Some time ago I began researching some of the teachings being published by the organization, American Atheists. Like many I was drawn to this organizations web site (www.atheist.org) following their anti-Christmas billboard campaign where they advertised, “You know it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate REASON!”
I personally found it very strange that in our modern society which has come to teach tolerance for various beliefs that anyone would try to seek mainstream acceptance in society by attacking the beliefs of others.
American Antitheists dot Com
It is painfully evident by many of the statements on the American Atheists website that the organization’s primary mission is not to simply promote secularism but is more focused on promoting an anti-theist agenda of social division through the use of demonizing rhetoric. While the authors of the site will regularly remark that they are promoting tolerance, the tone of their arguments seem to confirm that they are completely uninterested in civil discourse and have instead have chosen a strategy of promoting out right bigotry against religion.
“Some of us are bogging down in a debate over whether the promotion of secular humanism should involve “bashing” religion, or whether we should only focus on presenting humanism in a positive light. The answer is that both are necessary components of the secular humanist message, depending on the individual circumstances of each encounter, each audience, and each forum…
…We thus need to end the pointless debate about whether to “bash” or not “bash” religion in the process of promoting secular humanism. The opponents of religious dogma should be able to attack and ridicule religious beliefs the same as opponents of any other belief system can attack and ridicule that belief system.” – To Bash or Not to Bash, American Atheist http://www.atheists.org/To_Bash_or_Not_to_Bash
Notice the intense focus on ATTACKING and RIDICULING religion while justifying their actions by blaming the religions they oppose of using the same tactic.
It also should be noted here that there is a certain level of hypocrisy and irony in the previous statement. After all, it is the American Atheists that have called on the public to, “Celebrate Reason.” Of course, when you say that your beliefs are derived from Reason and Logic, then you should also be well aware that the use of “ridicule” in a debate has only one purpose; to generate an Ad Hominine (personal) attack against your opponent. An Ad Hominine attack is considered fallacious because it attempts to discredit the arguments of an opponent not by presenting strong competing arguments based in Reason or Logic but by avoiding the topic by using personal ridicule instead. An ad hominine attack is diagramed like this;
- A states argument X is True
- B ridicules A
- therefore, X must be False.
Logic dictates that just because B ridicules A, it does not mean that X is necessarily false. X may very well still be true even if B ridicules A. This is an attempt to persuade a jury to their cause by asking them to ignore logic all together and instead make an emotion decision about argument X based entirely on personal opinions about the character of A. This certainly is a very strange tactic for an organization to use that is asking us to “Celebrating Reason.”
Ultimately, it would be more logical to change the name of this organization from American Atheists to American Anti-theists as their anti-religion campaign which serves as the core of this organization is certainly not shared universally by all atheists.
Production of Hate
After reading some of the opinions offered by this organization, it has become very apparent that this is not merely a group of likeminded individuals focused on promoting a common belief system, but an agitated group of Antitheists dedicated to nothing less than the total destruction of all religion. Antitheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antitheism) are individuals who are not content in their own belief in an absence of god, but are motivated by various reasons to prove their belief through the systematic dismantling of the religious beliefs of others. To this end, the American Atheists web site is completely loaded with various writings that attempt to demonize religion and the belief in a god as a whole.
Nothing illustrates this more than these aggressive statements from their web site,
“Religion causes people to break the laws of ethics and morality in the name of a god…
…Religion dulls the mind and weakens the senses.
