Friday, February 3, 2012

Why are atheists unanimous on denial of religious rights?

Government-censored prayer mural hidden by tarp
in Rhode Island High School



A remarkable observation.

A group of Christians and other religious people gathered recently in Rhode Island to call for removal of the prayer mural in Cranston West High School.

Conspicuously absent is any gathering of atheists to support keeping the prayer mural in the high school.

Why is there pluralism among Christians, but no pluralism whatsoever on this issue among atheists?

In the furious debates about First Amendment rights-- the right to teach intelligent design in public schools, the right to voluntary organized school prayer-- Christians and other theists are divided to some extent, whereas atheists are essentially unanimous in opposition to these rights.

Court cases involving prayer in school attract many amicus briefs from theists (Jews, liberal Christians, etc) who oppose teaching intelligent design and oppose voluntary organized school prayer.

Why are there no amicus briefs filed by atheists (individually or collectively in organizations) supporting the teaching of ID or supporting prayer in school?

The atheist unanimity is astonishing, when viewed objectively. There is essential unanimity among at least 8 million Americans (4% of our adult population). Virtually every other demographic is pluralist on these issues. Atheists are unanimous.

Why?

It's worth noting that there is virtually nothing else among atheists that is unanimous. There are atheists who revere Ayn Rand, and atheists who revere Marx, and every political texture between. There are atheists who campaign for Obama, and atheists who campaign for Ron Paul. There are atheists for free trade, and there are atheists for protectionism. There are even pro-life atheists. But there are no atheists who speak up for the right to teach intelligent design or the right to organized prayer in school. Atheism is otherwise a cacophony of political and personal viewpoints. Except on rights brushing against religion.

It is an astonishing fact of our civil discourse.

"Of course", my atheist interlocutors will say: "atheists oppose these things because these things are wrong. They're right to oppose them".

But that would be to miss my point.

I am not arguing for the rightness or wrongness of a particular view on these issues. I am pointing out the bizarre unanimity of atheist viewpoint, at least viewpoint publicly expressed. It is a unanimity characteristic of virtually no other issue of public contention.

And of course my atheist interlocutors will argue that teaching ID and allowing school prayer are so obviously wrong that only Americans in the grip of religious delusion could support such things. Atheists will argue that support for teaching ID and for voluntary organized school prayer are so depraved that they are akin to support for torturing puppies.

But that is a hard argument to make. Reasonable theists are on both sides of this debate. There are many legal scholars and many jurists who agree with the majority of Americans that teaching ID and permitting voluntary organized school prayer are permitted by the Constitution and are perfectly legal.

A substantial majority of Americans support teaching intelligent design and support voluntary organized prayer in school. Of course it is understandable that most atheists would disagree. Yet a substantial minority of Christians, Jews and other theists oppose teaching intelligent design and oppose voluntary organized school prayer. Why wouldn't there be a corresponding substantial minority of atheists who break with their own consensus? Why isn't there a loyal opposition among atheists--  those atheists who support ID and school prayer?

Why are atheists, who are unanimous on virtually no other civic issue, unanimous on the rights (or lack thereof) of Christians?


32 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Bullshit as usual. American atheists aren't unanimous on not teaching Intelligent Design in schools or prohibiting prayers in schools.

    Most either don't have an opinion or haven't thought about them.

    It's only the atheists who have bothered to understand biology who realize that ID is pseudoscience.

    Similarly, most atheists, for a quiet life, don't feel strongly enough about school prayer to campaign against it.

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  2. @bach:

    Cite me the public statements by atheists supporting school prayer and teaching ID.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why would an atheist support teaching ID? It has no scientific value and is merely creationism in disguise. It would be silly to support ID, from my perspective.

      Nonetheless, there are atheists who defend ID. Bradley Monton comes to mind.

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    2. Darwinism has no scientific value and is the biggest hoax ever!

      Delete
  3. @oleg:

    The exception proves the rule. There are scattered atheists who support the legal right to teach ID and to engage in organized prayer in schools, but they are extraordinarily rare and play no significant role in the public controversy.

    On the Christian side, there is substantial diversity of opinion. Millions of Christians (and Jews and other theists) take the atheist side on ID in schools and on school prayer.

    Virtually no atheists take the Christian side.

    Why the lack of pluralism in the atheist community?

    So answer my ques

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    Replies
    1. I've already answered your question. We see no reason why Christian apologetics should be taught in public schools. The ruse of ID is so transparent that few atheists fall for it.

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    2. You have not answered the doctors question, Oleg. You have simply personified it it with a 'we'.
      You PERSONALLY see ID as a 'ruse' to teach Christian Apologetics in public schools. Okay, fine.
      That's YOU.

      But What about the organizations of Atheists who do not think that ID is a ruse, but think it is just bad science or a silly interpretation of the facts - and so see no problem with letting the kids sort that out, and even creationism by comparison.
      Where are all those folks?

