31 October, 2011

My Thoughts Vis-a-vis a James Madison Quote

The following comes from a thread of comments posted to the James Madison quote, “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”
In response to an accusation that I am unforgiving and demanding toward theists:
Me: “If I come off as unforgiving or misunderstanding it is unintentional. I am fervent about my lack of faith and my adherence to rational, skeptical principles simply because, in my experience, it is largely necessary. With the sheer volume and intensity from the anti-atheist forces in America that I must contend with on a regular basis, I have found that a passive or even unassuming stance regarding my ideas tends to lead to them being bowled-over. It is confrontational, perhaps, but it is defense through offense….
I would take offense to your faith- your assumptions based on no evidence- only insofar as you sincerely held those ideas and refused to change them based upon further evidence as appropriate.
I try my best not to insult other people. I sincerely respect quite a few theists of all colors… Christians, Muslims, Jews, Deists, Pagans… but I deride and ridicule their ideas and their beliefs because their ideas and beliefs are, well, ridiculous! I think that a careful reading of my arguments (minus the rants that I post every now and again when I’m peeved) are meticulous about targeting people’s ideas and people’s beliefs, and NOT the person themselves. I’m not a fan of ad hominem attacks, and I do my best to avoid them myself.”
This in response to the claim (that gets trotted out time and again) that science is as much a faith as religion:
Me: “Saying that I have faith in science is tempting (you’re not the first, nor will you be the last), but ultimately wrong. If you are truly skeptical of the scientific method, I encourage you to try to walk out a second-story window. People often forget that the process that explains that/how gravity exists and that process that explains that/how evolution has and does take place are one and the same- the scientific method.
The scientific method is the antithesis of faith. Science is, in a very real sense, faithless. No idea is ever completely proven- almost all ideas are in fact disproved. The body of scientific knowledge consists of ideas not-disproved and in need of completion.
Therefore, science is a continuous practice. Science is a verb, not a noun. Holding any idea as given, granted, or sacred leads to false conclusions. It is skepticism, coupled with the scientific method, that builds knowledge; faith, coupled with dogmatism, that stagnates it.”
And lastly, in response to the accusation that I am, “more anti-theist than atheist.”
Me: “The words anti-theist, atheist, and agnostic all describe three totally different ideas.
Atheist simply means a ‘lack of theistic belief.’ (Note the difference between ‘lack of belief in god’ and ‘belief in lack of god’). I lack theistic belief, therefore I am atheist.
Anti-theist is a term used to describe somebody who is morally opposed to, or against, theistic belief. I fit this description, so I am also anti-theist.
Agnostic means, literally, ‘without knowing.’ It is used incorrectly to designate some supposed halfway-point between theism and atheism, but it is a concept different altogether. One can not know if god exists and think it does (a theist) or can not know and think it does not (an atheist). Since science is cumulative and therefore our current knowledge is incomplete, I am (and everyone else who is intellectually honest is) agnostic.
Yes. I am an anti-theist, agnostic, atheist. But labels divide. I am Robert; my ideas are couched in logic and reason. No faith involved.”

No comments:

Post a Comment