…Religion spreads like disease through societies, rarely coexisting with pre-existing mythologies, rather preferring to conquer or be conquered. Religion is anything but tolerant…
…American Atheists is not afraid to point out that which is true: religion is ridiculous. Mythology and religion are synonymous, and none is better than another. Religion is malicious, malevolent, and unworthy of respect.” – http://www.atheists.org/religion
It is obvious from these statements that this organization has moved well beyond offering an opposing view point or belief and is lacing its arguments with a level of hatred that is rarely seen in modern society except from the most fundamentalist of groups. It is clear that the American Atheists have crafted themselves in the likeness of a long line of bigoted organizations that propose to advance their agenda through the dissemination of Hate. Rather than seeking to create a society free from such hate and division through a mission of acceptance and understanding, the American Atheists seem instead to find an advantage in sowing the seeds of division through distrust. Just as Hitler found it beneficial for the advancement of his cause to demonize the Jews by blaming them for the lion’s share of social/economic problems in Germany, this group is promoting itself by laying the blame for all the ills of societies around the world squarely at the feet of religion by declaring that, “In the history of the world, nothing has been the catalyst of more grief, hatred, war, and crime than religion.”
Intuition and Faith
Of course there is a bitter irony in the fact that Atheism at its core is truly no different than any other religion.
While an Atheist might argue that their beliefs are not similar to those of religion because they do not believe in a traditional god or creator, the reality is that “religion” as a whole is more properly defined by the existence of Faith. You see, Faith is the belief in something that cannot be proven. It is Faith that ultimately forms the primary foundation of all religion, not the belief in a god or creator as an atheist might suggest. The belief in god or a creator is simply one product of Faith. While the American Atheists may deny the existence of Faith in their own belief system, simply denying something does not make it true as anyone who is as dedicated to logic and “Reason” as the American Atheists profess to be, should know.
Ultimately, “Faith” as we know it is a product of Intuition which forms the very foundation of logic and reason. This is because there is so much of the world that we do not understand or can never prove, but are forced to accept. As such, we must all eventually use Intuition to take certain “leaps of faith” in forming our world view.
Belief without Proof.
To give an example of how Intuition is a key component of our human nature, imagine for a moment this simple scenario.
A person takes a ball and tosses it into the air. Relative to our perspective, the ball goes up a few feet, stops and then falls back down to earth. Now the question is; did the ball ever actually stop moving in mid-air before it fell back to earth? Using Intuition, the obvious answer is, YES! We tell ourselves that if the ball was moving up, then changed course under the pull of gravity and began moving down, “logic” dictates that it must have at some point stopped moving completely. Few would disagree with this conclusion. Of course actually proving that the ball stopped in mid-air creates a curious dilemma.
You see, there is one major component to this quarry that must be taken into account; Time. Unfortunately for us, Time is an abstraction that cannot be pinned down by simple physical measurement. We can never actually capture and observe the exact moment when the ball stops completely in its vertical rise and before it descends because we can continue to subdivide a given measure of time in half infinitely. Even if we had a movie camera capable of infinitely increasing the rate at which it takes pictures of the event, we would never be able to capture the exact point at which the ball is suspended in midair because there would always be an ever-smaller slice of time preceding the “stop” that we could observe.
Because we cannot prove through Observation (a key component of the scientific method) that the ball ever actually stops, we are left to use our Intuition in making a final logical analysis of the event. Ultimately, without any actual proof, we all rely on our Faith (ability to believe without proof) to form our belief about the event. Without such faith through intuition, science as we know it would grind to a halt and be forever mired in the abstract details of the universe.
The reality is; both the belief in a god and the belief in a universe devoid of design use the exact same Intuitive Process. Both must eventually ground their positions in Faith, not in Empirical Evidence. While one person may profess that, there is a god, given a specific amount of “evidence” (no matter how weak that evidence may be) and another may argue that there isn’t a god, given their observations, both are relying completely on their own personal Intuition or Faith in stating their positions. The question will only ever be as it has always been with religion throughout history; can we disagree with each other in a respectful or civil manner?
As I read through much of the information provided at the American Atheist website, the authors there seem quit content to forego any reasonable or respectful form of disagreement in favor of the same tribal assaults on those that do not share their view of the world as we have come to expect from a long list of bigoted groups. As a society that seeks to improve civility we should all reject and lend little support for this organization. In addition, we must continue to expose their distortion of facts about various faiths and the continued desire to rid the world of religion in a manner that favors civil discourse.