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The Dallas-Plano Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › Atheist Interviewed in Church

Atheist Interviewed in Church

Dallas, TX
Post #: 149
This is the videoclip, posted 10 August, of Jim Underdown, executive director of the LA branch of the Center for Inquiry, taking questions at the Moment Christian Church in Irvine, California.

He makes us look reasonable and respectable. Good going, Jim.

A former member
Post #: 4
This is the kind of PR that we need.....
A former member
Post #: 54
He did a fair job of explaining that being atheist is not a definition of world view. Just as not believing in the tooth fairy is not a world view but I don't think that they get it. Believers base their decisions half the time on the premise that everyone has to believe something, and refuse to admit there is no actual evidence for believing in any gods. It is difficult to disabuse them of the notion that we must believe in something.
A former member
Post #: 27
I think he did a great job without being too "scientific" in letting x-tians see we are not "devil worshippers" or "Heathens "{sp?}. Most non -scientific people like me have a hard time wrapping our head around all the scientific explanantions of not believing in a god -it was a good general discussion and neither party was "preachy". I have heard back from a couple of my x-tian friends that watched it and they both said they understand me a little better-like "I" need to be understood??? ugh !!!
Thanks for sharing this video.
Prasad G.
user 12888063
Plano, TX
Post #: 7
Mr. Z, that's what Daniel Dennett calls the 'belief in belief.' That is the feeling that believers project, and in its higher evolutionary state, from 'belief is good' to 'belief in belief is good.'

Dennett explains this in his book, "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon."
A former member
Post #: 55
The belief in belief is what I believe activates all the mechanisms of addiction in believers. Those with OCD tendencies take it a few steps further. Add that to the superstition aspects of the story and you have a near perfect self replicating and infectious addiction. The roles of holy man and drug dealer are similar in many respects. Once you accept this belief as a source of good, guilt is triggered when you vary against the parts which are not palatable... so do as the man says or burn. The minute that a believer compromises their integrity to prevent the feared burning forever they have become addicted. The only comfort for them can be achieved by continuing with the addiction and spreading it to friends and family, or even to strangers in strange lands. This applies to any religion, not just Abrahamic faiths. We all exhibit OCD tendencies and superstitions to some extent; it is a natural behavior. Fighting against these behavior patterns and using logic and reason to assess the world around us is the hard road, not the easy one. The difference, in one respect, is the difference between Lewis and Clarke's expedition and taking a drive across the US today. Sure, you can get lost but there are signs and maps and people to give direction. L&C had to find their own way, make their own maps. They required skills that your average traveler today does not have.

The hard road is even harder when those who cannot travel it, those who do not have the skills to travel it, mock and accuse those who do of being bad, evil, wrong, and less than ethical. The hard road is made a bit easier knowing there are others on the same road but I find that there is no one who can stop by and lead me down this road, there are no cartographers to help me. As long as I breathe, this road has no end. It always stretches out before me, hiding surprises around each corner, amusements over each hill, and every now and then I find a moment of happiness or joy. A life without religion is actual living. Like L&C there is no rescue services, no road side stores, no maps; each step is an adventure and a necessary event if you are to look back at the end of your journey and think to yourself that you're happy with the progress you made, the discoveries you made, the joy you found, the happiness you planted, the fruit of your efforts. It's not about being the best, but being the best you can, or trying to be. Not all of us can be public heroes or world shaking stars of industry or the arts. Many of us will be mostly nameless travelers, making our way across this life while trying to make the world around us a little better. If everyone tried to make the world around them a little better than they found it it wold not be long before the world was entirely a better place.

Hmmm, not sure why I felt the need to blather like that? I guess it's because as good as the interview was it did not in itself provide anything I can use on my travel. It's kind of like being told there are beautiful flowers several thousand miles away. Nice to know but I can't see them or smell them or use them to make tea. I think that much of what the 'atheist community' provides is sort of like that for a certain atheist demographic. If you want to break your addiction the 'community' is helpful, but if you are 'clean and sober' of religious belief it is not a great help. There are those who are militant atheist and I think this is a reaction to the oppression of non-believers. I also feel that in discussions about truth the believers are the ones who bring a billy-club to the gun fight. When it's useful in the part of the world I'm in, believers need to be shown the difference between a club and a gun, but for the most part it's not worth my effort any more. In such discussions, I try to make the quickest route to their admission that they believe only because they want to believe and have no evidence for doing so. As soon as they admit this, there is no more discussion, no more thought in their head that I'm wrong and they are right. At that point they are on their own, and hopefully realize that they are now lost in the wilderness exactly because of the maps and guide they have been using up to this point.

