sâmbătă, 20 octombrie 2012

The “New Atheism” or “Where does the joke end and where does the hate begin ?”

  First of all, I think I should say a few words about myself. I started my “career” of criticising the new atheists movement almost 3 years ago.
  At that time, I found a video on YouTube extremely offensive and extremely vulgar. Not even today can I understand how one can expect you to listen to their side of the story after they spit in your face, call you an idiot, and show you the finger. Until then, I had never had any connection with any discussion on religious/atheist themes. Until that time, I had never paid atheism any attention, but you know what they say, “the first impression matters”. It does, and especially when that impression is confirmed again and again, without any exceptions.
  Today, almost three years after my encounter with atheism, I decided to put some ideas in writing, as regards my experience with modern atheism.
  A first conclusion that I think has crystallized over the last years for me, is that most atheists do not desire a real discussion. A common sense rule of diplomacy is to not offend your opponent, and a second rule would be not to launch any personal attack on the person with whom you are discussing. Or, in a nutshell, do not start a discussion by calling your opponent “retarded” and still hope that you will achieve something.
So, if modern atheists do not want a discussion, what do they want? I think they want to be offensive for the pleasure of being offensive. I think they want to humiliate just for the sake of it. The first objection that I almost always hear is “but...not all atheists are like that!”. OK, maybe it is so; still, this is a discussion about those who are, and in particular, the current of the new-atheists.
Obviously, at the above, any self-respecting new-atheist would respond:
“But why should I not be offensive if I can be?”
  First of all, because it can hurt other people, and you can sustain your argument in a non-offensive, civilized manner, and, by doing so, you will have more chances to be listened to. Secondly, because we all live here together and where would we end up if everyone began to offend everyone else for the smallest misunderstanding?
But what differentiates criticism of religion as done by the new-atheists from a normal criticism is that, in the case of the new atheists, it becomes obsessive.
  That is, applied to any other protected group (yap, religion is a protected group), this would be called, depending on the case: xenophobia, racism, or anti-semitism.“Obsessive” is the keyword here, because, for most new-atheists, religion is the cause for all that is evil, and for nothing that is good.
  There is a difference between a person that today criticizes an action of their government, and tomorrow will criticize a social attitude, and one day will criticize a religion or a religious leader, and so on, and a person who criticises only religion every day (day after day). Not only that, but the criticism is always accompanied by “ab hominem” attacks, humiliation, mockery (reductio ad ridiculum). That is the difference between honest criticism and promotion of hate speech. This is perhaps best seen in the attitude of the new-atheists, who always find a connection between any negative political, social or economic event, and religion. The best example here would be the forced association promulgated by the new-atheists between the U.S. military interventions in the Arab world (Iraq & Afghanistan) and the “religion” of some American presidents, such as George W. Bush. There is a whole economic context that is intentionally ignored, a context to which we must add the U.S.’ desire to seize new strategic positions in the area (both military and economic), and we should not exclude the presence of Israel, which is considered  a “U.S. ally”. Therefore, we speak of an entire political-economic context, of which atheists want to see only religion. Obviously, religion was used as a pretext, together with many false pretexts, such as the U.S. desire to spread “democracy in the area”, or “the danger of nuclear weapons”. However, it is easy for everyone to see through the smoke, and to guess the real causes of this war.
  So, are the new atheists stupid? Are they unable to see what the whole world is seeing? As in most cases when new-atheists raise their fist, I think we are dealing with a problem of “legitimacy”. That is, when new-atheists go online for promoting their message of hatred and discrimination, the first thing they do is build a reason. That reason is their legitimacy; after all, even Hitler needed a reason and he did not say he started the war “for having nothing better to do”.  Before needing anything else, “angry atheists” need a reason for their anger.

  I believe that in the case of the new-atheist movements we are dealing with a case which is similar to the traditional fight between some medieval European families, where everyone from a family hates the other family, although nobody remembers where and why the conflict began.
  The fresh generations of new-atheists have inherited the adversity against religion, and particularly against Christianity, from the older generations of atheists. The fresh generations of new-atheists feel they belong to a group and they have a type of  Herd Mentality. Therefore, they feel compelled to continue the “war” of their group. What is strange is that this mentality is stronger than in the traditional religious groups; for example, you will sooner find a Christian criticizing another Christian, than an atheist criticizing another atheist.
  Therefore, a member of the young generation of atheists feels he belongs to a group, a group that is doing what? o! is criticizing religion.
  And look how we reach the old problem of legitimacy again, atheists need reasons to continue the war of their group against the “group enemy”.

  Therefore, a series of false problems are promoted, apparently, just for the purpose of mockery. For example, the idea that if Christians "win" they will immediately begin to burn witches, or that if a Christian is a real Christian he would have to kill homosexuals and prostitutes with stones ( as in the old Testament/old covenant). Personally, I feel a chill up my spine, when I hear an atheist say something like this, and  I ask myself : where does the joke end and where does the hate begin ?

