Sam Harris is great to check out-- he is exactly the type of Atheist you're eluding to. However, Hitchens is one of my idols. People are persuaded in different ways, and I think Hitchens is perfect for people that tend to listen to more assertive types.
He has killer one liners as well... I definitely see where you're coming from though. And if I were to pick an Atheist to represent me, I'd pick Sam Harris-- but I can't jump off the Hitchen's bandwagon. He's incredible, although not the best debater.
Any great movement is fuelled by anger. I'm not talking about violence. But anger. I think a lot of atheists are too laid back about it. The world has to know that we are here, and fed up with religion having a fake monopoly on 'morality', woven into our governments, and the indoctrination of children-- affectively brainwashing kids... to name a few.
Anger, if properly directed and methodical, can be effective. And does not have to be chaotic. I believe we need a combination of Harris' and Hitchens'.
Who is your favourite Atheist debater?
I'm so taken aback by this post I'm a bit lost for words....Christopher Hitchens? Not confident? Not self assured?
You suggest leaving out some of our personal opinions and maybe using 'fairy stories' to illustrate a point? No doubt I'm misinterpreting you...am I?
Christopher Hitchens isn't a fluffy, cuddly atheist. He's an adult. He is fantastically witty and knowledgeable. I can't imagine him any other way. There is work to be done.
Maybe you can give me an example of his 'under-confidence' and negativity?
We have no time to lose in the effort to rid the world of the deforming effects of religion, in the sense of taking it out of public decision making. (People can believe whatever they want privately).
It's been estimated that if not for religion in our history we may have cured cancer and heart disease by the dark ages.
The religious elders prevented the dissection of cadavers for about a thousand years. Not to mention the suffering and death going on right now due to our inability to go forward with stem cell research because, and only because of our puny 'respect' for religion. And the millions dead in religious warfare.
People are suffering now, be it illness or fear of hell. I'm not going to pussyfoot. "The sleep of reason brings forth monsters".
"It's been estimated that if not for religion in our history we may have cured cancer and heart disease by the dark ages."
Thing about these estimations is that they're crap, and the fact that they keep being perpetuated is -partly- a result of debaters like Hitchens who offer a very one-sided story. Criticizing religion is fine, but if we as atheists are going to leave one one-sided story behind and take up another one-sided story, then I do question the effectiveness of our movement.
For once I'd like to hear an atheist debater, for instance, not simply talk about the myriad of anecdotes who can tell about science and religion in conflict, but also a whisper that, hey, it was during the height of Medieval Christianity that the foundation for science was laid.
Ideologues tell one side of the story, rationalists look at the big picture and try to get a balanced assessment of the facts based on reality. I'd like for us to do the latter, and Hitchens isn't always conducive to that.
And I say that as someone who loves Hitchens to death and has spent many an afternoon listening to his debates. But for all the things I admire about him, I'm not going to be silent on his flaws. That's the way rationalists handle things;)
"Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence."
""Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it."
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
"The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks."
"The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that 'if English was good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for me."
Everyone except the last one maybe are good come back one liners..The last one to be saved when the other side opens up the can of whoop-ass ..then let it go..
Alice, we atheists do have a culture of reason, science and pragmatism. I've read enough of Hitchens to conclude that he is a better warrior than spokesperson.
In the 1960s (early during my agnostic years), Madelyn Murray performed a valuable service for America when she sued to stop forced prayer in public schools. In the late 1970s, I (still an agnostic) heard her speak in San Francisco and decided that she needed a god with whom she could do battle.
Founders of organizations need warrior skills. Managers of organizations need administrative skills. Few founders become managers.
Your post persuades me that you might do well at representing, or perhaps managing, an organization.
It's an interesting point - I saw him saying on one of the you tubes that he thought we were silly to 'love our enemy'. Which is interesting - because I haven't seen that side of atheism. I started off with Naturalism and determinism which was promoted as meaning that compassion was a sensible way of being due to none of us having 'choice' about what we do or where we end up - which I think is more Dawkins way of thinking - but Hitchens is very much the warrior in this sense.
In a way I can agree with him - in that we don't just want to be sitting their stupidly looking whilst our enemy mows us down. The recent attacks of 2001 and 2005 are reason to be defensive - and it does seem that reasoning isn't going to cut it when it comes to people who think like this. Perhaps though they could be said to be mentally ill - given their motivation - rather than evil people.
But then again perhaps I'm determined to be pathetic, in the sense that I would like everyone to get on and show each other compassion - and no-one would or should ever put me in charge of defending a country. Perhaps that's another conversation - but perhaps some facts and figures would help me change my mind. At the moment I'm convinced that it is a possibility that we could have a world that we all got on and no-one needed to be at war. But then again perhaps war is just a side effect of having too many men and a natural drive to fight for resources, and therefore mating rights and lifestyle.
Actually if someone could help to shake me into some sense on these topics it would be much appreciated - as I know I'll only get there if I'm fully caused :)
Atheists do well when operating from the fundamental base line of true common sense.
This is why I proclaim:
"Well founded common sense and fine reasoning helped by science inevitably lead to atheist wisdom."
As debaters and teachers of this world view, it can be a righteous route for atheist rationalists to follow.
Atheism is serene philosophical wisdom based on unemotional common sense.
Religion and superstition, by contrast, are null concepts intellectually, and counter-intuitive to all reason.
Dr. Terence Meaden said
This is why I prefer to call myself a Secular Humanist rather than an Atheist. Atheism eschews emotion too much. Emotion is an essential part of humanity. Suppressing or denying it wholesale, out of fear that we will lose the capacity to reason, eviscerates us. It's like archaic Homo Sapiens fearing to use fire as a tool because it's so dangerous. Had we avoided fire, we'd be damned cold and starving in our caves. I believe we need to face our feared animal natures, understand our limitations instead of turning away from them.
Atheism is serene philosophical wisdom based on unemotional common sense.