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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Have Atheists "Won the Intellectual War"?

The president of Minnesota Atheist writes:

Every time I speak at a Christian college, I become more convinced of several things:

1) The vast majority of these students, while dedicated Christians, are open to hearing and discussing other points of view in a thoughtful manner.

2) They respect our right to be atheists and to not be discriminated against or have religion forced on us.

3) They value the American ideals of separation and state and church and have a "live and let live" attitude that almost always extends to atheists and gays. (We must admit that there are some atheists who do not have a "live and let live" attitude toward religious people.)

4) They are as genuinely concerned about the welfare of the poor and our environment as any of the rest of us flaming liberals.

5) That the percentage of Christians who are good and decent is about the same as the percentage [of] atheists who are good and decent. There are bad apples in both groups, but they are by far the minority.

6) That the Minnesota Atheists' attitude of non-ridiculing, positive, friendly neighborhood atheism works. We need to continue to tear down walls, rather than put up barriers. My attitude is that we have already won the intellectual war, now we just have to spread the good news.

I submit this without comment - I just want to solicit your opinions. Believe me, I have an opinion on this.

UPDATED: Hemant Mehta, "Friendly Atheist," starts off his post soliciting positive atheist stereotypes with a joke about "baby eating." Attaboy! ;-)

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Anonymous Larry T said...

We clearly have not won the war although I think we occupy the intellectual high ground. I do agree that showing a very positive and moral (in the humanist sense) to the average good person non-fanatical christian is the best way to battle stereotypes. That said there is still a huge population that need to be clubbed like and instead of baby seals. Great blog by the way you do a fantastic job of getting to the real story behind the story.

March 11, 2008 2:20 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you, Larry. For reasons that should be obvious to any atheist, the phrase “spread the Good News” makes my stomach hurt.

March 11, 2008 3:00 PM  
Blogger Bjorn said...

Maybe he means the war among the intellectuals? I'm not sure what good news would be spread, maybe that it's ok to have no god belief? Maybe atheists can be moral too?

March 11, 2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...


Whose morality are we talking about?

May I remind you that I work with a lot of people, atheists and otherwise, who question and/or challenge middle-class morality? That I go to grad school at night with them? That we shun “niceness” in all its forms? I recommend reading this article.

I was in my twenties once, and I had to make a decision then whether I was going to follow anyone but myself, and whether I was going to live up to others’ expectations of morality or not. Now it’s happening again. Once you buy into the “mainstream” you’ll have to keep buying into it – there’s no place where you can be yourself then. How well I know this from seeing the discontent of the people who once tried to steer me. I am not afraid of being labeled “immoral” for showing some personality.

You have to decide, too.

March 11, 2008 4:32 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...


March 11, 2008 4:33 PM  
Blogger Bjorn said...

I was referring to the perception that those without a belief in a god don't have any moral grounding. It wasn't a reference to any particular morality, mainstream, or otherwise. I don't even know what a mainstream morality would look like. Maybe if I read more sociology I'd have a better clue.

March 11, 2008 4:47 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Read the link for an idea.

March 11, 2008 5:04 PM  
Blogger vjack said...

I don't know, some of this strikes me as a bit naive. Christians and atheists can clearly live together in peace as long as we keep our mouths shut. But couldn't the same have been said of slaveholders and abolitionists? If the abolitionists had been willing to remain silent and just focus on getting along, there might not have been a Civil War. But at what price?

March 13, 2008 6:35 AM  
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March 13, 2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous larry t said...

Kristine / Vjack,

It sounds like you are both advocating a much more direct semi confrontational approach? I march to my own drummer in many aspect of my life but not in all, I voice my atheism every chance I get except where it would adversely affect my kids but I have always considered those separate or different from being a nice person or my view of my morality. I also think there is a fair amount of overlap in the views and definitions of morality across the bulk of humankind.

Larry t

March 13, 2008 4:37 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

But I don’t voice my atheism every chance I get. I just am not going to suppress other aspects of me (including on occasion being a misanthrope, a sarcastic wag, a cut-up, and a screaming harpy) in order to make atheism more palatable. The point is, the people I hang around with have their eccentricities, too.

For example, I was laughing at that “A New Pope” video, which made one atheist ask if he was “mean” for liking it. Well, I laughed at it too – and then I find out that Catholics are laughing at it and that they don’t like Ratzinger very much. So I find some sci fi blogs by catholics and talk to them. One of them has an atheist sister-in-law who makes her take down all her religious paraphernalia when she (the sister-in-law) stays at this poor woman’s house, and that’s her only image of atheists. So I told her that I played a woman obsessed with the Virgin Mary in a film, and after that we kept all the Mary figures around – it was new to me! I was raised Protestant. So that wasn’t really “confronting” – I’m just being me.

Believe it or not I’m mostly easy-going. I save the snark for online (and for glorious arguments).

March 13, 2008 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Stan said...

The "intellectual war" cannot be won by atheists because atheism is not rational, in the sense of validation by the use of the First Principles and the essential elements of logic and rational thought. Materialism is self-defeating, for example, as is the denial of intution.

My experience is that atheists claim "intellectual" superiority without even understanding the rational underpinnings required for total intellectual execise and honesty.

As an atheist for 40 years, I assumed such superiority for myself, until I finally decided to apply logic and critical thinking to atheism itself. Atheism does not stand up under intellectual scrutiny.

What is espoused here is not intellectual, it is self-indulgent paganism.

March 21, 2008 10:00 PM  
Blogger Aquaria said...

An atheist for 40 years.


Where have we heard that "claim" before? Oh...EVERYWHERE! Plenty of supposed former atheists confuse atheism and not subscribing to a particular theology. Atheists don't subscribe to a particular theology by definition, but not all non-subscribers are atheists. There's a difference, in that a non-subscriber may or may not have a specific spiritual belief or subscribe to a specific theology. They may or may not deny existence of a god. Nearly all supposed "ex-atheists" fall into the non-subscriber category, but mistakenly identify themselves as atheists. It's sort of like a flower calling itself a rose, even though it isn't the latter.

How droll, too, to assert that atheism isn't the result of logical thinking. I don't think this word logic means what you think it means. Logic dictates that you can't prove the existence of a negative. I mean, think about it: PROVE Santa Claus exists. Or the tooth fairy. Or unicorns. You can't. Logic dictates that it is impossible!

BTW, thanks for the laugh. It's always so fun to see what depths the woo apologists will sink to, just to defend their precious woo.

March 22, 2008 7:58 PM  

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