We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, November 1. 2007
The atheist, psychiatrist, and much-admired essayist Ted Dalrymple addresses the surge of books advocating atheism, in City Journal. A quote (my bolds):
Read the whole thing. Having read many reviews of these books (but not the books), it is my impression that they have a rebellious rather than inquiring tone, a lack of interest in metaphysics (which I happen to believe is the highest expression of the human mind and soul), and a religious-like reverence for human "reason" - however that might be defined.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Whoa.... I'll believe in God if I don't have to read that crap.
Ted is really Dr. Bob in disguise, right? Roger?
I've never met an atheist who disbelieves in God for anything but the most elementary of emotional issues, specifically an almost embarrassing authority or father issue.
I always wonder why the need to disbelieve? For the recent authors, who bring nothing new to the table, the need is for cash.
For those who buy into someone else's atheistic beliefs, for what ever reason, I would suggest a Bible as a better spending of one's money. At least there's some truth in it, and purchasing it doesn't require a belief structure.
What I mean is that you can read it with open eyes, as opposed to all the new atheist books which seem to be about swallowing another's beliefs, hook+line+sinker, because, well, any other belief is like, stupid, OMG LOL. Meet the new orthodoxy.
Club & Phil... you appear to have a need to disbelieve disbelievers. Careful with that brush.
Dr. D. is correct, an age old discussion. One that will be with us until the sun flares out. And none the wiser.
I'd have thought it self-evident that atheism is mostly an emotional position, since logically it makes no sense. Every person alive holds beliefs which aren't logical, but does so for emotional reasons -- "Why?" "Oh, I just like it." Intellectually atheism doesn't hold water for five seconds, so its appeal is based on emotion, not facts or beliefs.
If he had trouble with the ontological proof (which isn't - logical or a proof), he must collapse under the teleological (sp?), cosmological or the argument from religious experience.
The ontological is clearly flawed, that he struggled with that flaw speaks volumes about his reasoning abilities.
This fellow can be written off.
I wouldn't write off Dalrymple, he's quite good in his other writing. If I were an atheist I'd find Anselm's ontological argument not exactly convincing, but I couldn't completely refute it either. It's one of those things that keeps showing up at the back door and you can't ever quite rid yourself of it.
Yes I damn well "disbelieve" anyone who takes a controversial position, poorly it would seem, in order to make MONEY.
I don't believe, nor do I disbelieve. I figure disbelief lends credibility to that which is not believed. If G_d doesn't exist, why write a book about it? I can think of lots of stuff that doesn't exist and a book filled with ill thought out platitudes about why Santa is really Satan or any other subject is, to me, nothing more than Jerry Springer in ink and paper.
"Intellectually atheism doesn't hold water for five seconds, so its appeal is based on emotion, not facts or beliefs."
This may be the most fatuous, ignorant statement made on this blog.
Here is the second most idiotic statement ever made on this blog:
"I always wonder why the need to disbelieve?"
What does 'need' have to do with not believing in God?
You both seem to 'need' to ascribe thoughtless gut responses in place of intellectual reasoning in order for one to be an atheist. Amazing. You embarrass yourselves. An atheist does not need a supernatural belief system to sanction his being.
The ontological form fails in that it pivots on a sudden shift of definition. In the end it is essentially a bald assertion.
In the case for the existance of God, it is in the third step where something like this is stated:
"And that something that than which no greater can be conceived and which must exist, is God"
There is no warrant for this last claim. It is pure assertion. I am often amused by those on the left who use this form of argument. They love to change definitions to fit their argument. A basic tenet of debate is that he who controls the terms of the debate, controls the debate. If the change of definition is not challenged the debate is in the hands of the one who made the assertion.
For me this definitional shift is a glaring error, but then I spent a semester studying the four arguments for the existence of God, the problem of pain/evil and the inspiration of scripture (bottom line from the prof. "the Bible is inspired because the Bible says it is." As he said, "Yes that is a circular argument, but not viciously so." One of my favorite quotes ever.).
More than any needed/wanted to know, I am sure.
You want to tell me that as an atheist my life should be centered around not-believing? I have no NEED to prove my point of view to anyone, especially since I am not SELLING my point of view.
Thanks for the award, I will take #2 most idiotic statement any day. If you will properly contextualize the statement, ass, you will see that I am talking about these hacks pushing a lame argument for atheism in order to simply make money at the cash register.
"An atheist does not need a supernatural belief system to sanction his being."
uh, you miss something. Atheism is a belief, and a belief of supernatural things. (or lack thereof)
As for thoughtless gut responses, well I guess that makes you #3 most idiotic. I am not embarrassed to have a personal opinion, and will always be amazed at the lengths people go through to assign their belief system as on par with some hack author, who, as Dalrymple states, makes arguments I thought of in the 4th grade.
Wow, I've been on the blog less than a week and already I've won first prize. Woo-hoo!
Start the stopwatch... now: "Can you prove a negative, i.e., God does not exist, since that entails your asserting that a) you have looked everywhere in the universe possible for God to be, and b) you would recognize God when you saw Him?"
Stop! I've just completely destroyed any intellectual basis for atheism. Was it five seconds or six?
That is a good line, I'll have to use it someday.
Yes, the ontological argument isn't the final word, as God wants us to use faith He left that chasm for some little Danish troll to leap by faith, as if God had nothing better to do but simply exist.
