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Neo

Neo, as some of you may (or may not) know, is not like The Boss---he was not born in the USA, but in The Matrix.

This means that his attitude towards religion while growing up was one of bemused detachment. The predominant religion of his environment was benign, and Neo followed the path of live and let live.

However, after his red-pill awakening into the nightmare desert of the real (where the atmosphere is scorched by Clear Skies initiatives), Neo's attitude towards not just religion, but all forms of superstition, has grown ever more militant.


A mind that accepts the existence of gods or spirits or a world beyond the objective reality accessible by science is already a mind far too decayed and far too inviting a substrate for the types of rabid diseases that currently afflict RepubliNazis. Yes philosophical readers: Neo's devotion to epistemology far outweighs his acknowlegement of ontology.

Neo is aware that there exist religious people who seemingly profess a progressive attitude in their political lives---but this is just a temporary and non-causal connection between 2 different aspects of a person's life. The concurrence is as non-causal as that of a person who (a) likes eating mangoes and (b) likes wearing jeans---the one has nothing to do with the other.

If anything, it is far more likely for a progressive believer to remain a believer (and go all nazi) than it is for belief to disappear and progressiveness to remain, or for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, or for there to be even a shred of decency in HitlerBush and his RepubliNazi vassals.


A mind that has rejected science: explicitly, like those of the creationist cretins, or implicitly, like those of newagers (who believe that Brazilian crystals can cure their woes) is equally deserving of Neo's kung-fu.

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Working with other progressives, in the context and environment of organizations built on progressive ideals, is essential.

Working with religious organizations, in the context and environment of groups that have abrogated rational thought, just because they are not as extreme as RepubliNazis, is deeply detrimental to progressive causes.

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If anything, I give the nod to Christian and Islamic fundamentalists (like the various rabid Protestant sects in the US and the Taliban) for being utterly true and consistent with their religious books.

The Bible and Koran truly are vile pieces of trash without a shred of independent good in them (any useful or moral idea in these books has been stolen, without attribution, from folk wisdom already current in the milieu they were written in).

Someone who claims to believe in the divinity of a man called Jesus of Nazareth, who thinks that the books of the Bible were written by some wrathful sky-god Yhwh speaking through humans, that the Popesicle can never be wrong (even when he and his bishops are butt-buggering baby boys), but is willing to concede that women need not be quite so subservient to their men, or that gays can avoid getting stoned as long as they keep to their closets, or that Darwin was merely writing a vapid and irreflectively superficial account of a divine act of creation (albeit one that happened over vast stretches of time)---these people are despicable hypocrites; they want to have their cakes and eat it too.

As long as atheists keep encouraging such vermin, all types of religion will remain legitimized and all attempts at criticizing any religiously-motivated excess will fail.

I am not quite so brain-damaged to think that religiosity can ever be driven out from humanity at large---to paraphrase Agent Smith, humans actually seem to derive their sense of identity and assuage their deep fear of living in such an indifferent and apathetic cosmos by aggressively generating religion in their minds. But irrationalism should never be condoned by those committed to reason.

Sid

Absolutism of any kind is dangerous, be it religious or not. Practicing the "live and let live" philosophy doesn't imply that we're walking around in a muffled haze. Yes, some may be, but not all. I subscribe to the live and let live philosophy because freedom and liberty are primary values. If you want to worship a goat, go ahead. You might be stupid, but that's your choice. Just don't force me to worship your goat.

You have the freedom to be an atheist absolutist in your own life, but when it comes to public life and the laws we live by, you have to follow secular laws that allow for pluralism. That means when some evangelical wingnut is preaching down at Pioneer Courthouse Square during the lunch hour, you can't prevent him from doing that, just as he can't prevent you from preaching zero tolerance for any religous beliefs of any kind.

In Neo's pre-red pill world philosophical discussions such as the one we're having didn't take place. It was a world of numbness. You're comparing that to our world, which is much different, although there are a lot of numbnuts out there numbing themselves in front of reality TV right now.

Furthermore, in pre-red pill world the blogosphere didn't exist ;-)

I think pluralistic societies tend to be the most innovative, not just in the sciences but also in the arts. Pluralism stimulates the creativity and curiosity that is inherent in humans. Absolutism restricts it. In light of Jared Diamond's basic thesis in "Collapse" our society is going to need all the creativity and innovation we can come up with in order to save ourselves from collapse. A restrictive society, like the Greenland Norse, may be unwilling or unable to think outside the box, leading them to their own collapse.

Neo

Let me add 2 comments:

(a) Allowing wingnuts to preach fire and brimstone at Pioneer Square is one thing. Actively joining an organization called "Interfaith Alliance" (and presumably paying membership dues) is another.

Going out of one's way to support religion, however mild, is what I disagree with.

(b) The tendency to "get along" and "develop tolerance" is what allowed RepubliNazis to get to the position they have.

Instead of atheists agreeing to work with religious people, for the sake of unity and until the RepubliNazis have been kicked back to their garbage bins, why don't the religious people repudiate their religion until such time as the RepubliNazis have been routed.

Why is it that it is always the atheists who are supposed to move their position and "meet religious people halfway"? And what is different from this position, and the DLC/DNC exhortations that the Dems must move towards the middle (i.e. right) to adjust to the mood of the country.

If someone wants to join with me in discussing and implementing progressive ideas, I am willing to work with them---provided they keep their religion (and other dirty perversions to themselves). If the entire basis for my getting together with another person (ostensibly for work on progressive causes) is religion, what is the point of my calling myself an atheist.

Sid

No one is saying atheists have to change their position in order to meet religious people half way. I'm not changing my position, but because my position supports freedom and liberty I accept that religious people live around me and that they are free to practice their beliefs. I expect them to support my right to be an atheist at the same time.

It's not about meeting people half way. It's about creating, maintaining and learning to live in a peaceful prosperous society. It's about the recognition that government edorsement of religion has a corruptive influence on society. Religious lefties understand this as much as athiests do. In fact some of the most ardent activists of separation of church and state are liberal religious leaders. If I choose to work with those leaders as an atheist, am I meeting them half way? Or am I working with them to preserve a deeply held value we both share?

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