Is Atheism the New Fundamentalism?

I hasten to answer: Obviously NO.

But then I realize that most people haven't got a clue what atheism actually is. No need to even mention if they know what the "New Atheism" is actually about. As such, I would be misunderstood as being "fundamentalist".

Here's the playlist of videos for the Intelligence² Debate on the topic: Is Atheism the New Fundamentalism?

I love how Richard Dawkins addresses the charges made against atheism and the recent wave of "New Atheism". Clear as usual with doses of wit and humor. This is the first time I hear Prof. Grayling in a debate like this. I'm pleasantly amused by his style

As expected, the usual misunderstandings of atheism appeared in the debate (sadly, on the proposition's side as well... though I think it is a debate tactic to misrepresent your opponent).

I will address the few common misunderstandings here (yes, they've been addressed by Prof Dawkins and Grayling as well - I'm just bored, bleh).

I will be using the term "new atheist" to refer to the recent wave of atheists. But there's nothing new about new atheism other than the fact that we're more outspoken. Richard Dawkins has dealt with the perjorative connotations it comes with in the media.

So, moving on to the first misunderstanding...

[Part 5] 6:41 - 6:46
Is it not a fundamentalist position to say "There is no god"?

*Later in the video, Charles Moore actually claims that the new atheists were muddled between "probably no god" and "definitely no god".*

Yes, it is a fundamentalist position if you claim that to an absolute certainty dogmatically.

But the thing is, no rational atheist actually hold such a position. One common characteristic amongst the new atheists is that we are usually rationalists as well. Rationally, one cannot hold the belief that "there is no god" because we cannot be absolutely certain of a negative.

So we don't believe that "there is no god". Rather we don't believe that is a god or gods because of the lack of evidence for that proposition.

[Part 7] 6:08 - 6:21
Atheism fundamentalism is not a new phenomenon. If Professor Dawkins had learnt history of Russia and China, he would know that atheism conducted programs of violence against people of faith

Bullshit. Like Prof. Dawkins retort, it's a monstrous suggestion.

Stalin and Mao did not commit their atrocities in the name of atheism (indeed they couldn't have for there is no such logical pathway). In fact, both were simply operating within their political philosophies which are actually not very different from how religions manipulate the masses.

Prof. Dawkins begins his reply to the monstrous suggestion at 8:33. Prof. Grayling adds his insightful comments in Part 8 of the video following after Prof. Dawkins.

[Part 8] 4:20 - 4:35
It (the atheist bus campaign) said "God probably does not exist." Now, I'm a bit sad, I've got a dictionary along with me. Which suggest that someone of that point of view is an agnostic. Doesn't that mean that that's an agnostic bus campaign and you're agnostic.

Yes, actually. We're agnostic atheists (specifically a weak agnostic weak atheist).

'Agnostic' is used as an adjective. The same way we're agnostic about fairies because we cannot disprove them. Similarly, we're also a-fairyists - we don't believe in fairies as well.

Get it?

Retarded Creationists

This entry will be a follow-up rebuttal to the points the creationist (Wendy Wright) in this video have made. This is going to be long - and educational. And I will recommend videos along way - they explain more with illustrations.

Richard Dawkins tries really hard to explain that there is multitudes of evidence for evolution. Given the location of the interview, he cannot, of course, show the evidence themselves - that which Wendy wants to see now although she remains unconvinced despite having previously seen them (or so she claims).

Let's start. Here's the first video in question.

1:12 - 1:31
There has been an effort within the scientific community to censor out information... against evolution that proves that evolution may not be as many scientists believe. There has been many times in which evidence that was brought forward to bolster the idea of evolution turned out to be fraudulent.

Actually, no. There is no such thing. (Shocking, eh?)

The alleged frauds and hoaxes said to cast doubt or even disprove evolution were exposed by the scientific community itself. There is no need to "censor" such information simply because they known to be false. Not to forgetting to mention that they are not evidence that the case for evolution is built on.

Here's a video by AronRa that deals with a few of the hoaxes (Haeckel's drawings, Nebraska Man, Archeoraptor, etc) that creationists frequently claim to show that evolution is a fraud:

Moving on...

