Thursday, 20 September 2007

New Humanist poll: Are Dawkins and Hitchens good for humanism?

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Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

We've added a nifty new feature to our blog, which you can see by allowing your eyes to drift ever so slightly to the right. From now on we'll be polling our readers on various matters of importance, starting with the crucial question of whether Messrs. Dawkins and Hitchens have helped to advance the cause of humanism. There's 4 answers to choose from - shift your vision over to the top right of this page and let us know what you think.

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56 comments:

Steven said...

I don't think they are all that agressive, they just adopt the tone you would adopt when disagreeing over any other matter. I think that people take the way the do not mince their words at all as being agressive.

dotvicky said...

Interesting that you can change your vote. Heheh.

Anton Mates said...

I said yes, but I consider Dawkins a lot more beneficial to humanism than is Hitchens.

monika said...

Somebody please get a grip and hold of reality. Those 2 men dedicate their life to the betterment of human kind and you have the nerve to put them under the microscope to see if they're good humanists while preachers everywhere scream and yell from the top of their lungs to let you know you did better obey god or you're going to hell and be tortured for eternity. This is totally outrages and making me sick. And how can you rate one over the other when one is a biologist and the other a author which is of equal importance. I'm disgusted and outraged at that poll and yes I'll raise hell about it.

Steven said...

I think perhaps the point of the poll was to get the result of a resounding "yes" to support what you've just said. I agree wholeheartedly.

Paul Sims said...

Well very sorry we've outraged you Monika, but surely if we don't bother to question Dawkins et al then we take the risk of treating their works like an atheist canon, as their religious opponents so often accuse us of doing.

Anonymous said...

While delivering amazingly logical and rational arguments in favour of the humanist viewpoints, I don't think Dawkins and Hitchens are really firm enough on some issues. I firmly believe we should establish a rational culture where individuals who have decided to denounce reality for religion should not be treated in hospitals. No doubt people will be up in arms and flapping about this, but I seem quite comfortable with the idea that prevention of death by medical intervention is in some way interfering with the mechanisms of God and the fatalist / defeatist behaviours that are surely indoctrinated into any religious viewpoint that claims to have tangible values. Why should the mortal many prevent the realisation of all of Gods children to become at one with the creator? Heaven and all the other words for it, by all accounts, is a league above what we all ‘suffer’ on earth. Why do those who believe in God not have the conviction to just go with the flow? What happens happens, as they say. And while I may seem incredibly callus to many people, when my family members have been very ill in hospital, next to patients weighed down in religious artefacts, memorabilia, and activities, why should the incredibly limited resources of the NHS and the world in general, be used to treat people who are going on to much much bigger and better things. I think all our resources should be given to people that believe this life is our only life and want to enjoy the only chance they have for rational consciousness. I think we are being very condescending to people who have a firm belief in God and the afterlife, by treating them as mortals and delaying their ultimate goal.

Lee said...

I certainly feel that anyone who wishes to stand up and argue coherently and logically against religion and its many issues deserves praise. Perhaps the way Dawkins and Hitchins chose to do it would'nt necessarily be the way we all would chose, but at worst they are generating some much needed publicity for rational analysis and humanism.

also, dotvicky, it is quite amusing you can change your vote...i wonder if anyone actually will.

Lee said...

also monika, i suspect that people like dawkins and dennet would be dissapointed were we not considering their contribution and critically evaluating it. It would do them a great disservice if we didnt.

Josh Kutchinsky said...

