Why I’m Not Shutting Up About Atheism.

Feb 7, 2014

I'm tired of being told to shut up about what I think. I am especially tired of being told to shut up about what I think by people who think I am actually right.

Don't get me wrong. I am not tired of being disagreed with. I am not tired of people coming forward and passionately arguing that I am wrong. I am not tired of encountering dissents, ripostes, rebuttals, rejoinders, admonitions, counter-evidence, counter-arguments, speeches, books, articles, sermons, scholarly publications, conferences, blog posts and comments, tweets, e-mails, Facebook comments, face to face confrontations, telephone calls, photoshops, memes, imgurs, instragrams, instant messages, text messages, billboards, television shows, movies, songs, plays, .gifs, faxes, telegrams, carrier pigeon messages, messages in bottles, sky written messages, statements entered into the Congressional record, birth announcements, eviction notices, bill collectors' letters, mime performances, interpretive dances, or birthday cards attempting to make the case that I am wrong. If you think I am wrong about something, by all means make your case.


So long as you don't try to verbally abuse or otherwise use subversive emotionally pressure, so that I might concede to you against my free intellectual conscience, I am happy to listen. Let me feel comfortable honestly working through my own ideas for myself until my own mind is truly convinced based on all the best available arguments, evidence, and considerations. If you can engage and convince me in such a manner that respects me as a free thinker, then by all means please enlighten and correct me if you can. If you want to encourage me about how to be a more civil and compassionate arguer, consistent with affirming the value of me speaking my mind, then do that too.

My problem is not with people who see things differently than I do. Some are more insightful and excite me to evolve my own thinking. Others may be frustratingly obtuse. But so long as they're saying what they really think (or being upfront enough when they're exploring positions they're not actually committed to hypothetically), I'm never going to blame someone for simply disagreeing, no matter how adamant I might be that they're wrong or being systematically irrational, self-deceiving, prejudicial, etc.

My problem is with people who ostensibly do see things as I do and yet complain that I or others like me dare to say what we think. I am tired of being told by atheists not to argue about the truth of theism.

I am tired of being told by fellow evolution supporters that it's only appropriate to criticize creationism and that it is somehow inappropriate to argue that accepting the factual dynamic of natural selection philosophically requires either outright abandoning Christian theism or, at least, drastically revising it in ways few Christians are willing to deal with.

know it is better that religious people have truer explicit, or functionally effective, beliefs and values. So long as they feel pulled to be religious, I encourage them as much as possible to interpret their beliefs, and shape their practices, to be as literally or metaphorically as representative of the true, or creative of the good, as they can. But it's also not my job to say, "That's good enough!" when I see ways they can be still truer and still more conducive of the good. It's my job to speak my mind about where I still see falsehoods. It's up to them to figure out what to make of my sincere objections.

I am tired of being told by handwringing atheists that theistic allies' willingness to accept evolution is probably so tenuous that we can't risk them reverting to creationism by creating a fear that their choice is between evolution and atheism. It's not my job to manipulate religious believers' perceptions for them. I'll encourage them to at least believe in evolution and theism together if the only other option they’ll countenance at the moment is creationism. But I'm under no compunction to pretend I don't see problems even with that compromise and or to refrain from chiding them to think harder from there.

I am tired of being told by elitist atheists that it is inherently gauche, mean, condescending, pushy, intolerant, unsophisticated, ignorant, or uncompassionate to challenge religious beliefs that allegedly "hurt no one" and that "make people happy". I am tired of the way this elides all the ways that living by religious falsehoods does hurt and encumber people (including my younger self, with ramifications for me still today) or make them less happy than they might be.

I am tired of being told that because I want to speak up for what I really think that this automatically makes me closed-minded, absolutist, or "just as bad as a fundamentalist". I offer reasons in arguments, not dogmas. I invite reasoned replies and I change my mind in response to persuasive arguments. There's nothing inherently closed-minded about having or arguing for my opinions and asking for them to be engaged with rationally. By no means are all strong opinions inflexible, arbitrary ones. Some are actually grounded in a wealth of good arguments and still amenable to change. And everyone telling me and my fellow outspoken atheists to shut up has strong opinions too. That's why we so upset them!

Those trying to shame and silence any one who takes their views on philosophy or religion seriously enough to argue about as intolerant and closed-minded are the real enemies of free and open discussion here. They're the ones trying to impose their view that the order of things should be one where people are allowed to stay cocooned in their own arbitrary faith communities, safely insulated from challenges to their basic beliefs or values. They're the ones who mischaracterize rational arguments that appeal directly to people's minds as irrational impositions against people's wills. They're the ones backing up the practice of responding to rational arguments with calls for the discussion to be preemptively stopped and for those being refuted to be protected from intellectual challenge, coddled in the misapplied name of tolerance.

You can, as I myself have incessantly done, insist that atheists not verbally degrade, insult, and disparage theists, without telling them to stop making fair-game philosophical challenges. You can argue adamantly that atheists should not call religious people "stupid" without also saying atheists have no right to call it irrational when religious believers tenaciously cling to baseless beliefs by a faith-based, religiously ingrained and cultivated, willingness to dig into their prejudices in the teeth of all counter-evidence and basic sense. You can suggest that atheists not have acrimonious personal relationships with religious people and not start fights over religion at funerals or other emotionally vulnerable times for others, without also encouraging a policy of atheists always hiding their true thoughts away and deferring to religious feelings as paramount socially, and without bemoaning abstract arguments in appropriate times, places, and forums wherein atheists uncompromisingly give atheistic criticisms of religious answers to suffering.

I am tired of the condescending assumption that religious people would prefer to be treated with patronizing kid gloves than actually be engaged with authentic challenges and criticisms, as though they typically like being patted on the head as benighted rubes who can't crave, understand, or emotionally handle the truth. I find this condescension offensive and harmful on behalf of my younger, religiously fervent self, whom it insults.

I am tired of the ill-supported belief that having the truth is irrelevant to an ideal life so long as one is psychologically sated. I am tired of people acting as though it is not at all empowering but somehow inherently stifling when I implore religious people to embrace their moral rights to full freedom of rational thought, engage in genuinely open ended inquiry, and experience true intellectual autonomy. Leaving my faith behind was liberating and maturing in a way I want for others. I'm not ashamed of this.

I am tired of atheists who refuse to appreciate or care about just how much excessive, stifling, rationalizing deference to religious traditions and authorities causes intellectual and moral stagnation, regression, and outright training in what can fairly be called anti-critical-thinking skills. I am tired of atheists who waive away the reality that religious people routinely not only argue in irrational ways but also make explicit defenses of irrationalism and belittling attacks on science and the entire secular world in their routinely cultish reactionary backlashes. This is a problem. I am not apologizing for defending reason against these assaults on it. The presence of some rationality that does work within religion does not make this a non-issue.

I am tired of people insisting none of these things are problems so long as people are "happy", as though systematic misunderstandings about reality, psychologically ingrained in people with the force of literally religious pressure to never change them, could not lead to any systematic intellectual or moral failures worth blaming religious indoctrination itself for. As though living well and thriving doesn't ever hinge in any tangible or meaningful ways on actually seeing the world as cleareyed as possible when making decisions or understanding oneself. And as thought knowing the world more truly had no intrinsic value, when I would argue it does.

I am tired of being told by politically liberal atheists that challenging theological falsehoods for their own sake is a distraction from "real issues", a threat to political coalition building, and a matter of taking the bait to engage in the dreaded "culture wars", which would otherwise somehow (miraculously maybe?) go away if only secularists ignored fundamentalists and pretended they were a much smaller fringe than they demonstrably are.

I am tired of so many religion-appeasing secularists' moral and cultural shortsighted irresponsibility that mistakenly assumes the only place values matter is in the spheres of legislation and politics, and not in the private spheres of fundamental beliefs, morals, and culture that constitute the very soil of a people and its values.

I am tired of having my concern for what is true and good conflated by other atheists with a desire to impose my beliefs on others when I simply make arguments and never advocate for using the state to impose my beliefs or values beyond what is necessary for the sake of political justice. The ideal of free speech means we can and must have vigorous public arguments about the true and the good, however uncomfortable that makes everyone. This is completely consistent with (and complementary to) the government staying as neutral as possible on questions of what is metaphysically true or what the good life is for individuals.

We can and must have cultural, philosophical, and moral arguments. They don't have to turn into violations of anyone's rights to their own opinions or own ways of life. They don't necessarily in any way violate others' legal rights to pursue their own visions of the good life as they wish. I am tired of having my interest in conscientious and explicit dialogue and debate about the most fundamental beliefs, values, commitments, and identities demonized. Yes, we have all dealt with obnoxious, authoritarian, bullying proselytizers. The solution is not the end of all discussion of contentious philosophical or religious matters. The solution is the deliberate and scrupulous inculcation of civil, respectful, rational, and compassionate norms and attitudes for having these discussions. But the discussions need to happen. It's irresponsible not to have them.

I am tired of fellow apostate atheists who act like even though they were able to see their way out of their false religious beliefs no one else apparently can. I am tired of them hypocritically telling me that it's pointless to argue with those "stupid" and hopelessly closedminded religious people. How fascinatingly forgetful or arrogant of you to think you're the only one who can look at evidence and change your mind.

