Thursday, April 27, 2006

See, this is what scares me..

I noticed a comments thread on a website that I visited. The title: 'Are atheists extremists?' The general argument seemed to be that it is an extreme position not to believe in a god. My perspective is that extremism grows from the behavior modification that you think needs to occur in order to satisfy your beliefs. It seems to me that another defining characteristic of extremism is the need that the range of behaviors that you think need to occur in order to satisfy your beliefs must be enforced upon others. Hence, if you think that the baby Jesus weeps every time a man kisses another man then you're an extremist. If you think that you need to bomb an abortion clinic in order to prevent the baby Jesus from crying then you're an extremist. If you think that adultery should be punished through the lopping off of the offenders head, then, yep, you're an extremist.

However, if you don't subscribe to a set of beliefs I fail to see how you're an extremist. I mean, there are political extremists - hardcore communists, fascists, etc - but I think you can lay responsibility for that extremism at the door of the particular political doctrine, not at an absence of religious belief.

I believe that people should engage in pre-marital sex if they so desire. I believe that people should avoid pre-marital sex is their particular superstition prescribes that it be so. Hell, if you want to sit around with a bunch of other people drinking the poisoned orange juice I say you do it (just make sure that it's all drunk by consenting adults). I'm pretty sure that most of my 'atheist' friends would feel the same way. So, are we extreme?


nailpolishblues said...

Can't help you. I'm one of those amoral athiest types and you know we have such problems deciding right from wrong without god's divine assistance.

Boysenberry said...

I think that it is possible to be an athiest extremist. To hold your belief in the lack of a "higher spiritual authority" to such a degree that you will act in such a way as religious extremists would.

Either that, or it's another attempt to label people...

GBE said...

Strangely enough, a man in tracky dacks and a straw hat accosted me in the middle of the street the other day and tried to give me a leaflet on atheism. He said, 'have you heard of atheism?' and I laughed, because who hands out leaflets on the belief of no belief? And then he started screaming at me and saying 'ARE YOU RELIGIOUS? HMM?'

So he was pretty extreme. Or, you know, mental.

(I walked past ten minutes later to see him being arrested. And that, my friend, is karma. Or, um, the atheist equivalent.)

Simon said...

I heard the term "militant athiest".

This is a complete bastardisation of the word atheism. Atheism is merely not to believe in gods - but you sure can believe in any other nonsesense you care to.

A stone doesn't believe in god, nor does my cat (I assume). They are both atheists.

Boysenberry said...

I guess it's more a case of whether someone is Passive or Active in being an Atheist. The difference between believing there is no god(s), and seeking to destroy the belief in others or the worldly manifestations of that belief.

Or should the latter be described as an "Antitheist"?

Don Quixote said...

I guess you could use the term antitheist. I haven't really heard of any militant atheists. Excluding, of course, the radical policies of Stalin, et-al. But they tried to eradicate religion for a reason completely unrelated to atheism.

I mean, once you erase belief there doesn't seem to be a platform of fundamentalist doctrine after that point. It would seem to be impossible to develop one seeing as the central tenet of our thinking is "I don't believe."

Ps – GBE, you seem to have a surplus of raving nutters – penis displaying bums, ranting bus passengers, militant atheists, etc. Do you think that you’re living in the right state?

GBE said...

Well I do attract them, Don. And Queensland is such a quiet, laid-back place - I'm scared of who I'll attract if I move anywhere else.