How atheism became a religion in all but name

How atheism became a religion in all but name


How atheism became a religion in all but name | Frank Furedi | spiked.

Read the full article by clicking the link above.

How atheism became a religion in all but name | Frank Furedi | spiked

excerpt:

Today, in contrast, atheism takes itself very seriously indeed. With their zealous denunciation of religion, the so-called New Atheists often resemble medieval moral crusaders. They argue that the influence of religion should be fought wherever it rears its ugly head. Although they demand that religion should be countered by rational arguments, their own claims often verge on the irrational and hysterical. Of course, there has always been an honourable atheist tradition of irreverence and irreligious contempt for dogma. But today’s New Atheism often expresses itself through a doctrinaire language of its own. In a simplistic manner it equates religion with fanaticism and fundamentalism. What is striking about its denunciation of fundamentalism is that it is frequently made in the dogmatic, polemical style of those it claims to oppose. The black-and-white world of theological dogma is reproduced in the zealous polemic of the atheist moraliser…

…The New Atheism is very selective about who it targets. So although it claims to challenge irrationalism and anti-scientific prejudice, it tends to confine its anger to the dogma of the three Abrahamic religions. So it rightly criticises creationism and ‘intelligent design’, yet it rarely challenges the mystifications of deep environmentalist thinking, such as Gaia theory, or the numerous varieties of Eastern mysticism that are so fashionable in Hollywood. Since the New Atheism is culturally wedded to the contemporary therapeutic imagination, it is not surprising that it has adopted a double standard towards spiritualism.

Historically, atheism has sometimes co-existed with opportunism towards religious and spiritual belief. The French philosopher Voltaire hated religious fanaticism but nevertheless believed that religion was useful for pacifying the masses. In a similar vein, in the nineteenth century, the French social theorists Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte believed that social stability required them to invent a new religion. Invariably, such attempts to construct a secular religion are really about trying to endow human experience with meaning.

It was inevitable that sooner or later the New Atheist crusade would mutate into a quasi-religion. Alain de Botton’s recently published Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion is an attempt to absorb into atheism the current therapeutic and spiritual fads that influence Western elite culture. De Botton has proposed building temples for atheists through the UK. ‘It’s time atheists had their own versions of the great churches and cathedrals’, he says. Unlike the New Atheists, De Botton does not adopt an aggressive approach towards religion, which means his attitude does at least contrast to that of Dawkins or Harris.

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Creation: Do we need a God?

Creation: Do we need a God?


My recent time was spent reading books on the idea that we would not need a God to have this awesome, beautiful and breath taking Nature and the Universe. While the list is not that long. Mr. Hawking’s “The Grand Design” and Mr. Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” were at the top of the lists.

I personally think of Mr. Hawking as a brilliant human being and that he has earned due respect with his contribution to the field of science. He is no doubt one of the great scientists of our present age.

Where I admire greatly the passion showed by the author in “The Grand Design” and the depth of rationale and knowledge that it summarizes, I found myself asking more questions about what most people bring to the table when they need to argue.

On the topic of “God”, he is quite subtle saying in his previous book, “A Brief History of Time”.

“There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down, and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. One could say: “The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.” The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed, It would just BE.”

and further

“However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it
started – it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?”

So the question is thrown back at the reader. It implies that we do not need God to understand this universe and given the appropriate pointers a simple conclusion would agree with what has been proposed.

He practically deduces that if there would only be gravity present and nothing else the universe would create itself, expand and shape up as we see around us. This is based on the premise that if there is a God, we can not know for sure, hence God is not needed

Come on, have you ever seen something really astounding birthed by gravity. Can gravity create a sprawling universe? where did it get the matter, and when did matter developed consciousness or preferences, since almost all of living things inherit one or other of these traits, even plants have preferences.

And while I disagreed on the above, I had to laugh a few times on some of the things I read in the “Grand Design”.

Read this…

“Do people have free will? If we have free will, where in the evolutionary tree did it develop? Do blue-green algae or bacteria have free will, or is their behavior automatic and within the realm of scientific law? Is it only multicelled organisms that have free will, or only mammals? “

And after some lines…

“Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency7 that exists outside those laws. For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.”

Here I could not but fathom reading science fiction. Anyways, you may as well decide if the laws of physics govern, rape murder and necrophilia? But given the implication it might as well conclude that if we are doing what we are programmed to do. no matter what and how deep the level of arbitration and complexity we might see, it would be an automated response, complex, so complex that it is impossible to be calculated, yet instilled in us. And here is where I part ways with this statement.

All life and all the complex beauty of the universe is so diverse that we still haven’t seen much of it. we hope to, in our search of enlightenment but “God” does not seem modern in terms of our quest to understand all that surrounds us. Yet his deduction from the creation hypothesis seems to leave large gaps.

First and foremost as I mentioned in my previous post, what was time zero? and If God was at time zero? there is no way scientifically to disapprove that. What science merely gives as an alternative that we would not need God, but then they do not have all the answers as well.

Quantum Physics, Gravity and M-theory (which is not even universally accepted or completed for that matter) proves a lot of things but parts of them are still to be tested, e.g Quantum Gravity is one thing where a lot of research is still needed, often barred by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and to top that, what these theories (while not wrong) can not redo is the actual event of creation it self. That it has never been duplicated or redone. Why? that is one question which science takes the liberty at telling us that creation or collapse/annihilation is millions and millions of years ahead.

Of course in the event of a black hole or a star exploding we see annihilation but that in itself is not conclusive. what we see in such events is matter transforming in an other form or shape. In simple words, we see transformation not creation since matter can not be produced by nothing. If our universe was born like this than it happened from previous existing matter.

My question still stands.

Where did matter originate? Where did magnetic fields and polarities originated? How do they always follow the same principles and laws of physics and not change or evolve. If they change why is not the change constant? If they do not change than it implies a set of rules programmed. who programmed them?

If I say God, it is thought to be ridiculed. However if someone says, “lets presume the universe was always like this”…bang, we just substituted the argument, nothing else.

I can assure you that if you sit on a beach and hope to cross the ocean with nothing and you wait for 5 billion years, the trees on the beach will not automatically turn or should I say evolve into a boat without a carpenter. Evolution without God, creation without God would be shapeless and chaotic, it would be random and prone to change. Even at grand scales why do we find uniformity?

Matter would be present but not in shape and structure that is organized and follows a pattern. As the stapler on your desk does not become a photocopier even if it is left to do that for a million years, likewise a stunning and complex system cannot be founded without at least someone starting the process. I can even think that God might have started our universe and then never interrupted natural process.

I do not go against scientific findings they are there because they are proven (not talking about hunches and assumptions and theories that can not be tested) but if you are trying to find God through science that is like finding Alexander the great in your mommy’s cook book.

The reason I quote Mr. Stephen Hawking is that he is one of the lead scientists of our day and that many Atheist views spring out of such incomplete theories. I am not against anybody but I must point out the obvious gaps presented in such data, not to be offensive but simply to counter act the fact that such theories and ideas are mostly thrown at people who choose to believe while they do not know that even qualified analysis, must make some assumptions. The same flaw that Theists are accused of making up.

A word or two on Mr. Dawkins is due (soon).