Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Create Account now to join.
  • Login:

Welcome to the Online Debate Network.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 30
  1. #1
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    909
    Post Thanks / Like

    Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    At the 2009 Parliament of Religions, the spirit of interfaith cooperation was broken by only two groups protesting outside: A group of Atheists with signs accusing all religions of being delusions, and a group of Christians with signs saying that the only way to God is through Jesus.

    Atheism and Christianity are probably the two most significant spiritual identities in America, and most certainly are the two most vocal on this board. The two are very different, of course, and neither group can be pigeonholed into a single identity, and the two groups protesting the Parliament were clearly radical groups of each sect. Yet the instance above seems to point to a common social outcome: both systems can turn into an obstacle for interfaith cooperation.

    This is not unique to Atheism and Christianity alone: many belief systems, taken to an extreme, will become exclusionary. Yet this points to a wrinkle in the old Atheist vs Christian debates that have dominated this site: in an age where religious cooperation is increasingly necessary (as we can see in the situation in the Middle East), a radical Atheism could be as obstructive to peace as radical Christianity or radical Islam. Perhaps it is not whether Atheism or Christianity is correct. Perhaps believing one position to be inherently true is the dangerous part.

    To achieve lasting cooperation, it seems more appropriate to move away from absolute certainty on either side, and rather than debating which is true, to debate how each view can benefit a society both exist in.

    I'm not sure if there is too much to debate, but would like to hear others' thoughts. I put this in the Social Issues form because I don't want to get into the beliefs of different groups but rather the way in which the groups can help or hinder social improvement. If a mod wants to move it, feel free.

  2. #2
    Registered User

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,593
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    I guess you need to define dangerous. And is it a subjective term?

  3. #3
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    5,626
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    The only reason why these organized interfaith spectacles exist is because of historical inter-religious disputes that have the common trend of becoming violent. That is a risk you run when you teach a group of people that their views are absolutely, unquestionably true and then have them interact with other people who believe unquestionably that their own beliefs are absolutely true.

    Of course, this doesn't address the social issue underlying your question, and I'll get to that. But before I do, I'd also like to point out that in the West there are only two extremely outspoken religious groups (At least in religious dialogues) --Western atheists and Christians. So it's not terribly surprising that if you hold a religious conference in a Western country, that those are the two protesters. If you'd done it in a Muslim nation, it would have probably only been Muslim demonstrators, in a Hindu state, strong conservative Hindu demonstrators, et cetera.

    Now, as to the question of whether or not atheism has the potential to become like "radical Islam" --sure, it does. Will it? I doubt it, but it does have the potential. Any belief system runs the risk of becoming mainstream and then inserting itself as the power in a culture. In Russia, Communism took on this role for a while, in the Middle-East and Europe, religion took on this role. But the question ought to be whether or not it is likely. Given that there have been no "atheist bombings", "atheist sponsored terrorism", or any kind of violence in the name of atheism, I think the current trend is that atheism, as a Western philosophy, is not prone to violence or demanding the subjugation of other worldviews. (Despite conservative Christian consternation, atheists have not, in any case that I've seen anyways, asked for special consideration of atheism in government, just a lack of a special consideration for Christianity in government). So no, I don't think that atheism will lead to some new world order that subjugates and terrorizes the religious, like many other religious beliefs tend to do (Fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist Islam, violently anti-Muslim Hindus, et cetera).
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." --Voltaire

  4. #4
    MSizer
    Guest

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Atheism is not inherently dangerous (as goldpheonix pointed out). It is simply a conclusion one draws based on what evidence s/he finds convincing. The problem with faith is that it is not based on evidence, and so it opens up far too many unrational justifications for dangerous behaviour. Atheism does not do this by default. Of course this is not to say all atheists are necessarily rational, but all other things being equal, atheism is a rational stance whild faith is not. Rationality is what leads people to make productive decisions regarding the wellbeing of humanity, not superstition.

