I agree with you about accepting our emotions in part; however, I do not accept that my emotions should come into play when it comes into my interpretation of the universe.
This leads to a slippery slope where religious people can make the claim that we are Atheists because we don't "believe" or "feel" like there is a higher power.
I don't doubt the existence of a higher power based on my emotions, I doubt the idea of higher powers or dieties because there is no scientific evidence to support those claims, and because there is science to explain the origins of life and the creation of our entire universe.
I don't need to read a sonnet or a poem about there being no god. This is why some Christians need "Intelligent Design" to try to use psuedoscience to mis-represent facts, but no Atheist has ever tried to appeal to a religious persons feelings to try and convince them about the lack of a higher power.
The thing with bio chemistry is that you can't decide when it 'should' and 'shouldn't' come into play.
slippery slope theory .... I don't go for it generally - based on a hunch - not on stats at this stage...
And sure we need to get as much evidence as possible to make choices about how we conduct our lives and what we choose to believe. Sometimes intuition is backed up by science and sometimes the facts are counter intuitive - but intuition, bio chemistry and feelings do have an effect on us all the time - men and women do differ slightly on average - not sure how much - but from what I understand women have more connections between both sides of their brain, whereas men are better at dealing with things separately and aren't as connected for verbally expressing their 'feelings'.
I appreciate everyone's responses. I suppose that I am searching for someone to take an example from in terms of being an atheist publicly. Someone whom I feel akin to and would like to 'walk in their footsteps'. A mentor of sorts. And so I was feeling frustrated at not finding that in Hitchens, although I totally agree that the small amount of material I've seen of his, that he is knowledgeable, witty, charismatic and intelligent. Just not quite the mentor that I was after personally.
Funnily enough I've been disappointed also with some of Dawkins public appearances. I have read a couple of Dawkins books and have been very impressed with his knowledge and ability to explain kindly and patiently the details of evolution. I saw him in an Andrew Denton interview and he came across terribly. And I say this because I am terribly attached to these people - and I do identify with them personally - having read their books and do already see them as mentors and guides - and so this is why I feel upset - because I'd like them to come across better - to convince the world of common sense, reason and scientific method.
I've not seen Harris slip as yet - although I find his regular references to ample use of LSD to be of a concern - all my concerns are about PR really - the PR of our community and the furthering of our message of reason and science.
My suggestions that Hitchens use fairy stories to get his message across was tongue in cheek :) - but perhaps also an expression of my desperation to do something to change the direction of the argument - perhaps him using fairy stories to illustrate his point might highlight the ridiculousness of their own fairy stories - but then again perhaps not....
Alice, your posts have persuaded me that you have considerable intelligence and you therefore require much of a mentor. I'm curious, how will your being an atheist publicly help you?
People "need" stories far more than they "need" facts, in the sense of craving and comfort. Instead of fairy stories, we could use avatars to speak for humanist values, virtual spokespersons who know they are virtual (it's part of their programming). Then when people feel confused, alone and overwhelmed, they can "talk" to the humanist avatar of their choice. Such spokespersons could compete with gods at the gut level without demanding memebot slavery as a price of their services.
This is my candidate, Momtwo, virtual Earth Mother Goddess who speaks for the future of our species and for sustainability. You can say, "That's just a picture." But so are all of those Virgin Mary pictures.
yes I get an intuitive sense of this too - coming from different sources - but it would be interesting to understand more about this topic of stories and how they are way more appealing that facts to our brains - in the way that they are entertaining, memorable and capture us on an emotional level also.
I'm sure there is a book in there somewhere - perhaps one has been written already - let me know if there has :)
Apologies ahead of time for my many YouTube links. I do hope Alice that you have a look at them.
So first off, to Michael, above. You say Hitchens (and I presume you think this about many atheist debaters and rhetoricians ) does not change the views of believers, just affirms the views of the unbelievers. He is well known for saying that a conversation with a religious person is never wasted. Something will stick.
Here in London last year (I think) there was a debate which has now become very well known for it's demolition of the motion of the opposing side. It took place at Westminster, one of the many talks and debates organised by 'Intelligence Squared'. The motion was 'Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?'. I went with a friend from my atheist Meetup group. A poll as we entered showed the numbers as FOR (the motion) - 678, AGAINST -1,102, UNDECIDED - 346. There were 2 speakers for each side, one against was C. Hitchens. At the end the poll was FOR - 268, AGAINST - 1,876 and UNDECIDED - 34. In the history of these debates there has never been such a win. The swing was an extra 774 AGAINST. Don't tell me talk doesn't change us. It can and does. For anyone interested HERE is most of Christopher Hitchens talk but it really is worth watching all the segments. Stephen Fry was even better I felt. Here is the Conclusion which includes the poll count at the end.
But if you want something less argumentative here is a cute funny clip of Sam Harris -
I'm guessing Alice that with a believer husband you find anger in debate a possible turn off, which, instead of reading as probably the correct response to have to religious atrocity, you are couching as 'negative'. It's possible your husband and others don't hear it that way.
And as though we should have a complete coherent philosophy to put in it's place. We already have that. We share a majority of our moral code with most religious people, with many glaring exceptions. The point of religious debate is about what creates the greatest good in the world and again and again Hitchens does an exemplary job of sweeping back the cloak of psuedo morality and grandiosity within which religion so often swathes itself. This, backed by his famous retentive memory for the fact and figures, can look merciless or even violent. But listen to the reality of what he's battling. Religion deforms and decays our moral compass under the revoltingly smug guise of having the 'creator of all that is' as your big bully brother behind you.
The truth is, atheists have spent history being persecuted, tortured, executed and nowadays in the west, being tainted and insulted for our view. What do we do in retaliation? We use words. We have long been offended and more, by religion. No-one should have the right NOT to be offended. The religious can make jokes about us and we can draw cartoons about Muhammed. We have free speech. To the religious - get over yourselves!!
Another (quick) clip. -Stephen Fry on 'offence'
At the risk of burnout here is - Sam Harris on drugs.