      Where are the Atheists petitioning to say 'Let the lame banner stay!', 'The Golden rule says: Live and let live - let the banner hang!' and the like?
      Where are all those folks?

      Why the unity on the single issue of censoring and limiting the religious expression of others?

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    3. "But What about the organizations of Atheists who do not think that ID is a ruse, but think it is just bad science or a silly interpretation of the facts - and so see no problem with letting the kids sort that out, and even creationism by comparison."

      So your question is where are all the people who think that ID is junk science but think it should be taught to high school students anyway? Do you also wonder where the people are who believe that the flat Earth theory, geocentrism, and the stork theory of human reproduction are also junk science but advocate teaching them in school as well are?

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  4. Many theists understand that the wall of separation is vital if we are to maintain true religious liberty. The battle isn’t between those who want to destroy Christianity and their Christian dupes; it’s between those who want religious liberty and those who would use public schools to force their religious message on other people’s children.

    It’s the atheists and their theist allies who are fighting for religious liberty, not you.

    -KW

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  5. @Dr Egnor,

    Barbarism and shame.

    I know, what a way to start my blurb!

    But allow me to explain:
    My guess is that one tie that binds the 'New-Atheist' movement is their almost adolescent irreverence (toward) and related disrespect of anything and anyone they perceive as a moral authority.
    Specifically Christian authority.
    I simply observe this.
    This is how there most vocal proponents behave and what they write and speak about.

    It is not a specific kind of politics, a certain method or force, or even morality itself (ie being good) that they agree on.
    In fact the 'New Atheists', as you note Doctor, are ALL over the place on those issues. On the rejection and even censorship of organized Christian expression, they do appear united.

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    Replies
    1. CNTD ii.
      The barbarism?
      That is the means to advance the idea.
      This is a general societal shift, and I wish to make it clear I do not lay blame on the Atheist movement for this. I do, however see that movement (among others) as utterly complicit.
      We, as a civilization, are sliding towards a hedonistic and barbarous morality.
      This is self evident to all but the most pronoid of observers.
      The New Atheist movement is just as influenced by this trend as any group. Perhaps, in it's attempts at modernity and pretensions on 'free' thinking, even more so than many other modern movements.
      Consequently a perceived weakness seems to be the criteria used to mark a good target for that movement's political force. Hence the legal actions, protests, letters, displays, concerts, bus ads, etc etc.
      We live in a barbaric age, this kind of stuff is to be expected of the 'New Atheists'.
      They should, of course, expect a barbaric response from a much more entrenched and numerous opposition. But for some reason, faked or factual, they always seem shocked when the reaction is massively negative.

      I do not need to quote examples of modern cynicism, or go on about how neo-secularism is facilitation the cheapening of life? (I have written lenghty screeds on these subjects here and here.)
      Neo secularism preaches live and let live, but it is, in political reality also about live and let die.
      Even live and let kill.
      All that non-living type stuff can be a bit of a drag. Even some of the 'living' stuff is kind of abnormal or even unnatural.
      All that general immorality and barbarism can be a bit embarrassing (see: shame).

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    2. CNTD iii.
      Shame?
      The idea(s) that there could possibly be an authority of moral certitude, an external, intrinsic, or truly objective moral source seems to unite the 'New Atheists' by way of rejection. They ALL reject such ideas as superstitious nonsense.
      Just as disbelief in God is universal, so is disbelief in an objective code.
      Perhaps, because even they understand one leads to the other. Maybe it is a little more personal than even that!
      This observed (in your post) uniting objection to Christianity is what they perceive as a unified revolt against the ultimate 'Ancien Régime' of their time and culture.
      What convinces me of this, at least currently and among many factors, is exactly the type of pattern you write about Dr Egnor.
      It is evidence, imo, of a 'behavioural algorithm', a 'program', a long term unified goal, a broad 'agenda.'
      The lack of cohesion on most issues concentrates our focus on the very few points of consensus. The anti-Christian bias/bigotry is clearly one of these points.
      Where does it come from?
      What is it for?
      I will suggest: Shame.
      This shame, is the root and the 'ends' - the reason.
      This specific aspect of the issue - this constant strife against any sort of public expression by Christians - could be construed as some sort of guilty / shame expression, I suppose.
      The objective, clear morality expressed by the Religions and Traditions of Christianity perhaps reminds some of these people of failings, mistakes, and other matters of moral shame. Worse, still : All that talk of morality could, if accepted socially, possibly limit the 'progress' of their pet cause de jour.
      This moral speed limit is seen as an ultimate offence to the 'New Atheists' liberty. Progress must not be hindered by ANYTHING.
      The logic is that morality is a limit on freedom, so to be truly 'free'....
      Here is where we get to the nugget or core. (...or perhaps nuts and corn to some of my atheist 'fans')
      The 'free' in'free thinking', and the 'freedom' touted by the High Priests of New Atheism are freedom from conscience, guilt, and shame.
      As unsavoury as these things are, they are profound tools of introspection.
      We NEED those sensations. They guide us.
      To be freed of an individual shame by redemptive deeds and acts of contrition - that is one thing.
      But, If a man does not like the look of a place or thing, he may remove himself or divert his gaze.
      But does he blind himself? Only if it is his EYE that offends him. Only if it is SIGHT itself that is offensive to him.
      And so by attempting to render morality and Christian tradition subjective to legal interpretations, the 'New Atheists' seek to eliminate the SENSE of shame generated by that Faith and it's related religious cultural and religious traditions.