I am tired of the defeatism of atheists who see the enormity of religious hegemony and the religious sway over individuals' minds that fortifies them against changing their minds easily, and simply conclude we should pack up our tents and just learn to live with perpetual ignorance as an ineradicable feature of life. The religions that survive and thrive do so because their adherents are indefatigable. Christianity is here today because a tiny minority of an oppressed people living under a conquering empire would not shut the fuck up two thousand years ago. They would not stop telling everyone they came in contact with about their beliefs. Judaism is still here because it endured for thousands of years as a persecuted religion as Jews always simply refused to capitulate to other religions' pressures and convert.

And today, Mormonism, a wildly ludicrous religion easily debunked by the most rudimentary knowledge of indisputable recent modern history is among the fastest growing religions. Presumably this has at least something to do with Mormons going door to door to door to door undeterred.

Christians for two millennia now have shown up in places where no one agreed with them at all and set about brazenly, methodically, and imperialistically taking over those cultures. I am not saying we should adopt all the manipulative and imposing and obnoxious and even violent tactics religions have used to entrench their power. But we also shouldn't just shut up and get out of their way and simply hope they stop or lose steam on their own. We should be scrupulously rational and honest and educational, rather than manipulative. But we should not be silent. We should be a counterforce. We need to speak up and develop competing cultural forces of Humanism. Our choice is simple. Stand up explicitly for atheism or continue to be steamrolled by theism. I refuse to be streamrolled.

And I'm tired of atheists who trip over themselves praising the sophistication of more liberal believers and accusing other atheists of simply being uniformly ignorant of the wonders of supposedly philosophically sophisticated theology. I'm tired of being falsely accused of being a "fundamentalist too" just because I take fundamentalist versions of faiths, believed in by millions, seriously enough to spend time arguing against them on their own terms. That does not make me philosophically or theologically ignorant. I do it because I'm concerned for the minds of fundamentalists and those susceptible to their influence.

I apostasized after being immersed in Christianity until I was nearly 22 years old. I lived, ate, drank, slept, and abstained from sex Christianity. I evangelized all my friends. I went to one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the country. I spent my summers at Christian camps, including six straight as a camp counselor. I took ten theology classes, learned about numerous liberal stripes of the faith. And after finally becoming disillusioned with my faith as formulated in evangelical terms, I spent another year reading liberal theology just to be sure I had given the faith every fair shot. Then I went to a Jesuit graduate school and so, despite being in a predominantly atheistic field (philosophy), studied with a solid majority Catholics and evangelical Christians. I roomed with and became close friends with a budding Thomas Aquinas scholar. A Jesuit priest philosophy professor went out of his way to verbally compliment me on the quality of my medieval comprehensive exam answers on St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. I am published  in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Supplement 2012-13: Ethics and Philosophy Description: http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=camwitham-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1414480857 and have contributed reviews on books on Nietzsche's philosophy of religion to International Philosophical Quarterly, a theistic philosophy journal, and contributed a chapter to the mostly religious philosophy anthology Rethinking Secularization: Philosophy and the Prophecy of a Secular AgeDescription: http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=camwitham-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1443810088. When I argue that the philosophically “sophisticated” Thomistic account of God is a bait and switch, I do so from a well informed.

While I am sure I have plenty of nuances to learn about this liberal theology or that, or this novel theistic metaphysical formulation or that, I am educated enough that I am entitled to my opinions that theistic philosophy and theology, even in liberal forms, are basically wrongheaded. Also so qualified are many of the ~83% of professional philosophers who don't identify as theists and the ~70% that expressly either lean towards or outright accept atheism. This includes the ~82% of metaphysicians, those specialists presumably best placed to authoritatively analyze theism from an informed and unscientistic perspective, who neither lean towards nor accept theism.

Atheism is not a philosophically ignorant position in need of correction from sophisticated theology. The situation is quite reversed, if you ask me. And while the average atheist may not have my or other professional philosophers' levels of technical specialization, there is a widespread phenomenon of extensive religious education, even and especially seminary preparation for ministry, making people atheists.

And it’s no surprise that Pew's religious literacy study showed that the average atheist knows more about religion than the average theist. So many atheists had to earn their atheism, inch by inch, largely by themselves and alienated, struggling with their intellectual consciences against enormous religious pressure and their own personal religious desires and commitments. So many of us risked losing friends, family, jobs, marriages, and our entire senses of our own identities. I'm tired of us being told to now spend the rest of our lives tip toeing around religious people's feelings and beliefs. We have earned the right to get on every soapbox we can find and denounce the lies and damage done to us. We have earned our place in the conversation. And my fellow apostates and the burgeoning doubters on their way there deserve people who reach out to them. They deserve a vibrant outspoken community of unapologetic atheists who let them know there is life outside of what they've often been downright brainwashed to believe is the only world they could ever live in.

They deserve a strong community of unabashed and experienced and constructive atheists who care about other atheists to help them with their transition into non-belief and the development of a new, post-faith-based identity. This is psychologically a fissuring experience for so many of us. (Ex-pastor Jerry DeWitt aptly calls his experience "Identity Suicide".) Atheists don't deserve to be abandoned. They don't deserve to be forced to defer completely to their religious spouses when it comes to their religious kids' education. They don't deserve to have no alternative, constructive communities and resources of their own for working out their philosophies and educating their kids in values. They don't deserve to deal alone with their former fellow believers prejudicially judging them.

And even atheists who were never religious have lived so much under religious hegemony that it is a joke to accuse them of disqualifying ignorance of religion. As marginalized and routinely scapegoated people they are fully entitled to denounce what religion has been to them.

So I am sick of hearing from atheists who accuse atheists generally as not yet enough schooled in theology to denounce religion or who sneer at us for deigning to attack religious beliefs the average person in the pews really hold just because there's some sophisticated theologian with a developed rationalization that undermines that lay religious person's literal belief. I reserve the right to criticize false beliefs actually held regardless of whether some others within a religion don't happen to hold them. Thanks for the advice to shut up, fellow atheist. Thanks for your assurances about what religions *really* are about and your apparent assumptions that the theologians will corral the believers for themselves. But I don't buy it.

And it's dishonest to compare the lay atheist, or the atheist writing outside his particular field of special expertise for criticizing false religious beliefs, to the most sophisticated theologian. Compare apples to apples here. The lay atheist stacks up far better than the lay religious person in rational honesty and consistency and even in religious literacy. And among academics? It's no contest. It's a blow out. Rates of atheism in the sciences are disproportionately higher than in the lay public. 83% of the public believes in a personal god while only 33% of scientists do. Among elite scientists? An unmitigated blow out. ~93% of the National Academy of Scientists don't believe in any personal gods. And, again, philosophers, those most technically trained in epistemology, ethical theory, metaphysics, logic, etc. are overwhelmingly disinclined towards theism. The only subset of philosophers strongly inclined towards theism are philosophers of religion–those philosophers most inclined to be engaged in philosophy from a motive to rationalize their religious commitments rather than to discover the truth for its own sake, whatever it might be. (Reasonable Doubts has a good new episode detailing this point.)

So, no, atheism is not too unsophisticated a position just because atheism popularizers or internet atheists are sometimes sloppy or paint with broad strokes. Atheism is not simply propped up by an epidemic of low information. It's religions that are depending on rank and file ignorance of what their own philosophers and theologians really think in order to stay in business. Atheists do not need to keep being told to continue first studying theology and some day come back at some ever receding and stalled "right time" to finally criticize theism.

We know enough to start speaking now. And I'm not shutting up. If you don't like what I say, send me your counter-arguments. Your invitations to quiet down only make me louder.

Your Thoughts?

 

Daniel Fincke has his PhD in Philosophy from Fordham University. He blogs at Camels With Hammers and Empowerment Ethics.  He independently teaches interactive online philosophy classes anyone can sign up for. You can friend him on Facebook.

Written By: Dan Fincke
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108 comments on “Why I’m Not Shutting Up About Atheism.

  • 2
    alaskansee says:

    I agree, don’t shut up – I have no time for the only one way to skin a cat crowd, but it needs editing down from full philosopher to readable.



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  • 3
    Michael Rohde says:

    I couldn’t stomach the comma-delimited list of communication means. Sky written messages? Interpretive dances? Seriously?

    For all this man’s intelligence, why can’t he grasp that points are best communicated with a minimal number of words?



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  • 5
    JustMagicMaria says:

    “And I’m tired of atheists who trip over themselves praising the sophistication of more liberal believers and accusing other atheists of simply being uniformly ignorant of the wonders of supposedly philosophically sophisticated theology.”

    This. If I hear, “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in him either” one more time I think I will vomit. I’ve read Tillich. He was full of crap too.



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  • 6
    peter salole says:

    One of the reasons I find Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins so powerful is their ability to be precise and to the point with few words. 🙂



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  • 7
    ibelson1 says:

    Ditto to the other 6 commentators. I agree with his thesis, but he does in several hundred words what Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins could do in a tweet.



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  • 8
    Alan4discussion says:

    Daniel Fincke has his PhD in Philosophy from Fordham University.

    I guessed it was something like that from the verbosity and the length of the OP.



