By Thom's definition of religion, his show is a religion!

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This is among the few areas where I disagree with Thom—his opinion that atheism is a religion. According to Thom, if a person or a group has a world view, and they try to spread this world view to others, this is, by his definition, all we need to know to name that world view "religion." Well, Thom has a world view, and Thom goes on the radio and TV every day to spread this world view to others. So, is his show is a religion?

I'm sorry, that definition is just plain wrong. Worse, his attitude toward atheists who come on the air to argue with him about it is condescending and smug. It's not attractive at all, in my opinion.

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

It is really is a bit dis-heartening to hear the militant athiest on the show right now insisting that neither religion nor science can be a religion because they are based on "reason" ... fine, within a very narrow cultural context in which you think you know what "reason" is, and what it isn't.

Instead of denying the multiplicities of our basic individual subjectivism, and the multiplicities of our collective cultural subjectivisms, a better path, I believe, is to embrace the fact that our beliefs are, always and necessarily, subject to the limits of the individual human brain within an individual human skull. Even within a common language, there can never be an ultimate certainity that your use of any word is the same as anyone else's use of the same word.

Science still exists, as a philosophy guided by the best results of collective observation and experiment -- but it is still a human philosophy and subject to human errors and misunderstandings.

Please see my article on my website, which -- in just 12 pages -- attempts to lay out a theory of History based on recognizing the individuality of all past, present (and future!) human beings, and finds a simple set of re-definitions of the basic social sciences which holds, I hope, much promise for helping us to discuss all these matters more scientifically and calmly. In my view, the best overall term for belief systems is "philosophy," and that both science and religion should be considered subsets of philosophy; however it is also possible to see the words "philosophy," "science" and "religion" as rough synonyms, which highlights how the avowedly religious may believe they are acting in a scientific manner and how the avowedly scientific may sometimes be stating claims based on their own individual faith.

Embrace the complexity! will be the message of my next book.

philosophical-ron
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Jun. 23, 2010 1:18 pm

Suggest reading Douglas Hofstadter, I am a Strange Loop, on brain assumptions, complexities. That said, if prostheletising (evangelizing, as Thom says) is all religion, then the government is a religion and George Bush actually was our 'god', health insurance companies who coerce people to take extensive classes in stress-management, for example, are religions. Parenting is a religion, as culture dictates the norm, Socialism is a religion. On and on. I suggest that all these are, rather, the antithesis/alternatives of religion.

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suzanne in mn
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Zenzoe:

I'm sorry, that definition is just plain wrong. Worse, his attitude toward atheists who come on the air to argue with him about it is condescending and smug. It's not attractive at all, in my opinion.

I feel “Zenzoe” is being overly kind.

On this subject, Thom seems to be no more thoughtful, rational or open minded than the people that are comfortable chanting “flip flop” or quoting “Fox news talking points” to validate a position.

Unlike his “respected”, “validated” religiosity……The “religion” of “Atheists that don’t keep their mouths shut” is relegated to the “airport beggars” and “Jim Jones tea drinker” mindless cult category. The religiosity that leads to the vilification/murder of people seeking, or assisting in, the termination of a pregnancy is, simply, misplaced/misunderstood “goodliness”. The religiosity that leads to the laws that; marginalize our “sinful” citizens, limit the research of “careless” scientists and questions the wisdom of including “Darwinism” in our children’s study of biology, can only be questioned “respectfully” by those people that acknowledge (through their silence, at least) his religion’s validity.

Thom didn’t say the above, naturally. And his face isn’t as squeaky clean as Jerry Falwell’s, or Pat Buchanan’s but he seems to have the “proper” expressions, tones, etc. down pat.

Sorry to see it.