  5. #5
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Seattle, Washington USA
    Posts
    7,471
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Humans are always a potential danger, whatever their beliefs about spirits and gods.

    I think that interfaith cooperation is just fine so long as it includes atheists among its ranks. Of course that kind of makes the name a bit off.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  6. #6
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    909
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    I suppose I should have emphasized this more heavily, but I mean dangerous to a cooperative society. Certainly if everyone was Atheist or everyone was Christian things would be different, but I think the reality of the situation is that this will not happen any time soon. So rather than focusing on conversion, focus on cooperation.

    Quote Originally Posted by MSizer
    Atheism is not inherently dangerous (as goldpheonix pointed out). It is simply a conclusion one draws based on what evidence s/he finds convincing. The problem with faith is that it is not based on evidence, and so it opens up far too many unrational justifications for dangerous behaviour. Atheism does not do this by default. Of course this is not to say all atheists are necessarily rational, but all other things being equal, atheism is a rational stance whild faith is not. Rationality is what leads people to make productive decisions regarding the wellbeing of humanity, not superstition.
    The bold sections are very good examples of my point. A focus on faith as inherently wrong is not an argument against religion, but simply an argument that side-steps it. As firmly as an Atheist may trust in rationality, a Christian may trust in faith. Clinging to either side precludes peaceful pluralism because the two sides will simply never come in contact with each other.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hong Kong SAR, China
    Posts
    78
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    I agree with GoldPhoenix in that all belief systems run the risk of spawning a radical branch that uses violence to promote its views, but I think it is less of an issue about religion than it is about the social condition in which worship of that religion takes place. When you take a look at the fundamentals of each religion, most of them are inherently peaceful and call for peaceful coexistence with other religions.
    It has also been demonstrated that religions can peacefully coexist - besides the obvious example of the modern Western world, after the Muslims conquered Outremer, the lands originally conquered by the First Crusade, they allowed Christians to continue practising their faith as long as they did it peacefully and paid a tax.
    Today in the Middle East though (I'm taking the Middle East as an example because it is probably the most prominent example of religious fanaticism besides the Crusades itself) terrorism arose because of worsening socio-economic conditions that drove people to poverty and hatred of the West for degrading the Muslim world to a third world region.
    So does atheism have a potential to pose a danger to society? Yes, along with Christianity, Catholicism (which sort of did in the Crusades and the High Middle ages), Judaism (which also did in the Israeli violence these days) and other religions. But the religion/belief system is not so much to blame for radicalism than the society in which it 'turned bad'.

  8. #8
    Registered User

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Manteca, CA
    Posts
    1,443
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Religions aren't dangerous, people are. Guns don't kill, people do. If a religion is used as a tool for the less wholesome human emotions, what does that mean about the religion? Nothing. It's name shouldn't be victimized because of circumstance. Were people right to become self superior and racist Darwinists simply because everyone else was? Pardon my French, but in this context, screw circumstance.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    0
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    At the 2009 Parliament of Religions, the spirit of interfaith cooperation was broken by only two groups protesting outside: A group of Atheists with signs accusing all religions of being delusions, and a group of Christians with signs saying that the only way to God is through Jesus.

    Atheism and Christianity are probably the two most significant spiritual identities in America, and most certainly are the two most vocal on this board. The two are very different, of course, and neither group can be pigeonholed into a single identity, and the two groups protesting the Parliament were clearly radical groups of each sect. Yet the instance above seems to point to a common social outcome: both systems can turn into an obstacle for interfaith cooperation.

    This is not unique to Atheism and Christianity alone: many belief systems, taken to an extreme, will become exclusionary. Yet this points to a wrinkle in the old Atheist vs Christian debates that have dominated this site: in an age where religious cooperation is increasingly necessary (as we can see in the situation in the Middle East), a radical Atheism could be as obstructive to peace as radical Christianity or radical Islam. Perhaps it is not whether Atheism or Christianity is correct. Perhaps believing one position to be inherently true is the dangerous part.

