Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Belief Media

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  • Lilith __, in reply to NBH,

    you don’t come up with a ridiculously pretentious term like ‘brights’ for people who agree with you if you aren’t an arrogant tosspot

    He didn’t. And in fact he finds fault with the term in The God Delusion . But there is the ongoing problem for atheists that many of us would like a positive definition rather than a negative one (ie. calling ourselves "atheists" is defining ourselves by what we don’t believe)

    I’m sure there are many religious folk who think Dawkins is deluded: that his belief system can’t be reasonably defended. I got no problem with the word delusion . Is there any other single word that describes “unfounded and mistaken belief system”?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to NBH,

    I have to agree with Craig here – Dawkins has always struck me as a condescending and unpleasant arsehole.

    But, non-bless, he knows how to play the media game like a pro. It probably says a lot that “Folks who go to church are psychos” and “Atheist fags are responsible for 9/11!” will get infinitely more play than (say) Maureen Garing whose death last year left a thoughtful, non-dogmatic, genuinely diverse hole in Radio New Zealand’s schedule where Spritual Outlook used to be.

    Garing was one of the hidden treasures of public broadcasting, and it's a shame you didn't do this topic a few years back because she'd have had a very interesting perspective on religion in the media.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Craig, doesn’t that behaviour demonstrate Santorum is not all in this world?

    I'm inclined to wonder if any part of Mr. Frothy is in this particular corner of the multi-verse.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lilith __,

    But there is the ongoing problem for atheists that many of us would like a positive definition rather than a negative one (ie. calling ourselves “atheists” is defining ourselves by what we don’t believe)

    Materialist? As in "This material world that we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell is all there is"? It does seem surprisingly hard to define such a philosophical statement without going into negatives. That may say something about the dominant role religion has played in many societies* for so long.

    *which sparks a tangent into classical Chinese philosophy which seems to have quite happily trundled along without bothering to speculate much about the existence or otherwise of God, gods, spirits, etc. Then again, Chinese people have always made up for that with their own folk religion(s) and superstitions.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1729 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    “Folks who go to church are psychos” and “Atheist fags are responsible for 9/11!” will get infinitely more play

    I'm sure you're right, but who said these things??

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Materialist? As in “This material world that we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell is all there is”?

    It's a pity that Materialist has other, less happy meanings. And I've got a Madonna earworm just thinking about it! ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There's a large white cross on the top of Mt Victoria at Easter and Christmas (it's there now) which I find quite comforting as a strong symbol of forgiveness and hope, presiding over the city. I see it also as a reminder of that universal ethic of treating others as you would like to be treated.

    What I dislike, though, is fundamentalism of any kind, whether Christian, Islamic or atheist evangelism.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lilith __,

    Yeah, true, and sorry for the earworm, but that's really the best I could think of. Now back to trying to get some work done...

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1729 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Materialist?

    That is the name often used for non-dualists, which is rather close to atheism, but not identical. Materialists do not believe in souls.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • NBH, in reply to Lilith __,

    Oops, thanks for picking that up Lilith__ - I missed that he wasn't the actual originator of the term, but I do think it's fair to say that he's a key populariser of it (BTW, at a quick glance my copy of The God Delusion only has one reference to the term - p380 of 2006 Black Swan UK edition - which doesn't display any ambivalence but effectively argues that brights shouldn't be afraid of being labelled arrogant. Are you thinking of Hitchens rejecting the term as mentioned on that wiki page?).

    I can understand the desire for a 'positive' term for an actively non-religious position, but bright is one of the worst terms that Geisert and Futrell could have chosen, and the analogy with reclaiming the term 'Gay' is pretty massively wrong-headed.

    As to Dawkins' use of the term 'delusional', that is most definitely not a neutral, value-free word. It's a term associated with being sick, disconnected from reality, and in need of a cure - and carries with it the massive stigma that surrounds mental illness in our society. "Why Religious People Are Wrong" would have been a less sleazily antagonistic title.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to NBH,

    "Why Religious People Are Wrong" would have been a less sleazily antagonistic title.

    Or the even more careful phrasing by Bertrand Russell "Why I am not a Christian".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    that’s really the best I could think of.

    It’s a hard problem! I have been known to call myself a (secular) Humanist, although that term has its own history and complexities. See also Positivism.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I think Jedi was counted as a non-response.