      Leaving people to their ideas? 'If it ain't broke..'? Traditions? Saying sorry? Admitting error?
      Apparently, that is all 'outmoded' crap for wimpy creationists and their philosophical pals.

      Barbarism and shame.
      That's my take on the 'how' and 'what for'.
      The WHY?
      God knows....

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    3. What is this, some sort of beat poem? Try making a point or asking a consise question. I doubt many people made it to the end of your rambling, I know I didn't.

      -KW









      /

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    4. KW makes my point for me.
      He is PROUD of his laziness and consequent ignorance.
      Observe how he brags about NOT reading something.
      Utterly shameless in his ignorance.

      Delete
    5. That is not atheism at all, atheists hold themselves responsible more than most Christians. As to the unity against religion but not on politics, think about what atheism means and that will speak for itself. You will NOT see an atheist campaigning through the streets shouting "Let my children have the choice to learn ID, which i acknowledge as a pseudoscience but what to give my kid the chance to learn so he could possibly be misinformed" Which is essentially what you and Engor are saying some atheists should be doing.

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  6. "A substantial majority of Americans support teaching intelligent design and support voluntary organized prayer in school."

    Lying like this pretty much destroys any argument you make.

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    Replies
    1. http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/07/zogby-poll-most-americans-believe-in-intelligent-design/

      http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/february_2011/65_of_americans_favor_prayer_in_public_schools

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    2. Biased polls with rigged questions put together by advocacy groups with political agendas are your evidence?

      You are an idiot.

      Delete
  7. @KW
    "What is this, some sort of beat poem?"
    No. But I was listening to Jazz FM, and here is a Kerouac quote some dj read out earlier:

    “Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, "God, I love you" and looked to the sky and really meant it. "I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other." To the children and the innocent it's all the same.”
    Truly groovy, man.



    "Try making a point or asking a consise question."
    A strange comment - even non sequitur- considering the next remark you make.
    Maybe this is some sort of gangsta rap? You know like 'shut yo mouth mother****' kind of stuff?


    "I doubt many people made it to the end of your rambling, I know I didn't."
    Then how on earth do know if I am 'making a point or asking a consise question.'?
    You don't...do you?

    But more to the point, and as your attention is over taxed: The comment was for Doctor Egnor who posts on this blog.
    You are welcome to read it or not. To comment on it or not.
    You have not so far.
    If it helps to sing it, or listen to jazz, or whistle your favourite lullaby - by all means do so.

    So we are left with an person bragging about his ignorance and attempting to attack the speaker rather than the speech. Hmmmm....
    Kind reads like the shameless barbarians I just finished commenting on, doesn't it?
    Thanks, KW.
    You have made my point by example.

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    Replies
    1. So I’m lazy and ignorant for not having completed your stream of thought ramblings? You certainly do have a mighty high opinion of yourself. You amuse me to no end.

      -KW

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    2. CrusadeRex,

      I was just glancing through the comments, and I happened to see the end of your last comment. I no longer read your comments. They're too long, and even worse, they're badly formatted. Putting a blank line between paragraphs would improve the readability of your contributions and cause me to start reading them again.

      Delete
    3. Crusader, I also tend to ignore your longer comments. The bad formatting is very off-putting. I can't help thinking that the disorganized structure says something about your way of thinking. Perhaps incorrectly. But if you want people to read what you write, take the time to format properly.

      Delete
  8. Michael,

    You're ignorant as usual. The saying 'the exception proves the rule'. 'Proves' has the archaic meaning of 'tests', so the saying actually means that if you find an exception, then the rule is actually disproved.

    Intelligent design can be taught in schools when its proponents come up with a scientific theory and do the research to support it with evidence that is at least anywhere remotely close to that supporting evolutionary biology, which is the best evidence supported scientific theory, better than Big Bang cosmology.

