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Community => Life As An Atheist => Topic started by: Recusant on June 10, 2021, 07:41:30 AM

Title: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Recusant on June 10, 2021, 07:41:30 AM
The author of this piece is feeling disillusioned, and well he might be. The way that some of the personalities who populated the public face of "New Atheism" have evolved in the past 15 years or so is disappointing to plenty of atheists, though certainly not all. He focuses on some of the public atheists' cruel peccadillos, ethical failures, and notes a number of them settling into side lanes of the alt-right orbit.

I disagree with the broad brush claim in the headline of "far right," but am inclined to blame the headline editor for that, as is my wont.

I think the author might have given a little shout out to the doctrinaire more leftist than thou circular firing squad of the "Atheism+" phenomenon to create a wider picture of how things have gone. After all, not every atheist loudmouth has cozied up to the likes of Molyneux.  :cracked:

"Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right" | Salon (https://archive.ph/JsFfK/)

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It was inspiring — really inspiring. I remember watching clip after clip of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens debating Christians, Muslims and "purveyors of woo," exposing the fatuity of their faith-based beliefs in superstitious nonsense unsupported by empirical evidence, often delivered to self-proclaimed prophets by supernatural beings via the epistemically suspicious channel of private revelation. Not that Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens were saying anything particularly novel — the inconsistencies and contradictions of religious dogma are apparent even to small children. Why did God have to sacrifice his son for our sins? Does Satan have free will? And how can the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be completely separate entities but also one and the same?


The "New Atheist" movement, which emerged from the bestselling books of the aforementioned authors, was the intellectual community that many of us 15 or so years ago were desperately looking for — especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which seemed to confirm Samuel P. Huntington's infamous "clash of civilizations" thesis. As Harris once put it, with many of us naively agreeing, "We are at war with Islam." (Note: This was a dangerous and xenophobic lie that helped get Donald Trump elected. As Harris said in 2006, anticipating how his brand of Islamophobia would enable Trump's rise, "the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.")

New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity.

Fast-forward to the present: What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized. This may sound hyperbolic, but it's not when, well, you look at the evidence. So I thought it might be illuminating to take a look at where some of the heavy hitters in the atheist and "skeptic" communities are today. What do their legacies look like? In what direction have they taken their cultural quest to secularize the world?

[Continues . . . (https://archive.ph/JsFfK/)]
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Tank on June 10, 2021, 10:13:02 AM
A very interesting article.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Bad Penny II on June 10, 2021, 11:29:30 AM
(https://archive.ph/JsFfK/e3273609f3018d977f3072ffeb707ddcbc4480b9.png)

I don't know why he has used that to show Dawkins is a creepy bastard.
He might be, he's seemed reasonable when I've seen him.

In his opinion stranger/knife is worse, seems a reasonable argument.
One would make a person fearful of dates, the other would make them fearful all the time, and there is a knife involved.

So is there an argument that concludes drawing a distinction between the badness of the scenarios renders a person a contemptible irredeemable villain?

Maybe he should have said scenario 1 was really, really, really bad and 2 was really, really, really, really, really bad.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: billy rubin on June 10, 2021, 02:19:15 PM
the day sam harris stated that it was okay to kill people merely for what they think was the day i stopped listening.

when someone shows you what he is, believe him the first time.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Icarus on June 11, 2021, 01:31:37 AM
Unaware that Harris ever said something so indiscreet. He is ordinarily pretty smart.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: billy rubin on June 11, 2021, 01:49:40 AM
Unaware that Harris ever said something so indiscreet. He is ordinarily pretty smart.

ive disliked sam harris a long time:


What a beautiful day. And what a beautiful day for a walk.

Look! There?s a bookstore. We?ve got some time. Let?s see what?s inside.

(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi817.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fzz96%2Fquakerthink%2Figi%2520images%2Fsamharrisinterview.png&hash=97fc9586cfe38210734d732b0905285a1f3ca141)

Ooooh, there?s a book signing by Sam Harris, the famous philosopher. I?ve heard he?s an insightful thinker, and someone we can all learn from. He looks so pleasant. Wonder what he?s written?