Dawkins, Hitchins, and for that matter, Harris are all very different as writers and thinkers. I have now read The God Delusion twice. Although it is not necessary to have read a book before discussing it (see Bayard), however the generally accepted description of Dawkins as angry, IMO, does not really apply. His tone is very measured, often humorous and ironic. His approach is to offer a description of a religious practice, belief or text and then to invite the reader to agree that such things are ridiculous, unsustainable, unbelievable, illogical etc. Usually he provides some analysis of the issues and often this involves a reference to a Darwinian perception of the issues raised. In a few instances he makes it clear that he is angry about something such as the labelling of children with a particular religion or when a named religionist attempts to justify some terrible cruelty or suffering. But even here by stating quite calmly that he is angry he is clearly in complete control of his pen and his emotions. I suspect that the religionists who refer to Dawkins as angry (among whom was recently the UK's Chief Rabbi) are revealing the extent to which they find themselves stung by his patient logic. They are the angry ones who find themselves unable to address the issues that Dawkins raises.
I have yet to read Hitchens who I admire as a great polemicist but Sam Harris I have some problems with in that I don't accept the 'clash of civilisations' theory. Harris's writing is passionate and not very nuanced. I think we in the UK and Europe need to remember that all three writers are very much writing with a US readership in mind.

Ralph Dumain said...

Individuals allegedly devoted to rational thinking first of all should be conscious of the embedded biases in survey questions that render them useless as a measuring instrument. This is an exceptionally stupid question as it actually inhibits an inquiry into what Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and other celebrity atheists are all about and how they have achieved the social role they now have.

I'm guessing you asked the question because of the alleged aggressiveness of the individuals concerned and how that will play out in public opinion. But that is a very shallow concern. The real issue is whether these people have a grasp of history, politics, and social theory that would enable them to adequyately address political and scoial phenomena related to religion. Harris and Dawkins are sociologically illiterate. Hitchens has the background to know better, but he is a baldfaced liar in the support of American aggression against Iraq.

My conclusion is, that while these celebrity atheists have played a useful role in expanding consideration of atheism in the public sphere, they are all a disgrace on larger political and social issues.

In the future, please phrase your questions more intelligently.

Ralph Dumain said...

Individuals allegedly devoted to rational thinking first of all should be conscious of the embedded biases in survey questions that render them useless as a measuring instrument. This is an exceptionally stupid question as it actually inhibits an inquiry into what Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and other celebrity atheists are all about and how they have achieved the social role they now have.

I'm guessing you asked the question because of the alleged aggressiveness of the individuals concerned and how that will play out in public opinion. But that is a very shallow concern. The real issue is whether these people have a grasp of history, politics, and social theory that would enable them to adequyately address political and scoial phenomena related to religion. Harris and Dawkins are sociologically illiterate. Hitchens has the background to know better, but he is a baldfaced liar in the support of American aggression against Iraq.

My conclusion is, that while these celebrity atheists have played a useful role in expanding consideration of atheism in the public sphere, they are all a disgrace on larger political and social issues.

In the future, please phrase your questions more intelligently.

MikeSy said...

The test of whether anyone benefits humanism is whether they're like to actually persuade anyone. Sadly, there's no way fundamentalists are going to be persuaded, probably ever. Those who may be are those who are amenable to reason, and the more excited and/or dogmatic you are, the less likely you are to persuade them.
And just because the Bible says "Judge not that ye be not judged" doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I think Dawkins and Hitchens are both very bad for the argument. I've not read either of their books but I've seen and heard both perform and on both occasions have felt their aggressive nature undermines their argument.

People with a radical message on either side of the debate will fail as the general population is turned off by extreme views or those that choose to belittle others.

Dawkins and Hitchens might be great at beating the drum for those already convinced of their argument, but the other 90% of the population is put off by them.

John Greenshaw said...

Dawkins and Hitchens are only pointing out the reality of a situation.

The frustration about tone comes from the "this is my truth tell me yours" situation because the show me yours does not stand up to examination and the poor individuals attempting to defend a non substantiated position look at times idiotic in attempting to do so!

I have become increasingly aware of those around me who use religious language in their day to day life and in questioning their beliefs and asking them to determine how they use the bible to guide their lives and how they filter the good from the bad!