    There's no evidence for ID. Meyer's 'Signature in the Cell' was just rubbish. His 12 predictions of ID in Appendix A are meaningless. His video 'Darwin's Dilemma' (about the Cambrian radiation) was also nonsense, and ignored blatantly the science of tectonic plate geology, so it was science illiterate (his coproducer Paul Nelson is a YEC creationist, so making a film about the Cambrian 540 MYA shows cognitive dissonance).

    I should return to calling you a Paleyist (Paley argued for design based both on complexity and purpose, take your pick).

    ID proponents generally reckon ID is good science (it isn't). You want to put it into schools for religious freedom? Nonsense.

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    1. What Bach said...

      ID is nothing more than creationism disguised as "science." If it isnt, then explain.

      What i've read of ID proponents' usually goes like this:
      "We're not saying its GOD who 'could have' created life..."

      Oh really? Are you going to entertain that some alien created us? Hey, maybe the Romulans cooked up some special plan to make us all slaves or their personal army!
      If you want to discuss that in a philosophy class, knock yourself out. But it's NOT science.

      AND by the way, egnor asks why are all of us atheists on common ground with the question of prayer in school or ID? Like Troy said, it makes perfect sense. Plus, i'm sure there are many who say go for it. BUT - I DONT SPEAK FOR ALL ATHEISTS. NEITHER DO ANY OF THE ONES ON HERE..

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    2. @Mulder:

      Creationism is the view that God created according to a literal interpretation of Genesis.

      ID is the view that intelligent agency is discernible in nature. Ovbiously most IDers in the West think the designer is the Christian God, but there have been many different concepts of designer in history (demiurge, Allah, Logos, etc)

      The traditional Catholic view differs from ID (which is Paleyian) in that it understands creation in a Thomist way, and posits teleology as the evidence for God's direction of nature.

      Darwinism is the view that biology evolved without design or teleology.

      As you can see, the inference to design or teleology must be science, because Darwinism posits its absence, and one cannot posit absence unless one admits testability. Being "science" doesn't mean being right, but it does mean being testable.

      If ID isn't science, neither is Darwinism.

      As you may have noticed, Darwinists are really really stupid.

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    3. Michael,

      You are very very stupid. You're confusing abiogenesis (which is a problem which may never be solved since on Earth it lies 3.8 billion years in the past) with evolutionary biology, which results from selective reproductive success and chance.

      Evolutionary biology is testable both in the laboratory (as in Richard Lenski's ongoing 20+ year experiment on E coli) and in the world (as in the Grants' ongoing study of the Galapagos finches) so it's science.

      Intelligent Design isn't testable, despite Meyer's list of 12 nonsensical tests or predictions in appendix A of 'Signature in the Cell', so it isn't science.

      History is more science than ID. At least with history, you develop an hypothesis as to how the world came to be as it is or was, make predictions as to what the primary sources should show, and then go and examine as many of the primary sources you can find either support or more importantly refute your hypothesis.

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    4. "As you can see, the inference to design or teleology must be science, because Darwinism posits its absence, and one cannot posit absence unless one admits testability."

      "Darwinism" doesn't posit the absence of design. It merely notes that there is no evidence for design. And hence, any teaching of "design" would be not science, but unsupported assertion based on nothing but religious authority.

      Delete
    5. @egnor:

      "As you can see, the inference to design or teleology must be science, because Darwinism posits its absence, and one cannot posit absence unless one admits testability. Being "science" doesn't mean being right, but it does mean being testable."

      So you're saying 'darwinism' completely passed over the teleology testing? How exactly would you test for that, anyway?

      Even among evolutionary biologists, there are some who dont agree on the details. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but there are SOME things considered a priori: means of consuming sustenance, evading predators, overcoming lack of sustenance, and so on. But they all are assumed to aid an organism over elements that might deter survival.

      So i dont understand your argument that 'darwinism' isnt science.

      "Darwinists are really really stupid."

      Sigh... i dont get why a neurosurgeon has to resort to bating people with silly name-calling.

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  9. Why are atheists, who are unanimous on virtually no other civic issue, unanimous on the rights (or lack thereof) of Christians?

    First, it makes perfect sense that atheists would be (nearly) unanimous in opposing religious propaganda in public schools. Second, you single out Christians, but I'm pretty sure atheists would be just as opposed (if not more) to Muslim or Hindu (or whatever religious) propaganda in public schools. You just can't resist playing the Christian martyr card, can you?

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  10. What is this, some sort of beat poem? Try making a point or asking a consise question. I doubt many people made it to the end of your rambling, I know I didn't.

    -KW




    Crus
    Keep them coming. You really have something sensible to say.

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  11. Why are atheists, who are unanimous on virtually no other civic issue, unanimous on the rights (or lack thereof) of Christians?

    This is the reason! Atheists are like Studebakers, we can't know if they are coming or going and will shortly be extinct!

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    Replies
    1. Pepe with his usual (what he thinks is) clever little bigoted one-liners..

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