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  • 9
    Mr DArcy says:

    Is the author paid by number of words written ?

    A plea to philosophers : Please be succinct in your use of words. If you have nothing to say, please use no words at all. Oh and if at all possible, please use words that most ordinary mortals understand. Thanks !

    PS What the hell is a “lay atheist” ?



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  • 10
    jjbircham says:

    why is this guy’s pseudobabel constantly being put up here on this website.
    Even if his theories have credance he needs to learn plain english to get his message out there. Unless teaching obscure (dare I say it, post modern) gibberish to a handfull of philosophy students is his main aim in life. Btw I haven’t read a single word of what he has to say above. I lost interest when I saw his name and photo , AGAIN, at the top of the page. I doubt he has improved much.
    Atheism is such a simple notion, theism is so devoid of evidence that there really is no no need for pseudointellectual window dressing.



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  • 12
    Catfish says:

    Daniel, you sound like a crank preacher! This is not a good look for the promotion of critical thinking and reason. Get a hobby for gods sake. Being an atheist should not take up any more of your time than not believing in astrology (ie. zero). If you are really so obsessed with playing the Martyr and fighting the atheist revolution then I recommend a more subtle approach than what you seem to have been doing to date.



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  • 13
    Speusippus says:

    Please don’t confuse any longwindedness you perceive on Dan’s part with a purported longwindedness in philosophy itself. Philosophy in the States is mostly in the Analytic tradition, which values succinctness and precision.

    And though I do think Dan could pare this article down, there is no sense in which it consists in gibberish or (god forbid!) post-modern thinking. In fact he’s saying something completely at odds with a post-modern mentality. Namely, he’s insisting that there is an objective truth, and that he should be free to confront people with it.

    In reply to #10 by jjbircham:

    why is this guy’s pseudobabel constantly being put up here on this website.
    Even if his theories have credance he needs to learn plain english to get his message out there. Unless teaching obscure (dare I say it, post modern) gibberish to a handfull of philosophy students is his main aim in life. Bt…



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  • 15
    sminhinnick says:

    Dan Fincke – some friendly advice – in writing, often less is more. I don’t disagree with anything you have written, and you express your points with passion and enthusiasm. It is all absolutely correct, and – in my book – even too restrained and polite. But your article was too long.

    Maybe you could break it into several shorter posts, each making subsidiary points. P.Z. Myers did a good one about theists telling atheists they need to study up on the details of religion before they can criticise it. His post was called “The Courtier’s Reply” (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/24/the-courtiers-reply/). That is the type of succinct writing that gets people’s attention.

    But don’t stop writing. Just make it a little briefer. Thanks.



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  • 16
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #1 by Steven007:

    I am tired of reading this rant. No offense.

    No offense taken! It’s a long piece, it’s not for everyone to read the whole thing. I just hope there’s at least something of value for those who read only part.



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  • 17
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #3 by Michael Rohde:

    I couldn’t stomach the comma-delimited list of communication means. Sky written messages? Interpretive dances? Seriously?

    Actually, no, not seriously. It was a joke. I realize in retrospect, in what turned out to be a long post that I wound up submitting to an audience unfamiliar with me, such a long exercise in hyperbolic absurdism was a bad idea. My apologies. I figured people would just skim that paragraph when they got the gist and move on, none the worse for wear. Once the post grew to 3,500 words, I should have gone back and trimmed the indulgence.

    For all this man’s intelligence, why can’t he grasp that points are best communicated with a minimal number of words?

    Sometimes. Sometimes not. Often the devil is in the details and my ability is to catch all the nuances and build defenses against all the normally vulnerable areas of attack. It matters to be as precise as I try to be. But, that said, I also admittedly indulged in some repetition and superfluous flourish. Those were for the sake of rhetoric. It’s a genre call, this is a piece of polemic. In a few places, there’s excess repetition worth cutting, but not in most. Most of it has a point.



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  • 18
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #4 by Michael Rohde:

    Come to think of it, people probably aren’t telling him to shut up because of his atheism.

    HA! I know you’re half-kidding but to be pedantic a moment: they rarely actually tell me individually to shut up. I am luckily more listened to than most. I just take the thousand ways atheists are essentially to shut up personally and chose to write in a personal way.



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  • 19
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #9 by Mr DArcy:

    Is the author paid by number of words written ?

    I donated this piece since I thought it might appeal to Dawkins’s readers as a thorough defense. I received no payment.

    A plea to philosophers : Please be succinct in your use of words. If you have nothing to say, please use no words at all.

    A few admitted rhetorical flourishes, redundancies, and infelicities aside, I really don’t waste my words. I had plenty to say so I used plenty of words. I wanted to write a relatively comprehensive response to a range of common criticisms. I want a post that I (and others) can point to to make rhetorically make a summary case against a litany of common attacks. Answering them all together adds persuasive power since it means that critics actually reading the whole thing are left with few excuses left to silence us.

    But in either case, not all philosophers are as verbose as I. Though when accuracy requires adding a thousand qualifications, so be it. The truth isn’t always simple or simply stated. I would rather say it right with more words than wrong with fewer. And, yes, it really is that choice quite often.

    Oh and if at all possible, please use words that most ordinary mortals understand. Thanks !

    Hmmm, I didn’t use any technical jargon I was aware of. What words did you have trouble with?

    PS What the hell is a “lay atheist…

    In context, a lay atheist is one who is not engaging with atheism from a vantage point of profession or expertise. I.e., an atheist who is not specifically bringing a scientific or philosophical specialization to bear or representing atheism in formal forums, etc. In other words, just someone who happens to be an atheist, not someone especially qualified or designated to argue for it.



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  • 20
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #15 by aroundtown:

    Thanks Dan. Even though the post is wordy the input is valid. This can be a tough room around here sometimes but it’s not malicious, just critically focused on most occasions. It has scared me away once or twice, or three times and more, but you just grow a thicker skin. Your input and opinion,…

    Thanks aroundtown! Everyone’s been civil, even if a little curt, and I know the post is very long and at times rhetorically indulgent, and I know the audience is largely new to me, etc., so I understand the criticisms for the most part. Some are even constructive in nature. I’m glad you liked the post though and took concern for my feelings!



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  • 21
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #13 by Speusippus:

    And though I do think Dan could pare this article down, there is no sense in which it consists in gibberish or (god forbid!) post-modern thinking. In fact he’s saying something completely at odds with a post-modern mentality. Namely, he’s insisting that there is an objective truth, and that he should be free to confront people with it.

    Exactly. Thanks. That’s the only criticism that’s been bothering me–the one that conflates verbosity for obscurantism and reflexively bashes philosophy. I use a lot of words but they’re specifically about adding precision and clarity, rather than obscuring anything. Sometimes my sentences are stuffed with qualifications (or, in the worst cases relative clauses and parentheses) so one might need to slow down as one reads, but it should all be fundamentally clear to careful readers.



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  • 22
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #10 by jjbircham:

    why is this guy’s pseudobabel constantly being put up here on this website.

    The editors are enthusiastic about my stuff. I’m very grateful to them for this.

    Even if his theories have credance he needs to learn plain english to get his message out there.

    I do use plain English.

    Unless teaching obscure (dare I say it, post modern) gibberish to a handfull of philosophy students is his main aim in life.

    I am not a post-modernist at all. This is simply your ignorance. Your impatience with philosophy and apparent inexperience reading it in order to acclimate to it does not make you a good judge of what you’re reading. From a remark like this, I get the impression you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between good philosophy and bad in the first place. That’s not a terrible thing–no one can be expert in everything. But it doesn’t evince a love of learning to throw fits and disparaging what you don’t understand just because reading something unfamiliar to you is challenging and requires patience and some acclimation.

    Btw I haven’t read a single word of what he has to say above. I lost interest when I saw his name and photo , AGAIN, at the top of the page. I doubt he has improved much.

    You’re criticizing a piece you refused to read? And I’m the one with the problem?

    Atheism is such a simple notion, theism is so devoid of evidence that there really is no no need for pseudointellectual window dressing.

    It’s not pseudointellectual window dressing to deal with a wide range of objections with nuance, precision, and, dare I even attempt this, some rhetorical passion and flourish. I’m sorry it’s not for you, but the whole world doesn’t need to stop doing philosophy or engaging in rhetoric because you don’t have the patience for either.



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  • 23
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #16 by sminhinnick:

    Dan Fincke – some friendly advice – in writing, often less is more.

    Agreed. I made a judgment call that there was room for a summary post, laying out an extensive case, shutting down numerous possible objections point by point, and written with some flourish to express and inspire compelling defiance. I probably could have trimmed some of it, but I for one am glad I have a thorough post to point to the next time I encounter someone with a litany of reasons atheists should shut up.

    I don’t disagree with anything you have written, and you express your points with passion and enthusiasm. It is all absolutely correct, and – in my book – even too restrained and polite.

    Thank you.

    But your article was too long.

    Well, at least you agreed and hopefully you gained from reading it anyway.

    Maybe you could break it into several shorter posts, each making subsidiary points. P.Z. Myers did a good one about theists telling atheists they need to study up on the details of religion before they can criticise it. His post was called “The Courtier’s Reply” (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/24/the-courtiers-reply/). That is the type of succinct writing that gets people’s attention.

