Archive for Atheism

New Scientist: atheism is irrational and culturally conditioned

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 13 April 2011 by Michael Hampson

Jonathan Lanman lectures in anthropology in Oxford.

His article in the New Scientist last week analysed atheism from an anthropological and sociological perspective, and far from finding it to be the coolly rational phenomenon that it claims to be, found its main public manifestations (“strong atheism” or anti-theism, as opposed to the meek and largely silent non-theism) to be both irrational and culturally conditioned.

There is a good review and summary here.

Also this week, promoting his book Divinity of Doubt, Vincent Bugliosi lays into the poor reasoning – the irrationality – of most atheism:

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Atheist, liberal and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 11 April 2011 by Michael Hampson

Atheist and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith, insisting that Christianity demands a God who is a wrathful king, and a bible that is an infallible oracle.

The atheist rightly mocks, and the fundamentalist defends the indefensible.

Most liberals commit the same offence, maintaining the fundamentalists’ notion of an angry God. God is just angry (and you are required to feel guilty) about different things, like global warming and poverty.

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The History of Fundamentalism – and America’s bizarre relationship with creation and evolution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 9 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

The original fundamentalists were members of a protestant movement in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, proudly coining the title and declaring the five fundamentals of their faith: the inspiration and literal inerrancy of the bible, the virgin birth, a theology of the crucifixion as a substitutionary sacrifice for atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the forthcoming bodily return of Christ. Different groups produced different versions of the list, but the clarity of the stance overall pulled off a major coup: they managed to fix themselves in the American (and now the global) mind as the real Christians, and those they opposed (the liberals and the modernists) as less than the real deal.

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The Bible: complexity and contradiction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 17 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Timothy Beal, author of The Rise and Fall of the Bible: the Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, identifies no fewer than six incompatible accounts of creation in the bible (two in Genesis, one in Job, two in the Psalms, one in Proverbs).

He suggests that one more account, no matter how incompatible (evolution), should never have been a problem to anyone who takes the bible seriously on its own terms.

In this article, abbreviated below, he describes how the responses to an earlier piece, including the same material, opened his eyes to the way atheist and fundamentalist argue over a definition of the bible that is anything but rational, and anything but useful.

I recently wrote a short piece for on “Five Things You Didn’t Know” about the Bible. The first of those five things was that there are multiple accounts of creation in the Bible. I expected some people to disagree, and I looked forward to a serious back-and-forth about the texts I had pointed out. That’s not what happened. Instead, I was overwhelmed with a flood of angry responses, most of which were as impious, rude and downright unchristian in tone as they were reactionary and unthinking in their “defense” of the Bible.

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The Top Mistakes Atheists Make – Atheist on Atheist critique

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 15 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Phil Zuckerman – atheist – lists the top mistakes atheists make. These are the top four.

1. Insisting that science can, or will, answer everything.
2. Condemning all religion, rather than just the bad aspects.
3. Condemning the Bible as a wretched, silly book, rather than seeing it as a work full of good and insightful things as well.
4. Failing to understand and appreciate cultural religion.

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No line between theist and atheist

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 14 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Jason Derr writes:

My last post articulated a vision of God beyond theism, a concept of God that sees the word “God” as a word used to describe love. Other words sometimes used are mercy, justice, passion, joy, goodness. This suggested that we have a conception of religion that is less about religious beliefs and more about a passion for the religious life: an awe of life, living, and the growing world and universe, that can only be called religious. You hear this sort of religious awe in, say, Richard Dawkins when he speaks on the beauty of evolution. This model suggests that there is no line between theism on the one hand and atheism on the other.

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Nietzsche’s famous “God is dead” speech, far from supporting atheism, was aimed at its failings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 14 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

According to this review, Nietzsche’s famous “God is dead” speech, far from supporting atheism, was aimed at its failings.

The speech challenges an audience of atheists to realise that if God is dead, there is nothing left on which to base any system or even concept of ethics or values other than an infinite diversity of individual opinions.

Any system or concept of values or ethics created in this way is a new, equally-false, god, created by the atheist himself.

Once these false Gods are also rejected, the only available conclusion is nihilism: the acknowledgement that all values are ultimately baseless, and that nothing meaningful can be known or communicated.

Far from supporting atheism, Nietzsche is challenging an audience of atheists to realise that they still have a long way to go before their philosophical system becomes coherent.

God without God does not argue that therefore there must be a God. Rather, it defines God as the sum of the best human ideals. After atheism, this is all there is, for both the believer and the non-nihilistic atheist alike. The only decision to be made is which human ideals to believe in, and what to do as a consequence.

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