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    Atheists - The Minority It's Okay To Stereotype
    By Hank Campbell | May 6th 2011 01:44 PM | 41 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    I often joke, in reference to a black person, woman or gay complaining about some reference or joke in society or in the media about them, that I am all five groups every one of them jokes about, stereotypes and ridicules without any liberal guilt at all; a white, Catholic (not so much these days but you get the idea), Republican (66% of the time), male who was raised in the South.   Seriously, when is the last time anyone felt bad ridiculing any of those?

    Turns out I am not quite complete in my persecuted state.  Atheists can't catch a break either.   Long after it became a cultural taboo to ridicule Jews, for example (the Holocaust will do that), or black people or homosexuals...heck, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and every other girl in pop keeps hitting each other in the kneecaps trying to create a gay anthem so gay people are so culturally hip they could be the new Prius...it is still apparently completely okay to sneer at atheists.

    And it isn't just jokes.   When is the last time an atheist got elected to high office?  Even John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, managed to become President of a Protestant country, and we've had a black man for two years.   Atheists are less moral, we are expected to believe, and that is a bad thing in a leader.

    Writing in the Washington Post, atheists and sociologists Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman  reference a study by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi,who did a psychological profile of random atheists and, while the study was too small to be conclusive - heck it was too small to even be inconclusive - they reference it anyway and say it didn't show that atheists believed in torture or anything else ethically suspect more than religious people.   Fair enough, they don't like torture but it doesn't speak to why, or if, atheists are stereotyped.   They seem to instead be doing an advocacy piece.

    So are atheists stereotyped?  Hard to say.   Being in science media, I am going to know plenty of atheists - AAAS surveys say 60% of their members are atheists - but I wouldn't know if they are atheist, unless they are walking around conferences with some ridiculous red 'A' on their chests.    It may not come up because I don't bring it up and it may not be that people dislike atheists any more than they dislike religious people, they just generally want people to shut up about it.   Go to Church or be an atheist, but please don't argue with us at a party about why we should be you.   And atheists can be darn militant, just like their religious counterparts.   

    Zuckerman and Paul cite the usual suspect "atheists are awesome" list of things like that atheists are smarter and nicer, but also "value freedom of thought", which is the kind of meaningless statement that makes intelligent people, atheists or not, want to slap sociologists - so atheists value the freedom of thought for people to be religious?   Go to TAM and show me all the people so accepting of religion.   No, the common refrain among atheists is that religious people are intellectually immature and, from the religious side, that atheists are moral relativists with no ethical compass who are the same as Hitler and Stalin and Mao.    Oh, and Marx and Freud.

    Neither is true, of course, and the Paul and Zuckerman claim that 20% of America is secretly atheist and lying about it (all of their stats cite other sociologists, which means other surveys, so who knows) is as suspect as citing "use more birth control" as a way of being superior to religious people, who have a lower rate of unwed pregnancy because they have less unwed sex.   24% of American adults are Catholics and don't use birth control so 'freedom of thought' atheists should not label them culturally defective because their 'freedom of thought' made them decide to not use condoms.      But if you survey a group of people at random and take some meaningless average, you can make meaningless sweeping predictions, like that atheists are smarter or that religious people do more charitable work and are therefore nicer.

    We won't make cultural progress for atheists establishing meaningless correlations, like more religious people in Mississippi and Tennessee compared to Vermont is the cause of more murders in those states - a different sociologist can claim the income differences in those states are to blame and, well, you get the problem with sociologists and picking an agenda and then mapping some data to it and calling that science.

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    I think there are two traits that can be problematic about religious people.  It seems obvious that all people (religious or atheists) will have the normal human character flaws, bias', and sense of right/wrong as anyone.  Even in the extremes, there isn't much difference between the two groups logic or rationale.

    However, with religious people you always have to be cautious about:

    (1).  If they are truly religious, it is important to remember that their first loyalty is to their God, so you can't count on them to be loyal to you if it creates a conflict with their belief.  While some people may see nothing wrong with this, it is an important consideration that someone may betray you because they think they're saving you.

    (2).  The other problem is that religious people can be more prone to go to extremes if they feel justified by their belief.  This isn't to say that atheists can't be extremists, it's just that it's much easier to rationalize if you happen to believe that the most powerful entity in the universe is on your side.  This is why you can have extremists on both sides, but it's hard to imagine an atheist strapping a bomb to their body to make a point (although I suppose it could happen).

