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I'm an atheist (though I am not affiliated with any atheist organization and I often find myself rooting for men of faith against some of the more militant atheist groups).

I've noticed men of faith on this site and I'd like to confirm who you are and also, if you consider yourself an Objectivist, give you a chance to explain how faith and Objectivism are compatible.

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“Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity.”   -   Friedrich Nietzsche

What exactly do I need to accept, to be an atheist?

I'm an atheist (though I am not affiliated with any atheist organization and I often find myself rooting for men of faith against some of the more militant atheist groups). I've noticed men of

Reconcile faith and Objectivism, no, it ain't happenin'. While I have had discussions with avowed Christians with whom I can agree on many things, the subject of why we agree is one which I avoid, if I value the relationship. I can respect a person for their behavior, but when I have a Christian friend, I make it known that my philosophy is not compatible with his or her faith. I have had discussions with an avowed atheist, with whom I felt the need to point out that people need the freedom to express their beliefs every bit as much as anyone. As a self-proclaimed Objectivist, I may hold opinions that differ from other Objectivists, but not on matters of faith. One of the most important premises of Objectivism is that reality presents its own validation, and therefore requires no subjective or mystical claim of morality. While I still defend the rights of Christians to believe in fantasies, I do not judge them as a collective. America's on-going Culture War has no quarters for Objectivists. You might say, we're in a no-man's land. The "right" reject atheism; the "left" cling to altruism and collectivism. No matter how weak the defense, people of mystic persuasion will refuse to abandon their beliefs, and I have long ago learned not to attempt to persuade them. However, if one finds a particularly obnoxious hypocritical holy-roller, let'em have it.

I recommend softwareNerd's thread, mentioned above.

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StrictlyLogical, while I cannot respond for "tsa", let me say that I find symbols on cars having a shape similar to fish that proclaim "Darwin" to be off-putting. The desecration of someone else's symbol is a poor substitute for delivering your own message directly. Why does one have to put someone else's ideas down in order to proclaim an affirmative message? I would put persons with such a symbol on their cars in the category of "militant atheists", at least to the degree that they are "attacking" someone else's symbol.

 

That said, the world is a blizzard of bs, and men and women who stand for reason sometimes find themselves assailing the prevalent currents of nonsense. (This does not excuse someone in San Francisco who has a Darwin fish eating at fish on their car.) Where is the forum for reason? I hope that this is a small one.

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On the subject of "militant atheism," I have yet to meet anyone willing to physically fight anyone else as a means of expressing a belief. However, I have met people who are willing to engage in physical violence as means of expressing their mystic, in this case, Christian belief. Such people are rare, and this is one reason that reason is muted in our American society. The Culture War, for lack of a better term, has a subtly brutal dimension. So, where is the forum for reason? Unfortunately, THIS website maybe the only forum. Religion, and tolerance of diverse beliefs, is the predominant philosophy of our times. I don't know what more I can say; my disapproval of oppressive majorities worsens everyday.

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I'm curious tsa, what do you mean by "militant atheist"?

I'm referring to certain atheists groups, like Freedom From Religion, and others, who seem to wanna make laws that violate the first amendment, and who put up signs around Christmas, where kids frequent, detailing, in horrifying, graphic ways, some of the many evils in the bible, like the text of Leviticus.

I ain't no commie but I agree with Mao when he said, "Religion is poison."

But I support the right to drink poison.

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P.S. I forgot I'm dealing with philosophers who take definitions seriously, as it should be. I shouldn't have used the word "militant" because it denotes something specific. Like when my boss told me to work on Christmas or I'm fired, he didn't "force" me to come to work. My point about certain atheist groups who engage in wrongful behavior is that when I call myself an atheist, I worry that people who's judgement I welcome, associate atheism with some of its so-called spokesmen, who give atheism a bad name. It's almost to the point where I'd prefer to have a different word to describe my position, so I don't need a caveat to delineate between myself the atheist, and the actions of atheist groups I disapprove of. But similar to how AR refuse to allow to give up "selfish" (though I am no AR yet), I ain't letting em have "atheist."

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It's really the skepticism underneath the activist -secularist that is most unpalatable for me. It's why I've hardly ever found friends among agnostics and atheists.

Say what you will (and I won't demur) about the non- fundamentalist religionist, specifically - selective rationality, mixed premises - but each has firm conviction, and often, integrity.

I can respect conviction no matter how misplaced it is. Character speaks for itself.

Long as they never gain power over us, and I have hardly ever known a religious person who'd want to.

Edited by whYNOT
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It's really the skepticism underneath the activist -secularist that is most unpalatable for me. It's why I've hardly ever found friends among agnostics and atheists.

