Monday, December 19, 2011

Disliking atheists

Atheism and agnosticism around the world (Wikipedia)
Good Minus God (By Louise M. Antony; New York Times)
     I was heartened to learn recently that atheists are no longer the most reviled group in the United States: according to the political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, we’ve been overtaken by the Tea Party. … I was wondering anew: why do so many people dislike atheists?....
     Those who wonder what it is that philosophers talk about in the classroom might read Antony’s piece from yesterday’s New York Times. In her essay, she explains that, contrary to (apparent) popular opinion, it is a serious mistake to suppose that being moral depends on God. Yes, being moral is consistent with the existence of God and a belief in God, but any view that insists that morality rests on God’s will is compelled to embrace doctrines that are, well, utterly unacceptable.*
     To see what I mean, read Antony’s clearly-written piece.
     As Antony points out, that point has been understood at least since the time of Plato, who made it more than two thousand years ago in his dialogue Euthyphro. It is an important point. And it is not difficult to grasp (I routinely explain it in my Philosophy 2 courses). It is a routine part of the college curriculum.
     Nevertheless, unsurprisingly (I’m afraid), most people don’t understand it. And that’s a problem. It means that many anxious theists are inclined to fight a confused and unnecessary battle, for they fight atheism, imagining it to be an enemy that it is not. Oddly enough, a far more real enemy to a coherent and decent religiousness isn’t atheism but the kind of unreflective theism that seems now so common—the kind that relies on slogans and Straw Men.
     I mention this because I want people to understand that philosophy is important and valuable. It is important like many other things are important—like enjoying poetry or understanding history or appreciating the complexity of language are important.
     And it is in higher education that one learns these things. No, one does not learn them on the Oprah Winfrey Show or the Today Show. They aren’t embedded in the breezy verbiage of Better Homes and Gardens or Reader’s Digest.
     We keep our best thinking in colleges. It’s true.
     And, today, higher education has a very uncertain future. It is transforming. And it is losing what has always been best about it.

*I have written about this matter previously: Why morals cannot be rooted in religion.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think they're reviled because they use the govt and the ACLU to keep beating up on organized religion, which in turn is destroying the fabric of our great nation, and the concept of the family. If they would just practice their godlessness without doing that, I think they'd be fine.

B. von Traven said...

I'll bite. Just how does the government "beat up" on organized religion? And don't forget: churches continue to be tax exempt. Must be tough.

Anonymous said...

The govt doesn't initiate it. They, the godless, USE the govt (to beat up on org. religion) by getting the ACLU to file lawsuits on their behalf, to force big daddy govt. into taking action.

Kind of like the socialist's wet dream of getting big daddy govt. to force all of us to be charitable through new socialist legeslation & more IRS guys to collect. Forced charity; as if us Americans haven't been charitable enough!

We were hit hard and knocked down to the ground by the terrorists on 911. While we were down, the people were fooled into voting for a socialist imposter who's intention was to kick America even harder while she was already down.

Anonymous said...

There's so much foolishness in
2:26's response that it's hard to know where to begin, so I think I won't.

I like the idea of taxing the churches, though, as they use their clout to attempt to drive us into a theocracy.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree. Take away the tax exempt status of all the churches. Especially when you have characters like Revs’. J. Wright & J. Jackson politic-ing from the pulpit everyday, which as I understand, violates the condition for being considered tax exempt. Why doesn't Obama go after that GREAT source of revenue in the churches and stay out of our wallets?

Anonymous said...

8:48, Just because you disagree with 2:26 doesn't make what he/she has expresses as "foolishness."

B. von Traven said...

9:51, 2:26’s remarks deserve to be called “foolish” because they are foolish. According to 2:26, the “godless” get the ACLU to sue (sue whom?), thereby “using” the government?
–But wait! Isn’t this describing the “using” of the ACLU, not the government? 2:26 is very confused.
And just what is this “action” that has been taken against organized religion? Who knows. 2:26 doesn’t explain.
2:26 inexplicably veers off into unexplained and unsupported blather about socialist “legeslation” (wow, that’s some spelling, 2:26!).
2:26 tops off his/her incompetent blather with the remarkable assertion that Americans were “fooled into voting for a socialist imposter” [Obama] while they were “down” (because of the 9-11 attack)—even though the President for seven years after the attack was George W. Bush! Is 2:26 saying that George W is a socialist?!

Anonymous said...

Bvt's very good at playing stupid. Yes, people like bvt use the ACLU to bring the power of the govt down on religion. Not good for America.

Anonymous said...

The title of this article should really be "Disliking Christians"

Summer runnin' down