1:31 - 1:52
So what we argue for is to teach the controversy. Don't censor out the facts that goes against evolution... such as the famous pig's tooth, the tooth that was claimed to be an example of a prehistoric man and turned out to be just the tooth of a pig.

The "famous pig's tooth" example (Nebraska Man) has been dealt with in the video mentioned above.

What about teaching the "controversy" then? No, we shouldn't.

We should teach only science in a science class - thus only valid scientific theories should be taught. As much as creationists would like to believe the contrary, the Theory of Evolution is demonstrably true and is accepted by the scientific community. Non-scientific or even unscientific ideas have no place in the science curriculum.

We don't teach the "controversy" between Evolution and Creationism the same way we don't teach the controversy between Heliocentrism and Geocentrism. The same way we don't teach the controversy between Reproduction by Sex and by Storks. You get the idea (I hope).

2:36 - 2:45
There is no evidence of evolution from one species to another. There's microevolution within a species but not going from one species to another.

False. This is patently false.

There are plenty of transitional forms (ie, evidence of one species evolving to another) in the fossil record. In fact, EVERY fossil found is a transitional form.

I'd recommend these two videos, by AronRa and by standup4REALscience

3:11 - 3:58
Scientists are now claiming that they are the only ones that can speak on this issue. And yet when people who look at the evidence, go to the Smithsonian Museum on Natural History and when we look for where is the evidence to show evolution from one species to another all we find are drawings, illustrations, there aren't the actual material evidence showing it. So, while there are attempts to say that only scientists can speak on this. What we have are scientists that are then creating an isolated community and saying that we're the ones... almost like... it's almost like it's a religion in which only scientists can speak or teach on it and to teach everyone else and everyone else must believe what the scientists, what particular scientists, say...

This is what I call implicit arrogance. Look at the language used here. She paints a picture in a way that it seems that it is scientists who are being unfair. She goes so far as to claim that the scientists are operating as though they were a religion.

Now here's the wake up call.

YOU are not qualified to make valid comments with regards to the theory of evolution or any other scientific theory for the matter. If you're not trained in the field, you have as much to contribute to the discussion as a car mechanic has on performing a heart surgery.

Only scientists (biologists specifically for evolution) can speak on such issues because they are the only ones who are qualified.

So why did I say that she was being implicitly arrogant? Because she thinks her complete lack of qualifications (may I add critical thinking as well) trumps the scientific consensus by people who are trained and have worked in the field. Now, that's some fat-ass arrogance there.

6:07 - 6:34
The ad hominen attacks that people who have faith in evolution use against people who don't buy into that... I think shows the lack of confidence in the evidence. If evolution had so much evidence behind it then those people in favour wouldn't to be reduced to ad hominen attacks against those who say show us the evidence show us what's lacking

Ad hominen attacks? I'm guessing that that is referring to things like:

"You retard, can't you see the freaking evidence?"
"Faith-heads cannot be convinced even if you place the evidence right in front of them."
"Oh god, you moron. I can't be bothered to explain any further."

It's not the lack of confidence that result in such comments. It is the sheer exasperation when creationists refuse to be convinced even when presented with the multitudes of evidence for evolution.

It's NOT "you moron, you better believe what I believe."
It's more like "you moron, the bloody evidence is so freaking obvious."

7:28 - 7:39
What they claim to be the evolution of a foetus in the womb based on hand drawings which has been proven to be false and yet they continue to publish it in scientific textbooks.

That's about Haeckel's drawings. It was also discussed in the first video I recommended (watch it if you haven't).

The thing with Haeckel's drawings is that even though Haeckel admitted that a few of his drawings are not based on actual observation, he's still sort of correct.

Embryos do in fact look extremely similar during the early stages of development. Some of those features displayed during development are indicative of their evolutionary history (ie, evidence for evolution).

Here's a blog entry by biologist PZ Myers on the topic of Haeckel's embryos. (Extremely long article - you've been warned)

8:18 - 10:13 [End of video]
*Babbles on about morality and science then more on the alleged lack of evidence*

How we operate society is completely separate issue from the validity of a scientific theory. It is a naturalistic fallacy to claim that because evolution says so and so therefore we should/would do so and so.