Anyway that conversation resulted in another sale of the God delusion and a religious person seriously questioning their entire position – to me a result. Now this on a national level becomes very difficult as the saying goes organising humanists, atheists etc. is like herding cats it just will not happen, so we have to get our act together and respect these chaps for saying what they do at the risk of offending people who would not think twice about promoting their own beliefs and offending others!

So what we have is the inner turmoil of “we understand the beauty of the universe and all that entails, we accept that, what the dichotomy is that we don’t like to force this reality onto those of belief as it will cause discomfort”, so we don’t want to become the “new religion” or to be perceived as fundamentalist humanists.

So what is a fundamentalist Humanist fighting for what jihad are we on?

I can only think of one, TRUTH! Meow! Dawkins and Hitchens damn fine chaps!

Anonymous said...

Well I think people need to be gently pulled away from religion, after all it is the "opium of the people". Unfortunately people perceive Dawkins as being bullying.

Paul M said...

I have yet to join BHA because so far as I found them too restrained. I am thinking again due to Polly Toynbee being the President and listening to her the other day. Also if this poll changes the direction I will be finally persuaded.

Wadsworth said...

I have listened to and watched Dawkins and Hichens extensively, and in no way are they more aggressive than their opponents,-less in fact. However we should be accustomed to Christians changing the meaning of words, so that "aggresive" mans standing up to ranting preachers and shifty theologians, who are accustomed to getting their own way all the time.

Benjamin Bradley said...

I joined the Humanist Society last week after reading Dawkins and Hitchens during my recent stay in the USA, where I observed an increasing militancy by all kinds of christian denominations against militant islam. I am alarmed by this polarisation and increasing anatagonism between people who have for the most part sought ways of living peacfully side by side in tolerance of each others views. As a mature scientist I can no longer live with blind faith in a deity that is increasingly used to justify wars and other other threats to humanity.

Disenfranchised of Crewe said...

Are Dawkins and Hitchins the same beast? I think not. The poll is basically flawed. I like Hitchins but not Dawkins.

Lee said...

"Unfortunately I think Dawkins and Hitchens are both very bad for the argument. I've not read either of their books but I've seen and heard both perform and on both occasions have felt their aggressive nature undermines their argument."


That someone critises tone over content is unfortunate. Tone does not change the truth of what they are saying and I agree with the poster who says they are not agressive enough.

it is deeply unfair to be critical of dawkins or hitchins without having read their materials content.

that said, i have read some particulary nauseating fundamentalist cartoons about evolution being wrong and non christians being immoral... prime examples where content and style are both worrying:

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp

Vir said...

The Humanist Movement was founded to provide an alternative to traditional religions. The practical - and strategically important - question is: Given that Humanism aims to provide an alternative to traditional religions, which approach is likely to be more effective in helping those belonging to traditional religions to adopt a humanist worldview? I believe persuasion is much more effective than rejection and ridicule.

Robert Ede said...

I like Dawkins an Hitchens work, and I think it plays an important role, in countering the conservative religious arguments. I also think we need promote positive humanism equally, so that people understand what else we stand for. After all, when you look at their work they are just promoting an athiest view not specifically a humanist one.

Ram Kalbag said...

I think it is wrong to equate humanism with aggressive atheism. I am a humanist because I think the life we are living is all that we can know, and the rest is speculation. Emile Zola gave the best justification for religion in the concluding pages of "Lourdes" - "When man has penetrated the depths of lfe's misfortunes, he turns to the divine illusion, which is the root of all religious belief. Man, weak and bare, lacks the inner strength to live his terrestrial misery, without the everlating lie of a paradise. To subject mankind to a brutal amputation, to lop off its dream, and forcibly deprive it of the Marvellous, which it needs to live as much as it needs bread, would kill it.
Will we, as a people, ever have the philosophical courage to take life as it is, and live it for its own sake, without any ideas of future rewards in a life after death?
It will take centuries if ever, before we have a society wise enough to lead a life of rectitude, without the moral control of a cultand the solace of superhuman equality and justice. Science alone is insufficient and one has to leave a door open for the mysteries."
To me humanism also means freedom of expression and tolerance, as long as the same freedom is extended to those who do not believe in a supreme deity, and does not interfere or conspire to interfere with the liberty of those who disagree.
I do however agree with what Dawkins says, though I am not altogether happy with the way he says it.

