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View Full Version : The fallacy of comparing certain secular viewpoints to religion or "faith"



Kevin Bonham
03-08-2009, 01:08 AM
This is a response to a few posts on the global warming thread that were clearly headed off-topic after I disputed Plimer's assertion that global warming is a "religion".


however , im sure those forest agw greenies probably perform odd rituals in the woods.

Sure, some may, but that would be because of their spiritualist beliefs not their atheism.


OK, atheism, evolution and global warming are not religion. They are just faith based delusions.

Naaah, if anything is a faith-based delusion it's trying to dismiss opposing views as faith-based when they show all the signs of being otherwise.

Atheism isn't faith-based because it isn't defined by a faith in anything but rather by a lack of faith or belief in any of a large range of systems. This is a position that can be arrived in in many different ways.

Evolution and global warming are both evidence-based belief systems whether their interpretation of the evidence is one that is correct or that you agree with or not. I do not like comparing these two because the evidence for evolution is much less scientifically contentious than that for anthropogenic global warming, but they are alike in that each developed from scientific assessment of data rather than from the processes by which religious faith develops.

Of course your claim of "delusion" is just an unsupported slur.

Jono and Machiavelli/Goughfather will both tell you that the true sense of the concept "faith" is that it be derived from evidence anyway but most lay believers probably aren't even aware of that point, and even for the most cerebral believers the methods by which religious beliefs are acquired are unlikely to resemble those by which people settle on scientific theories.


They also share one more distinction from most religions - they are much more militant.

None of them are essentially so although extremist global warming zealots do tend to be very illiberal.

There have been militants who were atheists but their militancy was typically on account of their other political beliefs with their atheism incidental to it.

Similarly in those instances where those claiming to believe in evolution have cited it to justify atrocities they have typically been clueless followers of crude misunderstandings of evolutionary science. Note how such behaviour has become far less common as evolutionary understanding has improved and unscientific racist twaddle has been discredited.

Spiny Norman
03-08-2009, 06:00 AM
I think the sense of people comparing things like "global warming" to "religion" is a kind of rhetorical device with a negative connotation. I don't think its meant to be taken 100% seriously. They are apparently commenting on the more negative aspects of religion (driven by $$$, controlling what people think/say, don't ask too many questions, etc). I have used similar comments previously when suggesting that science is heading in the same direction. Faith is a whole other issue (i.e. faith <> religion).

Igor_Goldenberg
03-08-2009, 09:35 AM
I think the sense of people comparing things like "global warming" to "religion" is a kind of rhetorical device with a negative connotation. I don't think its meant to be taken 100% seriously.
Agreed. One more point - this comparison is insulting to religion!

morebeer
03-08-2009, 10:10 AM
Agreed. One more point - this comparison is insulting to religion!

I guess calling religion just faith based delusion would be insulting too.

Igor_Goldenberg
03-08-2009, 11:31 AM
I guess calling religion just faith based delusion would be insulting too.
Agree. Just take away "too" :lol: :lol: :lol:

morebeer
03-08-2009, 11:46 AM
Either you are trying to repair my grammar or something has been lost in translation.

Kevin Bonham
03-08-2009, 06:03 PM
I think the sense of people comparing things like "global warming" to "religion" is a kind of rhetorical device with a negative connotation. I don't think its meant to be taken 100% seriously.

My usual impression of those drawing the comparison is that they are quite serious but rather misled and simplistic about the real meaning of "religion". Some theists like to try to drag atheism down to their level by saying it is "a religion" in order to try to depict atheism as hypocritical. I have disabused that whole line of reasoning a few times here.

Igor_Goldenberg
04-08-2009, 09:53 AM
Some theists like to try to drag atheism down to their level
They try to elevate it!

MichaelBaron
05-08-2009, 11:36 AM
In Russia, during the times of anti-church struggles there used to be people called ''voinstvuyshie ateisti"' (agressive atheists) who fought with the religion by going around villages and small rural towns urging people to discontinue believing in God. For such people (if they sincerely believe that there is no God as opposed to merely trying to please the authorities) - atheism is a religion.

Furthermore, i do not think it is fair to divide our society into atheists and believers only. There are many people like me who believe (or at least suspect) that there is God but do not follow any particular religion. Who are we?

Basil
05-08-2009, 11:53 AM
Who are we?
We are found among the inhabitants of the 'middle bucket' in this poll (http://www.chesschat.org/showthread.php?t=6159).

BTW Squad, would you pleeeeeeeeeeease fix the v. nasty double strangulation of the language in the poll header from View Poll Results: Religius Predelictions to Religious Predilections. Thank you.

Kevin Bonham
05-08-2009, 01:25 PM
In Russia, during the times of anti-church struggles there used to be people called ''voinstvuyshie ateisti"' (agressive atheists) who fought with the religion by going around villages and small rural towns urging people to discontinue believing in God.

For such people (if they sincerely believe that there is no God as opposed to merely trying to please the authorities) - atheism is a religion.

Not correct; there is no ritual or worship element. All they are doing is being fervent and active, possibly hyper-active, about their views.


