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Author Topic: Dawkins Vs OReilly
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Padawan
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Post Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 7, 2011, 12:04
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/bill-oreilly-creationism_n_997812.html

I found myself probably for the first time mostly agreeing with OReilly. I could not believe it when Dawkins said that it was incidental that Stalin, Lenin where atheists... The Soviet conspiracy systematic­ally waged war against religion, and relentless­ly endeavored to get rid of faith in God. Surprised however OReilly did not challenge him on that.

Maya
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Post Re: Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 7, 2011, 13:51
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What I found surprising in this was that Dawkins would sign up for it. While I echo his sentiments about creationism, I have to shake my head at taking the "fight" into such a pop venue. The subjects of cosmological origins and the sources of man's inhumanity to man deserve serious discussion, not to be turned into a three ring circus.

But, the idea that Stalin's and Lenin's atheism was incidental to their ideologies is like saying that God is incidental to religion. The facts are not hard to run down and it does no credit to Dawkins that he - an allegedly rational thinker - dodges the issue.

The atrocities done in the name of religion - specifically, the Crusades, Inquisition, the Requirement, etc - were committed literally in spite of and in rejection of the very clear teachings of Christ that how we treat our fellow human beings is the core of faith and all else is superfluous. Likewise, the covert terrorist acts indulged in by "Muslim" extremists are not countenanced in the Qur'an.

The atrocities committed by Stalin and others, were in no way proscribed by the belief system they originated and in some cases arose directly from it.

Stephen dealt with this subject in one of his posts on the blog

http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2011/09/07/the-validity-of-religion-and-belief-in-the-age-of-science-22-western-casualties-and-the-religious-question/

In fact, I did, too. http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2011/03/30/your-faith-is-a-joke/

Stephen
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Post Re: Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 7, 2011, 15:10
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Hi Bahram, Maya, all:

I’ve been researching the history of secularism and its relationship to science for some time now, and conclude that secular political philosophies – nationalism, communism, fascism – were closely allied with strongly anti-religious agenda, atheism being one of them.

The thrust of history in these regards is the emergence of the European nation-state. At first, nation-builders worked to co-opt and control religion in their borders (remember, religion is transnational, and was closely allied with ancien regimes, also transnational). Then, with the French revolution, and subsequent to that, the Napoleonic “world wars”, religion itself became the enemy (with Catholic churchmen being hunted down and killed, etc.) Science (or more accurately, philosophical interpretations of science - science itself is agnostic) became religion’s replacement in the metaphysical sphere, with anthropology and linguistics first playing a major role, and evolution a secondary role. Since the 1960’s, evolution has moved into the forefront, doing the “heavy-lifting”, so to speak.

Communism, of German and French origins, is very much a result of anti-religion sentiment – as religion had increasingly come to be seen as the enemy of progress. So, Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, and others are very much a product of European secularism where atheism, antireligion, and scientism were shaken together to make a particularly lethal cocktail.

Interestingly, the “millions of people killed in the name of religion” is mainly a made-up fact. The 30 years war back in the 17th century did involve the death of millions, but of course that was a much political as it was religion. Since then, the carnage has overwhelmingly been on the western secular side – Stalin and Mao being ruthlessly effective in this regards. I’ve compiled the numbers from Wikipedia. See for more details at http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2011/09/07/the-validity-of-religion-and-belief-in-the-age-of-science-22-western-casualties-and-the-religious-question/.

Here is a summary. Of the estimated 272 million deaths caused by war, famine, and genocides since 1800, 213 million have western ideological causes – either nationalism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, or western political ideologies such a Communism (as in the case of the great Chinese famine of 1959-1961). Of the remainder, 46 million are due to wars or famines in 19th century China, and the remaining 12 million are due to ethnic conflicts. Religious conflicts are barely a blip, with the biggest being the ongoing Sunni/Shiite conflict in Iraq and the partition of India in 1947, both at the levels of several hundred thousands of deaths. (Note: both were a result of western actions.) I’ve not counted deaths in the European slave trade, or in several other categories.

I conclude that western European secularism and nationalism – with its heavy dosing of atheism and anti-religious rhetoric – is much more lethal – we are talking more than 100x – than religion. How folks like Dawkins manage to sweep this under the rug is beyond my comprehension.

