Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Pew survey: evangelical Christians least likely to believe superstitious nonsense

The Pew Research survey is here.

They are trying to see which groups believe in superstitions and new age mysticism.

Here are the parts that I found interesting:

Click for full image.

Click for full image.

Notice the numbers for Republicans vs Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals, and church-attending vs non church-attending. The least superstitious people are conservative evangelical Republicans, while the most superstitious people are Democrat liberals who don’t attend church. I think there is something to be learned from that. It’s consistent with the results of a Gallup survey that showed that evangelical Christians are the most rational people on the planet.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal article about the Gallup survey entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“.

Excerpt:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.

[...]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama’s former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin’s former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

When I think of the “weird” things that evangelical Christians believe, I think of the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life and the sudden origin of animal body plans in the Cambrian. All of this is superstition to an atheist, and yet all of it is rooted in mainstream science. Not just that, but they’ve grown stronger as science has progressed. I can accept the fact that an atheist may be ignorant of the science that defeats his atheism, but that’s something that has to be remedied with more studying of the evidence, not less. If you generate a worldview by 1) your desire to dispense with moral judgment and/or 2) your desire to prefer Star Trek and Star Wars to mainstream science, then of course you are going to have an irrational worldview. I’m not saying that all atheists do this, surely someone like Peter Millican does not. But for rank-and-file Dawkins acolytes, I think this is pretty accurate, and it’s why we get the survey results that we do.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Richard Dawkins defends the moral goodness of infanticide and adultery

Richard Dawkins’ recent tweet (see below) caused me to re-post this old post about how atheists struggle with morality. And not just Stalin, but run-of-the-mill atheists, too.

Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism

Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism

Here’s the latest moral wisdom from atheist Richard Dawkins, courtesy of Uncommon Descent.

Excerpt:

I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?

[...]The underlying presumption — that a human being has some kind of property rights over another human being’s body — is unspoken because it is assumed to be obvious. But with what justification?

In one of the most disgusting stories to hit the British newspapers last year, the wife of a well-known television personality, Chris Tarrant, hired a private detective to spy on him. The detective reported evidence of adultery and Tarrant’s wife divorced him, in unusually vicious style. But what shocked me was the way public opinion sided with Tarrant’s horrible wife. Far from despising, as I do, anybody who would stoop so low as to hire a detective for such a purpose, large numbers of people, including even Mr. Tarrant himself, seemed to think she was fully justified. Far from concluding, as I would, that he was well rid of her, he was covered with contrition and his unfortunate mistress was ejected, covered with odium. The explanation of all these anomalous behavior patterns is the ingrained assumption of the deep rightness and appropriateness of sexual jealousy. It is manifest all the way from Othello to the French “crime passionnel” law, down to the “love rat” language of tabloid newspapers.

[...]Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.

[...]And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom,

Here’s a little snippet about Richard Dawkins’ ability to stay married:

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear. He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992; at present, the two are still married.

I have been advised that the full article featuring Dawkins’ views is far, far worse that what was excerpted by UD.

What does atheist morality amount to, in practice? It amounts to the strong acting selfishly and allowing the weak to suffer for it. That’s why atheists are almost entirely for abortion and sexual permissiveness – the children are the first to be screwed by the moral relativism of the adults. That’s where abortion, no-fault divorce, fatherlessness, etc. come from – they are crimes committed by selfish adults against vulnerable children – because they can. It’s the strong abusing the weak, exactly as Darwinism would have them do. There are no human rights on atheism, and there is no reason for self-sacrificial moral behavior, either. Do what you want, and don’t get caught. Get them, before they can get you. Don’t let anyone diminish your happiness with their moral rules. That’s “atheist morality”.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve caught a glimpse of Dawkins’ atheist perspective on morality, either.

Morality according to atheist Richard Dawkins

Rev. George Pitcher writes about an interview of Christopher Hitchens conducted by Richard Dawkins. (H/T Thinking Christian)

Excerpt:

But the centrepiece of this Christmas edition is the main coup for the New Statesman – an interview by Prof. Dawkins with Christopher Hitchens, the great polymath who today lost his fight against cancer. It’s a fascinating read over three double-page spreads. Not least because Prof. Dawkins reveals a charming humility, allowing Hitchens to show his intellectual superiority at his own expense. Hitchens is thoughtful about CS Lewis and Christianity and rather leaves Prof. Dawkins floundering in his wake, occasionally interjecting little assents to show that he’s still there, as he struggles to keep up.

But one of these interjections is most revealing. About half-way through, the Prof gets this in edgeways: ‘Do you ever worry that if we win and, so to speak, destroy Christianity, that vacuum would be filled by Islam?’

So, ‘if we win…and destroy Christianity’. True, there’s a ‘so to speak’ in there, but it doesn’t do much. Try ‘If we win and, so to speak, kill all the Jews’ as an alternative. Doesn’t really work, does it? And Prof Dawkins can hardly claim that he was misquoted or taken out of context. He was editing the magazine, after all – there’s even a picture of him doing so, pen poised masterfully over page proofs.

Now you might think that Dawkins intends to destroy Christianity in debates, and not in the wars and purges of atheism that occurred last century in North Korea, Cambodia, China, the Soviet Union, and so on. Those atheist regimes caused the deaths of 100 million people, according to Harvard University Press. But Dawkins has refused to debate William Lane Craig on more than one occasion. So whatever he means by “destroy Christianity”, he doesn’t mean “defeat them in rational debate, using superior arguments and evidence”. He had his chance to do that, and he passed on it. So, he must mean something else by “destroying Christianity” other than persuasion.

Let’s find out what Richard Dawkins thinks about morality. Dawkins has previously written this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

Dawkins’ view is that nothing is really good or bad objectively. Cultures just evolve certain conventions, and those conventions vary arbitrarily by time and place. I think we need to interpret his goal of destroying Christianity against the backdrop of his nihilism. 50 million unborn children have been killed in the United States since 1973 alone. That’s 50 million people with distinct genetic codes different from their mothers or their fathers, who will never grow up to achieve their potential.

Dawkins himself is in favor of infanticide:

So what might destroying Christianity look like to an atheist?

Here it what destroying Christianity means in North Korea, the most atheistic country on the planet.

Excerpt:

A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri’s government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.

That’s what Kim Jong Il means by “destroy Christianity”. What does Dawkins mean by it?

FLASHBACK: American Atheists calls for the eradication of Christianity.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig discusses naturalism and secular humanism in the Washington Post

Dr. William Lane Craig in the liberal Washington Post – explaining his arguments and evidence to an audience that has probably never heard them before.

Excerpt:

The American Humanist Association is promoting a new Web site that is designed to furnish children with a naturalistic or atheistic perspective on science, sexuality, and other topics. The stated goal of the Web site is laudatory: “to encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and tolerance among young people, as well as to provide accurate information regarding a wide range of issues related to humanism, science, culture, and history.”

The problem is that those values have no inherent connection with naturalism, which is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that there is nothing beyond the physical contents of the universe. One doesn’t need to be a naturalist in order to endorse curiosity, critical thinking, tolerance, and the pursuit of accurate information on a wide range of topics.

Ironically, the AHA has been remarkably uncritical in thinking about the truth of naturalism and of humanism in particular.

[...]The problem for the humanist is even worse, however. For humanism is just one form of naturalism. It is a version of naturalism that affirms the objective value of human beings. But why think that if naturalism were true, human beings would have objective moral value? There are three options before us:

  • The theist maintains that objective moral values are grounded in God.
  • The humanist maintains that objective moral values are grounded in human beings.
  • The nihilist maintains that moral values are ungrounded and therefore ultimately subjective and illusory.

The humanist is thus engaged in a struggle on two fronts: on the one side against the theists and on the other side against the nihilists. This is important because it underlines the fact that humanism is not a default position. That is to say, even if the theist were wrong, that would not mean that the humanist is right. For if God does not exist, maybe it is the nihilist who is right. The humanist needs to defeat both the theist and the nihilist. In particular, he must show that in the absence of God, nihilism would not be true.

This is a must-read and a must-forward. Share this far and wide, please.

Dr. Craig has had to debate against secular humanism before. You can see him debate a secular humanist leader named Paul Kurtz on this issue.

Related posts

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advice for discussing morality with atheists

From Carson Witnauer on his Reasons for God blog.

Excerpt:

Imagine overhearing someone say:

“I love my unicorn Billy. He is the best imaginary friend! He always encourages me when I’m feeling down and he makes the rainbow shine so bright. Billy is the best unicorn friend ever!”

Clearly, this is a delusional set of beliefs and it sounds simply crazy. Why? Because Billy the Unicorn does not exist. Unicorns in general do not exist. Neither do Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

[...]But what about conversations about morality? Why do we continue to talk about what is “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” “righteous” and “evil”?

By using such language, are we referring to an objective moral standard, some kind of moral law outside of ourselves? Is this a discussion about reality?

Or are we really just talking about ourselves and our own made-up ideas?

Moral realists, whether they are naturalists or theists, believe that the conversation about morality is reflective of something ‘out there.’ Moral realists think there are moral facts which propositions can be ‘about.’

But a significant number of people today are not moral realists. Many people totally reinterpret ethical statements as being merely or only neurobiological patterns, personal preferences, or cultural trends. Their attitude is: prove that moral facts are real and I’ll believe you. But until you can give scientific evidence that our talk about morality refers to something real, something outside of our limited subjectivity, well, I’m not buying it. (This is often a strategy to deny the moral argument for God’s existence).

Here’s my point: If you accept this kind of approach to morality, the honest approach is to stop using moral language altogether.

On atheism, morality is like a unicorn. They don’t really have any reasons to believe that right and wrong are real. If there is no real standard of right and wrong that exists for all time and all places, and applies to humans regardless of what they think, then there is no point bothering with moral discussions at all. All that the atheist has is descriptions of what different groups of people have thought were moral for them at one time or another, in one place or another. But there is no reason, on atheism, to prefer one moral practice that’s evolved like slavery or abortion, to any others. On atheism, people who prefer slavery or abortion and people who don’t prefer slavery or don’t prefer abortion have the exact same warrant for their beliefs. Both are making arbitrary statements of personal preference or cultural convention.

Atheism in action

Let’s find out what Richard Dawkins thinks about morality. Dawkins has previously written this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

If that’s true, then people like Dawkins need to be consistent and just stop talking about right and wrong. Morality is just nonsense on their view.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Richard Dawkins defends the moral goodness of infanticide and adultery

Here’s the latest moral wisdom from atheist Richard Dawkins, courtesy of Uncommon Descent.

Excerpt:

I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?

[...]The underlying presumption — that a human being has some kind of property rights over another human being’s body — is unspoken because it is assumed to be obvious. But with what justification?

In one of the most disgusting stories to hit the British newspapers last year, the wife of a well-known television personality, Chris Tarrant, hired a private detective to spy on him. The detective reported evidence of adultery and Tarrant’s wife divorced him, in unusually vicious style. But what shocked me was the way public opinion sided with Tarrant’s horrible wife. Far from despising, as I do, anybody who would stoop so low as to hire a detective for such a purpose, large numbers of people, including even Mr. Tarrant himself, seemed to think she was fully justified. Far from concluding, as I would, that he was well rid of her, he was covered with contrition and his unfortunate mistress was ejected, covered with odium. The explanation of all these anomalous behavior patterns is the ingrained assumption of the deep rightness and appropriateness of sexual jealousy. It is manifest all the way from Othello to the French “crime passionnel” law, down to the “love rat” language of tabloid newspapers.

[...]Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.

[...]And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom,

Here’s a little snippet about Richard Dawkins’ ability to stay married:

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear. He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992; at present, the two are still married.

I have been advised that the full article featuring Dawkins’ views is far, far worse that what was excerpted by UD.

What does atheist morality amount to, in practice? It amounts to the strong acting selfishly and allowing the weak to suffer for it. That’s why atheists are almost entirely for abortion and sexual permissiveness – the children are the first to be screwed by the moral relativism of the adults. That’s where abortion, no-fault divorce, fatherlessness, etc. come from – they are crimes committed by selfish adults against vulnerable children – because they can. It’s the strong abusing the weak, exactly as Darwinism would have them do. There are no human rights on atheism, and there is no reason for self-sacrificial moral behavior, either. Do what you want, and don’t get caught. Get them, before they can get you. Don’t let anyone diminish your happiness with their moral rules. That’s “atheist morality”.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve caught a glimpse of Dawkins’ atheist perspective on morality, either.

Morality according to atheist Richard Dawkins

Rev. George Pitcher writes about an interview of Christopher Hitchens conducted by Richard Dawkins. (H/T Thinking Christian)

Excerpt:

But the centrepiece of this Christmas edition is the main coup for the New Statesman – an interview by Prof. Dawkins with Christopher Hitchens, the great polymath who today lost his fight against cancer. It’s a fascinating read over three double-page spreads. Not least because Prof. Dawkins reveals a charming humility, allowing Hitchens to show his intellectual superiority at his own expense. Hitchens is thoughtful about CS Lewis and Christianity and rather leaves Prof. Dawkins floundering in his wake, occasionally interjecting little assents to show that he’s still there, as he struggles to keep up.

But one of these interjections is most revealing. About half-way through, the Prof gets this in edgeways: ‘Do you ever worry that if we win and, so to speak, destroy Christianity, that vacuum would be filled by Islam?’

So, ‘if we win…and destroy Christianity’. True, there’s a ‘so to speak’ in there, but it doesn’t do much. Try ‘If we win and, so to speak, kill all the Jews’ as an alternative. Doesn’t really work, does it? And Prof Dawkins can hardly claim that he was misquoted or taken out of context. He was editing the magazine, after all – there’s even a picture of him doing so, pen poised masterfully over page proofs.

Now you might think that Dawkins intends to destroy Christianity in debates, and not in the wars and purges of atheism that occurred last century in North Korea, Cambodia, China, the Soviet Union, and so on. Those atheist regimes caused the deaths of 100 million people, according to Harvard University Press. But Dawkins has refused to debate William Lane Craig on more than one occasion. So whatever he means by “destroy Christianity”, he doesn’t mean “defeat them in rational debate, using superior arguments and evidence”. He had his chance to do that, and he passed on it. So, he must mean something else by “destroying Christianity” other than persuasion.

Let’s find out what Richard Dawkins thinks about morality. Dawkins has previously written this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

Dawkins’ view is that nothing is really good or bad objectively. Cultures just evolve certain conventions, and those conventions vary arbitrarily by time and place. I think we need to interpret his goal of destroying Christianity against the backdrop of his nihilism. 50 million unborn children have been killed in the United States since 1973 alone. That’s 50 million people with distinct genetic codes different from their mothers or their fathers, who will never grow up to achieve their potential.

Dawkins himself is in favor of infanticide:

So what might destroying Christianity look like to an atheist?

Here it what destroying Christianity means in North Korea, the most atheistic country on the planet.

Excerpt:

A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri’s government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.

That’s what Kim Jong Il means by “destroy Christianity”. What does Dawkins mean by it?

FLASHBACK: American Atheists calls for the eradication of Christianity.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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