    To achieve lasting cooperation, it seems more appropriate to move away from absolute certainty on either side, and rather than debating which is true, to debate how each view can benefit a society both exist in.

    I'm not sure if there is too much to debate, but would like to hear others' thoughts. I put this in the Social Issues form because I don't want to get into the beliefs of different groups but rather the way in which the groups can help or hinder social improvement. If a mod wants to move it, feel free.
    To me, this all simply proves that the idea of religious exclusivity is logically unsound, deluded, needlessly divisive, ego-maniacal, arrogant, and dangerously destructive. It's deluded and logically unsound because it implies that God wants us to choose to believe in a certain theology, while belief is involuntary by definition. It's arrogant and ego-maniacal because it insists that one subjective experience is better than another, and therefore objective truth. It's divisive because it divides the world into "saved" and "damned" which only creates tension and inferiority complexes among the latter group, and is thus unnecessary. It's destructive because it discourages spiritual diversity and demands that "false doctrines" give way to the Mold of Truth that everyone must conform to, or else. It's religious exclusivity that causes things like inquisitions, jihad, and proselytism (putting religious exclusivity into practice, which is worse than harboring the attitude in the first place) and causes nothing but destruction of culture, which, horrifyingly enough, isn't even considered a problem.

    With all due respect to Christians, this idea which is central to the organization of the Christian religion is precisely why I see it as much more dangerous than atheism. Why? Because atheism is not an organized system of belief. It is an unorganized system of a lack of a belief. As such, atheists have no creed that can bind them together; the only thing they have in common is a lack of creed. Two atheists who come from different corners of the world, and speak different languages, and eat different foods, and wear different clothes etc. have absolutely no connection save for a lack of a belief in God, which, to them, is akin to saying John Doe from America and Hu Lee from China both don't believe in Santa Claus. Clearly, such a lack of belief cannot stir disparate atheists together into an organization of any kind, because atheists don't share any special connection between each other that they don't have between the average non-atheist folk, which is necessary for some kind of cross-continental unity.

    The reason the lack of such a unity is a good thing in this particular case is because atheism allows atheists the liberty of saying, thinking, believing and doing whatever they feel like. A world of atheists would be a world of free thinkers, a world where reason is the highest authority. The same cannot be said for Christianity. Christians have a very organized creed that does bind them across continents. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Buddhists, for instance, have a common creed that unites between four and five million people. But the reason it is not such a bad thing for Buddhists is that Buddhism encourages free thinking. Indeed, Buddha never demanded that anyone follow His teachings. He repeatedly instructed potential converts to think it over before converting. This is why there is no concept of heresy or punishment for a lack of belief in Buddhism, since there is no religious exclusivity. This prevents the Buddhist sangha from mentally controlling the people via Buddhism. Indeed, religious exclusivity rises from qualities like pride, delusion, conceit, etc., all qualities that Buddhism seeks to eliminate.

    Christianity, however, is much different. Christians are organized by a doctrine that is much more restrictive than Buddhism, in that it demands belief, whereas Buddhism demands nothing; it only instructs. This doctrine, unlike atheism, is able to unite people across continents who have absolutely nothing in common. Christianity, being based on the idea that Jesus and Jesus ALONE died for the sins of mankind, and that humanity is saved ONLY through belief in him. Anything less is heresy, which is not taken lightly in the afterlife. Straitjacketed by such a doctrine, Christianity is inextricably intertwined with religious exclusivity, and all the negative qualities that come with that. Since Christians are not allowed free thought (as they must believe in Jesus, or be damned) the Christian leaders are able to mentally control a wide range of disparate people who are organized under Christian dogma (this deadly combination of organization and dogma exists in neither Buddhism nor atheism, as we have seen.) And because Christianity is exclusivistic, the Christians must exhibit the aforementioned negative traits in order to believe in Jesus (because belief in Jesus involves rejecting "false gods" and viewing such traditions as inferior.)