    I have written thousands of posts half this length (and even ones shorter), many of which I linked to throughout this post. But there’s a time and a place to draw together numerous strands and make a more overwhelmingly thorough case. I thought this was the time. But a guest post on a website not my own may not have been the place!

    But don’t stop writing. Just make it a little briefer. Thanks.

    Thank you!



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  • 24
    sminhinnick says:

    Another thought – perhaps some sub-headings might have been useful to break up the “wall of words”.

    I do a fair amount of technical writing in my job, where I have to make complex ideas simple for regular readers (and even simpler for senior managers!). It is seriously an art and a science, one where you never stop learning. The secret I have found is to use very plain language and keep it short. If you can’t keep it short, try to chunk the writing up into bite-size pieces, under logical headings.

    It is hard. It can take ages to phrase a few paragraphs to get a complex idea across in an understandable way, and is much like writing a haiku.

    Anyway, I hope my comments are taken as constructive. We need as many good writers on our side as we can get!



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  • 25
    Sean_W says:

    Hi Dan, thanks for posting.

    In another thread here I said this about one of your pieces:

    Okay, sadly he’s not necessarily going to explain all the reasons why he thinks an objective morality is possible in this post. (Note- I’m not really sad. I think others have already done it.)

    I doubt you read it, but in the off chance and because I feel bad about it I’ll take the opportunity to explain my intentions. I wanted to niggle those who were in my opinion presenting some impressive philosophical chops but not for whatever reason connecting with what you were saying.

    -cheers



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  • 26
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #26 by Sean_W:

    Hi Dan, thanks for posting.

    In another thread here I said this about one of your pieces:

    Okay, sadly he’s not necessarily going to explain all the reasons why he thinks an objective morality is possible in this post. (Note- I’m not really sad. I think others have already done it.)

    I doubt you rea…

    No problem! I wouldn’t be upset by such a comment in the slightest.

    I have only quickly skimmed and not carefully read the comments on my other posts linked here recently. All I’ll say is that comments like you were apparently responding to are exactly why I have to write thousands of words per post. Whatever I leave out people will just hone in on to the exclusion of the points I actually made, thinking that they can undermine it by focusing on what I didn’t put in THAT one post. So, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If I write too little, people seize on the opening to criticize and ignore what I actually said. If I write throughly enough, then I’m insufferably long winded philosophical blowhard who doesn’t know how to write, etc, etc.

    Anyway, thanks again for pointing out that the very nature of those Empowerment Ethics posts is to lay everything out a piece at a time and not overwhelm people with the whole story in one post. For an overview of numerous strategies for moral objectivity that I defend, here is a key post on that: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/04/a-map-with-a-few-of-my-paths-to-objective-morality/



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  • 27
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #25 by sminhinnick:

    Another thought – perhaps some sub-headings might have been useful to break up the “wall of words”.

    I do a fair amount of technical writing in my job, where I have to make complex ideas simple for regular readers (and even simpler for senior managers!). It is seriously an art and a science, one where you never stop learning. The secret I have found is to use very plain language and keep it short. If you can’t keep it short, try to chunk the writing up into bite-size pieces, under logical headings.

    It is hard. It can take ages to phrase a few paragraphs to get a complex idea across in an understandable way, and is much like writing a haiku.

    Anyway, I hope my comments are taken as constructive. We need as many good writers on our side as we can get!

    YES, I need to use more subheadings. I get frustratingly lazy about putting in those simple sorts of aids to readers. I kind of deplete my energy writing my posts and then the simple tasks of doing little things to improve reading ease, like adding subheadings or going back and breaking up or streamlining a few longwinded sentences, seem like too much of a chore when they could make all the difference.

    But this post, rearranged just a bit and given catchy subtitles, maybe organized into a digestible top 10 or something could have been instantly far more accessible. Thanks for the constructive feedback!



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  • 28
    Stephen Mynett says:

    In reply to #20 by Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics):

    In reply to #9 by Mr DArcy:

    In context, a lay atheist is one who is not engaging with atheism from a vantage point of profession or expertise. I.e., an atheist who is not specifically bringing a scientific or philosophical specialization to bear or representing atheism in formal forums, etc. In other words, just someone who happens to be an atheist, not someone especially qualified or designated to argue for it.

    Who do you consider to be qualified to argue for atheism? I hope you were not being elitist with that comment but that is how it came across.



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  • 29
    Shane S. says:

    Great post Dan. Always liked this quote in regard to the issue:

    “I respect you as a person too much to respect your ridiculous beliefs.”
    ― Johann Hari

    I’ve always felt patronizing to do anything otherwise.

    And for some housekeeping, the line:
    “And as thought knowing the world more truly had no intrinsic value” is likely meant to be And as though*



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  • 30
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #13 by Speusippus:

    Please don’t confuse any longwindedness you perceive on Dan’s part with a purported longwindedness in philosophy itself. Philosophy in the States is mostly in the Analytic tradition, which values succinctness and precision.

    In fact he’s saying something completely at odds with a post-modern mentality.

    It could be argued that many “postmodern” supposed “philosophy” courses are Theosophy consisting of theological obfuscating semantics and fallacious thinking . …

    . . . . . . When the more objective, investigative and rational parts of Natural philosophy were hived off into science departments, leaving the rump-end of theology behind for the postmodernists.

    Namely, he’s insisting that there is an objective truth, and that he should be free to confront people with it.

    Science does look for precise and clear explanations, rather than rambling semantics. Perhaps the more rational, objective, philosophers should tidy up their language and move over to science departments.



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  • 32
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    Who do you consider to be qualified to argue for atheism? I hope you were not being elitist with that comment but that is how it came across.

    I said someone “especially qualified or designated to argue for it”. Everyone who is an atheist should feel free to argue for what they think. But not everyone should be taken to represent atheists with an especially informed and qualified opinion. Atheism is a philosophical position. Some who are more technically trained in the relevant philosophy, or even the relevant history, science, theology, psychology, etc. to have special insights into why theism is false, are more qualified to represent the atheist point of view (or one aspect of it or another) with scholarly credibility or as someone who has otherwise attained the status of a reliable and active spokesperson.



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  • 33
    Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics) says:

    In reply to #31 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #13 by Speusippus:

    It could be argued that many “postmodern” supposed “philosophy” courses are Theosophy consisting of theological obfuscating semantics and fallacious thinking . …

    . . . . . . When the more objective, investigative and rational parts of Natural philosophy were hived off into science departments, leaving the rump-end of theology behind for the postmodernists.

    Science does look for precise and clear explanations, rather than rambling semantics. Perhaps the more rational, objective, philosophers should tidy up their language and move over to science departments.

    Semantics is important–whether I as a blogger sometimes ramble when thinking aloud when I write–I like to think of it more as ambling than rambling as I explore interesting side trails that arise as I go–is wholly beside the point. Nothing about semantics is inherently rambling or unimportant. In fact, your reply just here was an instance of semantics discussion itself. If all that is important is hard science then stop posting here and get thee to a laboratory.

    But your attempt to redefine the word postmodern has no connection to the actual use of the word or the actual state of philosophy. It implies little to no understanding of the contemporary nature of the field.



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  • 34
    Veronique says:

    This was far too long Dan and we all know what you mean anyway. We all get tired of listening to people requesting politeness and tolerance and apologies. We are all sick of it.

    I didn’t read all of your article because I basically know what it says. So. None of us shuts up about atheism, evolution and we all have a go at the Ken Hams and Ray Comforts. It doesn’t matter. We could all write what you have written and we probably have but in digestible bites that aren’t digested by the religites and woo wooers anyway – they just vomit the bites back up. It doesn’t matter.

    Keep going and we all will as well. It doesn’t matter. I fight for secularism these days. Can’t change religites’ minds but can fight to reduce their privilege. And that appears to be working. All to his own. Cheers.



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  • 36
    Stuart Pullinger says:

    Having to concede important factors of society and humanity due to taboo or unreasonable rhetoric from imagined sources is unacceptable in such times, times of available information and growing numbers of autodidacts. The only responsible thing is to be vocal till such sources are not influential.



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  • 37
    Speusippus says:

    You really have a misapprehension of what contemporary philosophy is like, especially in the U.S.

    Analytic philosophers think that prose like this is ideal: http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/rarneson/courses/gettierphilreading.pdf

    Succinct, to the point, precise, as accessible as possible. The goal is clarity, not obscurity.

    In reply to #31 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #13 by Speusippus:

    Please don’t confuse any longwindedness you perceive on Dan’s part with a purported longwindedness in philosophy itself. Philosophy in the States is mostly in the Analytic tradition, which values succinctness and precision.

    In fact he’s saying something completely at…



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  • 38
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #34 by Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics):

    In reply to #31 by Alan4discussion:

    But your attempt to redefine the word postmodern has no connection to the actual use of the word or the actual state of philosophy. It implies little to no understanding of the contemporary nature of the field.

    I have seen examples of it – both human an machine generated.

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

    Science does do follow-up reasoning on big questions – usually concisely, with clarity and accuracy – as well as providing the hard evidence for a starting position to work out the answers.

    I take posts and articles on their merit as I find them.

    I do agree with many of the points you make at the OP.