    I wonder what my Discordian that I put down was treated. Next time I probably should put Atheist down as it is more honest - but I do like the idea of Discordianism. I just wouldn't want my response to simply be grouped in Other Religions.

    Whangarei • Since Jun 2010 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I don't know. Dictionary has this: in psychology, a rigid system of beliefs with which a person is preoccupied and to which the person firmly holds, despite the logical absurdity of the beliefs and a lack of supporting evidence

    Pretty clear I would ahve thought. Can't see any derogatory conotation in there either. Religious folk are pretty preoccupied. hold pretty firmly beliefs and certainly with no supporting evidence. QED.

    Edit. B Russell focused on why he wasn't a christian. Dawkins is talking about any god. Christian or otherwise.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1458 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    I have a card that says I am ordained in *spiritual* humanism, given to me as joke.
    I am not at all sure what it actually means - aside from being a joke-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to NBH,

    Dawkins’ use of the term ‘delusional’

    But he doesn’t use the term “delusional”, he uses the term “delusion”. One refers to the believer, the other to the belief. I really think there’s a difference.

    Re: brights: I don’t have a copy of The God Delusion to hand, but as I recall he was dismissive of the term as rather squirm-inducing even for atheists. It's possible I'm remembering a passage from some of his other writing.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lilith __,

    This is one of many reasons why I’m inclined to agree with Bob Marley, or at least one of the Wailers: I’m sick and tired of the ism-schism game.

    And no, for the record, I’m not a Rasta. Just saying that it would be nice if we could drop all the -isms (edit: on a quick break from preparing stuff for my students I make a spelling mistake. Gah.) and just be us.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1729 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I heard a visiting ethicist speak the other day (in the cathedral of all places - which had terrible acoustics btw). He talks to businesses and policy makers and other important people in Australia. He said we need to do more ethic-ing. I quite liked that.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Islander,

    I have a card that says I am ordained in *spiritual* humanism

    How sweet!! :-)
    Perhaps as well as being a joke, it contains the notion that humanists can have dreams and insights beyond the immediate and material.

    And like you say, Chris, it’s possible to give all our attention to labels and semantics and forget to really talk to each other.

    And if I can mention Dawkins again, I really liked what he says at the end of The Ancestor’s Tale about his sense of awe at the natural world, and how in that sense of wonder he has much more in common with theists than they realise.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    But, non-bless, he knows how to play the media game like a pro.

    Well who would venture into that fray unprepared.
    And Hilary

    He said we need to do more ethic-ing. I quite liked that.

    We seem to be drifting or becalmed ( I wont wax lyrical and Im being generous) in that aspect of our thinking.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to andin,

    Ethics are not general - they tend to be profession-specific *and* problem/person-specific.
    E.g: what is entirely ethical for a female gynaecologist of no religious committment(apropos abortion for a 45yrold female with 2 disabled children) could be unethical for a christian GP (of many churches/varieties) -reguardless of the health/benefit to the child-bearer.
    (I deliberately say 'child-bearer' rather than 'mother.' Please note my immediate family includes both midwives & GPs.)
    I know about ethics within the Law profession: these - frequently over the past couple of decades- have been subsumed into echelons of company/client/self interests.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    There's a large white cross on the top of Mt Victoria at Easter and Christmas (it's there now) which I find quite comforting as a strong symbol of forgiveness and hope, presiding over the city.

    All I see is some sect with a preferential treatment. You'll never see a Wicker Man on Mt Vic.

    I’m sick and tired of the ism-schism game.

    It's Religious Darwinism. Faiths evolve too.

    The Oatmeal has some good advice too.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    the ism-schism game

    I got chatting to a stranger the other week who is of the Eastern Orthodox persuasion. He told me how very angry he is with the Church of Rome for presuming to break away from the true path. “They are the hand, or the finger…the little finger…thinking they are the body !” he said.

    The Great Schism was almost a thousand years ago, but for him the outrage remains fresh.

    Needless to say he doesn't have much time for atheists either, although it's not our fault. Apparently there are atheists here in the West because the Church of Rome is the wrong one. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Islander,

    Ethics are not general – they tend to be profession-specific *and* problem/person-specific.

    What no common ground!
    Holy Shit that's what religions were all about.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    Hadnt encountered 'The Oatmeal' before - love it!
    Thank you Will de Cleene-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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