    Therefore, Christians leaders have control over a large, diverse, organized, exclusivistic group of people, who, given that their theology mandates pre-conceived notions about other religions, have the leadership, doctrinal support, and emotional initiative to engage in angry, divisive protests like the one Telex mentioned. And because they have control over a widespread group of people, the religious attitudes that cause these angry, divisive protests can, have, and will spread over the entire planet, causing more anger and destructive polarization.

    In short, Christianity, unlike atheism is able to allow its religious leaders to literally dominate the world by exhorting for the elimination of all rival creeds, purportedly for the practitioners of those creeds having a better afterlife. It is, supposedly "for their own good" (never mind dubious efficacy of such a spiritual panacea, or the gross violation of societal and cultural customs that such an elimination necessitates.) I do not say this out of malice; we have seen that Christianity possesses the theological unity, the doctrinal basis for pedantic mental control, the divine mandate for exclusivity and intolerance, and the urge for the imposition of mental and spiritual uniformity upon all humankind that makes such a dream very possible. 1/3 completed, in fact. Holding the world in thrall via intolerance, polarization, threats and promises is something that atheism, by its very nature, cannot do, (atheists can, but the concept of atheism cannot) which is why I consider Christianity more dangerous.

    The only way to stop such polarizing protests arising from ignorance, arrogance, and narrow-mindedness is to give up this worthless doctrine of religious exclusivism, and embracing religious pluralism and acceptance of religious differences, as said by Swami Vivekananda, ironically at the first Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivekananda
    The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix
    Now, as to the question of whether or not atheism has the potential to become like "radical Islam" --sure, it does. Will it? I doubt it, but it does have the potential. Any belief system runs the risk of becoming mainstream and then inserting itself as the power in a culture. In Russia, Communism took on this role for a while, in the Middle-East and Europe, religion took on this role. But the question ought to be whether or not it is likely.
    As stated above, I disagree. What holds atheists together to make them become like radical Islam? Nothing. You take it a step further and say atheism became mainstream and asserted itself as a power, but that was Communism. And Communism merely incorporates atheism as part of its ideology. Communism =/= atheism. And, more importantly, unlike atheism, Communism, is an organized belief system (belief that a worker state is the best form of government, etc.) It provides its adherents with common a common ideology, goal, rules etc. ---just like Christianity. So Communism is, ironically enough, much more similar to Christianity than to atheism in its affects on society.
    Last edited by The Great Khan; June 4th, 2010 at 10:14 AM.

  10. #10
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    With my Angel in Aurora
    Posts
    5,722
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Khan View Post
    As stated above, I disagree. What holds atheists together to make them become like radical Islam? Nothing.
    It depends on the degree of atheism you're talking about. Guys like Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet, etc. go a step further than the core of atheism (rejection of theism) and push forward with actually attempting to convert believers into non-believers. In that sense, they're held together by a drive to convert, which isn't entirely unlike religion.
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    909
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    I think I need to re-emphasize that I did not mean "dangerous" in a physical or political sense, but dangerous in that they are obstructions to religious pluralism which is a necessary feature in establishing peace.

    Khan's discussion of religious exclusivity hit it on the head regarding Christianity, but by broadening it to "ideological exclusivity" I believe that Atheism and Christianity are similar. Atheism fundamentally relies on rationality and logic to establish belief, and rejects those positions which do not, while religions fundamentally rely on faith. As such, neither side will be able to convert the other through a dialog (at least not on a large scale) because both sides work under conflicting definitions of valid justifications for belief. If the two sides do not work to find a common ground, a peaceful society cannot be established.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hong Kong SAR, China
    Posts
    78
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    I think I need to re-emphasize that I did not mean "dangerous" in a physical or political sense, but dangerous in that they are obstructions to religious pluralism which is a necessary feature in establishing peace.

