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 From Taoist to Infidel (2001)

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Dec 15, 2001
 Comments:
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The fallacy of Guilt By Association (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by because it isnt on Sat Dec 15th, 2001 at 05:42:27 PM PST
Many leading Atheists cite their reason for leaving a particular religion as being the intolerant beliefs and actions of their fellow believers. However, this is a false argument.

Lying down with dogs will not give you fleas. The classic Guilt by Association fallacy goes something like this:
Person A: 1 + 1 = 2
Person B: But HITLER believed that 1 + 1 = 2
Person A: Oh, you're right. 1 + 1 must be 3.
As you can see, it is simply bad form to leave a good party just because of the trouble makers. You cannot claim that a religion is a sham simply because some of its proponents are full of shit.

Usually, the reason these so-called Atheists have left a particular religion is because they didn't have real faith in the first place. They prefer to follow fashionable trends in theology. As a devout Atheist, I would not sully myself by associating with these theological drifters. Who knows - next week they may think "Fuck! Wicca really is the shit!" and leave the secular movement as quickly as they joined it.
adequacy.org -- because it isn't

how to raise a truthful atheist? (none / 0) (#2)
by loginadequacy on Sat Dec 15th, 2001 at 10:02:26 PM PST
your reply is most interesting. I was reading Letter to Monoeceus" recommended by Richard Carrier. "Those things which without ceasing I have declared unto you, do them, and exercise yourself in them, holding them to be the elements of right life. First believe that God is a living being immortal and blessed, according to the notion of a god indicated by the common sense of mankind; and so believing, you shall not affirm of him anything that is foreign to his immorality or that is repugnant to his blessedness...."

A particular question I have in mind for Mr. Richard Carrier or any atheist is "how to raise a truthful atheist?" My observation is that whoever claims that they are true atheist are most likely coming from families with rich inheritance of religious education. For a pagan, like myself, if i wish to raise a child to be a true believer in atheism, shouldn't I make the very best effort to provide a rich religious upbring for my child? I must baptize him in a church so when he grows up, if he rejects that religion, i can know with more certainty that he is _not_ a religious being by his nature. And I will not feel guilty of misleading him under my own will.


The nature of man (none / 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Dec 16th, 2001 at 08:47:24 AM PST
Does you question not presuppose the existence of a universal human "nature"? In bringing up your child in a religious background, are you not running the risk of defining his nature? Why not be honest, tell him that nobody really know, but you personally believe in "X" and permit him to find his own path. I have seen a 10 yr old Christian preecher, completely the product of his father's beliefs. Not pretty.

Your question at least proves you care about his mental well-being. Nice one.


 
A tricky question (none / 0) (#4)
by Lint on Mon Dec 17th, 2001 at 04:51:12 AM PST
No disrespect intended-- I am honestly curious about what the definition of a "truthful atheist" is, as I'm merely familiar with the broader subcategories of weak and strong atheism ("one who does not happen to be a theist" and "one who denies the existence of any gods" respectively).

That having been said, I personally see the differences in leaving a religion, rejecting all religion and rejecting any gods. I agree that leaving a religion shouldn't be bounds for labeling oneself "atheist", and that perhaps some "so-called atheists" (skeptics is probably the more honest description) believe that they are so due to rejecting religion (which is, in my opinion, merely a human invention with very little spiritual input). I did happen to come from one of those families with a "rich inheritance of religious education", which in hindsight attributed greatly to my atheism--but not because of a negative religious experience. I became skeptical of theism long before the social experience of following a religion grew tiresome--but I rejected religion long before I rejected the existence of any gods.

loginadequacy, I have been pondering that dilemma for a while now. I am a strong atheist, my fiancÚ is a skeptical agnostic, and we both come from intensely religious families. I ponder how to allow our future children to mature with their own personal insights on this topic intact without overt influence from either side--and by that example, I can sort of see what you mean by "truthful". I know that I am atheist in part due to my religious upbringing--more due to realizing the contradictions and illogic inherent in theism than anything else. In that sense I am grateful I was raised to be theist, as it helped me to form my own conclusions on what I didn't believe. But I know plenty of strong theists who were raised in both religious households ad non, and atheists who had similar experiences. As there are many factors in developing a theist or atheist belief-system, it is incredibly difficult to predict the final outcome--everything can be influential, not just simply raising a child with one particular belief-system in place. The best bet is educating the child with an open mind to other philosophies, I think.

I have enjoyed reading Richard Carrier's contributions to infidels.org in the past, especially 'A Fish Did Not Write This Essay', so thank you for sharing this piece. I saw a great deal of myself in it--from the soul-searching that comes with accepting atheism, to the point of desperately seeking out different religions in order to find the "right one", to dealing with the threats and fear that come from living atheist in a fundamental society, to finally walking away from theism while keeping the positive humanist aspects of religion ethically intact. If anything it's a nice bit on insight on a recurring theme-- quite a few atheists were once religious, and some of them left the fold for good reason.

P.S. My apologies for the long post. :)


Your denial is beneath you, and thanks to the use of hallucinogenic drugs, I see through you. Bill Hicks

I propose a third category: (none / 0) (#5)
by nathan on Mon Dec 17th, 2001 at 12:42:58 PM PST
"Political atheist," one who is sick of religious believers trying to shove belief down his throat.

Nu?

Nathan
--
Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Perhaps... (none / 0) (#6)
by Lint on Tue Dec 18th, 2001 at 02:56:11 AM PST
"Practical atheist" would be the better term? But I like the proposal all the same. :)


Your denial is beneath you, and thanks to the use of hallucinogenic drugs, I see through you. Bill Hicks

 

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