(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi817.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fzz96%2Fquakerthink%2Figi%2520images%2Fsamharrisendoffaith.png&hash=ac7ea11f6a5a8227859c1f59e60ea46900f3cb03)

Hmmmn, The End of Faith. A book about how religious people are dangerous. No question there. Let?s take a look while we?re waiting for him to autograph our copy.

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One of the central themes of this book, however, is that religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma: they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance--born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God--is one of the principle forces driving us toward the abyss.

Absolutely right! Those religious nut cases are heading us towards a world of evil. Freedom of thought is all very good, in theory, but what if people choose to believe things that we smarter people know are wrong? Tolerance has to have limits, after all. We?d have to do something to stop them before they got out of control. How would we go about it, I wonder?

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It appears that one of the most urgent tasks we now face in the developed world is to find some way of facilitating the emergence of civil societies everywhere else. ... It seems all but certain that some form of benign dictatorship will generally be necessary to bridge the gap. But benignity is the key--and if it cannot emerge from within the state, it must be imposed from without. The means of such imposition are necessarily crude: they amount to economic isolation, military intervention (whether open or covert), or some combination of both.

That makes sense?if they won?t see reason, we?ll just have to force them. We can send in the troops, or maybe just a few specialists for surgical  assassinations. We can set up governments that are lots better than what they?ve done on their own. Look how well it?s working for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. But governments are just organized people. We?ll need to root out religion right at the grassroots level. What should we do about ordinary people who believe differently from us? What does Sam Harris say?


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The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.

I?ll go along with that, I think. If ignorant and gullible people won?t listen to reason, they may force us just to kill them off. We?d only be doing it in self-defense, after all. They deserve what they get for their beliefs.  I wonder, though. Do we have any good examples of how we might go about starting this sort of clean-up?

(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi817.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fzz96%2Fquakerthink%2Figi%2520images%2Fsamharrisexecutingjews.png&hash=07ddfd29238bf3b03a16bdc1cf6db2ee518a28bc)

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in a narrow sense [the Jews] . . .brought their troubles upon themselves?. for their refusal to assimilate, for the insularity and professed superiority of their religious culture?that is, for the content of their own unreasonable, sectarian beliefs.

Well, that does seem a bit extreme, maybe. But then, it was all done for good reasons. You can?t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You can?t argue with common sense, in the end. Who knows what the world might be like today if all those Jews had survived the war. More religious militants and fanatic insurgents.

But we don?t need to be killing people all the time. There should be easier ways to keep them in line. What does Sam think? Here?s a news clipping.


(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi817.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fzz96%2Fquakerthink%2Figi%2520images%2Fsamharristorture1.png&hash=12ad909e742e3ac84a5636d7ae468c39f43bc96f)

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It is decidedly unhelpful that those who claim to know that torture is ?always wrong? never seem to envision the circumstances in which good people would be tempted to use it. Critics of my collateral damage argument always ignore the hard case: where the person in custody is known to be involved in terrible acts of violence and where the threat of further atrocities is imminent. If you think such a situation never pertains, consider what it might be like to capture a high-ranking member of al Qaeda along with his computer. The possibility that such a person might really be ?innocent? or that he could ?just say anything? to mislead his interrogators and implicate innocent people begins to seem less of a concern.

But what if none of that works? Having people like that around is still very dangerous. What should we do to keep the world safe and free from the evils of violence and terror based on belief? Especially those Muslims? They?re the worst, after all. What courses of action may we consider, given what they believe?

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It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. ... What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime--as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day--but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.