Say what you will (and I won't demur) about the non- fundamentalist religionist, specifically - selective rationality, mixed premises - but each has firm conviction, and often, integrity.

I can respect conviction no matter how misplaced it is. Character speaks for itself.

Long as they never gain power over us, and I have hardly ever known a religious person who'd want to.

That's a great point, because I'd rather deal with a Christian than a Pragmatist. I prefer dealing with men who's actions are guided by principles.
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Christians in the US tend to fall into two categories. The first one is "God is Dead". These Christians are your "normal" people who basically don't do anything the bible tells them to. The question of whether there is a god or not is mostly a question of comfort.They are the ultimate pragmatists by far.

 

The next category is the "Nietzsche is Dead" Christians. These are your hardcore conservatives who really believe in God and that the bible should affect the behavior of society and the individual. They promote terrible ideas and really sour the fight for Capitalism by doing so. 

 

I haven't seen many secularists who are radical skeptics. Skepticism in todays world means something more like scientism or positivism. I accept that the movement is arrogant and philosophically naïve but they are dedicated to the scientific method as far as it will take them, which shows a lot more integrity to me than someone who thinks the bible is a guide for anything.

 

The worst of the atheist crowd is the "Atheism +" movement. Which is essentially an egalitarian movement. I haven't seen any evidence that they are pragmatists though, as they seem extremely dedicated to their principles.

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I can respect conviction no matter how misplaced it is. Character speaks for itself.

Long as they never gain power over us, and I have hardly ever known a religious person who'd want to.

While I can agree with you in regard to character, I am not going to respect convictions when those convictions include the initiation of violence. In my life, I have met many people of faith who become violently irrational, whether verbally abusive or physically, when confronted with someone who challenges their beliefs. As I've said earlier, I may not agree with my Christian friends about their superstitions and fantasies, but I will defend their rights to hold and express them. This does not apply to all people of religious faith. Some wish to impose an Islamic Kalifate on the world. The Catholics held much of Western Europe in theocratic tyranny for centuries. The Russian Orthodox Church enabled the Czar to suppress human nature and impose slavery until the Bolsheviks re-established the same evil. I have met people who openly admit that they would approve of another theocratic dictatorship, as long as that order imposes the religion of their choice.

Excuse me if I cannot sympathize, but I will not respect such convictions. These people need to be confronted with the truth. If we can have a secular government until we have a rational society, I have no complaints. But there are far too many in power who wish to shut off the lights of The Enlightenment.

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I'm referring to certain atheists groups, like Freedom From Religion, and others, who seem to wanna make laws that violate the first amendment, and who put up signs around Christmas, where kids frequent, detailing, in horrifying, graphic ways, some of the many evils in the bible, like the text of Leviticus.

I ain't no commie but I agree with Mao when he said, "Religion is poison."

But I support the right to drink poison.

Can you provide and example of Freedom From Religion violating the First Amendment, or putting up a graphic sign?
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Can you provide and example of Freedom From Religion violating the First Amendment, or putting up a graphic sign?

     No. I spoke to a man who said he was a once a member of Freedom From Religion, and he said that some of the things they did involved supporting efforts to suppress private citizens' first ammendment rights. He didn't give me anything specific and he could've been mistaken or lying.  I shouldn't have made the accusation against Freedom From Religion based on hearsay from a non-credible source. I retract my accusation, I apologize, and I will make an effort to refrain from making accusations based on flimsy evidence.

     Here comes the "but": But that doesn't negate the fact that there are atheist organizations that have conducted actions against mystics that were cruel and, as an atheist, I find myself having to denounce when someone sincere inquires about atheism. I recognize that sensationalism drives the media (e.g.: Fox News playing to their Judeo-Christian audience) makes a bigger controversy out of some of the particular instances, like the alleged The War On Christmas. But I've seen their actions with my own eyes, like the one aleph_1 mentioned in post 5 (which was mild compared to some others I've seen). I don't know the name(s) of the atheist group(s) that have tried to suppress first ammendment rights, but they're out there and they give my atheism a bad name. My atheism wants to protect my neighbor's right to get on his knees and request favors from his imaginary master via telepathy (as long as he doesn't block traffic).

     Again: I don't have any credible evidence that Freedom From Religion is one of the bad atheist groups. I apologize for making the accusation and from now on I won't make accusations without credible evidence.

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Repairman and Hairnet:

Yes, indeed. That's what I get for being too broad, as well as over-specific to my own experiences, location and to Christianity as I see/hear of it in Africa (and Europe, to a degree). I have a little more understanding of the USA's position, thanks H.