    As I said, these are hardly firm distinctions, but it seems that they appear more frequently when comparing religious individuals and atheists.  It's also worth considering that many people claim to be religious but don't really seem to be committed to it.  In those cases, they seem to follow their belief out of habit, or they're simply afraid to give it up.  In my view, it's those people that represent the biggest problem, because they aren't religious enough to take the consequences of sin seriously, but they're just religious enough to believe that God can help them rationalize any extreme views.  This is why some of the most vocal "religious" people tend to fight against issues that they are themselves guilty of. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I won't take issue with your first point, partly because it is true but partly because it's ambiguous. The second issue, too, is phenomenon that occurs within the religious psychology but not because the person is religious. People rationalize things - they don't need a God to help them along. Furthermore, "extremes" (whatever those may be) get rationalized not by a "god" necessarily but by having a "meaning" or "end" to which one devotes oneself and sacrifices to that end. Look at rational historicism - deeply godless but also the originator of Marxism (Marx just flips Hegel on his head and voila!). One can make distinctions all day "Marxism isn't leninism" but it's that kind of final goal that allows people to rationalize their actions. From this some bad things occur - but what is the alternative? Do not worry about rationalizing them? Admit the unfounded character, the meaninglessness, of your actions? Where can this lead? It leads wherever preference leads. It's the same thing. All this is to say, rather unclearly, that this is a human issue not a "religious" issue.

    Gerhard Adam
    People rationalize things - they don't need a God to help them along.
    You're right, but my only point was that having God as your backup, tends to provide more force to the argument for many people.  They can certainly arrive at extremist positions all on their own, but it becomes a bit easier when there's a sense that it is the "right thing to do" and that it is condoned by a moral belief system.
    Mundus vult decipi
    To me the cornerstone of 'religious' belief is the concept of 'faith'... that is, telling oneself that you Know something is absolutely True without having any actual proof. As that includes the insistence of many atheists that they Know there is no sort of 'god' / supernatural, despite not being able to cite any proof of this, I don't really make a distinction between atheism and 'religion'.

    IMO, this perverse concept that passionately believing something which you cannot prove (i.e. 'faith') is a VIRTUE is one of the greatest impediments facing humanity. Whether it be applied to theism, atheism, creationism, trutherism, birtherism, objectivism, or what have you... the vast majority of the species clings to articles of 'faith' rather than simply admitting, 'I do not know'. And that prevents them from ever being able to find the answer.

    Gerhard Adam
    As that includes the insistence of many atheists that they Know there is no sort of 'god' / supernatural, despite not being able to cite any proof of this, I don't really make a distinction between atheism and 'religion'.
    This is exactly the kind of problem the occurs when people misunderstand science and the nature of proof.  Hopefully you do realize that one can't "prove" a negative assertion, therefore the onus of proof is only on the religious individual.  Atheists, by definition, have nothing to prove.  What you fail to grasp, is that atheists are making no claims.  They are denying the claim made by religious people.
    Whether it be applied to theism, atheism, creationism, trutherism, birtherism, objectivism, or what have you...
    This is just silliness.  You're simply suggesting that nothing can ever be known because of your insistence that proof must be provided for the negation of a belief as readily as for the existence of one.

    This is precisely the kind of nonsense that results in all manner of rationalization of beliefs, because someone makes an assertion and then wants to challenge others to prove that it isn't true.  That's not how it works.  You make the assertion, you provide the proof.  In the absence of proof, there is no reason to believe your assertion has any validity.


    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm sorry, but your entire argument is sophistry. Essentially, you are defining the non-existence of God as the 'null hypothesis' and therefor true unless proven otherwise. Someone could equally claim that the existence of God is true unless proven otherwise. Neither is a valid position. In the absence of proof either could be true.

    "You make the assertion, you provide the proof."

    So where is the proof for the assertion, 'there is no God'? That is an >ostensible< statement of fact... it requires corroboration. Your argument that this particular assertion does NOT require proof contradicts your own position AND standard scientific practice.

    "You're simply suggesting that nothing can ever be known..."

    Not at all. I'm suggesting that we don't CURRENTLY know.

    Consider an example from the past: The Sun can be observed through an arc of the sky during the day. Your position might define a null hypothesis that this means the Sun must be orbiting the Earth unless proven otherwise. Someone else might claim that the effect is caused by the Earth spinning on its axis but (in this hypothetical) not be able to prove it. My position is that under those circumstances we do not know which is true and would need to gather more information until one could be conclusively demonstrated as correct.

