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"Rational Atheism", by Michael Shermer

The latest issue of Scientific American (19 August 2007) has a good article by Michael Shermer called "Rational Atheism". It talks about recent attacks on religion by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others, and makes the valid point that purely negative criticisms of religion will never achieve much. What is needed instead is positive championing of science and reason.

Shermer quotes the late Carl Sagan who said: "You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don't see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it." And he concludes by saying: "As long as religion does not threaten science and freedom, we should be respectful and tolerant because our freedom to disbelieve is inextricably bound to the freedom of others to believe."

One advocate of atheism who well exemplifies the attitude that Shermer is asking for is Taner Edis. There are reviews of his books on my reviews page.

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Shon McDougal on :

As I have been traversing the internet foraging for sites and blogs on atheism, as well as homeopathy, I gladly stumbled upon yours. I have yet to read Michael Shermer's book "Why Darwin Matters" but have had the opportunity to read Dawkins book "The God Delusion". Most certainly I have always been an extreme atheist, and for good reason. Even though I have not had a chance to peruse Michael Shermer's recent contribution it's obvious he's looking for reduced hostility towards 'believers', especially god believers. There's much I would like to discuss with you concerning both atheism and homeopathy, but for the sake of this blog posting I'll leave my remarks and questions concerning homeopathy for another time. The belief in a God has spurred and borne brutal violence towards both humans and this wonderful planet we live on. I have no interest other than self-preservation to hurt, maim, or persecute any God believer. However, I deal with these people and their emotional/mental manipulation tactics unfortunately on a daily basis. And we can champion to our hearts desire science and reason in defense and in offense against a god or religious follower, but their deep prejudice, racism, hate, and contempt, although not found in all followers is enough to keep someone like myself fairly isolated.

In my own business I am virtually surrounded by dozens of religious sect followers with the Jehovah's witnesses and the Plymouth Brethren the dominant two. Of course as an atheist who accepts the science of evolution, and a social activist/humanist, I always seem to be in need of conversion. And just to add more fuel to the fire one of my parents was involved heavily in the Rosicrucion sect some years ago. My exposure was extreme to say the least. In North America we are presently assaulted, and I mean assaulted by all types of religious based belief, just as it would be in Britain. However, many of the born-again Christians suffer with narcissitic entitlement deception or is that disorder? And truly believe that violence is the method with which to convince others that their god and their brand of religious belief is the all prevailing truth. Now if they were to leave me alone I would certainly have no problems with them, but it seems they would with me. Since I must be in league with lucifer. But their intimidation tactics, specious claims, and their irrationally bizzare if not outrightly rigid intrepretations of their bible leave much to be desired.

This goes for all of them. Illusions, lies, and delusions are commonplace when superstition and emotional dependency supersede common sense and an acceptance of reality. An atheist, non-theist, humanist, or secularist is unfortunately represented by fewer numbers around the world, and we have much scorn heaped upon us. As I remind people constantly belief is false knowledge. Instead of respect, they are usually suspicious if not downright irritated that I would only trust evidence and not believing for the sake of believing. Thus I'm caught in the middle of the religious follower dilemma, since many millions of them and their leaders have wreaked emotional chaos in the lives around them and threaten the self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence of otherwise innocent men, women, and especially children. Now I may not be able to change the world, way to tired for that, but a world devoid of the whipped up frenzy of religious belief and fear mongering would be a far better world indeed.
I would like to speak with you at some point, either by email, or by phone Anthony, I have some pressing questions to ask of you concerning your tenure at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. Thank-you and thanks for you writings, I have much more to read and have found what I have read needed and thought-provoking. Take care,
Shon McDougal

Doug Anderson on :

There is an article which cites a study which helps illustrate that the New Atheism (which Dawkins is a part) has not been very effective at gaining converts to atheism. Here is the article on atheism: http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism

I think the quotes from USA Today and the Guardian are a good synopsis of the New Atheism.

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