That is a very simple concept to understand. We don't have to operate our society's on Darwinian principles. If the principles are true in nature, that's that. It is a retarded claim to say that those principles are false simply because we don't like them.

Facts are facts whether you like them or not.

** Wow, the sheer amount of crap in one video... I don't think I will start on the second one...

Our Universe

Everytime when I watch a video that explores the sheer magnitude of the universe and the celestial objects within it, I get shivers down my spine. The awe. The wonder. The pride in humanity for we have gone so far in trying to understand the universe.

Here's another one with a different presentation style.

And this one was the first one that really blew me away.

Criticial Thinking

QualiaSoup never cease to amaze me with his wonderfully made videos. This time it's about critical thinking.


I have always claimed to be a naturalist except I never actually read about it in detail. All I had in mind was the general idea that it is a "worldview in which reality is such that there is nothing but the natural things, forces, and causes of the kind that the natural sciences study" and that it "rejects the objective existence of any supernatural thing, force or cause" as they "are ultimately explainable purely in terms of natural things."

And just a while ago, I just realized how close I was to naturalism. I was describing it all the long in one of my articles back in June.

I was, in effect, talking about metaphysical naturalism (ontological naturalism) and naturalized epistemology.

I am a naturalist.

Why Science?

It's a fundraiser video by the Richard Dawkins Foundation but it says much more than that.

Substance Dualism

Yet another wonderful video by QualiaSoup.

Astrological bullshit

Oh for the love of all things true, why in the world do we still have astrology columns in our newspapers and magazines?

I cringe everytime I see one, if not two, sometimes even three, freaking pages dedicated to this pseudoscience.

And DON'T tell me it is harmless crap. This harmless crap allows charlatans to make shit loads of money and enjoy fame that they otherwise are incapable of enjoying.

Not forgetting the fact that it is still false. At the very least, we're saving paper when we stop printing these lies.

Damn it, even Wikipedia has a section about the blatant bullshit that it is - need I explain myself?

The Default Position

When asked to examine a claim (more often than not, about supernatural events/entities), rationalists sometimes speak of the "default position". What about it?

Faced with any claim, the default position is disbelief until belief is warranted (by weight of sufficient evidence).

That simply means "I do not believe X exist until sufficient evidence is brought forth to demonstrate X's existence." That is very different from "I believe X do not exist." While it is tempting to equate the two statements, they are, in fact, two very different positions.

To illustrate the different positions, I'll use the court of law as an example.

Say we have a murder case and it's time for the judge to make their vote. He/she may judge that the accused is
[1] - Guilty
[2] - Not guilty

If the judge is convinced by the prosecutor that the accused is indeed the murderer, he would judge guilty. However, when the judge judges the accused to be not guilty, he/she may be holding one of two positions.

If the judge thinks that the accused is innocent, he/she judges the accused to be not guilty. If the judge thinks that the evidence is insufficient to make the case, he/she also judges the accused to be not guilty. Belief that the accused is innocent is not the same as being unconvinced to the contrary.

The same scenarios apply for claims of existence. While existence is absolute (either it exist of it does not), our state of belief can be one of the following:
[1] - I believe X exist
[2] - I believe X does not exist (Assertion)
[3] - I don't believe X exist (Negation)

One may ask, where is the fourth option that "I don't believe X does not exist". Using the court of law analogy, this option's equivalent would be "Guilty - I am not convinced of the accused's innocence."

Why is this option eliminated? Simple. It is same reason for the phrase "innocent until proven guilty". The fourth option presents the situation where it is "guilty until proven innocent". To avoid punishing an innocent mistakenly, this must be the case.

As for claims of existence, the equivalent reason has been said before - Non-existence until existence is demonstrated (That's the practical way of saying disbelief in existence of X until its existence has been demonstrated).

The elimination of the fourth option follows the same principles. If we took the position "belief existence until disproven", we would have to believe in an infinity of possible entities until they are disproven. That is not only impractical but just plain stupid and irrational.