    THAT is proper science... acknowledging uncertainty so that the question can continue being examined until proof is found. NOT insisting that one particular belief must be true by default unless proof to the contrary is supplied.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're talking nonsense.  Of course the "non-existence of God" is the null hypothesis.  It isn't a claim.  It's simply stating that there is nothing there.  No proof required.
    Your position might define a null hypothesis that this means the Sun must be orbiting the Earth unless proven otherwise.
    I don't think you know what the "null hypothesis" means.   You can't arbitrarily define something as "null".  The "null hypothesis" is the idea that we cannot add explanations to phenomenon that are already adequately explained without such additions.  You don't simply take a position and call it "null".

    By definition, the requirement of a divine entity in the universe cannot be the "null hypothesis" because it already adds more elements to an argument that doesn't require them.  So, if you want to assert that there is a God, then you have to have evidence for why your assertion should be taken seriously.  As I said before, you should know better than to claim that a negative assertion can be proven. 

    If we use your example of the Sun, you can already see the problem, since both explanations (right or wrong) are positive assertions.  They are both subject to examination and proof.  Therefore we can conclude that one will ultimately be found to be correct even if evidence is currently lacking.  That's why you can't prove a negative, since no standard of proof can exist which doesn't still raise the question of whether things would change with even more tests.

    As I mentioned before, then if you want to claim this method of argument, then where is your "proof" that there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, wizards, goblins, etc.  Take your pick. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Allow me to introduce you to your equally illogical theist counterpart:

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/142452/20110507/texas-controversy-over-t...

    As to your 'test';

    Santa Claus - There is, or rather was, a 'Santa Claus'. One Nikoloaus of Myra in the 4th century. As to disproving the modern legend, ask your parents if all those gifts before you turned 10 or so were REALLY from Santa Claus. If that isn't sufficient, there is always the impossibility of a man that fat fitting down a chimney (especially on houses that don't have chimneys), the inability of reindeer to fly, the impossibility of delivering toys all over the world (and eating all those cookies) in a single night, and his missing home at the North Pole.

    Read up on 'Evidence of Absence' to understand why your insistence that 'you can't prove a negative' is wrong:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_absence

    Gerhard Adam
    If that isn't sufficient, there is always the impossibility of a man that fat fitting down a chimney (especially on houses that don't have chimneys), the inability of reindeer to fly, the impossibility of delivering toys all over the world (and eating all those cookies) in a single night, and his missing home at the North Pole.
    Very good.  So you would agree that with no evidence that there is a heaven, and no biological basis for believing that there is a supreme being (as well as the host of angels) that is made up of particles not of this universe, and the impossibility of raising the dead, the impossibility of curing leprosy (or any other medical defect) with a touch, and the impossibility of dying and being resurrected. 

    If you're willing to concede those points, then your "proof" against Santa Claus might hold.  In other words, you cannot claim as "proof" that your religious views are true by invoking those same miracles and events, that by any definition are impossible and then denying that same "evidence" when made against other claims.

    The fact that you think evolution is illogical is simply a deficiency in your biological education and doesn't serve as an example that is synonymous with religion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "In other words, you cannot claim as "proof" that your religious views are true..."
    AND
    "The fact that you think evolution is illogical..."
    You seem to be under the impression that I have religious views of some sort and think evolution is illogical... which is odd since neither is true or bears any resemblance to anything I have said.

    "supreme being (as well as the host of angels) that is made up of particles not of this universe" - So you believe that all 'multiverse' theories and 'many worlds' hypotheses have been categorically disproven?
    "impossibility of curing leprosy (or any other medical defect) with a touch" - Leprosy no. Bleeding yes.
    "impossibility of dying and being resurrected" - Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and possible future medical advancement.

    "no evidence that there is a heaven" - Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Various specific religious beliefs (e.g. Earth only 6000 years old) can be proven to be false within the framework of perceived reality, but others currently cannot. No 'God' created the Earth and populated it with all lifeforms now present over a period of seven solar days. However, that does not mean that any and all concepts of an intelligent creator 'God' must be false. If we are eventually able to categorically prove how life and the universe came into existence without any sort of intelligent intervention then such a concept of 'God' would be demonstrably false. Until then we don't know.