But it's... well, it's damn odd, is what it is, logic almost outside logic, and it's been around for, oh, a few hundred years, and Anselm was a heck of a lot smarter than I am, so there must be something to it. It's sticky, it's got legs, it just can't be killed.
see, this is why I hang out with you guys, I get to think every once in a while.
My theory is that if G_d exists, you'd have to look inside to find him at some point.
Most rabid atheists are unwilling to do so, kicking and screaming and stamping their feet like children, demanding to be right and using put-downs to make their point.
Hence my question about the need to disbelieve. Answer: they don't like what they may find if they did go looking for G_d in all possible places.
As for your position: I have always had a problem with authority figures- they tend to be human and therefore imperfect. As for a father, I have only known mine as an adult. In other words, you are probably correct.
I was annoyed by your comment of atheists having i.e. "emotional" or "embarrassing" issues. And now by your comment that "Intellectually atheism doesn't hold water for five seconds." What the heck are you talking about? Such a narrow and constrictive box within which you place those with different ideas about life and the living of it.
Heaven (like that) forbid that atheists (in general) should do the same to 'believers'. The hue and cry would be deafening.
I never "bought in" to anyone else's 'beliefs'... atheistic or otherwise. That is the point isn't it. Using our intellect, reason and powers of observation to decide what we think, and not letting others do our thinking for us. It is not as if I had a choice in the matter. It was an inescapable conclusion.
If we are going to bring up 'needs', I would venture to guess that religious believers (in general) have much more need than atheists for their 'beliefs' to substantiate their existence.
Phil, (or lack thereof) - What makes you think atheists feel any need to search around for God? Chances are most can't be bothered to search for something they believe is not there.
"...lame argument..." What do you consider a strong argument for your personal atheism?
How about something positive: You prove in less than six seconds that God exists. Please avoid any emotion-based responses in your answer.
Oh, oops...."...as God wants us to use faith..."
Good luck proving this, as well. Remember - stick to a six-second intellectual exegesis to prove your/you're positive.
Any atheist writing books about being an atheist, and in the process attempting to disprove that which does not exist, by the atheist's own argument, must be looking for something, eh?
I think it's mostly just to get a publishing contract and some money since atheism isn't such a new idea now is it? (simple agreement with Dalrymple here- the post at the top, you did read it, right?) But I mention the "need" to get on a soap box and prove G_d does not exist. I am saying that people who act that way are acting out something besides a j-o-b.
"Chances are most can't be bothered to search for something they believe is not there."
Well what the Flying F*#@$% are all the books about??? Proving or disproving or simply saying Christians are idiots is still a validation of Christian beliefs.
When I see a bum pushing a shopping cart and talking to the wind, and then I try to convince him there is no voices in his head, who is the crazy one? Him for hearing the voices or me for thinking the voices are real, even though I cannot hear them?
My argument: I need none. I agree with myself.
Any Christian writing books about being a Christian, and in the process attempting to prove that which cannot be proven to exist, must be looking for something, eh?
God dang, I love myself. Praise the Lord my bro's.....
oops...forgot something ontological....... see next sentence below.
That bum with the shopping cart is way happier than you are, Phil.
Sorry you were offended, if you read the Dalrymple excerpt printed on this site, not to mention the entire piece, you'll see that he's saying atheism is mostly an emotional decision as well. He's correct, of course, anybody who studies logic for a week knows the little five-second exercise I wrote on a different thread.
Actually atheists do malign Christians to the heavens, no, there's no hue and cry. Atheists are wonderful at asking questions nobody can answer, a six-year old can ask questions nobody can answer, but as William Jennings Bryan said -- I'm not a particular fan of his, but I don't want to take credit for his insight -- things get very different once you start asking atheists questions they can't answer. They get emotionally upset, which is what led me, a long time ago, to conclude that for them it's not a logical issue, but an emotional one. Read the Dalrymple passage again, unless I read it incorrectly I take him as saying the same thing.
I think people need religious faith the way we need to eat, or the way we need order in society, or the way we need to express and receive love -- we were created that way. Plus it simply makes more sense -- creation, design, all this occurring by chance, etc. It requires a lot more faith to believe in random chance creating the universe than it does to believe in a Creator, frankly I don't have that much faith
You can argue against the existence of God, sure. But it's always something you have to argue yourself out of, the "default option," if you will, is belief. As nearly every culture in world history has had some sense of God or a transendent entity it's obviously part of the human makeup.
But sorry you were offended, I didn't use those terms maliciously. My apologies.
Was it six seconds? Thanks, I'll call it the Six-Second Debunk from now on.
No, I didn't prove God exists, if I could do that I'd write one of those books which evidently make so much money. All I did was prove that the central assertion of atheism -- "God does not exist" -- is utter intellectual and logical rubbish. Agnosticism, where you're not sure if God exists or not, is intellectually defensible, but atheism is not. The existence of God cannot be "proved," but it's by far the more reasonable belief than atheism -- there's a whole lot more evidence for it, for one thing.
You want something positive? Sure -- "God exists because He created everything." There you go. Positive enough for ya?
Most atheists "look for God" about as assiduously and willingly as Mohammed el-Baradei "looks for" Iran's nuclear weapons program, or Dan Rather "looks for" the truth of the Burkett memo. Or as hard as O.J.'s looking for the "real killer" of Nicole and Ron.
"He's not happy, he just thinks he is."
One of my favorite lines.