The Struggle is Against Faith, Not One Specific Doctine

Rethinking Our Positions Can Help Our Cause

I think as atheists, we need to be careful about the language we use (me included) in attacking religion. Too often we tend to argue against a particular religion, usually Christianity here in the U.S., or in my case, Islam. More

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Comment by Ralph Dumain on April 25, 2009 at 2:07pm
The new group "Department of Other Atheists (DOA)" addresses the question of whether the atheist movement tilts too much toward (ex-)Christian bias, esp. in its assumptions about religion in general based on the specific characteristics of Christianity.

As for Sam Harris, he especially targets Islam, not just faith in general. While there is nothing wrong with bashing Islam, Harris' total lack of reality with respect to economic, political, and social institutions in which Islam is intermixed makes him a real bonehead in addressing political issues.

Also, I would say there is an excessive focus on monotheism as the culprit, and even that in abstraction from the social structure in which it takes shape, as if monotheism is uniquely repressive and intolerant. If you check out the historical record of Hinduism, you will find out differently.
Comment by Travis McFarland on April 24, 2009 at 6:42pm
Sam Harris tackles this problem in his book The End of Faith. Where he states that "Religious faith represents so uncompromising a miss use of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity-a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible."

I like the analogy of wrestling with the blob, because that is exactly what it feels like when talking to a faith based religious nut job. My favorite is when I get this response "I know it's true because i have had my own personal Theophany". How do you counter that with reason? You can't unless you have some anti-psychotic medication.
Comment by Eli on April 24, 2009 at 2:57pm
Well, I'm going to disagree here.

Most conversations advocating for "Freethinking", "Atheism", etc... are going on with people who buy into a particular dogma (set of claims), it is much easier and much more effective to deal with specific claims and show them as false/misguided/etc... when you try to attack "faith" in general you're dealing with a nebulous concept, it's like trying to wrestle the blob. I may sound like I'm attacking Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, but that will differ depending on who I am speaking to.

Would you not agree that an argument is much more effective when it is tailored to ones audience? One can generally promote the value of the scientific method and at the same time target the criticism to that of the dogma of your specific audience.

Faith is a nebulous concept, and it can indeed mean many things to many different individuals. Some people retain such faith still encompassing 99% of all the scientific, freethinking, skeptical, etc.. values that many atheists hold dear, conversely there are some "Atheists" that do not...

Most American atheists target Christianity because that is the majority dogma (as it is in the entire English-speaking world) the most likely audience to hear ones words on a website/podcast/etc...
Comment by muhammad amer on April 24, 2009 at 2:34pm
I was thinking exactly that too. Infact I was thinking to add a disscussion on that. Our friends from christian background look more as anti-christianity than athiest as we look like anti-Islam. We as athiest must consider faith in genral vs science instead of fighting a single religon and its hsitory.

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