    Gerhard Adam
    So you believe that all 'multiverse' theories and 'many worlds' hypotheses have been categorically disproven?
    It has nothing to do with it.  God must exist independent of any physical structure, as well as the laws of physics.  Otherwise he would be part of the existing universe and couldn't claim it as an act of creation.  Therefore for God to have created the universe (or multiverses), they must exist outside of whatever God is.
    Leprosy no. Bleeding yes.
    Irrelevant, since we're talking about curing someone (as in miracles) and not a medical procedure like applying a pressure bandage.  Most assuredly if it was the latter, it probably wouldn't have evoked mention in the Bible.
    Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and possible future medical advancement.
    Please ... get serious.  You cannot resuscitate someone that is dead, and please spare me the hand waving about how people are technically dead when they have CPR performed.  They are NOT.  If an individual is pronounced dead, then there is no resuscitation possible.  Even if you were to allow for some nebulous future technology, there is no recovery from death.  The only possible way to recover is if there were discoveries that indicated that an individual in such a state was technically not dead.
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    OK ... then go back to the Santa Claus example, since you're the one that cited precisely that same condition.
    If we are eventually able to categorically prove how life and the universe came into existence without any sort of intelligent intervention then such a concept of 'God' would be demonstrably false. Until then we don't know.
    Sorry, but that's just a weasel argument.  The null hypothesis and Occam's razor both dictate that there is no basis for postulating intelligent intervention and it is meaningless to argue that "we don't know", when the postulate is unnecessary to begin with.  There is no legitimate scientific basis for using the "we don't know" argument simply because you want to allow the possibility.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You see to have a basic misunderstanding about "freedom of thought".  It doesn't mean that you shut up when you see your fellow human beings making idiotic mistakes, as you seem to think it does. If you went to any given TAM and asked a random person what they thought about religion, you'd get a long string of criticisms, yes. This is perfectly in tune with freedom of thought: you're free to believe what you want, and to tell me what you think of my beliefs, just as I am free to believe what I want and tell you what I think. 

    What you wouldn't find at TAM is someone advocating rounding up Jews, say, and forcing them into ghettos or massacring them (as Christians have done). You wouldn't find someone threatening you with torture if they disagree with you (as the Catholic Church does even today). These things are not "freedom of thought", since they threaten harm or constrain people based on their thoughts and beliefs.

    Let me put it this way. You gave just as much right to practice your Catholic superstition as you have to attend Star Trek conventions and teach your child Klingon as a native language. The fact I called Catholicism a "superstition" and compared it to a pop culture phenomenon is not a violation of "freedom of thought." It is an expression of it. 

    As for your "facts" about religious people having less premarital sex and Catholics not using birth control, do you have any references at all? With about 15 seconds of Googling, I found this (http://answersforthefaith.com/2011/04/14/98-of-american-catholic-women-u...) which seems to completely deflate at least part of your argument. This isn't a secular or even a Protestant critique; this is you Catholics bemoaning women controlling their own reproductive organs. You might disagree with the sociologists' data and analyses, but at least they aren't just making up their "facts".

    Have you noticed that you titled your article "Atheists: The Minority It's Okay to Stereotype", and then gone on to stereotype them?

    Hank
    You see to have a basic misunderstanding about "freedom of thought"
    That's a wonderfully ironic way to begin a comment.   I am also tickled you have no problem at all with my criticisms of religious people, yet you disagree with my disagreement of how atheists stereotype religious people and say I am stereotyping if I say they stereotype religious people.     If it's true, it isn't a stereotype.   Granted, I am discussing the fringes in both cases but a puff advocacy piece about how superior atheists are can't go unchallenged on a science site when it claims to invoke science.  Unfortunately, no so-called "skeptics" had the courage to do the same and instead act just as insular as any religion - if it supports their culture war.
    I am also tickled you have no problem at all with my criticisms of religious people, yet you disagree with my disagreement of how atheists stereotype religious people and say I am stereotyping if I say they stereotype religious people

    I have no problem with your criticism of atheists; I believe the group I belong to should be subjected to higher standards. We're right, after all, so we can take it. It's only the hothouse flowers of religion that demand special treatment.

    What I was disagreeing with was your very specific claim that atheists didn't exercise "Freedom of Thought", because they don't agree with religion. "Go to TAM," your words were, "and show me all the people so accepting of religion." Unfortunately, being "accepting of religion" is not part of "freedom of thought." Criticizing and speaking against superstitions is part of "freedom of thought", as long as speaking against them is all the person does.

    That was why I was informing you of the meaning of "freedom of thought"; it seemed from context you didn't understand the words the same way I do.

