Tarry for the Nonce

July 19, 2006

A Portrait in Condescension

Filed under: Religion — lmwalker @ 4:50 pm

Misha Voloshin has an interesting discussion about atheism.



  1. That was a bit refreshing to read. thanks.

    Comment by Brian — July 19, 2006 @ 9:18 pm

  2. I’m not trying to be dense, but I just didn’t understand what the author was trying to say:

    (1) Muslims are bad?

    (2) God can both exist and not exist, depending on you point of view?

    Comment by Troy — July 20, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  3. I think the author was trying to say that atheism doesn’t place religion in its proper context, nof does it identify itself as a religion, which – according to the M-W – it would be, since it is a manifestly faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality, namely that there is no God.

    Comment by laura — July 20, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  4. To be fair, regardless of how definitions are used, atheism generally isn’t considered to be a religion as much as a lack thereof. Lacking any sort of ritual, core beliefs (except for the lack of a higher power, of course), dogma, et cetera, it doesn’t really qualify as what most people would consider to be a religion. There are a lot of faithful devotions to beliefs that don’t qualify as religions — I believe very strongly that there is a cheeseburger waiting for me at home. I don’t think of this as a religion, though. Ultimately, though, I guess debating whether or not the lack of belief in a god of some sort is a religion is pretty useless. The important message of the article — the importance of having a society where religion or lack thereof is acceptable — is what matters here.

    Comment by Derek — July 20, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  5. I’ve never been very fond of the idea that one’s belief in a “fact” makes that fact true. This is not just moral relativism. It is logical relativism, if there is such a thing. P and not P.

    This is really not a question that interests me personally any more, but if the atheist is correct that there is no God, then those who belief in the existence of God are simply wrong. And vice versa. The hamburger is there or it isn’t. No quantum mechanical theory will change that!

    Seriously, even with the benefit of your comments, I can’t understand the author’s point. If the author is merely saying that people shouldn’t be jerks to one another, then I whole-heartedly agree. But I am far from convinced that there is not a substantially large group of people (decide for yourself who they might be) who are living in la-la land with their incorrect beliefs in the “facts.” If two sets of people have mutually-exclusive sets of beliefs that lead to violence against one another, then I can’t agree that it is important to have a society where both exist. (It may be, on the other hand, important to have a society where they both can exist).

    Comment by Troy — July 20, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

  6. I thought Misha’s point was pretty clear. From the point of view of the believer, a belief is indistinguishable from objective fact. You cannot expect someone to “live and let [you] live” if their beliefs (their sincere, genuine beliefs) cause them to expect disaster unless you are stopped. They can’t merely say, Well, this is only my belief and step back — the instant they do, it’s no longer really their belief.

    The belief doesn’t have to be religious, or have anything to do with the supernatural. For example, I wholeheartedly believe that women should not be sealed inside their homes, held subservient to men, beaten for arguing with their father, or tossed out in the street with no means of support if they displease their husband. Were someone to try imposing such rules on my society, I’m perfectly happy to kill them in order to prevent this from happening.

    I hold it as axiomatic — as a “fact” — that women are equal to men in terms of their worth as human beings and entitlement to dignity. It’s a “fact” to me even though a large portion of humanity does not share that belief, and I can’t “prove” in the same way that I can prove that 2+5=7. Moreover, I’m perfectly willing to condemn and ridicule those who disagree with me on this point. I’m even willing to hurt and kill them, because I (literally) think that such people are repugnant and I would never want to be ruled by them.

    Comment by Toly — July 21, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  7. Toly: An opinion about how things should be is different, I think, than an opinion about how things actually are. Your belief in a world where women are not locked in their homes does certainly not make it so.

    If the author’s point is that some people simply assume/believe/have faith in facts that are false, then I guess that I understand. That’s just how things are… It doesn’t make them right, but we should understand where they are coming from, I guess.

    Empathy never hurts. Remove the log from your own eye first, etc… I can agree with all of that.

    Comment by Troy — July 21, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

  8. “Remove the log from your own eye first, etc…” -Troy

    I think you mean “…Remove the ‘Plank’ from your own eye…”

    I frankly think that the whole article was a waste of the writer’s time. The point Misha was trying to make goes by one too many names and faces for a mutual agreement to be reached in any life-time. Plus people can’t read anything without interpreting it to fit their own mind set, believe me I’ve tried.
    Nor can one play a “devil’s advocate” in a situation like this because, well, there is no situation to speak of.
    Misha writes about a topic that has been flying through history for ages and is still not solved, and I highly doubt that we are the generation “chosen” to solve it.

    Comment by Alistair A. — July 21, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  9. Here’s an article titled “There Are No Atheists”:


    Comment by Matt C. Abbott — July 22, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  10. Alistair, I think I’ve seen/heard it as both “plank” and “log” and maybe even “stick.” Anyone else?

    A few more posts here, I’ll think we’ll have this problem figured out.

    Comment by Troy — July 23, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

  11. you’ll have to forgive me Troy but I’m an atheist, or non-holy person, and I have only read one religious book which a friend lent me and it said “plank” not “log”.(And, frankly, plank sounds a lot better than log or stick in my opinion)

    And no, you won’t solve this soon because someone will show up with a whole new arguement.

    Comment by Alistair A. — July 23, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

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