Monday, 11 March 2013

Arrogance or informed: New Atheists Vs Christians

One of the biggest issues I find when engaging with atheists is that of the fact that one side is often willing to dialogue and the other is resolutely fixed and rigidly unwilling to move from their tenets, dogma, doctrine and beliefs (regardless of how irrational they are).

Of course what makes it even stranger is that the latter group are the 'Atheists' who cling to their beliefs (or should that be lack of beliefs?) and quote their prophets (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and others) and argue in a most illogical and emotive manner. In fact, truth be told, there are times when I struggle to see who the 'irrational people of faith' are.

That said, there are a number of quite flawed and fallible Christian sources; those who take extrapolation of things scientific and portray them as if they were fact. Those who argue for a 'young earth' and rail against evolution and seek to find the God of the gaps solutions that bring about an 'Intelligent Designer' for use by an ignorant (scientifically and theologically speaking) people.

I am about to embark upon a journey of exploration the goal of which is to dialogue and to enable others to dialogue with those who would contend that there is no God (and I'm happy for them to prove this - for the assumption for so many years having been that there is, the task is surely theirs to deny any such belief. I am content to remain with the status quo that there is) and to defend my own position (in a balanced manner - start shouting and all you will hear is your voice!).

I look forward to rejoinders (and will issue in return, of course, my own surrejoinders), correction and the impartation of facts (and opinions - for these too are helpful, perhaps even when not valid). I relish the challenge of being made to think and to look at how I might be able to gibe and answer for the hope that I have in Jesus, the Christ, to all (and any) that might ask; and I do so realising my limitations and trembling in trepidation at the paucity of my wit.

There are those who tell me that religious belief lies at the root of all the atrocities; that belief (they call it 'religion') is to be found at the root of all wars and conflicts. Of course the deaths, oppression and conflict founded in, and enacted by, non-faith groups (remember Russia, Marxism and so many other non-faith group like Nazism for instance) are glossed over.

Christianity is seen as an agent of conquest during the time of Empire and obviously wrong acts and response throughout the middle ages taken as a constant to be kept and used as a talisman to provide some form of absolute proof. The Acts of the Jewish nation throughout the Ancient Near East (and especially the actions of their God, the God also of the Christians) show how wicked God is.

The comparison of 'like for something different' whilst claiming congruence and equality uses both flawed science and logic and the lack of integrity (often unintentional) on both sides makes this a most difficult path to tread - but tread it I will.

Pray for me - educate me (facts is possible) - tolerate me

ps. I'm happy to defend my position but not in isolation - for many merely pepper me with cries of 'defend, defend . . . ' and I'd like to have those 'prove by logic, reason and the like . .'


Brian Westley said...

I don't see much point in having a discussion with you.

You shift the burden of proof using a fallacious argument from antiquity.

You set up a straw man of "religious belief lies at the root of all the atrocities", even though I've never heard an atheist say this; if you have an exact quote, produce it.

And, of course, the usual blood libel of commies and nazis.

There's really no point in talking with a person who poisons the well like that.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Excellent - a good start to any discussion.

I would of course be happy to dialogue and therefore also provide a defence of my position but I am rather tired of those who merely want to use fallacious argument from the position of ignorant and flawed modernity.

Straw men are always fun - oddly I find them coming from directions other than mine but thanks for the dialogue (albeit brief Brian).

As for the blood libel, surely when so many want to fight their fight in the excesses and errors of the Christians fixed in another time you can see that those who oppose faith using such must also be willing to accept their failing too?

Or perhaps not :-)

And you've never heard an atheist say that religious belief lies at the root of all the attrocities - lucky you, you must mix with a nicer crowd than me.

Thanks anyway,


Andrew Godsall said...

" side is often willing to dialogue and the other is resolutely fixed and rigidly unwilling to move from their tenets, dogma, doctrine and beliefs (regardless of how irrational they are)."