    You also said:

    Granted, I am discussing the fringes in both cases but a puff advocacy piece about how superior atheists are can't go unchallenged on a science site when it claims to invoke science.

    but in the earlier piece you made the bizarre statements that

    24% of American adults are Catholics and don't use birth control

    and that

    religious people ... have a lower rate of unwed pregnancy because they have less unwed sex.

    Do you have any data to back up those two assertions? Namely that contraceptive use is lower among American Catholics than among Americans in general, and that the religious have a lower rate of unwed pregnancy. Or did you just write an "puff advocacy piece" where the author can just make up any "facts" he likes, as long as it supports his side of the culture war?

    Seriously, I'd like to know. To me, that's the deepest condemnation of religion in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not that they advocate for things that damage and tear apart people and societies (they do), it's the fact that it can't even make its own followers obey, so they have to go to the secular government to enforce their whims.

    Think about it: Christians could solve the abortion problem, if they could just convince women to stop having abortions. No muss, no fuss, no laws to pass.

    Don't like birth control? Convince us, and Trojan goes out of business.

    Perhaps "gay people are so culturally hip they could be the new Prius" but the fact remains that I don't live in perpetual fear of losing my teaching job because I'm an atheist; the fact that I'm gay is what makes me vulnerable to that. And I am unable to marry the woman I've been with for 12 years because we're gay, not because I'm an atheist. Just because a couple of high profile singers are keen on gay folks doesn't mean that prejudice against gay people is gone. When I have the same legal rights and protections as straight people, then I'll be willing to concede your point.

    Hank
    In science academia, there is a much greater chance of being denied a job if they know you are a Republican than if you are gay.  If you are claiming the ratio of straight to gay people is 1000:1 in academia like it is Democrats to Republicans, I will concede your point.   Otherwise, my point was that society has made a great deal of progress regarding gay tolerance, but atheists not so much.
    "In science academia, there is a much greater chance of being denied a job if they know you are a Republican than if you are gay."

    I hope you'd agree that there is also a much greater incidence of anti-scientific belief (e.g. 6000 year old Earth, CO2 does NOT cause greenhouse warming, evolution is phony, et cetera) amongst Republicans than homosexuals.

    Hank
    No, I would vehemently disagree with that silly assertion.  For every anti-science belief primarily held by dumb Republicans, there are just as many held by dumb Democrats (anti-vaccination, anti-agriculture, etc.) and homosexuals are primarily Democrats (but they don't have a party with platforms so why you claimed something so dumb is...dumb...X2) - but, again, what any of that has to do with a piece on atheism is a mystery.   The fact remains there are far more Democrats than Republicans in academia than in any job in America and women asks for quotas if physics is under 50% female yet I see no Democrats, gays or anyone else asking for fairness when it comes to Republicans not being vilified.
    "For every anti-science belief primarily held by dumb Republicans, there are just as many held by dumb Democrats..."

    Even if that were true, the number of anti-science beliefs need not correlate with the number of people holding them. Nor are your examples particularly compelling;

    anti-vaccine - Setting aside the simple fact that vaccines DO kill a few people every year (and thus resistance to them is more 'anti statistics' than 'anti science')... can you cite a single study indicating that this position is held by significantly more Democrats than Republicans? Or that the total number of people holding it is anywhere close to the level of anti-evolution believers?

    anti-agriculture - I assume this is actually 'anti-pesticide' or 'anti-genetic modification' as the number of people against any form of agriculture is vanishingly small. However, again I'd challenge you to show evidence that these movements are highly correlated to Democrats.

    Many Republicans passionately believe things which science overwhelmingly shows to be false. As a result, many of them avoid those areas of science or are rejected (rightly IMO) from positions which require an understanding of the science they reject. Hence a lower proportion of Republicans in scientific fields.

    Hank
    Even if that were true
    You then go on to defend those anti-science positions, which simply tells us how you vote.   I have written a hundred articles on anti-science positions of both sides so rehashing them all for you - and we both know it will do no good, since you would then be forced to reconsider that only Republicans are anti-science and you will not - is rather pointless.  They are facts whether I choose to recompile them here in a comment for you or not.   But go ahead and believe it's all eeeeeevil Republicans.    We don't live in a 2-D cartoon where you are wonderfully nuanced and people you happen to dislike are stupid, oil-guzzling, Bible-thumping caricatures.  Read. Learn.  Don't vomit back your political talking points at me and pretend that makes you better than the other side.
    "You then go on to defend those anti-science positions..."