    Khan's discussion of religious exclusivity hit it on the head regarding Christianity, but by broadening it to "ideological exclusivity" I believe that Atheism and Christianity are similar. Atheism fundamentally relies on rationality and logic to establish belief, and rejects those positions which do not, while religions fundamentally rely on faith. As such, neither side will be able to convert the other through a dialog (at least not on a large scale) because both sides work under conflicting definitions of valid justifications for belief. If the two sides do not work to find a common ground, a peaceful society cannot be established.
    The real danger to a peaceful society with two or more major belief systems is not the fundamentals of those belief systems (though that plays a large part), nor the fact that neither cannot completely convert the other, but the possibility that those two systems come into conflict in media other than peaceful debate. In a society that is at least nominally at peace, belief differences can be absolved at least partially because in such a society all major churches and people wish for a continuation of the status quo and will not cause any major destruction.

    After all, no society is actually homogeneous in nature, but many today are peaceful. But of course it can be argued that no society is completely peaceful; however, isn't that a little too wishful? Obviously utopia would be if there were no conflicts in society, but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon, and neither is the elimination of any major belief system.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    0
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    It depends on the degree of atheism you're talking about. Guys like Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet, etc. go a step further than the core of atheism (rejection of theism) and push forward with actually attempting to convert believers into non-believers. In that sense, they're held together by a drive to convert, which isn't entirely unlike religion.
    But atheism, by its very nature, doesn't do that. It's an element added by Dawkins and Co. Atheism on its own doesn't have a set doctrine or anything else, any more than a lack of a belief in Santa Claus, so it can't influence anyone. And because of this, atheism simply cannot compete with Christianity. It isn't marketable, or appealing to most people, because its acknowledges cold reality rather than some heavenly fantasy. It can only loosely bind local groups of knowledgeable people who are similar to each other, rather than large groups of disparate, unwashed, brainwashed, zealous masses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    Atheism fundamentally relies on rationality and logic to establish belief, and rejects those positions which do not, while religions fundamentally rely on faith.
    Not true. It's possible to be an atheist yet have no problem with your neighbors being Christian. You can respect them, their faith etc. despite disagreeing with them. You don't have to vehemntly reject it. Atheism doesn't poke its nose into other people's business. Christianity insists on exactly that.

    As such, neither side will be able to convert the other through a dialog (at least not on a large scale) because both sides work under conflicting definitions of valid justifications for belief. If the two sides do not work to find a common ground, a peaceful society cannot be established.
    The fault lies with Christianity. Any evangelical atheists draw their inspiration from their own beliefs, which no other atheist is compelled to believe in, especially since atheism is based on free thought. There is no compulsion. Christian evangelicals, on the other hand, draw their inspiration from Christian doctrine that all Christians must adhere to. And that doctrine reviles atheism and anything else contrary to Christianity without mercy. Christian ego, delusion, and polarization drives its adherents to impose their views on the rest of the world, and destroy all diversity, freedom of thought, and religious pluralism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arraetrikos
    The real danger to a peaceful society with two or more major belief systems is not the fundamentals of those belief systems (though that plays a large part), nor the fact that neither cannot completely convert the other, but the possibility that those two systems come into conflict in media other than peaceful debate. In a society that is at least nominally at peace, belief differences can be absolved at least partially because in such a society all major churches and people wish for a continuation of the status quo and will not cause any major destruction.
    ...because all the major churches agree with each other on the important aspects of doctrine, not because they are accepting of dissent.

    After all, no society is actually homogeneous in nature, but many today are peaceful.
    Because either

    A) They are pluarlistic societies that are accepting of diversity

    or

    B) One group holds uncontested sway over everything, and the place is peaceful because they nip all potential conflict in the bud by crushing all signs of opposition.