    If all that is important is hard science then stop posting here and get thee to a laboratory.

    This however is a gross misunderstanding of the role of science, which covers a whole lot of philosophical issues, as well as is role of researching evidence.



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  • 39
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #23 by Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics):

    I am not a post-modernist at all. This is simply your ignorance. Your impatience with philosophy and apparent inexperience reading it in order to acclimate to it does not make you a good judge of what you’re reading. From a remark like this, I get the impression you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between good philosophy and bad in the first place.

    I agree that not all philosophy is just pseudoscience. It’s one of the things that people often say on this site that I disagree with, that the entire discipline of philosophy is just a waste of time and the hard sciences are the only disciplines that actually count as knowledge. I think that idea is fundamentally wrong. However, when I read things like your piece here I can see why people think that.

    For one thing I wonder if you have ever published an actual article in a journal, magazine, or if your entire history of writing is simply blog posts and things written for your PhD. Because this was just awful writing. I find it hard to believe you’ve ever had anyone decent edit your work. Writing is of course highly subjective, but there are some examples of bad writing that are just so bad they transcend subjectivity and this is an example. Look at all the comments here. As a group the people who comment here seldom agree on anything. So when so many who normally argue vehemently with each other agree the rational thing is to do some self reflection. If you had bothered to have any decent writer review your post before it was published they would have told you to slash a good part of it. I’m actually very surprised that the Dawkins site published it and it makes me wonder about the standards here.

    Regarding postmodernism, Alan4Discussion and I often disagree, just keep an eye out the next time there is an article about manned space exploration, but one thing we agree on absolutely is there is no “discipline” in postmodernism that is worth being familiar with. It’s just pseudoscience. And we are in good company. Richard Dawkins thinks so as well:

    Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong
    ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have
    students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What
    kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would
    expose your lack of content. The chances are that you would produce something like
    the following…:
    From: Richard Dawkins Postmodernism Disrobed

    Dawkins then quotes a French postmodernist as he continues to expound (in very clear and concise language) why Postmodernism is, as I said of your work, essentially not even wrong, not coherent enough to even be evaluated.



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  • 40
    David Bush says:

    I agree with every word. And there were lots of them. Religious people preach every minute they can and it’s totally untrue. Atheists should be loud and proud, especially when they deal in reality.



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  • 41
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #40 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #23 by Dan Fincke (CamelsWithHammers/Empowerment Ethics):

    …If you had bothered to have any decent writer review your post before it was published they would have told you to slash a good part of it. I’m actually very surprised that the Dawkins site published it and it makes me wonder about the standards here.

    To be fair, Sam Harris often gets his essays posted here, and these are easily as rambling and self-indulgent as Mr Finke’s offering.



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  • 42
    phil rimmer says:

    I’m tired too, Dan.

    There isn’t time in this busy world for a four sentence idea spun out to…well…

    We have refined palates, Dan. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens. Even Sam Harris stylistically is a joy to read. Its not entirely fair on you to end up on one of the more demanding sites. But most posters here can write pretty well and turn an elegant phrase or two, too.

    Find an editor and stick with it.



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  • 43
    john.forest1 says:

    Agreed, brief and concise would have been superior. And, the man has a point (or several points, or several variations of the same point). As far as atheists/rationalists/secular humanists are concerned, it seems to this observer that it is preferable to avoid in-fighting. There is much to be done to assist our planet-mates with rational thought, critical thought, and inspiration to face the universe head on.



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  • 44
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

    Sam Harris often gets his essays posted here, and these are easily as rambling and self-indulgent as Mr Finke’s offering.

    I think Sam’s ideas have been, on recent occasions, for me, nigh on incoherent. The prose though I still find smooth as silk.

    This (Sam) might be a far worse waste of time, though, drawn in by a trail of candy.



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  • 45
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #45 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

    Sam Harris often gets his essays posted here, and these are easily as rambling and self-indulgent as Mr Finke’s offering.

    I think Sam’s ideas have been, on recent occasions, for me, nigh on incoherent. The prose though I still find smooth as silk.

    I’ve always loved Stephen King’s prose: it’s wonderfully fluid and draws the reader in like no other writer’s can. It doesn’t alter the fact that he hasn’t produced a decent book since Misery. Excellent writing counts for nothing if your ideas are fakakta.



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  • 46
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #40 by Red Dog:
    To be fair, Sam Harris often gets his essays posted here, and these are easily as rambling and self-indulgent as Mr Finke’s offering.

    I don’t agree with Harris on a lot of topics and I think he often wastes a lot of prose on emotional rather than rational arguments. I’ve only submitted two discussion topics and one of them was why I thought Harris was wrong about Free Will as expressed in his book on the topic.

    But I vehemently disagree that the caliber of his writing is even in the same ballpark as this article. Just for starters you don’t get articles and Op Eds published in major media the way Harris does without being able to write decent prose and without knowing how to edit.



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  • 47
    Catfish says:

    In my experience the majority of religious people do not actually believe much of the given religion. Is mainly about bells and smells or socializing. Of course they might claim to “believe” but this is just part of the game. So I do not think it is a good idea to attack theism as if it were a science. 99% of believers probably know the Noahs Ark Fable is not factual. True some people get around claiming it is fact but that is normally financially motivated. The problem with criticizing theism directly is that you are not giving any respect to human intelligence and then proceed to openly insult them by explaining the bloody obvious (eg. Noah could not fit all those animals, etc, etc.) You might suspect from this post that I am personally very tolerant of religious views but I am not. Cannot stand the company of such people but that does not mean I think they are dumb and need a lecture on the “bloody obvious”. You should argue the benefits of science and let the evidence speak for itself. Sorry if this post was a bit wordy.



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  • 48
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #47 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #40 by Red Dog:

    To be fair, Sam Harris often gets his essays posted here, and these are easily as rambling and self-indulgent as Mr Finke’s offering.

    I don’t agree with Harris on a lot of topics and I think he often wastes a lot of prose on emotional ra…

    I know Sam Harris is a hero of New Atheism – one only has to read some of the comments on this thread to understand how popular he is here – but my own familiarity with his writing is confined to what I’ve read through this site.

    What I have read has been long-winded, overly emotional and, frankly, sometimes downright weird. I’m perfectly prepared to accept that the rest of Harris’ body of work is the quintessence of plain-speaking, dispassionate articulateness.

    As other users have suggested, Mr Finke may simply be an author in search of a decent editor. If RDnet champions him the way it does Harris, your man might soon be able to employ one.


    Edit: I do think it’s nice that he has come on to the site and engaged with us. That was cool. Harris never did that. Nor Herb or Maryam Wassername as far as I know.



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  • 50
    phil rimmer says:

    Dan, I’ve gone back over this piece carefully and read some of your blog. I now think you’ve just come out of the gate too fast. This is trying way too hard to impress. The blog posts have much more focus and clarity and would work here far better.

    One point (actually on topic)- you can’t use an emotional bit of strong arm as

    Your invitations to quiet down only make me louder.

    having started with a statement about being unswayed by emotional appeals.



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  • 51
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #38 by Speusippus:
    >

    You really have a misapprehension of what contemporary philosophy is like, especially in the U.S.

    Analytic philosophers think that prose like this is ideal: http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/rarneson/courses/gettierphilreading.pdf

    Succinct, to the point, precise, as accessible as possible. The goal is clarity, not obscurity.

    It would appear that you are familiar with different “philosophy courses” to those who have come here with “philosophy degrees” (theosopy?) from evangelical colleges and universities.

    In reply to #31 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #13 by Speusippus:

    Please don’t confuse any longwindedness you perceive on Dan’s part with a purported longwindedness in philosophy itself. Philosophy in the States is mostly in the Analytic tradition, which values succinctness and precision.

    I have no problem with genuine critical analytic philosophy. My point is that science, has ANSWERED many of the big questions where centuries of navel-gazing philosophers had failed.
    It has actually taken over the discussions of many philosophical questions, and combined them with the expertise and scientific knowledge which provides the basis for informed answers. Science cannot always provide correct answers, but it is excellent at refuting mistaken conceptions.

    This as I pointed out earlier leaves the Theosophers with god-did-it gapology and denial, while the gaps in physics and neuroscience continue to close.

    There are of course cultural, moral and philosophical questions which to not have ready scientific answers, but these have been substantially reduced in numbers as science has answered large numbers of previously imponderable questions.
    The outstanding issues can be viewed much more clearly in philosophical scientific debates, in the absence of postmodernist obfuscation and in the presence of expert scientific advice.



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  • 52
    Mr DArcy says:

    So far most of the thread has been about Dan Finke’s style of writing, a style for which he has defended himself here for robustly. Just my opinion, but the 2 minute drum solo is far better than the 10 minute drum solo. The novelty wanes, the clever technical expertise appears repetitive, and frankly, it becomes boring.

    Having said that, I am also tired of mealy mouthed accommodationist, bystander, nay censorious, atheists, along with the verbose religios, of all kinds, colours and levels of ignorance.

    I think my own posting record on this site demonstrates my loathing of those who promote ignorance and a false view of the world.