    In point of fact, I did not. For the record, I am very much in favor of both vaccines and agriculture.

    "But go ahead and believe it's all eeeeeevil Republicans."

    I didn't claim that either. I claimed that there are MORE anti-science Republicans than Democrats... not "all". If you believe otherwise I'd love to see a single poll supporting your position. There are plenty showing Republicans opposing evolution, the speed of light, carbon dating, the greenhouse effect, and various other aspects of basic science in much greater numbers than Democrats.

    Gerhard Adam
    I think there's a bigger distinction between being gay and being an atheist.  By not having the same legal protections, the issue of being gay constitutes a bigger intrusion into someone's life and their ability to live according to their own choices.  Being an atheist isn't something that needs to be recognized, nor does it affect the way you live (since it is simply an abstraction that exists in your mind).  In that respect, I think that the discrimination against being gay (regardless of whatever "progress" has been made) is much more substantive than the discrimination against being an atheist.

    As a matter of fact, I think there's actually quite a bit of tolerance for atheists, provided that one doesn't make a fuss over it.  Many people recognize the likelihood that someone is not a christian believer, or that they don't have strong religious convictions, so it's not a big deal unless someone wants to be confrontational about it. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Atheism is a religion, like Humanism , and like Humanism it is a religion without a 'god'. But, that statement isn't quite true either. The god of Atheism is an unrecognized god . It is one they don't believe in. Any belief system whether it recognizes a god or not is still a religion...

    Gerhard Adam
    Atheism is a religion...
    That's simply not true.  This is a common statement from people that want to put everyone into some religious belief category because they can't conceive of any alternatives.  The absence of a belief cannot be defined as a belief.  Do you believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?  Does the absence of such a belief qualify as another religion?  Don't be absurd. 
    Any belief system whether it recognizes a god or not is still a religion...
    That's just irrational.  The entire process by which the brain organizes information is based on constructing a worldview or belief system.  To suggest that this is the default position for religion is ridiculous.  Religion is simply ONE possible belief out of hundreds, and religion is unique in that it expresses a faith in a divine entity and origin.  Despite the existence of such a varied number of belief systems, there is nothing that makes them "religious" in any sense of the word.

    If there is no divine entity or origin, then it cannot be a religion.  You can try and twist terminology however you like, but it doesn't make it so.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Atheism is a 'worldview' and it has an 'origin'. And, it has followers, disciples and evangelists who practice proselytizing. I didn't 'twist terminology' I simply made a statement. Arguments like this are circular because everybody believes in something. I respect your beliefs even if I don't agree with them. . Believing in anything takes faith. I believe in God but I don't consider myself religious and I would never call you 'irrational' because you don't agree with me. Belief in The Easter Bunny and Santa are not worldviews but traditions.

    Quote: The entire process by which the brain organizes information is based on constructing a worldview or belief system... If there is no divine entity or origin, then it cannot be a religion. You cancel out your own argument . Religion is not a belief. It is a system that many believe in, like Atheism.

    Gerhard Adam
    Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp?  You CANNOT claim a belief system that, by definition, is the absence of a belief.  Atheism is NOT a religion and is the absence of a belief in God. 

    More to the point .... religious people believe in magic and divine entities that rule the cosmos.  Atheists do not.  There is no alternative belief.  They simply don't believe what religious people do.  You cannot make atheists out to be religious by twisting concepts like this around.  You know as well as I, that atheists do not share the religious worldview and to claim otherwise is simply twisting terminology.  There is no rational argument that one can advance to claim otherwise.
    I believe in God but I don't consider myself religious and I would never call you 'irrational' because you don't agree with me.
    What does that have to do with anything?  In the first place, it's a complete contradiction to claim a belief in God and then claim to not be religious.  That's like being a vegetarian that eats steak.

    There are plenty of beliefs that are irrational, and the mere fact that you possess them doesn't make them any more rational.  In fact, a strong argument can be made that the process of "faith" is precisely intended to avoid being rational, since a rational explanation would be subject to scientific verification.  The whole point of a divine entity is to have powers and abilities that operate outside of the rational world, so such a belief can't possibly be rational (i.e. subject to logical axioms and conclusions).  In effect ... that's what the basis for miracles are. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Since you believe that God doesn't exist does not prove he doesn't . Anything that man 'discovers' or invents is limited. He can create nothing. Science can't explain everything such as what is the purpose for humanity if there is no God.? Everything has a purpose. I have a relationship with my God, I don't need religion. You really don't understand religion as opposed to a personal relationship with God. There is a difference but your mind is closed so it is almost impossible for you comprehend such a statement. That's why unless a person believes as you do he is considered irrational. But I don't judge you to be irrational because I am secure in my belief in my God. Why do you invoke miracles? Why is it that people who don't believe in something are the ones who try to define it. Miracles happen everyday that science can't explain. It takes more faith to be an Atheist than to believe in God.

