Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Invective

Just following up on media reaction to the recent Global Atheist Convention, held in Melbourne from March 12 to 14. I didn't see that much of this coverage. One TV news report I saw showed the audience give keynote speaker Richard Dawkins a standing ovation. This act of hero worship was somewhat ironic in the context of the event. Controversial newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt has gone in to bat for people of faith, taking some of the convention speakers to task for their mockery and ridicule of religion and public figures with religious beliefs. What makes this particularly interesting is that Bolt is an agnostic. Meanwhile, Barney Zwartz, his broadsheet counterpart, was less strident in his criticism. Melbourne pastor Rob Buckingham also weighed in with his five cents (Please note that five cents is the smallest denomination of currency in Australia).

Atheists are right to point out that they are often treated with suspicion by society at large. There is a place for critiquing the place of religion in society, but how many different ways are there of saying that religious people are deluded? Many atheists would already hold this opinion, so there was little need for convention speakers to make the same point over and over again. I also wonder if atheist fears about the church having too much influence in society are somewhat exaggerated. In public discourse, the church is just one of many voices that must compete to be heard, so our secular democracy is hardly under threat by closet theocrats.

7 comments:

Nerida said...

Very interesting!
While I'm sure not all athiests take the attitude of Dawkins and co, it's quite telling to see that these so-called 'New Athiests' are alienating even non-believers with their attacks on Christians.
If it wasn't such a serious matter, it would be almost amusing to observe the way Dawkins exhibits such a hateful attitude while at the same time suggesting it's religion that causes the problems of the world...

feeno said...

Boss

I wish America could learn from Australia and get rid of our pennies. I actually heard it costs more than a penny to make a penny?

If an Atheist didn't have religion to mock, they'd have nothing else to do.

When Christians get together for a 2 or 3 day conference we get labeled as a religion. If we call atheism a religion for such activities all we hear about is how "bald not being a hair color".

Dueces, feeno

cafegames said...

Hiya Ross,
Yep, it's Christopher
not sure if you guessed, but I'm quite fond of philosophy, and being an atheist went along to the convention.

Had no real idea what to expect, but I was glad there was a lot of variety in the talks about lots of different topics, like being humanitarian, feeling wonder and gratitude toward life, feminism ...

Most of the articles I've read about the convention sound like the writers weren't even there but just reported things others told them. Haven't see any articles even report what Dawkins was actually talkng about.

I probably wouldn't go if it was on every year, but as a one-off, it was quite pleasant and light-hearted. I was intrigued to see the high proportion of young folk in the crowd - at least 50% and the large representations from the gay and feminist communities. The best bit was that everyone was so friendly, you could start talking to anyone.

Ultimately I don't think there was anything dramatically earth-shattering about the convention, but really I don't think anyone had anticipated it would be more than a collection of interesting talks.

:-)

JD Curtis said...

Atheists are right to point out that they are often treated with suspicion by society at large.

Given that 58% of all atheist leaders are guilty of the mass slaughter of a minimum of 20,000 of their own people, it's hardly a suprise.

That and the fact that they cannot possess even 1/10th of 1% of all of the knowledge in the universe and they want to argue with certanty that God does not exist. It's so intellectually shameful as to be downright embarrassing.

cafegames said...

@feeno
"When Christians get together for a 2 or 3 day conference we get labeled as a religion."

We can jokingly call the Grand Prix gathering a religion, but that doesn't make it so.

Christianity is a religion because of the belief in supernatural creatures, in particular one unique creature that is undetectable by all forms of scientific device, and apparently "by definition" any future scientific device too.

@feeno
"If an Atheist didn't have religion to mock, they'd have nothing else to do."

Hey, be nice. I'm sure like you they have many other things they do with their lives. For myself, atheism takes the tiniest portion of my busy life.

@ JD Curtis
"they want to argue with certanty that God does not exist. It's so intellectually shameful as to be downright embarrassing."

Actually that's not what most atheists think.

Really. I mean you can call us "agnostics" until the cows come home, but mainstream atheism takes the position that there's no scientific evidence in Yeti or Gods, so we'll assume neither of them exist. You can call it "weak atheism" or "defacto atheism" if you like, but it's still atheism.

Have you seen those "official" atheist bus posters in England, that replaced the previous religious ones?
"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

:-)

feeno said...

cafegames

Hello, I sometime write with a broad brush, and for that I apologize. also I've stated before that if I were an atheist and the topic of religion would come up, I'd just rolls my eyes and say whatever man, whatever. But then I'll have an Atheist tell me that they have to be "religious" in there quest to stop such behaviors.

I wish I knew how to link, but we did have a nice talk about "is atheism a religion"? Check it out if you wish:

feeno-ifibecameanatheist.blogspot.com/congratulations-youve-made-ithtml

Anyways I think what you guys do (playing board games etc.) at different spots around town is pretty cool. Happy Easter to you and everyone. Later, feeno

JD Curtis said...

mainstream atheism takes the position that there's no scientific evidence in Yeti or Gods, so we'll assume neither of them exist

Science presupposes logic and math. But neither one of them comes along with a set of values and code of conduct to live by. I think people are sometimes choosy over what they choose to believe and not to believe.

You can call it "weak atheism" or "defacto atheism" if you like, but it's still atheism

Maybe, like Feeno, I paint with too broad of a brush sometimes as well.

""A comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians." Link