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6/25/09

Dogmatheism – The New York City Atheists Proselytizers

Come out, come out wherever you are—reach deep into your pockets and see if you can come up with an amount that matches your lack of “faith”!!!

Yes, they are at it again. Having nothing better to do with vast amounts of money more atheist bus ads are being purchased.

This time the New York City Atheists are placing ads to read,

You don’t have to believe in God to be a moral and ethical person


This time the atheist talking points have been voiced by Ken Bronstein; president of New York City Atheists, a sect of the American Atheists denomination.

Atheists sure know their PR and this time mere bus ads are being officially introduced at a news conference—tantamount to Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai with God’s Ten Commandments—or something.


Ken Bronstein offered the obligatory cognitively dissonant statement which has been a requirement of atheists PR campaigns in stating that they sought to…
find a statement that we thought was positive, it wasn’t bashing religion and it wasn’t huge…They’re not attacking or disparaging the Church as far as I can see.[1]

Well, my dear sir, keep looking further than you can presently see from deep within your well within the box atheist group think. “You don’t have to believe in God” is not attacking or disparaging the Church? Alrighty then.
Of course, needless to say, it is a given and grated that you will be hard pressed to find anything at all posted on the New York City Atheists website that is not attacking or disparaging the Church.

But let us not lose sight on the main point, the bottom line of the ads—they were a styled adhān,
Jane Everhart, the director of communications for New York City Atheists, said that one goal of the campaign was to increase membership.

Mr. Bronstein said he was more focused on establishing “atheist pride” and promoting acceptance of atheism.

“I’ve had people call me in tears, and tell me they thought they’d never see a sign promoting atheism in New York,” he said.



Moreover, this was meant to promote the non-gospel of the atheist emotive/spiritual/religious/militant movement and is described as part of an “atheism awakening,” as per Ken Bronstein and as “part of our coming out,” as per Jane Everhart.

Before referencing some comments about atheism’s increasing a-evangelical zeal let us ponder why atheists insist in responding to arguments that no one has made.

The issue is not whether one can be moral and ethical without believing in God. The issue is that atheists have no premise upon which to base moral and ethical besides their own personal preferences which they express via arguments from outrage, arguments for ridicule, arguments for embarrassment, etc.

Atheists can muse upon moral issues and even come to construct ethical systems but they are impotent systems which either presuppose an atheist utopia where people are good for goodness sakes or else get the iron fist of the government behind them.

Since atheists believe that morality is constantly evolving Sam Harris argues that rape once played a beneficial evolutionary role. Dan Barker argues that rape is not absolutely immoral. Richard Dawkins believes that the fact that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we evolved five fingers rather than six (as Atheism is Dead has noted and cited at this link).



With sentiments of increasing membership, encouraging atheist pride, envisaging an atheist awakening and calls to coming out the statements by Frank Schaeffer that I had read the day before reading about the New York City Atheists are more than apropos:

The New Atheists have proved how inescapable religion/spirituality is (by whatever name we call it) by turning their movement into a quasi-religion with priests, prophets and gurus, followers, and even church services. Check out Richard Dawkins’ website and you could be looking at the website of any televangelist suffering from an acute messianic delusion.

Add a dash of hucksterism, replete with scads of merchandise, including a “Scarlet A pin” to be worn by the faithful to identify them as followers and to provoke “conversations” with the uninitiated leading to their conversion to atheism. A secular “Maharishi” of atheism may also be a fruitcake cult figure leading a “church” in all but name…

When I was watching Religulous in an Upper West Side theatre in New York it seemed to me that the laughter and shouted comments were just another version of “Amen!” and “Preach it brother!” I assumed these cries of affirmation were from the more spirit-filled atheists in the audience! In a moment of unintended self-parody Maher even delivered an altar call at the end of his film begging believers to join him in his unbelief…

The New Atheists turn out to be secular fundamentalists arguing with religious fundamentalists.[2]

During a time of worldwide recession atheists are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations not in order to actually help anyone in real need but in order to attempt to demonstrate just how clever they think themselves to be—need anymore be said?

[1] Daniel E. Slotnik, “Ads for Atheism Appear on Manhattan Buses,” New York Times, June 25, 2009
[2] Frank Schaeffer, “Purpose Driven Atheism: Secular Maharishis Seeking True Believers,” Religion Dispatches, June 23, 2009

9 comments:

  1. Mariano,

    I must say that you are becoming an excellent resource for us atheists to find out what is going on among other atheists worldwide!