Well. I guess that wraps it up. I?ve got to get back. Boy, I sure am glad philosophers like Sam Harris are around to educate us about how dangerous extremists can be to world peace. If they were left alone, who knows what we might end up with? We?d probably have a world where just everybody was free to believe whatever they wanted, even if those beliefs meant that they would invade other countries, set up puppet governments, assassinate people, kill folks for just believing differently, torture people to get what they wanted, start campaigns of genocide, and maybe even use nuclear weapons against decent people, all because they believe differently.



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What kind of person would want a world like that?

Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Bluenose on June 11, 2021, 02:19:12 AM
Well, I am opposed to the death penalty, even for the most egregious cases (a topic for another discussion, no doubt), so I cannot possibly support the imposition of killing people simply for what they think, no matter how wrong headed.  It smells of the medieval practice of when you disagree with the local king or overlord, they change your mind by putting your head on a spike.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: billy rubin on June 11, 2021, 01:17:52 PM
not so medeival, bluenose. totalitarianism is alive and well intbe modern world. china is busy right now dividing its attentionbetween its new space station and brainwashing its muslims.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Bluenose on June 12, 2021, 02:30:26 AM
not so medeival, bluenose. totalitarianism is alive and well intbe modern world. china is busy right now dividing its attentionbetween its new space station and brainwashing its muslims.

Oh, I know you're right there.  I guess I'm suggesting the practice of killing your intellectual opponents is one that we should have left behind us in the medieval period.  It has no place in the modern world.  Alas, as you point out, it is alive and well today.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Icarus on June 12, 2021, 04:07:41 AM
Who knew that American Evangelicals are far and away more demonstrably supportive of Netanyahu than are American Jews. Curious ???  The point is that the believers in "the end times" are a threat to our humanity.  I do not propose that we kill them all, or not even a few of the more outspoken ones.  Could we at least incarcerate the Prosperity preachers like Paula White, who fleece the ignorant with the permission and blessing of her God?

Sam Harris is not all wrong but he may be off the rails a little bit. How about Hitchens..... or those biblical dudes that were determined to kill  others who did not believe as they did?   Meanwhile, back at the ranch.............?

Carry on peeps.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Recusant on June 12, 2021, 05:16:25 AM
Hitchens might have made the list if he were still alive, but I'd prefer to think not. Regardless, I am willing to acknowledge some ugly warts while still appreciating brilliant prose, as those who recognised my previous avatar here would correctly surmise.   :smokin cool:
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: hermes2015 on June 12, 2021, 08:53:34 AM
We are all human, with some unattractive qualities. I don't think these "flaws" diminish the value of whatever we have achieved in our fields of expertise. Wagner, Picasso, Francis Bacon (the painter), and John Lennon may have exhibited some undesirable qualities, but that does not make me admire their achievements any less.
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Bad Penny II on June 12, 2021, 09:50:37 AM
We are all human, with some unattractive qualities. I don't think these "flaws" diminish the value of whatever we have achieved in our fields of expertise. Wagner, Picasso, Francis Bacon (the painter), and John Lennon may have exhibited some undesirable qualities, but that does not make me admire their achievements any less.

Wagner
Picasso
Francis Bacon
John Lennon

OK, You've started the list, I'll add a couple
Green, promote this idea of mine.
Oh no! you know I hate spruiking.
Don't whine Green, it makes you turn an unhealthy shade.
Roll up, roll up, add a name to the list of creepy creative people.

Lewis Carrol
Roald Dahl
Wagner
Picasso
Francis Bacon
John Lennon


Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Icarus on June 14, 2021, 04:19:37 AM
H.L. Mencken
P.T. Barnum.

There are plenty more ...Maybe Al Franken?
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Anne D. on June 15, 2021, 05:35:52 AM
Camille Paglia
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: billy rubin on June 15, 2021, 12:24:23 PM
ernest hemingway.

some if his stuff i read, and carry passages in my head forever. some if it i just cringe at. but i would have zero interest in the man himself.

ever read black ass at the ctoss roads?
Title: Re: A Rogue's Gallery
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on June 15, 2021, 02:06:28 PM
Oscar Wilde
Dylan Thomas