18 June 2008

Atheism Meme.

I usually can't be bothered with these things but...
as Chris Dillow and Ministry Of Truth have had a go, then that is good enough for me to give it my twopenneth. I am far more in tune with what MOT says on this subject (Chris can be a bit easy going on religion), so don't expect much difference in my answers.

Q1. How would you define ‘atheism’?

Not believing in the supernatural, gods etc. This is not to say ruling it out completely - just that it is very very unlikely.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

My mom was brought up Methodist, my dad agnostic. My parents didn't have me baptised and didn't really talk about religion except to say - 'it is up to you what you believe'. My mom likes going to church, especially at Christmas and Easter - as do I - but just for the aesthetics. If asked about God's existence both my mom and dad waver between 'don't know' to 'maybe'. My only religious influence came from school - morning prayer and religious studies - I think both of these were excellent in making atheists of all who attended.

Q3. How would you describe ‘Intelligent Design’, using only one word?

Bullshit! (I really cannot do better than this word used by Ministry of Truth. Chris Dillow used 'improbable' which is just too wet and timid for my liking and doesn't really sum up the dishonesty and ignorance displayed by these religious fundamentalists).

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

There are many but to pick just two areas - Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Engineering.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the ‘atheist community’, what would it be and why?

I think since the rise of Dawkins 'anti-theism' there are signs some atheists are getting more vocal and organised. I would like to see much more of this. We cannot allow religion a monopoly over ethical issues - religious scriptures are full of outdated, unethical and immoral thinking.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said ‘I’m joining the clergy’, what would be your first response?

'Well done, I think you have made a pretty good career move'. By this time I imagine I would know their religious views - I would be disappointed if they dismissed evolution etc, but what can you do? I would disagree with them but I wouldn't disown them or anything.

Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

The beauty of a lot of theistic arguments is that if somebody wants to believe such idiotic crap there is little way of successfully refuting it to their satisfaction - of course we still have to try.

More arguments for God on this website.

Q8. What’s your most ‘controversial’ (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

That disestablishing the church would be counterproductive. The state works as a useful brake on fundamentalists. Just look at the 'secular' US - awash with religious mentalists.

Q9. Of the ‘Four Horsemen’ (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Clearly Dawkins, because he has made atheism mainstream.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

The Pope - god that would be funny. Especially if he could make a televised speech watched by the whole world proclaiming his atheism before the Vatican hitmen got to him. I would love to see him on Richard and Judy or in the Times explaining his reasons, just as Jonathan Edwards did.


  1. Good stuff. I agree more or less 100%. Especially the bit about prayers and RE at school making atheists of all of you. LOL.

    Right at the end of school our RE teacher (a proper nice old C of E vicar) asked us what we thought and I said, sorry Sir, but I don't believe a word of it, it's all hokum, and he gave me a knowing look and let that comment pass.

  2. Hi Neil, this is Katrina Anon...
    Though I am a believer and a Christian I support atheism. One of God's greatest gift is free will to believe or not.

    What I do caution atheists about, is if the oppose religion then they need to oppose all religion. In Europe it seems the atheists have been very diligent at opposing Christian groups while allowing other groups to flourish.

    That could be devasting for the social gains that believers and atheists enjoy.

    To me if an atheist chooses not to believe, I am just fine with that as long as they equate my beliefs as protected as their beliefs. I should be able to speak freely with anyone about my beliefs in the same form as any other free speech.

    If you cannot tolerate such speech, how are you different than any other totalitarian government? Are you going to outlaw any speech that you regard as untruthful? Who gets to determine what is true and what is false?

    As long as Neil is thinking about taking questions, I find Genesis 1 and 2 rather interesting. Genesis 1 describes Big Bang rather well I think and is the oldest document I know of Big Bang. Genesis 2 at least implies that Earth was not created before other worlds. Again interesting that such concepts were recorded thousands of years before such things were postulated in the 20th Century.