Furthermore, i do not think it is fair to divide our society into atheists and believers only.

I agree but that is neither the issue on this thread nor something that anyone on this thread has done.


There are many people like me who believe (or at least suspect) that there is God but do not follow any particular religion. Who are we?

There are plenty of non-religious believers. Deists are frequently not religious; it is even possible to be a non-religious theist although I don't know how common it is.

Igor_Goldenberg
05-08-2009, 04:11 PM
Furthermore, i do not think it is fair to divide our society into atheists and believers only. There are many people like me who believe (or at least suspect) that there is God but do not follow any particular religion. Who are we?
The majority.

Especially if you add those that say they follow particular religion but don't really practice most of the rules.

antichrist
06-08-2009, 04:07 PM
I a guilty of being an agreessive atheist, in the West they were called Rationalists (there are about 5 different types of rationalists so be careful). It is necessary for people like us to exist who are not whimpish to take on the sacred cows that hinder society. We are performing a public service that should be performed by the government. Just as they erradicate superstition in medicine.

Thou our tactics sometimes may not be high brow, high brow does not appeal to all activists nor "consumers" - they respond to vernacular arguments that are more direct and even more sensible and less winded.

No one will suffer by being an atheist but can suffer by being a religious believer - millions of examples throughout history. And atheists can suffer at the hands of religious believers superstitions even though they don't believe themselves.

And yet Fiction can be inserted into the religious believers posts!!

Capablanca-Fan
10-08-2009, 12:33 PM
Those atheists who whinge when their belief system is called a "religion" have only their fellow atheists to blame. They frequently misrepresent faith in the biblical sense as meaning belief without evidence, which is not the biblical meaning at all. So they shouldn't whinge when this misrepresentation is thrown back at them.

Kevin Bonham
10-08-2009, 02:16 PM
Those atheists who whinge when their belief system is called a "religion" have only their fellow atheists to blame.

Hardly; there are plenty of pleb believers who hold and advocate exactly the same view of "faith in God" that the village atheists condemn. Indeed, it is precisely because so many believers present the concept of "faith" as devoid of reference to (and even antithetical to) rationality, that so many atheists incorrectly assume that all Christians treat "faith" likewise.

Also, while this thread covers two similar issues (comparisons to religion and comparisons to concepts of "religious faith") the two are nonetheless distinct. Foundation in a concept of explicitly antirational faith is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for calling a movement a religion.

Capablanca-Fan
10-08-2009, 03:54 PM
Hardly; there are plenty of pleb believers who hold and advocate exactly the same view of "faith in God" that the village atheists condemn. Indeed, it is precisely because so many believers present the concept of "faith" as devoid of reference to (and even antithetical to) rationality, that so many atheists incorrectly assume that all Christians treat "faith" likewise.
Hardly. It's the leading atheopaths, including the Dawk, who dishonestly misrepresent biblical faith, quite apart from any Christians they actually know (apart from their fundy Aunt Sallies).

Kevin Bonham
10-08-2009, 04:32 PM
Hardly. It's the leading atheopaths, including the Dawk, who dishonestly misrepresent biblical faith, quite apart from any Christians they actually know (apart from their fundy Aunt Sallies).

Must be an awful lot of "fundy Aunt Sallies" out there then. :lol:

My own (considerable) experience of debating these issues with people who claim to believe in God and Jesus and call themselves Christians, is that the view of "faith" that you and Machiavelli/Goughfather espouse, is a rare one. Perhaps I just infuriate the wrong end of the talent pool but I suspect those atheists who are getting it wrong would have had much the same experience.

Unless there is authoritative opinion polling of believers concerning what views they hold about what "faith" is, it is rather difficult to say what attitude is really most prevalent.

Capablanca-Fan
04-11-2009, 12:24 PM
Bored with your current religion? Switch it up and Go Green.

Climate change belief given same legal status as religion (http://vladtepesblog.com/?p=15063)

An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.

By Stephen Adams and Louise Gray
Telegraph, UK, 3 Nov 2009

Kevin Bonham
04-11-2009, 01:16 PM
That Telegraph article is highly confusing but I think the court is distinguishing between strong support for action about climate change (a normative/advocative belief) and scientific belief that climate change is occurring (a putatively scientific belief).

It is clear that the court is not considering the former to be tantamount to a religion, but is considering it to be a philosophical belief entitled to the same level of discrimination protection as a religion. Thus the heading put above the article in the Vlad Tepes blog, "Go Green: belief in man-made climate change nets religion status" is a misleading beat-up.

In many other jurisdictions where political belief is explicitly spelled out as a ground on which discrimination is illegal, the case probably wouldn't have created such confusion.

At the end of the article it says:


The grounds for Mr Nicholson’s case stem from changes to employment law made by Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, in the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003.

The regulations effectively broaden the protection to cover not just religious beliefs or those “similar” to religious beliefs, but philosophical beliefs as well.

antichrist
04-11-2009, 06:27 PM
Would that extend to Gunnar for backing a losing team (faith)?