Anonymous said...

The theory is the easy bit: more people like RD = no need for gods, diversity could flourish and more individuals would live enriched lives. Good work RD.

Anonymous said...

Lee wrote:
"That someone critises tone over content is unfortunate. Tone does not change the truth of what they are saying and I agree with the poster who says they are not agressive enough."

If you think that tone has no part in the way you convey a message then you are destined to fail as a public speaker. Our perception of tone is often entirely unconscious but it tells us a great deal about the person speaking. I stand by my statement that Hitchens and Dawkins both adopt a tone that puts the public off the debate by making them sound radical and aggressive.

"it is deeply unfair to be critical of dawkins or hitchins without having read their materials content."

I have read many shorter articles, other books by the authors, watched online debates and listened to radio discussions with both of them. I am very aware of both of their work even if I haven't yet found the time to read the specific books this poll is hinting at.

Anonymous said...

The theocrats criticise without addressing the arguments. That will not do. The reason presumably is that they do not have logic on their side. They do have faith in the face of logic. That is to be expected but they should admit to their weakness in argument. It is not very easy to overcome faith with logic and it is possible that one should not try since such an approach may damage the faithful or more likely confirm them in their own error. However I would not accept those arguments for the faithful are so often intolerant whatever their religion, christian (whether Roman catholic or evangelical), islam, judaism, etc., and have to be faced. It is curious that all three of those religions have appalling attitudes to women, apart from other irrational oddities of behaviour and belief. Much more to say but Dawkins says most of it very well, also after all Gould, Darwin, Huxley, Lyle.
Tim Biscoe

Brenda said...

I joined the National Secular Society because I am an atheist but not a humanist. Until humans
stop treating other creatures as objects to be used and abused for our convenience we will never
become truly moral beings.

Janus said...

Absolutely. There needs to be at least a few people who are willing to speak the truth directly and uncompromisingly, without regard for political correctness and people's feelings.

Interested said...

"Will we, as a people, ever have the philosophical courage to take life as it is, and live it for its own sake, without any ideas of future rewards in a life after death?"


I so hope for that day. What a wast to see so many prepare for a future reward while having total disregard for this life.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I watch the pair in action, and that is frequently, I am amazed at how polite they always are in their responses to even the most dumb or rabid of interrogators - too many of whom have patently not read the recent work of either author. I marvel at how restrained they are when faced with the suggestions ubiquitously trotted-out that morality is impossible without religious faith.

SilentMike said...

Good numbers so far as I see it. I know this doesn't have any statistical value but still, put it together with a lot of things that have been happenning lately and I think you can see something about what's happenning now.

It's our time, and I hope the more "polite" humanists -those that are the fiercest critics of the "New atheists"- realize this and let us have our day in the sun. Our day had a beginning. It will also have an end. My hope is that the consensus will change in that time, that atheistic sentiment will be stronger and more influential in the US, that secularism will break through into islam, that the fundementalists will no longer threaten the US constitution as they do now.

I understand their fears. I know we won't "win it" this time. But we can improve our positions for the next round. And we can try and halt reactionary forces that are trying to cheat by changing the rules of the game.

llewelly said...

Note that Dawkins is a pacifist, while Hitchens is a warmonger who has mongered at least one bad war for baldly irrational reasons. Grouping them together is a fool's error.

BrianMacker said...

"I firmly believe we should establish a rational culture where individuals who have decided to denounce reality for religion should not be treated in hospitals."

