May 1, 2011

Atheists demand Affirmative Action...

This is just a quick fisking of some sloppy or fallacious arguments. But the real counter-argument is that the authors are sociologists. They are pleading for tolerance of their atheism, but there isn't any sociology department in the country (except maybe in religious colleges) that is tolerant of conservatives or theists. And you will notice that the authors never suggest that respectful debate is of any interest to them. Or seem to have any personal acquaintance with the other side...

Why do Americans still dislike atheists? - The Washington Post:

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don't like much: atheists. [Category error. These things are simply not equivalent. Atheism is a philosophy, none of the others are.] Those who don't believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can't join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently "spiritual" in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.

Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens. [Strawman argument. Actually, the more thoughtful of conservative critics present clear arguments FOR the benefits of religious belief on people and societies. None of which you have answered.]

Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close.

A growing body of social science [Most of which is done by atheists] research reveals that atheists, and non-religious people in general, are far from the unsavory beings many assume them to be. On basic questions of morality and human decency — issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights [This is a bullshit argument, since you've made your own list of what constitutes morality, and then: surprise! You discover you are moral. ] — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, [Only when YOU get to decide what is "ethical." ] particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious. [This paragraph is a very good argument for forcing "diversity" (diversity of thought, that is) on sociology departments. These fools have obviously never been forced to defend their ideas in debate. They are pampered pets that can't survive out in the jungle! ]
Consider that at the societal level, murder rates are far lower in secularized nations such as Japan or Sweden than they are in the much more religious United States, which also has a much greater portion of its population in prison. Even within this country, those states with the highest levels of church attendance, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, have significantly higher murder rates than far less religious states such as Vermont and Oregon. [Bogus. Japan and Sweden are DYING, you fools. Both of them are in demographic collapse. As are ALL the post-religious states. Your atheism KILLED THEM.]

As individuals, atheists tend to score high on measures of intelligence, especially verbal ability and scientific literacy. [A bullshit argument, because only high-scoring types take the trouble to define themselves as atheists. The world is thick with stupid atheists, but they don't talk about it.]They tend to raise their children to solve problems rationally, to make up their own minds when it comes to existential questions and to obey the golden rule. [Wrong. I live in San Francisco, I know these people, and they are close-minded and fearful. They can't even CONSIDER conservative or Christian ideas. And try to give them a scientific argument against Man-made Global Warming... Ha ha.] They are more likely to practice safe sex than the strongly religious are, and are less likely to be nationalistic or ethnocentric. [By what authority do you say "nationalistic or ethnocentric" are inferior? Your own, of course. And even if one accepts your list, who defines the terms? You do.] They value freedom of thought. [Try defending Sarah Palin in the sociology department, and you will discover how much atheists value freedom of thought. ]

While many studies show that secular Americans don't fare as well as the religious when it comes to certain indicators of mental health or subjective well-being, new scholarship is showing that the relationships among atheism, theism, and mental health and well-being are complex. [Obfuscation by reference to un-named "studies." What's your divorce rate, sociology boy? ] After all, Denmark, which is among the least religious countries in the history of the world, consistently rates as the happiest of nations. And studies of apostates — people who were religious but later rejected their religion — report feeling happier, better and liberated in their post-religious lives. [As judged by... themselves.]

Nontheism isn't all balloons and ice cream. Some studies suggest that suicide rates are higher among the non-religious. But surveys indicating that religious Americans are better off can be misleading because they include among the non-religious fence-sitters who are as likely to believe in God, whereas atheists who are more convinced are doing about as well as devout believers. On numerous respected measures of societal success — rates of poverty, teenage pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, drug use and crime, as well as economics — high levels of secularity are consistently correlated with positive outcomes in first-world nations. None of the secular advanced democracies suffers from the combined social ills seen here in Christian America. [They have the REAL social ill; they are DEAD. Nobody goes to Germany for exciting ideas, or Sweden for new philosophies. Nobody is worried that Japan or France will become economic colossi. The EU will not launch private spacecraft. No Reagans or Palins or Tea Parties will arise in Italy or Spain. Or San Francisco. The secularist parrot is dead. ]

More than 2,000 years ago, whoever wrote Psalm 14 claimed that atheists were foolish and corrupt, incapable of doing any good. These put-downs have had sticking power. Negative stereotypes of atheists are alive and well. Yet like all stereotypes, they aren't true — and perhaps they tell us more about those who harbor them than those who are maligned by them. So when the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly and Newt Gingrich engage in the politics of division and destruction by maligning atheists, they do so in disregard of reality. [A good example of a lying atheist, since those people do NOT malign atheists. Show us an example!]

As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth. Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s. Younger generations' tolerance for the endless disputes of religion is waning fast. Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities. [Atheism is a philosophy, so it is not analogous to minority groups. And for a philosophy, respect of means being willing to debate. To suggest that a philosophy should be exempt from criticism, in the way we often think blacks should not be criticized, is to admit that it is either weak, or perhaps harmful. If the authors really wanted respect for their beliefs they we be saying, "Bring on your strongest criticism, and we will defeat it!" ]

Gregory Paul is an independent researcher in sociology and evolution. Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College, is the author of "Society Without God."
Posted by John Weidner at May 1, 2011 9:43 AM
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