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  • 53
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #53 by Mr DArcy:

    So far most of the thread has been about Dan Finke’s style of writing, a style for which he has defended himself here for robustly. Just my opinion, but the 2 minute drum solo is far better than the 10 minute drum solo. The novelty wanes, the clever technical expertise appears repetitive, and frankl…

    Can you name a specific example of someone that you are pissed off at? Your comment and the original article are examples of a certain style — Harris does this all the time as well — where you lash out against all these stupid people who say things that are so obviously stupid they offend you but you never bother to point out even one example of the alleged stupidity.

    I actually agree with you there are some people in the US media, usually on the left — well what in the US is considered left not the actual left — who seem to enjoy hand wringing about how atheists need to be nicer. I find that boring though not infuriating. And sometimes those people also make what I think are good points, e.g., that if you actually want to change someone’s mind, rather than work out your adolescent rage — it’s far more effective to talk to them rationally than to mock them or shout at them.



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  • 54
    Mr DArcy says:

    Hang on there Red Dog !

    Can you name a specific example of someone that you are pissed off at?

    Yes. William Lane Craig, among many others, but he’s a start.

    Sorry if I was too verbose.



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  • 55
    Holes In The Foam says:

    As an atheist blogger who is routinely accused of being “offensive”,”derisive” and/or “counter-productive” by countless other somewhat timid atheists, I concur with Mr. Finke 100%.

    As someone who was indoctrinated old-school catholic, and had to SCREAM my way out of the clutches of religion, let me state one thing for the record. NOTHING is off-limits when it comes to discussing or debating with believers. There are no hands-off topics, and if/when a believer shifts into cognitive dissonance mode, or to that of a blathering moron, he/she deserves to be called on that. I spare no patience or decorum with particularly condescending, over-authoritative believers, who think that they are right no matter what.

    I take great pleasure in using facts and grade-school-level history to let them know that what they believe is not only utterly ludicrous, but dangerous. I debate and argue passionately about the fallacy of belief, because I have seen first-hand what it does to people. In many cases and situations, I feel that I speak for them, and when that’s the case, I just get louder. I particularly find it my inherent duty as a blogger to speak out for bloggers in repressive countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, and even Egypt, where bloggers are persecuted merely for their words. It’s EVERY atheist’s duty to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

    Yes, the piece was long. Read more like a manifesto than anything else. But he hits so many nails on the head, that no right-thinking atheist can possibly say “oh, he didn’t have to say that”. He did.



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  • 56
    LisaMarie says:

    It’s one thing to believe in something, or a lack of something, but it’s quite another altogether to be militantly opposed to any other viewpoints. If a group of people feel the need to believe in some bearded, robed, wish-granting leprechaun in the sky who gives them mansions after they die, then who am I or anyone else to disabuse them of that? Why do we have to force anyone else to think the way we do? Whether they do or not does not change the validity of our own thoughts. Being so opposed to the mere existence of an opposing viewpoint makes us no better than them…some sort of militant, born-again, evangelical atheists. I’d like to think we’re better than that, and not prone to stooping to the level of a bunch of delusional religiosos.



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  • 57
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #57 by LisaMarie:

    It’s one thing to believe in something, or a lack of something, but it’s quite another altogether to be militantly opposed to any other viewpoints. If a group of people feel the need to believe in some bearded, robed, wish-granting leprechaun in the sky who gives them mansions after they die, then w…

    Very well said, that is my feeling absolutely. I got so focused on the writing I really didn’t even address the actual issue and what you said is exactly the way I feel as well.

    One of the things I hate about left wing politics is the way some people on the left encourage people to think of themselves in various categories and to be on the look out to get offended if someone doesn’t show their particular group the proper respect. Some of my close friends are active in the gay rights movement and they are always telling me how frustrating it is to deal with this “gayer than thou” mind set.

    I was actually having a conversation with someone about this yesterday. Apparently some straight male singer performed a song about gay rights at the Grammys as part of what sounded like a nice affirmation of things like gay marriage. And people in San Francisco who are strident in the gay rights movement got all upset with it “how dare they have a straight guy sing a song like that” nonsense like that. I feel secularists, atheists, people who believe in reason and science, should just try and be above petty behavior such as that.



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  • Allthough I am lowly educated mere mortal who has a bit trouble at describing himself between atheist and agnostic, what I thought about this textwall:

    It is not “the internet”-effect, people just don’t want to read rambling text, unless it is humorous.

    I agree with the points in this text, but really felt it was hard to stay focused or interested because of the plethora of “intellectual” words.

    Still, I agree.

    p.s. Sorry about the grammar, english is not my native language and poorly educated.



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  • 59
    AlexNWA says:

    KISS, Keep It Simple, Smartypants. I’ll stop criticizing religion when they stop foisting their mythology on everyone and enshrining them into law. Closet atheist, come on out.



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  • 60
    terrygorle says:

    In reply to #57 by LisaMarie:

    It’s one thing to believe in something, or a lack of something, but it’s quite another altogether to be militantly opposed to any other viewpoints. If a group of people feel the need to believe in some bearded, robed, wish-granting leprechaun in the sky who gives them mansions after they die, then w…

    Tolerance is a noble utopian ideal, but the unfortunate reality is that people with delusional beliefs control many aspects of politics and the media machine that influence laws, policies, regulations, and cultural ignorance that is detrimental to life on this planet. There are certain issues that must be viewed as black and white, beyond any shade of interpretation. Some people simply need to be stopped from doing harm.



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  • 61
    rolf.obermaier says:

    Philosopher: someone that doesn’t have shortening streamlining capability.

    I mean, you are right but you give too much around the bush…



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  • Tough Crowd. I personaly don’t get it why some like to say in a 1000 words what could be said in 100. I’ ve read once Dawkins praising something like the economy of words, about some article by Matt Ridley.



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  • 63
    The Rose says:

    An excellent presentation of your views. In light of the comments, it seems a listing or a link to a very brief point-form summary may have been helpful in getting the message across to more readers, even in ticking many to read the full article.
    Those who shout loudest about freedom of religion are often the most intrusive when the right to doubt these beliefs are voiced.



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  • 64
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #63 by groo:

    Tough Crowd. I personaly don’t get it why some like to say in a 1000 words what could be said in 100. I’ ve read once Dawkins praising something like the economy of words, about some article by Matt Ridley.

    Science is about presenting the maximum accurate information in the minimum amount of text!
    E = MC²



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  • 65
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #62 by rolf.obermaier:

    Philosopher: someone that doesn’t have shortening streamlining capability.

    Don’t let one philosopher tarnish all of us. I agree that a lot of philosophy is just pseudoscience babble no different than postmodernism but there is a lot of bad writing in all the humanities and soft sciences. Philosophers such as Bertrand Russell aren’t that way at all and some of them such as Wittgenstein or Nietzsche (his earlier works) are actually models of being able to say a lot with a few words.



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  • 66
    LisaMarie says:

    In reply to #61 by terrygorle:

    In reply to #57 by LisaMarie:

    If the problem lies with the practice of their beliefs rather than the content, then aren’t we fighting the wrong battle? The worst thing you can do when addressing a zealot is to challenge their beliefs. They dig in their heels like mules and refuse to be reasoned with, because you’ve now challenged the supposed nature of their existence. The human mind won’t allow that to happen on that level. Instead, we need to appeal to their higher reason and educate them on the fundamental ideologies that this country was founded on. I think that most problems in this regard lay with ignorance of the law rather than willful disregard of it. It’s easy to believe the worst of a person or group of persons, but it’s nobler and ultimately more useful to respect them and give them the benefit of the doubt.



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  • 67
    Magorian says:

    I thought that this was wonderful and necessary, and I didn’t mind the length because of how impassioned it was. Aside from a minor nitpick about intrinsic value, I agreed with every word. Thank you, Daniel.



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  • 68
    walterwhite says:

    The author is probably brilliant but as he says, he should have been, perhaps, ‘briefer’ or ‘clearer’ or just a better writer for those of us not familiar with him. Problem is, I’m so inundated with stuff to read that this first intro to him means I’ll probably avoid him in the future. It’ll probably be my loss, but I’m ok with that because the gentleman just goes on and on.



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  • 69
    Stephen Mynett says:

    In reply to #69 by walterwhite:

    . . . Problem is, I’m so inundated with stuff to read that this first intro to him means I’ll probably avoid him in the future.

    That will probably be my option as well, although I also question whether he really has much to say or is just in the business of selling his philosophy courses to make money. Fordham is not a US university I know of, so have no idea of its standard but I am aware that the USA, like the UK, has far too many chocolate teapot establishments giving out degrees.

    It has been mentioned in other posts the need for Finke to get a good editor, I think his website shows that to be true as well, here are the first three paragraphs from the courses section of his site. Anyone spot any repetition.

    I have a PhD in Philosophy from Fordham University. I taught over 2,450 students spread across 93 sections of Philosophy during 11 years in university classrooms. In 2005, based on student voting, I earned the Fordham University Graduate Student Association’s Teaching Fellow of the Year award. I am an adjunct assistant professor and an APPA certified philosophical practitioner. This fall I am teaching matriculated college courses at City College CUNY and Hofstra University.

    I use interactive video conferencing technology (Google Hangout) to offer affordable, non-matriculated, private philosophy classes. These classes are NOT eligible for any college credit whatsoever. They are for people interested in learning for other reasons than college credit.