Resolutely fixed and unwilling to move...hmmm
Are you sure you are not talking about those members of FiF and REFORM who are currently holding the C of E to ransom by opposing the ordination of women?
Hope you are well Vic!

Anonymous said...

How very odd in that your first respondent doesn't want to dialogue and then, using many words, does. The second wishes to put aside atheism and divert the conversation to women's consecration.

I can see why you struggle - thank the gods I'm an agnostic

Andrew Godsall said...

"The second wishes to put aside atheism and divert the conversation to women's consecration."
Anonymous - I think you miss the nuance of my post. My experience is that dialoguing with 'atheists' is rather more promising than dialoguing with some (so called) church people.

Anonymous said...

Are you the cause or affect?
The reason they do not dialogue or the victim?

Takes two to dialogue and with it a willingness to accept others position.

Do they?
Do you?

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Hello Andrew - how are you?

Interesting conversation - often find atheists easier to dialogue with than fundamentalists and liberals - assume they are one and the same with different positions but same attitudes :-)

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Hooray - I actually posted a reply (at last ) not sure what's going on with the cookie business).

Andrew Godsall said...

Am well thanks Vic. Doing some really interesting work here, especially with our Missioner, and certainly discovering that the boundaries between belief and atheism are really rather blurred. Fundamentalists of either type are pretty frightening but few and far between.

Andrew Godsall said...

Oh...this really excellent blog by Vicky Beeching touches on the conversations you refer to Vic and you might find it helpful:

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Thanks - will take a look see.


Fil said...

Hi Vic,

You've been talking to the wrong atheists if all they do is quote others.

It seems that you group all atheists in one group, and say that this group claim all atrocities are caused by christians. That is prejudiced. If I judged Christians by the many that I have spoken to then my opinion of them as a group would be much worse, but I treat each as an individual.

Your post is full of strawmen and, I have to say, is not up to your usual stance.

You want to talk about things logically and yet you start with what amounts to a diatribe which actually highlights some ignorance of the stance that I take.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Sadly Fil - I'm not engaging with you on this (for I enjoy our conversations) but will (I hope) do so as we progress.

As for strawmen - I wish I was misrepresenting the position of some as it is as annoying as many of those Christians who wish to put away any challenges by resorting to the 'it's all a matter of faith and belief' defence (which whilst having a place is not sure defence at all.

Not my stance at all but a drawing of the lines and a beginning to spend some time engaging with all colours and complexion of atheism (and antagonism).

Should be fun - will take some time (I have much reading as well as dialogue to do) - If only you were the only person out there, be an easier job.

So let's play (and perhaps visit the Riftswood too during the process ;-) )


(see you got one)

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

ps. You have to admit that it is funny that some of those who are most 'religious' about their beliefs are the apparent non-believers.

Funnier (or sadder - depends where you sit) it is the Christians who are often less charitable in their dealings too.

Funny old world isn't it?

UKViewer said...

I'm interested in engaging with anyone who will listen, but those who are on the extreme edges of either believers or non-believers tend to be so intransigent in their positions that a sensible conversation is untenable.

I was interested that the New Atheist Church seems to be taking off.

I heard an interview on the Radio Kent Sunday Program yesterday and he sounds quite a reasonable chap. The words he used were about bringing community together in a different way from organised religion, but he wouldn't be averse to pinching the good bits from liturgy for use in their services. For example they do The Peace during their services.

They also plan to do the major festivals such as Christmas and Easter, although probably on themes that celebrate holiday rather than the Birth of Christ or the Death/Resurrection.

He pointed out that some Atheist Saints? such as Dawkins are quite old hat and he is a moderate atheist, even liberal. In fact if you didn't know, you'd have thought that a Clergyman was talking :)

Conversation is possible with people who are prepared to engage, not defensively, but in a positive climate of honest sharing and listening, without any preconceptions. I'm sure that you might find some of them here soon. Perhaps an invitation for one of them to do a guest post might start it off?