I know what an un-designed universe looks like, believers do not. Ask them what one looks like. They will assert that god exists and also that I do not have evidence for more than four dimensions or multiple universes. Yet, I have evidence that is stronger than a story book for both. I have evidence that god is not required for the universe to look exactly as it does today. All of the evidence that I have is stronger than a 2000+ year old story book. My evidences are based on the same methods used to determine how gravity works, to put a human on the moon, to know the world is not flat, that the stars are other galaxies, to create flat screen tv's, to build an atom bomb, to make c-sections a safe birth method, to nearly wipe out diseases, to cure the sick, to create GPS navigation, to do all the things we do in our modern world. The methods behind my evidence are so solid that every believer relies on those methods and efforts. None of these methods or the results relies on or even uses their evidence for what their faith tells them about the universe.

Discussing life and truth with believers is like trying to talk to someone who is high or drunk. No matter how cogent they might sound, their minds are being affected by their drug of choice, and their decisions cannot be trusted cart blanche. This interview was like a studio full of people who are high asking someone what it is like to be sober. It's a cheesy movie, but Idiocracy has some poignant moments.

This week NASA announced that RNA and the building blocks of life 'HAVE' been found on asteroids, that life can begin forming in the void of space. The likelihood that there is no life in this universe beyond this planet is getting smaller every day. The validity of Earth based religious faiths is becoming weaker every day. Giving up the drug will not be easy. When you put someone through withdraw they can become violent. If you threaten to take the drug away from a junkie, the junkie will not be pleasant. We're in the middle of a global sized intervention. The wilderness suddenly looks less kind, less wonderful in some respects. The hard road just got harder. It's not enough to break free of the addiction; you have to start helping others break free of it too, even as they accuse and denigrate you.

No, atheism is not the lazy or easy road. There is no promise of reward, only self-defined reward gleaned from your understanding of the road you travel. So was this interview an effort to stop the bigotry, or a soft beginning to the interventions? Thoughts?
A former member
Post #: 28
Wow Mr Z - i dont know you but that was a long but very interesting explanation. You should do an interview like the video - i would love to see that!
Prasad G.
user 12888063
Plano, TX
Post #: 8
Mr. Z wrote:
So was this interview an effort to stop the bigotry, or a soft beginning to the interventions? Thoughts?

Well, no, if you ask me. This isn't the first, and it won't be the last.

I've come to realize that religious bigotry (and anti-religious bigotry ;) will be there forever. May be one day, thanks to interviews like these, atheism will be seen as a valid, legitimate and sane position.

That one day the electorate will realize that electing an overtly religious person to political office is tantamount to allowing a drunk person drive a vehicle. (Our governor's words, "and that's a fact!", from Friday last are still ringing in my ears. :)
Dallas, TX
Post #: 150
This has been said before, but after reading some of the comments here, it bears repeating.

It's unrealistic to expect to change a person's point-of-view on something like religion with one perfect argument. The best we can do is prepare the soil or plant the seeds and hope that over time the superstitious come to reason.

And that is what I think this guy was attempting. And what he did well.
A former member
Post #: 56
My comment was not about how to disabuse believers of their hubris but about how this interview, as good as it is, is not helpful to established atheists. Yes, it's good to see atheism represented well and even in such a setting but it is not really useful to an established atheist. More pointedly, the 'atheist community' (whatever the hell that really means) is not focused on living, but on becoming an atheist. It is a narrow focus.

Imagine a heroin addict. Yes, they need help to get clean. Some need help to stay clean. But once they are clean information on how to get clean becomes more or less useless to them. It's important information yet it no longer really applies to them and no longer is helpful. This is a point that I believe both believers and atheists seem to miss. There is implicit reference to science and all that it holds and this is in turn assumed to be the atheist's 'belief system' even though it is not a belief system but a way of assessing the world around us. This is a difficult concept to explain and more difficult to understand. In short, I'm not a critical thinker, I'm an actual thinker. Let that sink in. If you're not thinking critically, you're not really thinking.

So you have broken free from the addiction of superstition and religious dogma... now what? What are you to do with your new rarefied thinking skills? How do these help you choose what is for dinner? How do they help you vote? Will you suddenly be a better organized human being? Will your other bigotries simply go away? What is the next step? More information on why religion is wrong is not helpful. In fact it never helped figure out what to make for dinner etc.

This was what my post was about. Based on these observations I can say that it looks like I'm done with the atheist community. Time to move on to other challenges, unless someone can figure out what the next step for the 'atheist community' is after becoming and atheist. If you want to heard a bunch of cats you need to figure out what to do with them all once you have them in one room. Where and what is the vision? Once I'm done with the addiction what is the attraction for me to the 'atheist community'? No, I don't need an atheist cooking club or atheist car club or atheist computer club. I do long for atheist PACs, for atheist watchdog groups, for all the things which are useful to us but incorporate _actual_ thinking.

We seem to need to either get involved with the interventions or go on our merry way. There is no next step for atheists. Once you've started thinking, you're done. Nothing else you do will require the word atheist on it. I'm not an atheist computer programmer or project manager. I'm not an atheist watcher of science television. I won't ever be an atheist hunter or sports fan. I can't be an atheist car owner. That was kind of my point. The interview was good, but for some of us it holds nothing new, presents no challenge, offers no new knowledge.

There is a big difference between getting clean of your addiction and living life. The two are only related for a short time.
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