Sunday, March 2, 2014

What if Hitler had won?

NonStampCollector made this same point in a blog post more than a year ago, and I linked to it then. However, a reader just pointed out (thank-you!) that those links are broken, because he's closed that blog.

My helpful commenter also provided a link to this new video clip which makes the same point, so... enjoy!  :)

Incidentally, NonStampCollector explains his handle this way:
If atheism is a "religion",...
then Not Collecting Stamps is a "hobby".
If atheism is a "religion", ...
then Not Playing Football is a "sport".
If atheism is a "religion", ...
then 'OFF' is a "TV channel".
If atheism is a "religion", ...
then "Abstinence" is a "sex position".


jeff725 said...

My quote-o-meter just went crazy on this one:

"The more devout they are, the more they see murder as being depends on who's DOING THE KILLING and who's GETTING KILLED" --George Carlin

"History is written by the victors." --Winston Churchill

Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our point of view." --Ben Kenobi, "Return Of The Jedi

This exchange between Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock on an episode of "Star Trek:"

SPOCK: I've noticed that about your people, Doctor. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million. You speak about the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours.

MCCOY: Suffer the death of thy neighbour, eh, Spock? You wouldn't wish that on us, would you?

SPOCK: It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody.

But you know how the Christian Right is going to react: They're just going to keep digging in their heels and scream and cry about the "senseless killing of innocent, unborn children."

I'm reminded of a line out of some Vietnam war protest song: "Oh, won't they ever learn..."

Dan Keim said...

i understand what the guy is trying to convey but some people turn atheism into a religion. I have a friend that is a very active atheist, by that i mean he goes to meetings once a week (going to church on sundays?), he goes to events like fairs and things like that to hand out information about his non believers group (almost like handing out free travel bibles or tracts), and will talk and debate for hours with people about why he is right and they are wrong. Atheism is defined as "the absence of belief that any deities exist", just because you don't believe in magic and the invisible man doesn't mean you aren't doing the same thing the Christians are doing.

religion doesnt even have to have deities in it... "Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence". So in my opinion atheism is in fact a religion, maybe not in the general consensus of the term but according to the facts you cant deny it.

WCG said...

Ah, but you see, Dan, atheism is not "an organized collection of beliefs." In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Atheists do have beliefs, of course, but we're all over the place in what we believe. We don't have dogma, we don't have holy texts, we don't have set leaders. The only thing we have in common is what "atheist" means as a label, that we don't believe in any gods. That's it.

Seriously, I challenge you to find some belief that all atheists share. I'll bet there isn't one, and that includes the belief that there isn't a god. (Some atheists would accept that. Others would say that absence of belief isn't the same as belief in absence.)

Even if you consider not believing as a belief (is baldness a hair color?), note that we don't even agree, necessarily, on why we don't believe in the god claims of theists. (We're not even all skeptics, which is the basis of my atheism.)

Now, sure, in casual use, people might say that golf is their religion, because they're really interested in golf. But they don't mean that literally. Golf isn't actually a religion, no matter how enthusiastically you play the game.

Similarly, atheism isn't a religion. Heck, golfers have more things in common than we atheists do. (Trust me, I've encountered atheists, online, whom I disagree with about nearly everything.)

Now, yes, some people are very active atheists, while others remain in the closet,... just like some gay people are LGBT activists while others remain in the closet. (Is that a religion? Only in the very loosest sense of the term.)

I don't know about your friend, but I was never outspoken about my atheism until the Bush Administration pushed me into it. I tell that story here and here, if you're interested.

I don't go to meetings of my local atheist group, but we are social animals, so why would that seem odd? Do you have to give up friends when you give up religion?

I blog a lot about religion, because I find it interesting. Undoubtedly, I'd talk more about it if Christians wanted to talk. (I never introduce the topic, but I find that even missionaries who come to my door can't run away fast enough when I tell them I'm an atheist.)

The fact is, I admire people who are passionate about their beliefs, even if I don't agree with those beliefs. It's apathy which tends to irritate me, not enthusiasm. These days, I advertise my atheism, but I think I've got good reason for that. That doesn't make atheism my religion, though, unless you're defining the term so broadly as to make it completely useless.

Thanks for the comment!

Dan Keim said...

i had type a long response but hit the wrong button so its gone now. So i will just say that with my comment i got way off track due to lack of sleep. "absence of belief isn't the same as belief in absence" is just a play on words to get somebody to shut up. Its the thing that people have a hard time responding to so they pound it home like no tomorrow. I am fine with anybody believing what they want as long as people arent suffering for it, that being said you can believe to not believe that you believe if you want to also. Every human on the earth shares a common bond in that they have the need to survive and the desire to do it in the most comfortable way they can.

WCG said...

Actually, Dan, I don't want anyone to shut up, least of all you. I enjoy discussing this stuff, so when you've had some sleep, try again. (I know how frustrating it is to lose a comment!)

It's not a play on words. There is NOTHING all atheists have to believe. Atheists don't believe in a god - any god - by definition, but that doesn't say anything about what we do believe.

Some atheists do believe there is no god. Others wouldn't make a positive assertion of that, either because they don't have a working definition of 'god,' they don't believe in making a claim without evidence, or any number of other reasons.

And atheists organize for the same reason that other people organize - for friendship, for activism, for support. We have a long history in this country of social groups. Why would atheists be any different?

You seem to think that's a bad thing. Why? You know, I've often heard believers claim that they're spiritual, but not religious, as if organized religion is the problem. I see it as just the reverse.

The organization is not the problem. The problem is believing in things for which they have no good evidence. We humans are social animals. We organize for pretty much everything, good and bad. Organized religion isn't a problem because it's organized, but because it's faith-based.

When people tell me they're spiritual, but don't belong to a church, I think they've thrown out the good and kept the bad. Atheist groups would be just the reverse of that, then. They've given up the magic, but kept the organization.

They're not a religion, though. It just doesn't fit the definition.

Dan Keim said...

i have no problem with anybody gathering and being social. I guess i look at this, like most things, differently than others. Lately im not very good at trying to get my point across or i just make it easy to twist things around.

WCG said...

Looking at things differently is good, Dan. Without people challenging my thinking, how could I ever be confident that I'm thinking correctly?

It's a good thing when people tell me they disagree (and why), and if they get me to change my mind, I'll thank them for that. (Note that I wrote a whole post about this.) I welcome disagreement.

I reread your original comment, just to make sure I hadn't missed something. You said "just because you don't believe in magic and the invisible man doesn't mean you aren't doing the same thing the Christians are doing."

Yes, you're right. We're proselytizing. (That doesn't make atheism a religion, though. Political parties, for example, do the same thing.)

You seem to see that as a bad thing, though, and I don't. I don't see it as a bad thing even when religions do it. I disagree with them, but I want to hear what they have to say. I value intelligent disagreement. And I value people who are passionate about their belief, even when I disagree with them (maybe even especially when I disagree with them).

The problem is when you try to force people to believe the way you do. Or when you discriminate against them if they don't. But I have zero problem with missionaries for any belief. It's a free country. Speak up!

Dan, I suppose I think about this differently than most people, too. It's not just that I'm tolerant of different beliefs. It's that I actually value disagreement.

If everyone agrees with me, where's the value in that? If my beliefs aren't tested by people who believe differently, how can I ever be confident that I've thought of everything?

Your friend is apparently passionate about his atheism. I don't know if he believes the same things I do, and I don't know if I would think his arguments and his tactics are effective - I don't know anything at all about him - but I admire that kind of passion. And I'd admire it even if he were a theist.