Questionable Motives

August 13, 2011

Why do we need more gnu atheism?

Sorry for the absence: the reality that is life sometimes intrudes and I find I must sometimes yield. Apologies to all.

I came across this perceptive piece of thinking over at Eric MacDonald’s site, authored by Egbert (7th comment)… a voice of commentary I usually find rich in value (in other words, he usually gets me thinking about something in a clear and coherent way previously unconsidered, which a good thing). In describing why gnu atheism is different from atheism long practiced, and why that difference is so important to maintain, he writes about the commonly hostile responses from so many atheist accommodationists (too often self-portrayed as taking on the burden of ‘parenting’ of us naughty and willful children who misbehave in public) :

I think in one way, we’ve been aiding the rationalization and legitimacy and complacency of religion by dealing with religion philosophically and rationally, which goes back right through our modern history. But the New Atheism has certainly challenged this legitimacy in a more traumatic way, by taking away this respect, and deconstructing religious morality. The backlash from the these uppity New Atheists is for the bad parent to tell us all to stop being so shrill and strident, and go back to the rational and historical discussions. We must be careful not be defined by this draconian parent, we are not bad rioting children, we are not the stereotype given to us by the religious. But we must also not obey, and go back to the complacent respectful ways of old atheism.

I think this is worth serious consideration for all those who attempt to keep to the middle road of lip service to respecting the religious beliefs of others in the public domain – especially agnostics sitting so uncomfortably on the unstable points of the wobbly faith fence called don’t choose, don’t decide, don’t judge, don’t think, (just continue nodding while shrugging and repeating the mantra “It’s possible…” no matter how ludicrous the faith-based assertion may be while pretending the absence of evidence in reality holds no meaningful sway to such a tolerant and open mind as yours… so open in fact that your brains have fallen out unnoticed in the clammering accolades from the faitheists).

I think we need to continue to challenge faith-based beliefs in the public domain and expose them for the frauds of reality they are. I think we have to keep hammering home the importance of respecting reality itself – and not the faith-based beliefs of others – to be the arbiter of what’s true in fact. We need to keep asking “How do you know that to be true?” and make faith-based believers expose their own paucity of good reasons, absence of good evidence, lack of clear thinking, and unsupportable conclusions in the arena of reality we share rather than allow the faithiest defense to shift back into the comfy metaphysical realms from which they find protection against the very reality which is supposedly affected by all sorts of mysterious unnatural forces and agencies. The more we insist on speaking from a common position of a shared reality, the less likely it will become for public figures to espouse faith-based beliefs as a character reference rather than an perverted and cowardly admission of  belief in oogity boogity.


  1. This kind of says it all.

    Comment by tildeb — August 24, 2011 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  2. Hi, I am from Australia.
    Please find a completely different understanding of the relation between the ideology of scientism (as distinct from science as an open-ended method of free enquiry) and the ideology of conventional exoteric religiosity.

    Comment by John — August 24, 2011 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

    • “When the ego-contraction or self-contraction does not occur or is transcended, Reality is known as the total Reality without the intermediacy of the symbols of dualistic ego-knowledge. When the total Reality is known, seeking for knowledge about Reality is not longer necessary.”

      You have got to be kidding me. There is no ‘understanding’ to be had here nor is there meant to be.

      Why do you think consciousness is not what the brain does? Why do you think it is magically separate from brain when all evidence points to exactly the opposite conclusion?

      By the way, no one practices ‘scientism’. The claim that it is “the reigning (and distinctly authoritarian) “official philosophy”” of this dark epoch – whatever that means – exists only in the mind of those who wish to believe it is so and not in reality. I’m a big fan of reality and respect it too much to fall into this rabbit hole you are presenting as any kind of ‘alternative’. It is not an alternative philosophy that has any merit as far as reality is concerned (and what we can know about it); it is imagined to make it seem like Platonic mind/body dualism is a legitimate alternative to what we know about our actual biology. Don’t get so hung up on the ‘material’ aspect of your mind; your mind is what your brain does. But test that for yourself. Take a drug and experience how the physical interaction of chemicals introduced to the body alters the physiology of the brain to the extent that your mind is altered in function. If that doesn’t show a direct correlation of cause and effect between the state of the body and the state of the mind then you are choosing to ignore legitimate evidence that they are one in order to maintain a false belief – for whatever reasons you find compelling to believe it is so – that they are two and separate.

      Comment by tildeb — August 25, 2011 @ 12:30 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: