Hemant Mehta is one of my heros. I won't say I never disagree - that would be strange. But he always makes me think. Do atheists present themselves the best way?
1. I lost my faith! Hemant recommends a more positive statement. "I defeated faith". "I gave up my faith".
2. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. He states some claims have no evidence at all, so we only need the bare minimum of evidence. Like, if there is even a little evidence that prayer works, let's see it.
3. Everyone is born an atheist! He considers being atheist a bigger deal than something we are born as. Some of us went through a lot of effort,, reaching atheism through a process.
4. We can be good without god! He says to christians this is the equivalent of driving without your seat belt. I don't quite understand that aspect. What we mean to say is, in areas where worship of god doesn't exist, people can be better than
5. I trust science, not some 2,000 year old book. He thinks this suggests biblical events were real. Also, the bible was written over a few hundred years, not in a single sitting 2,000 years ago.
6. You cant reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into in the first place. In other words, reason and logic can't counter unreasonable or illogical conclusions. But he argues, they can. So it's not futile to use reason or logic.
7. I don't believe in god. He thinks we should say, I don't believe in the existence of any god or gods.
8. Religion doesn't make any sense! That just means, you don't understand religion. But we often understand religion, or religious concepts, very well. We disagree with them, and refute them. We should say these beliefs are illogical
9. "You can't just pick and choose what you want to believe". But he's glad christians are picking and choosing. Otherwise, the "true christians" might be stoning sinners. We can argue they are logically inconsistent. We shouldn't elevate fundamentalism. We should be rooting for the liberal side of christianity. (I don't think I agree with this. I think we should call christians on their hypocrisy).
Hemant links to Matt Dillahunty's response, and I'll link here too. Matt agrees with some, but not all, of Hemant's comments.
Here's my thoughts -
1. I view moving beyond faith as a positive thing. "Losing faith" does sound negative It's worth a conversation to think of a more positive spin. Provocative - "I was cured of faith". or "I outgrew my faith". or "I changed from faith to science". Thoughts?
2. I don't know about this one. Some people might think Jesus on a slice of toast IS extraordinary evidence. But it's not.
3. I don't know. Isn't everyone born an atheist? Are we nitpicking? Is it "less" to be born an atheist, than to become one?
4. I really do think we are better without god! Or better, we are better without claims to belief. WIthout god, we lose excuses. We live once. So do others. If we hurt others, abuse them, damage their lives, there is no getting that back. I think more than just good without gods, we are much better without those beliefs. I agree with Hemant.
5. Similar to #3. Are we nitpicking?
6. I haven't heard people say "Religion doesn't make any sense". I like "Religion is stupid" and "Religion is hypocritical" and "Religion is a way for tyrants, small and large, to manipulate their followers and persecute their scapegoats". "Religion is a false concept."
7. I never thought of it that way before. I don't have a better response. I don't believe in any gods. Maybe something like, "There is no evidence to support the existence of any gods."?
8. I think we call hypocritical people on it when they pick and choose, and choose inhumane options. If they more or less reject the biblical laws, but choose "come'on everyone, love everybody", I won't argue with that.
I could be argued out of any of my own responses. I think it's worth thinking about how we say these things.
Edit: I forgot to include the original link. Comments there also worth reading.
Pestofarians & pastafarians - can't we just get along? We all know that Romano wasn't built in a day!
Thanks - big fan of his
Thanks for posting this. I admire Mehta a lot. He's a much better blogger than I am. He's more thoughtful, a lot nicer (The Friendly Atheist) and he appears to be far more grounded and mature. While I don't agree with him all the time either, I do probably more often than not. Especially if I allow myself to really think through what he's saying. Plus I think he's really hot.
"1. I lost my faith! Hemant recommends a more positive statement. "I defeated faith". "I gave up my faith"."
My experience wasn't that I lost my faith, or defeated it, or gave up on it. I felt abandoned by it. Kind of like a child who is abandoned by a mother, I suppose. I learned safety, security, and stability did not exist in religion; I learned to reach inside for those attributed. It was more that I learned a different reality.
I learned my faith had no foundation in reality.
There is no one right way to express oneself regarding atheism ... or any other topic, for that matter. If Hemant has a problem with some common expressions among atheists, he has a right to his opinion, but to suggest that we NEED to stop saying or doing this or that goes beyond the pale.
I've already given my POV on the points he brought. If they're useful to someone else, terrific, and if not then not. I feel no need to emulate him, any more than he needs to emulate me.
"I lost my faith!": I've never said I lost my faith or anything like that. No way did I lose it. I came to the realization that faith is stupid because it leads you down the path to false ideas and slavery.
That's basically what I told my family. Hemant's replacement, "I defeated faith", is much better, but still not something I would say. I like Loren's "I discarded my faith.", and Daniel, I like your replacements. I like "I was cured of faith". Even better is "I outgrew my faith", and my favorite is: "I changed from faith to science.".
Spud! I like your statement, an active voice, a change you chose, and an affirmation of science. That is my new motto! Thanks.
Thanks Joan, but It's Daniel we are thanking for that good motto.
@Sentient Biped, thanks to you as well! I like the tone of the sentence.