    But of course it can be argued that no society is completely peaceful; however, isn't that a little too wishful? Obviously utopia would be if there were no conflicts in society, but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon, and neither is the elimination of any major belief system.
    Conflict in society is inevitable. But it would make sense that it would be essential conflict, like over food, water, resources, land etc. You'd think, therefore, that we wouldn't fight over silly things like ideology or belief. Yet, some of the biggest fights in the world are over God. It's basically "You think differently from me. I can't tolerate that because I'm arrogant and narrow minded. I have to kill you to remain emotionally secure because I can't digest the fact that my faith isn't inherently awesome, and that people actually find flaws in its tenants." It would make sense that we should minimize the amount of fighting to only the essentials. Yet, because of ego and arrogance, we increase it. Christianity encourages ego, arrogance, narrow mindedness, intolerance, and other negative qualities, as I have elaborated already. Since these qualities cause conflict, Christianity is therefore more dangerous than atheism because it encourages such negative qualities and therefore the harm to us all that arises from them.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hong Kong SAR, China
    Posts
    78
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Khan View Post
    Because either

    A) They are pluarlistic societies that are accepting of diversity

    or

    B) One group holds uncontested sway over everything, and the place is peaceful because they nip all potential conflict in the bud by crushing all signs of opposition.
    I would call a society such as the one described in B) to be peaceful, but rather repressed and ready to explode at the slightest let-up from the dominating group.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Khan View Post
    Conflict in society is inevitable. But it would make sense that it would be essential conflict, like over food, water, resources, land etc. You'd think, therefore, that we wouldn't fight over silly things like ideology or belief. Yet, some of the biggest fights in the world are over God. It's basically "You think differently from me. I can't tolerate that because I'm arrogant and narrow minded. I have to kill you to remain emotionally secure because I can't digest the fact that my faith isn't inherently awesome, and that people actually find flaws in its tenants." It would make sense that we should minimize the amount of fighting to only the essentials. Yet, because of ego and arrogance, we increase it. Christianity encourages ego, arrogance, narrow mindedness, intolerance, and other negative qualities, as I have elaborated already. Since these qualities cause conflict, Christianity is therefore more dangerous than atheism because it encourages such negative qualities and therefore the harm to us all that arises from them.
    I'm not disagreeing that religious differences can grow into violence, only that the roots of such violence is not the religious tenets themselves, but more due to the instability of the society. There are Muslisms and Jews and Christians and other religious groups in many western societies, but differences between these groups are solved in no more violent manner than protests or debate. But in a region like the Middle East, where poverty is rampant, the economy is in shambles, and war is prevalent, people naturally turn religions that are inherently peaceful (though "encouraging negative qualities") into reasons for violence.

  15. #15
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Grinnell, IA
    Posts
    4,460
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    First, it should be pointed out that the 2009 Parliament of World's Religions was held in Melbourne, Australia. Australia happens to be a mostly Christian, with a significant population of atheists, so the fact that those were the two groups protesting the conference should not be surprising. Actually, it seems that all past conferences of this type have been held in Western nations, so that should fact should very strongly color the tenor of this debate. I'm sure there would be protesting Muslims if the conference had been held in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Actually, I can't imagine that a conference of this nature would be held in either of those countries.

    Now, another issue with this conference is that its format serves to exclude atheists. It's an interfaith dialog, and atheism is characterized by a lack of faith in one of the main tenets of many religions (the existence of deities).

    That said, yes, atheism lacks the religio aspect of religion. Any "belief system" defined by a single position would. In fact, atheism would be a pretty non-consequential position if it weren't for the fact that throughout human history, religion has been a dominant force in shaping human society. The only times where atheists have formed the ruling class of a country has been when they follow atheistic quasi-religions like Marxism. While Lenin, Stalin, and Mao may all have been atheists, I think that we can agree that it was their belief in communism that bound them together, not their position on the existence of God.

    Now, the very point of this thread is to discuss how various beliefs behave in the ecosystem of beliefs that exists now. And I think looking from that perspective, I think that the lack of unity among atheists becomes pretty clear.

    In Christian societies, there is variation in how atheists interact with religion. Other posters have already mentioned Richard Dawkins who is one of a group of more polemical atheists, but on the other side of the coin, there are very conciliatory atheists like the most recent winner of the Templeton Prize, Francisco Ayala.

