Hemant Mehta is one of my heros.  I won't say I never disagree - that would be strange.  But he always makes me think.  Do atheists present themselves the best way?

 

1.  I lost my faith!  Hemant recommends a more positive statement.  "I defeated faith".  "I gave up my faith".

2.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  He states some claims have no evidence at all, so we only need the bare minimum of evidence.  Like, if there is even a little evidence that prayer works, let's see it.

3.  Everyone is born an atheist!  He considers being atheist a bigger deal than something we are born as.  Some of us went through a lot of effort,, reaching atheism through a process. 

4.  We can be good without god!  He says to christians this is the equivalent of driving without your seat belt.  I don't quite understand that aspect.  What we mean to say is, in areas where worship of god doesn't exist, people can be better than 

5.  I trust science, not some 2,000 year old book.  He thinks this suggests biblical events were real.  Also, the bible was written over a few hundred years, not in a single sitting 2,000 years ago.  

6.  You cant reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into in the first place.  In other words, reason and logic can't counter unreasonable or illogical conclusions.  But he argues, they can.  So it's not futile to use reason or logic. 

7.  I don't believe in god.  He thinks we should say, I don't believe in the existence of any god or gods.

8.  Religion doesn't make any sense!  That just means, you don't understand religion.  But we often understand religion, or religious concepts, very well.  We disagree with them, and refute them.  We should say these beliefs are illogical 

9.  "You can't just pick and choose what you want to believe".  But he's glad christians are picking and choosing.  Otherwise, the "true christians" might be stoning sinners.  We can argue they are logically inconsistent.  We shouldn't elevate fundamentalism.  We should be rooting for the liberal side of christianity.  (I don't think I agree with this.  I think we should call christians on their hypocrisy).  

 

Hemant links to Matt Dillahunty's response, and I'll link here too.  Matt agrees with some, but not all, of Hemant's comments.

 

Here's my thoughts -

1.  I view moving beyond faith as a positive thing.  "Losing faith" does sound negative   It's  worth a conversation to think of a more positive spin.  Provocative - "I was cured of faith".  or "I outgrew  my faith".  or "I changed from faith to science".  Thoughts?  

2.  I don't know about this one.  Some people might think Jesus on a slice of toast IS extraordinary evidence.   But it's not.

3.  I don't know.  Isn't everyone born an atheist?   Are we nitpicking?  Is it "less" to be born an atheist, than to become one?

4.  I really do think we are better without god!  Or better, we are better without claims to belief.  WIthout god, we lose excuses.  We live once.  So do others.  If we hurt others, abuse them, damage their lives, there is no getting that back.  I think more than just good without gods, we are much better without those beliefs.  I agree with Hemant.

5.  Similar to #3.  Are we nitpicking?

6.  I haven't heard people say "Religion doesn't make any sense".   I like "Religion is stupid" and "Religion is hypocritical" and "Religion is a way for tyrants, small and large, to manipulate their followers and persecute their scapegoats".  "Religion is a false concept."

7.  I never thought of it that way before.  I don't have a better response.  I don't believe in any gods.  Maybe something like, "There is no evidence to support the existence of any gods."?  

8.  I think we call hypocritical people on it when they pick and choose, and choose inhumane options.  If they more or less reject the biblical laws, but choose "come'on everyone, love everybody", I won't argue with that.

 

I could be argued out of any of my own responses.  I think it's worth thinking about how we say these things. 

Edit: I forgot to include the original link. Comments there also worth reading.

Tags: Hemant Mehta, Losing religion, atheist, framing

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't see how polytheistic religions can possibly be related to monotheistic religions. And then there's Hinduism, which some freaky mash-up between the two. I frequently debate with an anti-atheist on another site, who makes claims similar to what Laura stated as his main defense of religion - yet he is openly Catholic! Of all the religions to embrace, picking one with the most pronounced rituals and rigid expectations while claiming that all religions essentially share the same 'god' is the epitome of vacuous logic.

I don't see how polytheistic religions can possibly be related to monotheistic religions.

Christianity grew out of Judaism. They added a god - Jesus - and a semi-goddess - Mary.
Or you can start looking for the "essence" and make something monotheistic out of a polytheistic religion. 

Believing that new gods can be created by carving off chunks of the original god seems like a flagrant violation of OT doctrine. Sounds like a good way to end up on the original god's shitlist. I'm sure that's the way Jews see it.

Believing that new gods can be created by carving off chunks of the original god seems like a flagrant violation of OT doctrine.

People modify their theology all the time. Lots of sects.
Christian doctrine attempts to sweep differences under the rug :)  e.g. the doctrine of the Trinity maintains that God is single but contains several beings; Jesus is supposed to be both fully human and fully divine. 

It seems like early Christians decided "we're all right, let's call the inconsistencies a divine mystery."  :)  Rather New Agey of them. 

I'm not a scholar but I've read the Hebrews were polytheistic, finally choosing Yahweh as the one and only.  That there was a pantheon, and Yahweh had a consort.  Then they had a purge, kind of like North Korea of the sky, and wound up with the biggest meanest one of all.

Bart Ehrman talks about that in one of his books, can't remember which one. During the early Council of Nicea, which lasted several generations, those involved in the process of conjuring up the canon of biblical scripture would openly disagree about how many gods there were - some even saying there were as many as there are days of the year. Could there be any more ironic issue to disagree over? How on earth could anyone look at the process by which scriptural doctrine was thrown together, and conclude that they nailed it?

Thanks Future.  Didn't know that bit of conjuring stupidity.

Future, I agree with you completely.  I tried adding more, but you said it concisely and completely.

Is FSM OK with pesto?  Sometimes I get tired of marinara.

We might want to avoid letting FSM splinter off into different recipes ... next thing you know this atheist is wishing death upon that atheist for tinkering with sacred dogma, then someone gets the bright idea that the dilemma can be solved with a suicide vest. ;)

Pesto?!?  HERESY!!!  Marinara is the TRUE WAY!!!

[And if you believe THAT one, I got some black-market Alfredo I can lay on you ... cheap!]

FSM Marinara, one for the Atheist Cookbook ...

FSM Alfredo, Flying Squid Monster in a seafoody version. 

But-but-but ... what about pesto for SB?  And for that matter, what about Bolognese?!?  Not to mention Abruzzi!!!

[Why do I get the feeling we could go on with this for a while...?]

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