Yeah then all the atheists would have to take up being nurses. Dumb idea. Beyond dumb. Totalitarian.

Anonymous said...

YOU CANT FIGHT BRASS

KNUCKLES WITH A PEA

SHOOTER!

(Keep the pressure on.)

Shawn S. said...

The main criticism of Dawkins and Hitchens from the humanist organizations (i.e. Paul Kurz and others) is that while their objections are fine, and their candor welcome, they have to realize that rejecting religion is just the beginning. If we expect the religious to give up their God we have to offer something to replace it. I think Dawkins and Hitchens ought to always promote humanism after they dismantle the ridiculous practice of religion.

We humanists should be just as vocal about our philosophy as Dawkins and Hitchens are in their criticism of religion. The two aspects complement each other.

Timothy Mills said...

I don't agree with everything they say, but I am deeply grateful for their contribution. They have begun to open up the field of public discussion in a way that it wasn't open before. The idea that Dawkins, a man who is always polite and thoughtful when interviewing others, has been characterised as militant, shows how far we still have to go.

I'm glad not everyone who calls themselves a humanist or atheist agrees with me. They make me double-check my own thoughts.

Why shouldn't we criticise Dawkins, Hitchens, and others for the elements of their discourse that we disagree with? This is the sort of self-examining dialogue that we need, the sort that they rightly accuse religion of lacking.

If the nonreligious ever become a monolithic mass of people agreeing with each other about everything, we will have missed the whole point of rejecting dogmatic religion in the first place.

Eeen said...

ffs separate the two in the poll.
as far as I'm concerned, Hitchens is good and Dawkins is bad for the Humanist cause, and it comes down to their styles of argument. Hitchens is a bulldog, for sure, but he's still civil and respectful, and above all interested in talking to anyone who wants to argue. Dawkins, OTOH, is abrasive and unfriendly to his more religious opponents ... defensive and uncomfortable, and generally clueless about what makes his opponents tick (completely opposite to Hitchens), he tends to look like he wants to converse for the bare minimum of time required to score a simple victory before running away. Hitchens seems to understand that the solution begins with opening channels of communication

Jeremy said...

The SW London Humist Group recently had a debate on more or less the same topic (but focussed on The God Delusion). The result of a before/after vote was that most people came to the view that Dawkins was good for humanism. This was despite reservations about the impact on relations with religious moderates - essential to drive the humanist agenda in the real world - of his perceived stridency.

As atheism/humanism lack the structure of the religions, and as we live in a media-dominated age, we need high profile individuals in order to get heard at all. The fact that Hitchens comes from the right of politics is, in my view, a significant strength, making it tough from even moderate Conservatives to dismiss humanism on political grounds.

Ali B said...

I am constantly amazed at the virulence and scale of the opposition to Dawkins/Dennett/Hitchens not from their natural (theistic) opponents but from within the Humanistic/Skeptik/Atheist camp. Every time I see Dawkins in disagreement with anyone he is unfailingly courteous. I don't recognise this 'aggressive', 'rotweiller', 'fundamentalist' character that some of his critics talk about. And 'The God Delusion' is simply glorious by any standards. We humanists are very fortunate to have such exemplary advocates. To vote in this poll with anything other than a 'yes' would be deranged, in my view.

John said...

"Interesting that you can change your vote."

Even more interesting that you get to change your vote only after seeing if you voted "right." (IOW, seeing how everbody else voted)

Anonymous said...

It's all about calling a spade a spade. And they do that very well.

Dave said...

Has society become more rationally humane as a result of their works ?

I Can't Speak in any quantitative manner. I think a vox pop is a bit unrealistic for determination and given the topic of discussion a bit in poor taste.

I Would say that it 'converted' me from referring to myself as spiritual but not religious to using the term atheistic but spiritual.

I do get the communicated sense of frustration that occurs when the religious get semantically confused and insist on the ridiculous.