Thing is, looking around don't you think that while theocracy has been the traditional foe of freedom and reason, what has crept up on the West (from behind, so to speak) has as much capability of initiating force, and is more difficult to oppose intellectually, since it's far more insidious and lays claims to being 'rational'? I'm meaning substituting the worship of god with deification of the People and State, obviously.

Outside of Muslim states, I doubt there is any probability of theocracies emerging for the foreseeable future, but the way I simplistically view it, is: Christianity has proven it does not necessarily need political power to survive - while collectivist-secular-progressivist-Statism (ow!) *IS* political power and force, by its very nature. And that's what we all have in our faces, everywhere, right now. For me then, no contest.

By my respect for "conviction" I mostly meant the "ability to hold convictions" (of principle and morality). This presupposes some certainty, and some degree of individualism, both of which (radical) skeptics basically renounce, although clinging to the same, essential altruist morality.

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If there is a cause to unite behind, it is the advocacy of an individual's rights. The individual is the ultimate minority. As individuals, many Christians I know are decent and constructive people, while a few others are irrational to the point of being a general nuisance. The politically active Christian elements in the US are the worst, and my tolerance for their arrogance has shifted my opinion on the Culture War. To my friend in South Africa, I wish you could experience the full-scale assault on reason first-hand. It absolutely justifies the provocations of Darwinian advocates, atheists, agnostics, or others; I would even include Satanists and nihilists, if one wished to list the lot of them. But seriously, by simply saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you abandon the real argument. When the state enforces an altruistic policy, it is channeling a moral policy procured from religious texts. The late-19th century American Populists ushered in the Progressive Era by insisting that Christianity dictated such policies. This insanity has never lost its momentum. The opposing camps of "liberals" and "conservatives" both often use religion as a vanguard in their arguments. Atheist-statists use altruism. I could never feel a smidgeon of respect for anyone advocating government policy based on either religion or altruism. If it is an individual(s) who wish to have a super invisible friend, named Jesus, I am not here to burst his or her bubble, but I would point out the folly of government action guided by his or her "friend."

Objectivism offers causality to the argument. It offers no quarter to the pragmatist or practical compromise.

Edited by Repairman
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@whYNOT 

 

I understand. 

 

The idea of allowing someone to choose their own religion was a good starting point for liberalism to evolve. Protestantism continued the individualist tendencies in Christianity, leading to an explosion of private religions that suit the congregations. Choosing a church to attend and a community to be a part of voluntarily based on creed is a huge step towards understanding capitalism. While protestants are by no means perfect secularists, these days they come closer than any other religious group on the planet. 

 

My problem with these people isn't that they are more wrong than egalitarians, is that they seem to be as a whole blatantly opposed to being reasonable. When I listen to left leaning radio such as NPR I get the impression that they are trying to convince me. Right-wing talk show hosts tend to just appeal to fear and the shortest most oversimplified snippets of information. 

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On the subject of "militant atheism," I have yet to meet anyone willing to physically fight anyone else as a means of expressing a belief. However, I have met people who are willing to engage in physical violence as means of expressing their mystic, in this case, Christian belief...my disapproval of oppressive majorities worsens everyday.

Did we miss the whole twentieth century? The defining characteristic of that century is the eagerness on the part of atheists to murder millions in their quest for utopia. In fact, atheists of the twentieth century murdered more people than all other groups of all history. What did AR escape from other than an oppressive atheist regime? Surely, she knew that athiests could be just as or even more evil than theists. Who else are the mystics of muscle?

Some of the best people I know are christians. They are misguided and deluded, but so are many atheists.

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Did we miss the whole twentieth century? The defining characteristic of that century is the eagerness on the part of atheists to murder millions in their quest for utopia.

Of course, I'm not ignoring the Marxists. But true to my quote, I've never met one, that is, never met one that had any aggressive posture in his argument. Also true to my claim, I do not condemn any individual for the flaw of being a Christian; I do not judge them as a collective. Indeed, many Christians I know are quite decent, and I suppose I'm not sociable enough to know all that many atheists. There are few people with whom I learn of their religious or philosophical inspirations, but I do know quite a few Christians who might be "voted out of the Pearly Gates," if the majority of their fellow Christians had a vote on the matter.

Please grant me some credit; those Christians can be a swell bunch,; some are my best of friends. But I have often seen in them that "deer-in-the-head-lights" look when the discussion gets "too real."

Furthermore, your quote may give one the impression that all 20th century atheists were eager to commit mass murder. Certainly there were more than a few Marxist-Leninists that really sought to do good in the world, and at least one openly atheist philosopher that opposed the trend of socialism.