  But before we further explore this issue, let's go back a little, to the "Herd Mentality" problem. It is a known fact that different people, who come from various backgrounds and who tend to react in a certain way in the face of certain problems, behave very differently when they are in a group or are asked to obey a leader. The 20th century gave two negative examples of totalitarian structures ( Nazism and Communism) which have almost totally subordinated millions of people.  We also have many massacres committed by the military under orders, or detainees tortured in prisons.  Among recent examples of the latter, which had some media coverage, was the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp from U.S., where prisoners were subjected to physical and psychological torture.
 The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment are two other famous examples which concluded that there are some sadistic tendencies in people, especially when the burden of responsibility is removed or under the influence of a group or an authority figure.
  In the case of the "Milgram Experiment", where an individual was asked by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person, a significant number of people continued to do so even if the person who received the so-called electric shock apparently experienced pain and even asked for the  experiment to be stopped. In the "Stanford Prison Experiment", a group of students were divided into detainees and guards. Here, the guards developed genuine sadistic tendencies and is some instances the detainees developed a lack of empathy between them and subordination to the guards. I would also like to mention the novel of the Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding, “Lord of the Flies”, where a group of boys remain on an isolated island after their plane crashes. With all adult authority removed, William Golding imagines these boys becoming savage and primal, following a self-proclaimed leader and having a growing hostility to those who did not join their group.
  Returning to the new-atheists of today, I think it is difficult not to observe the "group mentality" that hardens around some "authority figures".  These authority figures are preaching ideas such as "if Christians win, they will ban science and education" and, as is generally the case, the group members do not seem to doubt their leaders’ prediction. Even more, they support them in promoting hatred. But is it really hatred? The new-atheists claim it is not. I think we are facing a very interesting problem when we ask an atheist if he will repeat the same things he is saying in front a camera (on a blog or in a book) when he is face to face with a believer. Most will respond that they will not, and whole series of debates between atheists and Christians from the past few years can confirm that. What does this tell us? It tells us that our atheists have a conscience, a conscience that tells them that what they are doing is wrong. Yale University did several versions of the "Milgram Experiment"; an interesting conclusion was that, the closer the subject that had to receive electric shocks was to the person that had to induce them, the more difficult it was for the person who had to induce the electric shocks to do his or her job.
  There was a difference between when the person that had to induce the electric shocks did not hear or see the people affected ... by the so-called electric shocks, and the case when they could hear their screams, or the case when they could in fact see them. Many of the new-atheists have a brave attitude in front of a camera or when writing on a blog, but that attitude softens in the presence of those people they used to call “idiots”.
  From here, we can conclude that, at a subconscious  level, our atheists realize that what they are doing is "wrong". So why do they continue doing it? My only answer would be related to the "group mentality". There is a pressure coming from the group to continue to be offensive and to mock religious people. I, personally, have seen numerous requests made on blogs, sites, Youtube channels, for the exponents of the new-atheism who have distanced themselves too much from criticism of religion, and were immediately implore to write one more article or make one more video on religion.

  The first problem that arises is what would happen if we replaced the word “Christian” from the phrases used constantly by the new atheists, with a word that designates any other protected group, such as: Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, etc.
Let us take the example that:
- If it had not been for XXXXX Humanity would have progressed 1,000 years more.
- All modern wars have been caused by XXXXX
- If XXXXX attain power, they will publicly execute: scientists, homosexuals and liberal-minded people.
- If XXXX attain power they will start a nuclear war, in order to bring the apocalypse.
Now take into consideration that those who make these statements are constantly repeating them and they occasionally sprinkle them with statements like:
- If a XXXX went to a hospital with a sick child, I would deny him medical help and I would send him home to pray.
 These people are idiots. What shall we do with them ? Unless we do something, the XXXXX will throw us in the "Dark Ages".
Any sane man should see that we are talking of hate speech. I also recollect here an entire variety of myths around the conflict between science and religion, such as the one about Galileo's condemnation and torture, or about the narrow-minded Catholic Church that refused to look through his telescope, or about how the Christian Church allegedly prohibited dissection, alchemy and astronomy, throwing humanity into darkness.
Here, a statement must be made:  according to Holocaust scholars, anti-Semitism occurred as a result of misunderstanding some Jewish rituals and promoting rumors about the Jews.
Also, both the Communist and Nazi propaganda, as well as various types of racist propaganda, such as that one against the blacks or Asians, started from funny posters and humorous material that wanted to mock that certain group.

Joseph Goebbels, the chief of the Nazi propaganda, is quoted to have said:
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth”. or “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

  I think this is the case with the new generation of atheists, the generation that is forming now. A lot of them do not see the joke, in "These people want to bring the  "Dark Ages" back" or  "If we let them do what they want they will burn scientists at the stake", especially because authority figures such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, together with other representatives of the New-Atheism, have always promoted such ideas,  directly or indirectly.
  And no, I am not trying to be funny, I really think that the number of young atheists that begin to believe in these legends is increasing.
  If a family taught their child from a very young age that "the moon is made of cheese" and everyone around that child would say the same thing, the child would grow believing this thing. This was how several shows and TV programs like "Crazy things kids say" were born, because when a child asked a question, someone answered him or her jokingly. But, nowadays, we are dealing with a whole group that promotes “these jokes” again and again, with a serious face.
  Like other people who declare themselves to be Christians on the Internet, I have experienced this hatred coming especially from the young. And it is my opinion that we are talking about a group of young atheists who no longer notice where “the joke” ends. And it is my impression that, in this way, the true hatred will start.
  Perhaps, when a neo-atheist will make the next speech about the Christians who will "burn atheists at the stake", he or she should add ... quietly ...that it was just a joke … just for the record

I wonder how history will remember these people? over 50-100 years, some historian that will study their movement, will probably find difficult to understand how these people that lived in an oasis of freedom have wasted this great opportunity in attacking their own cultural model.

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