Arguing against communicating this disdain for the sake of appeasing more marginal theists may not have any benefit to the argument or society.

Its not a case of winning votes, there is no marginal ground. Were it conflicts with the observable there is no excuse for religion.

However I know nothing about the psychology of learning and the introduction of concepts that conflict with fundamental principles of a persons world view.

Anonymous said...

monika said...

"Somebody please get a grip and hold of reality. Those 2 men dedicate their life to the betterment of human kind and you have the nerve to put them under the microscope to see if they're good humanists"

Not wanting to appear as if I've lost my grip and hold of reality here (sic). However, questioning the actions, and consequences of other's actions, is perfectly sensible. Leave the sacred cows to religion, least we pick up bad habits. I'm comforted when I see Atheists/Humanists etc. criticising people like Dawkins it shows we can managed self moderation where others cannot...

Ed. said...

Dawkins & Hitchens have made Humanism a very visible movement; they are in no way aggressive in the arguments they put across, simply speaking the truth in plain language.

The idea that they are in any way debilitating the Humanist argument is laughable.

It is time Humanism came out of the shadows and proclaimed itself as the formidable force that it really is, and these two Champions of the issue, Heroes of Humanism, are leading the way.

We all need to get off our arses and do the same, armchair moaning means nothing unless it has an active role to play in changing public opinion.

Humanism needs to be outspoken.

Anonymous said...

Ali B said...

"To vote in this poll with anything other than a 'yes' would be deranged, in my view."

I agree, BURN THEM!

:rolleyes:

Anonymous said...

Dawkins is not 'angry' at all, but critically incisive. The religious do not like this; they are not used to it. For centuries they have had it their way, and still seek to do so. Nothing has changed, save maybe (in the Christian sphere at least) their inability to burn alive those who disagree with them. Dawkins' much-marketed 'angriness' is an invented myth along with the 'atheism of Hitler' - yet another lie to add to the religious' well-stocked pile.

Aspentroll said...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I think Dawkins and Hitchens are both very bad for the argument. I've not read either of their books but I've seen and heard both perform and on both occasions have felt their aggressive nature undermines their argument.

People with a radical message on either side of the debate will fail as the general population is turned off by extreme views or those that choose to belittle others.

Dawkins and Hitchens might be great at beating the drum for those already convinced of their argument, but the other 90% of the population is put off by them.
21 September 2007 18:02

Well, now, if you haven't read either of their books how could you determine that 90% of the population would be put off by them.

The general population is put off by extremely radical views? Are you talking about atheists here?
It's the free thinkers that are put off by extremely radical views, namely, religious dogma and the rest of the bible. Having said that, maybe you should read the bible completely and then tell us all what is extremely radical.

Anonymous said...

On the whole they are great because of the way they plant seeds in peoples' minds - especially about the undue respect that Religion enjoys. I wish though that both Dawkins and Hitchens' books had been even better written - to expose the absurdities/contradictions and horrors of the Bible/Koran. With hindsight, both authors could have really damaged the religions' credibility once and for all, given the readership they've attracted. I also think Dawkins' prominence is allowing many religionists to use "straw man" arguments just against him. If Dawkins makes a mistake, the whole of atheist thought is seen as culpable. But that's probably a price worth paying.

Martti said...

Having read Dawkins's books for quite some years I have come to admire his extremely broad scope of knowledge. Reading "The God Delusion" I now start to appreciate his understanding as well.

There are but a few who can paint such a complete picture of the human reality starting from physics, continuing via chemistry to molecular biology, evolution, memes and finally to the question why we are as we are and why we do not want to see it.

The work he's done is immense.
I can very well understand that he has done more than his share of friendly and respectful argumentation during the decades. Along with his work, however, he has come to a conclusion which I fully support: Religious world view with twisted or fabricated evidence and circular logic is not good for the human kind.

Specially when it is armed.