    Thanks for all your diligent work.

    You wrote:
    >This time the New York City Atheists are placing ads to read,
    >> You don’t have to believe in God to be a moral and ethical person

    and you added:
    >Well, my dear sir, keep looking further than you can presently see from deep within your well within the box atheist group think. “You don’t have to believe in God” is not attacking or disparaging the Church? Alrighty then.

    Hmmmm… Suppose that you told me, “You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford to be a moral and ethical person.” Would that be insulting me?

    It seems to me both statements are simply and obviously true statements of fact.

    Many atheists are in fact moral and ethical persons. Some, of course, are not. Same as most groups of human beings.

    You also wrote:
    > The issue is not whether one can be moral and ethical without believing in God. The issue is that atheists have no premise upon which to base moral and ethical besides their own personal preferences which they express via arguments from outrage, arguments for ridicule, arguments for embarrassment, etc.

    Well, actually, as far as I can tell (and I’ve interviewed numerous Christians about this over the years), most Christians have “no premise upon which to base moral and ethical” beliefs except the “argument from authority”: God told me to do this, and he’ll hurt me badly if I disobey. Only a very small number of Christians seem to have managed to reach a more advanced standard of ethical understanding, one that is shared by many atheists (see, e.g., “The Theory of Morality” by the late Christian philosopher Alan Donagan).

    I have conversed with numerous Christians over the years who have informed me that any atrocity is morally right so long as God wills it – this, I think, explains quite well all the moral atrocities Christians have carried out over the centuries .

    So, in my observation, Christianity seems to dramatically retard a person’s ability to grasp the idea of an objective morality, although a few Christians (very few!) do manage to grasp that concept.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  2. By the way, I should of course have added that many atheists are indeed as confused as most Christians about the nature of morality.

    Morality follows from our nature as rational beings (this Aristotelian point is the central point of Donagan’s book, which I referenced above).

    Unfortunately, viewing humans as unique because of our rational nature goes against a lot of trends in modern culture – from Freudianism to Marxism to our degraded pop culture – and so it is difficult for most modern Americans (or Europeans) to grasp.

    Every species has evolved, in a unique way, into its own niche – fish gotta swim, (most) birds gotta fly, etc. Reason is our niche.

    That is the basis for morality.

    One more reason for learning Greek: Aristotle was a pretty bright guy.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  3. PhysicistDave,
    You are quite welcome; I aim to please and also love pointing out well-within-the-box-atheist-group-think fallacies wherever they may be being voiced worldwide.

    As for the “It seems to me both statements are simply and obviously true statements of fact.”
    That is a good point and in fact, that was the very point of my post: no one is arguing otherwise which is why the ad is a waste of brain cells, money and space.

    Your argument again Christian morality has been dealt with in these posts:
    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2008/08/is-there-common-misconception-regarding.html



    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/04/do-any-atheists-have-pure-motives.html

    Et al.

    Moreover, when you refer to “atrocities” you are referring to events which you have personally chosen to condemn—an impotent condemnation based on mounds of assertions.

    Morality refers to the mores, what is, what people are doing and thus, indeed morality can be invented by anyone.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mariano wrote to me:
    > Moreover, when you refer to “atrocities” you are referring to events which you have personally chosen to condemn—an impotent condemnation based on mounds of assertions.
    > Morality refers to the mores, what is, what people are doing and thus, indeed morality can be invented by anyone.

    Well, obviously we disagree on that.

    As I said earlier, in my experience, Christians are indeed generally moral relativists, which is what you are defending here, and I think it does make sense for you all to be moral relativists.

    After all, much of the Bible advocates positions that, by the standards of objective morality, are profoundly evil: ranging from the supposed murder of so many of the children of Israel after the golden calf incident (when God supposedly ordered Moses to murder thousands of people) to the New Testament doctrine that most innocent human beings deserve to be tortured for all eternity in Hell.

    I’m *not* a moral relativist; hence, I disagree with the Bible and with you and most Christians about the nature of morality.

    (cont.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. (cont.)

    You also wrote:
    > Your argument again Christian morality has been dealt with in these posts:

    Your links appear to be broken here – clicking does not take me to those posts.

    In any case, I am aware of those earlier posts, and they do not in fact deal with my argument.

    For example, in one of them, you write:
    > The primary thing to keep in mind when considering any and every atheist condemnation of anything at all is that the only basis upon which they premise their condemnation is personal preference, arguments from outrage, arguments from self-righteousness, arguments from aire of superiority and virtual heaps of assertions piled one atop another.

