle religion: to get the community and the good works without the supernatural stuff. It has worked about as well as nonalcoholic beer. As with O’Doul’s, converts are few, and rarely do they end up having a very good time.

Where I live churches insist on having a complete monopoly on non-government charity. Food Not Bombs people are ARRESTED for feeding the homeless unless there's a church connection. What used to be secular charities have been absorbed by churches using the state as a mechanism to ensure their monopoly. After the community was devastated by a hurricane representatives from churches harassed private individuals doing things like passing out water. I experienced this first hand. Food banks get taken over and names like Manna are added to Meals on Wheels and so on. At the hospital, my mom who's in her 80's and from Countryside, Jesusland had to tell some religious fuck she wasn't religious to get rid of his stupid Bible-bullshit-self.
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31-12-2016, 08:12 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
I didn't find it to be overall negative, but there was a dismissive tone and definitely a set of bad atheists portrayed in opposition to good humanists which I felt was unwarranted. The writer does repeat tropes about Dawkins and Darwin and applies them, incorrectly, to atheists in general--maybe it's symptomatic of a religious thinker, assuming that all other groups must have a gospel and a creed.

I dislike how the writer seems to imply that it's Campolo's background in Christian ministry that makes his approach to humanist ministry more effective/worthwhile than that of the atheists described in the snide paragraphs (ignoring the fact that a lot of atheists have no interest in atheist churches or proselytizing). I wish the writer had picked a different, more appropriate opposition to highlight, maybe focusing on problems with religious-based counseling services at the college level. I have to admit, though, that I only skimmed most of the article, as I got bored with it early on.

While I don't see a lack of atheist churches as problematic, I can understand why someone who made his living as a Christian minister would want a similar gig and explore ways to work on a parallel track.
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31-12-2016, 09:22 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
Yeah, he's been on the teat of the religious. Why not find a bunch of atheists to support him, now? Heinlein said something along these lines- "a preacher is a man who doesn't want to do any real work".
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31-12-2016, 10:07 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
I think it's kind of peculiar the way some people expect to find a sense of unity among atheists. So you don't believe in God. Besides that there's no boundaries as to what else you might think or how you might behave. You might be the most decent person ever or you might have a dozen five year olds tied up in your basement.
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31-12-2016, 10:10 AM (This post was last modified: 31-12-2016 10:22 AM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
I liked it. Note that the author is not a journalist but rather a religious scholar with (if his quirky podcast Unorthodox is any indication) his own predilections for humanism but from a Jewish rather than ex-Christian perspective. I hadn't heard of the Society of Ethical Culture, Humanist Hub, or "red-letter" evangelists before. (Had heard of the Sunday Assembly though.)

I don't see the trend from atheism to humanism as a negative thing. My kids and now they're kids don't spend any time discussing God. They treat the entire concept as completely irrelevant and uninteresting. Their discussions revolve around far more interesting topics like how could Clara be both dead and alive, how come the Doctor can't just take the Tardis back 24 years and start his honeymoon with River Song all over again, and the bootstrap paradox.

I think promotion of atheism is a bit touchy and should be done selectively as the mere discussion of it lends a degree of credibility to the totally preposterous. It gives an untenable incoherent position attention it doesn't warrant just by virtue of discussing it. My preference is to just dismiss God as nonsense w/o being dismissive (unless I'm bored with the asshole and want to entertain myself).

So that said, my little idyllic humanist erewhon is constantly under attack by assholes so insecure in their own worth and existence and faith that they feel compelled to try and reinforce their nonsense with consensus opinion. The "No way we can both be wrong" effect. And when consensus starts shrinking those reinforcements start to fall and the foolishness of their foundation is revealed. The irony of the parable of the foolish man builds his house upon the sand is lost on them. While normal people might recognize this as an existential opportunity and adapt their views accordingly, these assholes instead try to conscript others into rebuilding their ridiculous metaphysical scaffolding through legislation. And that's why even though I think that one day all talk of God will be as L.Ron Hubbard clearly intended, a fun exercise in fantasy and sci-fi, until the assholes die out I still need and appreciate atheist activists to keep track of the shit stains and the lawyers to clean them up.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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31-12-2016, 10:40 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
I know it's a common enough word but can you define what you mean by "humanism" when you say "transition from atheism to humanism"?
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31-12-2016, 10:46 AM
RE: Backhanded piece about atheism in New York Times
(31-12-2016 10:40 AM)ImFred Wrote:  I know it's a common enough word but can you define what you mean by "humanism" when you say "transition from atheism to humanism"?

I mean by it a shift in focus to improving the human condition instead of irrelevant inconsequential metaphysics. I could have it wrong. Never bothered to look it up.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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