    Hank
    you believe that God doesn't exist does not prove he doesn't . 
    I get your point but this is very poor logic.  You, for example, cannot prove I am not God.  See how it works when you challenge others to disprove a negative and they do the same?
    Gerhard Adam
    You claim you don't need religion and then invoke every aspect of the religious person.  You simply sound confused.
    Miracles happen everyday that science can't explain.
    Name one (and I mean something that science says is inexplicable under any circumstances, i.e. it operates outside any knowable laws).  You may think that this condition is arbitrarily restrictive, but since you made the comment, you have to consider that a "miracle" is something for which there can never be a rational or scientific explanation.  Not simply that one isn't currently known.  By definition, it must operate outside the scientific and be subject to no natural laws.  Anything less may be unknown, but it certainly isn't a miracle.
    Why is it that people who don't believe in something are the ones who try to define it.
    What are you doing on a scientific site attempting to argue your religion if you aren't prepared to define it, or defend it?  This is why I made the point about being irrational.  A rational individual would ask the questions and establish the necessary conditions of proof.  That's why those of us that don't believe are trying to define it, since you won't.  Whenever religious people try to define it, they rely on faith to establish a presumptuous cause from which they draw all their conclusions.

    You don't have to share my beliefs and I don't care about yours.  However, if you want to enter the realm of proof and make silly statements about atheists also being religious, then you had better be prepared to be challenged.
    Science can't explain everything such as what is the purpose for humanity if there is no God.
    Why would you make such a statement since that is clearly outside the role of science.  In a sense, it's not surprising since religious people are also those that claim science is a religion, so there's little wonder that they try to drag everything into such a general classification.

    Unfortunately, despite your claim, God hasn't defined a purpose for humanity either (other than to simply worship him), so I'm not clear on why you think that's such a marvelous objective.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Scientific site ? You're kidding right. Scientific Atheism. That's funny...

    Gerhard Adam
    You're really having difficulty with some basic concepts, aren't you?  Yes, this is a scientific site.  The article is admittedly not intended to be a scientific article and is listed under the Philosophy and Ethics heading.  So far, no problem.

    However, you are the one that insisted on making silly statements about atheism being a religion and then proceeded to argue that the basis for this was due to the criteria for proofs.  You then followed a philosophical dead end by suggesting that a negative assertion could be proven.

    If you want to discuss philosophy, then confine your comments to that area.  If you want to discuss science, then you must be prepared to consider the requirements of what constitutes evidence.

    There has never been any claim that atheism is "scientific" in any sense.  However, if you want to argue about proofs, then atheism represents the "null hypothesis" with respect to the universe as it exists.  You can elect to believe whatever alternative view you like, but don't pretend that it has a more logical basis for existing than the "null hypothesis".  If you choose to believe it, then that's fine, but don't offer it up as proof, as if all manner of information gathering were simply arbitrary and you can fit your religious views into the same category as Newton's Laws of Motion.

    It seems that the problem with many believers, is that they aren't content to simply "believe", they have to insist that it is "true" and provable.  Therein lies the problem.

    I'm amazed at the number of religious people that don't seem to understand that if their beliefs were provable, then they would be scientific and there would be no need for faith.  It is the essence of faith that is the cornerstone for religion, so any attempt to offer proof also undercuts the entire basis for religion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    As a white male atheist, I've never felt threatened by anyone mocking me. A big part of this is that I (like many white male athiests) have a higher socio-economic status than those who would mock me.

    As for mocking Republicans, all political affiliations get mocked. Even political beliefs get mocked. Politics (especially partisan politics) is confrontational, so this is just part of the territory.