    No. That is untrue. *I* premise my condemnation on the nature of man as a rational being, not on “personal preference, arguments from outrage, arguments from self-righteousness, arguments from aire of superiority and virtual heaps of assertions piled one atop another.”

    And I certainly did not invent that idea for myself. Really, Mariano, read Donagan’s book!

    Donagan explains in detail that the position I hold is the traditional position in Western civilization going back thousands of years, both among Christian and pagan philosophers.

    I know you are ignorant of it: let me guess – were you educated in the government schools?

    Our educational system and our popular culture is so degraded that nearly all Americans are now utterly ignorant of philosophical ideas that were once considered simple and self-evident (if you doubt this, try to get the average man on the street to explain what Jefferson and the Founders meant by the “self-evident truths” about natural rights – almost no contemporary Americans have even a clue).

    The fact is that traditional “Christian morality,” most specifically the hellfire-for-all-eternity doctrine, is an offense against objective morality. It can be accepted only by an “argument from authority” that treats raw power as superior to rational distinctions between right and wrong.

    That is why it is impossible for traditional Christians to be (objectively) moral.

    Incidentally, if you wish to point out that many atheists are also moral relativists, yes, they have learned moral relativism well from the Christians. I myself am not a member of any atheist “church” or any atheist “community,” so the fact that some atheists have certain beliefs does not speak to my own positions. There is no catechism and no set of atheist doctrines to which atheists in general submit.

    So, yes, in speaking up for moral objectivism, I speak only for myself, not for all non-theists or atheists.

    Beware the “fallacy of negative definition.” Non-theists, or anti-theists, or a-theists do not constitute a coherent category or group, just as non-Moslems, non-vegetarians, or non-liberals do not constitute coherent groups (I am, indeed, a non-liberal, a non-vegetarian, a non-Moslem, and a non-theist – all of that says little about me).

    Really, Mariano, try reading Donagan’s book and learn a bit about the civilization of the West – it was really something. Too bad it's gone.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oops, I forgot to mention the more important post:
    The Red Light of Punishment

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sorry, Mariano, but that post evades the point, too.

    The central problem is not that Christians are moral for the wrong reason.

    The central problem, rather, is that Christianity is deeply and intrinsically *anti*-moral.

    As I said,
    >The fact is that traditional “Christian morality,” most specifically the hellfire-for-all-eternity doctrine, is an offense against objective morality….
    >That is why it is impossible for traditional Christians to be (objectively) moral.

    I’ve heard hundreds of attempts to justify that great evil at the heart of traditional Christianity.

    In the end, they boil down to two approaches.

    One approach is simply outright to deny the traditional Christian doctrine of Hell – the heresy of “universalism.”

    That is admirable, but it is also abandoning traditional Christianity.

    The other approach is, in the end, to argue that God is the Man, and fighting the Man is pointless – in short, the argument from power.

    Of course, many Christians will deny that that is what they advocate. But, in my observation, it always ends up at that. How else can you argue for the most monstrously evil doctrine in human history: that the vast majority of the human race deserves eternal torture in Hell?

    In the end, all thoughtful Christians become moral relativists, worshiping raw power alone, or, more happily they abandon traditional Christianity.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, I was going to post a rather stinging criticism and go into a little diatribe, but it looks like Dave is doing a pretty good job of handing you your ass, go Dave!!!

    Anyway, before you post a blog about how atheists are dogmatic and proselytizing you should really get your facts straight or else you might come across as a dumbass.

    Atheism as a lack of a belief in a god/goddess cannot be dogmatic, and I find it ironic that you accuse us of taking faith based objections while defending faith.

    That bus banner does not tell us not to masturbate or not have premarital sex. It does not tell us when to eat bread crackers and when it's okay to stone witches to death. It reminds idiots like you that not only can we be moral without believing in God, but that WE are probably more moral than YOU. Get that into your thick skull you God-fearing ape.

    May Thor bless you ^^

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Come out, come out wherever you are—reach deep into your pockets and see if you can come up with an amount that matches your lack of 'faith'!!!"
    No, Einstein, it's: Come up with an amount that matches your compassion.
    Since Mariano is incapable of imagining people being motivated by compassion, perhaps he should Google the word "compassion" and find out what it means. And then he can ask himself why it is such an unfamiliar concept to him.

    ReplyDelete