    I am a college professor with a PhD in Philosophy, over ten years teaching experience, and a teaching award. I use interactive video conferencing technology (Google Hangout) to offer affordable, non-matriculated, private philosophy classes. These classes are NOT eligible for any college credit whatsoever. They are for people interested in learning for other reasons than college credit.



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  • “So I am sick of hearing from atheists who accuse atheists generally as not yet enough schooled in theology”#

    Yep. Theology is a rationalization. Very smart people do this so well that they forget
    that religion is a relationship with gods, fairys or the mother goose. Theology is just ad hoc rational justification of primeval stuff we have. And it’s something that grows in complexity and
    obscurity over time because they can put anything in there. It’s unfair because everybody else is stuck with reality.



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  • 71
    Moderator says:

    Moderators’ message

    The points about the length of this piece have been well and truly made now, and we would request that further comments on this thread be about the ideas contained in the article, rather than about the length or style or it.

    Thank you.

    The mods



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  • In reply to #57 by LisaMarie:

    It’s one thing to believe in something, or a lack of something, but it’s quite another altogether to be militantly opposed to any other viewpoints.#

    Yeah. What happens in this cases is that we try to win the debate and forget to find out what’s true or fair. It’s the Lawyer in us that takes control. So whatch out when someone argues using words like always or never.



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  • 73
    briziem says:

    I’m tired with all the “Peace in our time” Liberals too that think Cancer goes away with Tolerance and that Cults, Ideologies and Religions have rights. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society.. then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant” – Karl R. Popper. (INTOLERANCE OF INTOLERANCE IS NOT INTOLERANCE) The Human race seems to learn nothing from History and what Religious tolerance has done



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  • 74
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #74 by briziem:

    I’m tired with all the “Peace in our time” Liberals too that think Cancer goes away with Tolerance and that Cults, Ideologies and Religions have rights. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not…

    That is just rhetoric to justify being rude to people. If your standard is that atheists should be as bad as religious fundamentalists then have at it but I have higher standards for myself and for the fellow atheists that I have any respect for.



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  • 75
    Macleod says:

    It’s a case of message versus messenger.

    Your message is dead on: there is no need to coddle others or censor ourselves.

    As a messenger however, you come across as a pompous and effete blowhard who clearly enjoys the sound of his own voice. You run the very real risk of serving as the epitome of a pontifical intellectual.

    Tolerance is the answer. Think and believe what you want to think and believe. Respect other people’s right to think and believe what they choose. At the end of the day, we atheists are unlikely to change the mind of a believer in the same way a believer isn’t going to change our minds. Rather than wage an unnecessary and unwinnable battle, smile and enjoy your day knowing the planet will still spin.



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  • 76
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #58 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #57 by LisaMarie:

    …I was actually having a conversation with someone about this yesterday. Apparently some straight male singer performed a song about gay rights at the Grammys as part of what sounded like a nice affirmation of things like gay marriage. And people in San Francisco who are strident in the gay rights movement got all upset with it “how dare they have a straight guy sing a song like that” nonsense like that. I feel secularists, atheists, people who believe in reason and science, should just try and be above petty behavior such as that.

    I do have some sympathy for those in the gay rights movement who resent what they see as the usurpation of their struggle by white heterosexuals who may just be using this civil rights struggle to boost their own profile.

    South Park: Flippity Floppity Floop



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  • “So I am sick of hearing from atheists who accuse atheists generally as not yet enough schooled in theology to denounce religion”

    That bit surprised me. This may be stating the obvious but if an atheist is someone who has yet to see or be convinced by evidence supporting the existence of a god then they are either religiously ignorant or have figured out that there is no god for themselves. I haven’t read the bible to any great degree or studied any religion in depth but I’d say I understand enough,coupled with my own life experience, to conclude that I’m an atheist.

    An excellent piece of writing. If that’s what you come up with when you are tired what’s it like when you aren’t? I’m learning a lot from reading pieces such as this and watching the atheist experience etc as it helps to reinforce and increase confidence in own my thinking.



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  • 80
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #74 by briziem:

    I’m tired with all the “Peace in our time” Liberals too that think Cancer goes away with Tolerance and that Cults, Ideologies and Religions have rights. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not…

    I’m puzzled by those atheists who think the answer to how to deal with the ‘cancer’ of religion lies in becoming as shrill and strident as any member of Pastor Fred’s congregation. Did these people never hear the expression you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?

    Militants of any stripe are off-putting to the majority of people. Richard Dawkins is often accused of this, but he has the ability to deliver his message in a velvet glove. Those who attempt to emulate him by being just as uncompromising as he is usually fail miserably. If you don’t have the art to do this sort of thing correctly, it’s probably best not to attempt it. You’re just going to end up looking like a lunatic.



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  • 81
    jon.james.988 says:

    Applause! Applause! Plus an extremely ironic amen. I refuse to “respect other people’s beliefs” and not challenge them. Anyone who even mentions religion gets me going. I don’t seek out religious websites or proselytise on the street, but if people bring it up on news stories or non-religious youtube videos, then I go them with both barrels. I also don’t care to discern which particular shade of grey they adhere to. It’s all nonsense.



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  • 82
    phil rimmer says:

    By not identifying examples of what sort of religious person is being variously attacked or defended, noted or ignored I find an awful lot of the comments here on the substance of the OP of little use.



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  • 83
    offwiththeirheads says:

    I’m more commenting to second, third, fourth, etc. what’s already been said. If this is your usual method of discourse, it is highly likely that the subject of conversation isn’t the problem. I wasn’t half way through your tirade before I couldn’t read any more. Concision is your friend.



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  • 85
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Mr. Fincke, you make some interesting points which I can personally relate to but your article is just way too long. I stopped reading about half way in. Ironically, the comments it generated are also way too long and I didn’t read all of them either. This is the 21st century and most people simply don’t have that much time to spare for reading articles, however interesting the topic might be to them (and it certainly is to me).

    You’re way more educated and better with words that I can ever hope to be. But I humbly suggest you find a way to convey your ideas in less words. I’m no expert in psychology but I know from personal experience that when I take too long to get a point across, people stop listening and go to sleep on me. Ok, so maybe they go to sleep on me for other reasons but I know that being too long is one of them.

    Experience has forced me to take steps to correct this unfortunate trait (I know… not really succeeding but hey, I’m trying) and I suggest you do the same. Everyone will benefit in the end: you, your supporters and even your opponents.



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  • 86
    joeyisared says:

    “This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”
    – Winston Churchill

    But by all means, do not shut up about atheism. Go get ’em, Daniel!



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  • 87
    blainedeyoung says:

    I think there are a few different things going on here, but a big part of it is that on some level people know that stridency and even rudeness is going to be effective.

    Minority groups don’t get public recognition and equal rights by being polite. It’s never happened. It’s never going to happen.

    I invite anyone to try to talk people out of their religious being painfully polite. My experience is that they will patronize you, they will insult you, and then they will ignore you.

    Regardless of what they have to say, Christians are not an oppressed minority group. Atheists are. And if you don’t believe me, you haven’t told enough people that you’re an atheist.



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  • Daniel Finck:

    They deserve a strong community of unabashed and experienced and constructive atheists who care about other atheists to help them with their transition into non-belief and the development of a new, post-faith-based identity. This is psychologically a fissuring experience for so many of us. (Ex-pastor Jerry DeWitt aptly calls his experience “Identity Suicide”.) Atheists don’t deserve to be abandoned. They don’t deserve to be forced to defer completely to their religious spouses when it comes to their religious kids’ education. They don’t deserve to have no alternative, constructive communities and resources of their own for working out their philosophies and educating their kids in values. They don’t deserve to deal alone with their former fellow believers prejudicially judging them.

    I guess they need a Church of sorts. Damn, so many atheists are going to be excluded from your club.



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  • 91
    satan augustine says:

    I find it absolutely ridiculous that the focus of so many commenters here is on the length of Dan’s post rather than it’s contents. It’s just as bad when commenters acknowledge that they like Dan’s ideas, but spend more space arguing that he should have used fewer words. Is this an ironic joke among multiple commenetrs: Dan is mad that people are telling him to STFU, so we will ironically complain that his post was too long and thus, in essence, telling him to STFU, but in a less absolute manner? Ha…ha?

    Not one word of Dan’s posted was wasted. He made multiple points that needed to be made. I was thoroughly impressed with this post and just as thoroughly shocked and disappointed by the facile and irrelevant complaints that essentially boil down to, “That was too long to read,” and expressing sentiments like “when it comes to writing, less is more.” As if that were an absolute! One commenter even stated something along the lines of “Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris could convey the same info in a single tweet.” I hope that commenter was being hyper-hyperbolic rather than serious.

    Anyhow, I agree with every one of Dan’s points. It’s a brilliant call to action and a much needed response to the ridiculous number of atheists who insist that we must play “nice, nice” with theists or use a different approach or any of the “You’re doing it wrong” criticisms of “atheist, buts” who tell many of us – those who are paarticularly outspoken about their atheism and the harms of religion (Dawkins and Harris for instance) – in so many words, to STFU. Maybe the majority of commenters here are English and cannot therefore understand what Dan is talking about, which is a very nearly ubiquitous problem in the US.



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  • 92
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #92 by satan augustine:

    in so many words, to STFU. Maybe the majority of commenters here are English and cannot therefore understand what Dan is talking about, which is a very nearly ubiquitous problem in the US.

    I’m an American and I don’t really know what he’s talking about. Who are all these atheists that go around telling Dawkins to shut up? Can you name a few? Can you quote the passages where they tell Richard to shut up? It all seems like classic Strawman vagueness to me.

    I’m not saying I never see a comment from an atheist that I consider to be overly concerned with say stylistic issues, e.g. saying Richard is too harsh. I see comments like those once in a while. But to claim it’s some huge issue that rates two polemics of ranting, I just don’t see it at all.

    And I think there is a danger in this kind of ranting. For example, if the criticism is meant to imply that it’s never appropriate to say things such as “evolution isn’t necessarily incompatible with theism” I disagree. I was just watching an intro online course to genetics and evolution, I think it was actually promoted on this site a long time ago, and the instructor (Mohamaad Nor) said in the opening slides that while some religious fundamentalists think evolution is incompatible with their religion, scientists just don’t care, religion is irrelevant to evolution and I agree. You can talk about all the evidence for evolution and never talk about God because it’s just not relevant.

    If you want to get into a discussion of God then yes, that’s fine and evolution is a good example of how intellectual history has gone through various transitions, from just saying “God did it” and thinking that’s an answer to realizing we could expect a more interesting and useful answer. But you can have a discussion of the science of evolution without even talking about God as well and these dogmatic black and white formulations that say you are either a militant atheist who shouts at everyone or you are an appeaser are just nonsense, the kind of nonsense more appropriate for religious fundamentalists than for people who believe in critical thinking and reason.



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  • 93
    Goldstein187 says:

    You’re not being told to shut up. You’re arguing with a cult populous, who never questioned even the simplest part of the bible they disagreed with. Challenging a group so entrenched within out culture is going to anger people. Those “elitist” athiests are only asking you, why waste you’re time? You’re not going to convince anyone to change their belief structure. Especially a Christian



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  • 94
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #92 by satan augustine:

    Dan is mad that people are telling him to STFU, so we will ironically complain that his post was too long and thus, in essence, telling him to STFU, but in a less absolute manner? Ha…ha?

    Nonsense. (Nor is that a request for you to shut up.)

    He’s just starting here. He’ll be here a long time. I bet you’ll see a change in his writing style over the next few pieces. He’ll become a better writer, because of these challenges.



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  • 96
    ahazelton says:

    I have a similar writing style, so I get it- there’s always so much to say, especially on such a topic. There’s never enough information when it comes to the infinite reasons why religion at its core is flawed. I’ve never called myself an atheist per say, because I’m more of a believer that whatever is out there, it’s definitely not remotely related to any of the active religions today, and that’s just beyond my place as a tiny human being in this universe to know, or even ultimately prioritize. However, at the core of it all is that disproving religion is not about ruining someone’s life, being a Scrooge or anything but just proving that: That there is no basis in any particular religion; that the religion isn’t necessary for guidance at all- one can be incredibly moral, fair and good to others without religion, only human compassion; and finally removing religion at its worst takes a war most ideological warfare, military and domestic (gay rights is the most relevant right now), and at its best lets up so much time someone was wasting doing youth group/retreats/church B.S.
    And coming from a family that is incredibly Catholic on one side, no matter how well they mean and what great people they are, I can’t watch my brother and I be humiliated and coerced and at the worst of times watch my brother get slapped for saying he doesn’t believe in church and will not go by my tiny little grandmother, and still believe I have no rights or basis to at least defend our (for a lack of a better word) atheism.
    So bravo, I really connected with this article.



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  • 98
    DanDare says:

    In reply to #7 by ibelson1:

    Ditto to the other 6 commentators. I agree with his thesis, but he does in several hundred words what Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins could do in a tweet.

    In a tweet!? Seriously, don’t go there.



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  • 100
    PERSON says:

    Typo:

    When I argue that the philosophically “sophisticated” Thomistic account of God is a bait and switch, I do so from a well informed.

    Well informed what?

    I didn’t mind the length, personally, though editing down wouldn’t hurt. Any volunteers?

    Red Dog: try meeting with a group of friends, one of whom is religious and the others are non-religious, but “neutral” on the topic. Try to explain why the religious guy’s beliefs are flawed. Maybe your friends are too sophisticated to say “shut up” in so many words, but gauge the reaction. If you don’t have any friends like this, i.e. non-religious/”neutral”, that could well be why you’ve not seen it.



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  • 101
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #101 by PERSON:

    try meeting with a group of friends, one of whom is religious and the others are non-religious, but “neutral” on the topic. Try to explain why the religious guy’s beliefs are flawed. Maybe your friends are too sophisticated to say “shut up” in so many words, but gauge the reaction. If you don’t have any friends like this, i.e. non-religious/”neutral”, that could well be why you’ve not seen it.

    I have had such conversations with religious people. One of them was very religious and she never told me nor anyone else, well except her mother, to shut up. And it wasn’t from politeness, she used to love debating with me as much as I loved debating with her.

    She had a Masters degree in theology, she had a working knowledge of ancient Greek and had read the new testament in the original language. She was a born again Christian and the church was an integral part of her life. And she also was exactly the opposite of all the shallow stereotypes many atheists have about religious people. She was open minded, tolerant, brilliant, passionate and creative.

    She was a concert pianist studying with one of the most well known pianists in the Chicago area at the time. She was also gorgeous. I think it would be insane to exclude people like that from my life just because we differ on religion. I agree that most religious people aren’t like her, of course not but some of them are. And the main point is it’s wrong to just judge someone based on their religious views. That is what religious fundamentalists do and I want to be better than a religious fundamentalist.



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  • 102
    gotbruce says:

    If you’re really tired of being censored or stifled by fellow atheists just tell them concisely and directly why they’re wrong to do so. Stop whining about it and have some very cogent and devastating one liners at the ready. For example: “I’ll stop criticizing the religious for being irrational when and if they present any real evidence to suggest what they believe might actually be true”.



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  • It’s not like this was The Summa Theologica. Try to get through Descartes or Spinoza in the span of a coffee break.

    In reply to #3 by Michael Rohde:

    I couldn’t stomach the comma-delimited list of communication means. Sky written messages? Interpretive dances? Seriously?

    For all this man’s intelligence, why can’t he grasp that points are best communicated with a minimal number of words?



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  • 104
    brooksie says:

    Forget about tired of reading… my finger got tired from scrolling!

    Not that I disagree with the main intent one bit… but sheesh



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  • 105
    NeoGeo says:

    In reply to #105 by brooksie:

    Forget about tired of reading… my finger got tired from scrolling!

    Not that I disagree with the main intent one bit… but sheesh

    I was the same, I got tired of the “I” thing though, by about paragraph 10, only to realize I was only a quarter of the way through. So I skipped to the last paragraph. Somehow, I think I still got the Gist of it.



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  • 106
    Sjoppie says:

    I fully agree with what you say and, other than some, am happy about the length of it. Sometimes it is good to elaborate on apoint and there are plenty of short and to the point articles out there for those who are disinclined to read more than five minutes



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  • 107
    Kristi says:

    This professional editor loved the way he went on and on! Sure, I didn’t read every word, but I appreciated his thoroughness, his “I WILL say what I have to say.” Normally I’ll choose a favorite extract to post on Facebook, but there were just too many gems to choose from.



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  • So this article begins with a comically long list of everyone this doesn’t apply to. Clearly meant to demonstrate the authors open mindedness and welcoming arms to criticisms he deems fair and appropriate. But then he follows that with 20+ paragraphs of stipulations which amount essentially to a list of all the people who shouldn’t be critiquing him.

    There is so much irony here that it’s almost a satire piece.

    Here is the thing (As one of the hundreds of types of atheists this rant is aimed at). The reason I’ve never, in my entire agnostic-athiest life, liked people like you within the atheist movement, or even the fact that atheism has become a “movement” is that you claim an intellectual superiority right off the bat. so much so that you had to write a piece to all the people ( who are even on your general side of the fence) that disagree with you in some way. This piece essentially boils down to “silence all you dissenters, How dare you call you’r self an atheist and at the same time disagree at how I go about my atheism.” The difference is you’ve flowered it up with “intellectually” pithy language.

    You speak of the truth. As if the truth is something we can get at, something one group can own. It’s not and modern science is showing us that more and more every day. So in this regard, your philosophy violates itself.

    My last point, is that there is more to life than content. Process is important. While we may agree on much of the content, what I disagree with may be your process. And for you to just ignore that, or dismiss that critique by lumping me into one of these 20+ paragraphs I don’t see how you are any different then a sect of a religion telling another sect of the religion they are getting their translation of the “good word” wrong.

    Being truly open to criticism and being a truly intellectual thinker requires more than just language and going through the social motions of saying “I respect your opinion”. It is being internally open to information that challenges your paradigm at it’s core and having the flexibility to pivot your mind and to entertain concepts you may disagree with. I don’t see any of this in this article or in many of the so called hard “new” atheists.



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