> Ben Bacarisse <email@example.com> wrote in > news:0.1bab690a0f7c193252fe.20140110220039GMT.firstname.lastname@example.org: > >> I think you are a sci.math regular so surely you would know not to try >> to determine anything about the majority of atheists by searching the >> web. > > I'm not trying to determine anything. I just mentioned > what my impression was and, when pressed, why I have > that impression.
You seemed to be suggesting that others could verify your suspicion that "the majority of atheists [...] are embarrassed by the antics of people like, especially, Maher" using a few web searches. All I can verify is that there are some who are embarrassed. I might even be prepared to say that there are "lots" but it's all a bit vague and the samples are absurdly biased (someone who doesn't care about Maher won't be found online not caring).
>> Belief and non-belief are not symmetrical because one is active and >> engaged and the other is (for the most part) passive. > > "For the most part." But THIS part is specifically the > part where the atheists ARE begin aggressive. I'm thinking > of Maher's movie. I'm embarrassed for my religion when > I see crackpot preachers on the quad buttonholing students. > I can't really see much difference between that and > what Maher does.
Aggression is irrelevant to what I was saying. What matters (to me) is the sense of allegiance and that is, I suggest, stronger in people who share a core belief than in those who share a disbelief.
>> Well I will: I am not embarrassed by what other atheists say. > > That's not my question. I asked for an argument against > Christianity which did not beg the question.
Sorry, well that seems to have got lost way back in the thread. I don't see any value in the philosophical discussions -- you always end up in some kind of dead-end solipsism or nihilism. My arguments against Christianity are entirely practical. Some Christians (and almost all other religions) use their religion to justify social policies that I object to. Here in the UK, bishops sit in the House of Lords and have a direct role in politics. That's wrong. Some Christians want to deny or further restrict women's reproductive rights. Some arge to limit the roles that women should be permitted to play in society. Some want to stop me enjoying the legal and social benefits of marriage. In some countries they argue that I should be kill or locked up. These things are hard to argue for on secular grounds, but religion makes it easy: God told me to lock up the gays, refuse to distribute condoms in Africa, perform that abortion, whatever.
I know this is not an argument against Christianity per se. There are some rather diminished forms of Christianity that have almost no impact on the world, and I have very little argument with them (most people in the UK who are nominally "C of E" are in this category). I think their beliefs are unwarranted, but they are largely harmless.
> I don't > necessarily think that all atheists are carrying around > a quiver of arguments against this and that. I'm not > talking to them. There are plenty of "active" atheists > who make arguments all the time. I'm asking for one > that doesn't beg the question. Specifically, one that > doesn't assume the non-existance of God before concluding > the non-existance of God.
Why does the concept of God get this special treatment? There are countless infinities of things that might or might not exist (and infinitely many of those are god-like concepts) and no one is seriously neutral about them all. I know that's the "proper view" according to some philosophers but I doubt even they live by it.
> I'll take this as a consolation prize (because the > question is really equivalent): What justification > do you (atheists) have for their epistemology? > (I take the atheist epistemology to be a sort of > "scientific method", but feel free to define it first > before defending it.)
The scientific method is justified because it works. We have better health, clean water and more productive agriculture because of a rational, scientific investigation of the word. Of course we also have nuclear waste, global warming and Justin Bieber CDs, but even these can be seen, from an epistemological point of view, to be successes of the method. The models it builds have predictive power that enable them to be evaluated against each other. You never arrive at The Truth but you get some way there with a good degree of corroboration.