    In Muslim societies, it's hard to find conciliatory atheists, partially because Muslim societies tend not to be as tolerant of deconversion as Christian societies, so we have examples like Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are both very critical of their original faith and who also both require

    In Jewish society, the story is quite different. Alan Dershowitz is a Jewish atheist and he's an outspoken supporter of the Jewish ethnostate of Israel.

    Ultimately, I think that the attitude of a dominant religion toward atheists is a more important determinant of the attitude of atheists toward religious groups than vice versa. If the dominant religious group in a society is hostile to atheists, the atheists of that society will likely be hostile to religion. If one can be accepted as a member of the tribe without holding the main religious tenets as true, as you can see among Jews, atheists will tend to have a rather sanguine attitude toward their co-ethnics.
    孟柏民
    Formerly Neverending (for all you old-timers)

  16. #16

    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    0
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arraetrikos View Post
    I would call a society such as the one described in B) to be peaceful, but rather repressed and ready to explode at the slightest let-up from the dominating group.
    That's why the latter really isn't peaceful at all, just oppressed.

    I'm not disagreeing that religious differences can grow into violence, only that the roots of such violence is not the religious tenets themselves, but more due to the instability of the society. There are Muslisms and Jews and Christians and other religious groups in many western societies, but differences between these groups are solved in no more violent manner than protests or debate. But in a region like the Middle East, where poverty is rampant, the economy is in shambles, and war is prevalent, people naturally turn religions that are inherently peaceful (though "encouraging negative qualities") into reasons for violence.
    If Christian or Muslim societies are peaceful, it is because they cannot create a type B society, not because they are following the tenets of their religion. The tenets of Christianity and Islam clearly place believers above non-believers. Such an attitude has no place in a class A society. If Christians and Muslims are open and tolerant, it is despite their religions, not because of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meng Bomin
    Now, another issue with this conference is that its format serves to exclude atheists. It's an interfaith dialog, and atheism is characterized by a lack of faith in one of the main tenets of many religions (the existence of deities).
    Now that's an interesting point. I didn't realize that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    That said, yes, atheism lacks the religio aspect of religion. Any "belief system" defined by a single position would. In fact, atheism would be a pretty non-consequential position if it weren't for the fact that throughout human history, religion has been a dominant force in shaping human society. The only times where atheists have formed the ruling class of a country has been when they follow atheistic quasi-religions like Marxism. While Lenin, Stalin, and Mao may all have been atheists, I think that we can agree that it was their belief in communism that bound them together, not their position on the existence of God.
    Exactly. Beliefs bind people. Atheism is a lack of a belief. It can no more bind people than lack of a belief in the tooth fairy can.
    In Christian societies, there is variation in how atheists interact with religion. Other posters have already mentioned Richard Dawkins who is one of a group of more polemical atheists, but on the other side of the coin, there are very conciliatory atheists like the most recent winner of the Templeton Prize, Francisco Ayala.

    In Muslim societies, it's hard to find conciliatory atheists, partially because Muslim societies tend not to be as tolerant of deconversion as Christian societies, so we have examples like Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are both very critical of their original faith and who also both require
    Christian societies are tolerant because of education and secularism, not because of Christianity. The Bible has no love of atheists or other non-believers.

    Ultimately, I think that the attitude of a dominant religion toward atheists is a more important determinant of the attitude of atheists toward religious groups than vice versa. If the dominant religious group in a society is hostile to atheists, the atheists of that society will likely be hostile to religion. If one can be accepted as a member of the tribe without holding the main religious tenets as true, as you can see among Jews, atheists will tend to have a rather sanguine attitude toward their co-ethnics.
    Nicely summed up.

  17. #17
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    14
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    The only thing an atheist has to subscribe to is "I do not accept anything on insufficient evidence". There is nothing dangerous about this. All humans subscribe to that in almost every part of their lives but throw away this notion when religion becomes involved. Now even if an atheist is to kill another human because he is Christian and the atheist thinks his ways are harmful, it has nothing to do with not accepting anything on insufficient evidence. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the mans "atheism".

    On the contrary, a religion like Christianity has certain dogma that is to be followed, depending on the division. Defining homosexuals as an abomination for instance, is a dangerous claim. Saying that using condoms will have you burning in hell for all eternity, is a dangerous claim. If you do not think so, read up on AIDS in Africa. There are many dangerous dogmas of Christianity that are dangerous by themselves, but not accepting anything on insufficient evidence is not.

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    909
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khan
    Not true. It's possible to be an atheist yet have no problem with your neighbors being Christian. You can respect them, their faith etc. despite disagreeing with them. You don't have to vehemntly reject it. Atheism doesn't poke its nose into other people's business. Christianity insists on exactly that.
    It is possible, and it is possible to be a Christian and feel the same. But at their cores there is a shared invalidation of other's beliefs: atheism, while perhaps not looking to convert others, also categorizes any religion as a fundamental mistake because of its lack of rational proof. Christianity categorizes any other belief as a mistake because it will lead to Hell. Clearly not the same mindset, but a similar outcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Khan
    The fault lies with Christianity. Any evangelical atheists draw their inspiration from their own beliefs, which no other atheist is compelled to believe in, especially since atheism is based on free thought. There is no compulsion. Christian evangelicals, on the other hand, draw their inspiration from Christian doctrine that all Christians must adhere to. And that doctrine reviles atheism and anything else contrary to Christianity without mercy. Christian ego, delusion, and polarization drives its adherents to impose their views on the rest of the world, and destroy all diversity, freedom of thought, and religious pluralism.
    I think you're taking too monolithic a view of Christianity. Certainly some sects behave this way, but not all. What the Bible actually says is a very debatable issue, and to characterize Christianity's view of other beliefs as "reviling" is a bit disingenuous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris123
    The only thing an atheist has to subscribe to is "I do not accept anything on insufficient evidence". There is nothing dangerous about this. All humans subscribe to that in almost every part of their lives but throw away this notion when religion becomes involved.
    This is a common defense of atheism, but the issue is the demand for evidence - evidence being, in this conception, rational or empirical data that supports a position. This demand will never be satisfied by religion, but for the faithful that is not a mark against it. A demand for "evidence" assumes a belief must be based on rational data in order to be valid, but this assumption is not shared by religious people. As such, this approach fundamentally precludes cooperation in that it automatically defines validity in a way that religion will never be able to satisfy.

  19. #19
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    14
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Telex: This is a common defense of atheism, but the issue is the demand for evidence - evidence being, in this conception, rational or empirical data that supports a position. This demand will never be satisfied by religion, but for the faithful that is not a mark against it. A demand for "evidence" assumes a belief must be based on rational data in order to be valid, but this assumption is not shared by religious people. As such, this approach fundamentally precludes cooperation in that it automatically defines validity in a way that religion will never be able to satisfy.
    The faith argument can be used against them as well, but I will not get into that. We are discussing the danger of Atheism and Christianity, and in the above quote there still is nothing that has been provided that is dangerous about Atheism.

  20. #20
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    909
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Atheism and Christianity: Equally Dangerous?

    Dangerous to a peaceful, pluralist society which includes members of all beliefs on equal footing. Which is how I defined dangerous in the OP. If I could change the title to be more specific, I would -it seems a lot of people can't get past it. I am not talking strictly physical danger, I am talking about a dangerous condition which creates physical danger.

 

 
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Is there a rational reason to believe?
    By Allocutus in forum Religion
    Replies: 96
    Last Post: December 6th, 2010, 08:25 AM
  2. Atheism: What is it good for?
    By nanderson in forum General Debate
    Replies: 406
    Last Post: April 2nd, 2008, 07:31 AM
  3. The Theistic Definition Thread
    By Meng Bomin in forum Religion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: January 26th, 2007, 02:13 PM
  4. Is "Lack of Belief" a Valid Concept?
    By Xanadu Moo in forum Philosophical Debates
    Replies: 132
    Last Post: April 29th, 2005, 03:21 AM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •