News: Atheists Not So Ignorant According to Pew

According to the US Pew Forum (http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx):

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

So when you get the ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’ from a Christian apologist, just respond with this survey. My favourite response to the need for the ten commandments for the basis of morality is to say something like: ‘interesting, I need to re-read them.

Ignorant atheist: ‘Oh, by the way. Where do I find them?’

Christian apologist: ‘The Bible!’

Ignorant atheist: ‘Yes, of course. But which part’.

Christian apologist: ‘Not sure. Old Testament, I think’

Ignorant atheist: ‘Yes, I remember. They are at Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21. Perhaps you better check them also now that you know where to find them! I’d also recommend the NRSV as a pretty good translation, although I’m fond of the Jerusalem. Bye now!’

Life has some pleasures.

Alex McCullie

Comment: Russell Blackford – Call to Arms for Atheists

Russell Blackford argues that the so-called New Atheists – Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens – are a welcomed reactivation of religious criticism and skepticism after a period of misguided accommodation. He supports their efforts, as should all atheists.

We see unjustified religious privileges everyday. In reality when religious organisations attempt to influence social behaviour with faith-based arguments, they are open to forthright analysis and criticism. I agree with Blackford that atheists have every right, in fact an obligation, to question churches’ ontological and epistemological bases of their claims, such as a benevolent god or moral Jesus, for their moral pronouncements. Once arguing in the public space, churches should not be allowed to claim any special immunity from robust inquiries and criticism.

In Australia we live in a democratic, secular society where people of different religious and non-religious beliefs can argue over public behaviour and norms. We must use a common public language of reasoning for social issues, like abortion, contraception, sexual behaviour, and euthanasia. By quoting theological doctrines to argue a moral position, religious organisations are automatically and unacceptably excluding other Australians. Any ‘will of god’ type justifications (overtly or subtly expressed) must be rejected as undemocratic for any form of public discourse. Atheists have every right publicly to ask questions or make demands on these organisations with “Show me that your god exists”; “how do we know your god prohibits abortion or contraception?”; and “Why should I believe your 2000-3000 year old Middle-Eastern story book?”. Finally atheists should demand non-secretarian justifications for their pronouncements, expressed in terms of secular ethics.

Once religions attempt to influence the public space with their doctrines, those doctrines and their sources are open to criticism as with any other public proposal.

Alex McCullie

News: We’re Unhappy Blighters

Well according to Mary Kenny in a recent inane article The Guardian 24 Oct 2008. This extract will give you a taste of the intellectual depth.

Far from relaxing and enjoying life, most atheists I have encountered are gloomy blighters with a depressing and nihilistic message that there is no purpose to life so where’s the point of anything? They so often fall into the category defined by: “Those that do not have the faith/Will not have the fun.” You only have to attend one of their dreary humanist funerals to see that – I am never going to another of those, just to be made miserable.

Alex McCullie