Atheists Going To Church

I’ll get to Wednesday’s bird speciation DpSU tomorrow, but the one for today – Some Atheists Go to Church for Kids by Christine Dao – can be commented on quickly.

The crux of the issue is:

A recent study found that about one in five scientists who say they are atheists or agnostics actually attend church or some other religious institution, and the main reason may be because of their children.

It’s a little annoying to me that atheists do go to church for societal reasons, largely because I myself get dragged along probably more Sundays than not. But what’s she on about.

To quote the conclusion of Dao’s article:

One study participant, a chemist raised in a strongly Catholic home, said he came to believe later in life that science and religion are not compatible, but what he wants to pass on to his daughter—more than this belief—is the ability to make her own decisions in a thoughtful, intellectual way.

But this practice seems counterintuitive to the aim and philosophies of many atheist and agnostic organizations, which seek to bar all forms of religious dialogue from the public arena under the guise of protecting civil liberties. The Huffington Post report—whether intentional or otherwise—coincides with the Christmas season, when new anti-God advertisements launch and atheist groups attempt to have nativity scenes removed from public areas.

However, the aspect of exploring all sources of knowledge is consistent with scientific inquiry. Why can’t that same courtesy be extended to actual scientific inquiry, such as for those scientists who question Darwinian evolution?

Oh no, it’s the War on Christmas! The proponents of its existence really need to take a step back and consider how much of a fool they’re making themselves look to people watching from overseas. I mean really.

If you saved all the straw men that are made at this time of year as part of the Crusade against the (imaginary) Jihad against Christmas and exported them for Guy Fawke’s Night in other countries you could rescue your economy…

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4 thoughts on “Atheists Going To Church

  1. Questioning is essential to our mental growth (and spiritual growth for those of us who are so inclined).
    Please see Descartes’ Cartesian doubt. In this Descartes says that we should always be questioning our own beliefs, as a way to see them as false, or to strengthen them. For Descartes as well as myself, this led not to a disbelief in God but to a stronger understanding of God.
    THe last sentence in the quoted section of this post asks the question “Why can’t that same courtesy be extended to actual scientific inquiry, such as for those scientists who question Darwinian evolution?”
    There should be nothing wrong with Questioning, in fact there is should be nothing wrong with complete denial. It is interesting that these Atheists are accepted in Church communities despite their questioning. I would assume, given the importance of doubt in the scientific method, that science should welcome dissenting voices. Those who have the courage to question are the ones who make science possible.

    I am not entirely sure where you are going with the last two paragraphs/sentences, but I wonder if you really believe that believers in God ae worried about how they look to others. In fact both in the case of scientists as well as the religious the way we are seen by the world matters little as compared to the way truth is seen.

    Also, please explain your last paragraph?

  2. I do question my own beliefs, don’t worry about that. And of course I support others doing the same. The first paragraph of the second quote I gave is Dao quoting somebody else, and I’m perfectly fine with the sentiment expressed there.

    The trouble is that Dao then talks about the ‘War on Christmas,’ though she doesn’t mention it by name, which – unless I am missing something out here in the antipodes – is completely imaginary. Her reference to “anti-God advertisements launch[ing] and atheist groups attempt[ing] to have nativity scenes removed from public areas” is a mischaracterisation of these situations, and thus a straw man, and the two stories she links to go the extra mile.

    The last paragraph is a reference to the British Commonwealth tradition of Guy Fawke’s night, which at least these days is a little like July Fourth with the patriotism replaced by more pyromania. There at least formerly was a tradition on the night of setting alight effigies of Fawke himself, thus the point is that if you could convert these metaphorical straw men that are always made in the US around Christmas time into the real thing, and exported them in November for the celebration they could make a bit of money from the shear number.

    There can, in fact, be things wrong with asking questions – consider JAQing off, for example. There certainly are problems with straight denialism, especially when it has effects beyond the person who is doing the denying.

    With regards to the questioning done by the ICR you must realise that the “Why can’t that same courtesy be extended to actual scientific inquiry, such as for those scientists who question Darwinian evolution?” line is really a persecution complex. What courtesy are they being denied. I have determined over the course of the last six months or so of blogging that even if, even if there legitimately was evidence of evolution being false, and even going a step further and conceding the young-Earth creationism is correct, the ICR would still be doing bad science. They begin with the assumption that they are correct, and then seek the evidence to prove it – this is not how it is done. Do you want a list of the ICR’s greatest hits when it comes to blatantly inaccurate statements and the like?

    People don’t have to think of their public image, but when they think they have the moral high ground it’s generally a good idea.

    Does that help?

  3. I believe the article is not so much giving a commentary of “the war of Christmas” as it is the surprise that many have that those who would propogate the kind of bilboards and advertisements condemning religion, would then allow thier children to be taught accordingly. This article makes the wrong assumption that most atheists/scientists are those who support the anti-christianity advertisements.
    I understand Guy Faulks day, but now I understand your opinion on the straw man as well.
    I have a question for you, what is gained by the prohibition of nativity scenes? I point to the particular case of Santa Monica, CA. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/us/santa-monica-nativity-scenes-replaced-by-atheists.html.

  4. That’s an interesting case, yes. I would argue that the actions of Mr Vix do not constitute the “prohibition of nativity scenes”, though that is certainly something he would like to happen (on public property, at least).

    Consider a similar circumstance – if, during the month of Ramadan, in the park there were signs depicting Quaranic events and saying things like “Allah is the reason for the season.” You can see, I hope, why some people would get annoyed walking past the park at the time, and argue that by allowing the signs into the park the government responsible was violating the establishment clause and promoting the religion. Mr Vix is basically doing the same thing, but this time the holiday is celebrated by a much large segment of the American population.

    Personally, while I wholeheartedly support Vix’s means, I don’t actually support his ends. He, yes, wants to ‘prohibit’ the signs from the park – I would rather it that everyone was able to put a sign up if they wanted to. I would also, however, like people to realise that their signs promoting their belief (or lack of it) can be annoying to those who believe differently. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t put them up, but they should keep it in mind and always allow others to put up their own.

    My question for you, then, is what has been lost in such cases as the one you mentioned and others – and what would be lost if religiously partisan signage was outright prohibited on public property?

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