    Hank
    Sure, I am not sensitive about being 5 demographics it is okay to ridicule without any guilt, I just refuse to subscribe to any hyper-sensitive political correctness.   In academia, it is almost a mantra that there needs to be some special effort to recruit women, for example, despite the fact that women get more PhDs than men.  So when I hear some tired rant about how hard women have it in universities I have to note that 'representation' for people like me is nonexistent.   
    Ladislav Kocbach
    Nothing of this seems to be relevant in Europe. In fact, nothing of this seems to be relevant. (I know, before people would use relevant to. In our time you can skip the to. Something is just relevant. Something is not. Nowadays.)
    Hank
    I can't be sure but this seems to be 40 words of...nothing.  Are you trying to show us all how superior Europe is?  Or are you trying to say grammar was superior when you were younger?    
    In the beginning the only way to explain the world was from a a religious construct (metaphysics). The Dark Ages of Europe characterized this period of hundreds of years of intellectual and moral decadence and then the Enlightenment. Guess who the Enlightenment leaders were? Men with religious backgrounds like many of you who claim Atheism today. It's OK, I don't have a problem with your Atheism and most true believers will probably agree but it is you good people who have a problem with those of us who choose, not only to believe in God but to have a real Living relationship with Him. Why does that make you angry? I would never jeopardize the Love I feel from believing for the hateful scourgings aimed at others that you Atheists seem to enjoy so much.

    Humor me or yourself; but what exactly qualifies this site as 'scientific' ...

    Gerhard Adam
    In the beginning the only way to explain the world was from a a religious construct (metaphysics).
    What a quaint perspective on the early natural philosophers (who predate your simplistic example by well over 1,000 years.
    Guess who the Enlightenment leaders were? Men with religious backgrounds like many of you who claim Atheism today.
    That's also a quaint view of the role of religion's role in the Enlightenment.  So, I suppose that if someone went to a religious school, then whatever they achieve in their education is a result of religion?  While there have been arguments advanced that want to focus on the role of religion in these thinkers, or even how tightly the enlightenment and religion where connected, there is one inescapable conclusion that emerges from all of this.  Religion and it's attendant belief systems were inadequate to satisfy the requirements of people attempting to understand the world.  Consequently the enlightenment was a direct attempt to eliminate religious dogma and replace it (or bring it into line) with a more natural philosophy.

    The irony is that this argument is similar to claiming that anyone raised with a religious background can't be an atheist.  The reality is that most atheists exist because of having studied religious teachings and found them lacking, so to simply level the claim of a "religious background" is irrelevant to any discussion.
    Why does that make you angry?
    I'm not angry.  I'm impressed ... that's usually reserved for when a religious argument has lost steam and there's nothing credible worth answering with.
    Mundus vult decipi
    it's also still okay to make fun of us fat people - some bigotries die harder than others

    but atheists are offensive to beleivers in ways that no other group is - even us gay people - religious people spend more time thinking about gay sex than gay people btw -

    to be an athiest is to stand up and say beleif and by extension, beleivers are wrong - us gays they can write off as perverts

    but it's harder to demonize athiests, when there's nothing to condemn - athiests are smarter, less criminal and more social than beleivers.

    People don't offend me. So, there are no dumb, gay Atheists.? This is what happens when unrelated arguments are strung together across multiple posts. You never answer any questions Mr. Adams you just raise more questions. Scroll up and you will see that you have not answered not even one question ? What is the purpose of an A t h e i s t ? Why are you so angry with believers? OK, two. This has been fun but all things, whether you believe this or not must come to an end.
    Oh, one other thing, since your fat, mind-reading gay friend thinks you guys are so smart , at least suggest he use spell check before posting. That advice will probably be received better not coming directly from me. This really has been fun...

    Gerhard Adam
    If you believe that, it's little wonder that you're unable to comprehend any discussion points that have been raised.  Also, it should be apparent that insulting others doesn't raise your stature as a religious person, but it does seem so typical.

    Looks like I was right regarding the "anger" argument, since this always seems to surface when religious people run out of statements.  It seems that whenever they realize that they don't have anything to actually refute the arguments presented, they always resort to asking why someone is "angry" with them, as if disagreement is synonymous with anger.  How delusional.
    Mundus vult decipi
    there are certainly gay athiests - what shocks me is that any gays are beleivers in any religion -

    but, there is a dearth of dumb athiests - since, atheists tend to be people who think for themselves and can understand why one shouldn't go about and rape and pilliage without a diety to threaten them into not doing so

    as for being angry with beleivers - which is a wholly separate matter from being accused of being angry at non-existant dieties - that is down to beleiver's retarding social advances and inclusion of groups of people in civil rights and shorhorning their narrow religious ideas into government policy, which impacts people around the globe and through all levels of society.

    So if you don't want anger directed at you, then keep your religion to yourself and out of secular law and gov't policy.