9 thoughts on “NPR Interview – All Sides with Ann Fisher”

  1. I spent an enjoyable hour listening to the whole interview.  It really does give the impression that Scott and Bob are reasonable guys.  Which they are.

    Seriously, though, I encourage everyone to listen to the interview and buy the book–to which I will create a link, as soon as I figure out how.

  2. Good to hear thoughtful and respectful, yet unyielding, assertions from Scott and Robert about atheism. They ably represent my views. Every comment and conversation of this sort gradually erodes the misconceptions about atheists.

  3. So I have yet to read the book, I do have it on order though and I am looking forward to reading it. I agree with the thesis, as described so far, and I really see no reason for the contentiousness that is between theists and atheists. After listening to the whole interview I am left with a major thought about what was being said. It centers around how religion was being used in the discussion.
    It sounded at times that religion or religious was being used synonymously with theist. If this is in fact case I feel that this is unfair use of the word religion. First there are many groups that we acknowledge as religious, yet they are not theistic, meaning they do not hold a belief in God. The classic example given whenever this comes up is Buddhism but there are other religions as well that do not make theistic claims. Secondly though some religious believers are theists, not all theists are religious. Someone can believe in God and not hold to a particular religious belief.
    This ties into another claim of mine (that Dr. Casey thinks I am obsessed with, and in some ways I am) this claim is that some atheists are religious. That for something to be defined as a religion it does not need to embrace a mysticism or a belief in a deity.  Yet like with theists this is not saying that all atheists are religious either; merely that atheists some can be. 
    I think this point was somewhat touched upon when the one caller wanted there to be positive accounts of the actual believes of people who are traditionally defined as atheists. I think that amongst some atheists this is already taking place and like-minded atheists are banding together and forming cultish organizations around these positive accounts. I see the gnu’s as one of these potential groups. It is through these cultish groups I see religious atheistic groups emerging.
    Part of what is bringing this about is an openness to Atheists that did not exist in the past and as more people feel more comfortable with stating that they are atheistic and they feel more comfortable explaining what they believe, they are finding like-minded people and organizing.
    Now, whenever I make this claim there are a lot of atheists, as well as theists that get up in arms against what I am saying because most people conflate atheism to be anti-religion (which I do not see why atheism must be opposed to religion or even religions counter balance). With the anti-religion point of view on atheism, they think that I am doing a tu quoque claiming that atheists are just hypocrates and should be disregarded.
    Instead really what I am claiming is that religion is not solely the territory of theists. My claim can actual help atheist in that in those states where there are laws against atheists holding office, these laws violate the first amendment not because they are supporting a particular religion, but they are preventing the free exercise of a religion, if atheism is truly a type of religion, or at least some atheistic groups are.     

  4. Hi DCZ,
    A nice point – namely that religion needn't mean theism, particularly monotheism.  Correct.  But there is, even among the non-theistic religionists, the view that those without even these traditions have a moral lack.  The second point is worth making more of, too — that atheism is not a positive system.  Correct.  That's why terms like 'humanism,' 'naturalism,' and 'skepticism' are around.  "Atheism" is at best a class of non-theistic views.
    The work of putting forward positive views is the rest of my publishing career.  Writing as an atheist is useful only when writing about whether God exists.

  5. Scott, Looking forward to your sequel to Reasonable Atheism: given atheism now what do we do. I'm writing my little version of that book too. Maybe we all should.

  6. Hi Brian,
    Creeds are important, and I'm looking forward to seeing your completed work! (I'm serving as a reader for Brian's MA thesis on creeds here at Vandy.)

    I have a question.
    As an agnostic, I am accused by ignorant people as being atheist. I reply to them by saying that it is not that I do not believe in God, just not their god.
    Philosophy has taught me two important things:
    1)  Never stop questioning the universe and your environment.
    2)  That man has created religion to further that man's or men's causes, not to further the cause of their god. (Does this make me athiest?  I wonder…)
    My belief sides on the newer science of Quantum Physics, in that there is something that created everything that we see, just what that something is we do not know.
    Science uses this "unknown" to further inspire their search, and the church uses that "unknown" to say that you should not look for the unknowable because it is known already in our doctrine and dogma, or the “do not question the church” statement.
    My question is:
    If atheists believe there is no god, is that the god that religion speaks of only?  Also, would this include the possibility of a “creator” that made the universe, or is that separate from god?

  8. Hi Brian,
    I don't really know how to answer the question, as terms like these are notoriously slippery.  Agnosticism is worse than atheism, as it is unclear what exactly an agnostic is actually committed to, and on the basis of what.  It, like atheism, can be clear about what it is not committed to, but beyond that, it looks like it is less a matter of definition and more a matter of the people who identify with the term.

    I'll speak as an atheist, but not for atheists.  I don't believe in a God, god, or gods.  That certainly includes the gods spoken of in religions, but a creator that made the universe?  I would think so, at least as far as it looks like so long as the universe is all there is, all there was, and all there will be, there can't be something other than the universe (that's not divine) that could make the universe.  I'm hesitant to say more, because at this stage, it is unclear what exactly it is to deny that something created the universe that isn't in the mold of the god of religions.

  9. Scott: There's also this version of atheism (not an agnosticism but a positive belief that all beliefs about gods are either unintelligible or unverifiable): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk
    Nice interview, by the way. I wasn't able to watch it when it was first noted on the blog… something wrong with the link or something. But I enjoyed being able to listen to it on my Good Friday mandatory vacation (can't get into my office today at my Catholic institution).

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