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lescap
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It's true—atheism rarely receives the tolerance we are expected to extend to actual religions. I’m guessing lots of atheists, who are probably more numerous than polls reveal, decline to say out loud “I am an atheist,” because of the intolerance of religionists toward atheism—not only intolerance, but outright hostility. Thom’s attitude this morning bothered me in part because he missed an opportunity to show tolerance to a much-vilified segment of the society, folks that simply have an opinion that runs counter to a popular view.

But if Thom wants to be logically consistent and admit to being the founder of his own religion, it’s okay by me. Lots of Thom’s listeners and viewers think he’s a god, anyway, and some might call him an Angel of Democracy, me included (on some days). He could call it, “St. Thom’s Church of Tag-You’re-It.” :-)

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Love the show. Been listening for years. Great respect for Thom. BUT...

Couldn't disagree more on atheism. I think what we are talking about when we use the word religion is belief in a supernatural being. Those who proseltyze for religion have political ends in mind. Those who proselytize for atheism have survival of the species and empiricism in mind. I think Sam Harris has it right when he says that even moderate religions are dangerous because they create a sort of cover for the more dangerous versions.

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didgerid0008
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

What is dangerous about Religion?! They pulled that shtick in the Soviet Union and it backfired to the point that most ordinary Russians these days treat the Pravoslav Church with respect, follow the traditions of that Communion, and don't fuss over the other forms of believing. To "beleive" means that you leave off the things you cannot predict to "some other Source".

The reason many people who have trouble with Western religious systems find Eastern Religions easier to accept is that they are looking for Harmony rather than Dichotomy, and more significantly, once you have some kind of Self-Knowledge, you are capable of risking what you cannot know.

Material is corruptable, it changes, and as it changes, there are some things you can predict, and others that are not as predictable. Many religious systems are based on Ideal formars, as it were, in "some other place" which we attempt to bring down to earth. It don't woik all da time, but the closer our understandings of what those formats are, the more peacable we can be. It ain't easy, but classical Athieism, assuming that is what it does, things tend to placed in "boxes" and whatever is not there is not "supposed to be there". In that sense some Religionists are not more unreasonable than the Atheists.

Relgion is an attempt to find a way of knowing what belongs in boxes, and what is out of the box, and learning to deal with both Realities. Even Atheists can understand that, in spite of their doubts regarding a Supreme Being, but . . . trashing the Religous beleiving is clearly dirty pool.

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upperrnaz12348
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Well, maybe Thom equates atheism with an irrational faith in science, which might qualify it as a religion, but I don't really go along with that. I always thought that atheism was associated with a lack of religious belief.

On one of the blog posts, somebody mentioned that a person can be an agnostic atheist, though, at which point I became a little confused. Actually, I think we should all be willing to admit to agnosticism to the extent that our wee little brains lack the necessary information to be omnisicent, God-like creatures. Alas, it does take more existential fortitude to face life and death with uncertainty of belief, or the belief that this life is all there is as atheists think. Atheists that I know (and admitted agnostics to an extent) have some of the purist motives and base their morality on what is good for others, and yet have to suffer the indignities of being derogated by the religious majority. Actually, I think there are a lot of atheists and agnostics out there who are afraid to admit it. In any case, I readily admit to not being omnisicent or having a thorough understanding of the true nature of the universe or any potential sources of divinity contrained therein.

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Natural Lefty
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Atheism IS a religious belief in that it is an opinion on the existence of god, but it's not a religion. I like the metaphor that says atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

Love ya bud, but saying atheism is a religion simply because they disagree with religious people is only your personal belief. Do you think a jury that does not see enough evidence to convict as practicing some sort of religion? Persons who have studied geology and thus know the earth is over 4 billion years old and not the 6000 years that people of some religions believe, are not practicing a religion, they are paying attention to evidence. A person who does not believe there is a god or gods does so because there is no scientific evidence that there is one or any. In conclusion, persons not believing in a god are simply living lives based on rational thought and the need of proof.

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nestlewood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The Supreme Court Broke Politics - How Do We Now Reform the Supreme Court?

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