Stephen.

Maya
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Post Re: Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 10, 2011, 18:34
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Quote from Stephen on October 7, 2011, 15:10
Here is a summary. Of the estimated 272 million deaths caused by war, famine, and genocides since 1800, 213 million have western ideological causes – either nationalism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, or western political ideologies such a Communism (as in the case of the great Chinese famine of 1959-1961). Of the remainder, 46 million are due to wars or famines in 19th century China, and the remaining 12 million are due to ethnic conflicts. Religious conflicts are barely a blip, with the biggest being the ongoing Sunni/Shiite conflict in Iraq and the partition of India in 1947, both at the levels of several hundred thousands of deaths. (Note: both were a result of western actions.) I’ve not counted deaths in the European slave trade, or in several other categories.

I conclude that western European secularism and nationalism – with its heavy dosing of atheism and anti-religious rhetoric – is much more lethal – we are talking more than 100x – than religion. How folks like Dawkins manage to sweep this under the rug is beyond my comprehension.

It's beyond my comprehension as well. Whenever I mention these statistics or even hint at them I am informed that they must be wrong and that those other conflicts had religious components as well. I've been told that Stalin treated communism as a religion, ergo, it was a religion, or that because communism was a reaction to religion, therefore religion was indirectly the cause of all those deaths. Christopher Hitchens, meanwhile, opines that Communism's totalitarian nature is the fault of religion, for were it not for religion with its God concept, we humans would have no concept of an absolute ruler.

This last one froze my brain for several seconds when I first read it because it's a tacit acceptance of the idea that God is a concept external to human experience and human imagination. Which begs the question: if humans were incapable conceiving of an absolute ruler on their own, where did the concept come from?

My British friends have a word for such a feeling of absolute disbelief. Gob-smacked.

I find it equally perplexing that the men who brought us such ideals as "Do as you would be done by" and "love one another" and "love your enemies" are somehow responsible for Stalin's murderous rampage. If that logic is sound then we must also credit that it's a woman's fault when her abuser beats her, for after all, it's only a reaction to an irritant.

The reaction of despotic rulers to religion is understandable. As you note, religion is transnational. What could be more disturbing to a ruler who requires absolute obedience to his command than a group of people whose concept of law transcends the boundaries in which he rules.

The evils in religion don't rise from the teachings, but from our inability (or lack of desire) to put them into practice.

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Post Re: Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 15, 2011, 18:56
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I have seen the similar arguments as well, like the main reason Lenin/Stalin tried to purge religion was because they want total and complete obedience and worship, hence they were not against religion per say....unlike religious wars.

Another argument I have heard is atheism is just believing that there is no God, nothing more, it is harmless and people like Stalin had other agendas, so atheism can never be used for evil.

Maya
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Post Re: Dawkins Vs OReilly
on: October 26, 2011, 16:37
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Quote from on October 15, 2011, 18:56
I have seen the similar arguments as well, like the main reason Lenin/Stalin tried to purge religion was because they want total and complete obedience and worship, hence they were not against religion per say (sic)....unlike religious wars.

Which, of course, was also true of Lenin and Stalin (or any other savior-by-force). They were against religion because religion challenged their authority. If you have a group of people who are fearless in the face of torture or death, how do you control them? You don't.

Even if they obey the laws you impose, the awareness that they do it not out of obedience to you, but out of love for and obedience to their God can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Another argument I have heard is atheism is just believing that there is no God, nothing more, it is harmless and people like Stalin had other agendas, so atheism can never be used for evil.

It seems a very nuanced argument. It is not the lack of belief in a God that is at issue. The issue is that if a lack of faith is combined with the belief that everyone should share it, and the authority to enforce it, then atheism can, indeed, be used as a tool for evil, just as religion can be. It's a spiritual take on the adage: Guns don't kill people; people kill people. The reality of which is that it takes both the will and the weapon to destroy the target.

The difference between an atheist forcing his beliefs on others and a religious person doing it is that the religious person has a body of teachings that instruct him NOT to behave in such a way. Teachings that he professes to believe are divine in origin and binding upon him. To act in opposition to those teachings requires much effort in the area of rationalization.

We have, historically, proven ourselves equal to the task.

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