Edited by Repairman
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Athe'ism' is culturally/socially important , philosophically not so much. Given the cultural climate in the US at least, I like the Darwin Fish thingys, not as a derogatory statement toward a symbol that is attached to anyone's idea of eternal salvation, but for its "pro"evolution/science stance. Just a lucky coincidence they picked a fish to begin with.

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I think we, on this forum, can agree that altruism and Christianity have a common root, and that atheism can be condemned, when coupled with brute force. The big burr in my saddle is that religious trends for more than 40 years in the US have had mainstream protection up until recently. As atheism emerges from out of its closet, people of faith struggle to shove it back in. I do not think of "winning" when as atheism is granted a wider hearing. I do not wish to suppress any one person of religion or superstitious practice. But are we forgetting that atheism, aside from being a core tenet of Objectivism, is a willful recognition of reality, rather than a suspension of disbelief? In public places, being an acknowledged atheist can still draw overwhelming condemnation in many quarters. We all have friends with whom we share much in common, in spite of their Christian or other mystic beliefs. But so far, I know of only one self-identified atheist in The House of Representatives, and as far as I can tell, outside of California, being an openly atheist candidate would be futile. Article 6, section 3 of the US Constitution prohibits any religious test for high office. And yet, the majority of our "modern" voters can't get past the fact that the Founders were NOT so devout as they wish their current legislators to be.

I realize I have strayed a bit from the original argument, but when I hear of people that wish to dilute politics, I shrug it off. When I hear of people trying to dilute Objectivism, I will not have it.

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I'm curious tsa, what do you mean by "militant atheist"?

 

@StrictlyLogical,

 

While I can not speak for TSA, I define a "militant atheist" as an atheist who feels the (illogical) need to "evangelize" Christians and Jews (but not Muslims, or others) to Atheism.

 

The reason this 'evangelical' behavior is illogical for an Atheist is because, generally, Christianity and Judaism, the primary targets of Militant Atheists, provide a generally sound set of moral principals and a true Atheist  should ONLY worry about whether or not people are living by sound moral principals, and not worry about the source of those principals (even if they beLIEve that the source of those principals is a myth).

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Furthermore, many 'Militant Atheists' are not true Objectivists or non-believers, but have merely substituted their belief in God for a belief in the infallibility of GOVERNMENT and/or certain politicians.

 

These individuals see Judeo/Christian ethics as a barrier to the unlimited power of Government and/or the politician they worship and therefore become anti-Judeo/Christian worshipers of Government while merely calling themselves 'Atheist'.

 

However, while these individuals may call themselves 'Atheist', they hold the same blind faith in and reverence for Government/a Politician as Jews and Christians do for their far more moral God...

 

ONE example of such a person is Barbara Walters who recently said "He (Obama) was going to be the next Messiah."

Edited by DAnconiaLead
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No. I spoke to a man who said he was a once a member of Freedom From Religion, and he said that some of the things they did involved supporting efforts to suppress private citizens' first ammendment rights. He didn't give me anything specific and he could've been mistaken or lying.  I shouldn't have made the accusation against Freedom From Religion based on hearsay from a non-credible source. I retract my accusation, I apologize, and I will make an effort to refrain from making accusations based on flimsy evidence.

     Here comes the "but": But that doesn't negate the fact that there are atheist organizations that have conducted actions against mystics that were cruel and, as an atheist, I find myself having to denounce when someone sincere inquires about atheism. I recognize that sensationalism drives the media (e.g.: Fox News playing to their Judeo-Christian audience) makes a bigger controversy out of some of the particular instances, like the alleged The War On Christmas. But I've seen their actions with my own eyes, like the one aleph_1 mentioned in post 5 (which was mild compared to some others I've seen). I don't know the name(s) of the atheist group(s) that have tried to suppress first ammendment rights, but they're out there and they give my atheism a bad name. My atheism wants to protect my neighbor's right to get on his knees and request favors from his imaginary master via telepathy (as long as he doesn't block traffic).

     Again: I don't have any credible evidence that Freedom From Religion is one of the bad atheist groups. I apologize for making the accusation and from now on I won't make accusations without credible evidence.

Well I wasn't trying to defend Freedom From Religion, I'm trying to figure out what these acts (of violating FA rights, or being graphic) consist of.

I'm just asking for a concrete example of such an act (one of each, I suppose, I'm more curious about the FA one). I'm skeptical as to how an atheist group could violate the FA.

I'm not asking for the name of the group, or any kind of proof. Just a description of what they're doing concretely, for the sake of the conversation.

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