Dawkins has done his job better than anybody could have done. More than trying to find fault about how he's done what he's done we should further the message as we see best.
If we know better than him.

I take my hat off for RD.

Lleunam Nedyah said...

I reckon the way they go on about humanism and atheism and the wrongness of certain religions is verging on being facist. Don't get me wrong, I belive it is flawed, but do we really need to kill it off? Do we even need to outnumber them, or rise above them? People at least in most countries are allowed to belive what they belive.
Sometimes it seems they think religion is a force of bad, or a cover so people can be bad when I belive that it is only certain people are bad within a religon. For example, Islam was given a bad name when Islamic suicide bombers were attacking certain places, and the whole of Islam got the brunt of the blame. I know many good Muslims who have suffered from racism that perhaps would have been curbed if the bombers didn't strike. It is race against race, religion against religion and in this argument, humanism against religion. Life seems to be a constant war. People say Humanism is anti war, why not prove it by stopping crushing others belifes and stopping portraying ourselves as 'better' (being facist)consciously or even subconsciously. If I am getting this wrong, then my appologies.
one more thing, can anyone tell me the difference between atheism and humanism?
And another, it is very interesting you can change your vote after seeing the results. See, to me, that is flawed. Not that I used it.

Todd I. Stark said...

As much as I tend to agree with these gentlemen in principle, and proudly count myself as an atheist, I can't also agree with the sweeping pathologization of religious belief.

Yes it does become pathological and obsessive at some point as it increasingly separates us from realistic appraisals. But belief in something larger than ourselves is certainly normal psychologically and plausibly healthy. And even the obsessive aspects are useful under some conditions, just as is the obsessiveness of some anti-religionism. There's a memorable quote I only barely recall to the effect that "Most worthwhile things are accomplished by a monomaniac with a mission." I think the essence of it is a deep human truth.

The fact that so many non-believers can find substitutes for the things religion does for others does not alter the fact that so many people are psychologically healthy believers.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that I can't imagine that increasing intolerance to religious belief is the optimal solution to the problem of religious intolerance.

Belief has more of a role in human experience than just providing a realistic appraisal of natural law.

Anonymous said...

There is one thing I do not see from any of the people who have posted to this question? Since when is Humanism strictly defined along the terms of Atheism.

To many, Humanism and Free Thought, are more than that. It is about human experience and empowerment and not just the argument over a Divine entity or strict human agency.

If we are to be truly HUMANIST, we must incorporate all human expressions, not just the one crowd.

If you are truly free thinking, then yes, we must have Dawkins and Hitchens dialouge.

But, if Humanism is to thrive, we need to steer clear of the Idea that it is just a referendum on Atheism.

It is most certainly not just that.

Fuller Wiser said...

Hitchens is problematic for me because of his Iraq stance. I hate to be a One-Issue Charlie, but there's obviously a critical thinking problem there.

Harris can get a bit overwrought, but I agree with earlier commenters that he's squarely aimed at a US audience. We here in the Bible Belt must wave pitchforks at the podium to get anyone to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

I've read Dawkins and Harris. Let me explain something anyone with more than half a chimp-evolved brain can tell from reading them. They don't care about religion or atheism; they care about selling books and being the ideological new gods. I wonder if many of their proponents have actually read their work, or just automatically conform to their views because they use the term atheist to describe themselves. Their work is full of circular arguments that are no better than the arguments they are railing against. They speak with the militant fervor of Adolph Hitler, using all religion as the new "Jew". They are making obviously misguided attempts to force others to their views, in the exact manner they complain religion does to them. Faith or non-faith isn’t the problem in this world. Saying that only "My untestable, unprovable idea" is more right than anyone else's is the problem. Atheists are just as guilty of fundamentalist force-feeding as any other belief structure. No one is immune to ideological bigotry, not even atheist.

Anonymous said...

No, they are merely bigots of a different colour. The first step of genocide is identifying the "other".